Tennis Bag Checklist
Items that All Tennis Players should have in their Tennis Bags
At Home Workout
Light Weights (Recommend 3 - 5 lbs)
Yoga Mat is Optional
Jump Rope 3 -5 minutes
Push Ups 3 x 10-15
Pull Ups 3 x 5 (5 count down)
2-Way Shoulders 3 x 10 each way
Side Lunges 3 x 10 each leg
Curls 3 x 15
Plank 3 x 30 seconds (not in video)
Side Planks w/weights 3 x 10 each side
2 in Each Rung
1 in 1 out Right leg and Left Leg
Cool it Down
Ladder Drill Tips:
Move your arms like a runner when you are doing this drills
Stay light on your feet
Push Yourself (you need to mess up a little to improve but don't be careless)
Any additional questions feel free to post in the comment section below!
P.S. I hope everyone enjoyed the killer tunes as much as I did.
School Year Snack Ideas
The new school year has just begun! The Fall sports in Minnesota have been under way for 3 weeks and many students first day of class was today. I always remember when that when I was in school towards the end of the day, I almost always began to get hungry, especially if I was one of the unfortunate students who received dreaded A Lunch (the first group of students to eat lunch for the day.)
This year at On The Rise many of our drill times are earlier in the day then they were last year, (most of our drills begin at 3:30 pm or 4:00 pm Monday through Friday). The nice part about this for our student athletes is that after school they can come to tennis practice earlier and release the “sitting all day energy” they have been holding in throughout the day. Players get to get out of practice earlier and will have an easier time managing their homework load for the school year. However, a potential pitfall about earlier practice times is that players do not have the ability to get home before practice and grab food in the pantry or refrigerator for important practice fuel.
In this blog post, “School Year Snack Ideas.” I wanted to give some Snack Ideas that parents or kids can bring to school and fuel themselves prior to their tennis practice. The criteria for snacks that I gave myself for these Snack Ideas were; all of the products that I bought were sold at Costco, all of the products can fit in a student athletes backpack, I wanted to minimize packing/preparation times as best as I could and lastly I went for healthy easily digestible options for the players to have. I will discuss the 3 School Year Snack Idea Options that I came up with and have a price breakdown.
Option 1: Apple Slices, Peanut Butter and RX Bar
The first snack option that I came up with was Apple Slices, Peanut Butter and an RX Bar. The apple slices at Costco come in prepackaged and pre-sliced and the RX bars are individually packaged as well. This snack option is a breeze to pack into a lunchbox as the only item that needs preparation is putting the peanut butter into a dippable container. The total cost per snack for Snack Option 1 comes to an approximate total of $2.25 and $2.50. It all depends on how quickly you go through the peanut butter.
Option 2: Beef Sticks, Snap Peas and Hummus
Snack Option number 2 is a personal favorite of mine. The Archer Farms Beef sticks at Costco are quite tasty and they are made from grass-fed beef. In my experience Snap Peas seem to be one of the vegetables that pickier eaters may gravitate towards. Lastly, the hummus is a great way to add in some healthy fat into a player’s diet. The total cost per snack for Snack Option 2 is approximately $2.66.
Option 3: Bananas, Carrots and Guacamole
Snack Option number 3 is a the “lightest” snack idea. Bananas are always a great option to have when playing outdoors tennis as the potassium can help prevent cramping. The carrots are a great veggie option that can be dipped into the guacamole cups. If this option is a little too light for your player you can always add in some kind of packaged protein to add a little more weight to this option. The total cost per snack come to approximately $2.30.
I hope you have enjoyed the 3 School Year Snack options that I have come up with. Fueling up before practice is important for any athlete who wants to get the most out of every practice and continuing to grow their game as a tennis player. These are just some ideas that I came up with personally that I know I would be excited to eat before a tennis practice. You can swap snack ideas in and out as you see fit. Remember fueling up properly before practice and matches will help you be On The Rise!
