View Full Version : For tournament success do this!

Indy Tennis
01-29-2007, 12:46 PM
Play less tennis and concentrate on getting fit!

I’m former college player in my mid-40s who quit playing regularly for about eight years. Two years ago I decided to get back into playing. At first I could only play doubles (thanks to gaining 50 lbs. from my college playing weight due to a sedentary job and lack of exercise and frankly filling my pie hole way too much). My once explosive 4.5 serve and volley game had devolved to an ugly and inconsistent 3.5 baseline slog.

So my strokes finally starting coming back to me by last winter, so I was able to do well in some tournaments, but if I had a hard grindy match I was done for the next round – too sore and worn out to play deep into a tournament.

So this winter I decided to actually play less tennis and in turn hit the gym more often and it’s paid off.

I just won a tournament this weekend and played seven matches along the way (including two in doubles). Even after three days of intense playing I feel pretty good.

This time last year I might get through a round or two, but if I made it to a third round I was limping around so bad that I would fall, even sometimes to a players I should have easily beaten.

Here’s what I changed:

Last year’s weekly routine –
Two half-hour hitting sessions with a pro (Mon. & Wed. afternoons)
Two league singles matches (Mon. & Thurs.eves.)
Two one hour hitting sessions with league teammate (Tues. & Thurs, early mornings)
One league doubles match (On Saturday’s when not playing a tournament)
One WTT match – two one-set doubles and a set of single (On Sunday)
Gym (whenever I could fit it in)

As you can see I was playing A LOT of tennis. Too much really for a man in his 40s. It resulted in nagging injuries and I felt tired a lot when playing matches. During tournaments I would just run out of gas.

This year’s routine –
A single one hour hitting sessions with a pro (Wed. afternoons)
A single one hour drill session with fellow league player (Mon. at lunch)
One league singles matches (Mon or Thurs. eves.)
One league doubles match (On Saturday’s when not playing a tournament)
Gym – Three or four times a week from about 45 to 90 minutes, very regularly. Includes light weight training, aerobic machinery, plyometrics (no more than once a week at my age) and core exercise routines.

The results are amazing. A lot less time on the court and more in the gym and more rest.

I’ve dropped 15 lbs. (still 25 to go) and have much fewer injuries and I feel much stronger through a tournament weekend.

I guess the bottom line is you still have to put time in on the court to maintain and improve your game, but overall fitness is a major piece to the puzzle of game improvement.

01-29-2007, 02:15 PM
Congratulations on your win!

Yeah, you're right, but doing push-ups isn't nearly as much fun as a social match, now is it?

I once did a tournament (just 2.5 and 3.0 level, OK?) in Colorado. I played three singles matches and 5 doubles matches in 8 days. Despite the altitude, I played fine due to fitness.

My fitness is off a bit now, and I can really feel it. It stinks to be winded on the court.

OK, you've inspired me. More fitness, less tennis. Starting tomorrow a.m.

It's awfully cold outside, though . . .

01-29-2007, 02:51 PM
You have inspired me too. When I come to Indy I want to "squeeze" a hitting session in, so maybe you can skip the pro one week.

01-29-2007, 02:55 PM
indy Tennis,
Yes, you are absoluetly right. The only problem is that for some reason it seems a lot harder to hit the gym - laziness creeps in.

Jack the Hack
01-29-2007, 03:32 PM
A couple years ago, AndrewD (a fellow poster here) wrote a few paragraphs about fitness that really struck me... and I ended up printing it out and have it pinned up to the wall next to my desk.

The original thread was from a player that was a solid 4.5+ level player on his college team, but was really frustrated because he just couldn't seem to get better, challenge the top players on his team, or jump into the 5.0+ category. I have had similar frustrations, and I really was inspired by what Andrew wrote and it helped to get me more motivated to work harder. I thought I would requote him here since it pertains so well to the subject of this thread:

Coming from a professional sports background, although not tennis, I think I can safely say that fitness is the most overlooked aspect of sport but is, usually, the key ingredient for any sportsperson who wants to improve.

