Received: 29-02-2016 -- Accepted: 05-12-2016 --
Published (online): 01-03-2017
Predicting current and future tennis performance can lead to improving the development of junior tennis players. The aim of this study is to investigate whether age, maturation, or physical fitness in junior elite tennis players in U13 can explain current and future tennis performance. The value of current tennis performance for future tennis performance is also investigated. A total of 86 junior elite tennis players (boys, n = 44; girls, n = 42) U13 (aged: 12.5 ± 0.3 years), and followed to U16, took part in this study. All players were top-30 ranked on the Dutch national ranking list at U13, and top-50 at U16. Age, maturation, and physical fitness, were measured at U13. A principal component analysis was used to extract four physical components from eight tests (medicine ball throwing overhead and reverse, ball throwing, SJ, CMJas, Sprint 5 and 10 meter, and the spider test). The possible relationship of age, maturation, and the physical components; “upper body power”, “lower body power”, “speed”, and “agility” with tennis performance at U13 and U16 was analyzed. Tennis performance was measured by using the ranking position on the Dutch national ranking list at U13 and U16. Regression analyses were conducted based on correlations between variables and tennis performance for boys and girls, separately. In boys U13, positive correlations were found between upper body power and tennis performance (R2 is 25%). In girls, positive correlations between maturation and lower body power with tennis performance were found at U13. Early maturing players were associated with a better tennis performance (R2 is 15%). In girls U16, only maturation correlated with tennis performance (R2 is 13%); later-maturing girls at U13 had better tennis performances at U16. Measuring junior elite tennis players at U13 is important for monitoring their development. These measurements did not predict future tennis performance of junior elite tennis players three years later. Future research should focus on other aspects in order to predict tennis performance better.
In boys, tennis performance can be partly explained by upper body power at U13, it is not a predictor for performance at U16.
In girls, APHV is of influence for tennis performance at U13 and U16. At younger age earlier-matured girls were ranked higher, however at U16 later-matured girls were ranked higher.
Overall, physical fitness in junior tennis is important for monitoring physical fitness development however this should not solely be used for selection criteria in a homogenous group of junior elite players.
Chris Visscher, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser, Tamara Kramer, Barbara C.H. Huijgen,
Prediction of Tennis Performance in Junior Elite Tennis Players.
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine(16), 14 - 21.
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