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Cindysphinx
05-01-2009, 08:25 PM
Ho, boy. I am starting to see an unfortunate pattern as I try to transform myself into a singles player.

I am so tired after three games of singles that I need to retire.

This is a problem. I come out of the gate on fire in singles. I get to the ball early, set up, do something good. I run down everything.

And then I crash. I am panting, dripping sweat. And we are nowhere close to finished. I start not moving well, and I start missing.

There is something really wrong here. I am fit for my age. I can sprint, run up hills, run up hills backward. I take a weekly private tennis lesson that is grueling. I can run at a moderate pace for an hour. I do core work and upper body work.

Two questions, then.

1. What can I do to work on my fitness for tennis, like right now. I need instant results here, folks. I could go to the track and do some intervals (like, full sprint 100 yards, slow jog 100 yards, repeat). Or I could just continue playing singles and try to get into shape that way. I do have a delicate knee, so I need to be efficient because there is a limited amount I can do without causing myself problems. Is it better to sprint on a track, or are hills better?

2. What might I be doing in singles that is causing me so much exhaustion? My opponents don't seem all that fit, yet I am always the one who needs a crash cart.

Nellie
05-01-2009, 08:36 PM
Regarding question 2, are you breathing? Honestly-I used to have a problem with holding my breath (from too much tension) and now I have to think about exhaling during every shot as part of my ritual (split, land, turn, breath/hit).

Also, are you being overactive - are you jumping and hoping a lot during the point with unnecessary movement? Try to have yourself recorded (use a camera if you your never got a video camera) and watch to see if you are calm. remember -be slow to split, fast from the split to the ball. You cannot really move at full speed all of the time.

Also, you could be effected by the weather. I have been struggling with the warmth for the last few weeks.

About question 1, I have found good results from more weight lifting. In particular, I do more lunges and squats. I don't know if you knees will agree. I also do little things - in practice, I stay low and try to continue to stay low with bent knees when I am picking up balls. It sounds like your general fitness level is good, and maybe your tennis fitness may be improved. also, you may just need more singles practice. Doubles is way easier in some ways. for example, I play doubles almost exlclusively now, and don't really serve welll when I have to go every other game because my shoulder is conditioned for every fourth game.

chlsmo
05-01-2009, 09:54 PM
I would suggest 2 things:

1. Play more singles
2. Try interval training, see the threads in the Health and Fitness sub-forum. I think interval training will work the fastest, and also more closely simulates tennis.

P.S. I am not a health/fitness type guy. Those are just my opinions/ suggestions.

tennismom42
05-01-2009, 10:17 PM
sounds like you're going catabolic to me. Essentially, your muscles are eatting your muscles during competition. This may be because you have no fat to burn or your body simply needs protein during competition (variety of reasons).

Most likely you need a liquid or really absorbent protein before/during/after a match & all during a tournament.

I suggest you talk to a nutritionist a store where they sell muscle-specific products ???? You'll likely be guided to the "Whey" powder protein drinks + glucosemine. The glucosemine will repair the micro tears in the muscles acquired during competition.

maverick66
05-01-2009, 10:28 PM
sounds like you're going catabolic to me. Essentially, your muscles are eatting your muscles during competition. This may be because you have no fat to burn or your body simply needs protein during competition (variety of reasons).

Most likely you need a liquid or really absorbent protein before/during/after a match & all during a tournament.

I suggest you talk to a nutritionist a store where they sell muscle-specific products ???? You'll likely be guided to the "Whey" powder protein drinks + glucosemine. The glucosemine will repair the micro tears in the muscles acquired during competition.

i like this advice up until you said go to a store. not very good. they will try to sell you a whole bunch of stuff you dont need.

Have you ever considered getting your blood work done to see if you actually do have a deficiency? i had that done a long time ago and learned i had low iron so i had to take a mineral drink that had iron in it. i struggled to recover and that was why. i would look into that as most guys i know that were playing at a high level have.

