How much should I play..

21 Feb

Junior talent, how much should you be playing?

20 February 2012 |   0 1

HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE PLAYING?   by former Tennis Australia Head Coach, High Performance and Club Master Pro Jamie Parrott.

One of the most frequently asked questions from players and especially parents of younger players is “How much should I train? And how many matches and tournaments should I gear up for?”

In my 30+ years of coaching tennis I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time this question has been asked. I have, over time and with coaching industry consultation, come up with the following information which should be of use to you all. The table is reflective of the coaching pathway I  devised over time and was used by Tennis Australia at their commercial tennis centres and also published on their web-site. It aligns with each of the progressive levels in Australia’s accepted junior coaching pathway.

Please remember all young players are different and have different needs. This is not just dependant on size and physical development, but technical ability, stage and type of gamestyle development,  and in terms of sleep patterns and recovery, so the tables are generalisations that are a guideline only.

Hot Shots Minis and Red Ball 2-3 2-3 4-6
MLC Orange and Green ball Hot Shots 4-6 4 8-10
Development Squad 7-8 4 12-13
Comp squad (starting level) 10-12 5 15-17

*On court tennis, includes coaching sessions – squad training, private lessons, and matchplay.

** Off court physical training includes tennis specific fitness, other sports, school P.E etc

In addition to these training hours players should also be following a competitive schedule too. Whether it be at coloured ball challenges at Hot Shots level, JDS tournaments, local and schools competition or tournaments, or simply practice matches as part of a weekly program – they are all important parts of a players development.

I generally recommend players are ready for inter-club competition at an advanced Orange or early Green ball stage of their development. Ideally these formative years should be on a clay court (en-tout-cas in Melbourne). The surface is much softer therefore reducing injuries in growing bodies. It also plays slower, which it makes it the best learning surface. Kids have to learn to work the ball and their opponent around the court, and when defending are more able to run balls down due to the slower court. Check out your local club and get involved in their competitive pathway. I also suggest players enter and play JDS and OJT level tournaments at the appropriate stages of their development.

Level Practice matches and competition Matches per year
Green ball 2 sets / 1-2 matches per week 30 – 40 matches
Development squad level 4 sets or 2 matches per week 50-80 matches
Competition squad level 6 sets or 3 matches per week 60-80 matches

In any form of endeavour that you wish to take seriously there is no substitute for practice and persistence. Time on the court – more specifically quality time on the court is paramount to achieving any milestones in the game. Like anything there is no substitute for hard work. So continue to strive for your goals and climb the player pathway – and remember to “do your best every day”.

The PRO.

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