Objective: To examine the game characteristics, physiological (i.e., blood lactate concentration) and perceptual (i.e., RPE) responses during actual tennis competition in professional performers.
Methods: Eight trained and internationally ranked (ATP rankings) male tennis players were studied during several singles matches (best of three sets) played on an outdoor clay court surface during a professional, invitational tournament. Blood lactate concentrations (n = 53) and RPE (n = 113) were determined at selected changeovers during the game. The variables describing the characteristics of the matches; a) duration of rallies (DR); b) rest time (RT); c) effective playing time (EPT); d) shots per rally (SR), were determined from video recordings.
Results: The mean values for the match-play activity variables were DR: 7.5 ± 7.3 s, RT: 16.2 ± 5.2 s, EPT: 21.5 ± 4.9 %, SR: 2.7 ± 2.2 shots. Average blood lactate concentration and RPE values were 3.8 ± 2.0 mmol•L-1 and 13 ± 2. Blood lactate concentrations and RPE values were significantly higher (P < 0.01) in service games than in receiving games. Both, blood lactate concentration and RPE values were significantly correlated with SR and DR (r = 0.57 – 0.39; P < 0.001).
Conclusions: We found that blood lactate concentrations and RPE were influenced by the characteristics of the match and the playing situation (i.e., serving or returning). These specific situations might be used to alter the overload training stimulus during tennis on-court practice.
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