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Improved Training for Better Performance

June 3, 2008 02:18 PM

As a sports psychology consultant, I work with athletes and non-athletes who are trying to improve their game. Often times, mental lapses and mistakes are due to NON-mental factors such as fatigue caused by lack of sleep, dehydration and poor conditioning.

Long before the player FEELS tired, the mistakes start piling up. Shots that were routinely handled earlier in the match now fly out or go into the net.

For improved conditioning in a progressive healthy manner, I often recommend clients play with a heart rate monitor commonly available at most sporting goods stores.

The American Heart Association recommends healthy individuals begin exercising at 50% of their maximum heart rate, progress gradually to 75% and then train at 85% after about 6 months. Using a standard formula of 220-age X %, a 60 year old would begin at 80 beats per minute and work up to a maximum of 136 beats per minute. Consult a fitness professional for more details on setting up a personalized training program.

To maximize the training effect you want to be in your training range for the majority of the time you are exercising. By keeping play and movement as continuous as possible you will more easily accomplish this goal. Some strategies to accomplish this during matches might include warming up with more balls, reducing the frequency of changeover, reducing the amount of time taken during changeovers, avoiding sitting down etc.

So, if you want to insure you are performing at your best, be aware of the mind-body connection. Being fit will improve your confidence and reduce “fatigue” related errors during matches.

Dr. Heller is a psychologist, sports psychology consultant and tennis teaching professional in Boca Raton, Fl. He provides life skills training, personal counseling and mental coaching to children and adults in person and over the telephone. His popular TENNISMIND CD-ROM and pocket-sized, “Managing Your Stress” guidebook are available on his website: www.robertheller.net.




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