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Review and Application of An Interval Training Program to Match the Demanding Professional & Junior Tennis Schedule

Submitted by Christian Glaser DO

Athletes who get injured rely on interval training, conditioning, and rehabilitation programs to get back to competition, stay healthy and be able to compete at the highest level. Previous tennis specific literature established guidelines for injury prevention and recovery without incorporating the serve, however the developed volume based interval training proposed by Myers et al focuses on the physical demands of repetitive forces and motions of stroke production and serving as it pertains to tennis.

The retrospective study by Myers et all analyzed game day scorecards of the 2013 and 2014 US Open and the 2014 Metropolia Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships focusing on both male and female serve volumes. The two chosen tournaments represent the highest level of competition for both professional and elite junior players. The study included 135 male and 122 female participants at the professional level and 134 boys and 136 girls at the junior level. First and second serve data was extracted for the professional level, but only first serve data was available at the junior level due to scorecard data limitations. At both levels of competition males served 30 (+/- 5) and females 29 (+/- 5) times per set, with professional level players hitting more serves per match than junior level players. Second serve statistics were only available for professional players and showed that there is no difference between male (13 +/-30) and female (12+/-3) stroke counts. Additional data analysis showed that players hit roughly 40 serves per set, with a ratio of 3-to-1 of first to second serves.

In light of this data, Myers at el devised an interval training program based on 120 serves per match (40 serves times 3 sets) and 210 ground strokes (average 7 strokes per game times average 10 games and for 3 sets) as previously established in a study by Johnson et al in 2006. The program incorporated guidelines of soreness and injury classification rules throughout progression which are well published and utilized in various sports.

In the past tennis interval training programs did not incorporate serves, since service volumes were not well established. Extracting serve volume data from one tournament each, for professionals and juniors, Myers et all established a framework for both future research projects and additional volume based interval training programs. An important feature of this program recommendation is to avoid increasing volume and intensity in the same step. This provides guidance for both coaches and healthcare professionals alike. This approach can help in player development to determine if volume vs. intensity is the main force leading to injury.

This interval program can also assist in safely returning the injured athlete back to competition while designing specifically tailored injury prevention programs. One aspect of injury prevention, which was not in the scope of this study, was the correlation of serve volumes and injury incidence. When comparing a tennis player’s serve volume

to that of a professional baseball pitcher’s pitch count, the number of serves during competition is more than double that of pitch count. Future research is warranted to determine if there is a correlation between number of serves

struck and injury incidence.

Christian Glaser, DO

Non-Operative Sports Medicine

Sports Health. 2016 Nov/Dec;8(6):536-540. doi: 10.1177/1941738116657074. Epub 2016 Jul 8. Volume-based Interval Training Program for Elite Tennis Players. Myers NL1, Sciascia AD2, Kibler WB2, Uhl TL1.

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