Every Friday we will share some key fitness insights from the top players past and present.

This week, be like Steffi and strive to be your best. Steffi Graf was an amazing athlete and a tremendous tennis player. She was a perfectionist and was always in top shape. Not one to reveal much of her training regimen while on tour, or even now that she has retired, it was tough to piece together exactly how she trained. However, by reading several articles and watching quite a few youtube videos we were able to come up with a few insights. You may not gain Graf-like fitness but follow some of these common sense tips and your fitness will improve.

1) Practice with Intensity- Every video of Graf practicing is the same. She is focused, determined, and intense. Not only did her intensity make her a great player, it also helped her to stay in great shape. Try upping the intensity of your practice sessions. Make sure not to overdo it, but every recreational player and even some pros can benefit from upping their intensity when practicing every now and then.

2) Focus on Your Footwork- Steffi Graf's footwork was amazing. Nobody is born with that type of footwork. When she was younger, it is certain that Graf drilled non-stop to get her footwork to be as good as it was. 

While practicing, try to focus on your footwork. Sounds like common sense but so often the recreational player has no footwork what so ever. While hitting, try devoting 5 to 10 minutes to footwork awareness. For 5-10 minutes hit the ball as you normally would while focusing on your footwork. It will throw you off a little at first but you will quickly see that your footwork needs a little "work." Over time you will be more aware of what you need to do to be in the position to hit the ball a little better. In the long run, improved footwork will help you to play better and become fitter. 

3) Sprint "If she's not a tennis player next time she's born, she's for sure a runner... Her father talks about unbelievable times, under two minutes five seconds [for the 800, meters]. With a good coach, she has a chance to run very, very well if she practices specifically for 800 meters or 400 meters." These are the words of Pavel Slozil, one of Graf's former coaches.

It is well known that Graf was an avid runner. It is known that she practiced with the German track and field team at least once and it rumored that she was timed for the 800m out of curiosity. Whatever, the facts may be it is clear that Graf included sprints as part of her workout regimen. 

Go to the local track, warm up properly, and then time yourself as you run 400m. You will soon see that regardless of your fitness level, you will feel it. Many top players have trained running 100m, 200m, and 400m sprints. Andy Murray, Justine Henin, and Jennifer Capriati just to name a few. 

Incorporate track work into your workouts and your fitness level will certainly improve.

Don't waste time. Try some of the tips above and strive to be your best like Steffi.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to share and/or leave a comment.

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