Elite tennis players will be able to gain far greater insight into the impact of matches on their bodies and recovery times for the first time after an LTA application for Firstbeat heart rate monitors to be used across ITF competitions was granted.
The news means that British players can now wear the Firstbeat Sports Sensor during tournament matches – a global first for tennis – which will allow them and their coaching teams to work with the LTA Performance team to analyse a vast new range of data relating to internal and external load, physiological response to matches and ability to recover.
Two-time Wimbleodn champion Andy Murray is among those who have embraced this kind of technology in recent years, yet use of heart rate monitors has not been permitted in competitive tournament matches until now.
— Abied (@fi_sonic) January 11, 2016
The successful application continues the LTA’s drive to move the sport forward through innovation, and forms part of a wider LTA strategy to use advanced athlete monitoring technology to support elite players both when training at home and when competing on tour.
Firstbeat transform heartbeat data into personalised information. Firstbeat Sports is a single-platform athlete-monitoring solution that provides data on training load, intensity, fitness,performance readiness, stress, and recovery.
As well as pushing for its use on tour, the LTA has also made Firstbeat one of a number of technologies available to professional players training at the National Tennis Centre who are part of the LTA’s Player Pathway and receive support through the governing body’s Elite, Pro Scholarship and Men’s & Women’s Programmes.
In addition, earlier this year the LTA became the first tennis national governing body or facility world-wide to install the indoor Catapult “Clear Sky” monitoring system at its national training centre.
Designed to give detailed information on aspects of a player’s movement and physicality, Catapult was used by players across the summer series of behind closed doors events the NTC including the Battle of the Brits tournaments, British Tour and Progress Tour Women’s Championships.
Katie Boulter, who is supported by the LTA Pro Scholarship Programme, said: “My team and I work closely with the LTA Performance team and the range of technology I’m able to use through them – both at the NTC and now on tour – is really helpful in terms of learning more about the impact of training and matches on my body. This will be even more valuable when I get back on tour next year.”
Nigel Stockill, UK Performance Director, Firstbeat said: “We are extremely proud to be working with the LTA on this ground-breaking partnership. By collecting Firstbeat data during matches, players and coaches alike will have access to actionable insights into how their body truly responds to match situations and stressors.
“This information will aid support staff – from coaches and analysts to physiologists – in devising more accurate and relevant training and practice sessions to best prepare world class athletes. Our technology is used across the globe by some of the world’s elite athletes with the aim of helping to optimize performance and recovery and we’re excited to help British tennis players do the same.”
The LTA has put in place a 10-year performance strategy to develop and support the next generation of elite players, as one of the main pillars of its vision to open up tennis to many more people. When combined with the introduction of the new LTA Youth grassroots programme, it means for the first time there is now a clear pathway in place for every age and stage of a player’s development from first picking up a racket through to competing against the world’s best players.
Read an exclusive interview with LTA Head of Performance Medicine & Science, Dan Lewindon, on Tennis365 in the next couple of days.