Justin Russ is a Strength and Conditioning Coach with 10+ years of experience working with athletes of all ages and abilities. He has coached Grand Slam Champions, Olympic Gold Medalists, and Division 1 athletes in all sports. He holds certifications from multiple sporting organizations and designs and delivers training programs for professional athletes and general population clients. Justin also provides consulting services and training resources to teams and organizations and is an experienced speaker at fitness industry conferences.
I would love to train Roger Federer, Michael Jordan, and Rob Gronkowski. Federer for his elegance, Jordan for his mindset, and Gronkowski for his character and hardworking attitude. Transcript: "Okay, this is an awesome question and it is, if you could train one athlete present or past in your career, who would it be and why? Now, the thing with these questions is it's impossible to ever choose one answer, so I'm not going to go ahead and do that. But the first one that comes to mind is Roger Federer, just because he would be an amazing athlete to train. He is classy, he's graceful, and the way that he plays the game with such elegance and smoothness and fluidity, I think that would be really, really cool to work with and also just to be able to communicate and hear some of his stories would be really kind of impactful for me. Secondly, Michael Jordan, mainly for the purpose of just trying to be around that mindset and listen to him speak. If you've ever watched The Last Dance, I would love to experience that type of dialogue in the weight room. And then thirdly, as a fun one, I would love to work with Rob Gronkowski, just because he is such a character and he looks like he's just a really fun person, so I would love to work with Rob Gronkowski. He also looks like he works very, very hard in the weight room too. Those would be my three."
Most common injuries seen in tennis players are strains and sprains to the lower extremity (ankle, hamstring, quadriceps, hip flexors), shoulder injuries, and abdominal strains and low back pain. Transcript: "Okay, so the question was, what are some common injuries that you observe with tennis players? Now, based on the research, most of the injuries that occur in tennis players are going to be strains and sprains of the lower extremity, and I would definitely agree with that. So a lot of what I've observed with my athletes, the occasional ankle sprain, but definitely hamstring strains, adductor strains, quad strains, hip flexor strains, things like that. The second most commonly injured area, according to the research, is going to be the upper extremities, particularly with the shoulder. Now luckily, I haven't observed a ton of upper extremity injuries with my athletes. We do a ton of shoulder work really on a regular basis to keep and maintain that volume of shoulder prehab and injury prevention. And then finally, the third most commonly injured area with our tennis athletes is going to be to the trunk. So in this particular area, I've observed a good amount of abdominal strains and some generalized low back pain. So those things that I mentioned, those are the ones that I've most commonly seen. So strains to the lower extremity, adductor, hamstring, quad, hip flexor, and also going to be abdominal strains and low back pain."
The most common mistake athletes make while weight training is not paying enough attention to their program and not being prepared to coach out of common faults with each exercise. It is also a good idea to have a plan A and B option when an athlete may need modifications in their lifts. Transcript: "One of the most common mistakes athletes make while weight training. The first thing that came to mind is simply not paying enough attention or reading their strength cards. My fellow coaches in this group will understand the humor behind that. In all seriousness, I think that this is very individualized to each and every athlete. I'll go ahead and just start by saying that I think that a best practice in strength and conditioning is to look at your program before stepping out on the floor, before you run a session, and having a good idea of the exercises that are going to be included in a given day and what are going to be some common faults that you're going to see nine times out of ten with each and every exercise. Arm yourself with coaching cues so that you're ready to coach our athletes out of these common faults when they pretty much inevitably take place in the weight room. I think it's also a good idea to kind of always have a plan A and a plan B option whenever there's a potential case where an athlete may need some modifications in their lifts."
In 2022, the University of Virginia men's tennis team won the NCAA Championship, a special moment for the coach who had worked with them for 34 years and the team of co-workers who supported them. Transcript: "My highlights for 2022 is winning the NCAA championship with the University of Virginia men's tennis team. This is a team that I've been working with these guys for three, four years some of them and just seeing how far they've come and how much work they put in and how much they they bought into the system that I'm trying to implement. It was a very very special moment and I'm gonna be grateful to share it with them and grateful to share with the team of co-workers that I was lucky enough to work with in support of these guys."
The most important lesson I have learned from coaching professional tennis players on the ATP and WTA tours is the importance of adaptability. It is necessary to develop quality systems and routines, but also be prepared to get creative depending on the situation and be able to roll with the punches. This has been a very valuable skill for me to learn as it not only helps in work, but in other aspects of life as well. Transcript: "What is the most important lesson you've learned from coaching professional tennis players on the ATP and the WTA tours? For me, the answer to this question is undoubtedly the skill of adaptability. Even when you are super successful in this business, you're never really in one place for very long. And every city, every tournament, every place, and the daily fluctuations of your player are always going to be a little bit different. The equipment that you're going to have access to is going to be different from place to place. So it's really, really important that you develop quality systems, develop quality routines, and really stay grounded and disciplined to these. Sometimes having to get creative based on where you're at in the situations that you're in and just be adaptable to any and all situations. This has been a really, really valuable skill for me to learn because by nature I'm someone who operates best under routine. So developing the skill of adaptability and learning how to kind of roll with the punches as they come and stay true to my systems as well has really helped me to be successful. And also a little bit stress-free in more aspects of life than just work. So adaptability for sure."
A balanced weekly workout routine should include exercises that target strength, size, power and speed. Mondays can be focused on strength training, Tuesdays on hypertrophy workouts, Wednesdays on power exercises, Thursdays on high-intensity interval training, and Fridays on stretching and mobility work. This type of program should leave plenty of room for recovery throughout the week. Transcript: "Okay, balancing weekly workout routines to maximize strength and size but also gains in power and speed. So the answer I'm gonna give is probably a vast oversimplification, but in order to achieve this we want to design a program that addresses all of these qualities within a given workout."