Technology at the service of tennis

At the National Training Center (CNE), built in 2016, for 30 million euros, and on an area of ​​11,000 m2a stone’s throw from Roland-Garros, there are of course outdoor and indoor courts, as in all clubs, but also a lot of technology, with a court where there are cameras, software to help performance, cryotherapy, hypoxia (work at altitude), etc.

It is available for all high-level French players, but also for foreigners during Roland-Garros. “The performance optimization platform explores three main fields: biomechanics related to motor preferences, for technique, vision/cognition, and data processing (data) to give objectivity to the analyzes of what is practiced in matches,” explains Cyril Brechbuhl, national physical trainer.

For example, determining motor preferences is thus important, for the physique and the reduction of the risk of injury. It is used more on the gesture of the service and groundstrokes. The visual and cognitive component is done in a situation of return of service, “with stress management, vision, seeing whether or not we find particular behaviors. This gives coaches and players clues on valid strategies,” continues Cyril Brechbuhl, a true enthusiast.

In addition, the management of ”data” (speed of strikes, number of faults, areas played, etc.) is done in partnership with Tennis Stat. “They provide a ”check-list” of opponents according to the score, the direction of the blows, the initiative taken. The DTN (National Technical Direction) offered this data to players in the final table, qualifications, able-bodied and wheelchair, with a view to Paris 2024.

Regarding the ”Best tennis” project, “we tested 40 very high level players. The idea is to work on the future. It can go very quickly, like Alcaraz, Auger-Aliassimine, Zverev, early players. Those who go to the highest level come out quite early. But there are counterexamples. We include our young categories. These approaches are integrated into the training. On the follow-up of the workload, at the Poitiers pole, it is more impactful with the youngest in the training towards the high level. At the Pôle de Poitiers, our young people do not play the adult circuit, there are fewer U14 tournaments, we give ourselves more time for learning. Adults stay ten to fifteen weeks here. The rest of the time, they are in competition, ”continues the federal official.

Effectiveness not yet proven

Players are more or less fond of these technologies, depending on their personality, their age. “We still have to leave time to measure the interest and effectiveness of all this. There are those who have started, cautious people, empiricism has its place in our preparation. We bring complementarity with objective elements, we avoid monotony, travel, training. »

A stress test is also carried out with all the equipment on the back to see the evolutions. For work at altitude, not commonplace in Paris, the goal is to “develop physical qualities. At 3,000m, the players are less out of breath, more lucid. We hope for efficiency in the rallies. The heart rate does not go so high, you have to have endurance, recover between points, and between matches. What is certain is that the more oxygen you provide, the more you optimize recovery between points. But it can only be done in simulated matches. »

Nothing replaces the sensations of play. “You cannot replace work with tools, you need the quantity, the state of mind, the ambition. The tools come to bring a few percent, plus the motivation to satisfy a curiosity,” concludes Cyril Brechbuhl.

Nicolas Chapon

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