Developing an Effective Serve
The Serve is one of the most important shots in tennis. As noted in the article, “Love Long Rallies? That’s Not What the French Open is About “, you can see that pro players at the French Open’s most common error was a return of serve. Male players had a return of serve error 19.4% of the time and women players had a return of serve error 17.4% of the time. This is due to how big of a weapon the serve is even on the slowest of surfaces. As a player trying to improve your game looking at your serve and how you use the serve to set up each point is a great place to start. In this blog, “Developing an Effective Serve,” we will take a look at the serve abilities you need to develop to have an effective serve and where you can place your serve to implement the match strategy that you want.
What to Practice
The first and most important serve ability you need to have as a player is having a consistent first serve. It is important to have a good first serve as making first serve keeps the pressure on the returner. If you are missing a high amount of first serves there is more pressure on your second serve and second serves are going to produce less return of serve error’s from your opponent. Consistency on the serve is the first place to start. Secondly, work on being able to place the serve in the three major spots on both the Deuce side and the Ad side of the court; T-Serve, Body Serve and Out Wide. The third serve ability to work on once you have both consistency and placement down is to focus on having more then one type of serve. At On The Rise we like to focus on having either a topspin or slice serve to start. Which one you work on is dependent upon the natural motion of your serve. Some players have an easier time learning the slice serve over the topspin serve and vice versa. Finally, after you have developed these two serves you can begin to work on your flat serve.
Serving to a Spot
It is important to Serve to a spot on the court to set up your points. By doing so you can begin to implement your match strategy and stay on offense when serving. We will take a look at where you can serve to help you attack either your opponent’s forehand or backhand side, more often than not you will be looking at getting the ball to your opponent’s backhand. It is important to understand both methods because on some days you might be winning backhand to backhand rallies against your opponent and losing forehand to forehand rallies. These strategies are match dependent and you have to have the ability to change things up if your opponent makes an adjustment.
Placing the Serve to Attack the Forehand
If you are serving on the deuce side and you want to attack your opponent’s forehand you will want to serve the ball out wide. This can be a double-edged sword because if you hang your serve up you might be in a defensive position. When serving out wide on the deuce side the return will usually come back crosscourt and from there you are able to take your forehand back crosscourt and be in the crosscourt forehand to forehand rally that you wanted When you are serving on the Ad side of the court you are looking to place the serve either down the T or a body serve. The T-Serve has to be good because you are going to their forehand, but a solid T-Serve/body serve will usually leave the ball in the middle of the court or a little towards your forehand side which perfectly sets up your forehand crosscourt.
Placing the Serve to Attack the Backhand
If your goal is to attack your opponent’s backhand on the deuce side you want to hit either a body serve or T-Serve. Both serves will usually produce a return towards the middle of the court where you either are looking for your inside out forehand or crosscourt backhand to begin the attack on your opponent’s backhand. Now when you are serving to the Ad side of the court you want to place your serve out wide to attack your opponent’s backhand. An out wide serve on the ad side normally means the return will come back crosscourt letting you hit either a solid backhand crosscourt or an inside out forehand to get the ball to your opponent’s backhand.
The better you get at tennis the more critical it is for you to have an effective serve and to be able to hold serve. It is important to work on your serve placement to set up the point effectively. This week at On The Rise drills you will be working on developing an effective serve to set up your point. Spend some time thinking about how serve placement can help you set up the point to help you win matches. Each match may be different with what you are trying to do so learn these strategies and begin to implement them this week at drills.
O’shannessy, Craig. “Love Long Rallies? That’s Not What the French Open Is About. “The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 June 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/06/09/sports/keeping-score-french-open-rallies.htm
Tennis Playing Styles
There are 3 general playing styles, Aggressive Baseline, Counter Puncher and All-Court Player, that are used in today’s game of tennis with the 4th playing style being a Serve and Volleyer. This blog will outline the different skills and abilities that are important for each playing style. The goal for this week at On The Rise drills is to get an understanding of the 3 different playing styles that are commonly used as it is important for players to understand what playing style best matches their individual skills and abilities.
The Aggressive Baseliner’s playing style in each match is to get to their Forehand and use it to dictate the point. An Aggressive Baseliner wants to use their weapon to put their opponents into tough positions as well as finish points off with their weapon. Aggressive Baseliner’s need to be able to use their feet to get into the court to help them dictate points. An Aggressive Baseline player needs to spend time working on hitting balls while stepping into the court and taking balls early to eliminate time from their opponents.
