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View Full Version : 100+ intensity tennis - Unsustainable?


DavaiMarat
11-25-2009, 10:00 AM
I'd just like to relay a little story about a match I had with a friend of mine. She's a 5.0-5.5+ lefty and I've known her for years and it was just a friendly match so I was looking forward to it.

So, we started out and I was just playing my usual game keeping the ball deep and with lots of topspin. Basically trying to massage the ball around the court and force her into errors by moving her from side to side front to back. This is exactly what she liked. She had no trouble spanking high forehand and backhands and even drops shots that I executed well we're retrieved with what I considered little problem. She didn't serve that hard but she placed it well and I was still in the mode of just getting the ball deep and moving her around so I wasn't really attacking them.

I'm 35 years old and not in same shape I was when I played college tennis so the long rallies began to wore me down. I had a bad service game and I lost the first set 6-3. I wasn't terribly disappointed considering she is consider one of the best single players at the club.

Now this is where it gets interesting. She asked me to play another and I agreed but I knew I couldn't play the same game. So what did I do? I started to blast the ball as hard as I could. She was 3-4 inches shorter then me and I outweighed her by probably 50-60 pounds so I knew I could hit the ball harder then her but I just wasn't. It was odd because before I knew it I was up 3-0. She couldn't handle the pace. The high balls she was spanking on the rise we're suddenly all coming back short where I followed them in and hit them for winners. All at 100%+ effort. The second set lasted half an hour. I won it 6-0. I was like WTF? How did I just bagel her after losing a tough 1st set.

It gets more interesting. The next match I wanted to see what would happen if I started with that type of intensity again. It was against my friend Dave, 5.0+, plays majors, I tore through him 6-1,6-2. Then I did to my friend Brian and then Stuart all pretty close to love sets. These are all 4.5-5.0 players. What the heck is going on? Did I just stop hitting it this hard because I started playing all this social tennis or have I ever hit this hard?

Ok. So here's the catch though. My body was taking a beating. After every match I'd spend 20 mins in the whirl pool and 10-15 min in the steam room and I was still really sore. Each match seem to take a little more out of me .

Come to my latest match against Stuart. I wasn't able to muster that intensity again. My legs lost their spring and my shoulder wasn't 100%. The same shots I was drilling before I was hitting off balanced and catching the frame. I was still trying to drill the ball but the gusto was gone. More over my focus wasn't were it needed to be. I'd hit one shot great but the next one horribly. I just felt worn out. We didn't even finish the set, it was 5-5 and it took us over 80 mins to get there (one winner/one error at a time).

What I realized, for me that level of hitting the ball was in essence, unsustainable. I could do for a number of matches in a stretch but in the end it really burned me out. It just made me think about some players on the pro tour who probably max out their intensity on every match. And how some players just play good enough to win and save their best tennis. Moreover, there's are some players who play the match of thier lives, beat the number seed and then fall the next round with nothing left in the tank. I realized it might have something to due with fitness and my age but it wasn't only my mechanics, it was in my head too, I was getting impatient and over zealous. The fire that burns brightest burns quickest they say. I realized that over the last stretch of matches.

So has anyone had a similar experience as this?

Is there a secret to playing out of your mind and sustaining it?

I guess I'll keep experimenting. I set that you win 6-4 is worth as much as you win 6-0. I guess I'll keep experimenting trying to find a happy medium so I don't burn out so quickly.

I hope you enjoyed my perspective.

Sublime
11-25-2009, 10:27 AM
It sounds like conditioning and fitness are the only things that are holding you back from jumping up a few levels. If you want to play like that all the time (from a physical perspective, between the ears no one can help with) then it sounds like you need to take up running and cardio workouts and look at your diet.

I think the saying is, "you get in shape to play tennis, not the other way around"

user92626
11-25-2009, 10:29 AM
"So has anyone had a similar experience as this? "

Bud, your experience is no surprising to me because i'm one of those who keep harping on power, pace and what not. :) I've long realized this aspect about the game and I very much believe this is a major part of advanced tennis. After form and techniques it'll be a competition of speed. Just the other day I thought I would take a break from "intensive" tennis, so I played "footwork and form" tennis against 2 older guys whom I frequently beat. Aussie game. I was surprised that I couldn't beat them with relatively good footwork and placement and spin (there was no intensitiy at all).

