“No one has Rafa’s physique,” Rafael Nadal’s Academy student Ariana Geerlings opens up on the harsh training methods of Toni Nadal that have left many players injured

18-year-old Ariana Geerlings has opened up about her time at the Rafael Nadal Academy and the rigorous training they used to put in.


“No one has Rafa’s physique,” Rafael Nadal’s Academy student Ariana Geerlings opens up on the harsh training methods of Toni Nadal that have left many players injured

(L)Ariana Geerlings; (R) Rafael Nadal tennis academy (image via: REFT)

Rafael Nadal has been one of the most hardworking players the world of tennis has seen. The duration of practice the Spaniard puts in is one of the reasons for his success.

It is also true that rigorous training without sustainability can harm the body. The fact is supposedly true for Nadal. The 22-Grand Slam titles winner has been nursing injuries throughout his career. He missed the entire 2023 season due to a hip injury.

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However, the same philosophy of Nadal is executed at his academy in his hometown of Manacor, Spain. The Rafael Nadal Academy was established by the Spaniard in 2016 to train young players and provide them with proper guidance. Toni Nadal, Rafa’s uncle and longtime coach, is the director of the academy. However, one of the former students of the academy, Ariana Geerlings, has opened up about her experiences in the academy.

In an interview with Punto de Break, Geerlings said,

They try to rely a lot on their career, they train for many hours, and Toni (Nadal) is very present, he trained me a lot. They take the same philosophy as Rafa, a lot of training and little rest, totally focused on the track. That caused many injuries, because no one has Rafa's physique. Many of us couldn't keep up with the pace of training five hours a day and not having rest days.

Rafael Nadal Academy- too harsh for trainers?

Ariana Geerlings is one of the aspiring young players. She is seen actively participating in the ITF Tour. In the interview with Punto de Break, Geerlings opened up about how the policies of the academy are not flawless. However, the academy has world-class standards and facilities for both the professional players and the young talents.

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Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal (image via: Hindustan Times)

However, she has criticized the training regime followed by the academy saying that it is too much for young players. So, she left the academy after three years and returned to her hometown, Murcia. However, she thanked the academy for its contribution in her career.

As far as I know and as far as I saw, everyone trained the same amount of hours. Obviously, if you were very tired, they let you rest someday. I think what they need is to specify more about each player, analyze and understand them more, decide what is best for each profile. But hey, I understand that it is an Academy and there are many people, you cannot define a plan for each person.

Each individual’s physique and capability approach is indeed different. Every player or trainee cannot do the same level of training. Thus, the academy’s philosophy to execute the same training as Rafa is baseless in some standards.

Nadal is a legend of the game, and his physique and muscle memory are built differently. So, it would be foolish to expect a 17 or 18-year-old to put in the same level of hard work and training.

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