The secrets to making our Canadian stars reach the next grand slam final

The future of Canadian tennis is looking bright as ever. With the recent emergence of young phenoms, Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Roanic, tennis in Canada is gradually gaining world attention. A few weeks ago at Wimbledon, marked the first time any Canadian has reached at least the semi final of a grand slam tournament with Bouchard and Raonic reaching the title match and semi finals respectively. All aspects of their training are notably improving such as their technical, mental, and physical training. To be constantly improving ones game on the court, the physical aspect must be a training priority off-court. In major tournaments the players that consistently make it to the finals can be considered the fittest athletes among the other players on the tour. Being able to peak and play at a high level throughout the tournament relies mostly on the strength and conditioning regimen of each tennis player.

Both Eugenie and Roanic have been no strangers to vigorous workout routines before Wimbledon.  Eugene spends time in Southeast Florida with her strength and conditioning coach Andrew Hanley. “I primarily focus on mobility, agility, and rotational strength and how to generate forces from the ground through the racket to become healthy strong and fast”, says coach Hanley.  Roanic fine-tuned his regimen by focusing on tennis specific movements working on things such as agility, anaerobic exercises, and strength in the upper body. The two have similarities in their training by emphasizing the need to concentrate on power and mobility to keep up with the modern-day tennis. There’s no secret in todays game, power, speed, and agility prevail in tennis.

In both of the Canadian players game, power and mobility need to be consistently enhanced to steadily make it to the finals of each tournament played. Power, the amount of work done per unit of time, is adopted to define quick, agile, movements in athletes.  Mobility is defined as the surrounding musculature during passive motions and range of motion about a joint. Power exercises such as Olympic lifting, pylomtericcs, and medicine ball throws, and bounding are extremely beneficial and demanding on the body. Mobility drills ensures the body is not compensating other muscle and joints used in an exercise to provide functionality and longevity for the Canadian champions. Therefore, incorporating these two components can ensure continuous improvement on their off-court training.  

Try a power exercise: The Jump Squat

This exercise is a tremendous way to improve one’s ability for power.  It utilizes rates that approach near maximal acceleration and force development. In tennis, this exercise can be useful by jumping higher on a serve, or the first step after the split step to sprint to the ball faster. Note, that this exercise is for advanced athletes only, and is imperative to get the technique of the squat initially before performing jump squats. Jump squats can be performed loaded or unloaded depending various training models, which can change the amount or reps and sets, used in your program. The uses of high-speed/low force movements have proved superior performance gains in all sports replying on power. It is important to vary the training implications on the load of jump squats such as high-speed/low force, and high-force/ low speed to steadily improve strength gains in the athlete.

Try a mobility exercise: The Half Kneeling Self Hip Mobilization

Self –mobilization techniques are used to improve capsule and connective tissue mobility around the joint. Limitations in flexion and internal rotation around the hip have been noted in many high level tennis players. Any sport that requires squatting, planting and cutting will have these limitations as well. Decreased range of motion has concluded lower extremity injuries to be present in many athletes. A self-hip mobilization technique requires a strap that can be stretched and is attached on a stable surface. The athlete begins in a half kneeling position on the floor with the strap attached to the hip with the knee on the ground with light resistance on the strap while facing away from the strap. The athlete pushes their hips forward opening up space at the front of the joint. The athlete completes 30 pushes on the band and alternates the leg the strap is attached to complete the hip mobilization.

References:

Reiman, Michael and Matheson, J.W. “Restricted Hip Mobility: Clinical Suggestions for Self-Mobilzation and Muscle Re-education: International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy: Journal 8.5 (2013): 729-740

 Haff, Gregory ,Whitley, Adrian, & Potteiger, Jeffery. “A Brief Review: Explosive Exercises and Sports Performance: Strength and Conditioning Journal: Volume 23 (2001) 13-20

 Brady, Rahcel. “Raonic builds his body and game.” The Global and Mail 16 Jan. 2014

 Brady, Rachel. “Eugenie Bouchard More Determined Than Ever Going Into Second Season. The Global and Mail 12 Jan 2014