Seeking to smash out grand slam speed or drive your endurance through a marathon match?
Whatever your goal, covering all the bases is the secret to success.
Well, at least that’s the secret of British tennis triumph and New Balance athlete Heather Watson (@HeatherWatson92). “Tennis, like running, is one of those sports where there’s so many factors you can’t control,” she says. “You need to be prepared for anything that hits you.”
How? Here’s Heather’s guide to acing the most important aspects your training:
How to improve your speed
It’s going to take more than technique to match Heather’s dashes to the net. “Sprinting is all in the mind; getting your footwork right is nothing compared to your attitude,” she says.
“You’ve got to give 100% effort every stride, every session, or you’re never going to get faster. I always aim to finish training feeling like my legs are going to drop off – that’s the only way to build the mental endurance to pull out speed when it matters.”
How to improve your stamina
If you want better control of your legs then your best bet is to take control of what’s running them: your mind. And how do you manage your mentality?
“Whenever you feel like you’re done then go for another half an hour,” advises Heather.
If it sounds a drastic solution, don’t worry, she has a good reason: “Pulling out your best performance each training session just isn’t realistic, but pushing yourself for longer trains your brain to go over the edge if you need to. And trust me, it feels incredibly rewarding when you do finally finish.”
How to deal with recovery
“Rest is one of the most important parts of training. Not just physically, but in terms of your motivation levels too,” says Heather.
“You’ve got to remember what’s important.” No, this doesn’t involve hours of assessing your life goals and wondering how you stack up compared to old friends on Facebook.
It’s simple: “Recharge your mind after a tough session with time with mates and family. Do what you want to do in your time off and you’ll be more determined to hit yor next session even harder.”
How to smash stress
Show us a runner who says they train better under stress and we’ll show you a liar. Why? “If you don’t release uneasy feelings then you’ll lose a confident, winning mentality,” says Heather.
“Your mindset is worth more than your body.” Her top tip to smash stress out of the court? “Remember that you’re not alone – everyone goes through those feelings. And everyone needs a release. Set yourself a time for it and don’t compromise on that.”
How to treat your nutrition
Struggling to resist post-run guilty pleasure grub? You might need to tune into your body more.
“When I’m at a competition I’ll follow a strict plan, but afterwards everything is different. I listen to my body,” says Heather.
“If I want to eat sushi, I’ll eat sushi. If I want to get an ice cream with a friend then that’s what I’ll do. That takes the stress out of my training and leads to a much better performance in the long run.”
New Balance Toughest Opponent is a story about the battles we have within ourselves. The niggling mind games that play out between our ears that make us question whether to run that extra mile, to lift that heavier weight, or to go forward and push harder, faster and stronger than we did the day before. Find out more at: www.newbalance.co.uk/ToughestOpponent