FloridaAG
05-02-2009, 03:18 AM
1. Make sure you have eaten and are hydrated

2. Assuming you are otherwise fit as described in your post, and reading many of your threads, my guess is that the problem is stress related - you should try to relax - being tense really tightens the muscles and drains energy. It is just a game - try to relax and my bet is you will not get as tired - as Nellie posted- breathe

max
05-02-2009, 09:37 AM
Cindy: this is good advice you're getting. And remember, you have to build up to it, to some extent.

OrangePower
05-02-2009, 10:14 AM
Ho, boy. I am starting to see an unfortunate pattern as I try to transform myself into a singles player.

I am so tired after three games of singles that I need to retire.

This is a problem. I come out of the gate on fire in singles. I get to the ball early, set up, do something good. I run down everything.

And then I crash. I am panting, dripping sweat. And we are nowhere close to finished. I start not moving well, and I start missing.

There is something really wrong here. I am fit for my age. I can sprint, run up hills, run up hills backward. I take a weekly private tennis lesson that is grueling. I can run at a moderate pace for an hour. I do core work and upper body work.

Two questions, then.

1. What can I do to work on my fitness for tennis, like right now. I need instant results here, folks. I could go to the track and do some intervals (like, full sprint 100 yards, slow jog 100 yards, repeat). Or I could just continue playing singles and try to get into shape that way. I do have a delicate knee, so I need to be efficient because there is a limited amount I can do without causing myself problems. Is it better to sprint on a track, or are hills better?

2. What might I be doing in singles that is causing me so much exhaustion? My opponents don't seem all that fit, yet I am always the one who needs a crash cart.


1. I'm going to be contrarian, and say maybe play / do *less*. Singles matches are going to take a lot out of you, so you need to have a full tank of gas going into the match. I don't know how old you are, but unless you're under 35, the body needs a few days to recover after an outing before it's back to 100% rested. At least that's the case for me. During the offseason, I play as much as I can to get as fit as possible, but during league, I make sure that I have at least 2 days of rest before an important match.

2. Can't really say without watching you play, but often it's about who is controlling the points. If your opponents are more often than not in control, they will be able to move you around more than you're moving them around. Depending on your style of play, one thing you can try is to stay on the baseline and take balls a bit earlier (rather than standing further behind the baseline). This will take time away from your opponents, and also open up sharper angles for your shots. Give this a shot if you think you can be ok with trying to hit deep balls more on the rise.

GPB
05-02-2009, 10:24 AM
I was going to suggest looking at your breathing habits, but the others have covered that. I just want to add that I get out of breath QUICKLY on the tennis courts, and I think it's because I hold my breath without thinking of it.

Cindysphinx
05-02-2009, 12:07 PM
Yeah, I think I am holding my breath. I tend to be very tight on the tennis court, and I'm working on it. I tried to work on it today, but I kind of forgot because I was screwing up so many things as it was.

OK, I play again on Monday, and I'll think about breathing.

sureshs
05-02-2009, 12:17 PM
Since you seem to be fitness and health conscious, I don't understand it. 3 games is too little to get exhausted, unless you are playing a pro. I assume you get your BP checked - high BP will make you tired even though you are otherwise fit. If everything is OK, it is probably because you are trying some moves now which you didn't do in the past.

10sfreak
05-02-2009, 12:55 PM
I don't agree with the "catabolic" part - unless there's something very wrong with your metabolism (and I think it would manifest itself in other ways), there's no way your body is going catabolic after only 3 games. Three games only takes, what, 10 minutes, maybe 12? I just don't believe that's nearly enough time for your body to start breaking down it's muscle tissue.
To me, it sounds more like some of the other posters have already written; you're subconsciously holding your breath, and you're stressing out. Just my 2 cents...

