Improve Your Tennis On A Budget
Do you want to learn the secrets to setting up a fantastic tennis programme whilst being financially limited? This is something that I’ve had to learn over the last few years since losing much of my sponsorship. For myself and many up-and-coming tennis players, finances seem to be a major factor in how we do things. Tennis today is a highly competitive global sport. Players require vast amounts of coaching, guidance and travel to give themselves the opportunity to progress to the top- and unfortunately this can be expensive!
In my previous blog Discover the Team Behind A Top 100 Player, I explored the different parts of the game in which a player’s team helps them improve. However, players like you and I can’t afford to set up our training like the professionals at the top of the game. In a recent twitter poll that I ran, asking my followers “Have you ever worried about money when it comes to your tennis”, 60% of you answered YES!
Therefore, in this blog I will give you an insight into some of the ways that I have adapted my tennis to do things cheaper, and discuss some of the key things that you should look for when arranging your programme. Please feel free to give me your thoughts and input too!
4 Areas To Improve As A Player
- Your Game
- Your Athleticism
- Your Mentality
- Your Nutrition
So, how can we improve these areas whilst on a budget?
Find a Coach Who Truly Cares About Your Development
Finding a coach isn’t generally too expensive! The tricky part is finding the right person. When considering the coach- it is very important that they are willing to invest time into helping you, and aren’t there just to clock the hours and earn some money. Find someone with real passion for the game, who puts in the work on and off the court. I once got this concept described to me as follows, “It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond, than to be a small fish in a big pond”. That is to say, find a coach who truly cares about you and who treats you as a priority. Avoid working with a coach who doesn’t truly have your best interests at heart.
Since starting to play on the futures circuit in the summer of 2013, the best thing I did for my tennis was move back home at the end of 2015 to work with my current coach. With his work-rate and guidance, I went from being an aimless and confused player, who’d been struggling for a year, to being a clear-minded player with a very strong vision for where I wanted to take my game. The best part is, all I needed was 3 individual sessions a week with this coach and the rest of my tennis was with hitters- which has been very cost effective! This made a huge difference to me- I went from losing early in $10k’s to winning several titles in a short space of time.
If you don’t have a coach like this, then it is so easy to go aimlessly from week to week doing the same old things and never really improving. Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” …don’t do this! Find a coach that’s passionate about helping you make improvements and changes.
Find a Great Fitness Trainer
If you go to an academy, there are normally fitness trainers provided, at no extra expense. Generally, from the academies I’ve been to, the fitness trainers are pretty good because many of them have backgrounds of working with tennis players. Just make sure you learn and get a travelling programme from the academy trainer: these are highly important things that you need as a tennis player. I say this because often these things are neglected because an academy trainer only has limited individual time to give to each of the players.
If your setup isn’t at an academy, then it is worth investing in some fitness coaching until you learn the principles of strength and conditioning and get given a training programme to follow. I believe, that once you’ve nailed down the basics and know what you’re doing, there doesn’t need to be much contact time between trainer and player. You could complete your assigned programme on your own, and check in every few weeks with the trainer to progress it or make adjustments. This is certainly one way to reduce training costs.
In my case, with the knowledge that I’ve gained over the years, I’m very happy to run sessions and programmes by myself. Right now, I’m happy with this setup- I’m saving money and not sacrificing too much. However, once I climb the rankings further, where physicality can become the difference between winning and losing more frequently, I feel that I will need to have a trainer guide me and take me to new physical heights.
Find An Accessible Physiotherapist
It is completely unachievable to work with a physiotherapist on a daily basis like some of the top pros do- unless you have access to one at an academy. They are firstly expensive, and secondly the pros use them excessively for things that we can do by ourselves. In my previous blog, I talked about Murray using his physio for daily massage to get rid of stiffness and warm his muscles. We can get the same benefit by purchasing a cheap foam roller and using it to tackle any muscle knots and tightness. Every player needs to do this- it minimises the risk of injury by relieving any tight muscles.
With that being said, I personally try and see a physio or massage therapist minimum once every two weeks. Simply because their hands are able to get to some spots that you aren’t able to with a foam roller, plus they’re not afraid to hurt you! If you don’t finish reading the rest of the blog, at least watch the video below of my girlfriend Juli on the massage table- watch until the end, it’s hilarious!
Obviously, if you are injured and need treatment, then investing in physio treatment is essential to getting healthy again. If you can, try and have a regular physio that you see because they get to learn how your body functions over time, which helps them to treat you!
Read, Read, Read
I can’t emphasise this point enough! Knowledge is power. When it comes to working on your mental side, reading books on the topic is more than enough. And after all, working with a psychologist can sometimes cost up to £250 an hour- who can afford that? Personally, I am hooked on reading psychology books…they are so fascinating because you can apply the literature to so many different aspects of your life. The complexity of the mind is beautiful thing, and learning a few tools and techniques to improve your mental performance can make a significant difference. At the end of the day, “tennis is 90% mental”. A few of my all-time favourite psychology books that I’d recommend include The Chimp Paradox, Bounce and Paul McKenna’s Instant Confidence. If I can give you some homework to do after you finish reading this blog, it would be to get a copy of one of the books and read it!
Similarly, if you want to learn about smart nutrition and can’t finance working with a nutritionist- READ! But be careful what you read though! Read well-informed, researched literature which can be found in books and journals; avoid reading magazines and web-sites like ‘Men’s Health’ because they’re not always factual (often opinion based and not backed by science). Another option is to ask me (haha!)- I’ve learnt a lot from my time working with Glenn Kearney at the LTA. The All Blacks and UK Athletics were his previous employers, so not a bad source of knowledge!
That just about covers my recommendations on how you can set up your training programmes when financially limited. The only subject I missed was that of TRAVELLING when on a budget- which happens to be a very large topic, which I feel deserves a blog of its own. So you can look forward to that one soon! I hope I gave you some new ideas and you enjoyed my solutions- any questions, comments or ideas of your own; drop me a message in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading,