My Trip to Switzerland - 18/02/2012 – 27/02/2012
By Kirsty Querl
Posted on 26 March 2012
I travelled to the home of Swiss tennis in the city of Biel, on the 18th February 2012. The purpose of the trip was to learn from the head strength and conditioning coach at Swiss Tennis, Beni Linder.
I had met him at the World Wide Coaches conference in November 2011 and found him to be an inspirational and very knowledgeable professional whom I knew I had a lot to learn from.
Benedikt (Beni) Linder has been the head physical coach for Swiss Tennis since 2005 and before that worked as a freelance physical coach in a range of sports such as Badminton, motor cross, swimming, formula one and tennis. Pierre Paganini (Roger Federer’s trainer for the past 10 years) was his mentor before he took over as head coach at Swiss tennis.
I was one of three people observing the day to day sessions at Swiss Tennis. The other two coaches were from Syria and Lithuania. This is the first time Swiss Tennis has opened its doors to professionals from other countries. Their courses and training is usually only open to Swiss coaches.
The Swiss Federation is the headquarters for Swiss Tennis but they have 15 partner academies around the country that all have their own head coach and physical coach. All of these academies work on a system distributed from Swiss tennis so there is easy transfer of players and coaches around the country and excellent continuity within the system. They have three tiers of players which they consider to be the national team and they are based around the country. This is a group of approx. 60 athletes.
The major areas of discussion and learning during my visit centred around the following areas:
“Oriented Training” this is physical training of the conditional abilities and physical factors with similar movements to the game. This is the attention to detail within tennis movement that needs to be emphasised during training. This training can be done through all physical components such as speed, strength, endurance, flexibility and coordination. I found this concept particularly valuable because I always find myself in discussions with coaches about making the training “more specific “. I gained a wealth of knowledge in more orientated training which has helped me to broaden my physical training expertise for tennis.
60-100% vs 80% training principle. Although this is not a new concept I have found that it is very common for groups to get into a routine of certain intensity in their physical sessions. Training at 80% does not allow for effective explosive training. In a sport like tennis this is vital. The polarised training principle that applies to endurance sports is also a valuable tool when training explosive intermittent sports.
The complexity of speed, agility and quickness training is so extensive that one can spend the majority of time focusing in this area. It can and should be broken down into many parts which can be worked on specifically as well as working on all inclusive/complex speed which is a more general approach.
Planning in the modern tennis calendar is a complex process. This can only be effective and practical if it is done for each individual and it is a dynamic process that has to be able to change from day to day.
The whole trip was also very reassuring in that my current training methods are accurate and also used by the best in the world! I had the pleasure of listening to stories told by close friends of Roger Federer and people that have worked with him during his career. The friendships made in Switzerland are ones of a long term nature and they have extended a continuous invitation for the future. With this experience and increased knowledge from a tennis specific perspective I feel that this trip has played a big role in improving and growing myself as tennis strength and conditioning expert within Africa.
A big thank you to Prof Kruger and the ISR for helping me to fulfil this opportunity.
Institute for Sport Research, Hpc