How to get a body like Cameron Norrie
Other elements of his anatomy also helped. Hospital tests after an accident revealed that the 6ft 2in player has deep sea diver-level lung capacity – larger, one of the technicians told him, than he had ever seen. “I’ve used it to my advantage ever since,” Norrie says.
“Any good cardiovascular training programme, especially doing vigorous training for tennis, improves heart and lung function dramatically,” says trainer Matt Roberts. “Twenty to 30 seconds of intense activity is enough to up heart capacity and decrease the risk of dying.”
After lockdown killed off the competitive season in March 2020, Norrie flew to his parents’ home in Auckland, New Zealand, where he spent much of the pandemic. There, he ran 10km every day up steep hills, recording a personal best of 36 minutes and 45 seconds (and 17 minutes and 20 seconds for 5k), followed by beach swims. (The fastest 10k ever recorded is 26 minutes, with the average among recreational runners being at least twice that.)
Having run cross-country at school, “it has helped knowing I’ve kept that fitness up and have the legs in me when I’m playing.”
Distance-running is atypical for tennis pros, according to Matt James, Emma Raducanu’s former coach. Most sprint training occurs within three to five metres, as “that’s what most tennis is played within. So you see a lot more changes of direction, accelerating, the ability to decelerate and being able to push off and recover.”