loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

Specificity of running in Tennis

Watching Andy Murray running down balls in his semi final at the Australian Open made me think. There is a lot of literature in tennis fitness about the need for speciic running versus traditional training. We hear time and time again about how 80% or more  of running is multidirectional and less than 4metres.

Recently I watched a powerpoint by Mark Kovacs from the USTA who superimposed Blake off the mark with Tyson Gay and showed the differences in gait.

But watching Murray it seemed that the key points involved 100% explosive running efforts. I think there is a need for a really good EMG study on this topic.

Often players are running laterally with their upper body twisted,  but hips pointing in the direction they are running to. Thus in this case I would assume hamstring and quads are contracting maximally and whilst moving across the court it is essentially a straight line burst.

So how are these statistics compiled about movement needs in elite tennis? This is important because it impinges on training needs.

Just seems to me that the big boys really run heaps.

Food for thought.

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January 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Tennis Open. SEN reports Nicole Pratt saying we have to start young?

Listening to Andrew Gaze and Tim Watson on SEN today chatting about Nicole Pratt’s opinion that kids should be pushed into early devlepopment and “leave school” etc in tennis. I haven’t heard her quotes but I did hear Todd Woddbridge also say this a few months ago. And Craig Tiley also pushed the youth development button last year.

First of all in  defence of tennis in OZ is the fact that the whole world  plays tennis. Everyone. All trying to get into that TOP 100. Cricket and Netball represent sports that are played in the Commonwealth so their results should be paralleled with our results in sport in the Commonwealth Games versus Olympic Games. Even sports like Rugby League are not quite international. So we need to be very careful in always saying how fantastic our sports science industry is when very few of our running based sports do as well internationally as we are led to believe.

China has 2 players in the quarters in women’s tennis and that is creating some hysteria as we speak. Of course they start young in China but also they pump massive amounts of kids through the system given the society they live in. And their society lends itself to getting kids into academies en masse and fnding the odd jewel. Wont work in OZ.

In Australia we have a different society. It takes many years to create a player. We have seen so many dysunctional people involved in tennis. So many broken dreams. Lost educations and poorly adjusted kids. So trying to say kids should leave school when a zillion people are trying to squeeze into the TOP 100 in tennis is seriously flawed.

It is a simplistic notion that if you take kids out of school and then that we will get results. This already happens. Parents who dont have enough money simply cannot afford tennis yet pay huge amounts to achieve the dream. And parents have morgtaged their house to get results and oten they get zero return and a heap of problems. This should never happen.

How the hell are we going to nab the right 10 year old? WHo knows at that age

Our tennis clubs have no structure to maintain kids that cannot afford tennis. We have no club tennis to keep players in the game to develop. This is a sport where the coach athlete relationship is pivotal. There is a role for institutes like the AIS and VIS but this must be more in the form of a transit point for young players.

We need to create an Australian system where kids are made to stay at school till puberty at least. They need to  study all day and train at night. Play AFL and netball as kids. There is a complete lack of evidence that kids not going to school will work. What happens when they have a bad year in the 14 YO age group?. Do we  go to the next player?  NEXT!  What happens if the young player is not at school? In a way tennis often is an excuse for young players to not go to school. HA.

Add to this is the mature age of players in tennis. Lets not forget this. Average age of the women’s TOP 100 is 24. A long way of 12. If we get players in the top 20 it wont be 15 players. It may be we have 2 to 3 which would be great. So what happens to the 100’s of kids who leave school in OZ. Forget the TOP 100 let alone TOP 100 in Australia.

Simply one has to create a huge base. Pinpoint the child prodigy and nurture the talent. Be aware that a problem in OZ  is that tennis is too expensive. Better to play AFL  and not spend money. Systems need to be put in place which allow young players to not spend as much on  their development , so that one can track the next tier of players from 12 to 18 which is critical in development.

It is not as simple as start them young!

In fact I find many of these pre pubertal players totally overtrained and injured. The issue is not how much they train but how well they are developped over 10 to 15 years. I have had a good look at the tennis industry in Australia and quality is the key ingredient missing not quantity. Coaches, players and parents hardly know what they did the day before or the week before. It is just a big “IMBROGLIO” .

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment