Archive for May, 2006

Get in shape this summer

Monday, May 29th, 2006

Well now that everyone here in the U.S. has had their Memorial Day fun, it’s time to get back to the grind of the real world, and playing tennis regularly again! So one of the things that people often take for granted is the shape they’re in. How many times have you heard people say, and you may have said this yourself, “I play tennis to stay in shape…”. OK, that’s fine, but if you want to play better, you need to be in shape before you step out on the court. Heck, anything that increases your activity level, I’m going to be a proponent of. So what’s the fastest way to get in shape for tennis?

Two words: Interval Training

So what is interval training? It’s a mix of high intensity intervals (run/sprint) for a brief period of time followed by a longer period of lower intensity work (jogging). Does this sound familiar to you? As in when you may happen to be playing tennis for example?

So it happens that tennis and interval training go hand in hand. To quote Bjorn Borg, “Tennis is 1000 little sprints…”

Let’s get you started, but please heed this warning, interval training is difficult. If you have any medical conditions, or are unsure about anything before trying this, please go see your doctor. OK, now with the legal stuff out of the way, here’s a sample program:

Warmup for 5 minutes: light to moderate jogging

Start Cycle A:

1st set of intervals for 3 minutes total:
15 seconds: sprint
45 seconds: walk/jog
Repeat 3 times…

Moderate jog for 7 minutes: Keep your heart rate elevated, but to the point that you could jog for 20 minutes if you had to…

End Cycle A

Repeat Cycle A 3 times if you can for a total of 30 minutes! In reality, you may only be able to do it once or twice when first starting out, which is fine, please build up slowly if you have to.

Where can you do this workout? Well anywhere that you can jog, and/or sprint without worrying about cars, traffic, running into people etc…another good place is a tennis court. You could just sprint one length of the tennis court (or one length and half back), just make sure it’s around 15 seconds. Another great place actually is EMPTY parking lots. It’s more boring in terms of scenery, but one thing you have to note about these workouts is that time seems to be go by much faster, because you’re pushing yourself a lot harder. Trust me, it makes things more interesting!

OK, I’m going to leave you all with that. Let me know if you’d like easier variations or harder variations (do 5 minutes of intervals, 5 minutes of jogging, repeat…), but at least try it once and if it kicks your butt, then challenge yourself to do it again and see how quickly your fitness improves :)

nCodes are indeed good

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

If you read my previous post about racket technologies and making rackets better at what they’re supposed to do, you’ll notice I gave favorable comments on Wilson’s general strategy of stiffening frames uniformly. Now, this was a preemptive statement just based on my readings and understandings of what is going on.

Well, I went to demo a Wilson nCode six one (95) and of course when I get to the store, they don’t have that racket at all, so the young buck on the phone clearly did not know what the racket was (he even went and checked). Nonetheless, I didn’t want to waste the trip so I demoed a nPro Open and nBlade (the only nCode line rackets they had).

These rackets are both much lighter than what I’m used to and I was not looking forward to that since it can seriously mess up your swing for a while, but I have to say, once I got out there and started serving, I didn’t have a problem at all (I’m used to playing with a 12.6 ounce racket and at a minimum, 12.2 with my Flexpoint Prestige). This is good since now I can actually comment on how they felt, and not just that I wasn’t used to them.

I did most of my hitting with the nBlade because the nPro Open was a bit to bulky for my tastes. I came away really impressed with certain shots in particular: one-handed backhands, slice backhands and volleys. Everything felt so solid, stable and precise, even backhand overhead slams felt good! The forehands and serves were stable and solid as well, but this is where I noticed the lighter weight. The latter two being my strongest strokes, I noticed the effort I actually had to put in to generate my normal pace because now I didn’t have as much weight from the racket doing the work.

Overall though, I am happy to report that I was correct in the uniformity of the response. The nCode technology just made the entire frame stiffer giving a more solid feel when hitting through the ball. I was actually pretty impressed with the technology (as I was with the original LiquidMetal technology from Head which stiffened the frame in the particular spots). I think anyone who has a Wilson racket and is looking to upgrade or just buy something that is not discontinued should at least give the “equivalent” to what yours is now a look.

With all of this said, I’m always going to hang on to my 9 year old Wilson ProStaff 6.1 Stretch because it has just the best balance of any racket I’ve hit with :)

P.S. - Speaking of hitting with nCode, check out Federer hitting with his nCode six-one Tour in slow motion

Racket Technologies

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

One of the trends in the past few years has been to increase the rebound in a racket, or in other words, waste less energy when striking the ball. The claims are that this gives you more power with less energy, the sweetspot is bigger, and all sorts of things of other claims.

So who here uses a Babolat racket with their woofer technology? Most Babolat rackets from the past 5 years have this technology. What about the Head rackets that use Piezoelectric fibers? These fibers convert stress into energy, basically stiffening the frame and reducing the vibrations that get to the handle and again, transferring more of that energy to the ball.

I think these technologies are great and they do actually achieve what they claim to a certain degree, but my question is, what about consistency?!! I demoed the Babolat Pure Drive and Pure Control in 2003 and one of the first things I noticed was the “trampoline” effect from the woofer technology. The ball was always sailing long whenever I took a serious swing at the ball, and it’s not just because I hit the sweetspot, it’s because the harder I swing, the more the string bed gives (duh…), but the rebound effect is multiplied. That’s my point in all this, these technologies make the equation (i.e.) “how hard I hit the ball = how hard the ball leaves the racket” => “how hard I hit the ball => 1.5 * how hard the ball leaves the racket”. That’s not a linear equation, and exactly what it feels like.

I applaud Wilson for refraining from adding technologies that increase the rebound rate, and just stiffened the racket uniformly. I have not played with the nCodes yet, so I can’t make any claims, but I can say that I love the uniformity in my shot power of my old Wilson ProStaff 6.1 Stretch.

So next time you demo a racket, look at what technologies they’re marketing, what is the claim their making? Compare that to how you think the ball is coming off the strings and your current racket may stay your favorite. Just food for thought…

Contributers

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

If you have an interest in writing content that has something to do with tennis, tennis gear, health & fitness, nutrition, or travel, please send me an email and let me know. I’d like to hear if you have any previous writing experience (not required), what areas you are very knowledgeable or passionate about, and if you already have a blog and would like to perodically post your content on here. You can find the email address by clicking on the Mesh Tennis link at the bottom of the About page.

Thanks,

Chris

Videos

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

We’ve put a new Videos section into Mesh Tennis! That’s right, your very own video search engine with a couple of preselected searches of pro players. The video quality depends on the original source, but a lot of them are quite good and once you start watching things like Federer’s Fun House, you just want to find more! Do let me know what you think of this section.

Weather to show

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Now when you log into Mesh Tennis, you will see the weather for your local area so you don’t have to go looking for it if you’re planning to hit with someone. The weather will also be integrated into other spots like Groups and Events.

Schedule an Event

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

The Events feature is now live. You can schedule an Event for pretty much anything you want. Schedule it for a hitting session with someone, schedule a match, a tournament, a social gathering, whatever you feel like. An Event can be hosted by you, or by a group that you’re in (the Admin must create the event for closed-access Groups).

You’ll see the events that you’ve created, and the events of any groups that you’re a member of, in the My Events section on the left. Start scheduling away!

Groups!

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

The Groups feature is now public on the site. The Groups feature lets anyone create a group that others can join and collaborate in. There are a few different types of Groups to make it easier for searching and organizing. Some of them include:

- Team (different types)

- Forum

- General Interest

- Club

- Court

You can create a court as a group so that when people join that group, it’s an indication that they play at that court. You can create a Forum for anything you’d like to talk about. Groups can pretty much be anything and everything so have fun with it.

Start the blog

Monday, May 1st, 2006

This blog will allow me to start letting you all know about new features to the site, share insights on the game, mechanics, fitness, nutrition, and invite guest bloggers to post about other topics!