An unfortunate truth about tennis is that playing lots of it will lead to injuries.
There’s just no way around it due to the repetitive nature of the pounding that both our upper and lower body takes.
The good news is you CAN minimize the injuries you get as well as how long they stick around by being vigilant about your habits on and off the court.
That’s what this special series of emails is all about.
I want to share my experiences – good and bad – with tennis injury so you can stay as pain free as possible.
This is ESPECIALLY important now that players all around the world are starting to head back to the court after weeks or months sitting at home.
Alright, lets dive right into today’s topic: tennis injury prevention.
Key 1 – Take Warmup Seriously
I get it. Doing a proper warm up before you start hitting balls is about as exciting as eating your vegetables as a kid.
Please note that I said proper warm up.
Walking straight out and doing some short court rallies doesn’t cut it.
Doing a few toe touches and side bends doesn’t cut it either!
Your entire body needs to be dynamically activated for the stress and strain its about to go through before the first ball is hit unless you want frequent visits from the injury fairy.
The importance of this became so clear to me when I first went to the BNP Paribas open. Next to the practice courts is a big, open field where players come out with their team to get ready for each session.
I was shocked and inspired to see how elaborate and thorough their warm up routines were, frequently lasting 45-60 minutes!
Years ago I was absolutely guilty of short changing or completely skipping my pre-tennis dynamic warm up…
Now that I’m quickly approaching 40 and have a personal checklist of problem areas it simply isn’t an option if I want to play my best and feel great doing it.
Key 2 – Take Off Court Seriously
There’s so many players out there who fall for this mindset:
- “Tennis is my exercise! My workout! I play tennis so I don’t have to go to the gym or follow any boring home programs.”
Is playing tennis alone better than sitting on the couch 365 days a year?
BUT, all that repetitive pounding is going to add up and eventually leave you in pain.
It might not happen your first month, season, or even your first year playing tennis…
But sooner or later you’re going to pay the piper for neglecting your body’s stability, strength, flexibility and mobility.
Please don’t think it takes some kind of lengthy, elaborate training system to take care of yourself off the court.
Knowing my problem areas and following a very specific routine to address them only takes 10 or 15 minutes per day.
Which brings me to the next key:
Key 3 – Know Your Personal Problem Areas
If I wasn’t intimately aware of where I get tight, locked up, and full of pain then a full body routine of mobility and strength WOULD take a big time investment.
I’d be doing all kinds of crazy moves, gyrations and workouts that had nothing to do with what I really need to feel my best.
I’m all about being efficient with my time instead of expending random energy.
For me, I know that rotator cuff stability, lower back mobility and hamstring flexibility are the “big three”.
Ignore any of those three things for a few weeks or months and my body will not be happy during day to day activities, much less competitive tennis.
I can stay on top of those things with a quick yoga and body weight routine that I do almost every morning in my living room.
You can do the same thing!
Key 4 – Treat Yourself Like An Athlete!
Think about professional athletes in any physically demanding sport…
Their JOB is to take care of their body when they’re not competing.
They have whole teams of experts that provide knowledge, insight, routines, and guidance.
We don’t have the luxury of that kind of support system around us so the responsibility falls in our own laps to learn about what we need, research what works and what doesn’t, and then hold ourselves accountable to action.
It isn’t easy but it’s worth it!
The result is a body free of aches and pains that can perform exactly the way you want it to on the court.
What if you already have nagging problem areas?
That’s what tomorrow’s email will focus on!
Specific, actionable steps to take when you already have a painful injury from tennis.
Until then, I hope this was helpful.
Feel free to shoot me a reply and let me know what resonated with you.
Thanks for reading.