Hijinks and insights. Maria Sharapova plays BBC chat show host Jonathan Ross in the evian lounge at Wimbledon.
Maria's hydration tip: 1/2 liter water every 30 minutes pre match.
Hijinks and insights. Maria Sharapova plays BBC chat show host Jonathan Ross in the evian lounge at Wimbledon.
Maria's hydration tip: 1/2 liter water every 30 minutes pre match.
Anyone who has read OPEN knows the pivotal role Andre Agassi's strength and conditioning trainer, Gil Reyes played in Agassi's tennis career. Reyes worked his magic using a variety of techniques including custom built tennis-specific fitness machines. Today those machines, sold under the name Bilt by Agassi & Reyes are available to anyone.
"...Gil and I developed the machines with the intent to make me a better player, always recognizing the importance of strength, conditioning and safety." said Agassi. "Collectively, after almost two decades, we wanted to give our gift to an industry and public that seeks and deserves innovation."
The twelve new machines are built for productivity: high intensity muscle isolation to safely build strength without injury. Key pieces include: the BILT Flat Bench, Change of Direction or C.O.D. Machine (pic left), and BILT Abdominal Machine.
"My goal was to maximize Andre's training, while allowing him to enjoy the hard work. The machines...enhanced his training efforts." said Reyes who is now an internationally renowned trainer to some of the world's best athletes.
The machines run up to $6 K+ for the C.O.D. machine.
Learn more at BILTByAgassiandReyes.com. GymSource.com is a retailer.
So you're a hard-court hot-shot. How do you do on clay? If you are like many U.S. trained players you might be a clay court-avoider. Not a good idea says Brad Gilbert, player turned coach, commentator and former spokesperson for Har-Tru.*
Gilbert says the U.S. needs a bigger clay court culture. Why? Because, "more than 80% of the top 10 players in the world have spent at least half their training time on clay, a stat that goes back to 1968."
"Clay teaches discipline and how to build a point," says Gilbert. "There are no cheap shots. It's harder to put the ball away." Like many Americans, Gilbert admits he didn't embrace the surface, something he still regrets.
Playing on clay means:
Long points -- which translate to improved decision making, patience and mental toughness;
Occasional irregular bounces and condition changes -- making strokes more adaptable;
Learning angles and spin control -- it's tough to end a point so players learn shot variety;
Healthier joints -- the surface is more forgiving especially if you move well. Roger Federer is a great example of a top clay courter that could play into his mid 30s. Anyone over 45 will feel the difference as it's so much easier on the body.
Gilbert recommends that competitive players spend at least half their training time on clay (like those in the top 10) if looking to grow their game. High school or college players using hard courts should use time-off to work on clay, focusing on topspin, accuracy and consistency.
Dubs lovers, clay-play teaches you to be more accurate and deliberate, ready for anything to come back.
Problem is, clay tennis courts are harder to find in the U.S. than in most tennis playing countries. Argentina and Spain are loaded. Cheaper to maintain, hard has been the go-to surface in the States for a long time. Clearly U.S. tennis needs to embrace the slide and add more clay, especially where competing kids are learning.
Is it coming? Florida, a training hot-spot and home to many playing seniors has 50% of the nation's clay. More regions should follow suit. There are also a growing number of junior clay court tournaments popping up around the country. In 2011 for example, The Orange Bowl, also in Florida, changed its surface to clay. Some larger tennis academies have added clay courts. John McEnroe's Academy in New York has 10 Har-Tru and 10 hard.
One clay court teaching specialist is the Academia Sanchez-Casal in Naples, Florida, sister academy to the famed academy of same name in Barcelona, Spain. The program offers 37 clay and 1 hard court.
Hard court lovers, there IS method to the dirty madness.
*Har-Tru, a clay court brand, is the world's largest manufacturer of clay court surfaces.
A three-dimensional knitting process offers joints soft but firm compression, support and therapeutic relief. The washable, pull on, fabric-feel brace helps keep joints aligned and inflammation down by keeping fluid out problem areas.
"The gold standard for support is taping," says Dr. Daniela Walsh, a PT specializing in sports injuries, "but it's just not practical" (or even doable) for most recreational athletes. "A good brace," explains Walsh, "will effectively divert force away from an area of injury."
Above is the BRD G18 knee brace ($69.99) for those with knee instability. Flexible ribs on either side of the knee keep it from sliding down. The G36 is another version designed for those healing from ligament or miniscus tears.
