The number one female tennis player in the world, Iga Swiatek, had fans scratching their heads this week over images of her training with tape over her mouth.
Swiatek is far from the first professional athlete to use unorthodox methods of training (see Brady, Tom), but sticking tape over your mouth while you do so? That’s a new one for most sports fans.
The images of Swiatek training for the upcoming Canadian Open in Montreal with tape over her mouth led to numerous questions.
“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” Eurosport asked on Twitter.
The most common guesses had something to do with Swiatek perhaps practicing breathing through her nose rather than her mouth.
Nasal breathing is the way to endurance and good health. Simple and effective.
— Sarah C (@sarahc0915) August 7, 2023
“It’s a more efficient and effective method of oxygen delivery to the body’s muscles, whoever has her training this way is smart tbh,” another fan wrote.
Lower lactic acid levels, increased lactate threshold, and less inflammation through reduced white blood cell count - just some of the benefits of nasal-only breathing. Efficient breathing will equal better performance
— Jeffrey Boadi (@jeffreyboadi_) August 7, 2023
So, were they correct in their guesses?
That being said, it turns out that those fan were right.
“It’s harder to breathe when you’re only breathing with your nose, and it’s easier for my heart rate to go up,” she revealed at a media session this week.
“I think it has something to do with endurance, but I’m not going to explain it to you appropriately because I’m not an expert.”
“Sometimes I don’t get the things they tell me to do either, but I’m doing that for a long time now so it got pretty easy,” Swiatek added.
Considering the fact that Iga Swiatek, at age 22, is the top ranked women’s tennis player in the world, has won four major singles titles (the 2020, 2022, and 2023 French Opens and the 2022 US Open), and went on a 37-match winning streak last year, who are we to argue with her training methods?