Scott Byrnes chat, part two

Scott Byrnes chat, part two

The second instalment in our three-part chat with Ana’s strength and conditioning coach Scott Byrnes (pictured left). Click here for
" >part one

Gavin Versi: What’s your style? You seem pretty laid-back. Or are you really a disciplinarian?
Scott Byrnes: My character would be laid-back, but depending on the person I’m working with it can change. With Ana all the drive does come from her. With other players it might be different, I might have to push them some more, but Ana is such a great competitor and knows the benefit of working hard that it makes my job a lot easier. So I can be myself, which is pretty laid-back. But the sessions are still intense. To her credit she can reach that level of intensity on her own.

GV: Do you play tennis yourself?
SB: I do. I actually first got into tennis when I began working with tennis players – I didn’t play as a junior, apart from the odd hit-and-miss with a few friends. When I got involved with the sport I realised I had to increase my knowledge in it. From a psychological standpoint I wanted to be able to see where they were coming from too, so I entered myself into a couple of tournaments. I got my butt kicked 6-0, 6-0! Then I realised, “okay, this is what they go through, that’s interesting.” Nowadays I play some ‘A’ grade tennis back in Sydney where I live, but just for fun.

GV: When talking about your work with Ana you often use the term “we”. Could you explain how the team works: are you and David always working together with Ana?
SB: It’s a very close role for myself and David. We communicate with each other and try and get on the same page about Ana’s progression. At tournaments we’re pretty much side-by-side with Ana, both on and off the court, always talking about how we can help improve her game. Obviously there's a split between me focusing on the physical side of things and David more on the strokes and tactics, but there's some overlap too and we have open dialogues about each. The three of us very much enjoy working together,

In a conditioning block, like what we’re doing now, about half of it will be without Dave, so two weeks will be just myself and Ana, then the last two weeks Dave comes in and we all work together. The conditioning will be lightened off a little and the tennis is introduced.

GV: How about Ana’s recovery after a match?
SB: Recovery after a match is hugely important. I’ve noticed that it’s only really in recent years that players have been addressing this. It’s important because when you play your body builds up lactic acid, which pretty much stays in your legs after a tough match. If you just go from playing a match to having a stretch and leaving your body where it is, the lactic acid will remain and affect how quickly you recover for your next match. So warm-downs should be done straight after a match. Ana does a 15-minute cool down after a match either on a bike or a treadmill. In that warm-down Ana goes through every movement that will target every muscle in her legs. So that will involve some basic jogging, some side-to-side movement, some shuffling and some skipping. Then for the last three minutes Ana’s just walking, keeping her heart rate slowly dropping down.

Then after the cardio warm-down Ana goes through a pretty extensive stretching routine to make sure that all the muscles that have shortened during her match are elongated and back to their full range. All of this is done to help her stay injury-free.

Final part on Tuesday