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Elena Baltacha

How to improve your tennis with cage-fighting


Nino Severino, Elena Baltacha’s coach, on how to improve your tennis by channeling the spirit of cage-fighting, kickboxing, karate and other martial arts: “Embrace the way of the warrior.”

I’m not that surprised that a few fighters are beginning to find themselves in the teams that surround the modern day tennis player. In my case I am leading the team that supports Elena Baltacha and have found my background of kickboxing and karate has been very useful.

For me there are many areas within tennis and fighting that are very similar, they are both gladitorial, but the obvious difference is that if you fail to deliver in tennis it’s maybe your pride that’s broken; in the fighting business it’s bones that get broken.

Refusal to fail
It’s the price of failure that forces a fighter to train with a much higher degree of focus, concentration and intensity. This does not mean that the big names cannot match a fighter’s training and competitive quality, because they clearly can. What it does mean is that the ones who can’t reach the week-in week-out levels that the tour demands fall short in areas that all fighters must possess, skills such as work ethic, commitment, self belief, focus, concentration, discipline and bravery. All these components are the building blocks of all great champions and athletes.

Train to win
Tennis players who have not been coached to train properly and taught the art of training are normally those who find a fighter’s support very valuable. The influence of the fighter in the camp is one of simplicity; give your all in every department, and nothing less. This is the case for most fighters who train at any high quality academy.

Create the right environment
If a good fighter is involved with any tennis player the first thing he would do is to set the correct environment, good environments deliver the correct overloads, correct levels of overload produces adaptation, and so the natural cycle of development and learning begins for the tennis player who embraces the way of the warrior.

Channel Serena and Rafa
Players like Nadal or Serena Williams have discovered the way of the warrior through their own personal journeys, but I’m sure that the environment they trained in would have developed a fighter’s work ethic and commitment to their craft of tennis. And of course in both cases the results speak for themselves. Having a fighter in the team is not the answer for every tennis player who cannot make the grade but for some who have the technique but are failing because of the unseen, it can be a career changing experience.

Find the fighting spirit
Winners and champions are made, not born, and are filled with a fighter’s spirit, an energy that cannot be seen, this energy is delivered through the emotions, the psyche, the heart and soul of an athlete, this is why David beat Goliath, and why 300 Spartans stood strong against a 100,000 at the battle of Thermopylae, and why the almost impossible can happen if the heart and mind of a fighter is possessed.


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