Welcome , my name is Philipp Halfmann and
I am the Director of Exercise & Sports Science at the International Association for Athletic
Performance & Health, the IAAPH, and I’m also the author of “Advanced Concepts of Strength
& Conditioning for Tennis”. In today’s episode I will talk about why female
tennis player s don’t need to be in great shape in order to be successful. According to a recent Wall Street Journal
article “Why the USTA Benched America’s Best Junior” being in great physical shape has
been deemed important by Patrick McEnroe and his coaching staff at the USTA. But looking a bit out of shape is not necessarily
a performance limiting factor because it can have a positive effect on balance/stability
capabilities; this phenomenon cannot be seen at the men’s side of the game. First of all, before we get started I want
to add if Patrick McEnroe decides that all the players in the USTA program have to be
in decent shape then a) that’s his decision and b) if it’s applied to every player then
that’s fair. Actually it would be great if the same applies
to the coaching staff as well – everybody should be in great shape. So, does a tennis player need to be in great
shape in order to be successful? Well, let’s take a look at the USTA’s Nr.1
player, Taylor Townsend, who has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article. From a conditioning standpoint excessive body
fat is “dead weight” because it doesn’t contribute to better athletic performance. On the other hand, having low body fat% is
associated with poor joint health since shock absorption capabilities are corrupted, which
also increases the risk for injuries. But again, if you have too much body fat it
is harder for you to move around the court, which makes it more difficult to hit the ball
properly, recover, and keep it going throughout the rallies. Interestingly female tennis players can afford
to be looking out of shape whereas male tennis players cannot really afford it. All the top players are in great shape such
as Djokovic, Federer, Nadal or Murray are all in great shape. In women’s tennis not so much. So, why is that a factor? The reason for this could have something to
do with the storage location of body fat, meaning what are the locations? They are different in men and women. So with that difference of where the body
actually stores body fat also has implications on balance/stability because one needs to
be in dynamic equilibrium to move effectively on the court. So whoever can attain dynamic equilibrium
the quickest is also going to be able to be the best athlete on the court, with respect
to change of direction capabilities and obviously where the body store the body fat has implications
on balance and stability, which I will go into more in a second. Now, the body stores fat for the women predominantly
on the thigh and buttocks areas, whereas for the guys fat is predominantly stored at the
abdominal and love-handle areas. When you tale a look at balance, balance is
attained when the “center of mass” or “centre of gravity” is within the “base of support”
(legs). In athletic stance, the feet are positioned
underneath the shoulders, which is your base of support formed by your legs and the center
of mass is generally below the belly button. When the centre of gravity shifts higher,
maintaining balanced is actually much more difficult. If the center of mass is being lowered then
it is easier to maintain balance and stability. So, since the body stores fat for women at
the buttocks/thigh area that will lower the center of mass within the base of support
so that they will be much more stable even though they look more out of shape in the
buttocks/thigh area. Now, for the guys on the other hand they store
fat in the abdominal/”love handle” area thereby raising the center of mass, which leads to
poorer balance/stability capabilities. Therefore the guys cannot really afford to
look out of shape whereas for the women it’s not so much of a problem; it can actually
be helpful. If you want to take it to an extreme pregnant
women often times play their best tennis while pregnant. They play way better than when they had their
child and are back to normal. So, with this in mind I guess it makes sense
why female athletes can afford to be a little out of shape yet perform at their best. Now, why would Patrick McEnroe require his
players to be in great shape if you can be a little out of shape, yet playing well? Apart from the physical aspect, being in shape
also has a positive psychological effect because it enhances the player’s self-confidence and
motivation, which certainly has a positive effect on performance. So, they are in great shoe, feel good about
themselves, they are motivated want to go out and work hard. Therefore, Patrick McEnroe and his coaching
staff require their players to be in great shape. Also, only a few people know Taylor Townsend’s
situation (myself excluded) so it’s hard to conclude anything but I certainly hope that
she stays successful and injury free and is happy with herself and her decisions. Well, that’s it again for today’s episode.
As usual, opinions can differ. What’s your point of view? Let us know below
in the comment section. A brand new episode will be available next
Sunday. So make sure you don’t miss it and subscribe! In the meantime I recommend you watch some
of the previous episodes — you should really watch them all! If you like what you saw tell your friends
— I’m sure they will appreciate it. I’m Philipp Halfmann, Thank you for watching
and Auf Wiedersehen! Tennis Conditioning TV episode are licensed
under creative commons. You are welcome to embed these videos, forward them to others
and share these ideas with people you know. Brought to you by Advanced Concepts of Strength
and Conditioning for Tennis; available at www.Tennis-Conditioning-Book.com Music by Dan O at www.DanoSongs.com

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