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post #1 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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On overweight players

This is not a 'WTA are all fat' thread. ather, I'm wondering about the variety of success some have whe carrying what would seem to be excess weight. Serena is, of course, the prefect example. When she's seemingly thirty pounds ligher that she was when she won OZ this year,she wins slams mor easily. But of course, she wins them either way.

Lindsay Davenport seemed to have the game for years. And in fact, actually won her slams at a pretty high weight. Later in her career, she lost weight, spent weeks at #1 and made slam finals. In this case, losing weiht did not mean greater success, but that can, to an extent, be attributed to the competition. That weight loss coincided with Jennifer Capriati, the Williams sisters, and then Justine Henin coming into their own.

Monica Seles did win one slam at a much higher weight. But she was never the force at that weight she was in 1990, when she was relatively slender.

Svetlana Kuznetsovanever looks truly in shape to me. But she's won two slams, she doesn't seem to get fatigued in matches, and I don;t really see losing 15 pounds having a great effect on her game.

On the other hand, Bartoli, Kleybanova, Alexa Stevenson, back in the day. You'd think all those players would take the next obvious step, and drop some serious body weight.

Of course, losing weight is no cure-all. Daniel Hantuchova seemingly took a top ten career and pitch it by deciding that being model thin was better carrying the weight required to be successful. And when Venus Williams shows up looking thinner than ususal, bad things always happen.

Whereas, the new muscular definition on Maria Kirilenko seems to be paying dividends. She's never gonna be Sam Stosur, but look at her two years ago and look at her now. She's clearly put in the weight lifting time, and added the right kind of weight.

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post #2 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 07:55 PM
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Re: On overweight players

First of all it's not about weight. It's about muscle/fat ratio. You can't tell that by how much some one weighs. So it's not an issue of "losing weight" its about getting in better shape. Two completely different things. E.g. Hantuchova would likely be in better shape if she gained some weight - most from muscle mass but a bit of fat as well. "Likely" because while there are general guidelines, individuals differ on what works best for them.

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post #3 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 07:59 PM
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Re: On overweight players

I'm not normally one to comment on these matters, being as sensitive as they are.


However, I do think people who say some players are 'better when they're fat' or 'they might be fat, but they're not unfit' are just making excuses for players who need their arses kicking. We heard all that chorus when both Serena and Seles were enormous, and then years later they admitted to bingeing. They were fat, and it was affecting their tennis to a greater or lesser extent. Yeah, we can all put on weight, it's not a crime in the grand scheme of things, so say it.


If a player can win slams or still last 3 set matches in appalling condition, then great, but they'd do even better if they were in shape. I think the idea that some players hit the ball harder when they're fat is also a lot of nonsense. I know my brother says it is, anyway, and he's into all that sports/fitness stuff. He says more muscle and less fat enables swifter arm movements and the muscles are stronger for faster reactions.


I think if Davenport won slams at a slightly heavier weight in 1998-2000 (and let's not forget, she was still in good shape by that time, only a few pounds more than later on) whereas she didn't thereafter at a lower weight, that's probably because of other factors, like the Williams sisters, even though she was potentially, or maybe even actually a better player in 2005.


Any player who waddles around the court is not going to get the best out of themselves. To my mind, it's ludicrous to suggest otherwise.
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post #4 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Re: On overweight players

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Originally Posted by pov View Post
First of all it's not about weight. It's about muscle/fat ratio. You can't tell that by how much some one weighs. So it's not an issue of "losing weight" its about getting in better shape. Two completely different things. E.g. Hantuchova would likely be in better shape if she gained some weight - most from muscle mass but a bit of fat as well. "Likely" because while there are general guidelines, individuals differ on what works best for them.
I basically agree with you. But watching Kleybanova fade in match after match, for example, you can't help wondering what she'd be if she were 10 or 15 kilos lighter. Because that just doesn't look like all muscle.

But Kuznetsova, never exactly svelt, does seem to be a case of muscle mass.

