We’ve all been there: long hours of studying, living in the library, drinking coffee, pulling all nighters… It’s that time of the quarter when students are stressed with writing two 12 page papers, one take home final, and four in-class finals all in one week. Take that and add the stresses of collegiate athletes. Not only do they have to put in vigorous hours at the library, they still have daily practices, conditioning, lifting, individual lessons with Hugh, and extra practice sets with me.
During these next few weeks, Hugh and I try to fit in a balanced practice schedule. We do not want to overwhelm the girls with long strenuous practices, so we modify the workouts. We shorten the practices, intensify them, so they can get in a good quality hit and then have time to hit the books. We call these practices “The Tennis Warehouse” practice because it is very similar to the type of intensity we do when we practice on the indoor court here at Tennis Warehouse. Lucky for us, TW is generous enough to let our Women’s and Men’s team practice on their indoor court when it is rainy. We only get the court for one-hour segments with four girls on the court. Here is what a typical work out would looks like:
We get in a good dynamic warm up before practice, which includes jogging, stretching, plyometrics, and then quick movement work on the ladder. We begin practice with a one (yes only one!) ball warm up (you hit for ten minutes with one ball with lots of consistency, placement, and foot movement). We then put a cone deep in the baseline and the girls have to hit 20 cross-courts behind the cone, before they switch sides. We also do isolation drills, where one person stands in the corner and moves the person all over the court. We make the girls do suicide sprints in between to get their heartrate up in between each set. The first thirty minutes of practice is all about grooving, feeling and hitting lots of balls, while working on footwork, balance, and a low center of gravity. Now we switch the workout to work on closing volleys, moving forward, and taking control of the net. For the last twenty minutes or so, we play singles and doubles points. These workout are short, intense, and with a purpose.
Another thing we will do in the next few weeks is really increase their conditioning and continue to strengthen their bodies with our lifting program. For the past month we have had so many matches that we were not able to push the girls to the point of extreme soreness. Now that we have a few weeks without many matches, we can do lots of sprint work, agility, and shorter distances to get them in optimal shape for our conference tournament (where they will play at Indian Wells in extreme heat for 3 days straight).
One of the conditioning workouts we do is 300-yard sprints. We do 4 sets of these 300-yard sprints, which is very similar to the length of a long point. This way the girls can work on change of direction, increasing their heart rate, and moving as quickly as possible. After we get around twenty minutes of fitness and agility, the girls are off to lift.
With a Women’s tennis team, we are not trying to get the girls bulky or muscular. We want to work on lengthening their bodies, strengthening their core, working on their balance, and especially focusing on a low center of gravity. Their workouts are very tennis specific with lots of repetitions and low weights. The girls do lots of squats and lunges, while super-setting it with abs and core work. We finish the lift with fifteen minutes of stretching to loosen up their bodies.
Now the girls have time to go to the library to study, but will feel confident on the tennis court. Coming from 4 years of experience, I have realized you play the best tennis when you have a balanced life and are feeling good in all areas of your life. This is one of the philosophies Hugh has brought to the Cal Poly Women’s Tennis program; tennis is important, but so are family, friends, education, and a love for life.
Living the dream,