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Ask The Experts
Expectations of Athletes in College (Pt. 2)

Earlier this month, we talked with several college coaches about the expectations of student athletes playing tennis in college.

In this article, we hear more comments from coaches on the subject.

Q) Can you quantify the number of hours that players spend on tennis each week? What times of year are the busiest?


Paul Thomson, head coach, Drake Women

Although most would say the spring championship dual-season is the most demanding, the schedule is more predictable week-to-week in terms of match days, travel practice and training time. The fall tournament season is shorter, but I almost believe sometimes it is more intense and involved for the players. Freshmen are getting adjusted to campus life, practice and class routines. Fitness, strength and condition and agility sessions are more frequent and more intense in the fall. Plus the playing schedule is more erratic - gone four days here and three days there, depending on the programs and level of tournament. I think it's often tougher for players to build routines.

The NCAA obviously has guidelines in place that regulate the number of hours athletes can put in per week during the playing season (20 hours) and off season (8), plus a certain number of hours per day and that can be spent on the courts, etc. Maximizing that time is paramount for coaches and players alike. The biggest part of being a successful student-athlete in the true terms of the phrase is time management. I have found that shorter, more intense practices are more effective and beneficial than long, extended training sessions. Coaches say "you have to hit more balls to improve." But I think hitting fewer balls - but more quality balls - does more for a player's development and confidence.

Generally, in-season we spend 90 minutes, 5 to 6 days per week for team practice in groups of three or four. I have found this to be much more efficient and productive for players rather than eight or nine players all together at once. Our players know they have 90 minutes to bust it and get it done, and then they are on their way. They come in more motivated and stay more refreshed. They also then have more time for their studies. Each player will also have at least one or two 45-minute individual court workouts with the head coach. The team will lift weights two to three days per week depending on travel and spend 30-45 minutes in pairs with the strength coach working on footwork and agility. Our philosophy is quality over quantity. I tell our team, "it's not the time you put in, but what you put into the time."

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Page updated on Thursday, February 12, 2015
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