I find it funny how so many of my tournament players refuse to take time off. I get looks like, "Huh? Are you crazy"? Name me a sport, professional or otherwise where the athletes participate 52 weeks (or however many weeks there are) a year. Pro tennis players are always clamoring for a break from the tournament schedule. But for some reason young, growing junior players fight me on taking time off. "But, there is a Level 1 Tournament I need to be ready for in a couple of weeks" I heard twice today. "I'll take a couple of days off..but a whole week?" I heard last week. One of my students who I love to death played 12 matches over a six day period in 95+ degree weather but refuses to take time off because of a level 1 next week. Crazy!!
Sport scientists have determined that periodization is best for athletes. Part of this is that athletes perform their best when they take anywhere from 1-4 weeks off per year. This helps athletes stay mentally sharp, physically sharp and give the athlete's body and mind time to recover. Depending on one's tournament schedule is when you take your break. Xmas break is a logical time for many people to take a break. But what if you are playing nationals in Arizona? Or what if you have a sectional a week later? You probably will not be taking your break then. So what then? No break that year? For many kids, especially those who play nationals the week after their last summer national is a good week to take off. If the child played last week's SuperNational Hardcourts, this is the ideal week to take off. When I hear of a tennis family taking a vacation this week after a SuperNational, I know that family "gets it."
On a side note, I want to send a shout out to Steve Kaplan and his last blog. I too found it ironic that the USTA put attendence in their program at a higher priority then attending national tournaments. Credit to Steve for pointing it out publicly. I always thought future champions (minus the Williams sisters) played supernationals in the 12's. How come it is not so important anymore!?
Ricky Becker is The Director of Tennis at Glen Oaks Club. Ricky also coaches high-performance juniors throughout the year and has been the Director of Tennis at three of Long Island’s biggest junior programs. As a player, Becker was the Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis team and ranked in the top-five nationally as a junior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 516-359-4843 or via juniortennisconsulting.com.