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Tennis player Milos Raonic

The 4 Pillars of Victorious Tennis Players

08/20/2014, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

What can we learn from Milos and Genie?

 

A gigantic serve, the ball smashed centimetres over the top of the net and the server scores an ace to secure the victory.

Or, the tactical deconstruction of an opponent through calculated shots and un-matched endurance. 

Can you name the two tennis players who lay claim to these two styles? Both have made Canadians very proud this summer.

Milos Raonic: Power 

Raonic is currently marching through his competition in the Western & Southern Open with his intimidating serves and impressive power game. 

Genie Bouchard: Tactics

Bouchard made history this summer becoming the first Canadian ever to play in the final at Wimbledon by deploying an intelligent, focused game

Both styles exist in stark contrast with the other, yet both styles are winning matches, tournaments and championships for both male and female tennis players all over the world. 

While Raonic and Bouchard may differ in style, they do have certain elements in common. Here are the 4 pillars of successful tennis players (no matte what style of game they’re using).

1. Cardio

Tennis players are never happy with their cardio levels. 

The last thing Genie Bouchard or Milos Raonic or even the novice player wants to think about is how much their lungs burn. Tennis matches last however long it takes for the points to be settled, and while they don’t normally stretch on for 3 days like the epic Wimbledon showdown between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, the edge gained with superior physical stamina is helpful even in short recreational matches. 

Tips to Improve Cardio

  1. Run twice per week

  2. Ride a stationary bike

  3. Improve your footwork on the court

2. Endurance

Closely related to physical stamina is the mental ability to keep going, or endurance. 

Endurance refers to physical ability as well, but tennis players are revered for their ability to focus on the task at hand. No matter what skill level a tennis player may be, their only real task is to outlast their opponent. The mental focus required to keep performing your best grows with each new serve, each volley and ultimately, each point won or lost.

Tips to Improve Endurance

  1. Drink more water

  2. Improve sleep patterns

  3. Turn your skills into habits

3. Strength

Milos Raonic didn’t learn to serve the ball like that overnight.

The skill involved is obvious. Hitting the ball at the proper height, feeling the court through your feet and using it to add extra velocity to the shot and placing the ball in the perfect spot - these are all specific skills that are maximized through increased strength. 

Tennis players are strong. They move quickly because they have strong legs and powerful ankle joints. They hit the ball fast because their upper bodies are developed and trained for power. Again, like we said above, it’s about being better than your opponent. Being stronger than the person on the other side of the means they’re dealing with harder, faster shots more often, which will again help you outlast.

Tips to Improve Tennis Specific Strength

  1. Lunges (with weights)

  2. Body-resistance exercises (such as pushups and medicine ball movements)

  3. Core exercises (such as planks and trunk movement routines)

4. Strategy

The area Eugenie Bouchard is making famous here in Canada; the strategy game used by victorious tennis players. 

Effective strategy requires all of the above points: the strength and stamina that allows the body to perform at levels higher than an opponent’s and the mental endurance that allows the mind to take charge of a match and pick apart the competition

Famous tennis players obviously grew up learning the strategy of the game, but the mental exercises used by players like Bouchard and Raonic can be adopted by anyone. 

Tips for Improving Tennis Strategy

  1. Read about tennis more

  2. Solve more problems (such as sudoku puzzles or other simple mind-games)

  3. Improve critical thinking: example: if I swing this way, the ball will travel in this direction where my opponent is not standing.

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Watching Raonic and Bouchard enjoy success at the highest levels of tennis is inspiring for players of all skill levels. The great thing about tennis is that everyone can play regardless of age or skill, and there are easy lessons we can learn (and use) from the game’s best players.

photo credit: mirsasha via photopin cc

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