Cross-training

Cross-training. What is it? Why does it matter? It is a multi-sport approach to the improvement of one's prowess in a particular sport, regardless of the level of the sportsman concerned. For example, a professional tennis player could inculcate some swimming and basketball playing into his training regime, with the aim of translating those benefits reaped from partaking in those non-tennis activities, into greater prowess on the tennis courts. Given the innate narrow-mindedness and proneness to reckless categorization of us human beings (including us Rovo team members), there have been not too insubstantial criticisms of this (distracting, they say) approach. However, such an assumption would only be correct if the qualities for performance in tennis and the other non-tennis sports are mutually exclusive, which is not the case at all.

Here are some reasons why you should cross-train:

  • It can help prevent injury from overuse of particular body part(s)
  • It helps you come back from injury
  • It can help you recover from overuse in particular body part(s)
  • It prevents you from getting bored of your workout

If the reasons for cross-training were to be condensed into one sentence, it is this:
Apart from the psychological benefits that accrue from spicing up your training regime with more variety; the using of different body part(s) doing non-tennis exercises which bring tennis-related benefits, would prevent injury/burnout while improving your game.

To make this point...

We look at two tennis greats and their different approaches to tennis development.

  • We have Bjorn Borg, who never takes his tennis training beyond the tennis court. He works on his fitness by doing sprints and other plyometric exercises on the tennis court, and intensive ground stroke drills. He has 11 grand slam titles to his name, but tragically retired at the age of 26 from burnout
  • We have Roger Federer, the man of many practices. His training regime is as varied as Borg's is narrow. Apart from the gym, Roger Federer makes it a point to engage various sports from badminton to basketball, from time to time. He is 36 and seemingly getting younger every year.

Knowledge is nothing without practice, so here are some good sports that one can consider adding in to his or her tennis training regime...

Biking

This an excellent exercise to help you improve your tennis endurance for a number of reasons, the main being its on your cardiovascular system. It is a non-impact cardio exercise, and thus would be a break from the high-impact hammering of your joints and feet a tennis session would give. By biking you improve your body's capacity to absorb oxygen, improve your equilibrium which results in an increase your overall physical stamina, all of which are critical for optimal performance during tennis sessions.

Skipping

Similar to biking, jumping with a skipping rope is a less impactful alternative to the harsh grinding of the tennis court. It is an excellent workout for player seeking to build their calf muscles, or the lower body in general. Such lower body fortification is crucial for tennis performance, given the need to stay constantly low to the ground which requires a significant amount of legs bending.

(Freestyle) Swimming

Apart from the building of anaerobic capacity, swimming (especially when one engages in freestyle) develops the shoulder muscles without putting as much stress on it as normal servings do. It makes us wonder if Andy Roddick was a regular swimmer. What do you think?

Badminton

The Financial Times has said it...

Federer himself credits the range of sports he played as a child – he also played badminton and basketball – for his hand-eye coordination. “I was always very much more interested if a ball was involved,” he says. Most tennis prodigies, by contrast, play tennis at the exclusion of pretty much everything else.. - A 2006 Financial Times article

What are you waiting for folks, let's get into some non-tennis action!

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