Friday, July 01, 2011

Over Training?

Now that it's clear we are playing a much tougher, faster game of tennis at high altitude, is it possible we have an advantage up here when we go to lower altitudes?  Since the ball comes at us much faster and bounces much higher, are we training ourselves to play higher speed, higher quality tennis?  Since we're forced to hit through much smaller vertical acceptance windows, are we becoming more precise than our low-altitude counterparts?

I think the answer is yes to all the above.  I think players ages about 13 to 20 years old have a hard time learning and mastering the game up here, because it's so much harder.  We don't see many great players who were born, raised, and trained exclusively at high altitudes, so I think it's reasonable to assume that the thin air hinders development for the reasons I've discussed in previous posts.  But...

If you mastered the game at lower altitudes, learned to be patient, develop points, play with high racquet speed generating high ball velocities and spin rates, then at some point you may benefit from playing at high altitude.

Those of us who've lived up here for a long time certainly have adjusted to the game.  It no longer feels crazy to me like it did when I came here thirty years ago.  If I play a bit at lower altitudes, the ball seems hard to control at first when I come back, but it's nothing a few minutes of hitting doesn't cure.  And it's hard for me to get any depth on the ball at first down at sea level, but again, it's nothing that a little bit of hitting won't cure.

So, if we can avoid the impatience that this altitude can breed, if we can avoid the illusion that we can end points quickly, and if we can train ourselves to go for balls we don't think we can get to,  I think we can benefit from playing up here.

I think we've had plenty of players do well in senior age group play on a national basis.  That's evidence that playing up here can make you a better player at sea level.

I still think we need to replicate the low-altitude game with a much slower ball at this altitude.  But it's nice to know we can benefit from cracking open a can of jumpers when we feel the need.

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