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Tennis Tips

Play Tennis like a Professional!

How to hold the tennis racquet

It is surprising the number of recognised ways you can grip a tennis racquet. This table shows the types of grip and what shot they are used for, advanced players will adjust their grip to hit the perfect shot whether its serving, volleying, hitting ground strokes, or slicing.

Type of gripThe basic forehand grip is known as the Eastern grip, it is otherwise called the ‘shake hands grip’ because you hold the racquet as if you are about to shake hands with someone…

eastern

Footwork

How you stand is one of the key factors that contribute to the perfect shot in tennis. You need to be able to position yourself to hit the ball correctly and earn the point. By improving your footwork you give yourself a better chance of not only hitting the ball but doing so with good execution. The earlier you get to the ball = the more time you have to choose how to hit the ball (crosscourt, down the line, backhand, forehand, deep or short). Incorporate speed drills and footwork patterns into training sessions that will give you the edge when it comes to footwork.

Forehand

Roger Federer has, arguably, one of the best forehand strokes to date. He is not especially strong so its clear that muscle power is not behind the success of his swing. His technique, however, is flawless and allows him to produce the tennis he is reknowned for. To initiate his stroke he uses a ‘unit turn’ and turns his shoulders sideways. By rotating his body it means he is creating angular momentum to create more power and topspin. The angle of your swing should be from low to high and you should be transferring your weight in a forward and upward direction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAyQ0eP0Eh0

 Backhand swing

What is important to remember about the backhand swing is that the body should initiate the motion, leaving the hands and racquet to do minimal work. You should aim to fully extend the arm and racquet so that on contact with the ball you will get a clean fluid shot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvjfL487Vaw

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Global Tennis Tournaments

Copa-Davis1-595x360

There are 4 major tennis tournaments, known as the Grand Slams, that are the most important events of the tennis calendar. They offer the biggest prize money as well as the biggest crowd and media coverage. They are:

  • The Australian Open (mid-January) – Hard Courts
  • The French Open (May/June) – Clay Courts
  • Wimbledon (June/July) – Grass Courts
  • US Open (August/September) – Hard Courts

 

A tennis player achieves a ‘Grand Slam’ when he/she wins each of the 4 tournaments in the same calendar year. The only players to win a Grand Slam (singles) are:

  • Don Budge (1938)
  • Maureen Connolly (1953)
  • Rod Laver (1962 & 1969)
  • Margaret Smith Court (1970)
  • Steffi Graf (1988)

 

Other important tennis tournaments include the Olympics, the ATP (mens) and WTA (womens) Tours and the Masters 1000 Tours.

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Rules of Tennis

rackets

Equipment

What do I need to play tennis?

Balls, grips, racquet and strings are a good start. Clothing should be easy to move in and trainers are a must. Some tennis players are reknown for their fashion taste on court however as long as you can move freely in the clothing it is suitable.

Rules

The basics…

Singles game

  • The server is decided by the toss of a coin before the start of the match
  • The server must stand behind the baseline and inbetween the centre line and singles sideline (single sideline = narrow court)
  • The server serves for the entire game, not just the first point
  • Service must be delivered diagonally to the opponents side of the court
  • The server has 2 attempts to serve (a fault = the ball touches the net, the server steps on the baseline…)
  • After every point the server swaps to the other box (i.e right to left)

The Court

tennis-court-dimensions

Standard Game

A tennis match can be the best of three sets (first player to win two sets wins the match) or the best of 5 sets (first player to win 3 sets, wins the match). A player wins a set when he wins six games (provided he has defeated his opponent by at least two games).

Points          Score Called

0              =           Love

1              =           15

2              =            30

3              =            40

4              =         Game

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A History of Tennis

Origins

It is believed that the earliest appearance of the tennis that we play today can be traced back to a 12th Century game devised by French monks called ‘jeu de paume’ which means game of the hand where they would hit the ball to one another using the palm of their hand. It was in the 16th Century that the racket was introduced. The game soon spread from France to England where Henry VII and Henry VIII promoted the building of courts as they enjoyed the sport so much.

It was not until the Victorian prosperity of 19th Century England that the game of tennis recognised today began to take shape. It became popular with the upper classes and outdoor courts were built in the grounds of stately homes. In 1877 the first tennis tournament was organised by the All England Club using a rectangular court, a net and service boxes. By 1882 the specifications of the game had evolved into their current form.

Why is Tennis still popular today?

Tennis is now a billion dollar industry that is played across the globe and is ranked in the top 5 of the most popular sports worldwide. It is physically demanding, mentally stimulating and has some of the best athletes in the world as ambassadors…

Tennis in popular culture!

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Running Playlist

Music to get you going!

