As 2017 has arrived and 2016 is in our rearview mirror, it gives us a chance to reflect on what we want to accomplish this year as athletes. I cringe at using the word “resolution,” as it has a stigma attached in the athletic community associated with jam-packed parking lots at the local gym for about … the first three weeks of the year. Having the unique opportunity of working with everyone from the weekend warrior to professionals, one may think that the two share very little in common. However, when it comes to setting goals in tennis, there are similarities throughout. Here are three key things that every athlete may want to keep in mind when looking to build a routine this year.
1. Get assessed
Tennis players are quick to judge themselves on their performance on-court, but when it comes to the other major parts of the game—hydration, nutrition and physical preparedness—that often falls to the bottom of the priority list. A fitness assessment is a benchmark for any athlete not only to determine strengths and problem areas, but also set realistic goals. The year 2016 became the year of the wearable in all sports. From GPS tracking technology to heart rate monitoring, these are all great tools to track our day-to-day progress.
2. Develop a proper warmup
There are endless resources and videos about everyone creating the most efficient warmup for the general athlete. How many times have we looked at the process and thought, “Is this specifically working for me?” Even worse than that is the amount of times I have seen high performance athletes do the bare minimum before going out on court right into point play. No matter what the level of competition is, we as athletes have to take the time to find out what our needs are, and more specifically, target those areas before going out on the court. Looking at the most common injuries in tennis is one great way to start. Narrowing the focus on those exercises and other common problem areas will at least give the athlete something to build from. Athletes should have a go-to warmup that they have memorized or that is kept in their bag, but what I also like to call the “worst- case scenario” warmup. This is the warmup for those tournaments where you have to get ready in the parking lot, or are sitting around for that long rain delay without much notice of when play will resume. All will be effective tools in the long run for any athlete to possess if they want to take their game to the next level.
3. Trust the process
Athletes, just like the average public, sometimes fall into the habit of looking for immediate success. The relationship between the tennis athlete and coach is often one of the most intense of any sport. This alludes to why it is no surprise that the turnover rate between players and coaches in the sport of tennis is so high. So what do we learn from this? For one, find a coach who understands your goals. Second, trust their craft and the time it takes for the body to adapt to certain changes. Lastly, it is toxic for athletes to compare themselves to others when everyone has been on a different journey for different lengths of time.
If we are to make resolutions, let this be the year that we are at least committing to be the best that we have ever been on and off the court.