Jagman
05-02-2009, 01:05 PM
Cindy, judging from the description of your situation, I would suspect that there are many contributing factors to your current predicament. You have some very good suggestions here already. If I can summarize and add to a bit:

1. Breathe - You acknowledged this may be the primary culprit. An old maxim that I have found useful is to breathe in on racquet takeback and out on the forward swing. In martial arts, this breathing pattern also allows for imparting additional power to the technique. Just don't shriek on the out breath like Sharapova, please.

2. Hydration - This IMHO, is the #1 energy sapper. Very few people properly hydrate before exercise/competition. You have to start taking on board water long before a match and throughout as well. Gatorade is good too, especially for replacing electrolytes, but I like to add water to dilute the high sugar content. The guideline is to watch your output; it should be clear and copious. Dehydration will make you feel like you're wearing cement overshoes.

3. Rest/Recovery - You really don't speak to whenyou are playing doubles. I would think from your previous posts that you are a very active woman and singles play occurs at the end of a busy day and perhaps even after a set or two of doubles. You have to give yourself an adequate period to recover from bouts of intense exercise, as well as enough sleep overnight. Inadequate rest/recovery will make you move and feel like the living dead.

4. Being tense/tight - As I try to tell my son in high school, if you want to see some dramatic improvement in your game, learn to be loose and relaxed as you play. You will become more consistent, gain better control, and introduce some natural power into your game by simply relaxing and learning to use a 70% effort rally ball to construct points. Breathing helps you to relax, as does maintaining a looser grip and keeping a positive mental attitude. Being overly tense does lead to fatigue, and we all know that being tight is simply another word for choking.

5. Singles is a different game. Anticipation and the ability to read your opponent become more critical as you now have more court to cover (perhaps double the area or more if your doubles duo moves well in tandem). Depth of shot, especially on the service return, is also more vital if you want to deny your opponent the ability to control play. Positioning yourself in the court to deny angles to your opponent is another factor that has added emphasis in singles and a slightly different application than in doubles. The fact that you are more used to doubles play probably makes the transition to the singles game a little more angst-filled, which in turn, leads to having more self-doubt, tightness, shortness of breath, etc. For this, the remedy is simply to play more singles and do a little self-study on singles strategy.

It sounds like you get more than enough exercise. If I were to change anything regarding your regimen, I would suggest doing sprints and general movement exercises, especially lateral movement, on the tennis court. The basic line drills used in high school and college should be enough. I'm sure you're probably familiar with some of these. Maybe add some plyometrics for explosive movement. Depending on age, you might consider the addition of an anti-inflammatory prior to matches or workouts. I know I couldn't get by without a couple.

Oh, try not to quit if you think you can safely hang in there. Being a runner, you're sure to be familiar with the concept of the "wall". Sometimes fatigue is something that just has to be worked through. Other times, best to listen to your body. Only you will know which is the case, given the moment.

Cheers!

tennismom42
05-02-2009, 06:21 PM
well, poster did say he/she is "really fit for my age." So that's why I thought about the body trying to tap the fat stores.

However I do agree that something may be out of whack with metabolism, breathing and/or time for a treadmill test or physical. We are all venturing into guesses, when really poster's physician should answer!

(personally, I've seen my son go catabolic several times. Difference is he's 18 and it tends to happen after he's played "only" 15 hours of tournament tennis in 3 days at the national level. As adults I still think "going catabolic" is possible, at any level, but at out age it's usually something else. ???)

slick
05-03-2009, 05:19 PM
Honestly, no offense but you are NOT fit for your age if you get gassed after only 3 games. I know what I'm talking about, I've done the Hawaii Ironman 4 times. Most people who THINK they are fit are nowhere near fit. Playing tennis, especially doubles will not necessarily get you fit. Even some pros, especially some of the women pros are not in proper condition. I play 4.5 guys mainly and most of them are not in good shape at all and get by on great racquet skills.

