Scott Byrnes chat, part one

Scott Byrnes chat, part one

We caught up with Ana’s strength and conditioning coach
" >Scott Byrnes

Gavin Versi: Hi Scott. Could you start by telling us what you did before you began working with Ana?
Scott Byrnes: I started in the fitness industry about 10 years ago. I finished my studies and began working as a personal trainer. I’ve worked with the Australian Institute of Sport, helping the young tennis players there. I’ve also worked as the Australian Fed Cup trainer; with other female tennis professionals Nicole Pratt, Alicia Molik, Sophie Ferguson and Anna-Lena Groenefeld; at an academy in Scottsdale, Arizona; and with some golfers who train in Sydney.

GV: Why is fitness is so important in tennis?
SB: Your body is your tool to perform, almost like a machine. If it’s not performing at its peak you’re not performing at your peak. It’s the foundation and you must look after it to ensure it is 100 per cent. The most important thing is staying injury free. A lot of injuries are unavoidable of course, but some can be prevented. Obviously if you’re injured you’re not able to compete. My philosophy is ‘be at your peak’. Try and be bigger, faster and stronger, and allow that to shine through when you’re on the court.

GV: What areas do you work on with Ana?
SB: My title is Strength and Conditioning Coach – my job is basically to look after Ana’s body. Her body is the tool with which she can achieve great things. With her conditioning we look at her aerobic fitness, which is important for her endurance and ability to perform in points without being too tired. It’s also important for her longevity in tournaments, that she is able to move from match to match.

Strength-wise we have to provide her with the platform that’s not going to create injuries. Her aerobic conditioning is very good, we’re all really pleased with the progress she’s made since we began working together. Another thing we’re working on is her strength: Ana has a very powerful game and her body needs to be able to handle that. She’s going to get a lot stronger.

Then there’s movement. Agility is huge. It’s actually the first thing Dave and I wanted to address. We watched her during Wimbledon and felt it could be improved. The definition of agility is the ability to stop and move in a different direction. We’ve changed her footwork, for example she now takes fewer steps as she’s moving to the forehand side. Increasing her strength helps her agility. She can get lower on her shots and sustain a bent knee position a lot longer, which helps her move around the court better. She’s a great mover on court now and her defence has improved a lot. She’s worked very hard over the last few months.

GV: How do you measure these improvements? Does Ana often undergo fitness tests?
SB: Yes, I place a lot of importance on testing. Obviously it shows you where you are. When we first started working together shortly after Wimbledon we performed a series of tests, for example body fat, endurance and strength. Some of the tests are very simple, like for strength we measure how many push-ups she can do. Then there are more complicated tests such as the “1RM” or “one repetition maximum”. We’ll be performing one of those once she has recovered fully from her injury.

Part two tomorrow

Photo: Stephanie Morel