When spring starts most of us crave the time where we can get outside and play sports. Tennis is one of those sports many people play only in the spring and summer because they don’t have access to indoor courts. It‘s a strenuous sport that requires good eye-hand coordination, strength, flexibility and endurance. To prevent any injuries, it’s important to have proper training, be well prepared, and have the appropriate equipment - or you may experience repetitive motion strains or injuries. I see a fair amount of injuries on a daily basis related to different sports. Tennis is very common among these, because there are many ways tennis players can injure themselves. In 1997, the total cost of tennis related injuries was $75 million (includes medical, legal, liability, work loss and pain and suffering costs). Injuries affect players of all ages. Over 4500 cases treated in the hospital emergency room each year are kids under 15.
Strengthening and stretching your muscles regularly will help prevent joint pain and muscle pulls. Stretch when your muscles are warm to prevent tearing of muscle fibers. Try to break a sweat by doing jumping jacks or a short jog. Start stretching larger muscles like your quadriceps and hamstrings. Be sure to include your calf muscles, shoulder, neck and back. Strengthening the lateral muscles of your upper body such as the deltoids, latissimus, pectorals, and lower body like the gluteus medius, TFL, IT band and lower legs, can prevent injury from those sudden side-to-side movements. Training for most sports usually focuses on the core and the mid-line of the body, but tennis requires fast-paced lateral movements. Working with a personal trainer to start you on a proper stretching and strengthening routine is suggested to learn good technique and form.
Adequate fluid intake is crucial to avoid cramps and dehydration. Have 20 oz. of water 30 minutes before you play, and drink small amounts during your game. Electrolytes are lost during a good sweat so it’s important to replenish them after the game. Salty foods, bananas, coconut water and electrolyte drinks (no or low sugar or artificial sweeteners, please) will help. A meal of fruit and whole grains before you play will provide you with good carbohydrates for energy during your game. It’s a good idea to use rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) at the first sign of injury and pain. You should definitely see your doctor to address anything more serious.
Tips to Improve Your Serve
Grip-Have the racquet grip measured for your hand by a USPTA Certified Pro. Don't squeeze the racquet; pretend you have a bird in your hand.
Shoulders- Turn your shoulders to your forehand or backhand side; this helps centralize and balance your lower body.
Stance-Balance your feet apart no more than 4-6 inched wider than your shoulders. This way, you can adjust quickly wherever the ball lands.
Head Position- Look at the contact point at all times.
Body position-Don’t lean over your trunk, or arch your back. Stay upright with knees bent.
Contact Point- If you keep your wrist rotated (in either pronation or supination), the contact will be further away from your body.
Forward swing- For topspin: do a low-to-high motion. For under spin: do a high to low motion.
Backswing- Not a huge swing. Watch you elbow position.
Follow-through- Have your racquet decelerate across your body. It’s a relaxed movement; don’t force the racquet to slow down.
Recovery step- Requires good core strength. Stay on balance; don’t lean forward with your upper body. Keep a wide stance and push-off back into the court for your next shot.