Mastering The Fuzzy Green Ball
Yoga for tennis? Perhaps in no other sport is the combination of absolute strength, speed, flexibility and mental acuity so intertwined as it is in tennis. Long noted as a game of physical prowess and mental focus, tennis is played by millions. Of those, more and more are looking at yoga as the gateway to mastering the sport.
Yoga for Tennis – Used By The Greats
As much as training your body to meet the demands of tennis, you must also train your mind. Many of the best tennis players in the world have fallen prey to becoming unfocused during a match and were defeated as a result.
On the other hand, other greats have mastered the mind and body connection through yoga and have triumphed. Arthur Ashe, renowned for his physical ability and his focus, often draped a towel over his head in order to still his mind and regain focus.
Stars like Monica Seles and Pete Sampras made yoga a part of their daily training. Even amateur players can expect to better their game, as well as their outlook on life, thanks to yoga.
The word “yoga” in Sanskrit means “union.” By uniting the mind, body and spirit, meditation and yoga prepare the mind to rise above the chatter while training the body to a higher level of power and flexibility.
Yoga for Tennis – Poses for Power
Yoga poses, also known as “asanas,” are many and varied. Some are quite difficult and require years of practice. Most, however, are relatively simple and deliver results beyond what one might expect. Good yoga asanas for tennis players include several basics.
Triangle pose (Trikonasana) is used to stretch hamstrings. It also helps you have a deeper and wider turn at the waist.
Warrior II pose (Virabhadrasana II) teaches how to move from the hips as it strengthens the Achilles’ tendons and calves. It is also useful in increase the range of motion your body can tolerate, and promotes strength and balance.
Tree pose (Vrksasana) builds the legs and aids in co-ordination, developing concentration and balance.
Half-Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana) tones and stretches the spine and limbers the hips and shoulders, as well as helping the body turn.
Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) loosens up the back and torso
Chair pose (Utkatasana) lengthens the Achilles’ tendons, calves and spine.
Besides practicing yoga during training, implementing it courtside is also essential. There it not only calms the mind but prepares the body to play the game and avoid common injuries and stresses.
Men, Tennis and Yoga
It is interesting to note that male tennis players who practice yoga are generally more flexible and limber than those who do not. Though many men feel that they are not flexible enough to benefit from regular yoga practice, just the opposite is the case.
By practicing yoga regularly, tennis players and non-players alike build flexibility along with muscle tone. Tennis is a one-sided game, and yoga helps maintain balance in the body that can be lost when we put so much emphasis on one range of movement.
Whether it’s yoga for tennis or yoga for general physical and mental health, men who practice yoga usually are not only more physically fit but more relaxed, focused and assured.
Useful resources: Tomaz Mencinger’s How To Play Tennis series is a great way to get started in the game. I met Tomaz early 2011 and he is an inspiring guy to be around. Check it out here
The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey was first published in 1974 and is probably the classic book on mastering the mental side of tennis. You can pick it up from amazon.com