A Counter Puncher, “Pusher”, is the type of tennis player that most people dread having to play against. A Counter Puncher has great movement skills along the baseline and has a very high ball tolerance. A Counter Punchers main weapon/strategy is to make more balls than their opponent and outlast them on the tennis court. It is important for a Counter Puncher to be in great condition as they will have to run downs balls the entire match and be ready to for the next match in the tournament. Counter Punchers need to work on having a high ball tolerance and be in great shape as these are their two main ways to win matches.
All Court Player
All court tennis players have to be great athletes and be comfortable any where on the court. Once they figure out a game plan that is tough on their opponent an All Court Player can adapt their game in order to expose their opponent’s weaknesses. An All Court player can play both offense and defense well. All Court players need to have great lateral and vertical movement as well as the ability to make shots from any part of the court. All Court tennis players need to work on making balls from anywhere on the court and having great footwork anywhere on the court.
Serve and Volleyer
The Serve and Volley playing style is very rare. To succeed as a great Serve and Volleyer you need to be tall, have an excellent serve and great footwork around the net. The Serve and Volley player needs to win points off their Serve and finish points off at the net. A Serve and Volley player needs to be great at their transition game as they are constantly coming in to the net.
We all know that drinking water throughout the day is important, but why are so many of us not doing it? In a recent study done by the USPTA researchers found that approximately 50 percent of tennis players go into their match already dehydrated. (1) In this month’s blog, “Get Hydrated,” we will be learning about how dehydration effects athletic performance and some ideas to help you stay hydrated throughout the day and during a tennis match.
The Effects of Dehydration
Water is a crucial component for your body. The water in your body helps with the transportation of nutrients, regulation of body temperature and being properly hydrated helps your muscles move optimally. (2) Now that you have a basic understanding of a few of the tasks that water helps perform in our body you may be wondering how does being dehydrated negatively affect my tennis performance or tennis training? When an athlete’s body is 1-2% percent dehydrated player’s will see a reduction in their athletic performance. (3) When your body is in a dehydrated state it has to work harder in order to maintain the same output. For example, if you were hydrated your heart might only have to be pumping 150 bpm during the longer rally, but if you are dehydrated your heart will have to be beating at more than 150 bpm to maintain that same level of output. This “extra strain” that is caused from being dehydrated can cause a significant problem in tennis. Players sometimes have to be on the court for many hours during a tournament. It is important for any player to mitigate any additional stress that can be prevented. Tennis in many cases is a survival of the fittest.
Another major problem that affects tennis players who are dehydrated is their core body temperature. In a study done by the Korey Stringer Institute researches discovered that an athlete who is 2% more dehydrated then their opponent will have a 1-degree higher core temperature. (4) The Korey Stringer Institute also discovered that a 60 to 90-minute exercise can cause a person to become 3 to 4 percent dehydrated if they have not been refueling properly. (5) These two statistics are important for all tennis players to be aware of. Firstly, a higher body temperature can lead to players having cramps or dizziness during their match or worse having too high of a core body temperature can be a safety concern for tennis players during the summer. Secondly, many tennis matches last longer than 90 minutes. As shown above if half of tennis players start their match dehydrated then after most player’s first match of the tournament, they could conceivably be more then 3 to 4 percent dehydrated before they even start their second singles match of the day.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
The easiest way for an athlete to stay hydrated throughout their normal day is to have water easily accessible to you at all times of the day. The common phrase “Out of Sight Out of Mind” is an important phrase to keep in mind when you are trying to keep your body hydrated. When water is within an arm’s reach of you, you will be far more likely to drink water. If the closest place to get a drink during your day at school is the water fountain outside of your class you will be drinking far less water throughout the day then if you had a water bottle at your desk.
The second tip to help staying hydrated throughout the day is to be conscious of the color of your urine. The chart to the right has multiple shades of yellow on it. The more yellow your urine is the more dehydrated you are. By constantly being aware of this you can always have an idea if you need to drink more water. The urine color guideline is not a perfect method, but having a general idea on your hydration levels is a good tool to have.
