Physical Performance Changes after Unsupervised Training during the Autumn/Spring Semester Break in Competitive Tennis Players
Background: All competitive tennis players take time away from coaches throughout the year; however, little information is available as to the short-term physiological effect of these breaks.
Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the impact of a 5 week off-campus structured, yet unsupervised, break from regular training in top collegiate tennis players.
Methods: A nationally ranked collegiate NCAA Division I male tennis team (n = 8) performed a test battery in December and again in January after a 5 week period of recommended, yet unsupervised, training. The tests performed were 5, 10 and 20 m sprints, spider agility test, medicine ball power throws, standing long jump, Wingate anaerobic power test, VO2max, push-up and sit-up test, grip strength and range of motion (ROM) measures (goniometer) of the shoulder, hip, hamstring and quadriceps.
Results: Paired t tests (p < 0.05) showed significant decreases in mean (SEM) Wingate power measurements in Watts/kg (pre: 8.35 (0.19) w/kg; post:7.80 (0.24) w/kg), minimum Wingate power (pre: 5.89 (0.27) w/kg; post: 5.10 (0.38) w/kg) and VO2max values (pre: 53.90 (1.11) ml/kg/min; post: 47.86 (1.54) ml/kg/min). A significant increase was seen in the athlete's fatigue index (pre: 44.26 (2.85) %; post: 51.41 (3.53) %), fastest 5 m (pre: 1.07 (0.03) s; post: 1.12 (0.02) s), 10 m (pre: 1.79 (0.03) s; post: 1.84 (0.04) s) and 20 m (pre: 3.07 (0.05) s; post: 3.13 (0.05) s) sprint times. No significant differences were seen for the other variables tested.
Conclusions: These results suggest that a 5 week interruption of normal training can result in significant reductions in speed, power and aerobic capacity in competitive tennis players, likely owing to poor compliance with the prescribed training regimen. Therefore, coaches and trainers might benefit from techniques (eg, pre- and post-testing) requiring athletes' to have accountability for unsupervised workouts.