Avoiding injuries from tennis is one of my highest priorities while working with my clients or even my game.Being injury-free allows a player to practice more, improve and reach my potential.It’s no fun knowing that after a few sets you are going to “feel it” for a few days or even worse you’re in too much pain to play in the first place.From my experience training players to avoid injuries, I’ve found that there are three general paths their training can go. Let’s dive into them and see if you fit into either category.
Category 1: Bad Form
If your technique is not sound, there is a good chance that you will suffer a chronic pain that can sideline you from playing.Unneeded impact in the muscles, joints and tendons will make you want to avoid playing altogether. It can get frustrated when you are feeling that all the hitting you are doing leaves you in pain and wondering what you’re doing wrong.
How to avoid injury: While you don’t need to hit the ball like Roger Federer to avoid injuries, having a certified pro take a look at your strokes will do wonders for avoiding injuries.Make the investment to ensure you are properly striking the ball so you can stay on the court and enjoy the sport for as long as possible.Another option is having someone remotely (like me!) to look at your form through a video of yourself playing. Regardless of what you choose, there is a lot of value you can get when you have a third person perspective looking for ways you can avoid injury. Be patient when you are working on your form. It takes time but with consistent and focused practice, you can make the changes to ensure you will stay injury free.
Category 2: The Weekend Warrior
I’ve seen adult tennis players that are phenomenal athletes get injured on the court.Their body can no longer keep up with what they used to be able to do with ease.They rarely stretch or warm up and can move extremely well for their age. The problem is the fast movements they could do when they were young puts too much strain on their now older muscles and tendons, causing an injury.Pulled hamstrings, calves and achilles are common injuries from these type of players.
How to avoid injury: Without proper stretching and maintenance, your body won’t be able to take the impact, thus causing an injury.I recommend a regimen of exercises that will keep their muscles strong to take the impact from their tennis play.This includes exercises that strengthen their glutes, hamstrings and core along with stretching/rolling that targets the tight spots of your body. It would also be good to work on some jump roping and quick movements that can get your body ready for the movements you will be doing on the court. Staying consistent with these exercises, stretches and movements is critical to stay injury free.
Category 3: The Marathon Player
On the opposite spectrum of the weekend warrior, I’ve seen players that are not only running around on the court for a couple of hours but they also exercise in a way that puts even more stress on their joints.This includes long distance running and plyometrics as their main workouts.I fell into this category as I did a lot of crossFit workouts and then went to play hours of tennis.The wear and tear that my body took eventually led to injuries that took me a long time to figure out how to avoid.
How to avoid injury: If you’re moving well on the tennis court, you need to protect that and understand your joints can only take so much impact on a weekly basis.So instead of thinking that tennis is something you play, consider it more of a way of working out.There is no need to put in a lot of miles of running or hard movements in the gym.Instead, consider your gym workouts as building strength without putting wear on your body with a lot of repetitive movements.Do some heavy lifts on front squats (front squats are easier on the back than back squats), deadlifts, split lunges, bench press and cleans. Consider a progressive program that pushes you to find your 3 to 5 rep max.The low reps with heavy weights will improve your bone density and keep you strong for the wear and tear from the tennis court. This way you will keep your body healthy and strong for years to come but most importantly, stay injury free on the courts.
Recap: I could not imagine my life without the freedom to move freely on the tennis court without a worry of an injury. If you’re motivated enough and know what path you need to do to stay healthy, there is no reason you cannot enjoy tennis for years to come! Questions or want to see what I can do to help? Click here for a free consultation. I am taking a limited number of clients in 2022!
Want to improve your groundstrokes? Check out this video to help!