Obviously after you've learned enough footwork and stroke techniques, you'll have to apply intensity and sometimes trade off some consistency for the extra omph that you'll need to bring your game to the next level. :)

DriveT
11-25-2009, 10:45 AM
I know exacly what your talking about. I have experienced that exact feeling except not realy being tired like you, I am a very fit 16 year old 5 11' 154 lbs.
But at the very first when I started playing this way i was a bit sore but nothing from keeping me playing another match though. But there probobly is a happy medium I found just don't go all out on every ball, its okay too sometimes because you have to but just about 1-2 shots per rally it works for me. I am a 4.5-5.0 by the way. Hope this bit of info helped:)

DavaiMarat
11-25-2009, 11:04 AM
It's funny. Since I stopped playing competitively for a number of years it's like I forgot I could hit this hard. However I still have the mechanics but the conditioning and mental toughness isn't there to sustain it. I think I was confident then as some point the body caught up with me. I guess it's time to hit the gym.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts.

DriveT
11-25-2009, 11:16 AM
Your welcome and good luck training , but there is no need to hit the gym and pay a membership fee just start running at your local track and doing some pushups and situps after all its free. ;-)

mental midget
11-25-2009, 11:17 AM
if you're a good player with solid strokes, going after your shots is a great idea. sometimes playing 'control tennis' translates into racket head deceleration, which is never a good thing. i know when i amp up the intensity, try to get on the ball as quickly as possible, and hit it with conviction, it translates into a much better overall state of concentration and game awareness.

Swissv2
11-25-2009, 11:24 AM
Consider this: Most club players do not train extensively for tennis so their game is limited to poking the ball back and their 100% games would literally make them have to take a month off due to strained muscles. Since you played college tennis, your current 100% would probably be about your 90% back in the day.

If you don't mind the training, then I bet you could reach your 100% with less tiring results in the future.

DavaiMarat
11-25-2009, 11:28 AM
if you're a good player with solid strokes, going after your shots is a great idea. sometimes playing 'control tennis' translates into racket head deceleration, which is never a good thing. i know when i amp up the intensity, try to get on the ball as quickly as possible, and hit it with conviction, it translates into a much better overall state of concentration and game awareness.

That's what I was doing. I sprinted to every ball and tried to thump it. I took special care to keep a loose arm though. From the upper body I was fine but it's the footwork that was the hard thing to maintain. All the small deceleration steps to maintain balance takes it toll.

When I'm in the other 'mode' of tennis. I carefully weigh my steps to glide into the ball. I guess I'm waiting for the ball more. So my last step and my swing happen at the same time. It's a smoother less effort game where I beat people with a heavy topspin ball that lands a foot or two from the baseline. I call it kinda massaging the ball. As I mentioned before the lady I played loved to hit those around shoulder height so that game wasn't working.

DavaiMarat
11-25-2009, 11:31 AM
Consider this: Most club players do not train extensively for tennis so their game is limited to poking the ball back and their 100% games would literally make them have to take a month off due to strained muscles. Since you played college tennis, your current 100% would probably be about your 90% back in the day.

If you don't mind the training, then I bet you could reach your 100% with less tiring results in the future.

Yeah. I think I must of hit this hard before but you know how it is. You get a job, a wife, a mortgage and suddenly you loose a little bit of the edge you once had. You end up playing the same people over and over and you really don't need to try that hard to beat them.

Hence, you end up becoming them. That's it. Time to call that trainer that keeps bugging me at the club.

LeeD
11-25-2009, 12:01 PM
NOBODY can sustain for a longish career. Just too many injuries and distractions.
You're 35 and feeling it.
Try 60 when you've played at the 6.0 level 30 years ago and find yourself closer to 4.0 nowadaze, and worst when the sprained ankle acts up, the back of the hitting hand wrist, the outside deltoids, the torso strain, not to mention the mental handicap of old age (just can't do it anymores)... :)
You're conceived, born, live some hopefully for yourself, then you decline and DIE. Dat's all folks!:shock:

HunterST
11-25-2009, 12:18 PM
wait wait wait wait!

that's 4 people, two sets each, which means you played 8 sets.

ANYONE, young or old, good shape or bad shape is going to notice their play start to worsen after playing 100% for 8 sets. I mean come on.

DavaiMarat
11-25-2009, 12:26 PM
wait wait wait wait!

that's 4 people, two sets each, which means you played 8 sets.

ANYONE, young or old, good shape or bad shape is going to notice their play start to worsen after playing 100% for 8 sets. I mean come on.

But i wasn't playing more then usual. I usually get out at least 3 times a week. Twice during the week and once on the weekends. Luckily my wife's into tennis as much as I am.

jrod
11-25-2009, 12:47 PM
That's what I was doing. I sprinted to every ball and tried to thump it. I took special care to keep a loose arm though. From the upper body I was fine but it's the footwork that was the hard thing to maintain. All the small deceleration steps to maintain balance takes it toll.

