The physical evolution of tennis and the importance of the physical trainer

05 de February, 2022

Interviewed: Alejandro Fabbri

Former world 328 singles and 166 doubles Alejandro Fabbri, works along with Juan Ignacio Chela in Diego Schwartzman’s training team. How is an elite tennis player physically trained? What characteristics does he need? An in-depth interview with a professional player coach.

Nobody knows better what a tennis player needs than a former tennis player. With a life dedicated to this sport, Alejandro Fabbri today integrates the team of the most important player in Argentina, Diego Schwartzman.

In an environment that has changed a lot in recent years, which has become more intense and where players have to hit harder and harder, Alejandro maintains that the physical preparation of the players has become crucial in this dynamic and competitive era.

“No matter what, you have to make changes if the game has changed and you need to adapt your training to the way it is played today. That the player has to feel himself explosive all the time, fast, and that he is much more protagonist than before”.

How tennis has changed?

“I think the physical part and the recovery part of the players evolved a lot. The useful life of professional players was greatly extended and how they train, how they do preventive work to avoid injuries and how the forehand and backhand stances and the specific strength to play tennis are worked”, says Alejandro who maintains that in addition to the fact that the players play stronger, they can play much longer.

What are the physical characteristics that a player must have to enter professional tennis?

Every player when he starts playing tennis begins to acquire many concepts of stances of how he has to generate force or how he has to stand. Today, preventive work is done from an earlier age, and those players in the future can prevent many injuries that they will not have, or perhaps have, but with much shorter recovery periods.

There isn´t an essencial physical characteristic for playing tennis; With the physical characteristics of a particular player, a great professional can be improved and developed. That is why it is very important in the transition from being a junior player to a professional player, the physical accompaniment of the professionals who are next to you, to be able to polish that future project of a great player.

In what do we work today in tennis

To resist the speed with which tennis is being played today, players need to work very specifically on some areas of the body, and that is perhaps one of the most prominent characteristics of the new ways of training in this sport.
“One of the things that changed a lot in these years are the warm-up of the players. Now they are much more specific. The middle zone came to play a much more important role as well as workout with bands. In addition, the work of muscles that have a very specific function in tennis, before were not prepared in the same way”, says the coach.

“You always have to be prepared. Not just when you arrive. You must have done a sustained job for a long time, and a very good one. Otherwise it is very difficult to arrive and sustain you over time, with the demands that the circuit has today”, clarifies the professional from Rufino, Santa Fe.

“As today tennis is played with a very high and strong intensity, almost all players have a very high serve speed and return those serves very strong, so you have to resist it” – explains Fabbri- “You have to see in what way you can be as healthy as possible most of the time. I think that this evolution of the physical was focused on future prevention. And that is the job of the physical trainers, and specifically TTP, they do it very well.

With a very intense and exhaustive tournament schedule, the way you can best sustain your ranking is by being healthy and being able to play for the longest amount of time. One of the most important things is teamwork, which is where you can most emphasize the communication that the Physiotherapist, the physical trainer, the tennis coach all of them have. All this means that together they can make better decisions for a player’s career. I think these teams have to be very solid to try to develop a player’s career as well as possible.

The role of the physical trainer in the tennis player’s career

The physical trainer today, has to find a way to improve the player in the physical part but also prevent these possible injuries. “It is vitally important that the physical trainer is very present and that he prepares a schedule together with the tennis coach in order to achieve a common goal. Tennis is a job that cannot be done by one person, you need a lot of legs that make a firm base to develop a player”.

“This communication is important, and the role of the physical trainer is crucial. In TTP that part of the team is handled very well, and you are having that communication all the time to get the best out of the player. Knowing how to take advantage of the moments that are seen and adjust the details to develop the race and look for the best ranking that can be achieved”, says Fabbri.

“It is a very big challenge for the physical trainers, to find the formula so that the player is fast, resistant and intense. For that you have to know the player a lot because there is no one method that is common to all. The success of a coach is to discover as quickly as possible what a player needs, I think that is the basis of everything”.