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Interview With Jace Derwin From Volt Athletics

April 8, 2019

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”  This would make Jace Derwin wiser beyond his years. Jace is head of performance training at Volt Athletics since 2012.  Jace has a background as a dual sport athlete in college while earning a degree in Exercise Science. He is also an RSCC (Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach). To say the least, Jace is the guy you want to talk to regarding sports performance through physical training. I sought his advice to share with you regarding the physical elements of the game of tennis.  Meaning, what can we do to play more tennis and also improve our performance? Luckily, Jace was able to help me with those questions.

 

Before diving into the interview, you should have a background with the company he works for called Volt Athletics.  Volt Athletics is an online platform designed to give coaches and players specialized physical training for their sport.  This training is specific to the player’s needs in terms of skills, age and sports schedule (in season or off season). The list of sports that you can get a training program is quite extensive, which includes tennis.  For less than paying a trainer an hour of their expertise, you can get a full year of specialized programming. Get the app to try at the Volt Athletics website.  I tried this programming out and now have the year subscription to continue to train specifically for tennis.  The program connects well with my “teach yourself tennis” approach as you can use this app on your own, even if you have a limited supply of gym equipment.  Also knowing that they spent over 2 years studying the bio-mechanics of the sport gives me confidence in the programming that was designed for me.

 

When beginners start out with tennis, they realize the sport is difficult to learn but the physical aspect of tennis is often overlooked.  I believe this is due to the lack of rallies that a novice player will face when they go out and play. However, as you improve in the sport, there is an increasing demand on the body as points last longer and the necessary movements and strength requirements increase.  This is where we need to look into the best ways to get our body into “tennis shape.” I was fortunate to interview Jace regarding this principal. Jace was able to guide me into the understanding of how a tennis fitness program would look to maximize our body’s ability to play the sport.  Each section below will give you some tips on increasing your performance via physical training.

 

The Main Factors For Tennis Training

The old saying, “movement is movement” is true when we consider what our bodies are capable of, no matter what the sport.  This means the same factors to consider for one sport is very similar to another. However, each sport will place an emphasis on certain factors over others.  For example, Jace says that tennis training should focus on stamina, lateral quickness and rotational power. By increasing the quality of these movements allows for better results in your performance on the court. This is why it’s important to connect your weight training to what you do on the court.  For example, when you are throwing a medicine ball to improve your rotational strength, you are also improving your efficiency in how much force you can put into that movement. This makes it easier for you to do the same thing on the court, allowing you to conserve energy. The high quality of the movements you perform in the gym,, the better results you will have on the court!

 

Jace also considers the shoulders, knee and hip the main points of emphasis to focus on when avoiding injury.  Improving the mobility and stability of these areas can decrease your chances of missing court time in the future.  

 

What To Consider When Starting A fitness Program

Feedback in tennis allows you to get the feedback needed to make adjustments in your training.  This should be the same for your fitness training. Jace stresses the importance of capturing how you respond to each movement in your program. If you cannot move well in that movement, the last thing you want to do is load volume to put unnecessary stress on your body.  Something that I learned while getting my certification in “Functional Movement Screening” is that you must move well before you move often.

 

The timing of your season is also critical to remember when training for tennis. Off season training gives you a foundation to work off of while in season.  Jace likes to put it this way: his approach for an athlete will be much different when he or she has done any physical training in the off season versus one that has not.  If you have done weight training in the off season, you can have a program that helps maintain the level of strength that you gained through that training. While someone that hasn’t done any training in the off season would need to take precautionary steps to the movements done in the gym to not overload the body with undo stress from the weight training and in season tennis hitting.  Remember, the whole point of training in the gym is to allow yourself to be exposed to higher levels of difficulty on the tennis court. The more you can handle that expose, the better you will become. Jace used an example to ensure understanding. If the degree of difficulty on the tennis court makes you stop and change directions very quickly and often, your muscles need to be ready to handle that demand.  If your hamstrings, for example, are not strong enough for this demand, you will most likely run into an injury while playing. In essence, strength training allows you to play more tennis!


New To The Sport/Fitness?

Jace recommends that you take small chunks to your approach in learning tennis as well as what you do in the weight room.  Small actions will build into habits to make it easier to improve at the sport. Also listen to your body. Everyone responds to training differently and to be careful not to over train.  Injuries can occur and limit your ability to get on the court and keep practicing.  Jace likes to compare this to learning a new language.  There needs to be some basic understanding of a language to be able to learn to be affluent in it.  When learning a new language, you start out by learning a few simple words and organizing them into a coherent sentence. You learn the basic rules of grammar and progressively become more and more fluent as you go. The same concept applies to train. No one gets to skip the fundamentals and go straight to mastery. Make sure you start with the necessary understanding of what your body needs to do in motion when playing the sport.  If you cannot do these motions in a controlled setting, you will not be successful trying to pick up the sport.

 

Ready To Train Like a Tennis Player?

Remember Jace’s advice throughout this blog and you should be able to see some results in your tennis performance this year. If you need guidance, try out their fitness program and see if it’s something you might like!  

 

Want to get more racquet head speed out of your two handed backhand?  Check out this video:

 

 

 

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