Jack of all sports…good or bad??
No doubt you have been watching the olympics in which these athletes are dedicated to their sport. Hours of training on and off the court, pool, track, field etc. these athletes are only focused on one thing…winning a medal. However, as any of these athletes and I can assure they will have played numerous sports growing up before they found their feet in their chosen sport.
So can playing other sports help a tennis player?
As a adult club player I know I can play at level that challenges me yet requires just a little less dedication than olympic level. I often go running, play football with friends and golf when the weather is good. I just want to compete with friends or other people in a competition for fun knowing I am keeping fit and getting some fresh air (yet secretly thinking this is the biggest game in the world and it is a matter of life or death!) However, the higher you want to go up in any sport the more time, dedication and focus you need to perfect your craft. Many coaches go off the formula that it takes 10 years (10,000hrs) to grow a champion. Endless sessions on practising hitting balls to a cones, fitness sessions & improving your technique can not be substituted for a game of golf and a beer every 2-3 days. Every athlete though needs a break from the repetition of training and needs a break in which cross training can help.
Which Sports are best for children and adult to cross train with??
COMBAT – can be compared with tennis with boxers using co-ordination of feet and hands, fast reactions, high level s of fitness and requires good movement in a small space. Many pro tennis players have done pads and light sparring for off court training to improve speed and cardiovascular fitness.
TEAM SPORTS – Football and rugby require cardio, speed and power and are a great way to learn working as a team just like the GB Davis Cup Team. High skills levels are required, spatial awareness and social skills to get on with team mates. There is however a high risk injury in which can require 2-3 days recover, no good if you have a game mid week.
ATHLETICS – Running, throwing and jumping is required in tennis. Jessica Ennis’s Javelin throw is a similar action to a serve in which biomechanists have compared javelin throwers and the tennis serves to help learn the best action for a fastest throw/serve. Running of course is good for lasting for lon 3 set matches and sprinting can help you pick up a drop shot. However, after training to run a marathon last year I felt very slow picking up drops shots (or may be I am past my physical peak) but running for a long time like Mo can actually slow you down on the court. Also tennis requires changes of direction (agility) and running in a straight line for 100m will not help you run from backhand to forehand.
DANCING – The rhythm of a rally to a metronome beat may not be a obvious comparison to the royal ballet theatre. Federer is often said to have balletic movement and aesthetically would score 10/10. The timing of his movement and preparation to a shot is just amazing to watch in which could be a theatrical production in itself if you took the scoreboards and trophies away.
Either way play sport, keep fit but stay focused to tennis if you want to be a champion!!