Caroline Wozniacki: These 3 critical strategies are guaranteed to increase your SPEED.

Caroline Wozniacki:

These 3 critical strategies are guaranteed to increase your SPEED

Few sports rely on strength alone for success. Athletes in most sports highly value speed. If you do, pull out your notebook and jot down these 3 critical strategies.

ZERO TO 3 + SCREECHING HALTS

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT + TRAINING

WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL COACH/STUDENT?

Over my years of coaching, I’ve seen some incredibly quick movers and some not-so-fast athletes. As you might imagine, athletes who can move faster than their opponents have an advantage.  

Many sports require speed, agility, and endurance (physical and mental). Whether tennis, pickleball, volleyball, basketball, soccer, or some other sport, this blog will help you become a better mover. Evaluate your movement skills and see if you can check off these boxes. 

ZERO TO 3 + SCREECHING HALTS

Speed is the ability to move the body in one direction as fast as possible. Agility is the ability to accelerate, decelerate, stabilize, and quickly change directions with proper biomechanics.

If you’ve watched football training sessions, you’ve noticed the stark differences in movement training for the various positions. Receivers have extraordinary accelerating and braking systems. Beyond their incredible directional speed, their ability to go from zero to full strides in only 3 steps is gold. Further, they can come to a screeching halt, change direction, and explode again from zero to 3. These 3 critical strategies are what separate the good from the great.

Moving from a ready position to a full stride in 3 steps is crucial.

Similarly, in tennis, top players like Rafa Nadal and Iga Swiatek show us just how vital it is to go from the ready position to a full stride motion in 3 steps. This is explosive power. Simply put, explosive power refers to an athlete’s ability to exert a maximum amount of force in the shortest possible time. The more force a player can exert against the ground, the higher the movement potential. 

The explosive movement must be coupled with practiced deceleration, re-acceleration, and multi-directional changes. The large muscles in the legs facilitate explosive movement, both forward and lateral. The more muscle mass you can engage, the quicker you’ll move. 

The best movers are able to change directions quickly.

I’ve watched tennis coaches and academies warm up young students with a bit of jog. There’s little concentration on intentional, powerful running. There is, however, a disproportionate amount of time spent on bouncing and quick small shuffle steps. Players take little steps to get in a perfect position before hitting a shot. It looks like a bit of speed dance without achieving high MPH and without going anywhere! The next time you see Rafa and Iga play, observe how many times they hit balls in full stride and how quickly they change directions. This is court speed. This is mastery of the 3 critical strategies.

You can play faster. Movement, just like everything else in tennis or other sports, is primarily about technique and only secondarily about natural, God-given talent. I believe that the more realistic the drills, the greater the benefits in actual competition. Power running, speed training, or Tabata training in cycling are great drills that bring results. 

3 types of cardio that you need to be a part of your weekly routine.

Consider studying the pros. That’s how you can learn “real” working techniques. I often watch small specific movements of the pros repeatedly until I permanently own the image in my mind. I’ve included links at the bottom of this blog for two short videos showing great movers: Caroline Wozniacki, former No. 1 WTA player and Julian Arnold, pickleball professional.

Watch these clips a few times and observe these 3 critical strategies, and how quickly Caroline can get to a full stride. Watch how long some of her steps are and how quickly she can change directions. She was known to be a great mover on the court. She will take quick small ‘ready’ steps, but you can see her speed comes from powerful long strides. Julian Arnold, pickleball pro, does take small steps because he is on a smaller court. His ability to change direction and braking system are on par with Caroline’s.

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT + TRAINING

If you want speed, you must clearly understand the rigors of your sport and how your body type plays a role. It may be time to decide on your optimal body weight. I see more and more overweight players/students trying to compete today. I admire their ambition yet question their sincerity. The main takeaway is simple: To be fast, you must obtain and sustain your optimal body weight. This is one strategy to pay attention to continually.  

How often have we seen champions try to defend a title after gaining weight? It usually doesn’t go well for them. Body weight yo-yoing is not healthy and not suitable for superb athletic performance. Your speed will be significantly compromised if you carry more weight than you should. Remember you can’t out-exercise bad eating habits.