BRD makes a variety of braces including ankle ($49.99) and elbow braces, right ($49.99) useful for treating other common tennis problems. Order at BRD Sport. Made in the USA.
Note: It's never a great idea to play with pain but Dr. Walsh says that a brace can keep a situation from worsening and you may be able to keep playing while using ice, anti-inflammatories and prescribed PT. Consult your physician before playing on or with a troublesome joint.
These lightweight (and recyclable) aluminum cans come in two sizes: the 4" tall O+ mini holds 24 breathes per can (use 3-5 breaths per time), $8 USD per can; and the 8" tall O+ skinni with 40+ breaths per can (so 8-12 occasions per can), $12 per can.
You can buy O+ in 3 packs or get the Elevate pack which is a refillable delivery system. Easy to use and in three barely there "flavors," peppermint, grapefruit and natural. Learn more, find a retailer or order at OxygenPlus. Vic Braden is an ambassador for the company which says good things about the product. Please see the precautions on the O+ site if you have impaired heart or lung function or any other medical condition.
Nuun offers an easy way to carry your sports drink (or make more quickly between sets). Your essential electrolytes beverage is created by dropping one nuun tablet into 16 oz. of water. Nuun contains no sugars (sorbitol is used), is under 6 calories and delivers 360 mg. sodium, 100 mg. potassium, 25 mg. magnesium, 13 mg. calcium and more including vitamins.
The tablets (12 tablets per tube) come in 11 flavors. My favorites are the lemon or lime based. I like my drinks light tasting so I use 1/2 tablet per bottle. The tubes are $6.50 USD each (app .50 per serving if you use a whole tablet). Sport drinks are a must and I often forget to bring one along to the court. Keeping a tube of nuun in my bag makes it easy to make a drink in seconds since water fountains easily supply the base. Learn more or find a retailer at Nuun.
Deodorize that stinky bag of yours with this bamboo charcoal filled bag from Moso Natural. Simply toss the 6 x 7" linen covered sachet in your gym or tennis bag and smell the difference. The charcoal absorbs moisture and odor. Reactivate the bag's powers monthly by setting out in the sun. Each bag lasts two years and can be cut open and safely spread in the garden when done. Go green! The 7 oz. size will do you fine: $6.99 each USD. Find a retailer at Moso Natural.
Christina McHale has teamed up with Buddy Fruits, maker of easy to eat, pre-packed fruits. No more bruised apples or squished brown bananas in Christina's tennis bag. Read more: www.tennisidentity.com/wta
Martin Blackman opens Blackman Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, Florida today. "After three very rewarding years wth USTA Player Development, I want to get back to my passion of coaching committed junior players," said Blackman.
Blackman is the former USTA Senior Director of Talent Identification and Development, past head of the Junior Champions Center in College Park, Maryland and Men's Tennis Coach at American University. His new academy will operate as a boutique training facility that will focus on developing high performance players.
I asked Blackman the 5 most common things players at all levels do wrong when looking to grow their game. Here is his list:
1. Most players who do not consider themselves high performance do not set long-terms goals for themselves. Learn from recreational runners; most of the runners I know have goals and benchmarks for their ‘times’ and training. They stay motivated and focused by going after their goals and hitting their benchmarks. Tennis players of all levels should meet with their instructor or ‘team captain’ or doubles partner to set short, mid and long-term goals for their game.
Tennis is a running game.
Tennis technique is dictated by parameters (a range of acceptability for grips and stroke production).
Tennis is a game of errors not winners.
Those three elements define tennis at every level; athleticism, technical competency and tenacity are the trifecta of tennis. Players should seek an honest appraisal of those three aspects of their game, and ask their coach to formulate a plan to improve one area at a time. The goals should be realistic, based on the limitations of the player’s abilities and the amount of time that they are able to devote to training.
3. Most players don’t understand the role of practice. The terms ‘deep practice’ and ‘deliberate practice’ describe the neural processes involved with learning skills. Repetitions of any sort create neural pathways in the brain, therefore, if I have been hitting my forehand the wrong way for 10 years, I won’t be able to fix it in ten days!
The rule of thumb is, the more ingrained the habit, the more deliberate the practice necessary to correct it. Supervised drills and repetition will replace "bad habits" with the correct technique. Supervision is a necessity for correcting a bad habit, because the player will invariably return to the old habit when fatigued or unfocused.
