Tennis conditioning programmes should be adapted to surface

Tennis surfaces and energy demands

Everyone knows that the type of playing surface makes a very big difference to the speed of the ball and tennis styles, but what is the exact physiological impact of different surfaces on tennis players? That’s what Canadian scientists have attempted to determine in a study on four nationally ranked players who were monitored on clay and hard courts over 12 90-minute matches.

In the study, on-court tests using portable monitoring equipment were carried on to continually assess oxygen uptake, heart rate and blood lactate concentration (which was measured every 10 minutes). In addition, a time/motion analysis was carried out to accurately calculate the distance covered, playing time, resting time and exercise to rest ratio.
A statistical analysis of the results showed the following:


*The average ‘playing time’ during each match was higher on clay courts than on hard courts;
*The resting time on clay courts and hard courts was not statistically different;
*The exercise to rest ratio (calculated from the interaction between playing time and resting time) was lower on hard courts (ie indicating that a longer recovery time per unit of exercise was required on hard courts compared to clay courts);
*The distance covered meant that heart rate and blood lactate were all significantly higher on clay courts than on hard courts.

The researchers went on to conclude that ‘conditioning programmes should be adjusted according to the playing surface to account for the longer playing time, greater exercise to rest ratio, and an increased heart rate and blood lactate concentration seen on clay courts’. The importance of developing conditioning programmes based on assessment of work/rest ratios and energy requirements is something that is discussed at length in the case study main article on page 5 of this issue.
J Strength Cond Res 2007; 1:21(1):112-117

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