Kids: how many hours court-time a week?

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by TheCanadian, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Good, thank you. I will check it out.
    Related reading:
    I enjoyed that book, The Talent Code.
     
  2. Mitch Bridge

    Mitch Bridge Rookie

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    Genetic gifts are absolutely important. However, tens of thousands of athletes are talented enough to make it in tennis. You can develop tremendous skills through smart practice. There are many tennis players who don't participate in other sports and lose out on the athletic skill acquisition. Touch, racquet head speed, footspeed, coordination, hand/eye can all be greatly enhanced through intelligent training.
     
  3. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    Hey coach, good to see you on the forum. Your resume is quite impressive.
     
  4. Mitch Bridge

    Mitch Bridge Rookie

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    Thanks. I enjoy the discussions and the passion involved in the game we all are obsessed with. Looking forward to someback-and-forth in the future.
     
  5. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    This is great. Now we have Socal with you and S. FL. with me covered from the coaching angle. We should be able to provide some good insight on the forum.
     
  6. MarTennis

    MarTennis Rookie

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    Excellent summary. Thank you.

    Just enjoying the succinct nature of this post. Thanks again.
     
  7. Towerofpower205

    Towerofpower205 Rookie

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    The academy I was at maintains high intensity through every practice however the majority of the players have lingering injuries. I wouldn't reccomend it now. I'm happy with 2 hours on court and weight training
     
  8. TheCanadian

    TheCanadian Semi-Pro

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    The 20-year-old Grigor Dimitrov practices about 3 hours a day plus fitness training and then he passes out from being tired.

    Anything more not only seems counterproductive but a form of child abuse.
     
  9. tennisconsultcom

    tennisconsultcom Rookie

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    Martina Hingis worked out two-three hours a day on the court. But it was very qualitative practice. Quality not quantity is the most important thing. I hate to say but sometimes coaches offer many hours program for junior players because it is easiest way to make money. More hours mean more money. Look at many tennis academies schedule: 25+ hours a week plus tournaments for junior players.
     
  10. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Dimitrov is not exactly what competitive juniors are aspiring to become.

    For each, his own.
     
  11. Mitch Bridge

    Mitch Bridge Rookie

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    Keep in mind the type of practice that makes players champions. If you are super-intensive, two hours will wipe somebody out. If all of your practice is an intensive grind, then you are not working on your serve or return-of-serve enough. Each player has different needs and the schedule should be structured accordingly. We need to differentiate between top elite pros and their training, then top level college D1-ranked players at the next level, and work our way down the heirarchy of tennis levels to work out what is ideal for that level and that player.
     
  12. tennisconsultcom

    tennisconsultcom Rookie

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    Good point. The key word is differential approach to each player and periodization.
     
  13. jigglypuff

    jigglypuff Rookie

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    What schedule do you suggest for a junior aspiring for a top D1 college vs. one that is eyeing the pros?
     
  14. KTENNIS

    KTENNIS New User

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    For the professional circuit, 6 hours a day in squads or 4 in a private lesson is the bare minimum for a 15 year old.
     
  15. tennisconsultcom

    tennisconsultcom Rookie

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    How do you know that? Can you provide a list of scientist recommendations about that? I heard that Martina Hingis, for example, never train more than two-three hours a day.
    Russian sport scientists recommend no more than 15 hours a week totally for training of juniors. If a kid has a talent is enough. If a kid does not have a talent to go to pro level, why to destroy his organism with 30 hours of training a week?
     
  16. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    Exactly. I bet many pros had schedules at ages 14-18 much closer to 2-3 hours than "6 hours a day".
     
  17. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, things used to be a lot more laid-back.

    Counting physio and gym work....the elite jrs are doing much, much more these days at academies and even at club programs and camps.

    I believe we are seeing the days of a smaller prime on the men's tour, as the age a player breaks through is getting higher, and the age a player retires is not getting higher. It might be getting lower soon.

    The game is just a lot more physical now...we hear that a ton...and it's really evident from the elite 12s all the way up to the pros.
     
  18. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    I do not think it was more laid back. Every generation has its kids worked all day long. Nick B. was a military guy and worked his kids super hard 30 years ago. Football and other coaches used to deny water, and use all kinds of tortures.