Proper hydration is an important part of an athlete’ physical fitness training. If you want the most out of all your tennis practices and USTA matches try to keep a water bottle within arm’s reach at all times and focus on staying hydrated this month. Remember approximately half of all tennis players begin their tennis match already dehydrated. At On The Rise let’s keep the glass half full rather than half empty and be hydrated before we get on the court.
Sleep Like an Athlete
Last week in the first segment of, “Sleep Like an Athlete” blog, we took a look at the different sleep cycles that occur throughout the night and 3 hormones that impact your sleep. In the second segment of, “Sleep Like an Athlete,” we will be taking a look at a few activities that can negatively impact sleep and some solutions to help you achieve better sleep quality and recovery.
Activities that Negatively Impact Sleep
After reading segment one of, “Sleep Like an Athlete,” we now have a basic understanding of the different sleep cycles our bodies go through each night and some of the hormones involved with sleep. So, let’s take a look at a few daily activities that can negatively impact your sleep and give a brief explanation as to how these activities impact your sleep and recovery.
The first daily activity that can harm our ability to get great sleep is light exposure late at night. When natural or artificial light is present our body does not produce the hormone Melatonin, which helps make you feel drowsy and tired. (1) Some common activities that expose our bodies to light late at night include watching TV and using our phones for texting, talking or social media. When we use these devices late at night our pineal gland is not signaled to beginning producing Melatonin. Without Melatonin present in our body we are “blocked” from feeling tired when we should be. When using these devices late at night it can be quite easy to stay up way later then we intended to due to our Melatonin production being “blocked.” Staying up later then we want takes precious time away from sleep which, is needed for our bodies to refuel and recover properely.
The second daily activity that affects our body’s ability to get good sleep is due to caffeine. Excessive caffeine consumption throughout the day and consuming caffeine too late in the day will negatively impact your bodies ability to get quality sleep. Let’s take a look at how consuming caffeine later in the evening can impact your sleep. In a recent study, Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, 6 hours before Going to Bed, they found that individuals who consumed caffeine within 6 hours of falling asleep lost 1 hour or more of sleep during the night. Individuals who consumed caffeine within 3 hours of falling asleep lost 1 hour or more of sleep during the night and spent less time in Stage 1 and Stage 2 of their sleep cycles. (2) Losing an hour of sleep night after night due to consuming caffeine later in the evening adds up and negatively affects your bodies ability to recover each day. Having excessive amounts of caffeine throughout the day is harmful to your great sleep as well. Caffeine has a half life, the amount of time it takes for your body to break the chemical in half, that typically takes between 5 to 6 hours. (3) You may be thinking why does the half-life of caffeine matter? If you have consumed 400 mg to 500 mg of caffeine throughout the day, which is the equivalent of 3 to 4 servings of a dark coffee, latte or mocha drink or 3 to 4 servings of a Monster energy drink, then 10 to 12 hours after you have consumed these beverages there is still 100 mg to 125 mg of caffeine in your body, which is enough to inhibit your body’s ability to produce Melatonin.
The last daily activity that we are going to look at that negatively impacts sleep is how heightened levels of stress can affect your sleep. Stress can be caused from a multitude of activities. Throughout the day your body takes on stress from physical activities, such as during gym class or playing tennis, mental stress, such as feeling anxious about a test at school and from the foods and beverages that we eat and drink throughout the day. Stress is not a bad thing. We need stress put on our bodies in order to get stronger and faster, but having consistently high levels of stress is difficult on the body. Consistent high levels of stress can cause high levels of Cortisol in your body. This is a problem because high levels of Cortisol can negatively impact your bodies ability to get good sleep. (4, 5)
Guidelines to Improve Sleep
Now we will discuss some guidelines that you can follow that will help you improve your sleep quality and recovery. First, what can you do to avoid light exposure late at night? The easiest and most effective way to avoid light exposure before going to bed is simply not using the TV or smartphone. The television and the smartphone are two of the most prominent devices that we use late at night. So, instead of turning on the TV or playing with your phone other activities that you can do instead might be to play a board game or read a book. A great option to do before bed would be to stretch or take a warm bath. Stretching before bed can help get your mind and body into a relaxed state which will help you fall asleep quicker. Taking a bath is another great option because a warm bath will raise your body temperature which in turns allows your body temperature to lower after getting out of the bath. This is important because the drop-in body temperature will naturally make you feel tired and help you get into Stage 2 of sleep quicker. (6)
Another relevant poor sleep habit that many people partake in is consumption of caffeine later in the day and drinking excessive amounts of caffeine throughout the day. The two important guidelines to follow in regards to caffeine consumption are as follows; avoid having caffeine after 4:00 pm and avoid having more than 400 mg of caffeine throughout the day. Avoiding caffeine after 4:00 pm will give your body enough time to break down the caffeine and not affect your pineal glands ability to produce Melatonin. The second rule is to avoid having more than 400 mg of caffeine throughout the entire day. As discussed in the previous section having excessive amounts of caffeine throughout the day will not allow your body enough time to metabolize the caffeine out of your system.
