Creating Physical Intensity comes in two forms: MENTAL and PHYSICAL. AND both are equally important to maintain in a match whether it’s a game of basketball, soccer, or virtually any other high intensity exercise or sport competition. The player who can maintain a high level of intensity throughout a match will have success playing aggressively, and will be hard to beat. His stroke consistency, placement, pace, and shot variety will be affected by his intensity level, as well as his ability to compete, to self-coach, and to develop a strategy for winning points.
Physical intensity, which derives from the player’s physical movements, is another component of his intensity level. The player can have perfect stroke technique, but he will not win points if he cannot get to the ball. The more quickly he gets to the ball, the more preparation time he will have. With more time to prepare, he will find it easier to time his shots. Good physical movement includes quickness, body agility, hustle, stamina, and good footwork. The player’s level of physical intensity will be determined by the strength of these five elements.
1 QUICKNESS It is difficult to make a genetically slow person fast, but his quickness can be improved with the proper instruction and training. It is important to incorporate speed work into drills and conditioning exercises. Players must combine quickness with good footwork so they do not overrun balls and create errors. Quickness adds confidence and will be a great asset to a player’s game. mHis opponent will fear the player’s speed and will feel as if he has to hit a batter shot all the time to win each point. This will result in more unforced errors by his opponent. The player can appear to be quick if he combines average speed with good footwork and a good reading of the ball.
2 BODY AGILITY Body agility is the skillful control of body movements. A good sense of balance and the ability to change direction quickly are both essential for the player who might find his legs moving in one direction while his upper body needs to move in the opposite direction. The need for agility becomes most apparent at the net, where quick responses are necessary continuously. The player can improve his body agility with proper conditioning exercises.
3 HUSTLE is the player’s use of maximum physical effort. He competes physically through an optimal use of hustle, especially on the big points. The player who hustles has his muscles working at peak capacity. He is further energized by the thought that he was able to reach a particularly difficult shot, and his physical intensity increases even further. All players have the ability to hustle, but they have to be in excellent shape to continue at a high level throughout a match. The smart player knows that hustle can make the difference in four to six points in a match, and these points should help win at least one game. Points won through hustle might occur in a crucial game and might provide the difference in a very close match.
4 STAMINA provides the player with the capability to compete at a high level of physical intensity throughout the match. It is developed through hard play and a strenuous conditioning program of the many different muscle groups in the body that are essential in competitive tennis. One of the most overlooked muscle groups is the eye muscles. They must be developed and conditioned so they will be able to continue focusing on the ball during a long rally and a long match. Patience alone is not sufficient to win long baseline rallies. The eye muscles must be able to concentrate on the ball continuously. Strong eye muscles can be developed through reading the ball and playing long rallies in practice.
5 GOOD FOOTWORK Good footwork is essential. Movement stimulates the brain and keeps the player more aggressive physically and mentally. When movement precedes ball contact, the timing of the shot improves. It is important for players to keep their feet moving in preparation for every shot they are about to receive. And the ‘split-step’ is a very important aspect of proper footwork. Players must bounce lightly on the balls of their feet every time an opponent strikes the ball. This movement helps prepare a player for whatever shot his opponent might hit next.