Roger Federer’s resurgence in 2017-18 wouldn’t have been possible without his fitness trainer Pierre Paganini. Here, Paganini – who helped Federer to win his 20th Grand Slam at the 2018 Australian Open to become, at the age of 36, the oldest men’s number one in tennis history – provides some insight on how you can improve your own fitness. 

Listen to your body – that will help you to avoid injuries 

The most important thing is that Roger knows his body so well. I’ve never known another player who has been so able to tell you exactly how he feels. And that’s very important for being able to anticipate any possible injuries. Roger is very strong at listening to his body and telling his coaches and those around him how he feels. It helps me so much that he gives me that information and that we can anticipate a lot. There’s a lot of talking, and saying the right things at the right moments, and Roger is unbelievable at that. 

Prepare differently for each set of conditions

The movement is different on every surface in tennis – your body does different things on hard, clay and grass courts – so you have to think about how the muscles will work on each surface. In sport, as in life, you look at the details, and then when you put all these aspects together, it amounts to a lot.

Every champion has to work hard at their fitness 

Imagine you go to the ballet. It looks beautiful, harmonious, graceful. It looks easy, but do we think that the ballerinas don’t work? Yes, they work, and work very, very hard. It’s the same with Roger, who is an artist on the court. But he has to work hard to be able to express that creativity. Every athlete has to work based on who they are, the way they compete, and the way they use their athletic capacity.

But you also have to rest 

Roger is very focused when it’s important to be focused, and he can be very relaxed when it’s important to be relaxed. He doesn’t use too much energy. He’s very good at using the right amount of physical and mental energy. The most important thing for any athlete is to try to do the right things at the right moments and Roger is very good at this. To work hard is one thing. It’s another thing to decide when to work hard and when to rest, and for how long. You must use the right amount of energy. That’s when you get the greatest benefit. 

Decide when you want to hit your peak

Everyone has weak places in their body. That’s normal. We work to strength the weaknesses in Roger’s body. You cannot be in good shape 365 days of the year. But you can identify the most important periods of the year when you would like to be in the best possible shape. 

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