Nadal Prematch Ritual | AskThePro

This week’s question comes from a player at the Seaside Championships.  “Isn’t it great to see Nadal is back. He’s such a fierce competitor. My question is, why does Nadal employ a short burst routine as part of his initial match preparation?

It’s no surprise that Nadal, known for his fierce competitiveness, incorporates a scientific approach into his routine. He kicks off his pre-match preparation with a three-minute, dynamic warm-up, a vital component for combating fatigue, reducing stress, and boosting spirits. This routine can work wonders if you’re feeling drained before stepping onto the tennis court.

According to Margaret Rice, a neurosurgery professor at N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine, engaging in this brisk activity elevates your heart rate, improving oxygen delivery to both muscles and brain. This surge in energy can leave you feeling more alert, possibly attributed to the release of dopamine triggered by the movement.

Beyond the immediate energy boost, a recent 2022 study involving 25,000 British adults revealed that just three minutes of vigorous daily movement can lead to a decreased risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease.

This research recommends beginning your day with an invigorating warm-up to jumpstart your energy levels. However, it also underscores its versatility, making it suitable for a quick three-minute pick-me-up during any break. Activities like shadow tennis swings, golf swings, boxing, and basketball shots—all designed to engage your major muscle groups—are highly effective.

At the end of those three minutes, take a moment to assess your experience. Is your heart rate elevated? Are you breathing deeply? Do you feel more energized, and has your mood improved?

It’s fantastic to witness Nadal’s return, and we certainly hope he remains injury-free for a while yet.

Best of luck, Rob
Tennis Whisperer


Small tweaks to your fitness habits can have long-term benefits, writes Danielle Friedman
Getting older doesn’t have to mean moving less. The key to longstanding fitness , experts say, is envisioning the kind of athlete you want to be 20, 30, even 40 years from now, and training smartly in the present for that future.
‘‘ If you’re dreaming of retiring and hiking the mountains of Hawaii, make sure you can do that now, first and foremost,’’ says Kate Baird, an exercise physiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
Starting in your 30s, you lose between about 3 per cent and 8 per cent of your muscle mass per decade, and more after turning 60. Bone mineral density also starts to decline in midlife, which puts you at risk for fractures and osteoporosis. Your VO2 max, or the heart and lungs’ ability to take in oxygen and convert it into energy, decreases as well. Making a few changes to your habits early can slow these declines and prepare you for decades of physical activity, Baird says.
Here’s how to get started, according to exercise scientists and trainers. The best way to be proactive about your future is to assess your fitness today, says Grayson Wickham, a physical therapist in New York City, and the creator of Movement Vault, a stretching and mobility app.
The four key areas to check are your body’s strength, stability, mobility and cardiorespiratory fitness , he says, which all typically decline with age. ‘‘ The human body is extremely resilient,’’ Wickham says. ‘‘ But the double-edged sword there is that it’s so resilient that we can get away with a lot – until we can’t .’’
For a professional fitness evaluation, make an appointment with an exercise physiologist, physical therapist or certified personal trainer, all of whom can then work with you to create a personalised training program.
Testing one’s fitness can shine a light on potential weaknesses or areas in need of boosting, Wickham says, helping to prevent injury before it happens. For example, if your stability is shaky, start doing balanceboosting exercises like single-leg stands and weight shifts, or workouts like tai chi and Pilates. Or if you’re less flexible than you desire, take up yoga or devote more time to dynamic stretches.
The best way to measure cardiorespiratory fitness is to test your VO2 max with a doctor or an exercise physiologist, Baird says. Many wearable fitness trackers, including some Apple Watches and Fitbits, offer estimated VO2 max readings as well.
As you get older, you should, above all, strive to exercise 150 minutes per week with moderate-tovigorous intensity aerobic workouts and two sessions of strength training (15-20 minutes per session), which together can boost both longevity and quality of life.
But how you spend that time should look different from day to day or week to week, says Sarah Witkowski, an exercise physiologist and associate professor at Smith College. Even small changes can be beneficial , she adds. If you typically do lunges, try lunging in different directions some days or combining them with overhead dumbbell presses. If you like to walk, once or twice a week choose a hillier route or walk as fast as you can.
Strength training can be a veritable fountain of youth if you approach it strategically. When we’re younger, our motivations are often aesthetic, says Amanda Thebe, a personal trainer based in Canada who specialises in working with people over 40. But focusing only on isolated muscle groups, such as abs or biceps, often neglects muscles we can’t see that contribute to health and strength. ‘‘ There’s nothing wrong with doing your bicep curls and your deltoid raises if you want to be pumped for summer,’’ Thebe says. But balance these exercises with compound movements – exercises that work several joints and muscles at once. ‘‘ Things like a dead lift and a squat,’’ she says. ‘‘ Things that move us up and down, and side to side.’’
Prioritising core muscles beyond the visible abdominals will also contribute to overall strength as we age. Planks are a great option, and pelvic floor exercises help, too.
Source: The New York Times

