"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
The late, great Muhammad Ali would have likely had no reservations speaking those words to describe Roger Federer. Can the "sweet science" help you with your tennis?
If you want to improve both mentally and physically on the court, then use boxing to get faster, stronger and tougher.
Jack Sock, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray and Victoria Azarenka are just a few professionals who have jumped into the boxing ring. The connection between the two sports may not seem obvious at first, but they share similar physical and mental traits.
Jumping rope can help you stay light on your feet and improve your court movement and dynamic balance.
The speed bag improves your timing, eye-hand coordination, hand location awareness, hand speed and upper body conditioning.
Footwork drills improve your sense of timing and rhythm. Footwork improvement translates into smooth transitions moving around the court during a point.
Heavy bag training and sparring (pad punching) improves your reaction skills, body movement and overall strength.
The use of weighted medicine balls can strengthen your core to increase rotational power in all your strokes.
All great tennis players share a critical quality, which is the ability to move from defense to offense and deliver a knockout punch with a winning shot. In both boxing and tennis, playing great defense while being attacked is critical to getting back into a neutral position before looking for an opportunity to attack.
Of course, last but not least, boxing provides a unique opportunity to handle the mental and emotional pressures of competition.
But at least in tennis, no one is literally trying to beat you up.
Gary Kitchell is a sports specific physical therapist, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a USPTA teaching professional. He has worked with 15 former number No. 1 players including John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl. Learn more at kitchtennisrx.com.