Don’t try what Iga Swiatek did at home, kids. Well, that is if you are a normal kid who hasn’t previously trained most of their life at a high level while being a professional athlete. Swiatek and her trainers know what they are doing.
In preparation for this week’s National Bank Open (or Canadian Open if you aren’t a fan of sponsor-titled tournaments), Swiatek was seen practicing with a type of tape covering her lips. She literally couldn’t open her mouth. This was by design and not because no one wanted her to speak.
I should also point out that I am not a doctor. What I am passing along is from different sources (like this one) on how having tape over one’s mouth can help force them to breathe only through their nose and this should allow for more oxygen to reach the bloodstream. In turn, a player will have more cardiovascular stamina and be able to tire less easily in long and high-stress matches.
Iga Swiatek recently had an unusual practice method
This was the point of the top-ranked WTA player doing this kind of training. Some players breathe through their mouths which is far less effective than breathing through one’s nose. (That’s the point of the nose after all; To help with breathing.) Breathing through one’s mouth can cause stores of fat to be burned faster which leaves less energy for long-term physical activity.
Still, a person who isn’t used to already high-stress endurance workouts should not try the tape thing. A body has to already be used to breathing techniques and used to have fewer breaths per minute when in motion. Basically, unless you are already conditioned to take in a lot of air and know how to do that properly – through the nose and not mouth – then it could be dangerous to train the way Swiatek was.
Of course, any advantage a top-ranked tennis player can try to gain over another top-ranked player is crucial. The little things, like efficiency in breathing, can make the difference over a three-set match. Heck, it could even make the difference between winning a Grand Slam or not.