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Staying active at 46: Leander Paes says yoga, pilates, meditation help him stay young

In an exclusive conversation with ET Panache, Leander Paes shares how he keeps his body, mind and soul balanced.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 27, 2019, 01.22 PM IST
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Leander Paes says that he has learnt a lot from his opponents and the partners in mixed doubles.
Leander Paes says that he has learnt a lot from his opponents and the partners in mixed doubles.
Tennis ace Leander Paes on what he has learnt from his three decades in the sport, and how he gets better by watching his opponents and partners.

Mind

“I do a lot of mental visualisation. I picture myself in situations that are tough. I think about the different ways that I can handle them. I put myself in match situations, against different opponents, in order to strategise my game and think of how I can combat their playing style. For instance, if someone is a baseliner, I will think of how to prepare for this; or if someone is a serve-andvolley player, what I need to do; how I need to change my game to suit a slow court or a fast court, etc.

I think mental fitness and mental health is all about being able to handle adversity. Today’s life is so stressful — in one’s personal or professional life, the daily commute, even the weather. The ability to stay calm is key.

“As a sportsperson, it’s important to win the battle of minds. I have played on the tour for 30 years. There is so much that I have learnt from my contemporaries. All of them have been stellar examples of mental toughness. It’s great to be surrounded by people like that. Not only my opponents, I have learnt a lot from my doubles and mixed doubles partners as well.”

Body

“The other side is your diet, everything that you put into your mouth and system will have an effect. “I eat good fats but say no to ghee and butter. At my age (46), rehab and rest are very important. Yoga, meditation, pilates, breathing techniques are what I do.

Leander talks fitness, says 'the exact number of minutes that I spend on my workouts keeps varying as per my need'.
Leander talks fitness, says 'the exact number of minutes that I spend on my workouts keeps varying as per my need'.

“My father changes my fitness routine every three months. The exact number of minutes that I spend on my workouts keeps varying as per my need. For best results, I mix the Indian philosophy of meditation and yoga with the Western fitness training regimen including gym work, cardio, abs, core, etc.

“The difference between being in the top-100 and the top-10 is the physical and mental attributes. I have also learnt a lot from my various doubles and mixed doubles partners over the years. What I do is learn these lessons, and tweak them to suit my needs. This way, I have figured out what works for my body, goals and schedules. Martina Navratilova and Martina Hingis are two partners who have taught me the most.”

Soul

“Be happy as best as you can be, no matter what life throws at you. My mantra is quite simple. I like it that way. The more you complicate things, the more you are not at ease.”

Game, Set, Split: Naomi Osaka And Other Tennis Aces Who Parted Ways From Their Coaches

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An Unhappy Coach

19 Mar, 2019
The coming together of Djokovic (R) and Becker (L) as player and coach caught the world’s imagination in 2013. The Serbian star went on to win six Grand Slams under Becker and held all four major titles. However, three years later, the pair parted ways and it was clear that Becker wasn’t too happy. Speaking about Djokovic, he said, “He didn’t spend as much time on the practice court in the last six months as he should have, and he knows that.”
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