STAYING PAIN FREE LIKE A PRO – CASE STUDYING MAHESH BHUPATHI
Very often I’m asked, What is Sports Science? And my answer inadvertently is always, ‘its the difference between gold and silver.’ Its the scientific application that quantifies all those tiny variables that add up to the 0.5% that gives an athlete a competitive advantage in an already high performing environment. Sports Science is the answer to excellence.
But if I have to break it down a little further, its all about two things – injury management & performance enhancement. Its about managing pain (because there is always pain) and pushing limits. Simply because in my world – the world of professional sport – you are defined by the limits you set for yourself.
After 15 years at the pinnacle of high performance, I have seen it all – the tireless dedication, unwavering discipline, passion, hunger and will to overcome adversity that seems becomes second nature in the life of a professional athlete. Without it, success will forever elude you.
One athlete who has managed to exemplify such professionalism is Mahesh Bhupathi. The twelve time Grand Slam winner has enjoyed a career that has spun over twenty years.
I was fortunate enough to have spent over five years with him as the person tasked with managing his health – from nutrition & conditioning to injury management and scheduling.
When you look at a professional athlete, you are seeing a finished product. That single performance, irrespective of the result, is the back end of years of sacrifices. Success in professional sport is all about consistency & perseverance. Throughout my life, I have always ensured that I stick to the basic principles of training to ensure that my athletes stay injury free and improve on their personal bests.
These five principles are:
Progressive Overload: By gradually increasing your training stress, you will allow your body time to adapt in response to that overload. As a rule of thumb, never increase your workload by more than 10% weekly.
Individuality: Everyone responds differently to training stresses and recovery patterns. Its important to know this and understand this. If you listen to your body, you will know how hard to push and when to rest.
Specificity: Your body will adapt to the training you subject it to. Thats why in professional sport we say, ‘Practice like you play.’
Reversibility: Very simply put, the gains you make can easily be lost if you don’t train. Consistency!!! Consistency!!! Consistency!!!
Diminishing Returns: Everyone has experienced the phenomenal progress you make when you start training. Diminishing returns means that as you get fitter, those gains get smaller, not to mention you have to work twice as hard for them.
When I worked with Mahesh, we simply employed these principles in our training. A day in the life of a tennis professional will include anything from 2-4 hours on court, 1-2 hours in the gym, 1-2 hours of injury management (ice baths, massage, physiotherapy) & 6-7 structured meals that are designed to meet their specific energy requirements.
Mahesh is an extremely disciplined athlete who always pushed everyone around him. The aura around Mahesh was one that exemplified excellence, which reflected in his career. Its simply not possibly to enjoy a career that has span over twenty years without a high work ethic & discipline. I think the following quotes says it the best…
Amateurs practice till they get it right. Professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.
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