Tennis legend Stan Smith is still at the top of his game.
Not that anyone is keeping track, but it’s safe to say that Stan Smith is the most name-checked tennis player in hip-hop. Part of that may be the fact that nothing rhymes with Agassi, but more than likely it’s because of the shoe that bears his name.
The Adidas Stan Smith sneaker has quietly spent the last few decades becoming one of the most unlikely icons of the truly hip, showing up on the feet of everyone from Duchess Meghan Markle to Jay-Z. And their namesake, former top tennis player in the world and current mainstay of the Hilton Head Island philanthropic scene Stan Smith, couldn’t be happier.
Stan recently wrapped up a world tour in promotion of his new book, “Some People Think I’m a Shoe.” With stops in New York, Germany, Tokyo and Paris, the end of the tour meant he could return to his first love: tennis. Through his Smith-Stearns Tennis Academy, he nurtures the next generation of talented tennis players, so for our health and wellness issue South magazine sat down to get a few tips on staying in playing shape.
And if you’re thinking that entails a room full of expensive equipment, think again.
“I never did any weight lifting, but I did do a lot of basic stuff people can do without weights using their own body as resistance,” he said. The mechanics that allow you to stay balanced and stable all lead to your core, the same basic muscle groups that help power your swing, so start there.
“The core is critical for stabilization of movement,” he said. “We have kids who can’t run so we have them do sit-ups, but if you just do those and don’t work on your back you get unbalanced.”
To combat this, Smith recommends an exercise he calls “The Superman,” which entails laying on your stomach and then extending one arm and the alternate leg, then reversing. “I’ve been doing these for 35 years,” he said. “You can feel those muscles running up your spine… being strengthened and being worked.”
And of course, Smith is quick to point out the importance of stretching, first by leaning up against a wall or fence and stretching one leg back behind you, keeping your heel on the ground. Keep your leg straight to stretch the Achilles tendon, then bend the knee to stretch the calf muscle.
To get your rotator cuff stretched out, bring your right arm across the body, bring the left arm in front of it and then push out with your right arm against your left, then alternate.
It may not get your name in a Jay-Z song, but it just might let you have a little more fun on the tennis court. •