Why Strength Training is Good For a Pro Tennis Player
Maintaining strength and muscle mass while on Tour is one of the biggest challenges for any pro tennis player. Your body gets battered from long flights, congested airports, stale transit food, foreign viruses, bugs, different climates and pollution. That’s just getting started. When you reach the tournament site, there are training loads to adjust to—and the stress of competition that naturally taxes the body. Days are long on Tour—it is far from a 9-5 job, but rather, a lifestyle that requires consistent focus and commitment.
In that same vein, the reality is that there are many things that are out of control when one is on Tour. They can be environmental—flus or bugs going around—or circumstantial—no proper trainers or physios on site to help ease the physical load of a tournament. To me, this places even more emphasis on the things one can control, when preparing for such uncertain environments.
It’s called strength training.
How Strength Training Changed My Life
Strength training for me has become one of my main means of keeping my body tight and injury-resistant. My body is fashioned quite like Popeye’s Oli—long and languid. But because the physical requirements of Tour are heavy and unrelenting – coupled with the toll of travel, I need to keep my muscles compact in order to avoid injuries. It took me a lot of trial and error, understanding what and how my body reacted to certain things, certain training and tournament loads, before I was able to “feel” what works for my body. I would encourage you to do the same. A thicker body frame may need more flexibility and strength. Thinner frames may need more muscle mass to feel present and centered. It all depends on what type of physical engagement your activities require, and how you can feed your body frame to better suit those needs. For example, I’ve found that when I don’t do enough strength work to balance off all my court work, I don’t feel as in tune, or in control of my body. Strength training gives me a means to control the things I can on Tour—my body, and by extension, my focus, mood and motivation.
The first time I stepped into Genesis, I was expecting a run down of the gym—where the weights were placed, how to do a squat, where to warm up and cool down. Instead, Coach Jon took me into the office and first went through my diet and my sleep patterns. Everything else was secondary if I wasn’t eating well, or sleeping enough. The more I go on my high performance journey, the more I appreciate that route—because it is holistic, and it reflects what performance is about. It is a lifestyle and as an athlete, it is a commitment to create factors and environmental stimuli that increases your propensity for success. The stronger you are, simply put, the bigger and calmer your world becomes.
Join Sarah on her journey, at: