The quickest way to improve your game is to run more

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Maximagq, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    I think the off-court stuff is neglected by rec players. Obviously we aren't going to have a lot of time to do this, but I felt that running at least 3 miles a week or more definitely pays off.
     
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  2. Gyswandir

    Gyswandir Rookie

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    No question. Better stamina and speed, better able to get to the ball and position properly to hit in a comfortable position
     
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  3. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Professional

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    It's not only adult rec players who neglect their fitness. A lot of juniors who focus only on tennis are not as fit as they need to be. I mainly played soccer growing up, so I was in better shape than almost every opponent I faced in my highschool tennis matches and summer tournaments.

    I beat a number of guys who had more coaching and better technique than me simply because they would start to fade in the second set, whereas I could maintain the same level for three or more. In those days, if someone couldn't beat me in two sets, then he couldn't beat me.
     
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  4. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    3 miles a week? Assuming you run three times a week that's less than 10 minutes each run.
     
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  5. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Long distance running, cycling or cardio machines should help immensely to improve a player's aerobic fitness. It is best to develop a good aerobic base for tennis. However, tennis stamina require both aerobic fitness as well as anaerobic fitness. For the latter, be sure to include some interval training for your fitness training. On/off Rope skipping and wind sprints (alternated with low-intensity walking) can be used for this interval training.
     
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  6. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    For players who have established their games, maybe. For beginners or low intermediates, the quickest way to improve is to hit hundred and hundreds of balls (reps).
     
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  7. LuckyR

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    Best post in the thread
     
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  8. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    I usually only ran once a week so 3 miles in one interval.
     
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  9. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    I don't think tons of long distance running is necessary for rec players to improve...most points are over in 4 strokes, hardly enough time to really get that winded, which explains why fat guys can win club leagues.

    Male pros play 5 set matches where points can be 20 strokes. No comparison.
     
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  10. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    I agree, but to focus more - get in shape. People say they are in shape and then they don't move on the court. If you are in real shape, you can move your feet the entire time and your body fat % is going to be roughly 6-12% depending on your age, and time you spend on tennis.

    It takes a lot of dedication to get in shape and really go on court and move the entire time. In fact majority of rec players simply have really bad movement and a lot of it is due to fitness.
     
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  11. Zolar

    Zolar New User

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    They're over in four strokes if you can't run, that's for sure. I got back into tennis at the tail end of a running "career" where I was running 15 t0 20 miles a week. When I got back on the tennis court, I could cover that court like you wouldn't believe and it drove opponents nuts, forcing them to overhit.
    But I will concede that lower level players should work on strokes first. It's nice to win, but if you depend on your legs too much, you might not develop good technique. And that'll haunt you for a long, long time!
     
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  12. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Completely agree. Sometimes these kids have to play 2 singles and 2 doubles matches in one day. I've noticed a big difference in my son's stamina in tournaments that are during basketball season. They run a ton in basketball, and get a lot of footwork to boot. I try and keep this up when he's not playing basketball by doing "field" workouts - go to the football/soccer field and track do sprints, ladders, intervals, spider drills, etc. It's very effective and he likes doing different things.
     
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  13. maggmaster

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    Once a week won't help conditioning much. I think that an aerobic base is very important for progressing into the upper levels of play. Can you play 4.5+ doubles out of shape? Sure, will you optimize your talent? NO way.
     
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  14. dman72

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    No, I believe the 4 strokes thing is an actual statistical analysis. I've heard it here before but maybe someone is making it up. In my experience, it's probably true. You're including 10 stroke rallies with double faults and service return errors, mind you. I think it's fair to say at 4.0 or below, for every 15 stroke rally there are 2 rallies that end in one or 2 strokes. .

    Unless you're talking about pushers, and pushers that I play, I can run around the ball 3 times and catch up to their moonballs...don't need to run a marathon to have the stamina to do that.
     
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  15. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    Rec points and matches are too short to challenge aerobic conditioning. But SPEED and ANAEROBIC conditioning should greatly improve anybody's game. It's a matter of getting to the ball in time, not about doing that for a marathon worth of a distance.
     
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  16. maggmaster

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    The heart rate rarely leaves the aerobic zone during an intense singles match. You have to improve your ability to recover while still in the aerobic zone.
     
