RODDICK AS HUNGRY AS EVER
Andy Roddick’s physical trainer Lance Hooten and physio Doug Spreen discuss the American’s off-season training.
Andy Roddick has been as hungry and motivated as ever during the off-season as he prepares for his 12th full season on the ATP World Tour and another assault on the Australian Open title.
“I haven’t seen him this motivated for some time,” said Roddick’s physical trainer, Lance Hooten. “Andy’s always been a grinder, a hard worker; you have to put reins on him all the time because he’s always going to work too hard, too long and too much.”
Indeed, on the first day of Roddick’s pre-season training the American was due to work out with Hooten and other professional athletes. As Roddick had finished the season with a couple of nagging injuries to his groin and hamstring, Hooten had intended to ease the 28 year old into the programme with short sprints on a more forgiving grass surface.
Roddick, who will first compete in 2011 at the Brisbane International, was not interested in the softly, softly approach.
Recalls Hooten, “Andy whispered to me, ‘I don’t want to do a Plan B workout, I want to do today’s work out.’ I said ‘I don’t know, you’ve got to show me you can handle this so let’s build into it a little slowly.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘We’re not doing a %#@!!% Plan B workout.’
“So we started the workout and he was doing really well, and I was actually going to cut him short because if he’s not finishing the work out healthy then it doesn’t really matter. Andy looked at me and said, ‘You don’t win the %#@!!% Australian Open by cutting short your work outs.’”
It is undoubtedly that sort of attitude and determination that has seen former World No. 1 Roddick succeed for so long at the top of the game. Despite suffering mononucleosis that set him back during the crunch stage of the season over the summer, Roddick still produced strong enough results to earn his place at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the eighth straight year. And the Texan firmly believed that had he not been ill, after his blistering start to the season, he could have finished in the Top 3 or 4 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings.
With that in mind, Team Roddick is treating victory at the Australian Open as a realistic target for the American and as such, the hard work began in earnest as soon as Roddick returned from London. “The planning and talking about it started the day that the season ended,” confirmed Roddick’s physio, Doug Spreen. “At that point he and Larry [Stefanki] had a chance to sit down and talk and go over a few things. Within a few days of getting back to Austin he was already starting to do some conditioning work and strength training, so it started up pretty quick.”
After the illness and injury problems of 2010, Spreen confirmed Roddick’s primary goal for the off season was to get healthy. “The goal coming out of December is that when you go down to Australia you want to feel good. The goal is to find a happy medium where you continue to do a lot of work to get yourself in shape, but at the same time you want to show up in Australia feeling healthy and hopefully a little bit rejuvenated.”
The No. 2 goal was to pay attention to the American’s body composition.
“As a power-speed athlete you have to be very lean and very strong,” explained Hooten. “So what we wanted to do was lose a few pounds of body fat and gain a few pounds in muscle tissue, so his body weight tends to stay around the same, but you change the body composition. By doing that you have a stronger athlete, a more explosive athlete, you have an athlete who can withstand the rigours of his sport.”
The tough regimen that Hooten devised has seen Roddick’s workout alternate between the track and the court. Track work involves explosive short sprints over 10-40 metres and longer sprints between 150-300 metres for speed endurance. Other exercises have involved the American doing sprints up a 50-60 metre hill on a 4-5 degree incline. On the court, Roddick has been doing short, explosive agility drills.
With Roddick’s late finish to the season there has not been much time to add specifics to his game. However, Hooten has been focusing on improving the American’s first step to chasing balls on the court, achieved by increasing Roddick’s lean muscle tissue and taking away his hesitation by making him as fit and supple as possible. “With the drills we’re doing lots of ply metric jumps, we do a lot of medicine ball throws for power and speed,” he explained.
Along with the physical training, Roddick has also been paying close attention to his diet — getting lots of fresh vegetables, lots of fresh fruit, very lean proteins, supplements of protein smoothies and eating frequent meals throughout the day — in the knowledge that consuming proper foods aids recovery by 50-75 per cent.
With the hard work done, Roddick will travel to Australia as a four-time former semi-finalist in Melbourne, with a wealth of major experience, and the confidence of feeling fit, healthy and strong. He should not be discounted as a serious contender.