The flip side is, when the player – typically a young child - is taught the right way the first time, he or she can engage in deep or deliberate practice on their own, without supervision. In tennis, this could mean practice sets, or hitting against a backboard or shadowing.
4. Many players need to spend more time practicing patterns off the serve and return. At every level of instruction and play we don’t spend enough time on the serve and return. The serve especially, is the beginning of holding serve, which should be a tactical goal for players of all levels.
As a coach, I love to work on ground stroke and transition patterns, getting high reps and getting my player to move and execute correctly, to high percentage targets. But now, in order to help my players improve their serves and returns, I often start the drill with them serving or returning, to give the drill a more realistic context. I will not feed the ball unless the player makes the serve or return, and my feed will be based on the strength and placement of their serve.
Having said that, the serve is the most complex stroke in the game, and must be worked on in isolation as well, to ensure good reproducible techniques.
5. ‘Playing up’ too much. Everyone wants to play up! Tennis players love to play players that are better or ranked higher than they are. There is a simple reason for this, when we play up; there is no pressure! We typically hit out, and play better than we would in a high pressure situation. There is one big problem with this desire to always play up:
Playing up means losing. Playing up all the time, means losing all the time.
I can’t think of any reminder more important to coaches, players and parents alike, than WINNING IS A HABIT!
New products to consider carrying in your gym or tennis bag:
1.) Definitely not something to play tennis with but handy for training, running, treadmills or stationary biking. It's a lightweight pocket for your upper arm that can hold your mobile device and feed headphones to your ears without tangling or worse, phone dropping. The clear touch-screen allows in motion device operation. Multiple interior pockets can fit your phone/iTouch, key, gym pass and inhaler or any small-sized critical needs you carry to the gym or road with you.
Bonus (for me at least), the Armpocket Sport i-20 ($29.95 USD) also fit the mi-coach click-in heart monitor attachment I use on my iPhone. The Armpocket comes in a variety of sizes and colors and is made with moisture wicking materials to keep your skin from getting irritated. Make sure the model you consider fits your device and arm.
2.) Tis the season for dry skin and standard soaps can make things worse. Kiss My Face makes a new Peace Soap Castille liquid soap that is mild, hydrating and moisturing. Keep it at home and in your gym bag and your skin will thank you, $2.99 for a 3.40 oz gym size. You can also use it to wash your hair. I love the lavender mandarin scent but there are others. Good for you and the world,10% of all profits from this soap go to the Seeds of Peace organization (develops relationships and leadership skills among young people from regions of conflict).
4.) Lastly, when you simply must play and run, take a Paper Shower.
Paper Shower is a new two body wipe combo that'll clean you up and hold you over. Each pack comes with two large-sized towelettes (9" x 12"ea), one wet and one dry. The wet one is saturated with gentle cleaning ingredients with enough power to clean up a light sweat. The dry one is soft and absorbent leaving your skin dry, not sticky or laden with chemicals, $7.50 per pack include 6 wet/dry towelettes (that's $1.25 per pack with free shipping).
And what about your hair you ask? Good question. Dry shampoo solves the hair issue. I like KMS Hair Play Makeover Spray (yes, guys can use it too).
So what to do when you are a weekend warrior or simply don't have the bucks for massage? Do it yourself.
I recently spotted the Foam Roller (top pic), and hand held Roller Massager (below) at a tennis tournament. Both devices work like a real massage would, sinking into soft tissue to elongate muscles, rolling out tightness and increasing blood flow to soft areas. The hard foam roller feels grrrrreat on a tight back.
Ryan Ginley, Senior Director of High Performance and Player Development at Intensity in Norwalk Connecticut is a believer. He travels with the foam roller and has his junior players work with it before and after matches.
"The massage you get from using the roller helps keep you feeling fresh and loose,"says Ginley." "To be honest there is some discomfort associated with it and tight muscles but the benefit of refreshed, pliable muscles is enormous. Some of these kids are playing two or even three tough matches in a day and the 15-20 minutes we take for massage before and after makes a difference. My players stay looser than they would without it."
Both rollers come with complete instructions on the best ways to use them. The high density Foam Roller is made in a few sizes and will cover larger areas like your back. The 6" diameter x 35" length is versatile and runs $29.95.
The Roller Massager, $27.95, is for calves, thighs, shoulders and smaller spots. It will pop right into your tennis bag ready for a quick tune up whenever you need it.
