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3 Tips From A Pro Tennis Player on How To Come Back Stronger Than The Competition

Only after a devastating knee injury did her frame of mind shift. Countless drills and pushing through unnecessary pain were no longer needed. Instead, Shelby Rogers, a professional tennis player, created a new standard for herself and her game.

Shelby’s had a racket in her hands since she was four. When graduating high school, she’d done well enough in pro tournaments to convince her parents that foregoing college and competing on the pro tour was the better opportunity. From there, Rogers strengthened her skills and made it to the quarterfinals of the French Open in 2016. After reaching a career-high ranking of 48th in the 2017 season, Shelby envisioned herself continuing to move up.

In 2018, Shelby unexpectedly ruptured the cartilage in her knee. Unsure if she’d return, she realized something needed to change. As she made strides in physical therapy, Rogers simultaneously evaluated her training regimen.

In the past, training twice a day for hours at a time was normal. This type of practice, which Rogers doesn’t regret because it got her to where she is, wasn’t sustainable. As she recovered, Shelby made a conscious effort to listen to her body and reform her training strategy by concentrating on quality conditioning and mental training.

As Rogers simply puts it, “your mindset changes as you progress in your career.”

With tournaments starting again, Shelby is fully healed, the most fit she’s ever been, and back to competing because she made these three changes:


Through recovery, Shelby recognized the importance of quality versus quantity. Instead of spending six to seven hours on the court, she now spends about two and half hours doing drills followed by lifting, agility, and mobility. Built around each session is a warm-up and cool-down, ensuring recovery is a part of her practice.

“I’m at the point in my career where I’ve hit enough tennis balls to have that down. Now I need to make my training efficient…either performing or recovering and going on the court with a specific goal,” Rogers reveals.

Along with an optimized training routine, Shelby also has a nutrition regime. She always has Pineapple & Mango Hydro tablets and Go Electrolyte Raspberry in her bag and a bottle of Beta Fuel during a match. After any exercise, she grabs a shaker filled with Chocolate REGO and another filled with Overnight Protein Mint Chocolate before bed. Rogers understands she is on a 24-hour training cycle and maintains focus on the things that make each day constructive.


Since she’s no longer training countless hours in the day, Shelby spends her time working on her mental game. She works closely with a sports psychologist to help retrain how she reacts under pressure. In tennis, the mental game is huge, and can even be considered an edge.

When thinking about the competition, Shelby explains, “At my level, everyone can hit a tennis ball. But when the match is really close, can you figure out how to win mentally?”

Rogers also realized the power of rest and that it doesn’t mean losing ground. It allows her to be physically ready for the next day. While resting, she reviews video and analyzes the details of her game. Overall, Shelby sees the change in mindset as an opportunity to gain a leg-up on the competition.


After successfully going pro and recovering from knee surgery, Shelby has the phrase, “I can do difficult things,” always close to mind. This mentality is the motivation that drives Rogers, helping her adapt to challenges along the way.

“There were definitely doubts [throughout my career], but I knew that whatever came at me, I’d be able to overcome it. I know I can find a way to make it happen.”

As she enters a different world of competition with COVID, Rogers sees this as another challenge. The new, “normal” protocol for play includes testing every 4 days, staying at her hotel, and only traveling to the court on which she’s competing. While it brings on some stress, Shelby remembers that she’s not alone in this transition and is put in place so she can compete.

On August 14th at the 2020 Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky, Shelby Rogers beat Serena Williams in three sets during the quarterfinals. It was an unforeseen upset in the tournament, but Rogers was ultimately on top of her mental game. Rogers then made it to the quarterfinals of the prestigious US Open. On September 8th, she succumbed to Naomi Osaka in a hard-fought match.

Written By

Alexandria Curtis