    In my experience the best kids worked hard but shorter and smarter than the next tier of kids 20 years ago and still do so today. Nothing has changed for the elite players. Agassi and Courier were not the hardest working guys at Nick's back then and Djoker likely worked smarter but less than most kids his age.

    What you are seeing is more IMG or old eastern bloc copy cats over the past 15 years or so. They all publish a schedule more intense than the other....and delusional parents pay money because if Johnny works harder he will be the best. But this hardly ever is the reality.

    When you watch a top pro they make the game look so easy many times. Lesser players seem to be using twice the energy. Same thing I see in practice as kids. The best ones work hard, smart, but many times less than other kids.

    So any increase you see in being less laid back is most likely just because more of these harder than practical academies are taking root....great for making money. I do not see the top ten 12s-18s being any more intense or worked harder than they were 20 years ago.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  19. justinmadison

    justinmadison Semi-Pro

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    I sit here in my hotel room reading this statement and cannot match it with reality. My son is playing the Swedish Masters for U16 this week. Yesterday he played two two hour singles matches followed by a 1.5 hour doubles match. He is asleep at the moment but will soon wake up to play his next singles match.

    How exactly could he be ready for that kind of tournament play by normally practicing 2 hours a day?
     
  20. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    I do. I was a nationally ranked then div 1 player in the 80s.
    I was a coach for almost 20 yrs.
    I am a dad who sees kids train 2 to 3 hrs per day (and a little more at times on weekends).
    I see some kids and parents feel the ridiculous pressure to make tennis a full-time job at the expense of academics.

    Therefore, I do see elite-level tennis as a little more intense these days. I agree with some of what you said, though, about working shorter but smarter and I am all for it. Nice post.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  21. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    In that 2 hour match, how much time was spent moving intensely? How much was spent waiting between points, change overs, etc? I bet you it was 1/5th as much energy expended than in a well constructed 2.5 hour practice with no wasted time.

    A body prepares for a sport using practice simulations of the energy used. In tennis, mostly short bursts, you train some on court and some court. Off court would be building the cardio base, short burst drills, strength training, etc.

    I know some very elite juniors who train about 1.5-2 hours on court and perhaps 45-60 minutes off court. You can do a LOT working out intensely in the gym in 60 minutes!
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  22. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    I think we agree. I thought you meant these 5-6 day multi part training session that have popped up at every tennis 'academy' in order to justify charging so much. 2-3 hours, combined on and off court, is what I also see the elite juniors doing. But I remember that being about it for the top kids years ago also.

    And yes, the number of helicopter tennis parents applying court side practice and match pressure has definitely increased over the past 10 years. So from that stand point I agree, it is more intense.
     
  23. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    What about the physical energy consumed due to the mental aspect? In a real match, fear of losing can consume a lot of energy. There will also be lot more drop shots and placements in a real match, which require lots of running.
     
  24. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    justinmadison....just one more thing to add. That phenomenon you saw in a 2 hour match was also 'competitive anxiety'. Perfectly normal and common.

    In a 2 hour intense practice a kid uses a lot more energy than in a 2 hour match. But in a match the body behaves differently, harder to breathe, muscles get tenser. So players tire even when they are using less energy than in practice.

    You can have practice matches and work a kid 4 hours a day. But in a real match their bodies will still act differently.

    Ask any basketball player who has been out. They can train more than ever, get their cardio system in amazing shape. But when they first get into a real game, within minutes the lungs and legs are burning.

    Adding extra practice time will not make this disappear.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  25. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    suresh....mind reader! I just added another post on that exact subject of competitive anxiety and how it affects the body! Drop shots I do not think are a factor, we work the kids hard in practice running all over the place, more than they ever do in a match.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  26. justinmadison

    justinmadison Semi-Pro

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    You would lose that bet. These kids were playing long, intense rallies; dripping sweat and gasping for breath after every point. It is great to construct practice with no wasted time but you cannot simulate the “win or go home” intensity of an actual match between equally matched 16 year old boys/men.