Players and coaches must talk honestly about how the student can get to the highest level – and how weight management and optimal nutrition must be as important as any other facet of their training. In fact, there can be no negotiating here. Further, coaches need to set an example of fitness. How can a student genuinely buy into the advice of a coach when the coach’s actions don’t match his words? 

Being overweight is linked to many chronic health problems, and these conditions affect every organ in the body. Carrying too much body weight increases your chance of injuries. Your body’s joints can be under severe stress if you’re overweight. In fact, studies have shown that people who are overweight have a 15% higher risk of sustaining a musculoskeletal injury. Most prevalent injuries due to excessive body weight are sprains, strains, lower extremity fractures, and joint dislocations. In overweight people, bones take longer to heal after a fracture, and soft tissue healing is also slower. Buy-in to all 3 critical strategies.

Proper biomechanics of running can play a crucial role in injury prevention. There are many aspects to consider: stride length, step frequency, cadence, velocity, balance, foot angle, and walking base. A coach can help provide more in-depth analyses of these gait biomechanics. These are an integral part of the 3 critical strategies.

A training program needs to be safe, time-efficient, and productive. Improving flexibility in the hamstrings, ankles, lower back, and hips can increase a player’s potential to be explosive. Flexibility is best accomplished by performing all strength training movements through a full range of motion and dynamic flexibility exercises before every workout or practice.

Another excellent training regimen for speed improvement is plyometrics. Plyometrics are exercises that usually involve some form of explosive movement and are designed to increase power, coordination, balance, and quickness. A plyometric program can help train the nervous system to perform athletic movements more efficiently. 

The most effective and practical way to improve the skill proficiency of your sport is to perform these skills through countless hours of task-specific skill practice. Task-based training is a simple concept: you learn what you practice. Players need to practice the specific skill precisely like it will be used in competition–or at actual game speed. 

Coach training 3 critical strategies for speed.
WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL COACH/STUDENT? 

Are you on the hunt for a coach, an academy or other training class so you or your child can improve? Choose wisely. In addition to training routines and technique practices, I would posit that the learning program must include nutrition. Some academies charge exorbitant fees – and never entertain nutritional education as a facet of athleticism. In fact, nutritional guidance is usually either non-existent or not taken seriously. Coaches, consider healthy eating as essential training for your students. After all, it could mean the difference between a winning career or a flustered wanna-be.

And students, are you truly a scholar of your sport? Does your dedication to improving your forehand equal your enthusiasm for learning proper hydration? If not, then reconsider your commitment level. If your coach or mentor is not teaching you proper nutrition and ways to improve your healthspan, consider finding a new coach. No program is commendable without significant emphasis on nutrition and hydration education. If this is not front and center, I recommend seeking another program or adding a nutritional coach to your portfolio. It’s that important. 

Endurance Fuel

Coaches, you have the responsibility to bring nutritional knowledge to your students. You need to be able to explain the perils of sugar and the pitfalls of being overweight. If your students are still eating crap or drinking sugary drinks, sit them down and discuss realistic expectations with them. Students insist on coaching that involves every factor of their sport – including proper nutrition and optimal hydration. Whether coach or student, learn to be a consummate professional of the 3 critical strategies.

The 3 critical strategies to remember:

ZERO TO 3 + SCREECHING HALTS

Engage in realistic movement training. Go from zero to full stride in 3 steps. Avoid taking lots of little steps. Work on your braking system and learn to directionally pivot. Practice.

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT + TRAINING

Acknowledge that until you are at your optimal weight, you are not serious about your athletic goals.

WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL COACH/STUDENT? 

Understand your commitment. Raise your expectations. Be a consummate professional – whether coach or student of the 3 critical strategies. 

Coach’s sidebar: I realize I may not tell you what you want to hear. I will, however, tell you what you need to know to be your best.

Caroline Wozniacki: These 3 critical strategies are guaranteed to increase your SPEED.

Caroline Wozniacki Movement YouTube:

Julian Arnold Pickleball Movement:

Learn. Share. Inspire.

Be well, my friends.
 Coach Fred

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