The Relation Between Running and Sport-Specific Training
Tennis is a very start-stop-start kind of sport. Most of the running in the game consists of brief sprints – either from side to side behind the baseline or towards the net and back. Part of this also involves a player and his or her ability to make small adjustments in a flash, which is why running is such an integral part of the sport.
Whilst an official tennis court’s dimension is only 27 feet wide for singles matches, the fact of the matter is that players do a lot of running. In more ways than one, a typical game proves to be a stamina challenge. That is, unless athletes come in prepared and put in the necessary roadwork.
Most people can remember the gruelling John Isner versus Nicholas Mahut match during the first round of the 2010 Wimbledon tournament. In total, the whole ordeal lasted a mind-blowing 11 hours and five minutes that spanned across three days, breaking numerous tennis records in the process. The aforementioned match is arguably the ultimate testament of how proper conditioning and running are vital parts of the sport.
Even though one might not see his or her favourite tennis player run a full marathon – unless her name is Caroline Wozniacki – those long distances under their feet does wonders for their overall game. Not only does it improve their cardiovascular system, running also develops athletes’ stamina and endurance.
The key to all of this, however, is to run at a moderate pace. In other words, find a steady speed and stick to it for about 20 minutes or so. By doing this, tennis players will feel their endurance reach new levels. This is also where high-intensity training comes into play.
Indeed, distance running builds a tennis player’s endurance, but incorporating specific high-intensity training will give them much-needed functional movements. This refers to a type of program that mimics their actual movements on the court, during a game. For instance, suicide runs are an excellent high-intensity exercise, as they simulate the feeling of chasing after a ball, as well as improving one’s stamina and quickness. A well-written piece on Active by Paul Gold even points out the secrets of speed training specifically for tennis.
In hindsight, there are many reasons why tennis is a superb way to get and stay in shape – especially for a generation that is easily distracted with some of the latest fads and technologies. Jess Goulart, a sports journalist who regularly writes articles for tennis site Play Your Court, even came up with tips on how millennials can get fit, and one of those, of course, is through playing tennis regularly.
The connection that binds running, tennis, and fitness goes beyond the obvious improvement of a player’s game. To a certain extent, athletes of all skill and experience levels can benefit from each of these facets both physically and mentally, which is why cross-training is such a significant part of any sport.