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How Flexibility Impacts On-Court Performance | Tennis Conditioning

October 14, 2019

Welcome, my name is Philipp Halfmann and I
am the Director of Exercise & Sports Science at the IAAPH, and author of “Advanced Concepts
of Strength & Conditioning for Tennis”. In last week’s episode I explained the benefits
of a proper warm up routine. In today’s episode I will explain how flexibility
impacts on-court performance because, often times, flexibility is an underemphasized training
component by many coaches and hence is one of the prominent performance limiting factors
because poor flexibility not only negatively impacts kinetic chain efficiency but also
can lead to severe knee or back pain. Therefore coaches should pay close attention that their
athletes correct muscular imbalances and attain good overall flexibility. I will talk about: 1. Flexibility as a performance limiting factor
2. Benefits of good flexibility 3. How flexibility impacts performance
And provide you with a Sample dynamic & static stretching routine. Did you know that lack of flexibility could
limit your ability to develop power? The most underrated — and underemphasized
component of most training programs is flexibility. The reason for this is that the tangible outcomes
are tough to quantify. For instance, when one commits to flexibility training, is there
a direct gain in size or speed? No, but flexibility affects all the training components such as
speed and power indirectly because flexibility is one of the factors limiting the athlete’s
ability to develop power…but how? For example, stride length impacts running
and jumping economy (how efficiently one moves on the court), thereby affecting the amount
of energy needed to move on the court. Therefore, flexibility does affect speed and power, but
indirectly. Many tennis players have muscular imbalances,
especially at the shoulder joint where the force producing shoulder (right shoulder for
right-handers) is more muscular but less flexible than the less dominant shoulder. This becomes evident when taking a closer
look at the shoulder blades (scapulae), which are “uneven”, causing postural imbalance.
Also, muscular imbalance of the trunk and hip musculature can cause severe problems
because, for instance, the athlete can have tightness on one side due to agitation (contracture)
which can causes ¼ inch limb length discrepancy, which matters with respects to the kinetic
chain (transfer of energy), where unevenness can lead to back pain or knee pain. Chapter 4 of Advanced Concepts of Strength
& Conditioning for Tennis, called Fitness Assessment, provides you with a wide variety
of tests that help you to determine deficiencies and the following chapters provide exercises
to correct the deficiencies. Now what are the benefits of good flexibility? Good flexibility reduces tension, produces
muscle relaxation, aids in recovery and improves joint health.. More specifically, myofascial deformation
occurs when the fascia’s tension capabilities are corrupted. When that happens the fascia
doesn’t have the elastic properties and the tissue shortens. When one regularly uses appropriate
stretching exercises in the training program, the muscles will become more pliable and the
athlete will not experience shortening of the muscle in certain areas. Since muscles (tendons) connect bones with
each other, poor flexibility causes problems. If the muscles are short, the bones will consequently
be closer together but if the bones are closer together movement at the joint will be limited
(e.g. feet will turn inward during squats — foot position will be influenced due to
instability and/or muscle tightness [in abductors pulling on femur]). Flexibility is also a component of recovery.
If you static stretch well after a long match or tough practice, muscle soreness will be
reduced to a large extent and this will allow the athlete to play/practice the next day
instead of resting. In addition to the aforementioned, flexibility
also plays an important role in overall joint health because it influences the integrity
of the joints. As I mentioned in episode 12, warming up and
stretching the muscle tissue reduces the risk of injury and increases performance potential.
Subsequently, good flexibility positively affects movement range (ROM; range of motion)
of the respective joints as well as overall dynamic energy transfer efficiency. The movement
range of the joints impacts one’s speed developing capabilities because flexibility can limit
the ability of the athlete to lengthen his/her stride. Most athletes’ stride length is compromised
by loss of dynamic stability due to locomotion (the loss and regain of stability). The goal
is to maintain dynamic equilibrium, which can only be accomplished when the center of
gravity remains within the base of support. Therefore, if stride length shortens, the
base of support will decrease, which makes it more difficult to maintain the center of
mass over the base of support, making it more difficult to maintain dynamic stability. Stride length is affected, amongst other things,
by the flexibility of the hamstrings. When the athlete has tightness in the hamstrings,
the legs cannot extend out all the way, which decreases the distance one covers with each
step and this will limit overall speed. Also, if the athlete experiences tightness or imbalance
in the gluteals (buttocks) and hip flexors, he/she can’t change the pelvic position as
it relates to the spine and he/she will experience dynamic instability and inefficiency in energy
transfer. Next are some exercises that you can do to
enhance flexibility. Well, that’s it again for today’s episode.
As usual, opinions can differ. What’s your point of view? Let us know below
in the comment section. A brand new episode will be available next
Sunday. So make sure you don’t miss it and subscribe! In the meantime I recommend you watch some
of the previous episodes — you should really watch them all! If you like what you saw tell your friends
— I’m sure they will appreciate it. I’m Philipp Halfmann, Thank you for watching
and Auf Wiedersehen! Tennis Conditioning TV episode are licensed
under creative commons. You are welcome to embed these videos, forward them to others
and share these ideas with people you know. Brought to you by Advanced Concepts of Strength
and Conditioning for Tennis; available at Music by Dan O at


  • Reply Michael Bateman September 10, 2013 at 3:05 am

    Thank you for sharing…great video!

  • Reply Tennis Conditioning September 10, 2013 at 3:12 am

    Thank you Michael

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