    If you really think a single 2.5 hour practice each day will produce the physical fitness necessary to compete in this environment then good luck to your players …. They will need it.
     
  27. Misterbill

    Misterbill Semi-Pro

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    If they were gasping for breath after every point, then I would draw the conclusion that their current training regimen for fitness and stamina is not optimal.

    Either they are spending too much practice time on the court and their muscles are getting overused and "stale", or the balance in practice time between technique and conditioning needs to be changed.

    I am in the camp that says 2-3 hours on court per day, plus maybe an hour in the gym/on the running trails per day.......with at least one complete day's rest per week......is plenty
     
  28. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    Yup, justinmadison's scenario just does not up and I have been around this game for a long time.

    My guess is he does not understand what really happens to the body in competition. A well constructed practice of 2-3 hours with proper training for the short and long term energy use seen in tennis is plenty to prepare a kid. But even relaxation techniques can not totally prep a kid for what happens under competition to the body.

    My guess is also the boys he saw were either over trained or improperly trained....very common in junior tennis.

    Strange that he admits you "can not simulate the win or go home intensity of an actual match"....exactly what I tried to explain to him. Yet he thinks just piling on the practice hours is helpful. I am at a loss as to why he would think any human would need/be able to train intensely for more than 3 hours a day to become physically fit for tennis.

    I also thank him for his concern....but my 2-3 hour kids most times do quite well in tournaments. Strange, I have seen many of them get into these 2 plus hour grind fests...on clay...yet they are never "gasping for breath". Weird.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  29. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I am the new Allen Fox.

    These adrenalin secretions and anxiety responses have a tremendous effect on the game for recreational players (don't know much about juniors). It not only results in "choking,", but hands and legs feel heavy and breathing takes a hit. Vision gets more blurry, footwork vanishes. All this directly or indirectly makes for more fatigue.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  30. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    So if you push a kid for 5 hours a day in practice instead of 3....will the dynamic you describe go away?
     
  31. tennisconsultcom

    tennisconsultcom Rookie

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    Good point CoachDAD. It looks that you studied sports science and medicine.

    The problem of many parents (and coaches), that they have never read any Sports Science recommendations. For instance, I talked to a parent and his top ranked 17 years old junior last week. They have no idea what is player development plan is, why a player needs to have active rest for two weeks from tennis at least two times a year, what periodization is, why go to Carls Junior after a workout is a bad idea, etc.

    I am going to publish some scientific articles and recommendations for junior tennis players development on my blog soon. I hope, it would be useful for tennis community. You may ask questions about that and I try to find answers from experts.
     
  32. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It might help, but not sure what the side effects will be! There is also the basic issue of exposure to the sun, which is not to be underestimated in FL and CA.
     
  33. tennisconsultcom

    tennisconsultcom Rookie

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    I agree completely.

    CoachDad, I have a question to you, can you contact me on my website (contact form). Thank you.
     
  34. seminoleG

    seminoleG Semi-Pro

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    As a non-Tennis player I truly approached my daughters budding career armed with lots of information and most if it pointed to too much court time. IMHO. 5,6,7 hours a day for 8,9,10s I felt was ridiculous. BUT I didn't play and spent half that and was tops in 2 sports. So I evaluated my time and in Football you spend lots time standing, in Track lots time on technique and fitness.

    So I applied this to tennis, fitness (away from court), specific technical on strokes. All complete in the time she would play a match. No session longer than 2.5 hrs with specific goals. No more than 3 days week of tennis a 4th day every other week for match play.

    Fitness 2 days week with Travel Soccer (3 days if game ). Her day free and every day she can bike, swim in pool, ride scooter, trike we have a garage full of stuff so she's doin fitness without doing fitness.

    Kids play, let them play and fitness will come. IMHO this is where lots juniors overtrain and their bodies break down.
    Also I'm not going to pay $$$$ for fitness as some do.

    Is my approach working? Well I see her outrunning her peers and her last 2 matches wasn't breaking down physically under 90 deg heat. She played 2 all day soccer tournaments and when the girls finished and hit tent continued to play pickup games while all but one was exhausted.

    Maybe @10,11,12 we stop soccer and then will have to be more creative, but for now it's working and when she is on the court she's not exhausted and can focus on TENNIS.
     
  35. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    Seminole, that sounds like one of the most sensible approaches to junior training I have ever read. I would be willing to put some money on your child being well adjusted when she gets older, even if she is not a pro tennis player.
     
  36. Mitch Bridge

    Mitch Bridge Rookie

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    Sounds like a great system, especially for a player of her age. Players that are under twelve should be playing other sports to learn a myriad of skills that will take much longer if they only train in tennis...there is no system for development that fits all players. If McEnroe had to train 5 hours a day he would have quit. He was playing high level soccer, so the fitness, mobility, coordination component was maximized. He was smart, creative and competitive. With all of his attributes, he was able to be amazingly successful without all the training hours because he acquired many of his gifts while mastering other activities, which is what highly intelligent and creative people do. Balance your kids' tennis with other sports, musical training, art, literature, and instead of training a future drone, you will have an interesting, well-rounded, talented tennis player on your hands.
     
  37. KTENNIS

    KTENNIS New User

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    Most tennis academies offer elite programs at 4-6 hours.
     
  38. tennisconsultcom

    tennisconsultcom Rookie

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    I agree with CoachDad. 6 hours a day for a junior tennis player is not good for the health. But very good for a business. I already asked if someone can provide recommendations from Sports Scientists about how many hours of training a week for juniors? I wrote about it in details on my blog.
     
  39. ga tennis

    ga tennis Hall of Fame

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    One thing i have noticed at my daughters academy is the little girls who are on the court 5 or 6 hours a day have alot more injuries than the 2 hour a day kids.
     
  40. tennisconsultcom

    tennisconsultcom Rookie

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    I hope your daughter trains 2 hours a day, not 6.
     
  41. ga tennis

    ga tennis Hall of Fame

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    yep only 2 or 3 a day.Shes only 10
     
  42. tennisconsultcom

    tennisconsultcom Rookie

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    I was wondering in which academy little girls play tennis for 5-6 hours a day?
     
  43. ga tennis

    ga tennis Hall of Fame

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    The girls 11,12,and13 who do the morning homeschool academy and then come back for afternoon academy drills.
     
  44. tennisconsultcom

    tennisconsultcom Rookie

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    Just find a good coach. It does not matter where he works - academy, club or public courts. A player needs to hear one voice, not many. Run away from businesses that train 12 years kids in groups for 6 hours a day.
     
  45. TheCanadian

    TheCanadian Semi-Pro

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    Best coaches are parents. Don't waist your time and money with over-priced, money-grubbing academies. Once your kid has reached a certain level go see someone established with a reputation from time to time. If your kid has potential, a national centre will take him or her in.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  46. Mitch Bridge

    Mitch Bridge Rookie

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    If the kid responds well to the parent than this is ideal on a daily training basis, but in most cases that parent will still have to find a high level coach to hit with a couple of times per week to truly learn the nuances of advanced tennis. Also, very few kids in the US will be picked up by the national program until they are terrific, and then they don't need to be picked up. Many other countries have much better support systems than we do. We have too many players to take care, therefore we should only be sponsoring players at the top, not developmental kids unless it is financial.
     
  47. TheCanadian

    TheCanadian Semi-Pro

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    In Canada, the national center trains very young kids.

    I agree that at certain point, a kid needs to see somebody established once in while to fine tune points, etc. But what's really needed is to hit a million balls, i.e. practice and practice and practice. Many parents pay for daily tennis lessons with unethical, money-grubbing coaches, when what the kid needs is practice time and match-play. Academies have their place and I think that summer academies are especially valuable.
     
  48. Mitch Bridge

    Mitch Bridge Rookie

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    For every money-grubbing coach there is a coach with soul that can be exremely helpful to a kid's development. Hitting a million balls is a huge factor, but having them monitored well is also a large part of it.
     
  49. ga tennis

    ga tennis Hall of Fame

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    i agree......
     
  50. Mitch Bridge

    Mitch Bridge Rookie

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    All great players had a top-level development coach from ages 12-15. These are the critical years to put it all together in a package that can succeed at the highest levels.
     

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