Coaching For Life: A Guide to Playing, Thinking, and Being the Best You Can Be | Tennis4Life

Paul Annacone’s book “Coaching For Life: A Guide to Playing, Thinking, and Being the Best You Can Be” delves into his personal journey within the world of tennis. Beyond being an autobiographical account, it serves as a valuable compilation of lessons that can be applied to our everyday lives. Annacone’s close proximity to some of the greatest tennis players has granted him a profound understanding of the core principles that define a true champion.

Starting his coaching career in 1995, Annacone worked alongside the legendary Pete Sampras, a partnership that laid the foundation for his subsequent success. Widely revered as one of the most esteemed mentors in the sport, he has also coached notable players such as Roger Federer, Tim Henman, Sloane Stephens, and presently guides Taylor Fritz, one of the top-ranked players from the United States.

Through his experiences, Annacone offers profound insights into the mindset, strategy, and personal growth required to excel not just in tennis, but in life as well. His book acts as a guide, encouraging readers to tap into their potential and embrace the qualities that propel champions forward. With “Coaching For Life,” Annacone imparts invaluable wisdom garnered from his own journey and his extensive work with some of the game’s finest, inspiring readers to be the best version of themselves in all facets of life.















3 Ways to Measure How Fit You Are | Tennis4Life

Exercise tests, heart rate and physical ability can tell you more about your health than the scale ever could.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health. But too often, the only measurement people use to evaluate their progress is their weight, which is not the most accurate metric to assess fitness and can be emotionally fraught.
For one thing, muscle is denser than fat, so if you’re doing a lot of strength training, the number on the scale could go up as you work out more. Additionally, research suggests that body size does not necessarily correspond to health.
“Fitness is more important than fatness to your cardiovascular and metabolic health, and your overall risk of morbidity and mortality,” said Lee Stoner, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Fortunately, there are more accurate (and less anxiety-inducing) metrics you can use to assess your health and physical conditioning. Whether you’re a competitive athlete, a weekend warrior or a beginner, below are several expert-recommended ways to gauge your fitness.

How Long Does It Take to Get Fit Again? | NYT

When it comes to cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, the adage is true: Use it or lose it. While regular exercise can improve heart health and increase strength and mobility, taking weeks or months off can reverse many of those benefits.
That’s not to say that rest days are not important. In general, short breaks can help you physically and mentally recharge, but whenever possible, you should avoid extending your time off for too long so that hopping back on the wagon doesn’t feel too daunting or miserable.
“Your body adapts to the stimulus you provide,” said Dr. Kevin Stone, an orthopedic surgeon and the author of the book “Play Forever: How to Recover From Injury and Thrive.” “Your muscles become used to the stress and the testosterone, the adrenaline and endorphins — all the wonderful things that circulate from exercise. When you take that away, the body initiates a muscle loss program.”

What does it mean to lose fitness

To understand the phenomenon of fitness loss, it is helpful to think about how activity and, therefore, inactivity, affects your cardiovascular system and muscle strength. Because regular exercise helps your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues in a more efficient way, one of the first things that declines when you become inactive is your cardiovascular endurance, said Edward Coyle, a professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin.
After just a few days of inactivity, the volume of blood plasma circulating in your body decreases, Dr. Coyle said, leading to a series of other cardiovascular changes. After 12 days, studies show that the total amount of blood the heart pumps every minute decreases, along with the amount of oxygenated blood available to muscles and other cells — measured as the VO2 max.
If you return to the gym at this point, you will only notice slight differences in performance, Dr. Coyle said. Your heart rate may be a little faster and your breathing may be heavier as your body works harder to pump blood and oxygen to where they’re needed.
Scientists have found that it is around the three-week mark that people experience the biggest changes in their ability to get through a workout, as energy produced by mitochondria for muscle cells drops off significantly. “That means that exercise will be more fatiguing,” Dr. Coyle said.
Strength declines less rapidly than cardiovascular health. After eight weeks, inactivity finally starts to affect the size and strength of your muscles. For weight lifting or strength workouts, the maximum amount you are able to lift decreases, as does the number of repetitions you could manage, Dr. Coyle said. You are also more likely to experience muscle soreness a day or two after working out.
The extent to which different people experience a decline in fitness depends on age, genetics, lifestyle, diet and prior level of fitness. Studies show that older adults lose fitness at nearly twice the rate of 20- to 30-year-olds. And while people who work out consistently for months or years may experience fitness loss at the same rate as recreational exercisers and weekend warriors, athletes who start out at a higher fitness level “have more to lose in absolute terms,” Dr. Coyle said.

