Try the drill that helped Frances Tiafoe get fit and beat Nadal – The Washington Post

Try the drill that helped Frances Tiafoe get fit and beat Nadal - The Washington Post

Frances Tiafoe has achieved some career bests this year. He reached the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time. He peaked at a career-high ranking of No. 24 in the world last month. And he will play in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time since defeating Andrey Rublev on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the US Open. two days earlier, Tiafoe beat second seed Rafael Nadal in the round of 16. After that match, the 24-year-old American partially credited his improved fitness for the win.

“I feel fit,” Tiafoe told reporters at his post-match news conference on Monday. “Like my fitness is solid now. I lost a lot of weight. Really put time in with that.”

Wayne Ferreira has emphasized fitness since becoming Tiafoe’s trainer in February 2020, but this year, Ferreira and others on Tiafoe’s team noticed a change in the way Tiafoe devoted himself to preventative stretches and exercises in the gym. Consistency was key, his team says.

“I think he just has a much better daily routine,” Ferreira said. “Even before matches, he does a little training.”

In addition to Ferreira, Tiafoe is often joined on the road by Bret Waltz, his physical therapist, and TC Costello, his strength and conditioning coach.

And while most people don’t have a tennis player, physical therapist and personal trainer, Costello believes Tiafoe’s routine can help tennis players of all levels. Below are three exercises that Costello said are part of Tiafoe’s training program.

Medicine ball exercises are a staple of Costello’s training for tennis players. The day after Tiafoe beat Nadal, Costello had Tiafoe do 30 minutes of light medicine ball work and mobility exercises before Tiafoe went on the court to hit for 30 minutes.

“For tennis, I really, really love to do medicine ball work, work on power,” said Costello, the senior director of athlete development at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., where Tiafoe trained. “It’s so similar to tennis — throwing a medicine ball — that it translates so well to the sport.”

To perform this drill correctly, find a wall that you can throw a medicine ball against. Costello recommends using a medicine ball weighing between four and eight pounds or one that can be thrown with “maximum intent.” It can’t be too heavy or you won’t be able to throw the ball as hard, he added.

Muhammad Dossani trains at JTCC with a medicine ball in 2018. (Video: JTCC)

Next, stand with your feet parallel to the wall, which in tennis is called an open stance. Bring the medicine ball to the side with your knees bent, and load from the leg closest to the ball while driving the ball as fast as possible into the wall, Costello said. Repeat this movement with the medicine ball five times. Take a three-minute rest and then do another set of five before switching sides for two more sets of five.

For the closed stance, turn your body and feet sideways toward the net. Load up on the back leg and drive forward. Do two sets of five repetitions on each side with a three-minute rest between sets. This exercise can also be done with someone throwing the ball to you. In that version, catch the medicine ball after one bounce, load and drive off the back leg while throwing the ball back.

“The key to that drill is to throw the ball as hard as you can, and drive off that back leg and make sure you get through that hip and get your weight through and drive that ball as fast as you can,” Costello said. . “Because that’s how you develop power. If you just go through the motions, and lightly throw the medicine ball against the wall, you’re not doing anything.”

Tiafoe is known for his speed. He can chase down shots and hit winners with his speed.

One of the footwork and agility drills that Costello likes involves reaction time. Take four cones and place them about 10 feet apart in the shape of a square. Stand in the middle. When working with Tiafoe, Costello will point to the cone he wants Tiafoe to move to. Tiafoe will then take quick steps to the cone and then return to the center of the square before moving on to the next cone that Costello calls.

“Having a reactionary [component]where I show in different areas to keep the player engaged translates to tennis because you don’t know where [opponents are] going to hit the ball,” Costello said.

24-year-old American tennis player Frances Tiafoe, now ranked at a career-high No. 24 in the world, is working on skill exercises in 2019. (Video: JTCC)

For speed and speed, do three sets of this exercise for 20 seconds each time, with a minute of rest in between. It may take a little longer if done as a conditioning drill.

“The movements are very similar to tennis, and I want to [tennis players] stay really low, and be quick, come down, touch the cone, come back to the middle, react to wherever I say it is,” Costello said. “If it’s one of the cones in the back, turn those hips really fast and push back, so the moves are similar to tennis, so you get some speed, footwork, agility work, but also reaction work, too.”

A strong, stable core is important for tennis players at any level. Costello prefers to train the core with anti-rotation, anti-flexion and anti-extension exercises. One exercise he recommends is commonly known as the Pallof press.

“Because it’s an anti-rotational drill,” Costello said. “It works all our core muscles.”

Muhammad Dossani trains with a resistance band at JTCC in 2018. (Video: JTCC)

This can be done with either a band or cable machine. Stand up straight and pull a band that is securely attached to the center of your body and then in, slightly below your chest. Extend your arms straight and then back. Keep your core tight and engaged. The point of the drill is that while the band or cable pulls you in one direction, you don’t let it move the center of your body. “You try to keep your core as stable as possible,” Costello said.

Do three sets of two 12 repetitions. There are variations of the drill where a person is kneeling or in a forward position.

Part of the reason Tiafoe has been successful this year is because he’s been more consistent in applying himself to his fitness, Costello said.

That includes nutrition. “He’s just a little smarter about what he eats,” Costello said, adding that Tiafoe doesn’t stick to any specific diets. (“Morton’s Steakhouse,” Tiafoe said when a reporter asked about what he ordered with Uber Eats earlier this week. “I’m still eating well. Don’t worry about it… We’re still getting them good meals. It’s just in bed.”)

His success isn’t because of a “magic drill or anything,” Costello said; instead it’s about his dedication to everything required of an elite athlete.

“Doing everything with 100 percent commitment, whether it’s the warm-up, whether it’s the cool-down, whether it’s injury prevention work, little exercises to keep the shoulder healthy, doing it with 100 percent commitment, and doing it consistently,” he . said “That was huge for him this year.”

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