When mapping out a periodization plan, parent-coaches need to keep in mind there are 6 elements that play the most critical role in the player's training. Those elements are the 6 general performance components (GPC) that a player needs to develop in order to become a complete, well-rounded player. They are physical, technical, tactical, strategic, mental, and environmental

Each of the boxes in the graphic below links to either a video or list of videos featuring USPTA Master Professionals and coaches explaining in detail each of the GPCs and their 43 subcomponents. By clicking on the white boxes, you will see a list of all videos related to each component. The colored boxes each link to a video that best explains the subcomponent selected.

Each of these components applies to players of all levels, from 10 and Under Tennis to world-class players. It is essential to construct a clear and extensive periodization plan that places each of these 6 training elements in a logical, comprehensive progression based on the player's ability and mental and physical maturity.

As a player develops, each of these components should improve. The player and parent-coach need to know how they all relate and be able to develop them, keeping them in mind with respect to the periodization plan. Both short- and long-term periodization require making constant adjustments. For example, based on the results or behavior patterns a parent-coach might notice in a tournament or series of tournaments, the player's lesson or training program should be adjusted and balanced to emphasize the components that need more development.

For instance, a parent-coach may notice that his or her child is struggling with the forehand stroke during a tournament. Therefore, in the next lesson the parent-coach will implement (or suggest to the player's primary coach) a focus on developing a more technically sound forehand. This scenario may have the player balancing the components in the following manner:

  • 60 percent technical
  • 10 percent tactical
  • 10 percent mental
  • 10 percent physical
  • 10 percent strategic

Once the player has made progress with the forehand and begins preparing for the next tournament, the short-term periodization plan might change the lessons to include the following balance:

  • 40 percent tactical
  • 30 percent strategic
  • 15 percent mental
  • 10 percent technical
  • 5 percent physical

A parent-coach, no matter how involved in the player's training process, should be aware of the player's needs, know how to recognize which of the 6 components need more attention, and understand how they relate. Try to be sure each of these components is incorporated into the child's lessons and training programs.

Physical

The physical component, the basis of any player's ability to play the game, includes all that is needed for a player to develop fitness, health and injury prevention. There are 7 subcomponents related to a player's physical development: motor skills; conditioning; speed, agility, and quickness; strength; nutrition; flexibility; and medical.

Proper development of a player's physical component is critical. A tennis teacher must always be conscious of this component, whether he or she is hitting with a student, using dead-ball feeds, or overseeing an intense workout. Regardless of a student's age or skill level, it is vital for a teacher to assess the player's activity level and overall condition.

After sufficient evaluation of a student's physical condition, a teacher should be able to design a training regimen that mixes common sense and sound medical knowledge to create a program that is both enjoyable and educational for a player.

Technical

The technical component involves all of the elements and skills that go into shot execution and technique, such as getting into position, setting up for a shot, and the biomechanics of correctly hitting the ball. The 8 technical subcomponents are: tracking skills, racquet skills, shot fundamentals, ball control, movement and footwork, modern shot technique, developing weapons, and game styles.

Tactical

The tactical component takes into account all of the variables a player implements during a point, such as power, spin, and placement. Where a player hits a shot, how early he/she takes it, the speed and trajectory with which he/she hits a shot, and the type of shot he/she chooses to hit all involve certain tactics. A player's use and combination of tactics with every shot create an overall strategy. The 7 tactical subcomponents are: consistency, placement, patterns, spins, power, shot selection, and the competitive situation. 

Strategic

The strategic component involves a player's overall game plan and usually incorporates 2 or more of the tactical elements. Types of strategy may include serve-and-volley, running an opponent until they get tired, or attacking an opponent's weaker side. Strategies may change during the course of a match, so a player must learn how to adjust his/her strategy in certain situations based on variables such as an opponent's style of play, the physical environment, and particular game or match scores. The 7 strategic subcomponents of tennis include: repetition, recognizing strengths, game style, playing surface, and game, match, and tournament situations. 

Mental

Tennis demands a high level of mental toughness to succeed, and developing this means developing a player's on-court focus, how the player carries themself during competition, and how they handle certain situations. A player's mental strength is directly related to each of the other 5 performance concepts and can affect them either positively or negatively. 

A player must have the confidence, temperament, and composure to overcome hitting a bad shot or other adversity encountered during a match. Regardless of the player's physical, technical, tactical, and strategic talent, without the proper mentality, it will be difficult to win any match.

The 9 subcomponents of a player's mentality are: self-esteem, confidence, independence, discipline, temperament, concentration, goal-setting, sportsmanship, and competitive readiness.

Environmental

Environmental factors are those that affect the player off the court in his or her social, personal, or home life, and are comprised of the following 5 subcomponents: fun, home, social, economic, and competitive.

A positive environment is key to a successful child and player. A player's environment can often become a distraction to the player on the court because it affects the player's mentality and concentration. Therefore, it is important for a parent-coach to do their best to control any elements within their power and minimize distractions, particularly in regard to the home and economic subcomponents.

The 43 Subcomponents

For each of the 6 general performance components, there are a number of subcomponents that apply. There are a total of 43 subcomponents, and each was shown on the chart on the previous page.

Integration of subcomponents

At first glance, these 43 subcomponents appear to be independent areas of training, but when a player's strengths and weaknesses are evaluated and his or her game develops, one can see that all of these areas are integrated across the 6 GPCs. Many subcomponents can be connected to several other subcomponents, and oftentimes the development of a subcomponent can affect or change another.

For example, if during a match a player is having trouble getting to the ball in time and seems to be moving slowly, that would be an indication to the parent-coach that the child needs to work on his speed, agility, and quickness (Physical) in relation to their movement and footwork (Technical). Now that the parent-coach realizes where the root of the problem lies, he or she can adjust the next lesson to focus on activities that develop quick movement and footwork.

Building blocks - progression of subcomponents

Similarly, the subcomponents listed under each GPC are purposely placed in a particular order from top to bottom. In most cases, the development of a subcomponent naturally builds toward the development of the next. For example, under the tactical component, consistency is listed first. Once a player develops consistency in his or her shots, they can begin to work on placement. When the placement tactic is mastered, the player begins to develop patterns, which are dependent on both placement and consistency. This chain continues through the last 4 subcomponents of spins, power, shot selection, and competitive situations.

The same principle can be applied to the mental component. Self-esteem must be developed first, not just for an individual sport like tennis, but for all endeavors in the child's life. Self-esteem then builds to confidence, which enables the child to stay relaxed while playing, and confidence leads to independence, which is a critical factor dependent on the previous 2 subcomponents. This chain also continues down through the remaining 6 subcomponents.

Understanding how to use subcomponents in training

Parent-coaches should look at this chart and ask, "Where is my child's current level at each of these components during each progressive stage of overall development? Which subcomponents need work or development? How do these subcomponents fit into the periodization plan?"

It is important that a parent-coach understand how these 43 subcomponents are related, how to recognize a player's problem, which subcomponents are related to that problem and how to fix it. The general performance components are a guideline of skills that players have to learn either through training, example or necessity. For it is not just a single subcomponent that develop a player, but the combination of them that helps create a solid, well-rounded player.