When I'm in the other 'mode' of tennis. I carefully weigh my steps to glide into the ball. I guess I'm waiting for the ball more. So my last step and my swing happen at the same time. It's a smoother less effort game where I beat people with a heavy topspin ball that lands a foot or two from the baseline. I call it kinda massaging the ball. As I mentioned before the lady I played loved to hit those around shoulder height so that game wasn't working.

Wait, I'm not sure I understand you correctly. In your initial post you state playing with this intensity is unsustainable Yet here you make a careful distinction between the styles of play and discount the role the upper body played in your fatigue while emphasizing the footwork as the primary contributing factor.

What I don't understand is why you cannot employ the less strenuous style of footwork with the aggressive style of hitting? Wouldn't this essentially conserve some energy and allow you to continue to thump the ball? I know I need to be set up properly to hit a good ball, regardless as to whether I am spinning it back deep with heavy topspin or outright thumping it....

What am I missing?

DavaiMarat
11-25-2009, 01:09 PM
Wait, I'm not sure I understand you correctly. In your initial post you state playing with this intensity is unsustainable Yet here you make a careful distinction between the styles of play and discount the role the upper body played in your fatigue while emphasizing the footwork as the primary contributing factor.

What I don't understand is why you cannot employ the less strenuous style of footwork with the aggressive style of hitting? Wouldn't this essentially conserve some energy and allow you to continue to thump the ball? I know I need to be set up properly to hit a good ball, regardless as to whether I am spinning it back deep with heavy topspin or outright thumping it....

What am I missing?

Intensity?

When I was thumping the ball I was try to take everything inside the court and swinging for the fences. Your constantly trying to rob your opponent of time and taking everything rising.

The less strenuous style involved more waiting for the ball and smooth gliding into the ball. I guess it's more side to side and error forcing instead of winner hitting.

I guess I'll have to make a video.

jrod
11-25-2009, 01:15 PM
Intensity?

When I was thumping the ball I was try to take everything inside the court and swinging for the fences. Your constantly trying to rob your opponent of time and taking everything rising.

The less strenuous style involved more waiting for the ball and smooth gliding into the ball. I guess it's more side to side and error forcing instead of winner hitting.

I guess I'll have to make a video.


ok, I understand the distinction you are making and the advantages with taking time away from your opponent. What I was confused about was the style of footwork required to play "thumping" tennis and that required for "gliding" tennis. My question is whether there is an enormous difference in energy invested in the footwork required for each?

In my game, I don't make a distinction. Good footwork requires an given investment of energy regardless as to whether I am thumping it or not. Of course, I'm not playing 5.5 level tennis either but at my age (53), it doesn't seem to matter what I do with the ball. I get tired regardless and it's primarly due to the energy invested in footwork.

DavaiMarat
11-25-2009, 01:33 PM
ok, I understand the distinction you are making and the advantages with taking time away from your opponent. What I was confused about was the style of footwork required to play "thumping" tennis and that required for "gliding" tennis. My question is whether there is an enormous difference in energy invested in the footwork required for each?

In my game, I don't make a distinction. Good footwork requires an given investment of energy regardless as to whether I am thumping it or not. Of course, I'm not playing 5.5 level tennis either but at my age (53), it doesn't seem to matter what I do with the ball. I get tired regardless and it's primarly due to the energy invested in footwork.

I think I understand your confusion. Don't get me wrong, I'm still taking 6-7 steps between each shot on average and I'm still investing a lot of energy into the points either style.

Perhaps I should use the words 'Aggressive' footwork. I'm constantly chasing the ball trying to blugeon it inside the court. Somehow it requires everything to be notched up gear I guess. I didn't feel terrible when I was playing however it was the aftermath which was the problem. Hitting the ball harder makes the wear and tear on your body makes it just a little tougher to recover then usual.

HunterST
11-25-2009, 02:31 PM
But i wasn't playing more then usual. I usually get out at least 3 times a week. Twice during the week and once on the weekends. Luckily my wife's into tennis as much as I am.

Yeah, but like you said, you weren't gong 100 percent usually. To me, it sounds kind of like running. You have your practice pace, where you go at around 75-85% of your best and then you have race pace full out 100%. You'd use your 100% during league or tournament matches, but can't sustain that for 8 sets. Just think how drained pros are after 5 sets, and they're in world class physical condition.

jmjmkim
11-25-2009, 06:06 PM
Hmm, this is quite interesting. I think I will try it out to see if it might be true with me. The next time i play, i will try my 100%.