Running along to music is a great distraction from counting the minutes or the kilometers. Certain songs can boost your mood and lift your spirits giving you the extra energy needed to carry on. Runners often find themselves running along to the beat and getting into the necessary rhythm that is needed, especially for long distance.  This is a selection of some of the most popular songs that people listen to but it is purely personal preference as to what is going to keep you motivated…

Firestarter The Prodigy

Hey Ya! Outkast

Lose Yourself Eminem

Stronger Kanye West

Hard Rihanna

Lights Ellie Goulding

Bulletproof LaRoux

Misery Business Paramore

One Way or Another Blondie

Crazy in Love Beyoncé

Good Feeling Flo Rida

Let’s Go Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo

Eye of the Tiger Survivor

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Running for beginners

How do I start running?

If you are a newcomer to running then don’t be discouraged when you find that you cannot  run 5k at your first attempt. Running, like any sport, requires practice in order to improve. This is one of the great things about it – you can set yourself goals, work towards them and when you accomplish them you will feel great! There are many workout plans for first time runners available online which provide great information on when to run, how long to run for, warming up and down and how not to overdo it (try this 8 week program from Runners World http://www.runnersworld.com/beginners/the-8-week-beginners-program?page=single ). Running should be enjoyable and gratifying, so keep this in mind when tailoring a workout plan to suit you.

What equipment do I need for running?

The good thing about running is the lack of equipment you need! Trainers are very important and can help prevent injury, not only boost your run. Correct sports wear is adviseable. A sports bra should be worn by women. Also available now are synthetic clothes that wick away the sweat – these clothes tend to be more expensive but are worthwhile as they keep you cool in Summer and warm in Winter.  An unnecessary but worthwhile item is an MP3 player as music is a good source of motivation.

Should I eat before a run?

It is recommended that you should stay clear of solid food for a period of 1.5/2 hours before you begin your run. This is because running on a full stomach is known to give stitches whereas running on a completely empty stomach may result in a lack of energy. You will have to find what works best for you. One thing for certain is that you stay hydrated.

Make sure you warm up and cool down when running…

It’s never a good idea to injure yourself on the first attempt! To avoid straining any muscles, to lubricate the joints and to make you more limber you should do some gentle jogging and stretching so that your body is prepared for a workout. It will improve your performance by rising the core temperature of your body therefore allowing oxygen to move at a faster rate providing more energy to your muscles and brain. Cooling down is just as important; your heart will be beating rapidly after a workout and you should ensure a gradual return to normal heartrate by maintaining movement. Furthermore, after a workout your muscles are at their warmest which means it is the best time to deepen stretches. Doing this after every workout you will notice an improvement in your performance and less soreness the day after.

 

 

 

 

 

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Running tips

 

Woman running in autumn fall forest

 Running tips

  • Use races as sources of motivation. A regular program of running is good but races are the goals that you work to achieve.
  • A mile burns approximately 100 calories, therefore every mile you do counts whether its during a warm-up or on an easy day. Running slow and long is the key to building your endurance allowing you to run faster.
  • Take regular rest days to allow your body to recover. This is important if you begin to feel any injuries – it is better to rest for a few days than to do more damage.
  • To make your body stronger try running up hills. I’s a form of resistance training to force your body to use new muscles and build those of your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
  • A training partner is good company and motivation. If they are good they will spur you on when you are tired and make you run on the mornings when its cold and raining.
  • When you get a stitch – breathe deep and push all the air out of your abdomen. This is to open up the diaphragm, where the stitch occurs.

Good form for running

Look Ahead

You can see what is in front of you (i.e obstacles) but it also means your body is upright allowing you to breathe deep and fill your lungs.

Relax!

When running, let your jaw hang loose, don’t have any extra tension in your shoulders by bunching them up, and occasionally shake out your hands and arms. All your energy should be focused on your legs to propel you forward not on the tension in other body parts.

Short, light steps

Instead of wasting energy moving up and down you should concentrate on taking short, light steps. You should not bounce when you run as your feet have to absorb the shock of the floor and you will feel tired more easily.

Land mid-foot when you run

Most people agree that you should land on the middle of your foot and then roll through onto your toes. Landing on the heels is bad for your forward momentum and landing on your toes leads to bouncing.

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Choosing the right trainer for running

Runners need a shoe that is comfortable but also one to prevent injury. Some running shops will employ people who can watch you run and advise you what pair of trainers to choose. Trainers are designed for different purposes and for different shaped feet; a good running shoe will correct pronation and result in a more efficient stride.

 

Foot shape and the correct shoe

 

 

1. The flat foot

This is typical of an overpronated foot. You need a shoe that will counterbablance an inward rolling motion as you are most likely to strike the floor with the outside of your heel first.

Suitable trainers – Those with motion control. This means they are ususally the heaviest and most rigid and have a firmer section under the inner part of your foot.