The last guideline to follow that will help you get better sleep and recover is to manage your stress levels more effectively. Managing stress and sleep can be a difficult task, but the first way to mitigate your stress levels is through preparation. As student athletes one of the most prominent causes of stress is due to academic workload. It is important to spend time planning ahead as best you can to help limit the mental strain caused from school. You know that the end of the trimester/semester/quarter that you are going to have a final test for each class. Spend time managing your weekend schedule ahead of time. You can start studying for most of these tests up to two or three weeks ahead of time. Remember slow and steady wins the race. Effective preparation will help you manage your stress level and sleep schedule during higher stress seasons. The second important rule for helping mitigate your stress levels is to prioritize sleep during times of heightened mental/physical strain. During finals week make sure that you are getting to bed and giving yourself 7 to 9 hours of sleep depending on how much sleep you personally need.
Now that you have read both part 1 and 2 of, “Sleep Like an Athlete,” you have a better understanding of how sleep works and the hormones involved with sleep. You know 3 of the main activities that can negatively impact your sleep; light exposure late at night, consumption of caffeine and heightened levels of stress. By following these guidelines you will achieve higher quality sleep and better recovery. Remember sleep needs to be a priority for student athletes as it will help you stay on top of your tennis game on the court and academic success off the court.
1) Hendrick, Bill. “Light Exposure May Cut Production of Melatonin.” WebMD, WebMD, 19 Jan. 2011, www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20110119/light -exposure-may-cut-production-of-melatonin.
2) Drake, Christopher, et al. “Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, 6 Hours before Going to Bed.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 15 Nov. 2013, jcsm.aasm.org/viewabstract.aspx?pid=29198.
3) Mandal, Ananya. “Caffeine Pharmacology.” News-Medical.net, News Medical, 23 Aug. 2018, www.news-medical.net/health/Caffeine-Pharmacology.aspx.
4) Vandergriendt, Carl. “What’s the Difference Between Dopamine and Serotonin.” Healthline.com. Debra Rose Wilson, www.healthline.com/health/dopamine-vs-serotonin.
5) Bruno, Karen. “The Stress-Depression Connection: Can Stress Cause Depression?” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/depression/features/stress-depression#1.
6) Harvey, John R. Deep Sleep: Complete Rest for Health, Vitality & Longevity. Becker & Mayer!, 2001. Pg 14.
Sleep Like an Athtele
This month in the Tennis Player’s Guide to Greatness we will be taking a look at how to, "Sleep Like an Athlete." Sleep is a huge component for helping your body recover from the stress that you take on each day. Sleep experts say 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night will help lower your risk of injury, provide you with better health, better memory and a stronger immune function. (1) In this month’s blog, "Sleep Like an Athlete," we will be dividing the article into two segments. Today in the first segment of, "Sleep Like an Athlete," we will be learning about the sleep cycles that your body goes through and the natural hormones that affect your sleep quality.
