Niagara Academy’s fitness training program is developed and delivered by qualified, certified and committed fitness trainers and coaches. Our objective is to quickly identify the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses in order for our team to determine which areas need to be improved, maintained and maximized. The majority of training takes place on court, 4 days/week in 45 minute periods. Additional training takes place in our well equipped gym or on the soccer field. Fitness testing will take place three times throughout the year in order to monitor results and development.
Prevention is Better than Rehabilitation
Niagara Academy’s philosophy regarding fitness and wellness is prevention is better than rehabilitation. Our goal as coaches, trainers and physicians is to have our athletes injury-free as much as we can, so they can perform at their best when training and competing. We understand that injuries are part of the game. As a result, prior to the start of our season, our professional staff will conduct screening sessions to check for warnings signs of injuries. Gathering information from prior physicians and injury history will be the starting point. In addition to performance movements, flexibility and core strength tests will provide the necessary information in order for our team to prepare an individualized work regimen for every athlete’s needs.
Niagara Academy is pleased to have Duane Butler as our fitness coach. Duane is a certified Personal Fitness Trainer. Duane played professional football in the NFL, ZFL and CFL for 10 years and has spent over 20 years coaching youth camps. For more information on Duane, please check our Coaches page.
Numerous areas of physical training will be considered and integrated when developing the annual training, competition and recovery plan for the athlete. These include the physical capacities of stamina or endurance,
strength, speed, skill and suppleness or flexibility, core, balance and recovery. Each of these physical capacities is trainable throughout the players’ lifetime, but there are critical periods during which training produces the greatest benefit to each player’s long-term development. In other words, athletes need to do the right type of training at the right stage. Otherwise they may be good but never as good as they might have been. While the critical periods do follow general stages of human growth and maturation, scientific evidence show that humans vary considerably in the magnitude and rate of response to different training stimuli at all stages. Therefore Niagara Academy’s fitness program is adapted as required to suit the needs of the individual athlete.
Stamina or Endurance
A sensitive period of train-ability for stamina occurs at the onset of PEAK HEIGHT VELOCITY (PHV).
Aerobic capacity training is recommended before athletes reach PHV and is determined by developmental age. Aerobic power will be introduced progressively after growth rate decelerates. Stamina is the ability to resist fatigue and the ability to sustain a given power output over time, without loss of efficiency. We will expect the athlete to run explosively without undue fatigue, even in the third set. The player will also be able to play the ball with the greatest possible energy linked with motor coordination and timing.
Strength/Muscular Power/Core Strength
The sensitive period of trainability for strength is determined by developmental age. Speed strength and endurance strength will be developed prior to puberty using body weight, lighter loads, medicine balls and Swiss balls. Strength is understood as the ability to apply force to overcome resistance. It is an essential component of physical skill development. Strength training, in harmony with technical, tactical, physical and psychological skills, will give players more tools to better express their game. In tennis, strength is utilized to generate speed, explosive-strength and more importantly, explosive-strength endurance.
Muscular Power Endurance: Once a player develops a strong foundation for strength, the next progression is to improve muscular strength. This is the muscles’ ability to perform at their maximum capacity more consistently and for an extended period of time.
Core Strength: Core strength is one of the most underrated physical activities for the average tennis player. However, the core is a area of the body (abdominal, hips, lower back and groin muscles) that is critical for the proper execution of any tennis stroke. The core is basically the channel that connects and transfers the power from the lower to the upper body. If the core is not strong enough then the amount of power generated by the lower body will not carry as effective to the lower body and therefore the athlete is not able to maximize its muscular power into his/her strokes. Core strength is a vital area of development in today’s tennis environment and it must not be ignored.
This is the ability to react to a stimulus (trajectory, speed and landing point of the ball) in the shortest possible time, and to perform movements at the highest tempo for a given resistance. Speed is important to get to the ball because the quicker you can get to a ball, the more time you have to prepare for your shot. The major emphasis is on reaction speed.
Speed endurance: Once a player develops a good foundation of speed, the next progression is to improve speed endurance. This is the ability to move, react, and move faster for longer repetitions over stretched periods of time.
Flexibility characterizes the range of movement in one or more joints. Flexibility depends mainly on the ability to stretch or on the elasticity of the muscles. Good flexibility provides the tennis player with a favourable basis for maximum speed of movement, precise execution of movement and good economy of movement.
For the development of strength and stamina, the developmental age of the player will determine when these components are integrated into the program. However, for the development of speed, sport specific skills and suppleness, chronological age is the determining factor.
Balance and Recovery
Working on platforms or bosu balls give the athletes the opportunity to improve their balance and therefore have a better set-up prior to hitting the ball. In addition, working on balance exercises can speed up recovery time from low-body injuries, such ankles and knees. As well, it helps decrease the risk of suffering another injury as we tend to work other muscles to compensate for injured muscles.