Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fit Tip: Become a Better Tennis Player

Professional tennis players are some of the best athletes in the world. Tennis involves strength, speed, agility, footwork and endurance to last the match. Getting more court time to practice your strokes is important, but even for recreational players, sports-specific conditioning is the key to improvement.

Strength Training: Strength training increases the power of your shots and minimizes injuries by protecting the joints that are subject to repetitive stress. Try a combination of dumbbells, resistance bands and cable machines. Focus on the whole body – legs, arms, back, shoulders and the core. Try a circuit style workout moving from exercise to exercise. Make sure to incorporate rotational movements and balance exercises.

Plyometrics: Speed and agility training are critical for tennis players to get to the ball faster and recover quickly for the next shot. Plyometric exercises like squat jumps, split lunges and box jumps can help prepare the body for those quick moves. Incorporate side-to-side lateral hops and jumping rope for improved footwork.

Cardio: In tennis, sometimes the only way to win is to outlast your opponent with greater stamina. Build your aerobic base through cardio workouts like a group cycling class or lap swimming. Tennis also involves bursts of intense physical activity followed by short periods of rest. Incorporate interval training, like suicide runs (sprinting between two or more predetermined points), to work on speed and endurance.

Stretching: Stretching after every game will help prevent muscle soreness and reduce the potential for injury.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fit Tip: Stretches to Improve Your Golf Game

Many golfers start the season with visions of greatness only to become frustrated when their game plateaus or even gets worse. One of the best ways to prepare before each game is to warm up your muscles and your mind. Done consistently, golf stretching exercises can help your range of motion, your strength and ultimately your handicap.
Dynamic golf stretches are the key to a warm up and involve sports specific movements that start with a small range of motion for the first few reps and increase the range as you go. (Static stretches should only be done after your golf game.) Get to the course a little early and do this pre-game warm-up. It should take no more than 10 minutes and allow time for a few practice swings before you tee off. 
Warm up: Do three to five minutes of brisk walking in the parking lot to get your blood pumping, muscles warming and heart rate up a little. 
Golf squat with shoulder raise: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Hold a club at each end waist level. Bend your knees into a squat and raise the club up to shoulder level. Raise yourself back up, dropping the club to waist level and repeat 15-20 reps. 
Side bends: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place a club on your shoulders. Lean to one side keeping your torso straight and switch to the other side. Complete 15-20 stretches on each side.
Leg swings: Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your upper body straight and swing your leg forward and backward. Repeat 15-20 times and switch to the other leg.
Trunk rotation: Place a club on your shoulders holding at both ends and place feet shoulder width apart. With knees slightly bent, hinge forward from the hips slightly (Just like you do when you swing). Turn from side to side, starting with a controlled twist, aiming to get the ends of the club directly in front of you for the last few turns. Complete 15-20 swings.
Alternating toe touches: Start by standing with your feet spread as far apart as comfortably possible. Lean forward toward one leg and try to touch the foot or ankle with the opposite hand. Alternate and repeat 10 times each side. 
These stretches will warm up all of the muscle groups involved in a fluid smooth swing including the shoulders, back, hamstrings and hips.

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