What can you do to keep fitness loss at bay?

While the cardiovascular and muscular changes that occur after a long break may sound dramatic, the good news is that most people do not cut out all activity in the same way that participants are often instructed to do in an exercise study.
If you have to travel or stay in because of bad weather, doing something is still better than nothing, Dr. Coyle said. Swap dumbbells for body-weight exercises. Try smaller “exercise snacks” throughout the day, take the stairs as much as you can, or better yet, set a goal to do a few short high-intensity interval workouts.
“If you spend just a few minutes a day doing interval training, that’s sufficient to keep blood volume elevated and mitochondria relatively high,” Dr. Coyle said.
If you’re a competitive athlete, tapering the intensity or frequency of training right before or after a big race or game can actually be beneficial, as long as you are intentional about it. For example, many athletes plan for a two- or three-week taper in order to give their bodies time to restore their glycogen fuel tank and allow muscles to recover.
Those who need to take longer breaks can try cross training or switching to a different sport, like skating or swimming. Or perhaps focus on improving balance instead, through aerobics classes or dance to keep the same muscles active in different ways.
“Overall fitness is a combination of many factors,” Dr. Stone said. “It’s not just muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.”

How long does it take to make a comeback?

If you haven’t been physically active in a while, don’t despair. Just like off-seasons are a regular part of any sport, working to get back in shape is possible — and easier — for regular exercisers, too.
Research shows that even though extended breaks significantly reduce fitness, most exercisers’ levels remain above those who have been sedentary their whole lives. For instance, while muscle fibers can shrink during long breaks, they don’t completely disappear and they do retain a molecular “muscle memory” that can help them bounce back months after you stop exercising. In other words, you are already set up to regain strength and endurance much faster than when you started the first time around.
“You can regain approximately one-half of your fitness in 10 to 14 days with moderately hard workouts,” Dr. Coyle said.
After this initial period of retraining, the amount of time it takes to get the rest of your fitness back to prebreak levels can vary depending on how much catching up you have to do. One study found that older adults needed less than eight weeks of retraining after a 12-week break. Other evidence suggests that competitive athletes may need to train for two to three times as long as the time they took off.
When rebuilding your fitness, start by setting a goal of working out for a certain length of time each day, without worrying about your strength or intensity, Dr. Coyle said. Once you can comfortably walk or jog for 30 minutes a day for two or three weeks, you can start increasing your pace to a run. If you want to return to lifting weights at the gym, start with a lower load and then gradually add more.
Many personal trainers recommend amping up by no more than 10 percent every week. But rather than following an arbitrary number, tweak your routine based on how your body feels.
If you cannot afford several weeks of retraining, or simply want to get back in shape faster, you can do more intense workouts or incorporate interval training to speed up the process. “The higher the intensity,” Dr. Coyle said, “the faster the rebound.”
By Knvul Sheikh, NY Times
Published Jan. 30, 2023

Plantar Fasciitis Is a Real Pain: symptoms, treatment and prevention | Tennis4Life