2. The normal foot

This footprint shoes that the foot is striking the floor biomechanically ‘correctly’. A normal foot will roll inward slightly on contact with the floor.

Suitable trainers – Shoes with emphasis on stability. They usually have moderate control features to support the arch and a lot of cushioning for comfort.

3. The high-arched foot

An underpronated foot (where the foot rolls outward instead of inward). This is the most rigid shock absorber.

Suitable trainers –Those with plenty of cushioning to counter balance the rigid impact of the high-arched foot. Stay away from trainers with stability and motion control (that reduce foot mobility) because this type of foot is already very stable.

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Running injuries

Running puts your body through a lot of physical pressure and it is common that runners find themselves injured at some point. The important thing is to know what to do with your injury… Should I run through the pain? Should I rest today? Is it serious?

Find some of the most common running injuries and helpful advice on what treatment is best:

1. Knee pain (Runner’s knee)

This is a very common injury in runners. It is usually when the area under the knee swells and you feel either a sharp and severe OR dull pain around/behind the kneecap when you run.

Possible treatments – Apply ice to the knee to reduce swelling. Try running uphill to strengthen glutes and improve control of movement of the knee, hips and thighs. Squats, lunges and straight leg raises are all exercises that can help to support your knee. However, if pain is severe then you should not run or work the knee but see your doctor.

2. Shin splints

This is the name applied to general pain over the front of the lower leg. It is often quite a dull pain caused by small tears in your tibia (the shin bone).

Possible treatments – In the first few days of pain use ice to soothe the area. Do not try to run through it, running should be significantly reduced to avoid further, serious damage. Gradually build up your running to a normal level when your shin starts to feel better. Make sure you have the correct type of shoes for your foot and even running on grass will help to reduce the impact on the lower leg.

3. Heel pain (plantar fasciitis)

A sharp, painful sensation at the base of the foot towards the heel and along the arch. If you have very high or very low arches then you are more prone to suffer from this.

Possible treatments – Do stretches that target the heel and to prepare your feet for training. Make sure you have trainers that are suitable for your type of feet. Short term relief treatments are to roll your foot over a golf ball and an iced water bottle. You should wait until the heel is better before running (normally 2/3 weeks but severe cases can take up to 6 months).

4. Muscle strains

New runners often complain of muscle strains after running, specifically the hamstring muscle which is used for sudden acclerations. It may feel as though someone has kicked you suddenly in the back of the thigh.

Possible treatments – Do not continue to run if you have pulled the muscle. Apply ice at regular intervals throughout the day and elevate the leg to reduce swelling. See a doctor if you have problems walking and if the pain does not subside after a rest period. Try swimming and pool-running as safe alternatives to maintain exercise.

 

How to prevent further injury…

Purchase footwear that is the correct shape/style for you feet. The sales assistant should be trained to advise you on this.

Warm up before you run and cool down afterwards.

Do not push yourself too hard, too fast. It is better to advance slowly and injury-free.

 

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Pilates for beginners

New to Pilates?…

 

Don’t worry! Here are the basic principles of Pilates:

  • Breathing

When breathing you should inhale through the nose and out through the mouth. Breaths should be taken before you engage the muscles. Our bodies need oxygen to heighten concentration and relax the muscles.

  • Pelvic area

You should be aware of your neutral position – a key position in Pilates. To find your neutral spine lie on the floor with knees at a 45 degree angle. Rock your pelvis back and forth as if you’re peeling yourself away from the floor one vertabrae at a time. This is to feel the tilt of the pelvis. Most people have their spines in either a tucked or tilted position. To be in neutral spine your body has to be with the lower abs flat and a small natural curve of the lower spine from the floor. Your bottom rib should also be touching the floor.

  • Rib cage area

The rib cage must also be neutral to achieve more freedom of movement. It is difficult to control the rib cage in order to breathe efficiantly but eventually you should be able to connect in your upper abdominals, inhale in to your middle back and lengthen up! You should already have a good command of your abdominals before this can be accomplished.

  • Scapular area and movement

Scapular refers to the shoulder blades. They have a lot of mobility which needs to be stablised using muscles. The shoulder blades support our spine but when this support is absent the neck and shoulders are overworked = pain! The aim is to ensure the scapulae are connected by muscles whilst fitting into the back of the rib cage with no edges popping out. There are scapula isolation exercises designed to help you attain this.

  • Head and cervical area

When sitting in neutral the skull should balance directly above the shoulders. An exercise to engage your head is to lie in neutral position, then gently nod the chin towards your chest while lengthening the back of the neck. Keep your head on the floor throughout. We put a lot of strain on the neck as our heads are so heavy so neutral position is a useful way to combat this.

 

Basic positions

 

GET STARTED! This website shows a range of good basic positions for you to begin Pilates…

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/fitness/workouts/beginners+pilates,9993