Wednesday, April 17, 2013


updated March 12, 2014

I am so excited for Spring tennis!  I am playing singles for two teams, one a 3.0 USTA singles line 1 team, the other at USTA 3.5 level. This is a goal I have aspired to for a very long time, and finally I am here, after a lot of physical work and ongoing training. 

Nothing worthwhile comes easily! At the age of 58 and finally getting my act together, so to speak,I have been preparing as best as possible for  healthy competition. 

Here today I am sharing current mindset for a best spring tennis season regarding fitness, nutrition, mindset, and equipment~

Fitness:  I am what you would call a 'lazy' athlete. There are so many times I make excuses not to work out, I am too tired, too busy, simply not in the mood, the excuse list goes on and on.  BUT, I will not stand for the silly excuses, so what to do? 

(A) If you can, it is best to join a group, whether in a gym or in a tennis club.  Simply by having a schedule to get you someplace to work out WILL get you there!  And, the peer group is so important to keep you on track. We all wind up helping each other, which becomes another set of rules entirely, one from silly procrastination and excuses to a better way of life where people help people. 

(B) Lift weights- this keeps the fat burning even while you are at rest!  YES, the best workout is not working out at all, so for the 'lazy' athlete, lift some weights, then kick back the next day and relax while your body does the work simply by being in muscle stress mode! You can lift weights anywhere, get creative!

(C) While your muscles are in recovery, take a day off and watch tennis tapes, anything to keep you in the tennis mentality. You can also do tummy tucks while driving a car, tighten your abs, legs, glutes while you sit, and indeed you are still working out even while at rest.  

(D) Keep it simple, go for a walk, and power walk anywhere anytime, even while making dinner stretch those arms to reach in a cabinet, work out whatever you are doing!  The take away here is that increase your awareness of what you do each second of the day, and see the value in your physical motions, you work out much more than you think!  So relax and appreciate your fitness all for improving your tennis (then, be sure to schedule that workout or tennis clinic when you can, NO EXCUSES!).

Nutrition:  Wow, is it hard to stick to a plan, or what? At my age in my late 50's, nutrition is key for optimal health.  Each year gets trickier, so to keep the telomeres strong and in shape, I am aspiring to a gluten free diet, with some exceptions.  The exceptions are when I am in a public venue and gluten free is not possible.  Then, instead, while at home I will resume the better diet.  No big deal, I have my cake and eat it too! But tiny bites, please.  

As much as coffee is a mainstay in my diet, I have discovered I actually have an allergy to it (it gives me the jitters, nausea, headaches from withdrawal, loss of focus), so I only allow myself one cup of coffee (delicious coffee!) once a week, that's it. In fact I have given up for Lent this year all forms of coffee, decaffeinated and regular. 

In its place, I thoroughly enjoy tea. In fact, I have pleasantly discovered that by drinking about 6 to 8 cups of tea day, yes, from morning through evening you CAN ingest 8 cups, that my teeth and gums are in great condition! Truly!  

 For spring tennis, I have opted to follow a Novak Djokovic plan, which is gluten free.  At one time Novak had difficulty breathing on court, and according to the Chinese, the intestines are directly linked to the lungs, so be good to your gut!

courtesy of Getty Images
If you want some Novak Djokovic gluten free recipes, I thoroughly recommend his '14 day gluten free plan for physical and mental excellence' found in his book Serve to Win, that you can find at Amazon. 

Mindset:  Another tough hurdle to overcome, and you thought being an athlete was easy?  I have the highest regard for these oh so very disciplined folk! Once you get the physical and nutrition understood and at an even keel, focus on your mind.  Your mind is a physical component to your being as well, being fed and anesthetized at will according to your nutrient intake and brain stimuli. 

Then, your thoughts emerge.  Do you not think that a healthy mind is a snapshot of your physiology?  Sounds pretty basic to me. Fix the body through exercise and nutrition and a healthy mind will emerge. Understand your own personal limitations, address them, and through this acknowledgement you will be one step closer a fitter you, ready to embrace your sport, whether tennis, running, weightlifting, pilates, yoga, ice skating, any physical discipline that requires effort.

Equipment: Really know your strengths and limitations, you will have to experiment with discovering what your capabilities are, but stick with your plan and you will be rewarded! I have had issues with tennis racquet weight and balance, and its impact on my stroke production and physical awareness. 

If you have a favorite racquet, get the strings re-strung, get a new grip on that racquet! A fresh outlook will do wonders for your game, newness is good!  It breaks old habits.  And a new grip is not expensive, about $5.00. Since I play singles tennis, I opted for a lighter weight Head Instinct racquet which has been out on the market for two years now. I have the Head Instinct MP from a few years ago which I also love, but it is too heavy for my singles game, it will be reserved as my doubles racquet, or when I cannot warm up properly and need to keep the ball in the lines.  Both tennis racquets will be my mainstay for many years to come, so an initial investment is worth the long haul.

Spring tennis, we tennis warriors wait all year long for this magical season. Nothing better than to wake up early, hear the birds tweeting and chirping to greet the day, and suit up for an early morning match.  And my recovery? Keep playing tennis!  

Tennis aficionados, have a wonderful spring season!!

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