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The Best Crossover Sports for Soccer Players

Soccer is an incredibly demanding sport which requires players to be in tip-top shape for optimal performance. Great soccer players do more than just train by playing one game, though. Other sports can help soccer players become better by helping to focus their skill development.

 

Because soccer demands so much and is so multi-faceted, narrowing down the skills you want to develop and then finding other sports or activities that hone them can really improve your performance on the soccer field!

 

 

Here are a few sports that soccer players should try out.

 

Tennis

We talked about how much tennis players can get out of playing soccer in this article, but it also works in the opposite direction.

Soccer players can practice changing directions quickly and anticipating the movement of the ball. No, you’re not using your feet to move the ball across the court, but the sport can still improve your ability to track the ball and anticipate trajectories.

 

Also, reading your opponent is a big part of tennis. In soccer, you only really get to do that in a penalty kick situation. Staring down your opponent and anticipating their reaction is something you do all the time in tennis.

 

Basketball

Basketball is one of the largest North American sports, so much so that it’s unlikely that you’ll see a school gym or park without a basketball court. But while the sport may look very different from soccer, some shared principles could, with practice, really improve your soccer skills.

 

A large part of basketball is simply moving the ball down the court. This requires fancy footwork, slick moves, and most importantly, passing. Even though you pass with your hands and not your feet, it’s the same idea. You want to look for your opening, react to it quickly, and outsmart your opponent—just like playing soccer.

 

Volleyball

Volleyball is a fast-paced game with a much smaller play area than soccer, but it can still work on key parts of your soccer game.

 

Much of volleyball is spent in the air, jumping up as high as possible to block or reach high-flying balls. Jumping and diving for the ball can help you drill down on your vertical game if you find yourself being beaten out at the net reaching for those corner kicks.

 

And playing beach volleyball is great for the legs—the sand is perfect for resistance training!

 

Swimming

Swimming might not directly help with your soccer skills, but it is an excellent activity for developing strength and endurance.

 

The resistance provided by the water can work your muscles to the limit faster and more effectively than on land. Swimming will improve your overall strength to help add power to your kicks, speed to your sprints, and stamina to those long run-downs.

 

If none of the sports above is your cup of tea, any sport you choose could have some component that is useful for soccer. It’s just such a physically demanding sport that whatever skill you decide to focus on can make a significant impact on your level of play.

 

The takeaway is not to pigeon-hole yourself to only playing one sport. Being well-rounded is important in sports as well as life!

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3 Reasons Why Playing Soccer Improves Your Tennis Game

If you’re looking to boost your tennis game, it might be worth looking at another sport played in a dome: soccer! Tennis and soccer might seem like two completely different sports, but like many sports, playing soccer builds transferrable skills that could push your tennis skills to the next level.

 

 

It’s long been known that multidisciplinary athletes tend to do well in any sport they try. Just look at an athlete like Bo Jackson (who you can learn more about in this blog and this one, where we talk about him and his Elite Sports Dome projects) that not only played at the top level of both football and baseball, but was actually named an all-star in both sports.

 

So how can soccer help your tennis game? Here are just a few ways:

 

Improves Your Footwork

 

It’s no surprise that soccer requires heavy use of your feet, but the fancy foot skills you learn on the soccer pitch could translate quickly to the court.

 

Soccer requires you to change directions quickly while running, make unique foot movements to control and kick the ball, and power up and power down leg muscles as they’re needed. All these skills and exercises can help on the court to get to the ball quickly, change directions on a whim, and quickly improvise with fast feet on-the-fly.

 

Boosts Your Fitness and Cardio

 

For most players on the soccer field, you’re in constant movement. It’s estimated that at the pro-level, a midfielder might run 7 miles in a game. Now the amount of running you do in tennis is very much decided by your play style, but if you’re looking to get a more high-energy style going, soccer could help to increase your stamina.

 

Many players don’t even realize the amount of running they do because of the quick pace of soccer. Being a timed sport with no stopping of the clock, the game is go-go-go, and you won’t realize how much training you just squeezed in until the game has ended. Or maybe not even until the next day when you realize how sore your legs are…

 

Helps Learning to Anticipate

 

Most sports, especially at the top level, require just as much strategy as skill. Soccer might look like a bunch of runners chasing a ball, but the strategy of soccer is much deeper. Running around the pitch is a sure way to burn yourself out quickly, so a good soccer player needs to be able to look where the ball is going, analyze other players and teammates, and react quickly to any situation.