The pain starts when you wake up — a stab in your heel when you get out of bed, an ache when you put weight on your foot. The condition is persistent and common; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 10 percent of people get it.
Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tight band of tissue on the bottom of your foot, can happen to anyone, said Dr. Eveline Tan, a podiatrist at Northwestern Medicine, but it occurs more frequently in people who are on their feet for long periods of time. “It’s probably more common than most people think,” she said, noting that she’s seen a resurgence of patients with the condition as more people have been returning to post-lockdown life. On Monday, Tiger Woods posted on Twitter that he withdrew from a golf tournament because he has developed plantar fasciitis in his right foot, making it difficult to walk.  The condition can be agonizing, but it’s generally temporary, and there are treatments and preventive steps people can take to ward it off.
Is there any way to prevent plantar fasciitis?
“No one is safe from plantar fasciitis,” said Dr. Amiethab Aiyer, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine. And if you’ve had plantar fasciitis before, you’re more likely to develop the condition again in the future, he said. But there are ways to reduce your risk.  If you’re increasing your level of exercise, build up gradually, and incorporate rest and stretching into your routine, especially stretching your hamstrings, calves and feet, Dr. Walton said. Even stretching your calf over a stair at work or home can help add flexibility, Dr. Pandya said.
Here’s what you need to know. 

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Frozen Shoulder: Causes & Treatment | Tennis4Life

Frozen shoulder, more correctly known as adhesive capsulitis (AC), is a common cause of shoulder pain and loss of shoulder joint motion in the over 40s. 
In ‘primary’ cases of AC, there is no significant reason for the onset pain or stiffness, whereas secondary AC can occur following an injury, trauma, surgery or illness. 
In younger people below the age of 40 and athletes, primary AC is rare; AC is more likely to be secondary in nature – for example following a rotator cuff injury. 

When AC does occur however, it can result in considerable disruption to any tennis activity, especially given the typically long timescale it requires to resolve. 

Read more in link below.

Tendon health & antibiotic impacts | Tennis4Life

There’s steadily accumulating evidence that one particular group of commonly prescribed antibiotics called ‘fluoroquinolones’ might be implicated in rapid-onset tendon degeneration, exposing sportsmen and women to an increased risk of tendonitis or even tendon rupture.

A recent article in Sports Performance Bulletin looks at the risk of tendon rupture that fluoroquinolone antibiotics pose and explains why sportsmen and women are at particular risk – a risk can last many months after the antibiotic course.

The article explains why any athlete taking common asthma medications should be very careful indeed about fluoroquinolone antibiotic use.

The positive news is that when athletes have to use the antibiotics, there are a number of protocols that can reduce the risk to themselves, and there also evidence that a particular nutrient may also exert a protective effect.

Read more in the attached article and how to protect yourself if required.

Source: Sports Performance Bulletin

The Best Sport for a Longer Life? Try Tennis.

Playing tennis and other sports that are social might add years to your life, according to a new epidemiological study of Danish men and women.

NYT: How Walking Can Build Up the Brain

How Walking, Dancing, Tennis Can Build Up the Brain

Exercise can freshen and renovate the white matter in our brains, potentially improving our ability to think and remember as we age, according to a new study of walking, dancing (tennis) and brain health.

It shows that white matter, which connects and supports the cells in our brains, remodels itself when people become more physically active. In those who remain sedentary, on the other hand, white…

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Tennis at the Tokyo Olympics

The Olympic tennis tournament will be missing some of the sport’s bigger names this year, but there’s still plenty of star power to go around in Tokyo. Tennis’s best-known players have often shined at the Olympics — past gold medalists in singles include Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams and Serena Williams on the women’s side, and Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray on the men’s side.


  • What is the Olympic tennis format?
  • When is the Olympic tennis tournament?
  • Where will the Olympic tennis tournament take place?
  • Who are the top players competing in Olympic tennis?
  • What type of courts are used in Olympic tennis?
  • Who are the defending gold medalists?

What is the Olympic tennis format?

The men’s and women’s singles medals will be decided by a 64-player, single-elimination tournament. Doubles will feature 32 teams and mixed doubles 16 teams.

All four players or teams to reach the semifinals will compete for medals, with the two semifinal losers playing for bronze and the winners playing for gold (or silver).

Sixteen of the 64 players in singles are seeded based on international rankings, while eight of 32 are seeded in doubles. When possible, no two players from the same country are placed in the same quarter of the draw.

All matches are best-of-three sets. All singles matches will feature a standard tiebreaker (first to seven points) in every set. In doubles, if the teams split the first two sets then the third set will consist entirely of a first-to-10-points tiebreaker.

When is the Olympic tennis tournament?

Olympic tennis begins Friday, June 23, with first-round matches in men’s and women’s singles and men’s and women’s doubles. The complete schedule can be found here. The gold medal matches for each tournament are as follows. All times Eastern.

Men’s doubles: Friday, July 30, 4:30 a.m.

Women’s singles: Saturday, July 31, 5 a.m.

Read more