Find the rollers at Pro-Tec Athletics.
adidas has announced a new heart rate monitor that works with the miCoach mobile app the company introduced last year.
The monitor snaps onto an adjustable absorbant stretch belt (pictured below) that you wear around your chest. A small, connect device plugs into your iPhone or iPod Touch.
Sync your phone to the monitor once you have it on and off you go. Your heart rate data is transferred to the screen (and to your ears if you choose) in real time as you work out, right alongside miles, time, calories burned etc. The device (and built in personal coach) is excellent for fitness training.
But, why should a healthy athlete be concerned about heart rate?
According to Dr. Kimberly Parks, Cardiologist, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School:
"Monitoring your heart rate during exercise is important both for safety and to make sure you are achieving maximum effectiveness from your workout.
It can be easy to get caught up in the positive response your brain has to exercise...[and] It is easy to under or over estimate how much you are exerting yourself. Monitoring your heart rate is important to ensure that you are achieving the desired intensity of your workout."
Determining your desired heart rate: Subtract your age from the number 220. The result is your maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR).
"For endurance training, your target heart rate should be between 70-80% of your MPHR," says Dr. Parks. "For maximum aerobic benefit, you should aim to maintain your target heart rate for a minimum of 20-30 minutes. It's best to avoid exerting yourself at greater than 85% MPHR [during endurance training]..."
Dr. Malissa Wood, Co-director of the MGH Heart Center, Corrigan Women's Heart Health Program and Cardiovascular Performance Program comments that "Individuals hoping to increase their fitness can push their heart rate to a slightly higher range (88-90% max of MPHR) for short intervals..The benefits derived from higher intensity short periods are clear. Typical types of short burst activity would include plyometrics (jump training), sprints or interval runs and running the baselines on a tennis court."
A few notes:
The miCoach heart rate monitor is a great tool for those who want to add running or cycling to their training-for-tennis regime and well as for those who already do these activities. The app will run an assessment program that it will use to base your future workouts on. You can also simply use the heart monitor for short interval training.
This is not a time to lie about your age. Yeah, we all wish we were younger but it's important that the heart monitor make its calculations based on your true age.
I did not find the belt uncomfortable at all but I do not run long distances where chafing could be a problem. adidas offers a couple of miCoach heart rate monitor compatible garments, a sports bra (pictured left) and close fitting shirt for men, for those who might be bothered by the belt. Try it without them first.
You may want to wear an armband style iPhone case if you want to keep your hands free when using the system for high intensity training.
Pretty neat little tool that adds to an already solid fitness app. The adidas miCoachConnect and the Heart Rate Monitor bundle retails for $69.99 and will be available soon at adidas. The miCoach app is free and available for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. The heart monitor, as noted above, is only available for iPhone and iPod touch.
As always, talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness regime.
Learn more at adidas.com/micoach . Their blog is a good resource for getting familiar with the app. Not available in all countries yet.
Clay Sniteman M.S., P.T., ATC, is a Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer for the ATP World Tour. He also runs a private PT business, Sundance PT in Utah. If you watch tennis you've probably caught a glimpse of him on court when a player needs assistance with an injury. Sniteman is one of the ATP's seven staff trainers covering twenty-two tournaments worldwide annually. I caught up with him recently while in New York:
What kinds of injuries do you see the most on the ATP tour?
There are always multiple shoulder issues and back injuries because of the rotational motion but we see and care for everything, knees, hips, elbows. The surface can make a difference in the types of injuries. Clay and grass mean more knee issues. Altitude and temperature changes can cause elbow issues. There are a lot of factors involved. There are also unexpected things from calf strains to waking up with a stiff neck. We are always busy.
How and when do you get involved with a player?
We [the other ATP trainers] are always in touch with each other and if a player is coming from one tournament with an injury we know what they are going to need before they come in. We work with players before, during and after a tournament at the event location, making sure all of their needs are met.
There is a training room at every tournament - a designated spot to work but I'm on court with the backpack too. Some facilities have more amenities than others. If there isn't space at a smaller event, we bring something in.
What types of treatments are you using to keep players comfortable while they play with injuries?
It really depends on what the player wants. Some players travel with their own trainers and I don't get involved. Some have a particular treatment they like and ask for it. Ice, massage, continued rehab...it's all part of it.
I'm seeing more and more tape on the tour players. Is this something you are using a lot more of now?