 

With the possible exception of having a teammate (unless playing doubles), all these skills are invaluable when you have a racket in your hands.

 

Being able to think five steps ahead of your opponent will help you keep your cool, better conserve your energy, and make your explosive attacks all the more effective.

 

So if you’re looking for another sport to play that will help you to improve your tennis skills, look no further than soccer. And if you happen to play tennis in a multisport air supported structure, you might not need to travel any further than your dome to jump into a game.

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Tennis Evolution: How Rule Changes May Help the Sport Remain Relevant

Tennis Evolution: How Rule Changes May Help the Sport Remain Relevant

 

It is not at all uncommon for sports to evolve over time. Sometimes this happens to accommodate changes in technology, requests from players and owners, or a need to deliver what the public now wants from a sport. The latter reason is behind some proposed tennis rule changes announced recently.

 

The longest professional tennis match took place in 2010. John Isner and Nicholas Mahut battled it out over the course of three days before the former finally triumphed. In all, the contest lasted a staggering 11 hours and 5 minutes.

 

However, as the Wall Street Journal reported, the actual tennis playing accounted for less than two hours of that time.

With attention spans shortening and so many entertainment options available, there is concern that both current and potential viewers may not watch professional tennis as we know it. The proposed solution? Speed things up.

 

Association of Tennis Professionals President Chris Kermode feels these suggested changes are, "not only about the next generation of players, but also about the next generation of fans."

 

"We will be sure to safeguard the integrity of our product when assessing if any changes should eventually be carried forward onto regular ATP World Tour events in the future," he says.

 

Here are the proposed rule alterations:

 

Fewer Seeds

The number of seeds would drop from 32 to 16. The idea here is to make the early matches more exciting due to the higher caliber of players. Viewers would become hooked from the beginning and then keep watching right through the championship.

 

New Format

First to six game sets would drop to first to four, with a tiebreaker resolving a 3-3 deadlock. Also, a sudden death deuce point (allowing the receiver to choose their court side) would replace so-called advantage scoring. Sets would be best of five.

 

Reduced Starting Time

Once the second player steps onto the court, the match must begin in five minutes, down from the previous ten.

 

Shot Clock

Already tested at the U.S. Open qualifying and the Next Gen ATP Finals, this would ensure players adhere to the 25-second rule between serves. The clock would also time the warm-up, set breaks, and medical timeouts.

 

No Lets

A no-let rule for serving.

 

Player and Coach Communication

While communication would still be possible between players and coaches at certain points during the match, the latter could no longer step onto the court.

 

Electronic Line Calling

There would be only the chair umpire on the court. An electronic line calling system would signal unsuccessful serves and when the ball is out, replacing its human equivalent.

 

Increased Spectator Freedom

Elimination of the rule restricting spectators from coming or going during a match.

 

Kermode stated that these alterations should not alienate the current fanbase. A shorter format and faster pace may well stop people from changing channels, but that remains to be seen. If these come to pass, it will certainly be interesting to gauge player reactions, particularly veterans who made their reputations via the traditional form of play.

 

Changing demographics are also clearly a factor. As the veterans who reliably drew viewers enter retirement, executives hope to attract a younger demographic to the sport. The thinking is that a swifter game, and not just exciting personalities, is key to making that change.

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Why Indoor Tennis Season is the Best Time to Get a New Racquet

Why Indoor Tennis Season is the Best Time to Get a New Racquet

 

As the outdoor tennis season winds to a close, it’s time to move your tennis training indoors. It might also be time to look at getting some new gear. If you need to get a new racquet, now might be the perfect time to do so.

 

Can’t tell if you need a new racquet, though? Some of the tell-tale signs that it’s time to get a new one are:Why Indoor Tennis Season is the Best Time to Get a New Racquet

 

  • Dents and Damage—If your racket bounces off the ground enough times, there might be enough damage to the structural integrity that it might be better to get a new one than wait until it fails during a game.

