While the ITPA was reviewing some in-depth research that has been posted on the ITPA Inner Circle looking at the biological limits to running speed, we thought that it would be important to provide some highlights to help every tennis player from recreational to professional move faster on court.
The research on how individuals move fast is limited by two major areas:
1) how much force can be applied to the ground
2) how quickly that force can be applied (i.e. how short a time period the athlete spends on the ground)
A new study by Dr. Weyand (Weyand et al. J Appl Physiol 2010) and his research group has found that the time on the ground is truly the limiting factor in an athlete’s speed potential.
This simple statement is very important to understand when developing movement for tennis. The training needs to involve generating high forces into the ground while trying to limit the amount of time spent on the ground. Therefore, it is important to develop enough strength in the lower body and core muscles to generate forces into the ground. This should be accomplished through appropriate strength training and supervised by a competent professional. These high forces also need to be moved with high velocity which amounts to an athlete’s ability to generate power: strength X speed or [(force X distance)/time]. When training for tennis-specific movement make sure the speed of movement is emphasized and keep working on developing strength levels so that optimum power can be achieve.
Weyand P G et al. J Appl Physiol 2010;108:950-961