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‘Strive for quality over quantity’

Somdev Devvarman, India's No.1 tennis player and one of the fittest athletes in the country, talks of the physical demands of the sport and how best to keep up with them.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2009 13:34 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

Somdev Devvarman, India's No.1 tennis player and one of the fittest athletes in the country, talks of the physical demands of the sport and how best to keep up with them.

How do you break down fitness into different components?

The areas of fitness that are most important are muscle strength and power, endurance, speed, agility and flexibility. In order to be a complete athlete, all of these components must be worked on.

Tennis is one of the most physical sports. What is the kind of strain on the body?

The strain that is placed on your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders is incredible. There is also a lot of travel involved, which adds to the strain on the body. You have to be smart about how you eat, drink and also ensure that you are getting plenty of rest at night.

Given the amount of tennis, what is the right balance in terms of training and playing?

The players have to play almost all year. During the season, it is important to have a couple of windows where you are not playing for 2-3 weeks, and use this time to work on your fitness. The off-season is the time to really go after it fitness-wise.

What are the traps of over-training?

Over-training results in the body feeling fatigued all the time. It is a fine line between pushing yourself hard, and over-training. This problem is more common in younger individuals who may think that more is always better. My suggestion is to strive for quality over quantity.

What is the impact of hard courts as opposed to natural surfaces on the body?

I would say that higher impact is present on hard courts verses natural surfaces, perhaps causing more stress on the joints and the lower back. However, on clay, points and matches are longer therefore adding more wear and tear to the body.

Also, natural surfaces are slippery than hard courts, and this may be dangerous when changing direction or running down a ball. But once again, injuries and stress on the body are part of sport. It is the responsibility of athletes and their coaches to prepare and take care of their bodies.