Fat, fit and winning
Over the years there’s always been talk of the physical appearances of some of the girls on the WTA professional tour and i’m not talking about the ones with the Sports Illustrated figures either. I’m referring to the ‘heavier’ pack. In many cases its a taboo subject for discussion if you’re involved in the industry or tour. Who will ever forget Richard Krajiceks comments a few years back about some of the female players looking like pigs? Guys, even try bring up the subject of weight and appearance with your girlfriend or wife and see how far you get before your’e in trouble!!
On the tour today we have a few players that definitely won’t be challenging the Anna Kournikova profile, but the fact is, is that some of these girls are winning a lot of matches and making a lot of money. Being involved in the fitness side of the game , I often get a lot of questions about this subject, people asking how its possible some of these girls, who to the human eye, look out of shape and play at this level, (professionally) can compete and win.
If you had to put me on the spot and ask what names usually come up, then here goes: Alisa Kleybanova (WTA 19), Anastaia Pavlychenkova (WTA 20), Kaia Kanepi (WTA 16), Marion Bartoli (WTA 18), even Serena! These are world class players we’re talking about, girls that are performing late into the week at tournaments. Now, to protect myself from getting slaughtered, I wouldn’t call these girls ‘fat’ (a taboo word) by any means, I would rather call them ‘heavier set’. How is it they can perform so well without exuding world class athleticism and physic?
These ‘heavier’ girls are executioners, not retrievers of the ball.
Firstly, we need to understand that the women’s game has changed since the days of Chrissie (Evert), Martina, wooden racquets and elegant tennis. These days the women’s game is about power, shorter points and harder groundstrokes. The game has progressively moved on from the longer entertaining rallies to quick “put aways” on the 1st or 2nd presented chance. It’s explosive, relentless tennis. Any ball that has a sniff of a chance to be put away for a winner is severely punished. Secondly these are girls that are incredibly talented and have relied on their god given abilities (with hard work of course) to get to where they are. They also understand that they need to make the other girl move more and the girls mentioned are executioners and not retrievers of the ball. So, they might be winning a lot of matches, but my point is this: Imagine how good they really could be if they did improve the athletic and nutritional sides of their programs?
The game has moved on, today it’s faster, more powerful with shorter points.
If we swing over to the mens game, we see players like Rafa, Verdasco and Murray who have taken the game to a new level athleticism wise. In fact, in the men’s game, you simply don’t get way with being out of shape. The men’s game is about speed, precision, power and endurance (5 sets in grand slams). I can’t think of more than 2 guys in the top 100 that i can say are a ‘bit out of shape’ in my opinion.
On closing, trying to play at this level and not being physically well prepared will eventually lead to breakdown or injury with the end result sometimes being career threatening. You might get away with it today, but tomorrow could be the hammer.
You might be good, but Imagine how good you really could be if you improved your physical and nutritional standards.
So can you be fat, fit and winning? Yes, but will your body be able to withstand the load over a period of time. Absolutely not. Your body can only take so much and then no more. Like i tell my players, remember you have a life after tennis and don’t want to be walking around like a 90 year old when your 40!