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  17. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    The heart rate rarely leaves the aerobic zone when you lift weights, so squatting or deadlifting is an aerobic exercise! :lol:
     
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  18. dman72

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    I would say they are too short to challenge anyone with a moderate level of aerobic conditioning. Once you get to the point where you can, say, complete a mile in 10 minutes or less, you're probably good to go up to a decent level rec wise if your game is there. And that's pretty damn slow. I say that even though I know a couple of guys who might not even be able to complete a mile who are respectable 3.5 players...one hits good hard flat strokes and the other hits junk, both are easily 40lbs overweight.
     
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  19. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    You guys seriously need to work on your game if most of your rallies are over in just a few strokes. I have seen plenty of 4.0 & 4.5 players who can sustain longer rallies than this. The better, competitive 3.5 players are also capable of this.

    One does not need to play best of 5 in order to take advantage of aerobic conditioning. If you are serious about taking your game to the next level, you should work on your game consistency, your aerobic capacity and your anaerobic fitness. If your work on the later two, you should have more "in the tank" for those longer rallies. This should also help you to get to the point where you are able to sustain longer rallies more often.
     
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  20. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Running 3 miles, once a week, should provide some benefit. However, for better results, you should do some additional cardio 1 or 2x per week as well.
     
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  21. dman72

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    I'm in good aerobic shape, better than most people I play. Game consistency is WAY more important than fitness at rec levels, especially 4.0 and below. Again, big fat guys win matches at the rec level, over skinny kids. "You guys" need to stop thinking you're pros..because you aren't. I can hit the ball all day against some of the pushers I play, moonballing back and forth, but that doesn't leave me sucking wind...I'm basically catching my breath between every stroke. Real hard taxing running at rec levels is not sustained.
     
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  22. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    I'm at 3.0-3.5, have played couple of almost 3h tournament matches with a lot of long rallies, and didn't feel any aerobic fatigue at all. And I haven't done ANY aerobic training, outside of 3-5h of tennis a week, in the last year. IMO, being able to play for many hours worth is just a function of how well your energy fuelling before the tournament worked.

    But more speed and explosiveness would be good, as then I'd get to more balls in time to play aggressive.
     
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  23. Bobby Jr

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    Running once a week for 3 miles isn't going to improve your tennis-specific fitness much at all tbh unless you're currently really unfit, which I doubt.

    Unless you do 3 miles of interval training to really ramp it up such a low amount of jogging really isn't contributing much to your tennis than aiding future health. It's good on days you can't play tennis (rain etc) but 3 miles is probably only 22-24 minutes for a moderately fit person.

    Improving fitness entails a FIT type schedule: Frequency (at least every other day); Intensity (comfortable pace); and Time (about 30 minutes).
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
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  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'd rather do sprints, stops, and changes of direction, like the spider drills.
    My g/f runs close to 12 miles a week, is super slow starting and stopping, but can continue running long after my 4th beer.
     
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  25. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    One does not need to play at a pro level to benefit from both aerobic and anearobic fitness. Not everyone is blessed with a decent VO2 max without working at it. Plenty of competitive junior players, college players and NTRP players work on both types. In the 8 years that I've been on these boards, there have been scores of posters that have have wondered why they seem to run out of steam or start faltering in a 3rd set. It turned out they they had only been working on one type of endurance fitness -- either aerobic or anaerobic but not both.

    Note that one does not need to be "sucking wind" during play to benefit from an improved aerobic fitness. Note that aerobic respiration of much more efficient than anaerobic. If one does not possess adequate aerobic fitness to draw from, they may may find it more difficult to sustain their level of play. Many players fade in the 3rd set because they do not have enough left in the tank. This can be due to a number of reasons. Lack of energy reserves or inadequate aerobic fitness can both be factors. Some feel that they are more mentally fatigued than physically fatigued at times. However, the mental fatigue can be due, in large part, to the physical.

    During the 1980s (in my 30s), I was playing quite a bit of competitive (tournament) badminton. During many of my singles matches, I found that I was "sucking wind" after intense rallies. I started to seriously work on both my aerobic and anaerobic fitness. I found that it really paid off. When I returned to playing tennis on a regular basis in the 90s (in my 40s), I found that my improved fitness made it easy to outlast many of my opponents and fellow players. Even in my 50s, I found that i could play for 4-5 hours at times when players 20 years younger had already faded.
     
