This is a guest post by tennis coach Marcin Bieniek, our regular contributor. This month’s column gives tips on how to properly balance intense practice and post-practice recovery techniques to achieve maximum results.
Practice makes perfect. That’s right. The more you practise the better you can be. Players who spend significant amount on time on tennis court and in the gym have big chances to achieve high level of performance. Does it mean that you can feel free when the practice is over? Unfortunately not. There is still a lot to do to make you improve.
Work hard play hard. This motto is known among athletes in different sports. A lot of players think that the harder they train, the better results they will achieve. It is half-way true and it doesn’t guarantee constant improvement. Honestly, it can even harm your progress and make you have breaks because of injuries.
Pushing your body to the limits day by day is a risky strategy. Top coaches know that to let players improve and protect them from possible injuries, it is crucial to plan smart approach based on work and recovery. Players who only train hard can be overtrained and face many injuries. Players who don’t give their best and rest most of the time will never achieve the highest possible level of own performance. Only athletes who consciously balance work and recovery are able to work out really well for many days, weeks, months and even years in a row. That’s the approach we should take as well.
Practice is not over after your hit – training ends when you finish all required activities. When you hit balls on the tennis court, you work physically and mentally to get better. It doesn’t matter if your session’s goal is to correct technical weaknesses or create new tactical habit, it is always related to dealing with physical and mental pressure. When the practice is done, it is your responsibility to help your body and mind recover at the fastest pace. Our “machine” is incredible, but it can’t recover on its own when constant effort is applied day by day. That is why players have to remember to perform specific activities that will allow them to play more than one great session in a row.
Post-practice routine is a series of planned actions that allows body and mind to recover faster. Below you can find steps that will allow you to create your own routine to follow after every practice:
Jog around the court / Use stationary bike
Practice is related to intensity. Intensity is related to higher heart rate. To recover faster and let your body rest it is necessary to lower your heart rate. How can you do it? Simply jog around the court at slow pace or use stationary bike for 5-10 minutes to achieve this task.
Stretch and use foam roller
Your body was working really hard during the previous hours, so you have to help tired muscles to rest a little bit. Static stretching and foam roller are great ways to not only help you feel better but also to significantly reduce possibility of getting injured.
Eat carbs and proteins
Proper nutrition helps recovery. Shortly after the last hit on the court, you should consume carbohydrates (high glycemic index) with some lean proteins. Carbs will restore glycogen and give you energy, while proteins will take care of rebuilding broken muscles. The easiest way to do it? Take shake with you and drink it. Tasty and simple to consume.
Take a shower or use cold bath
Professionals go to the ice bath after demanding activities, because they are aware of benefits that ice provides for the tired body. If you can’t do this because of mental barrier, don’t worry. Alternate hot and cold water while taking a shower and “massage” your tired muscles. You will quickly realize how this simple treatment can help you recover much faster.
That’s it. Your routine is over. Now you can say that your practice is over too. It is all about improvement and hard work is not the only thing that you have to do every day. Always take a look at your career from a broader perspective and realize that it is important to constantly move forward. Modern sport requires much more work from athletes than ever before, so to be able to do so for many years in a row you have to apply recovery techniques. Implement post-practice routine and have a fruitful career.
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach, currently working with a Top 60 ITF player, and founder of instructional website TennisIsland.us. Marcin is the author of Enjoy Tennis Blog and a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines. Moreover, Marcin was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.
MORE ARTICLES BY TENNIS COACH MARCIN BIENIEK:
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- How to translate your tennis practice into match wins
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- How to choose the best tennis racquet to fit your level, playing style and body type
- How to handle playing tennis in sunny conditions and even take it to your advantage
- 5 portable fitness tools for serious tennis players
- Best foam roller exercises for tennis players