Sania - Conditioning, Foot Speed, Mobility and Coaching ..

A new subforum created to discuss Sania Mirza. As a lot of the other tennis player threads were getting overloaded, thus a new forum to discuss Sania Mirza

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rameshlaus
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Sania - Conditioning, Foot Speed, Mobility and Coaching ..

Post by rameshlaus » Mon Sep 05, 2005 9:17 pm

A very good article by Rohit Brijnath. Must Read for all Sania's fans.

http://www.hindu.com/2005/09/06/stories ... 291900.htm

[mod note: i have used this post to start a new thread on sania and conditioning. post away! -neil]

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Post by BSharma » Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:04 am

Ramesh has posted a link to the Hindu article The education of Sania.

The author, Rohit Brijnath, and I have written about Sania's racket head speed and her foot speed. However, we differ about the foot speed issue. He wrote
If a strained stomach muscle presently limits her serving efficacy, other injuries perhaps have contributed to her slightly sluggish footspeed. To a liking for eating must be added a love of running.
Either you have great footspeed or you don't. Foot speed and stamina are two different qualities. You can improve foot speed to some extent, or as I suggested in my post that you can compensate for it by having great anticipation (e.g., Ramesh Krishnan), but if you are not born with tremendous foot speed then you are not going to have world class foot speed. If you look at all the world #1 tennis players (men or women) in the past 25 years, they all had great foot speed (Davenport is probably the slowest of them). I may be wrong since I have seen only two matches of Sania, but I did not see the tremendous foot speed of a world champion in Sania.

When I used to coach baseball and soccer, I always selected players who had great foot speed, good hand-eye coordination and balance. I could teach them how to bat, catch, field, kick or dribble the ball, etc but making a person with an average speed into a speedster was impossible.

I think that Sania has average foot speed and she should work on developing great anticipation skills to compensate for it. She has to reach to the ball in time to set up her lethal ground strokes, and when she is late for the shots then her ground strokes lose their zip. Maria exposed that weakness in her game.

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Post by Sandeep » Tue Sep 06, 2005 2:03 am

I completely agree with Bsharma. Sania is not fast on court and that part is very difficult to improve to world standards.

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Post by PKBasu » Tue Sep 06, 2005 2:46 am

I agree with Bhushan, but I would add that the foot speed required in tennis is quite different from that required in football (soccer). In tennis, you run in short bursts while you need to make longer runs in soccer. I agree that Sania's foot speed for tennis is probably average among women pros. She certainly is more fleet-footed than Davenport or Venus Williams, but those two compensate with their height -- which ensures much better court coverage despite their slowness of foot.

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Post by Nate » Tue Sep 06, 2005 4:11 am

Bhushan, let me ask you the question in another way. Can foot speed be increased (even at Sania's age) and let's say you are working on a kid, how would you increase the foot speed of a 7 year old?

(Edit: Send me a PM and let me know what sport is the 7 year old interested in increasing the foot speed, and I will try to inform you of the specific exercises. BBS)

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Post by akmohanty » Tue Sep 06, 2005 4:38 am

Footspeed is indeed something Sania has to work on. However, what I saw as the main reason for the defeat yesterday was her repetition of the same weak 2nd serve time and time again inspite of getting thrashed. She should have changed her strategy and gone for a more reliable 1st serve. The Commentator was suggesting the same. Instead of always going for broke on the 1st serve and putting herself under pressure in the 2nd she should have delivered 1st serves more consistently and relied on her ground strokes to win points.
She's gotta learn to adapt herself to the situation if she has to do well at this level. If she manages to do learn that, I do not see any reason why she can't reach the top. Her ground strokes are right up there, which was evident from Sharapova becoming defensive (unusual for her) whenever Sania got going.
All the best, Sania !!! Keep going. You will get there.

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Post by BSharma » Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:32 am

Bhushan, let me ask you the question in another way. Can foot speed be increased (even at Sania's age) and let's say you are working on a kid, how would you increase the foot speed of a 7 year old?
Foot speed in tennis is very different from running a 100 meter sprint or two soccer players running after the ball. Soccer and sprint races require top speed, but tennis does not require top speed. That is why many people felt that Pete Sampras was slow, or also think that Venus or Davenport are not fast, yet these players are rarely late in hitting the ball in a rally. Why? Let us examine what is foot speed in tennis.

Foot speed in tennis comprise of several components:

1. Reaction time - the body has to react when the player sees the opponent hits the ball. The part of the body that will move first is the leg.

2. Acceleration

3. Speed (tennis players will rarely reach top speed)

4. Deceleration

5. Lateral movements

6. Change of directions

Speed comes from stride length and stride frequency. Tennis players will rarely get to full stride length except if they are running from the back court to the net to return the opponent's drop shot, or if they are chasing a lob. Hence quick short steps (or stride frequency) are more important in tennis, and it occurs by getting the foot on and off the ground quickly. (I will discuss the exercises that will improve stride frequency later.) Lateral movements and change of directions require balance; acceleration and deceleration require muscle strength, especially of the legs.

Speed is an inherited trait, and you will not find an Indian standing on the podium to receive the Olympic gold medal in 100 meter dash. Training can increase some amount of foot speed in tennis, but Indian players will have to develop other skills (e.g., anticipation of the ball) to compensate for average or above average foot speed.

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Post by shakes1974 » Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:39 am

Speed is an inherited trait,
What Bhushan says is true. I remember Becker's first coach as a teenager, who said as much as they tried they could not improve his speed around the court and that was the reason why becker resorted to diving to reach the balls.

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Post by amr090 » Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:55 am

I dont know why people are seemingly making it out that Sania's speed isnt enough on the world stage. I agree with everyone that at this point she has average (read adequate) foot speed. While some are born with speed there can be marginal increases made in speed through speed training and just fitness improvement. If Sania loses fat and gains muscle we can see as much as a 5-20% speed improvement.

I think Sania is pretty atheltic, and proper training and fitness will see a marked increase in speed to the point where we caqn say at some point that she is an above average mover.


Her main concerns as we all know to get into that upper echelon ahs to be serve imporvemnt, fitness improvement, and learning to structure points and cutting down unforced erros by about 10-15%.

Do these, and we will see her in the top 15.

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Post by BSharma » Tue Sep 06, 2005 6:05 am

Arun,

I agree with you that "serve imporvemnt, fitness improvement, and learning to structure points and cutting down unforced erros by about 10-15%" will get her into top 15.

I brought up foot speed as an issue because to be amongst the top 3 players in the world, she will need to improve her movements on the court. Maria, Sarena, Venus, Davenport, and the two Belgians can return her powerful ground strokes and move her around the court. Sania was slow or late in getting to the balls when Maria moved her from side to side, while Maria got to most of the balls hit by Sania because of her great foot speed.

While her poor second serve was noticeable to everyone, and people are asking her to improve it to become successful, other aspects of her shortcomings must be addressed also.

Name one #1 tennis player who did not have great movements on the court?

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Post by shakes1974 » Tue Sep 06, 2005 6:27 am

Among women, i haven't seen anyone who was #1 and who did not have great movement, except maybe Serena, to an extent. But, among men, i think becker was not a particularly great mover but got away with it bcos of his serve and bcos he was a serve/volleyer.

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Post by completelyconked » Tue Sep 06, 2005 6:44 am

Name one #1 tennis player who did not have great movements on the court?
monica seles was not a great mover,but she managed to reach no.1 because of her power and angles.Sania has this same advantage.It is extremely difficult to move her around because of her ability to dominate points.She definitely needs to improve her movement,but its not as big an issue as her second serve IMO.
I brought up foot speed as an issue because to be amongst the top 3 players in the world, she will need to improve her movements on the court. Maria, Sarena, Venus, Davenport, and the two Belgians can return her powerful ground strokes and move her around the court. Sania was slow or late in getting to the balls when Maria moved her from side to side, while Maria got to most of the balls hit by Sania because of her great foot speed.

The reason she struggles is because her second serve is so weak that her opponents can take advantage of this and move her around.Thats exactly what Maria siezed on because sania's serving was so poor in the match.Even retrieving the ball repeatedly will make no difference if sania ever learns a little bit of patience.There are only so many shots that can be retrieved.

Sania just needs to improve her shot-selection,and get it into her head that now that she is playing top players,more of those shots will come back.She has to be prepared to play longer points.

I agree with Arun that Sania's issues with movement are exaggerated.There is definitely much room for improvement,but with improved conditioning she can be a decent mover,because at times she does move fairly quickly. What she really needs to work on is hitting on the run.Thats a big flaw i noticed.I think this is because of a lack of practise in match situations.I can't imagine many challenger level players would've been able to move her around :)

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Post by arjun2761 » Tue Sep 06, 2005 3:03 pm

PKBasu wrote: She certainly is more fleet-footed than Davenport or Venus Williams, but those two compensate with their height -- which ensures much better court coverage despite their slowness of foot.
More fleet footed than Venus?? Venus is one of the most athletic women out there and she is lot more fleet footed (and faster) than Sania or Davenport (and in fact Venus is among the most fleet footed on the women's tour in addition to her height advantage).

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Post by BSharma » Tue Sep 06, 2005 3:21 pm

monica seles was not a great mover,but she managed to reach no.1 because of her power and angles.Sania has this same advantage.
Some people are mistaking "speed" with "foot speed". Monica Seles chased down every ball that was hit to her, and kept the rally going. She got to the balls because of her "foot speed" and was able to get set to hit the angles.

It was said of Vijay Amritraj that he did not chase down the balls during his matches. I had not studied sports when Vijay used to play tennis and I do not have the videos to study them now, but was it because of his "slower" reaction time or "slower" acceleration that after taking two steps towards the ball he would find himself unable to reach the ball and give up?

The next time you watch Sania's game, look for the following:

- How many lethal forehand groundstrokes does she hit when she has to move a few steps or she is engaged in a cross court forehand to forehand rally, and compare them with how many she hits when she has to run to hit the forehand. The faster players run and get there in time to hit their powerful forehands, and the slower ones get an average return back to the opponent.

- How often she is able to keep a rally going when she is moved from side to side? Look at the faster players and they will keep the ball in play when moving from side to side or up and down.

Everyone is focussed on her serve and I am trying to bring out another area that needs correction. My comments are not intended to bring down Sania but are intended as coming from her well wisher.

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Post by arjun2761 » Tue Sep 06, 2005 3:34 pm

BSharma wrote: It was said of Vijay Amritraj that he did not chase down the balls during his matches. I had not studied sports when Vijay used to play tennis and I do not have the videos to study them now, but was it because of his "slower" reaction time or "slower" acceleration that after taking two steps towards the ball he would find himself unable to reach the ball and give up?
I have watched Vijay play several times and he was one of the most athletic Indian tennis players (mapbe LP surpasses him) in natural athleticism. He would move like a gazelle (at least north-south) and I think his lateral movement was at least adequate. Vijay was also very good at the net -- so he is unlikely to have had a slower reaction time.
Vijay, however, lacked conditioning (and stamina) and would simply stop chasing the ball to conserve energy. Infact, sometimes I wondered if he had asthma or iron-deficiency of some other factor that caused his lack of stamina.

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