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  26. dman72

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    The title of the thread is "the quickest way to improve your game..."

    The quickest way to improve your tennis game, for the rec player, is not more running. It's learning consistency.
     
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  27. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    To be consistent you have move your feet which means endurance. You need to have the endurance to make contact on the balls of your feet every time, and split step every time.

    So to get to that point, you need to get in shape, which means you need to run.
     
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  28. dman72

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    Big fat guys win rec leagues.

    The court isn't that big. You don't need to be able to cover line to line at rec levels, only a smaller box probably 3 feet inside the boundaries of the court. At rec levels, if your opponent is aiming within 2 feet of any line, he's going to make as many errors as he does winners so it's a wash.

    4.5 and above that changes. The vast, vast majority of players on this forum are not in that class, despite what they may think.

    There's nothing wrong with being fit in rec tennis, and it definitely helps, but learning patience and keeping the ball in play I'd put a few notches above fitness and would encourage any person to learn first before doing spider drills when they could be hitting balls.
     
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  29. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    Yup, today I saw a fat guy dominating a fitter grinder in a B-class tournament match by shortening the points, hitting on the rise, approaching the net, S/V, using short slices as setup shots etc. Grinding is not the only way to play tennis!
     
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  30. dman72

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    It's a matter of degree.

    I've seen guys with no strokes at all frustrate people by running all over the court like rabbits, bunting every shot back...they tend to be guys who compete in endurance sports like 5Ks and Marathons, "tough mudders" and that nonsense. :)

    But isn't it easier to just learn to hit a few decent shots while maintaining PATIENCE and never letting the rabbit make you change your game? You can practice this 3 hours per week and get a lot better than adding 3 hours of running per week, IMO. Even hittng dead ball feeds.
     
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  31. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    You can't both be right.

    Torpa, you've really never felt tired playing tennis? Or known anyone who has been tired?
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
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  32. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Obviously there are different levels of play, rally lengths, strength & weaknesses and fitness levels (inherent or developed) by players on these forums. The experience of torpa and dman may apply to some but not to all.
     
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  33. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Whatever works. Majority of guys i play are 4.5, some athletic 4.0s and now and then some 5.0.

    I had to get in shape. No other option.
     
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  34. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I HATE playing against you fast and quick guys who don't give up on the ball, even when it's hit hard at a sideline and you "should" just let it go.
    Hey, if YOU hit within a foot of my sidelines, I'll just stand there and say..."nice shot", as you win the point.
     
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  35. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Yep and the fat guys or dudes that don't run and beat everybody have amazing hands and touch. Most people do not possess that skill. Id rather do it right and get in shape, but thats just me.
     
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  36. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    IMO, it's a matter of what school of thought you believe.

    Yes, I know players who get tired playing tennis. One of my hitting friends says he should train more to get in better shape, to be able to play for longer at the high intensity level that we possess in practices. He's not overweight or anything, just blames his bad conditioning. At the same time I feel like I could go on forever, even though I sweat like crazy. How's that possible?

    The question is: Should my friend train aerobically, i.e do some long distance steady-state aerobic endurance training? The classical school of thought is yes, but nowadays this classical view has been questioned. The high intensity interval training (HIIT) is elevating its status, and even the conservative health authorities nowadays admit that HIIT is a more efficient training method than steady state aerobic training, even for improving health and not only for improving sports performance. I'm fimly believing in this school of thought that if you want to feel energetic, healthy, young and get joy out of sports etc. you should mostly do your training at high intensity levels, i.e anaerobic training (HIIT) and strength training, rather than slow pace aerobic training. I've almost exclusively done only anaerobic/strength training for the last two years, and indeed feel more energetic than ever. If I were following the classical school of thought, I should use so much more time on aerobic training before I were "qualified" to do this high amount of HIIT that I'm doing. Where could I find time for it? And what about recovery?

    I have a long history in the past of doing only long distance endurance trainings, mainly long distance cycling, and no anaerobic/strength training. I still remember the feeling: It felt like I only had one pace to work with, no explosiveness, no responsiveness, feeling myself slow whenever trying to increase pace. I really hate that feeling! Did back then and still do!

