Summer is here, and your training schedule is changing. You have been working hard all year on your tennis game and improving your fitness level, but now you are worried about losing your fitness edge over the summer. If you can maintain your training schedule, at least to some degree, that is great! Research shows that a temporarily reduced (not stopped) volume or intensity of your workouts can still allow you to maintain your fitness level, if you do this in a planned way. This will depend on the specifics of your situation, but at the very least you should know that maintenance is possible on a temporarily reduced training schedule.
To add to that, if you have been working hard and training hard, some scheduled tapering of your activity level is not a bad thing. Including phases of decreased volume or intensity of your workouts can give your body a chance to recover and can lead to long term gains as well as a refreshed attitude and ability to push hard in practice. Maybe summer is a time during which you include some lighter weeks of training in your schedule. Take a family vacation, and don’t feel obligated to complete a grueling workout every day. This, however, does not mean you do nothing, or skip workouts out of laziness. This is a planned tapering schedule, which you also probably implement right before and during important tournaments.
Moving on from that, I also wanted to give a few suggestions to make the most of your training over the summer.
1) If you don’t have as much time for fitness training, make sure you are using your time wisely and training properly. Dedicate time to specifically work on the areas you are weakest. For example, if you are trying to improve quickness around the court, spend time on drills specifically for quickness. Run suicides or do other high intensity sprinting and change of direction drills. Jogging for half an hour is great for health and endurance but won’t help with quickness.
2) Play and practice at full intensity. This seems obvious, but far too often we spend our time on the courts going at less than 100%. Playing tennis, particularly in the summer weather, is very physically demanding, and will help you maintain and improve your fitness level, but only if you are pushing yourself.
3) Cross train. It is okay to play other sports! Soccer, for example, is great for conditioning and footwork. I’ve had teams play ultimate frisbee and basketball as conditioning. If you have other things you enjoy like hiking, running, or biking, and if you feel like taking a break from your normal routine might be refreshing, this could be an effective way to do it. But again, you must push yourself in these activities to get a real benefit from them.
4) Go to some great summer tennis camps! These can be super fun and a chance to work hard and see improvements in a short amount of time.
5) Be creative. You can do many exercises outside of a gym setting. For example, push-ups, supermans, crunches, bench dips, squats, toe raises, pull-ups, sprints, running, and biking. You could even plan a short workout on the tennis court after hitting with a friend.
Have a great summer, and I hope you can get on a schedule that is fun, mentally refreshing, and allows you to stay in shape and come back even stronger in the fall!