Background: All competitive tennis players take time away from coaches throughout the year; however, little information is available as to the short term physiological effect of these breaks.
Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the impact of a 5-week off-campus structured, yet unsupervised, break from regular training in top collegiate tennis players.
Methods: A nationally ranked collegiate NCAA Division I male tennis team (N=8) performed a test battery in December and again in January after a five-week period of recommended, yet unsupervised, training. The tests performed were 5m, 10m, 20m sprints, Spider agility test, medicine ball power throws, standing long jump, Wingate anaerobic power test, VO2max, push-up and sit-up test, grip strength and ROM measures (goniometer) of the shoulder, hip, hamstring and quadriceps.
Results: Paired t-tests (p< 0.05) showed significant decreases in mean Wingate power measurements (pre: 8.35w∙kg-1+ 0.19; post: 7.80w∙kg-1 + 0.24), minimum Wingate power (pre: 5.89w∙kg-1 + 0.27; post: 5.10w∙kg-1 + 0.38) and VO2max values (pre: 53.90 ml•kg•min-1 + 1.11; post 47.86 ml•kg•min-1 + 1.54). A significant increase was seen in the athlete’s fatigue index (pre: 44.26% + 2.85; post: 51.41% + 3.53), fastest 5m (pre: 1.07s + 0.03; post: 1.12s + 0.02), 10m (pre: 1.79s + 0.03; post: 1.84s + 0.04) and 20m (pre: 3.07s + 0.05; post: 3.13s + 0.05) sprint times. No significant differences were seen for the other variables tested.
Conclusions: These results suggest that a 5-week interruption of normal training can result in significant reductions in speed, power and aerobic capacity in competitive tennis players likely owing to poor compliance with prescribed training regimen. Therefore, coaches and trainers may benefit from techniques (e.g. pre and post testing) requiring athletes’ accountability for unsupervised workouts.
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