    To be able to enjoy playing tennis, IMO, you don't need that steady-state aerobic conditioning. Rather, improve your explosiveness, responsiveness and anaerobic capacity. That way you'll feel energetic throughout even the longest matches if you've just fuelled your energy reserves well beforehand. Leave aerobic training to marathoners. :lol:
     
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  37. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    I've run 30+ miles this week and there's still a day to go.

    3 miles a week is a pretty low threshold for cardiovascular health but it's better than nothing.
     
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  38. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    I think that aerobic conditioning allows you to improve your tennis at a faster rate than without it. When you go to practice for an hour or two, you can concentrate on watching the ball, footwork, preparation, movement, etc. If you don't have that aerobic conditioning, then the other stuff suffers and you're not really focused on the improvement because you let up on things.

    I hit with a 3.5 pusher last year (I kept running into him in the locker room and asked him if he'd like to hit). This guy is about 30 pounds over weight and looks to be in his late 40s. He told me in the car that a lot of people don't like to play against him even though he can generally beat them.

    So out on the court, he basically hits relatively high and moderately deep balls to the corners. His balls are slow so you can get to them in time to return them but he runs you back and forth. He is surprisingly fast for his appearance and can sprint very fast for about four to five shots. My approach to hitting with him was just to run down every ball and hit it back to him - but that was easy to do because I'm a runner.

    I could easily see him driving people nuts with the way he plays.

    I don't see why folks are arguing against cardiovascular fitness. 3 miles running 3 days a week is 90 minutes a week at a slow pace. You could replace a few TV shows or sports games or Talk Tennis chats with a little running.
     
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  39. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    Two benefits of the heavy player:

    1) You can use that mass to cream the ball
    2) You may actually have more overall muscle mass than someone fit because you need muscle to support that mass and that muscle may benefit you on the court.
     
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  40. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    I run 5 miles over lunch most days myself, but I never run on days I play tennis after work. It's one or the other. Usually I'll do 2 to 3 strength exercises before running, so the whole routine will take me almost exactly an hour.

    Steady state is good, but "slow" probably isn't good. I do my 5 miles ~150-155 bpm. Not really a hard pace, but not "slow". And this pace is certainly faster than my heart rate playing tennis. Nearly every match my opponent will remark at some time or another "I didn't think you could get to that one", so I'm surprisingly quick on the court......which isn't too bad for someone with a BMI at just about 30 (officially obese).
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
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  41. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    Last year I had a goal of running at least one mile every day and an overall goal of 1,000 miles. I managed to run one mile every day (it's surprisingly difficult because you go on vacation, get sick, injured, etc.) and came in at 1,300+ miles. I've already missed my goal this year because of a sick relative in the hospital.

    My workout yesterday was 90 minutes of tennis practice, 5.25 miles running and an hour of strength-training in the gym. I also did some flexibility and strength-training early in the morning and late in the evening at home. If I'm really drained playing tennis, then I try to hammer out a mile and make up the difference on non-tennis days.

    Today was 5 miles, an hour at the office gym on strength, 30 minutes at the YMCA and a little work at home in the morning and this evening. Tomorrow's schedule is like yesterday's. 90 minutes of tennis, 5 miles and strength-training.
     
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  42. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    ^^That's great!! What I find the most impressive is that you train on consecutive days. In my experience, this is where you really start to reap the benefits. And if I remember correctly, you are over 40. Awesome!!!

    My tennis partners like to play for 2-3 hours and they get really mad if I run in the afternoon and I'm tired in the evening for the match.
     
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  43. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Even w/o training, there can be quite a bit of difference from one individual to the next. While there may be other factors, genetics is a large part of this. You could very well naturally possess greater lung capacity or greater VO2 max than your buddy. Other anatomical or genetic differences might also account for endurance or performance differences (even before conditioning is introduced).

    Excellent feedback on the effectiveness of HIIT, but a couple of the conclusions that you've come to are flawed. The first of these is that aerobic conditioning is not really germane to tennis. In reality, your body needs to be able to produce energy both with and without oxygen. You are correct that tennis players do not require the aerobic capacity of a long distance runner.