We still use stiff white athletic tape on ankles, where we want to restrict a motion. Kinesiology tape is diffferent however, and that's what you are seeing. It has become very popular because it is lightweight and can be used on multiple joints, adhering well and staying put through heavy sweating. I like KT Tape Pro as it is 25% stickier than the other brands out there. What we are doing with it is taking pressure off of specific muscle or joint so motion is pain free.
Isn't is bad to mask pain?
Pain meds mask biomechanical issues and the pain caused by them. We're not masking pain, we are preventing it. If you can put a joint into a position where it should be, so it's not grinding on a bone, for example, the player can continue to play at their highest level.
Cheng adds, "Muscles get damaged after an intense bout of aerobic exercise like running, playing football, or cycling. The casein and whey proteins in milk are precisely what the body needs to regenerate muscles fast."
Sport drinks not marked as "recovery drinks" are good for replenishing carbs and electrolytes but don't do much for muscles that need to repair after a strenuous workout. Drinking milk immediately after a tough workout means that muscles will reap the benefits when they need them, before they start breaking down.
If you don't like the taste of milk, try mixing in some chocolate or strawberry protein powder for flavor.
Cheng's original story can be read here.
If you are wondering if your tennis racquet needs to be restrung and you have an iPhone, here's a solution. raquetTune is a downloadable app that allows you to check racquet string tension any time, anywhere.
The app uses the sound of the racquet strings to analyze the frequency of the strings when hit with a pen or like object. The frequency is then converted to the tension of the stringbed. The accuracy is shown by an indicator light on the display and can be improved by repeating the "test" several times in a row.
Here's how to run a test: Set your app to register pounds or kilograms, click the racquet button to set your string's linear density (you can find some on the racquetTune website) or set your string type. Polyester, nylon, gut and kevlar are all options, and then set your gauge (string thickness). This part feels a little confusing as there are so many different strings and materials on the market. Again you can use the listing on their website for help. There is an option that enables you to input a hybrid combination. You then set your racquet head size.
Hold the racquet face over your iPhone in a quiet setting and hit the strings a few times with a pen. The results register right away. You can compare the results to the recommended tension printed on the racquet or base it on your particular likes. Here's a video:
The app has gotten great reviews from stringers who are far more concerned about exact measurements than me. I thought it helpful as it indicated that a couple of racquets in this household's arsenal needed a restring despite the face that the strings looked fine.
For .99 cents my first thought is why not? It's just about the cost of one tennis ball but you do need to know detail on the string you have in your racquet to use this. Ask your stringer for the string package if you are not completley sure of what you are using. Unless you change strings, once you've input the data it's there till you change it again.
Learn more at racquetTune or download it from the AppStore.
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal presented an excellent article on the questionable curative properties of copper and magnets among other metals. I personally know many tennis players, both male and female, who wear magnetic jewelry to allay aches and pains. This site reported on one such product last year.
Referencing results from a British study of copper and magnetic bracelets published in this month's Complementary Therapies in Medicine, WSJ health writer Melinda Beck presents the medical facts in her piece, "Metal: Panacea or Placebo?." Check it out here.
It appears that any positive effects may be all in our minds. Anyone disagree?
Check out my most recent nutrition related article published today over at On the Baseline. Included are a range of products designed to help your body stay healthy and ready for your tennis game. Included are: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega, Joint Juice, Cherry Flex and Oxylent.
Products reviewed include: Neutrogena Sport Face Sunblock Lotion, Mission Skincare Sunscreen and Facestick, Eco-lips Face-stick and Bethesda Sunscreen Soap.
Check it out over at OntheBaseline.
If your elbow hurts, even just a little, read on. Dr. Pete Sallay an orthopedic surgeon with Methodist Sports Medicine/The Orthopedic Specialists in Indiana offers his expertise concerning tennis elbow in "The bend on tennis elbow" published May 13 over at OntheBaseline.
Helpful info for an all too common problem.
OnTheBaseline.com has just published my newest Tape Talk article on the importance of wearing sunglasses on court. Check it out by clicking here. Pictured here Samantha Stosur wears Oakley.
Sally Parsonage B.SC, Ph.D., R. Nutr., C.I.S.S.N., Nutrition Division Head at IMG Academies International Performance Institute offers her tips to tennis players looking for the best nutrition for their game. Check out the complete article by Karin Burgess, editor of Tennisidentity.com at OntheBaseline.