At any level, of any sport, you reach a point where the technical side of the game is equalised - usually through all players at a certain level having strokes of, roughly, equal calibre and equal desire to win. Fitness is the way beyond that sticking point. Im not sure what style of game you have but think for a moment what it would mean if you were only 25% fitter. You'd get to more balls, be able to concentrate for longer, have more power in your shots, be more adaptable as you can stay out there longer if need be, be more flexible which helps with all the twisting and turning you need to do and, in general, project a more athletic presence on the court.

People usually look to their equipment or to coaching to improve when the truth is, you can't maximise those two things if you aren't in excellent shape. If you want a pro example just look at Lleyton Hewitt. He feels he's reached a sticking point in his game and needs a little something extra to compete with and beat someone like Federer. Rather than change equipment or coaches he determined to get himself in the best possible condition he could. End result, it took Safin to stop him but he got further in the Aus Open than he ever had before.

Also remember, beyond a certain point, talent is overrated. Fitness, intelligence, determination and will to win are all far more important factors. People cling to the notion of talent because there's no work involved and think you've either got it or you haven't. True, but only to a point. Dont make the mistake of confusing skill with talent. I can guarantee you the first one will win you far more matches than the latter.

If you're a strong 4.5 then you're obviously talented enough to master and execute the basic skills of the game. To take that next step up you need to hone those skills -practise- and display a greater desire to win which is where fitness comes in.

01-29-2007, 05:36 PM
I think the greatest lesson I have learned the past few years is the fact of not forcing the action. As a player who likes to play fast and penetrating tennis sometimes it is better just to flip the ball back and play a little defense. Here is where the extra work comes in. Being in better shape allows you to get to more balls, thus frustrating people to hit one more ball.

Indy Tennis
01-29-2007, 06:38 PM
You have inspired me too. When I come to Indy I want to "squeeze" a hitting session in, so maybe you can skip the pro one week.

That will be great. I'm always looking to hit with new people.

My local club called me out fo the blue one day last winter to play with a guys from New York who was traveling on business. I didn't know what to expect, but turns out the guys was a nationally ranked player in the 55s.

We had a great hit and he called me several times since when he's in Indy.

Indy Tennis
01-29-2007, 06:42 PM
Jack the Hack, Great post. I'm really becoming a believer in tha philosophy.

I used to think if I just hit more balls I'll get better. Now I'll continue to work on my game, but you have to be fit enough to actually execute what you practice over the course of a long match or tournament to make progress.

01-29-2007, 07:55 PM
Getting off topic just a bit, have you heard anything about the MW clay court tournament being moved???

Indy Tennis
01-29-2007, 08:21 PM

I played at IRC this weekend. They confirmed that they were giving up the tournament. I asked about the Carmel Racquet Club taking it and they said maybe, so who knows at this point.

I would think the M i d w e s t section would announce something soon. It's too big of a tournament to just let go.

01-30-2007, 01:08 PM

Thanks for the info, please keep me posted, tennismike33@comcast.net

Also, is there CHEAP places to stay close to where you think the tournament will be held?

01-30-2007, 01:37 PM
Agree about the fitness, and am working at in my own life. Indy Tennis, which club in Indy do you belong to? What pro do you hit with?

Indy Tennis
01-30-2007, 06:13 PM
Dunlopkid, I play out of West Indy. I hit with Andrea Lord.

01-31-2007, 06:54 AM
Ok, I've played a couple tourneys there. Not familiar with that pro though. If you don't mind me asking, what NTRP are you?

Indy Tennis
01-31-2007, 12:36 PM
I'm a 3.5 right now. I was a 4.5 back 10-15 years ago and I'm trying to work back into shape and get my game back to that level.

Indy Tennis
01-31-2007, 12:38 PM
By the way, Andrea is an amazing teaching pro. She is the women's coach at IUPUI and a former nationally ranked collegiate player.