by Matt Fitzgerald
Tommy Haas is one of the most experienced players competing on the ATP World Tour. At 34, he’s played nearly 750 tour-level singles matches, maintaining his standing despite numerous injuries and changes in generations, technology and physicality.
Speaking with ATPWorldTour.com, Haas discusses the way his approach to fitness has changed over time, and how he’s overcome several injuries to continue playing the game he loves.
How has your training programme evolved since you first turned professional?
It’s changed a lot. Tennis has become so much more physical, so I’ve put in a lot more hours off the court to stay fit. I do so many things in the gym now, whether it’s weights, yoga or Pilates. Whatever it takes to feel comfortable. I work on endurance and strength. You can always work on something to feel good. You have to see what helps you to feel better. I’ve had a lot of injuries as well, so I’ve had to step back and try to get back into shape a number of times.
You’ve definitely had your share of misfortunes when it comes to injuries. Talk about the struggle in recovering from setbacks and how you dealt with that physically.
Every time you have an injury, you compensate. First of all, it has to heal and get strong again. Your mind has to be there in order to regain confidence. The latest one I had was my hip. I had the surgery two years ago. It took a really long time to become confident again. I had to work on getting my strength back. Early on my lower back and my knee started compensating, because the body is all connected. It involved a lot of exercises, hard work and dedication to get back.
What is the most difficult part about training off the court now, compared to 10-12 years ago for you?
I think I just dedicate myself to it more seriously now, knowing I have to do it more to get into a certain type of shape. To be able to stay there, you have to be committed. You can’t just go to the gym every other day and expect to be ok.
How imperative is scheduling? You have tournaments, off-court workouts and travel to juggle.
You always need to be aware of your schedule. There are certain times where you have to push more, and times, like before a tournament, where you take a step back because you don’t want to feel like you’ve worked too hard and not have the feel of the ball. That’s the tough thing about tennis, when you’re playing tournaments every other week. If you win matches, it’s tough to go to the gym and pump iron for two hours or do a number of hard exercises off the court. You have two or three weeks out of a year to really work on and figure out your fitness.
What’s the most valuable fitness lesson you’ve learned on the ATP World Tour?
You have to keep getting fitter and stay there. And try and avoid injuries as much as possible.
Which player on tour do you think…
Is the most flexible? Novak Djokovic
Has the best balance? Roger Federer
Is the quickest? Bjorn Phau
Has the greatest muscular endurance? Novak Djokovic
Has the strongest core? Rafael Nadal
Has the best footwork? David Ferrer
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