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post #5 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:03 PM
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Re: On overweight players

Bartoli isn't even that big anymore, she lost weight during the 08-09 off season, and as a consequence had a solid season. I don't think her weight will change much more than it is now. Her defense has improved a lot. As for Alisa i think she needs to lose a couple kilos but nothing drastic.

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post #6 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:04 PM
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Re: On overweight players

While there is no doubt some players might carry a little extra, for some of them is just their body shape, they cant do anything about it.

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post #7 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:09 PM
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Re: On overweight players

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While there is no doubt some players might carry a little extra, for some of them is just their body shape, they cant do anything about it.
That's another point which isn't a point.


Look, anybody knows Serena is never going to look like Hantuchova. Kuznetsova will never be Justine Henin. Their greater strength advantages them if anything.


Being in shape means players being the best they can be. There have been times when, frankly, Serena Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova have not been in their optimum condition for top level sport.
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post #8 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: On overweight players

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Originally Posted by Steffica Greles View Post
Any player who waddles around the court is not going to get the best out of themselves. To my mind, it's ludicrous to suggest otherwise.
'Waddles' is a bit much, but I have a good counter-example.

2002 OZ. Capriati hadn't won a tournaments after RG '01, and came into that tournament loking fat. Not ridiculous, but a good twenty pounds heavier than the year before. And having lost to Stevenson in the first round at Sydney.

And of course, it was insanely hot that year. Mauresmo in the QFs, three sets against Clijsters in the semis, and then the final. Where it looked like Hingis' body was eating it's own muslce out there. (Actually, Hingis' body WAS eating it's own muscle out there,but thats for bio class.)

Anyway, by the time that tournament was over, Capriati looked like she was in tremendous condition. And not an extra pound on her.

Luck? Maybe. Good planning on what it would take to ge through the fortnight? Maybe. We'll never know. But coming into THAT tournament, THAT year, beng visibly overweight paid dividends. And give that Serena had won it five times, at last furof thm with people questioning her fitness, maybe there's a message there. Maybe.

SO why doesn't it wok like that for the US Open. End of the season, everybody's nicked, vs beginning of the season, everybody's fine-tuned. Maybe.

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post #9 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:13 PM
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Re: On overweight players

I really do think that, for players who just aren't naturally athletic (Bartoli, Kleybanova), carrying extra weight actually helps them. The extra weight, even if it is fat, allows them to generate more power that their natural athletic bodies aren't capable of producing. And it's a myth that extra weight affects a player's raw footspeed - it really doesn't. It's true that extra weight does affect a player's stamina, but in epic matches, mental strength is more of a factor than stamina anyway, so I guess unathletic players feel that the plusses outweigh the minusses. I mean, Bartoli has got in much better shape since her Wimbledon run, but that hasn't resulted in a big upswing in results.
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post #10 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:21 PM
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Re: On overweight players

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Originally Posted by pov View Post
First of all it's not about weight. It's about muscle/fat ratio. You can't tell that by how much some one weighs. So it's not an issue of "losing weight" its about getting in better shape. Two completely different things. E.g. Hantuchova would likely be in better shape if she gained some weight - most from muscle mass but a bit of fat as well. "Likely" because while there are general guidelines, individuals differ on what works best for them.
Agreed, basically, but you can't de-emphasize cardio fitness.

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I'm not normally one to comment on these matters, being as sensitive as they are.
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I basically agree with you. But watching Kleybanova fade in match after match, for example, you can't help wondering what she'd be if she were 10 or 15 kilos lighter. Because that just doesn't look like all muscle.
10 or 15 kilos lighter doesn't mean she'd be in any better CARDIO shape. This is what I've been to say for a while. Yes physically, it would seem, she wouldn't have to work as hard, because she'd be carrying less, however if she's lost muscle mass too, it simply becomes a wash. It's a balancing act. You can't just go Hantuchova style and expect that your level of play is going to sky rocket. Look at your example of Kirilenko. She increased her strength as well and it SEEMS (the jury's still out on that for me, because beating a husk of her former self Sharapova isn't that impressive, imo) that it's working out for her. In Kleybanova's case, she definitely looks too heavy. It doesn't look like "strength" it just looks like extra fat - baby fat, if you will.

