Why did you write “Tennis Fitness for the Love of it: a Mindful Approach to Fitness for Injury-free Tennis”?
I am meeting tennis players in the tournaments, team tennis or on the practice courts, and the majority of them suffer with aches and pains. Playing tennis is tough on the body, because of the one-sided nature of the sport, and playing on the hard courts make the matter worse. I’ve learned that very few players know how take care for their bodies that they put under such tremendous pressure. The solution is extremely simple, if they just know what to do. I have outlined the simple principles of maintaining muscular-skeletal balance for increased performance and playing tennis daily without overuse injuries.
Why is “Tennis Fitness for the Love of it: a Mindful Approach to Fitness for Injury-free Tennis” different from all the other fitness books?
Just like a personally tailored suit that fits you perfectly, this book teaches you how to tailor the specific exercises so they would fit your body, depending what your strengths, weaknesses and imbalances are. It will increase the awareness of your body and understanding what is going on in your muscular-skeletal system, and teach you how to correct your issues and become fit, healthy, and pain-free.
Do I need to play tennis to use “Tennis Fitness for the Love of it?”
Actually, almost every athlete or fitness warrior can benefit from the book, because it teaches the awareness of your body, the imbalances, strength and weaknesses, and how to correct them before they create future problems. Anybody who strives for improved performance without overuse injuries will find the book valuable.
What is the difference between the workouts in the gym that I do now and mindful fitness?
Without knowing your imbalances and weaknesses, you may make things worse, with a false belief that you are doing something good for your body. For example, the squats and lunges are great for the athletes, but if one of your glute muscles doesn’t fire correctly—that happens very often in athletes—you will actually encourage more imbalance development by performing squats and lunges, which otherwise are very beneficial. By performing mindful fitness, you will find your issues first, correct them and then your body will work functionally, without risking future injuries.
How often do I have to go to the gym?
All exercises and workouts in “Tennis Fitness for the Love of it” are outlined without the need of gym equipment. You can perform your workouts on the tennis court or grass, which will make the commitment easier: you can workout after your tennis practice. Depending on the needs of your body, which you will learn in the book, you can focus on flexibility, strengthening, explosiveness, or injury prevention. Even 20 minutes several times per week are extremely beneficial to your body and your performance.
What are the muscle imbalances and what do they do to me?
Unfortunately, we all have muscle imbalances. Your lifestyle alone creates many problems: sitting by the desk for hours with your head forward, tilted shoulders and rounded lower back. The front of your body is tight and shortened and the back is weak. In addition, the one-sided nature of tennis creates even more imbalances on your already compromised body. If you are older, you have accumulated more imbalances and it will get progressively worse, and you will feel pains and aches in your body more often. They will develop into overuse injuries over time. You want to stop this imbalance spiral by practicing mindful fitness, which means actively searching for the imbalances and correcting them before they will cause you serious problems.
Do men and women need to train differently?
It is a myth that women need to do light weights for many repetitions. Women and men need to train with the same principles. The female muscular-skeletal structure and hormonal environment may not allow for similar strength outputs like men, but that is not a reason why women should train differently. Additionally, both men and women will benefit from mindful fitness. Every athlete’s personal fitness need has to be addressed accordingly.
How do I prevent injuries?
You need to be aware. The majority of injuries happen because of a flawed physical preparation, a lack of awareness or distractions. You have to build a strong foundation with mindful fitness that is specific to your body: get rid of the imbalances, strengthen your weaknesses, and balance your strengths. You want to create a fully functional body and a mind that is always aware.
What muscle groups do I have to train?
You don’t want to focus on muscle groups, rather on the movement and functional strength. You want to develop a strong core and lower body, strengthen the small stabilizing muscles, and create quick and explosive muscle responses. Perform all the exercises as a quality movement. You want to teach your body to move as a unity in an efficient and smooth pattern.
What improvements in my tennis game can I expect?
This is very individual, depending on what your weaknesses are now. Overall, within two or three weeks, you will notice that you have improved your balance on the court, due to a stronger lower body and core. Because of increased speed and quickness, your shots will be more powerful and you will be able to get to the ball faster and generate more pace with the stronger core and legs. Your consistency will improve due to your increased endurance: when you are less tired, you get to the ball quicker and position yourself better, and therefore produce repeatable stroke mechanics that give you more consistency.
Any encouragement you’d like to give to the athletes who decide to take the step to become fit?
Don’t overwhelm yourself with planning to do too much and too often. Learn how to understand your body and ALWAYS listen to it. In the morning when you wake up, check with your body, feel what is going on, and perform simple exercises in your bed before you even set your feet on the floor. It is easy to do your training after your tennis practice, whether it is strength, agility, balance, or flexibility, because you are already warm and sweaty. Workout 20 to 60 minutes or whatever your schedule for that day allows. In addition, ALWAYS finish your athletic activity with a static stretching and/or myofascial release. You can change the exercises and routines daily, depending on what your body is telling you that day. Keep in mind that even a short workout, but done regularly, will bring tremendous results over time. Focus on now. Better a little workout than nothing, but do it now!