  • Falling apart—When pieces start to fall off, it’s likely time to get a new one

  • Doesn’t feel right—It doesn’t always have to be the racket’s fault. Perhaps your game has changed or you feel you’ve outgrown your racquet. A racquet should match your style and if the one you’re using isn’t up to the task, you should get a new one.

 

Also keep in mind that your old racquet might just need to be re-strung. A good quality racquet can be restrung a good number of times before you have to move on. A good rule of thumb for how often to restring your racquet is to take the number of times you play per week, and that’s the number of times you should restring in a year. Of course, if you play hard and for long periods of time, you might want to double or even triple that.

 

Depending on your level of play though, you might be changing racquets every year, and if so here are a few tips to help you choose a racquet.

 

Get the Right Grip Size

 

Tennis racquet grips range in size from 4” to 5 5/8”. You probably already have an idea if a thinner or wider grip size feels right for you, but be sure to try out a slightly smaller or larger grip size. You might find a new preference.

 

Choose the Right Length

 

The standard racquet is 27” long but if you’re looking to add more power to your swing, you may want to go to a longer racquet. Of course, if you already have a preference, stick to what you know. Some players know the feel of exactly how much power to put in to get the shot they want, changing your racquet could throw this off.

 

Look for Signs of a Quality Racquet

 

Racquets come in all different shapes, sizes and materials as no racquet is perfect for everyone. Because of this, it’s hard to just point at a racquet and say, “that’s the best one that you should buy.”

 

A few signs of a quality racquet that you should look out for are that the racquet is strung with high quality strings, the brand is something you can recognize, and the racquet feels balanced in the hand.

 

There are plenty of other signs of a poor-quality racquet, but those should be obvious when you pick it up.

 

What it comes down to at the end of the day is that you should pick a racquet that fits your playing style and works well for you. Keep this in mind when you’re choosing a new racquet for this season of indoor tennis training. If you like your new racquet, you’ll be all set for next summer’s outdoor season!

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7 Myths about Indoor Tennis

7 Myths about Indoor Tennis

 

Tennis is both a wonderful sport and an excellent way to stay in shape, though it can be a bit of a challenge in Canada.

 

Let’s face it, you can only comfortably play tennis outdoors for about half of the year. This may not even be the case from coast to coast. Fortunately, indoor tennis in air-supported domes makes the harsh conditions of fall and winter an afterthought when it comes to playing tennis. The only potential trouble you have now is negotiating a few snow-covered roads in your car on the way to the game.

 

Regardless, we suspect there might still be a few sceptics out there who feel indoor tennis is a compromise that does not present this time-honoured game in its truest form. This is a myth! Here are seven more indoor tennis myths that also deserve immediate debunking.  

 

1. It’s Stuffy and Uncomfortable to Play Inside a Dome

 

The great outdoors means fresh air, a nice breeze, and ideal playing conditions, right? Not necessarily. In fact, your wonderful afternoon on the courts could easily fall apart thanks to high humidity, blinding sun, troubling wind gusts, and unexpected rain.

 

Domes are completely climate controlled and offer optimal, predictable comfort 365 days a year. It will be just as nice to play in a dome on January 1st as it is on July 1st.  

 

2. Playing Indoors Causes Major Changes in Your Game

 

For the vast majority of players, this will not be the case. The only point of interest here is that domes will offer a cooler playing temperature during the warmer months than outdoor play. This can cause balls to bounce slower indoors, but most any player can quickly adjust their game accordingly to accommodate this difference.   

 

3. There Isn’t Sufficient Lighting to Play Properly 

 

Domes are huge; how can they have enough lighting to keep the courts properly illuminated? Well, they can and do thanks to the miracle of dome LED lighting systems, which are bright, dependable, and use less energy than older forms. 

 

 

4. It’s Too Cramped Inside a Dome

 

This is not the case. Careful planning allows domes to make maximum use of the available space. This ensures sufficient room for the tennis courts and any other activities housed inside.

 

5. The Dome Ceiling Will Limit My Game

 

Unless your game strategy involves hitting the ball dozens of feet in the air and having it rain down on your opponents, a dome’s ceiling height will not come close to being a factor.

 

6. You Can’t Play a Round Robin Inside a Dome

 

See #4. A carefully organized Round Robin can occur either outside or indoors. Planners simply figure out the space they have available, decide on how many players can participate, and schedule the matches accordingly. Playing inside or outside does not factor into it.

