Go backwards to move forwards!


I have a guest blog today from my good friend across the pond, conditioning expert Nick Grantham.

OK, this is not a post about taking a false step to move forward (we can do that another time!). A colleague sent me a clip of a coach with a nice, very polished video of some ‘tennis specific’ speed and agility drills.

Knowing that I work with a group of young and talented tennis players, he thought I would be interested. I was…what I found really interesting was that all the drills were linear drills. There were some ‘lateral’ drills in there but the lateral drills were not lateral – facing forward at the start of the drill, then turning 90 degrees and running forwards is not a lateral drill, its just a linear drill in a different direction! I was also interested to see the distances covered (at least 20m)- the coach must have their tennis players playing on a huge court! Finally – there were no drills where the coach went backwards! This is one thing that really boils my P**S! The title of the blog post says it all, we need to coach our athletes to go backwards – but most books/DVD’s are packed full of drills that go forwards, or left/right – maybe I just live in an alternate universe where people do have to move backwards from time to time!

It was a nice video but the content was lacking.

My advice for anyone wanting to develop tennis (or any sport really)specific speed and agility would be:

1. Work all multidimensional (that’s one of Vern Gambetta’s) – forward,BACKWARDS, left, right, up etc etc.

2. Keep the distances short – in tennis a point is played with between 3-7 changes of direction in a confined area – if your drills are in excess of 10m then you need to tighten things up.

3. Practice going BACKWARDS – everyone wants to get fast going forwards – everyone forgets that you need to be good going backwards as well!

Once again we have coaches taking ‘track’ drills that get people moving fast in a straight line (with the occasional left turn) trying to convince us that they will help with the performance of a multidimensional sport such as tennis! STOP IT!

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