Piotr Narecki, Highgate’s S&C Coach & Personal Trainer discusses the importance of Strength and Conditioning (S&C) training in tennis.
The ultimate role of S&C is to maximise our athletic ability and prepare for the demands of physical performance. S&C coaches help athletes become stronger, faster, flexible and better prepared for the metabolic challenges of sport. All this will enhance performance and reduces the risk of injuries.
Firstly, let’s look at strength, your ability to exert force, and how it relates to movement.
Our approach is simple: when we see athletes with a comparable level of technique and skills compete, in most cases, the strongest wins. Why? In general, the stronger and more powerful you are the faster and more agile you move. How does it work?
Your ability to accelerate, decelerate or change direction depends on your neuromuscular efficiency (in other words how well your brain communicates with your muscles), the pace of muscle engagement, the coordination of muscular contraction and the metabolic state of the muscle. Strength training promoted by S&C coaches significantly improves neuromuscular pathways, which play a fundamental role in movement.
We tend to analyse movement, using slow-motion videos and pay a great deal of attention to the way players move and execute strokes (biomechanics). This helps us plan specific drills tailored to an individual’s needs and ability, which can improve balance, reaction and coordination (so called motor skills).
Finally, conditioning relates to the physical demands of any sport. To analyse this we look into the energy systems used during the game as well as a player’s flexibility and posture. The right programme and correctly executed exercises will help improve stamina and reduce the risk of injury.
Everyone can benefit from a tailored S&C programme. The duration and intensity of the sessions, the resistance used and the difficulty of prescribed exercises will differ depending on individual needs, however the ultimate goal remains the same, to make you a better athlete.