As for Serena. I don't care what you do, you're not gonna get 30lbs off that frame. You're just not - not and have be healthy. Serena's body has changed. Everything is bigger on her since '99. It's she has her grown woman body now. She is a powerfully built woman and Serena is in excellent cardio vascular shape.

Venus is another question. Venus is not in shape. She clearly looked spent in many of her matches in Oz - especially against Li. To my eyes, she looked heavier then I've ever seen her, but not any stronger (eg. Kirilenko). Personally, I don't think Vee's weight is a problem. It's her cardio fitness.

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post #11 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:23 PM
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Re: On overweight players

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Originally Posted by dsanders06 View Post
I really do think that, for players who just aren't naturally athletic (Bartoli, Kleybanova), carrying extra weight actually helps them. The extra weight, even if it is fat, allows them to generate more power that their natural athletic bodies aren't capable of producing. And it's a myth that extra weight affects a player's raw footspeed - it really doesn't. It's true that extra weight does affect a player's stamina, but in epic matches, mental strength is more of a factor than stamina anyway, so I guess unathletic players feel that the plusses outweigh the minusses. I mean, Bartoli has got in much better shape since her Wimbledon run, but that hasn't resulted in a big upswing in results.
Extra weight can and DOES effect "raw foot speed." Go pick up a 15lbs weight vest and and see if you run the 40 yard dash faster with or without it on.

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post #12 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:32 PM
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Re: On overweight players

I think it's more of a fitness issue, which doesn't have much to do with weight it's more to do with the cardio-vascular system. So someone who looks/is "overweight" could have exceptional fitness and someone who looks in good shape could actually be unfit.

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post #13 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:33 PM
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Re: On overweight players

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steffica Greles View Post
I'm not normally one to comment on these matters, being as sensitive as they are.


However, I do think people who say some players are 'better when they're fat' or 'they might be fat, but they're not unfit' are just making excuses for players who need their arses kicking. We heard all that chorus when both Serena and Seles were enormous, and then years later they admitted to bingeing. They were fat, and it was affecting their tennis to a greater or lesser extent. Yeah, we can all put on weight, it's not a crime in the grand scheme of things, so say it.


If a player can win slams or still last 3 set matches in appalling condition, then great, but they'd do even better if they were in shape. I think the idea that some players hit the ball harder when they're fat is also a lot of nonsense. I know my brother says it is, anyway, and he's into all that sports/fitness stuff. He says more muscle and less fat enables swifter arm movements and the muscles are stronger for faster reactions.


I think if Davenport won slams at a slightly heavier weight in 1998-2000 (and let's not forget, she was still in good shape by that time, only a few pounds more than later on) whereas she didn't thereafter at a lower weight, that's probably because of other factors, like the Williams sisters, even though she was potentially, or maybe even actually a better player in 2005.


Any player who waddles around the court is not going to get the best out of themselves. To my mind, it's ludicrous to suggest otherwise.
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post #14 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:34 PM
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Re: On overweight players

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Extra weight can and DOES effect "raw foot speed." Go pick up a 15lbs weight vest and and see if you run the 40 yard dash faster with or without it on.
If I didn't know I had that 15lbs vest on, I would be able to run as fast. Some overweight players might slow down, but that would only be because they were telling themselves that the weight will slow them down; it's not the weight itself that's slowing them down.
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post #15 of 73 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 2010, 08:39 PM
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Re: On overweight players

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I think it's more of a fitness issue, which doesn't have much to do with weight it's more to do with the cardio-vascular system. So someone who looks/is "overweight" could have exceptional fitness and someone who looks in good shape could actually be unfit.
To a certain degree. Obviously, if your obese, your cardio shape is likely poor as well.

For me, the biggest issue with weight on some of these women - Serena included - is not "fitness" but, rather, INJURY. That is where I think losing weight, especially for someone like Serena, who is already in very good cardiovascular shape - would pay dividends. I think it would take serious stress off her joints and, perhaps, extend her career. But, of course, for all these girls it's a balancing act. If you lose mucscle mass in areas that aid ankles, knees, lower back, shoulders, you could be putting yourself at greater risk.

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