Speed, when most of us refer to it, is related to how quickly something moves from point A to point B. However, in tennis, I feel it is a bit more complicated than that and I would like to take a further look into the concept by continuing our discussion on the types of speed we defined in the previous article.
To recapitulate, experts generally recognize four types of speed:
Perceptual Speed –This refers to how quickly you recognize the need to move. In tennis, this could mean reading the height, depth, placement, speed, and spin of the incoming ball.
Decision-making (Mental) Speed – This refers to how quickly your brain can interpret what you have perceived and send a message to your body to react. In tennis, this could be recognizing the need to move for a ball that has been hit deep to your backhand, putting you in a defensive position.
Movement Speed (Initiation Speed and Performance Speed) Initiation speed: After you have perceived the need to act and have mentally sent the signals to the proper muscles, it then comes down to how quickly you can physically initiate the motion. In the above example, once you have recognized the deep, defensive backhand, now it’s a matter of how quickly you can initiate the movement to this deep, backhand.
This refers to the time it takes from initiation until the completion of an action/stroke. In the example, this speed refers to the time it takes you to move to the ball, get set up to hit the ball, and to recover for the next shot.
Alteration Speed –
This type of speed refers to how fast you can change a motion after it has already been committed to. Alteration speed refers to any type of deviation from the initial motion. In the above example, this could mean getting ready to hit the backhand, but with a bad bounce (like on clay), it could mean changing to hit a forehand.
In this final article, I would like to finish our discussion of each of these four types of speed by taking a deeper look at MOVEMENT SPEED and ALTERATION SPEED.