Load monitoring in high-performance youth tennis players: Preparation for competition readiness

Alistair Murphy

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    1640 Downloads (Pure)


    This thesis examined training load monitoring within high-performance tennis environments for the preparation of domestic and international tournaments. In doing so, the thesis reports on the use, meaning and efficacy of load monitoring tools during training, simulated match play, and on-tour (both domestically and internationally) in high performance junior tennis players. The initial study assessed the level of agreement between coach and athlete perceptions of internal training load and notational analysis in junior high-performance tennis environments. The second study monitored external and internal training loads associated with junior high-performance tennis players to describe common training loads. The third study compared the external load demands and internal responses associated with training drills, simulated match play, and tournament matches of junior high-performance tennis players. The fourth study investigated changes in physical capacities of high-performance junior tennis players following a 4-week overseas tour, while also examining whether observed changes were related to match and prescribed training loads on-tour. Finally, in the same cohort, the fifth study assessed the relationship between observed changes in physical capacity and the training loads completed 4-weeks prior to tour departure and whilst on-tour. Key findings from the current thesis include: While coach perception of individual drill-RPE did not differ from athletes (within the same session), coaches seem to misinterpret accumulated training load accumulation from a sequence of prescribed drills within a session. Open natured and recovery focused drills induced the greatest rate of perceived exertion (RPE), heart rate (HR) and stroke-rates, whilst target-hitting and defensive drills placed high-performance junior tennis players under highest mental pressure. Technical and defensive drills also provoke the greatest error-rates. When compared within the same group of junior high-performance tennis players, session duration and RPE, groundstroke and serve count/rate of training and simulated match play were lower than those that characterize actual tournament competition. Only 5-, 10-, and 20-m sprint times were observed to decline across the 4-week overseas competitive tour. Yet, closer analysis revealed that players completing the greatest amount of total and tennis training load on tour returned with the greatest decline in speed and aerobic capacities. A greater concentration of on-tour, total and on-court load is related to poorer 20-m sprint and multistage test performance post-tour. Heavy match schedules therefore do not provide sufficient exposure to maximal effort linear speed or aerobic training.These findings inform tennis coaches of current drill and match demands in high-performance junior players, inherently assisting future evidence-based training prescription. Training prescription can in turn be tailored to target specific on-court preparation based on the physiological, psychological and technical needs of this cohort. The knowledge of differences in athlete and coach perceptions of load, alongside descriptions of training and match loads and changes during overseas tours assists with the prevention of 'over-training', 'under-training' and 'under-performance'. Therein, assisting short- and long-term athlete development, whilst avoiding the consequences of poor training prescription.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Duffield, Rob, Principal Supervisor
    • Reid, Machar, Co-Supervisor, External person
    • Kellett, Aaron, Co-Supervisor, External person
    Award date07 Jul 2016
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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