The most common problem is excess weight. This cannot be underestimated. The other is using tennis to get fit. Tennis is not an aerobic activity. Everybody walks slowly to pick up balls , sits down between changes. yaks... etc .. etc. Way too much rest and very little aerobic training.

So you either have to change the way you play or do extra training. Personally I run and bike 4-5 days a week and lift weights to get that plus I try to play fast and jog to pick up the balls. The latter doesn't help much if you are playing a "slow player".

Try some extra training and drop any excess weight and you will see a world of difference.

Cindysphinx
05-03-2009, 08:48 PM
Slick, you'll just have to take my word for it that my general fitness is good and my weight is good.

I had a physical recently. Everything checks out. That is not it either.

I have cut way back on my distance running over the last year, but I had injuries in 2008. Those are better, so I'll get back to the distance stuff (just one hour at a time) soon and test the foot. Who knows? Maybe my body is missing the endurance benefit that distance running provides.

I play singles tomorrow for 90 minutes. I am going to breathe my head off and see if that helps.

Oh, and the other thing I'm going to do is resist the temptation to run around my BH quite so much. I think I am expending a lot of energy for zero benefit by doing that. If I'm not going to go for a winner or really smack the FH, why not just hit the BH? It's a lot of effort to run around the BH, hit the FH, and then reposition.

[edit: Oh, and someone asked my age. I'm 47.]

Venetian
05-03-2009, 09:01 PM
Are you playing younger opponents or ones around the same age as you Cindy? Also, do your opponents look as tired as you do after 3 or so games?

Cindysphinx
05-03-2009, 09:04 PM
No, I am playing women who are my age or older. And I would guess that I am in better shape. The fact that they are not tired is what is most troubling.

The other thing I am going to do is be more deliberate about everything. Like Del Potro or Querrey. They just kind of stroll around between points. I have 20 seconds between points, and by golly, I am going to start using all 20.

Venetian
05-03-2009, 09:06 PM
Yeah, use that time to recover.

Maybe you're just used to doubles and not having to cover the whole court.

Cindysphinx
05-03-2009, 09:10 PM
Yeah, use that time to recover.

Maybe you're just used to doubles and not having to cover the whole court.

Oh, definitely. I spent a lot of last year trying to unlearn bad habits from doubles. There was just nothing that could get me to recover my position. I would hit a shot from the ad court (which is my preferred receiving side) and then just stand there, leaving the entire court open. Then the opponent would hit the ball to the deuce court (on account of how it was wide open and she is not stupid). So I would have to sprint to the deuce court to hit the shot. And then stand there. Then another sprint back over the the ad court that I had left open. A lot of energy got wasted because my failure to recover turned ordinary shots into emergency sprints.

I think I'm recovering better, although my pro thinks I should be doing it more promptly after I hit.

Maybe too much doubles is not a good thing. . . .

maverick66
05-03-2009, 09:28 PM
Cindy, do you do any off court training besides the occasional run?

Cindysphinx
05-03-2009, 09:45 PM
Cindy, do you do any off court training besides the occasional run?

Ten years ago I was fat and getting fatter by the minute. Out of sheer desperation, I signed up for one of those military-style fitness programs. The kind where you show up at the crack of dawn and a former Marine makes you do push-ups on the sidewalk.

It is ten years later, and I am still doing it. We start at 5:45 am, M-F, for one hour. Monday and Friday are lower body days, so that is abs plus a bunch of lunges, hills, sprints, backward hills, squats. Tuesday and Thursday are upper body days, so that would be free weights, push-ups, dips and more abs. Wednesdays are a one-hour run.

I go pretty much every day except I stopped doing Wednesdays last year because of my foot. So I'm feeling like I have the overall fitness angle covered.

Cindy -- who struggled for years to do a proper chin-up and never quite made it

slick
05-04-2009, 03:44 AM
What you describe above sounds like more strength work than aerobic training, two very different things. Someone can be very strong and "fit" looking but have very little aerobic endurance.