KenC
11-25-2009, 11:24 PM
Well, the good news is that going 100+% will help you to gain endurance and to progress faster. I think eventually your age will put a natural limit to how far you can go. In other words, you won't ever beat Federer, but you will definitely improve your local standings. Then when your current 100% becomes your future 50% you should hopefully find that you only have to step on the gas for crucial points and the later parts of each set.

cl76
11-25-2009, 11:29 PM
You can't play at 100% all the time because you're only human. You will tire, you will make mistakes, you will have bad days, it happens. However if you learn how to cope with setbacks, learn from mistakes and find a way to overcome when it all seems impossible, then you can say you're playing at 100% - regardless of whether you win or lose.

Ripper014
11-26-2009, 12:02 AM
Sure you can play 100% all the time... you can play 100% of what you have at that moment... it may not be 100% of your potential... but if it is 100% of what you have available... I don't think you can ask for anything more.

You only short change yourself if you give less than 100% of what you have... to look back after a lost match and think you could have given more.

mental midget
11-26-2009, 08:52 AM
the key is fitness. you can't be there mentally if your body's not backing it up. the better shape you're in, the more you'll find yourself able to summon and sustain that super-sharp focus.

LuckyR
11-26-2009, 10:08 AM
By using terms like "playing out of my mind" it implies that the OP was making shots that they usually could not make, ie making low percentage shots a moderate or high percent of the time. If this is what he means then no, noone can be lucky forever. On the other hand, he may be mistaken and what he believes are low percentage shots are in his hands, actually very make-able shots.

As to the toll that playing high quality tennis takes on your body, that is nothing new. It is real and worsens with age, but should rebound nicely after a little rest.

DavaiMarat
11-26-2009, 10:39 AM
By using terms like "playing out of my mind" it implies that the OP was making shots that they usually could not make, ie making low percentage shots a moderate or high percent of the time. If this is what he means then no, noone can be lucky forever. On the other hand, he may be mistaken and what he believes are low percentage shots are in his hands, actually very make-able shots.

As to the toll that playing high quality tennis takes on your body, that is nothing new. It is real and worsens with age, but should rebound nicely after a little rest.

I guess I wasn't playing out of my mind but making a conscious effort to pour all my focus and intensity into each point. This culminated into the ability to hit the ball hard and accurately. However it wasn't effortless. Playing like this I felt took a greater toll on my body which translated into more recovery time. The other way I played was safer and less taxing. Like at 80% intensity. I'm not pushing but I'm not flattening out going for corners. I guess it's bit hard to explain.

LuckyR
11-26-2009, 01:57 PM
I guess I wasn't playing out of my mind but making a conscious effort to pour all my focus and intensity into each point. This culminated into the ability to hit the ball hard and accurately. However it wasn't effortless. Playing like this I felt took a greater toll on my body which translated into more recovery time. The other way I played was safer and less taxing. Like at 80% intensity. I'm not pushing but I'm not flattening out going for corners. I guess it's bit hard to explain.

I think you explained it quite well. I would look at your experience with the opposite viewpoint, though. What you call intense focus, many (including myself) would call matchplay tennis. The "regular" intensity version would be "hitting around" or playing social tennis.

Your confidence in going for corners was natural once you buckled down and hit the sort of ball that was very likely to land exactly where you aim the shot. This sort of shot requires the intensity you put into the prep for taking the shot. It all runs together.

cl76
11-26-2009, 03:15 PM
the key is fitness. you can't be there mentally if your body's not backing it up. the better shape you're in, the more you'll find yourself able to summon and sustain that super-sharp focus.

I disagree. Mental strength can persist long after the body tires. It's easy to hit your best when you're physically fresh, not so easy when the body begins to fatigue. Thus you only find out what you're truly capable of when you are tired because that is when you're pushing yourself beyond your limits.

Kevinfiji
12-06-2009, 06:55 PM
lol, i lose my 100% intensity 4-5 games into a set. maybe it's just my stamina i need to work on :(

NLBwell
12-06-2009, 10:13 PM
Thus the Sampras method: Float around, keep even with the other player and then get really intense for that one break to win the set.
(often seen in NBA games where a team like the Lakers will just hang around until blowing out the other team at some point - it is a long grueling season and you can't play 100% all the time)
The guys you play with will think they are just as good as you, but won't understand why they just can't seem to ever beat you.

GuyClinch
12-07-2009, 04:50 AM
Of course max intensity isn't sustainable. What the pros do is get fit enough so their normal 75% intensity is good enough to win points with - saving that something extra for the key moments.

The good thing about tennis is your opponent is dictating some of your work effort - and you can also pick shots that are less tiring in terms of recovery..

Pete