The amount of time a player is actually playing points in a tennis match is less than 35%. That leaves more than 65% of your time in a tennis match doing something else. It’s important for players to use this amount of time wisely.
Rest and recovery are not things we normally associate with playing tennis. However, rest and recovery are probably one of the most important things we can do to improve our tennis.
Tennis is played in short bursts, which use up our muscle’s energy supply. The average amount of time for a point to be played on hard courts is 5.2 seconds. There is an average of 4.2 direction changes and the average distance run is about 4 meters or roughly 13 feet. After about 10 seconds of this kind of intensive movement on a court our muscles have depleted the phosphate ATP. It takes 30 seconds of rest after a strenuous point for our body to replace 70% of the lost ATP. We have up to 25 seconds to begin the next point. If we take less than the allotted 25 seconds we are playing the next point with significant amount of muscle energy.
After every point, it is very important to allow the body to rest. This rest is the time we need for recovery of the lost energy. Oxygen is needed to replace the ATP stores and carry the lactic acid away from the muscles to prevent fatigue. Even if your opponent is ready to play, you are entitled to your 25 seconds of oxygen dept replacement. Use your rest time after points especially after a physically exhausting point.
After 90 seconds of rest your body can replace 90% of the lost ATP. Every change over in tennis, with the exception of the first game of each set, carries with it a 90 second break. This is the ideal time for you to rest your body from the past games and to ensure your body has almost fully recovered.
It’s amusing to watch recreational tennis players and the amount of time they spend on change overs. Most of the time there is no stop at all and play continues with only a brief break to change positions. The pro’s on the other hand will sit down, towel off, drink fluids and mentally prepare for the next game. It’s enough time for a TV commercial break.
During your 90 second change over, take your time, towel off, drink fluids even if not thirsty (very important), take deep breaths and try to relax. Use your rest periods to let your body recover.
Doug Hofer, USRSA