How Frances Tiafoe Improved Her Fitness To Make The US Open Semi-Finals

How Frances Tiafoe Improved Her Fitness To Make The US Open Semi-Finals

Frances Tiafoe set a number of career bests this year. He reached the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time. He hit a career-high No. 24 in the world last month. And he will play in a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time after beating Andrey Rublev on Wednesday in the US Open quarter-final. Two days earlier, Tiafoe defeated second-seeded Rafael Nadal in the round of 16. After that match, the 24-year-old American partly attributed the victory to his improved physical condition.

“I feel good,” Tiafoe told reporters at her post-match press conference on Monday. “Like my physical condition is solid right now. I lost a lot of weight. Really spend time on this.

Wayne Ferreira has focused on fitness since becoming Tiafoe’s coach in February 2020, but this year Ferreira and other members of the Tiafoe team have noticed a change in how Tiafoe dedicated herself to stretching and injury prevention exercises in the gym. Consistency was key, his team says.

“I think he just has a much better daily routine,” Ferreira said. “Even before games, he does a bit of exercise.”

In addition to Ferreira, Tiafoe is often joined on the road by Bret Waltz, her physical therapist, and TC Costello, her strength and conditioning coach.

And while most people don’t have a tennis coach, physical therapist and personal trainer, Costello believes Tiafoe’s routine can help tennis players of all levels. Below are three exercises that Costello says are part of Tiafoe’s training program.

Medicine ball drills are an essential part of Costello training for tennis players. The day after Tiafoe beat Nadal, Costello had Tiafoe do 30 minutes of light medicine ball work and movement drills before Tiafoe took the field to hit for 30 minutes.

“For tennis, I really, really like doing medicine ball, working on power,” said Costello, senior director of athlete development at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland, where Tiafoe is based. is trained. “It’s so similar to tennis – throwing a medicine ball – that it translates so well into the sport.”

To perform this exercise correctly, find a wall that you can throw a medicine ball against. Costello recommends using a medicine ball that weighs between four and eight pounds or one that can be thrown with “maximum intent.” It can’t be too heavy or you won’t be able to throw the ball as hard, he added.

Muhammad Dossani trains at JTCC with a medicine ball in 2018. (Video: JTCC)

Next, stand with your feet parallel to the wall, which in tennis is called an open stance. Bring the medicine ball to one side with bent knees and charge with the leg closest to the ball while driving the ball with as much speed as possible into the wall, Costello said. Repeat this movement five times with the medicine ball. Take a three-minute rest, then do another set of fives before switching sides for two more sets of five.

For the closed position, turn your body and feet sideways toward the net. Load on the back leg and step forward. Do two sets of five repetitions on each side while taking a three-minute rest between sets. This drill can also be done with someone throwing the ball to you. In this version, catch the medicine ball after a bounce, charge and drive from the back leg while throwing the ball back.

“The key to this drill is to throw the ball as hard as you can, drive from that back leg and make sure you drive that hip through, shift your weight, and drive that ball with as much speed as possible,” Costello said. . “Because that’s how you develop power. If you just follow the movements and toss the medicine ball lightly against the wall, you’re doing nothing.

Tiafoe is known for his speed. He can chase shots and hit winners with his speed.

One of the footwork and agility drills that Costello loves involves reaction time. Take four cones and place them about 10 feet apart in a square shape. Stand in the middle. When working with Tiafoe, Costello will point to the cone he wants Tiafoe to point to. Tiafoe will then take quick steps towards the cone, then return to the center of the square before moving to the next cone Costello calls out.

“Having a reactionary [component]where i point in different areas to keep the player engaged results in tennis because you don’t know where [opponents are] going to hit the ball,” Costello said.

24-year-old American tennis player Frances Tiafoe, now ranked No. 24 in the world in her career, works on agility drills in 2019. (Video: JTCC)

For more quickness and speed, do three sets of this exercise for 20 seconds each time, with a minute of rest in between. It may last a bit longer if done as a conditioning exercise.

“The movements are very similar to tennis, and I want [tennis players] stay really low and be quick, go down, touch the cone, come back in the middle, react where I say,” Costello said. “If it’s one of the cones in the back, turning those hips really quickly and pushing back, so the moves are similar to tennis, so you get a bit of quickness, footwork, agility , but also reactionary work, too.”

A strong and stable core is important for tennis players at all levels. Costello prefers to train the core through anti-rotation, anti-flexion and anti-extension exercises. One exercise he recommends is commonly called the Pallof press.

“Because it’s an anti-rotation exercise,” Costello said. “It works all of our core muscles.”

Muhammad Dossani trains with a resistance band at JTCC in 2018. (Video: JTCC)

This can be done with a tape or cable machine. Stand up straight and pull a tightly tied band toward the center of your body, then slightly under your chest. Extend your arms straight then backwards. Keep your core tight and engaged. The point of the exercise is that while the band or cable pulls you in one direction, you don’t let it move the center of your body. “You try to keep your kernel as stable as possible,” Costello said.

Do three sets of two 12 reps. There are variations of the exercise where a person is kneeling or in a lunge position.

Part of the reason Tiafoe has been successful this year is because he’s been more consistent in enforcing his fitness, Costello said.

This includes nutrition. “He’s just a little smarter with what he eats,” Costello said, while adding that Tiafoe doesn’t adhere to any specific diet. (“Morton’s Steakhouse,” Tiafoe said when asked what he ordered with Uber Eats earlier this week. “I always eat well. crib.”)

His success isn’t due to “magical exercise or anything,” Costello said; it’s more about his dedication to all that is required of an elite athlete.

“Doing everything with 100% commitment, whether it’s warming up, cooling down, injury prevention work, small exercises to keep the shoulder healthy, doing it with 100% commitment and do it consistently,” he said. said. “It’s been huge for him this year.”

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