Working on your tennis game, just as your fitness and health, is a life-long process. Make you sure you stay persistent and enjoy the process. I have just read and interesting philosophy from Jim Rohn (www.JimRohn.com) whom’s teachings I greatly admire. They are simple and powerful. His ant philosophy applies to life and our athletic endeavors.
“I think everybody should study ants. They have an amazing four-part philosophy, and here is the first part: ants never quit. That’s a good philosophy. If they’re headed somewhere and you try to stop them, they’ll look for another way. They’ll climb over, they’ll climb under, they’ll climb around. They keep looking for another way. What a neat philosophy, to never quit looking for a way to get where you’re supposed to go.
Second, ants think winter all summer. That’s an important perspective. You can’t be so naive as to think summer will last forever. So ants gather their winter food in the middle of summer. An ancient story says, “Don’t build your house on the sand in the summer.” Why do we need that advice? Because it is important to think ahead. In the summer, you’ve got to think storm. You’ve got to think rocks as you enjoy the sand and sun.
The third part of the ant philosophy is that ants think summer all winter. That is so important. During the winter, ants remind themselves, “This won’t last long; we’ll soon be out of here.” And the first warm day, the ants are out. If it turns cold again, they’ll dive back down, but then they come out the first warm day. They can’t wait to get out.
And here’s the last part of the ant philosophy. How much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter? All he possibly can. What an incredible philosophy, the “all-you-possibly-can” philosophy.
Wow, what a great philosophy to have—the ant philosophy. Never give up, look ahead, stay positive and do all you can.”
Apply Jim Rohn’s ant philosophy to your tennis fitness training, too. Have a goal that you plan to achieve always in your sight and diligently work on it, even if it is just a little bit every day. Ten minutes of stretching is better than nothing. Doing a few sets of jumps or lunges after your tennis practice is better than nothing. Rolling your feet in bed before sleep and upon awakening will surprisingly make a big difference over time. Even if you feel that you don’t have time, remember that even a minimal effort toward your tennis fitness is going to help. Remember the ants!
We take 5,000 to 10,000 steps per day, with forces on your joints 1.5 or more of your body weight. For a tennis player it is even more — more steps and higher forces. Tennis players’ feet suffer tremendous overuse. In the last newsletter, we were addressing the importance of healthy and fit feet. I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from people with different (minor) knee and hip problems, who started to pay attention to their feet, and only after a few days of regular ankle and feet strengthening exercises, they already feel difference and their aches went away. That is very exciting!
All the exercises outlined in the previous newsletter will help, but it may not be enough. It’s about the whole chain between your feet and the upper body. If your pelvis suffers from decreased flexibility, the feet and ankle will suffer, too. With all the prolong sitting that the majority of us does, and with the subsequent athletic overuse on the tennis court, the hip flexors get shortened and tight and displace the pelvis forward from its optimal position. The pelvic tilt will move the hamstring attachment higher and thus pull on the hamstrings. The hamstring’s fascia is interconnected with the calves, which are interconnected with the feet. Therefore, for the full range of motion and complete functionality of our ankles and feet, we also need to stretch the hip flexors (psoas and iliacus), quadriceps and TFLs. Here are 4 simple stretches:
1. Quadripceps Stretch
Stand on the right leg, bend your left knee and grab the left foot behind you. Pull toward your glutes until you start to feel a good stretch in the front of the left leg. Tuck your pelvis under and squeeze the glutes. Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat for the other leg.
2. Psoas Stretch
Step forward with your right leg into a big, deep lunge. Tuck the pelvis under and squeeze the left glute. Continue tucking your pelvis, lower your chin to the chest and look down at your belly button. Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds and switch sides.
3. Iliacus Stretch
Start in the same position like the psoas stretch, with the right leg forward in a deep lunge. Lift your left arm high up and slowly rotate your upper body back and to the left, toward your back leg. Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds and then switch sides.
4. TFL Stretch
Step forward into a deep lunge with your right leg forward, just like in the hip-flexor stretches above. Lift both arms over the head and grab your left wrist with your right hand. Keep your glutes engaged and slowly lean your body to the right side. Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds and then repeat for the other side.
Even if you don’t have any serious aches in your hips, knees or feet, doing these stretches and feet exercise regularly will help you to move better and more efficiently, and you will notice that you are faster on the court and play better by getting to the ball quicker. Give your feet all the love they deserve!
Lastly, I have an announcement from my fellow tennis teacher friend, who not too long ago launched his amazing Tennis Forehand Solution program that helped many (including me) to improve their forehands. He has just released the Total Tennis Training Inner Circle program, which is said to be the most comprehensive training you can find on how to play your best tennis, and is created by a former top 100 ATP player, Stanford All-American, and national junior champion Jeff Salzenstein.
Jeff says that it’s time for players to learn how to improve their tennis games by getting the right advice and information. Why not take your tennis to new heights right now and become a better player? Jeff’s tennis system can help you do it. His program can help anyone from the complete beginner to the top pro. You have 30 days to test drive it before you decide if it is for you. You can continue for as long as you want and it is easy to cancel at anytime. All the videos play beautifully on your iPad and iPhone so you can easily take them on the court with you and learn as you practice. If it sounds tempting, join Jeff’s Inner Circle now!
Here, you can look at some of his free videos with great tips on footwork (just like a dance), running forehand or holding the finish. Good little tips that you can for sure incorporate into your game and feel better.
The winter is almost over, the summer saving time is starting this weekend. Unless you live in the sunny states where you can be outdoors all year around, you will now look forward to your workouts in the good smelling spring grass. Get intense and get fit for the summer! If you need motivation for intense and effective exercises without any equipment, browse through your favorite “Tennis Fitness for the Love of it” book, or email me with questions, requests or ideas.