    However, many competitive players still employ quite a bit of the aerobic system while playing. Many singles players will keep their heart rate in their aerobic training zone (above 60-65% of max) for much (or even most) of a match. They may derive 40% or more of their energy needs using their aerobic system much of the time. If I recall correctly, it may even be as high as 60% of their energy needs from the aerobic system at times. The following page on tennis physiology is adapted from High Performance Coaching manuals from a few years ago (I have posted links to the actual manuals in the past). It discusses, in some detail, the 3 energy systems required for tennis.

    http://www.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Sport-Science/116169_Exercise_Physiology_Tennis_Physiology/

    Collegiate and other competitive seasonal tennis players will often focus on aerobic fitness early during their pre-season workouts. Later in their pre-season workouts, they will often shift more focus on developing anaerobic fitness (but still perform some aerobic activities).

    The 2nd fallacy is that you have not developed your aerobic system. Your long distance endurance training in the past no doubt increased your VO2 max which reflects your aerobic capacity/fitness. Since you were not also developing your 2 anaerobic systems (see link above), your endurance training was very incomplete in the past.

    It is very likely, in your case, that HIIT has continued to maintain/develop your aerobic fitness in addition to developing your anaerobic fitness. Interval training is often used primarily to train the anaerobic system. However, with HIIT, many will also derive some aerobic benefit as well. Some (non-responders) may derive very little or no aerobic benefit from HIIT while many will derive moderate aerobic benefit. According to one (or more) studies, about 20% of the population are high-responders -- these people will derive substantial aerobic benefit from HIIT. You are, quite likely, a moderate or high responder.

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/242498.php

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_training#Aerobic_benefits
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_training#Criticism
    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
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  44. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    Yup, that's still steady state. When I run, I typically have a 20-25min set, with 10-15min of real work, and then 5min warmup/cooldown. My work period includes all-out stints of 30-90s, and 20-40s walking recoveries in-between. The HR tops at 175-195, depending on pace and length of stint, and then drops below 150 during recovery. This is what tennis also is, all-out bursts and recoveries. The only difference just is the length of stints and recoveries, in rec tennis my HR rarely tops even 150, and the recoveries in matches are long.

    Training this kind of stints, and then big muscle strength and plyometrics, I've perfectly gotten rid of that one-pace feeling which aerobic training develops. Short bursts in tennis feel like nothing!
     
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  45. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Magg summed it up nicely earlier in the thread.

    True. It would be more optimal if I would do a mix of steady state maintaining a heartrate say around 150 bpm and intervals (HIIT if you insist) as you describe.

    But I'm just repeating what Systemic Anomaly explains in detail above. And he's right IMO.
     
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  46. Flint

    Flint Professional

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    What about lane swimming?

    works all the muscles equally and doesn't wear the joints out.
     
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  47. dman72

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    Nobody is arguing against it. The thread title is "the quickest way...".

    Running for miles is NOT the quickest way to improve your game for rec players, and I stand by that. The QUICKEST way, one more time people.


    Now someone else go on for 3 paragraphs about how running is good for tennis, fighting the strawman.
     
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  48. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ^ You might missing the real point of the OP -- too much emphasis on "the quickest way". I believe that his intent was to promote running for game improvement.

    Note that developing consistency is not really a quick process at all for many players. For some, the "quickest way" to improves one's game might be to get a better night's sleep. But I really believe that the OP had intended for this to be an thread about running/exercise.
    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
    #48
  49. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Messages:
    8,091
    For me, running was a big part of getting from 245 pounds to 172 pounds and I can tell you that my match performance saw a sizable improvement in losing that weight. Yes, you can lose weight with a lot of other different approaches but, for me, running was a fairly easy way to lose weight where I didn't have to think too much about doing it. HIIT is more efficient but there's something to be said for running just for enjoyment or running while listening to a podcast where you don't have to think too much.
     
    #49
  50. GrandSlam45

    GrandSlam45 Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2012
    Messages:
    236
    Years ago I remember reading an article that said jogging is completely useless for tennis, because it's slow/consistent cardio rather than explosive start/stop like tennis. However from my own experience, jogging has greatly improved my stamina on the court.

    It might not work your explosive start/stop muscles, but at the very least it improves cardiovascular health and keeps your weight down.
     
    #50

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