 

7. You Can’t Find Partners to Play During the Winter

 

We may not know where you play, but a lack of players has not been our experience. In fact, once a dome opens in an area and announces they have tennis courts, people are often scrambling to book court time. This is especially true when it is no longer comfortable to use the outdoor courts.

 

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The Perfect Place for an Air Dome: Why Air Domes Can be Built Nearly Anywhere

The Perfect Place for an Air Dome: Why Air Domes Can be Built Nearly Anywhere

 

Early in the decision to build an air dome, a common question is, “Is this a good spot for a bubble?” Odds are that, yes, you can build an air dome there, and yes, we’ve most likely already done it before.

 

Whether it be a lone bubble in the middle of an empty field, or a dome squeezed into the heart of a city, domes are remarkably adaptable. Because of the simplicity of the design, it’s actually a lot easier to get a dome into some places than to build something out of steel and bricks.

 

Dome in the Country

 

Air supported structures are Tennis Domeappealing when you’re looking to build something big. And the best place to build something big is where you have a lot of space. The problem though, is that building something large like an indoor sports complex, can be a challenge.

 

Big buildings typically need lots of materials, lots of time, and lots of money. This isn’t true for an air supported structure, though. Domes don’t need near as many materials to build. After the foundation is built, the fabric for an air dome takes up very little room at all. This makes them ideal for transporting long distances.

 

If you need to build a large indoor sports facility in a remote location, bringing in an air dome might be the simplest, and best, solution.

 

Dome in the City

 

Modern cities are so jam-packed Sports Bubble that it’s hard to fit in anything new, especially when it’s something as big as an air dome. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t done it.

 

Historically, the way to make the most of the limited space in a city is to build up. Tall buildings mean more floors for more offices and apartments for people to live and work in. It’s the footprint that matters when building in a city.

 

When looking for a place to put an indoor tennis or soccer facility, it can be tricky to find a spot with a large enough footprint to give players and athletes the room they need to play and train.

 

Luckily, air domes are a perfect solution to make the most of unused spaces. Bubbles have been installed on top of other structures like short buildings or parking structures. Of course, there’s a limit to how high a dome can be installed—you wouldn’t want one high up on a windy, swaying sky-scraper—but plenty of unused rooftops have been converted to indoor tennis courts.

 

You can even place air domes over unused parking lots. And if the city ever needs that parking space back, the dome can be deflated and quickly taken away.

 

And finally, building a dome inside the heart of a city is a lot easier than building another brick and mortar facility. The hassle of obstructing traffic, and getting in people’s way is much less when building a dome that can be brought in on a single truck.

 

Wherever you’re looking to build a dome, it’s always going to be a perfect fit!

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Tennis Grand Slam Predictions for 2017

Tennis Grand Slam Predictions for 2017

 

Winter is here and that means professional tennis players are hard at work training (on indoor tennis bubble courts, hopefully) in preparation for the 2017 season. While 2017 is only a few days old, fans have already begun to speculate on who might dominate the courts in the coming year.

 

ESPN asked their writers around the world for their thoughts on who might come out on top for 2017.

 

Since we ended 2016 with a roundup of the year in tennis, this week we weigh in on what the ESPN experts had to say. This may help you to decide which players to root for during this year’s tournaments.

 

The Australian Open

 

This tournament starts the season and takes place in the latter half January. The consensus is that on the men’s side, Andy Murray will dominate despite having lost the final match in this tournament five times over the past 7 years.

 

On the women’s side, it could be a tossup between Serena Williams and last year’s champ, Angelique Kerber.

 

The French Open

 

Occurring from the 28th of May to the 11th of April, the second Grand Slam event looks to be an interesting one. The predictions are a little less definitive, but it looks like Rafael Nadal might be the one to come out on top. He seems to be the most deadly on a clay surface.

 

Last year, Serena Williams lost to Garbine Muzura in last year’s final at the French Open. Because of Garbine’s strength on the clay, most writers agreed that it could likely be a repeat from last year.

 

Wimbledon

 

The famous English tournament is happening from the 3rd to the 16th of July this year and it looks to be another doozy. For the men’s, Murray is naturally a top pick for some, but a couple others are picking the veteran, Roger Federer. If Roger wins, it would be his 18th Grand slam title—an achievement that just might motivate him enough to give it everything he’s got left.

