Aug 31, 2015U.S. Open Injury Prevention Workouts
For Strength and Conditioning Coach Scott Clark, success requires strength, speed, and toughness—but the most essential component is good health. In designing workouts for four of the top 10 U.S. men’s tennis players, his number one priority is injury prevention.
“Ultimately my job responsibility is keeping these guys healthy,” Clark told Sports Illustrated at SI.com. “First of all, don’t injure them in training and, second, you have to train them to prevent injuries. I don’t care how good of a tennis player they are, if they are injured and not on the court, they are not successful.”
Despite his efforts, Clark says that by late in the season injuries inevitably crop up, and the goal becomes minimizing their effect on play. He works with athletes to manage small injuries so they don’t become debilitating.
“They just can’t take time to heal,” he says. “So I spend a lot of time with these guys on mobility and stability.”
To prepare for the U.S. Open and the switch from three-set matches to five, Clark had his players do intense interval training that simulates the speed and length of the game. One drill had the players fielding rapid-fire balls, 15 seconds on, 10 seconds off, on repeat. As the tournament approached, Clark eased off by incorporating more recovery days. Athletes worked with foam rollers and engaged certain muscles with specific movement patterns. In all stages of training, Clark puts a specific emphasis on tailoring his exercises to his athletes and their injuries.
“For the tennis player, it is a continuum,” he says. “You have to really be on top of your athletes, know what their needs are and design training programs to prevent (chronic) things from cropping up. It is delicate.”