For over a week, especially in Italy, almost all tennis players, not only amateurs but also professionals, have been left unable to train because of ministerial decrees that prohibit any form of physical activity carried out in tennis clubs and gyms.
Due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the world of tennis is undergoing significant changes in the competitive calendar (national and international) and there seems to be no nearing the light at the end of the tunnel.
This article will try to help us understand how physical parameters change in an athlete's body and how you can continue training even in very small spaces. The studies in bibliography that investigate the variations of the conditional parameters (strength and endurance) in the absence of physical activity are very clear and show concordant data.
What is scientifically defined as BED REST, or forced bed rest, which is not too far from staying at home between bed, chair and sofa as in the current situation, brings to light the problem of non-training. If, initially a forced rest period could also benefit athletes, scientific author, M.
Ried-Larsen, in a review of 2017 studies showed that the aerobic component (VO2max) decays by about 30 per cent after a break longer than two weeks. Shinoara et.al., have demonstrated how the components related to strength instead decay by more than 20 per cent in total in 20 days (after analyzing the muscles of the lower limbs in two different groups).
So how can we deal with these declines in aerobic and muscle fitness? Semi-professional players, young players and club players have the opportunity to continue training even in confined spaces and with easy-to-find material.
One of the most effective methods of doing this is undoubtedly "Cross Training" What is it about? This is what it is about. "Cross Training" literally means "training across" Its main objective is the development of all the skills that determine an optimal physical condition (various expressions of strength, endurance and speed-velocity) using a wide spectrum of stimuli and a wide range of general and/or specific exercises, variously combined with each other, it is becoming an effective ally to quarantine.
Cross Training, therefore, involves a sequence of short and intermittent high intensity alternating muscle efforts (HIIT session - High Intensity Interval Training) with phases of total rest (passive recovery) or mild physical activity (active recovery).
The required efforts can be dictated by a predefined number of repetitions or usually last between 10 and 60 seconds. The fewer time or number of repetitions, the greater the intensity required; on the contrary, the greater the time or number of repetitions, the lower the intensity at the expense of the volume.
Exercises can be repeated for three-four sets between 30 and 60 minutes in total. This mode of work, intermittent or interspersed, depending on the choice of the duration of the recoveries, serves to stimulate the organism to induce it to produce the necessary adaptations and to improve the general state of form, since everything is based on the foundations of the aerobic component.
What kind of exercises can be included in this form of training, while also considering the limited space (between home and a courtyard for the lucky ones) and the only common material kept in a tennis player's bag? The following exercises can be included: - Athletic Exercises: Short sprints and accelerations, jumps, and throws that serve to stimulate the various expressions of strength (elastic, plyometric, reactive, explosive, rapid); even a rope can be enough at home to do various useful exercises under this category.
- Weightlifting Exercises, and Adapted Weightlifting: For the development of the capacity for dynamic strength and maximum strength through weightlifting (for adult players) or the simplification or preparation of weightlifting exercises (for young athletes); even with a natural load or with a chair available, you can work effectively with squats, lunges, and even step-ups.
- General Exercises: For the development of functional and postural muscles, to stimulate flexibility, joint mobility, and core stability; with a mat we can perform hundreds of effective exercises. - Preventive Exercises: For the development of the muscles affected by specific movements in tennis; with the classic elastic bands (shoulder prevention) and mini-bands we can do many exercises.
- Specific Exercises: These are specific movements, ballasted ball shots to stimulate technical gestures. Here, without the availability of expensive and bulky material, and in a stimulating and dynamic way, you can program an effective session with easily available material such as small dumbbells, kettlebells, ballasted ball, rope, elastic, miniband, and mat.
In this phase, particular attention should be paid to preventive exercises to keep the anatomical parts and muscle chains involved in tennis movements and specific movements in order not to incur tedious injuries once one returns to normal training.