High Performance Overview
The JTCC High Performance program provides young people with a challenging pathway that leads them to top tier collegiate and potentially professional competition.
Inspired by JTCC High Performance coaches led by JTCC President Vesa Ponkka, the program started in 1999 when JTCC first opened its doors.
The High Performance program is offered year-round as both an after-school and full-time program for players ages eight and older. To participate in the High Performance program, a player must have a strong work ethic and must qualify as a tournament player whose goal is to play college tennis. JTCC develops champions who live by the philosophy of “Trust your Training.”
High performance training takes place on and off the court. Described below are the off-court training elements and the four levels comprising the JTCC High Performance program which include Junior Champions (ages 8-12), Champs II (8th grade through high school), Champs I (USTA L3-L5 Sectional tournament players), and the Full-Time Champions program for advanced players.
Players of similar age and abilities train together under the supervision of their coaches, who also serve as mentors. Training sessions are dictated by Periodization Training. Depending on the training period, practices will consist of different proportions of dead ball drilling, live ball hitting, situational point play, and match play. The timing of these cycles will vary for different players, and the coach-mentor will ensure that each player is maximizing his or her training time. Players are required to maintain a tennis journal that coaches will check periodically, to help track the training and progress of each player.
The training cycle consists of the following segments:
- Fundamentals Training: New concepts are introduced along with long term technical changes. The training will focus on high intensity and high repetition.
- Tournament Preparation Training: Short term and small technical adjustments are made. The focus is on competition tactics and strategy.
- Tournament Peak Training: Grooving strokes to maintain sharpness and a high level of play is the focus is without overworking in preparation for competition.
- Active Rest Training: Low tempo and limited practice providing players time to recover after periods of intense training and play.
A unique element of the High Performance program is the mentoring model which offers participants important opportunities for character development on and off the court.
Coach-mentors maintain a personal file for each of their mentees to track and plan the training, academic, and general character development such as competing with integrity and maintaining self-esteem. Other responsibilities of coach-mentors include recommending tournament schedules overseeing video analysis of strokes and match play. Coach-mentors also meet two times during each school year with the parents and player to report on the player’s progress and to assess parental involvement. Mentor-coaches also supervise the players’ required community service.
JTCC’s mentoring relationships foster a value-based community and encourage players to become mentors in their own communities.
High Performance fitness training is managed by Senior Director of Athlete Development TC Costello. Similar to tennis training, the intensity, focus, and duration of the physical training varies depending on the period of training in the players’ tournament cycles.
Fitness training consists of speed, agility, strength, and endurance training, tennis specific footwork and balance exercises, and dynamic and static stretching for flexibility and injury prevention.
The goal is for each student to connect what happens in the gym and on the track to efforts and results on the court. Ultimately, fitness training makes players more effective in competitive situations and better athletes overall.
Players will be tested in specific speed, strength, and agility settings to monitor their development over the course of the year. Yoga sessions are also included to improve players’ flexibility, strength, and body control.
GRIT-T Mental Conditioning
The GRIT-T Mental Conditioning program is integral to all aspects of the High Performance program training, both on and off the court.
GRIT-T is an acronym to describe the mental training that elite tennis athletes receive. This philosophy derives from sports psychology research by Angela Duckworth defining the character trait of grit. The acronym stands for “Goal-Oriented, Resilient, Imagery, Target-Oriented, and Trust”:
- Goal-Oriented: Athletes must understand the importance of “knowing their mission” before stepping on the court every day.
- Resilient: GRIT-T athletes know how to manage their energy effectively on and off court.
- Imagery: Athletes will be taught how to use imagery effectively before and during competitions.
- Target-Oriented: Athletes who are GRIT-T are those who maintain a calm focus throughout competition.
- Trust: Effective thinking patterns are imperative to be a confident competitor.
Learn More about High Performance Programs
The Junior Champions program is an after school invitation-only program offered during the school year for players ages 8-12 which also includes after school tutoring.
The Champs I program is year-round and designed for players who are active tournament participants at the USTA National level (L1 and L2) and ITF tournaments.
The Champs II program is year-round and designed for 8th grade and high school players, who will compete in high school tennis and/or USTA Sectional L5 to L7 tournaments.
Full-Time Champions participate in a minimum of four hours of rigorous tennis training daily and one hour of fitness training plus 11 weeks of summer training.