By Kayla Fujimoto Epperson
Conference Day 2
Sunday morning began with Jonny Fraser, owner of Science in Tennis, who opened with an engaging presentation on “Developing the 12 and Under Tennis Athlete”. A number of drills were demonstrated to develop motor skill competencies, foundational movement patterns, and neuromuscular control in youth athletes. He highlighted the following concepts:
- Coordination training for the youth athlete involves rhythm, differentiation, orientation, balance, and reaction
- Youth athletes should have a positive experience with physical activity
- Avoid using exercise as a form of punishment
- Avoid over coaching youth athletes
- Allow youth athletes autonomy to learn from their mistakes or failed attempts to complete a training drill.
- Drills should be fun and engaging for young tennis players
Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, President of STMS, presented the STMS Exchange Lecture “Utilizing Scientific Evidence in Returning Injured Tennis Players Back Safely in a Case Based Approach.” He opened his presentation with recommendations to have a participation based mission when developing junior tennis players. He echoed sentiments of Jonny Fraser, stating the value of teaching physical literacy and evaluating sports readiness to reduce future injury risk in young tennis players. Dr. Jayanthi made the following recommendations for reducing injury risk in youth tennis players:
- participating in tennis less hours per week than your age
- consider playing 1-2 tournaments per month
- consider playing less than 40 singles matches per year
- delay teaching the kick serve until age 13
- consider delaying sports specialization until mid to late adolescence.
Dr. Jason Vescovi, Former Head of Sport Science and Medicine for Tennis Canada, presented “Understanding and Applying Load Monitoring in Tennis: The Science & Application”. The discussion included how to monitor the acute to chronic work load principle when training our tennis athletes. Recovery questionnaires and monitoring heart rate variability (HRV) was reviewed in order for tennis coaches to monitor training load.
"Stop Guessing and Start Measuring" ~ Dr. Jason Vescovi
Finally, Dan Taylor, Director of Player Development and Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for GA Tech Men’s Basketball and Men’s Tennis, presented, “Developing the Tennis Player-- What We Can Learn From Collegiate Basketball: Power, Strength, Mobility and Endurance and How To Effectively Put It All Together”. Dan shared his perspectives and experiences with training both the men’s basketball and tennis programs for Georgia Tech. He shared his philosophy regarding the use of "continuums" to drive his strength and conditioning programming and prescription. Dan provided a very clear, stepwise approach to creating strength and conditioning programs with an emphasis on having a reason for having your athletes do a specific exercise.
- "Continuum One" is all about being able to effectively progress and regress an exercise.
- "Continuum Two" deals with how to progress a specific exercise activity from laying, to kneeling, and to standing to be more representative of the athlete’s movement in their sport.
- "Continuum Three" is about categorizing the purpose for prescribing the exercise whether it be for mobility, stability, strength, or power.
Overall, it was a successful weekend of learning and networking with some of the top educators and researchers in the world of tennis performance and fitness. We must create a strong multidisciplinary team to grow our sport and to manage our athletes so they may reach their highest potentials and enjoy the game of tennis for life.
Kayla Fujimoto Epperson is a Physical Therapist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in the Chicago Western Suburbs. She received her B.S. in Kinesiology with minors in Coaching, Fitness Instruction, and Psychology from Indiana University in 2014. While at Indiana, Kayla competed as a Division I tennis player. She earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from Northern Illinois University in May 2017. While at NIU, Kayla had clinical education experiences with Longshots Baseball in Darien, IL and Emory Sports Medicine in Atlanta, GA. Her clinical interests include injury reduction, management of the overhead athlete, youth sports specialization, and long term athlete development. She is a member of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy and the STMS. Follow Kayla on Twitter @KaylaFuji_Eppy.