Aerobic training, especially interval lactate threshold type training is the key for tennis. This will raise your lactate threshold and increase you lactate clearing ability (by increasing intracellular enzymes, mitochondrial density, and capillary density). This will allow rapid and repeatable RECOVERY ability. Doing squats, lunges, sit ups ...etc...etc will not train these systems adequately. You need sustained aerobic activity.

Another thing about weight. Many people think they are at a decent weight but in reality are 20-30 lbs overweight. They may look reasonably fit and not look "fat". An extra 20 or even 10 lbs makes a huge difference, trust me. In my triathlon racing days I could feel a big difference if I was even 5lbs over my target weight. It also has the added benefit of minimizing injuries.

jrod
05-04-2009, 04:52 AM
What you describe above sounds like more strength work than aerobic training, two very different things. Someone can be very strong and "fit" looking but have very little aerobic endurance.

Aerobic training, especially interval lactate threshold type training is the key for tennis. This will raise your lactate threshold and increase you lactate clearing ability (by increasing intracellular enzymes, mitochondrial density, and capillary density). This will allow rapid and repeatable RECOVERY ability. Doing squats, lunges, sit ups ...etc...etc will not train these systems adequately. You need sustained aerobic activity.

Another thing about weight. Many people think they are at a decent weight but in reality are 20-30 lbs overweight. They may look reasonably fit and not look "fat". An extra 20 or even 10 lbs makes a huge difference, trust me. In my triathlon racing days I could feel a big difference if I was even 5lbs over my target weight. It also has the added benefit of minimizing injuries.


Agree. I did and continue to do all of these things. I also used to run 4 miles every other day to help with cardio. None of this really helped me with high intensity tennis. I replaced the running with interval training, again every other day. The improvement on the court was readily apparent within 2 weeks. Now, if I could only figure out how to drop an additional 10 lbs...

BounceHitBounceHit
05-04-2009, 05:24 AM
I've read (well, at least skimmed ;) ) the other posts and have a sneaking suspicion the trouble here is with getting tense during competition. NOTHING will sap your energy like anxiety. Have you tried learning progressive relaxation or using visualization techniques before and during the match? Best, CC

eagle
05-04-2009, 06:37 AM
Hi Cindy,

Based on all the training you do, I'm sure you are indeed fit for your age. You're probably fitter than most folks offering advice here including myself. :)

At any rate, being out of breath at only the 3 game mark sounds odd.

At your fitness level, you should be just getting started at that point of the match.

You may simply be too tense and holding your breath too long that it is sapping your energy. Anxiety tends to do that. Do you feel really anxious and experience intense pressure whenever you play singles as opposed to playing doubles? If so, perhaps if you relax a bit, you'll manage your energy a lot better.

And as previously posted, perhaps a short vid of your doubles and singles matches would help. You can then analyze how differently you play between the two and hopefully identify the root of the problem. If not, you can post it online and ask for constructive opinions and suggestions.

r,
eagle

MNPlayer
05-04-2009, 07:04 AM
I've read (well, at least skimmed ;) ) the other posts and have a sneaking suspicion the trouble here is with getting tense during competition. NOTHING will sap your energy like anxiety. Have you tried learning progressive relaxation or using visualization techniques before and during the match? Best, CC

I agree with this. It's one of my big problems too. Last night I played a match where it was close in the beginning and I could feel myself really getting tired, breathing hard, etc. Even though the other guy was not making me play especially long points. Once I loosened up and started playing more in my own rhythm, as opposed to letting myself get jerked around by the opponent, it felt like a cakewalk.

As you've said, if you turn every shot into an emergency by not recovering properly after the previous shot, you will get tired and play badly too! If you are playing reasonably close to your own level, I believe you should feel somewhat relaxed and not rushed in getting to *most* shots. This requires good recovery (reasonably neutral and in position by the time they hit the ball!) so your first step is in the right direction. Then you will be there waiting patiently when the ball finally arrives.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 08:04 AM
OK, I'm headed off for two hours of tennis indoors. I doubt we will play the whole two hours; it may just be practice, but I'll ask if she's willing to play some games. I'm gonna suck all the air right out of that bubble!

Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 11:24 AM
All right. I'm back from 2 hours of singles. We practiced for about an hour, and then played a set of singles.

I tried inhaling on the takeback and exhaling on the stroke. I paid attention to my recovery. And I tried to be deliberate and relaxed between points.

Man, I could have played singles all day! The breathing thing is huge. I wasn't the slightest bit tired, and I was running down shot without difficulty until the bitter end. I think I actually moved a lot faster, and it was easier to concentrate and not do stupid things. Best of all, my strokes themselves were much more fluid and smooth. It seemed to help my timing a lot.

Anyway, there is much that needs work (I didn't really move my opponent around much because I was just trying to hit good strokes). And I still need to extend a lot more. And use my shoulders. But still. Singles is much more enjoyable when I don't feel like I am fighting for my very survival.

A huge thank you to all of you for your awesome advice!!!!!

Cindy -- who was leading 6-1, 2-1 but who is way more excited about the breathing than the score

Nanshiki
05-04-2009, 12:25 PM
Indeed, breathing tends to help...

eagle
05-04-2009, 02:05 PM
As Brad Gilbert once said, "You're not underwater. Breathe."

Glad to hear you figured it out. :)

r,
eagle

serve and Justin
05-04-2009, 03:06 PM
I tend to get tired after the 5th or 6th game...But if so I take a few extra seconds between points if I am serving...I remember to breathe regularly and not drink too much fluids...If I overdo the fluids it only makes things worse.

I guess the only way I know how to get through it is not giving myself the opportunity to quit...I played college hockey and had games where I would skate so hard for a minute to a minute and a half (usual shifts in high level hockey) and would throw up as soon as I got back but somehow I would be ready to go back out 2 minutes later.

heninfan99
05-05-2009, 05:16 AM
I stink at jumping rope so I jump without a rope. If I can get through 3 or 4 songs jumping --which is about 12 minutes I'm happy. It can be hard on your feet & ankles so be careful but its a great workout. If you ever make it to 20 minutes then you are officially in shape.

Nanshiki
05-05-2009, 08:15 AM
Jumping rope without a rope is like doing pushups with your knees on the floor... you might as well do jumping jacks.

serve and Justin
05-05-2009, 08:26 AM
one more thing I forgot is suicide drills...

start at the fence run to the wide doubles line, back to fence, wide singles line, back to fence, middle of the service court line, fence...Do this until you go to all lines and back to the fence...Do at least 4 of them anytime you play...(even after a grueling match)

Ronaldo
05-05-2009, 08:48 AM
No, I am playing women who are my age or older. And I would guess that I am in better shape. The fact that they are not tired is what is most troubling.

The other thing I am going to do is be more deliberate about everything. Like Del Potro or Querrey. They just kind of stroll around between points. I have 20 seconds between points, and by golly, I am going to start using all 20.

Bring a stool or chair and sit during changeovers. Chat with your opponent, at least 5 minutes on changeovers. Whenever you pick up a ball, kick it to the next court and walk slowly to get it. Constantly re-adjust your hair, cap, shorts, or any other piece of clothing and stall. After watching Mary Pierce, bought a ponytail and attached it to my cap for those moments. http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m275/jogi21/random/pony_tail_cap.jpg

TBobLP
05-05-2009, 10:06 AM
insist that any ball more than a foot from the net on the court must be picked up before each point. but that almost borders on gamesmanship if you dont do it every single time.

120mphBodyServe
05-06-2009, 06:31 PM
I don't know if you'll agree with me but cutting down on the hardcore training might be an idea? Just go 2-3 times a week.. And hit the weights room for an hour twice a week...