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Activity patterns, blood lactate concentrations and ratings of perceived exertion during a professional singles tennis tournament


Objective: To examine the game characteristics and physiological (ie, blood lactate concentration) and perceptual (ie, rating of perceived exertion, RPE) responses during actual tennis competition in professional performers.

Methods: Eight trained and internationally ranked (Association of Tennis Professionals rankings) male tennis players were studied during 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 (DRs); (b) rest time (RT); (c) effective playing time (EPT); and (d) shots per rally (SR), were determined from video recordings.

Results: The mean (SD) 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 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 = 0.80 to 0.28; p<0.001).

Conclusions: Blood lactate concentrations and RPE were found to be influenced by the characteristics of the match and the playing situation (ie, serving or returning). These specific situations might be used to alter the overload training stimulus during tennis on-court practice.

  • ATP, Association of Tennis Professionals
  • CV, coefficient of variation
  • DRs, duration of rallies
  • EPT, effective playing time
  • RPE, rating of perceived exertion
  • RT, rest time
  • SR, shots per rally
  • TEM, technical error of measurement
  • W:R, work-to-rest ratio

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