Let’s start with the basics of sleep. What does sleep actually do for us? “When we are asleep our body goes through muscle repair, memory consolidation and the release of hormones that regulate our growth and appetite.” (2) During sleep our body goes through different sleep cycles, which are categorized into REM sleep, Rapid Eye Movement, and Non-REM sleep, Non-Rapid Eye Movement. The combination of these two phases makes up a full sleep cycle, which repeats itself every 90 minutes. (3) It is important for our body to get 5 to 6 full sleep cycles in each night. During deep sleep our body’s immune system is able to rebuild and fight off any invaders and our body releases human growth hormone, which helps aid in recovery. Human Growth Hormone that is naturally released during your deep sleep is important for young athletes as it does many beneficial tasks, such as; promotes growth in your body, enhances athletic performance and promotes a healthy metabolism. (4)
Melatonin, Cortisol and Serotonin
The three main hormones involved with sleep are Melatonin, Serotonin and Cortisol. So, how do each of these three naturally secreted hormones affect our sleep. Melatonin, which is produced by the pineal gland is a hormone that is released into your blood that makes you feel tired and causes you to desire sleep. (5) This hormone does not get released into your bloodstream when your body is exposed to light, natural or artificial. It is not until nighttime, or the lack of natural or artificial light, that your body will release melatonin into the bloodstream. The second main chemical involved with sleep is Serotonin. When Serotonin levels are high you will feel alert and awake. Even though alert is the opposite of sleep serotonin is an important foundation for sleep as it is needed for the pineal gland to produce Melatonin, which as we just learned is important for you to feel drowsy and begin the process of falling asleep. (6) The third chemical involved with sleep is Cortisol. Cortisol is secreted into your body due to stress that occurs in your life such as physical stress from playing tennis, or mental stress from feeling anxious about a test in school or having to give a speech in class. Stress is good in moderation as it helps us stay alert and motivated to complete whatever task we need to accomplish. However, too much stress, either sustained or chronic, can lead to elevated cortisol levels. (7) The problem with having too much Cortisol in your body is that high cortisol levels lead to lowered serotonin levels and as discussed earlier lower Serotonin levels reduces our pineal glands ability to produce Melatonin which will negatively impact your body’s ability to get high quality sleep.
In this blog, "Sleep Like an Athlete," we have given a base understanding of the different sleep cycles that our bodies go through during the night and the 3 main hormones that are an integral part of helping our body get to sleep and maintain high sleep quality. Sleep is a vital component of good recovery for your body. Remember, in order to have great on court performance you need to recover from each day’s activities. Sleep is an excellent place to start helping you recover more effectively. In the second segment of, "Sleep Like an Athlete," we will be taking a look at common daily activities that affect our sleep and give guidelines that you can use to help improve your sleep quality and recovery.
The Importance of Recovery
Welcome to the first post from On The Rise’s tennis blog, “Tennis Player’s Guide to Greatness.” Since this is the first post on our blog, I will give a brief explanation of what we want to accomplish with our monthly articles. The goal of the “Tennis Player’s Guide to Greatness” is to provide player’s with resources and information that will help them further develop their game. There are many different ways that players can develop their game and our blog will research and discuss a variety of topics; nutrition, sleep, off-court training, mental toughness, on-court strategies and preparation etc. We want the monthly articles that we provide to be relevant to junior players and give them specific steps that they can follow to immediately improve their game. Our first series of the “Tennis Player’s Guide to Greatness” will be, The Importance of Recovery. Over the next few months, we will dive deeper into topics that affect recovery such as sleep, nutrition, hydration, the importance of warming up and cooling down and how to use heart rate variability to help you train more effectively.
Why is recovery important to you? Have you ever stayed up incredibly late one night and noticed that “off” feeling the next day? Have you eaten too many sweets over the holidays and had trouble with your stamina at your first practice following winter break? I am sure all of us have been the culprit of one or more of these poor decisions. The problem with making poor decisions off the tennis court is that it affects our recovery. Poor recovery then leads to poor on court performance and it makes us more vulnerable to sickness and injury. Many young athletes do not understand the consequences their every day actions have on their athletic performance. The goal of our first mini-series, The Importance of Recovery, is to educate young athletes on why recovery is important and what they can do to help take care of their body and prepare it for better practices. Stay tuned for our blog next month as we will be taking a deeper look into how important sleep is for better recovery and things you can do to promote a higher quality of sleep.