One of the biggest breakthroughs in his career that he says has been key to his success has been prioritizing recovery. “Our batteries don’t last forever, so just as you prioritize charging your electronic devices and conserving their batteries, you need to do the same for your body,” says Stephens.
Using lessons learned over the years to improve how she takes care of her body, Stephens continues to dominate the professional tennis scene. Yet this success requires him to travel up to 40 weeks per year, which when combined with so many hours of intense training can take a serious toll. We spoke to the tennis champ to get her top tips for how she takes care of herself on the road to ensure she stays healthy and feels her best.
Sloane Stephens’ Top 5 Self-Care Tips
Stephens has practiced extensively to stay healthy and hone his techniques to prevent his body from becoming overly tight, sore or tired during all of the journey. Here are his top five tips.
1. Only work as hard as you need to – and then recover
Instead of going out all the time, Stephens and his team carefully manage their output. “I learned to be very intentional and focus on efficient training,” she notes. “We block out time, work hard, achieve the goals we’ve set, and then take enough time for my body to recover and replenish from that activity.”
To help him do this, Stephens wears a WHOOP band every day. “I monitor my stress, heart rate, etc. during the day and in the morning, I get a report on my sleep quality,” she shares. This helps him and his team strategize how to adapt his training based on where he is each day.
He makes sure his body has what it needs, such as NormTech compression boots to help his muscles recover after hard sessions.
2. Drink enough water
“Hydration is key to everything in life – skin, recovery and overall health,” shares Stephens. “With so many variables and changes every week in a different city, different plane, different hotel room, I know I can rely on myself to consistently hydrate and help my body function at its best.”
Remembering to drink enough water can be difficult, but Stephens swears by a few tricks: “I recommend getting a refillable water bottle and marking it with different levels and times that you want to drink that much,” she advises. And if you’re bored of plain water, he shares that he loves Lemon Perfect so much that he invested in the company. “It’s a cold-pressed lemonade with zero sugar,” she says.
Stephens uses stretching to not only keep her body loose and flexible, but to combat muscle soreness from training and everyday life.
“I do a lot of stretches that focus on hip mobility and spine mobility to counteract the effects of sitting for hours on a plane or in my hotel room—things like lumbar twists, pigeon pose, and hip flexor stretches.”
He says he spends a lot of time on his laptop, so he’s also careful about opening his chest. “A great way to do this is to stand in the doorway, put my arm up at a 90-degree angle and gently press down on my arm—you’ll feel it in your pecs,” she says.
4. Stay organized
When Stephens is on the road for competitions or other engagements, he makes it a point to stay organized. “I keep my hotel rooms very tidy and very organized with my luggage, laundry and toiletry kits,” she says. “Not only does it help me keep track of all my stuff, but I find that it really helps keep my mind free of clutter and helps me focus on the task at hand.”
He streamlines his daily routines to optimize his time and mental energy. For example, he takes advantage of online tools like Slack and Google Drive to easily communicate with his team and keep tabs on what’s going on, he shares. “Taking time to intentionally set up these structures and systems in all aspects of my life helps reduce the noise.”
5. Make healthy eating easier
Keeping healthy snacks on hand helps Stephens stay active for her workouts. “I keep Quantum Energy Squares in my tennis bag all the time for an easy snack,” she says. Plant-based energy bars help her avoid dreaded afternoon crashes.
He also relies on tried-and-true food options that he knows fuel well. “I’ve been traveling to the same city for tournaments every year for about 15 years at this point, so I have a normal routine and restaurants where I feel comfortable and can keep a consistent, predictable schedule.”
Sloane Stephens’ takeaway for feeling your best
Self-care isn’t just for competitive athletes: We all deserve to feel our best, Stephens emphasizes.
“My advice is to simplify and do what you know is consistently achievable,” she says. “As travel increases and our lives get busier by the minute, think of your self-care routine as an opportunity to be kind to yourself and spend those 5, 10, 15 minutes checking in with your mind and your body.”
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