 

It looks like Serena Williams is the by far favourite for this tournament, taking place on her strongest surface: grass. It would be a surprise to see her lose a tournament she’s been so successful at in the past.

 

The US Open

 

The bookend Grand Slam event will be starting on the 28th of August and ending on the 10th of September. Historically, Murray hasn’t done his best at this tournament, but a couple writers think he may just turn it around. The other top pick is Juan Martin Del Potro, who just might find himself at home on this surface.

 

For the women, the writers don’t really have a favorite, so it looks like this one could be anyone’s tournament. Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber, Maria Sharapova… Be careful if you’re betting on this one!

 

What do you think? Are ESPN’s predictions on target? It will be fun to look back at the end of 2017 and see just how close they were!

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This Year In Tennis: Recap of 2016

This Year In Tennis: Recap of 2016

 

As 2016 comes to a close and a new year for tennis is on the horizon, now is the perfect time to recap some of the highlights from the last year in tennis, from rising players to veteran wins.

 

Rise of Milos Raonic

 

For the sixth straight time, Milos Raonic received the honour of being Canada’s male player of the year in 2016. This was not the only recognition of Milos’ rise in the tennis world. In 2016, he rose from a ranking of 14th to third in the entire world. He even made the Wimbledon final, but lost to the legendary Andy Murray. A feather in Raonic’s cap for the year, however, was his win in the Brisbane final against Roger Federer and a second victory over Federer at Wimbledon. Some even expect that Milos will win a Grand Slam sometime in the next few years of his tennis career.

 

Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber Named ITF Champions

 

To top off stellar years in tennis for both players, Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber were named ITF Champions for 2016—Andy Murray for the men, and Angelique Kerber for the women. Kerber made history with this title as the first person from Germany to win since Steffi Graff in 1996. Murray made history as well, as he became the first person from Great Britain to win since 1973 and the second oldest since John Newcombe in 1974.

 

Wimbledon 2016 Champions

 

Wimbledon was once again a banner year for all those who won. In the Singles category, Andy Murray came out on top for the men and Serena Williams emerged victorious for the women. This was Murray’s third Grand Slam in Singles and his second Wimbledon win—his first was in 2013. For Serena, this was her 14th title at Wimbledon, seventh in the Singles category, and her 22nd Grand Slam in Singles.

 

Other winners at Wimbledon include Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in Men’s Doubles; Serena and Venus Williams in Women’s Doubles; and Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen in Mixed Doubles. These wins served as the first titles at Wimbledon for Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Heather Watson.

 

Wimbledon: Most Attended UK Sporting Event

 

Wimbledon is easily one of the most celebrated occasions in the United Kingdom. In 2016, it was once again the most attended sporting event of the year, with a total of 494,000 people over 14 days. As with most years, Wimbledon was also a star-studded event, with some British royals watching the games as well.

 

Other significant events in the tennis world in 2016 included Monica Puig’s Olympics gold win in singles, Dominika Cibulkova’s win in the WTA finals in Singapore, and Alexander Zverev’s first title in St. Petersburg, Russia.

 

With such a phenomenal year in tennis at an end, one cannot help but wonder—will 2017 shock the tennis world? Will it top these memorable events from the past year? Only time will give us an answer on that one.

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Tennis Surface Differences

Tennis Surface Differences

 

One of the nice things about tennis is that it can be played on several types of surface (take that, hockey!) If you regularly enjoy the game, you have likely played on various types of courts. You may have developed a preference for one over the others, but have you ever wondered just what the difference is?

 

Grass

 

When you think of professional tennis, grass courts usually come to mind. Grass is the surface of choice at Wimbledon and offers the greatest challenge for players. Grass is slipperier and that causes the ball to move faster. However, because grass is softer, the ball also has a lower bounce than on other courts. That means less time to reach the ball before it hits the court.

 

Players with a strong serve and a good net game tend to prefer this surface, but slick grass can cause problems even for seasoned professionals, as Serena Williams discovered at the 2016 Wimbledon

 

From an ownership standpoint, grass is easily the most expensive and time-consuming option as it requires constant mowing in order to maintain a flat surface. Frequent watering is also a necessity. As a result, grass courts no longer enjoy the popularity they once had.

