PLEASE NOTE: The medical opinions in USTA.com's Ask the High Performance Lab are responses intended for the average player. Please consult with your primary physician before beginning any new exercise program.
The health and fitness advice for this week's column come from Mike Nishihara, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for USTA Player Development. Mike has worked for the USTA since the spring of 2004 and has worked with a number of top tennis players in his career, including Pete Sampras, Martina Hingis and James Blake. Q: A little about me. I'm 50 years old and a state level player.
|Mike Nishihara has been named Strength and Conditioning Coach for the USA Tennis High Performance program. Nishihara is based at the USA Tennis High Performance Training Center in Key Biscayne, Fla. |
I am just returning from a year-long illness and I no longer have the stamina to play more than one match a day (most tournaments schedule two). Any suggestions?
I play doubles on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday and singles on Fridays. I am normally too tired or stiff to work out on off days. Is there a proven schedule of tennis and conditioning that will improve performance?
Nishihara: I, personally, have two answers for your first question. One – retire from competition. That, of course, does not mean you can’t still enjoy tennis recreationally. Two – improve your stamina by training.
As for your second question, is there a proven schedule of tennis and conditioning that will improve performance - no, it does not exist. Unfortunately, strength and conditioning training schedules are not like adjustable caps – “one size fits all.” An appropriate training schedule can be designed for each individual.
Is there proof that the training schedule will improve performance? Many variables contribute to performance, but consider the following. If you feel you lack the stamina to perform well, doesn’t it seem logical that improving your stamina will improve your performance? A certified strength and conditioning specialist can design a program for you to improve your stamina.
Make sure to warm up properly prior to activity and cool down and stretch after activity. Taking these steps may alleviate the stiffness you are experiencing and allow you to train to improve your stamina.
Q: How much exercise is too much for a "young" 74-year-old male do? I can jog a mile or more, run up a hill (not too steep and not too long), lift barbells, etc. But I don't know if I am building myself up or wearing myself down. Can you advise? Thanks, Bobby.
Bobby, I believe that each individual has their own limits. At 74, you can probably do a lot more than many individuals half your age. In my opinion, if you feel good, you are probably doing the right amount of activity. If you are feeling pain, you may be doing too much.
As for anyone, regardless of age, exercise is usually more beneficial than being sedentary; however, there are risks associated. Always check with your doctor before starting new exercise regimens and seek medical advice if you have questions about activity and your health.
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