 

Clay Courts

 

The deep red colour of clay courts make them easy to spot and these find favor with dedicated players because of the extra challenge they offer.

 

In contrast to grass, clay causes the ball to bounce much higher. It also reduces both the skid and speed of the ball, meaning that players will need to compensate with speed of their own. Players whose skills center largely on how hard they hit the ball find themselves at a disadvantage on clay.

 

Those in the Toronto area who prefer this surface can make use of the Har-Tru clay tennis courts at the Granite Club and the Badminton and Racquet Club. Both are air-supported domes that allow the courts to remain in use during the winter months.

 

Hard Court

 

Far more commonly seen, hard court offers financial advantages. Comparatively economical substances, such as concrete, provide its foundation, and very little maintenance is required. This makes hard court the perfect choice for private court owners, small tennis clubs, and community centers.

 

Hard court also offers a middle ground for general players as the surface does not have as dramatic an effect on the ball as either grass or clay. This means that no one type of user can dominate based solely on a single playing skill.

 

Carpet Court

 

Of course, we don’t mean carpet in the traditional sense here (though it would be fun watching people trying to play tennis on a shag surface!). A carpet court is one made of synthetic material and is rolled out, like a giant mat, and placed over another surface. However, this type of surface fell out of favor and is rarely used.

 

Tired of putting your racquet in the closet when the first flakes of winter start falling? Join one of the clubs mentioned above or contact your local air-supported dome in order to reserve some court time over the holidays. Don’t let the cold keep you from year-round fun and good health!

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Professional Athletes and Teams That Train In Air Domes

Professional Athletes and Teams That Train In Air Domes

 

Air bubble sport facilities are a great option for everybody because of the relative ease of construction and lower costs, but it shouldn’t be surprising that even top tier athletes train under bubbles. After all, air domes create a perfect environment for indoor training. When it comes to training, air domes just make sense.

 

Over the years, The Farley Group has helped create structures that are not only used by weekend athletes and young future stars, but professional players as well. Here are a few of the professional teams and athletes that train and perfect their skills underneath Farley air domes.

 

Soccer Dome The Toronto FC

 

Did you know that Toronto’s Major League Soccer team practices in a bubble? During the winter, the Kia TFC training academy at Downsview Park doesn’t close up and force the players away from home. They bring the indoor facility to the training ground.

 

The Toronto FC players need somewhere to continue training when the weather starts to get hairy, so a Farley Group dome is inflated over the training field each fall to keep the players warm and dry.

 

This year the TFC have done particularly well. The team are now preparing for the Eastern Conference final against tTennis Domehe Montreal Impact. Hopefully, all the dome training will pay off and bring the team victory!

 

Daniel Nestor

 

The world of tennis is full of super stars but one of Canada’s top tennis talents is Daniel Nestor. We’ve mentioned the Daniel Nestor Tennis Centre before when we wrote about the Davis Cup.

 

If you’re not familiar with his career, Daniel Nestor has had a long and impressive career. As one of the foremost doubles players in tennis history, the Toronto, Ontario player has 91 men’s doubles titles making him the third most successful doubles champion of all time.

 

The tennis centre named after Daniel is an air supported bubble covering six HarTru clay courts. The Centre focuses on game development for players of all ages and while Daniel himself trains around the world, he does stop in for visits to play and impart his knowledge to young tennis up and comers.

 

Chicago Fire Soccer Club

 

Soccer Dome There must be something to this idea of soccer in domes. Another MLS team to recently adopt an air dome for their training space is the Chicago Fire Soccer Club.

 

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club, named after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, quickly set the League ablaze with their appearance. In their first season as part of the league, the Fire won the MLS Cup and the US Open Cup.

 

While the team have faced stiffer challenge as the League grew and matured, the team are continually striving for improvement. One of the strategies for continual improvement is the betterment of the team’s training facility, the PrivateBank Fire Pitch. As of the winter of 2015, the facility includes a 100,000 square foot Farley air dome. 

 

As you can see, it’s not just youngsters and amateur athletes training in domes, it goes all the way up to the pros! For sports and indoor training facilities, a dome just makes sense, regardless of skill level.

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