Tennis Fitness Tip…
Tennis Video Version Below:
The 2011 US Open has finally arrived and it’s already starting to turn into one wild ride, with top-seeded players like Li Na, Shahar Peer, and Gael Monfils getting ousted so much earlier than expected.
That’s what’s so great about this tournament – anything can truly happen when you’ve got some sizzling (…high octane) action from the best players this world competing against one another.
And I mean that literally. Their tennis fitness has been incredible. That said, they’ve been letting it all hang out, despite being in the middle of a severe heatwave. Oh yeah, this is without a doubt my favorite grand slam of them all. Why?
First, the atmosphere here in NY is like no other. And secondly, it’s on a hard (…fast and slick) court. That means the game is sped up – thus encouraging the players to be much more aggressive.
I can’t wait to be down there on the court (…minus the intense Hades-like heat of course) to see the most eye-popping shots being ripped harder and faster than we’ve seen on tour in a while.
Every shot has more bite and does a lot more damage – something the power hitters like Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, and Rafael Nadal are already falling in love with.
So, not only do the tennis players have to be as mentally sharp as a Ginsu knife, they also have be in the best physical shape and have the best tennis fitness level of their lives and really be able to put the pedal to the metal if they have any hopes of keeping pace, staying alive, and advancing to the next round.
Sounds awesome right? The only thing that can mess up all this wonderful drama is what? Injuries! Though they’re a part of all sports, injuries suck, to be quite frank. They can cancel out months (…and even years) of hard work in less time than it takes yell D.Q!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or if you’ve been playing this sport for the last 20 years and have tons of titles, it can happen to all of us.
So if you’re a pro playing in the US Open like Sloan Stephens or a rec-player who only whips it out on the weekends, and want to avoid sustaining one of these things, two things must occur:
(1) Identify: Identify some of the most common tennis injuries and understand how they happen.
(2) Develop a Game Plan: Find a working remedy that helps to avoid them altogether.
Tennis Fitness: 3 Most Common Tennis Injuries
• Tennis Elbow: The tennis elbow injury is caused by over-usage, like the repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that you use to straighten and raise your hand and wrist.
Another way this injury can be generated is from improper technique. For example, if your backhand follow-through is faulty (…if you use too much of the wrist and not enough arm when you hit the ball), your chances of getting a tennis elbow injury are going to go up.
That puts too much pressure on your ligaments. And by repeatedly stressing those ligaments, tears will appear in the tendons, because they can’t stretch. (Your Ground-Strokes and Ground Game Will Suffer)
• Tennis Shoulder: The tennis shoulder injury often times appears after you’ve overloaded the rotator-cuff when the muscle is contracting. This injury is usually caused during the follow-through phase of the serve.
The main symptom it manifests is pain when the ball makes contact with your racquet (…during your serving motion).
When suffering from this injury, one symptom you might experience is a decrease in velocity – meaning you can’t serve as hard as you normally would. (…Will probably face more break-points and can cause a drop in confidence as a result).
• Tennis Ankle: The tennis ankle injury is one of the easiest and most devastating, because it doesn’t need to be built up over time. One wrong move, and Ouuuuuuuch – you’re done!
Ankle injuries are caused by sudden side-way movements you make such as pivoting while making a subtle (…but rapid) change in direction.
You can also suffer from this type of injury if you play on a slippery (…wet) surface or when you keep playing, even if you feel that fatigue is overwhelming you.
These injuries, though common, are really awful and can slow down your progress a great deal, especially if your level of tennis fitness isn’t on the level that it should be.
So, how can you decrease the chance of it happening to you in one of your matches or practice sessions? What’s the remedy? STRRRRRRRRETCH!!!!
Stretching, though often times overlooked by the club player, is one of the best ways to avoid all of these major injuries.
In fact, stretching and tennis fitness are so important, the pros like Roger Federer, James Blake, and Maria Sharapova have the best trainers in the world (… men and women that they pay pretty handily) to make sure they never forget to do it.
So, here are a few tennis stretches you should use before every match you play. Below, I’ve listed three of the tour favorites. And get this, you don’t even have to pay me $$$ .
1. Extend your right arm out in front of you with the fingers pointing down and your palm facing you. Place your left hand over the fingers on your right hand.
2. Next, pull the fingers on the right hand down and inwards toward your body, all while keeping your arm straight.
3. TIME: Hold this stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. As you improve and as your arm loosens up a little more, go ahead and add about 10 more – the total would then be 30 seconds.
*This will help stretch and loosen those tendons and ligaments surrounding the elbow.
1. Raise the arm of the shoulder you intended to stretch so that it’s parallel with that shoulder. Stabilize the side of your shoulder and shoulder blade against a hard surface.
That will keep the shoulder blade from moving or sliding forward when you begin the stretch. *If the shoulder is moving, you’ll be losing a lot of the benefit provided by the stretch.
2. Reach across your body and position your arm in front of your chest (…leaving about an inch space between the arm and chest).
3. With your other hand, you want to lock onto the outside of the elbow of the right hand and pull your arm to the opposite side of the shoulder and inward, toward your body. The arm being stretched should be right at or slightly above your pectoral muscles.
4. TIME: The longer you can hold the stretch without feeling fatigue or pain the better. A great time duration for the stretch is around 15 to 20 seconds. And if you’ve done it a while, feel free to extend it to around 30 seconds for an even more intense stretch.
After doing these 4 quick steps, you should really feel the stretch and the back part of your shoulder should start to loosen up.
BEWARE: If you start to feel a strong pain or pinching sensation in the front part of your shoulder, something is wrong. And you should stop and readjust. If you still feel no difference, stop immediately and try something different.
1. Sit in the chair or on a bench located on the tennis court. Make sure to sit up straight, don’t slouch. But keep in mind, you don’t want tension in your body – especially in your back. So, find a good mid-point and relax your back against the bench or the chair you’re sitting in.
2. Then, you want to angle your feet so that the top of them are facing down, towards the court. You want to imagine that you’re pushing the top of your feet through that hard court, grass, or clay court surface you’re on.
This is going to create an incredible stretch across the top part of your ankles. Feel free to do one or both feet together.
There is no rule regarding that. Of course, doing them both simultaneously can help you to loosen up in less time, but do whatever feels best (…and is the most comfortable) for you.
If you have trouble sitting, standing is also a valid method. Tuck the hips underneath you, pushing the knee down to the floor.
The result will be a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility and range of motion. If done correctly, you’re going to be able to pivot and change direction while going at high speeds, while minimizing the risk of injury.
Not only that, but by loosening up those wheels, you’ll be able to enhance your court coverage and gain optimum speed out there.
Oh yes, stretching can not only help you prevent a devastating injury, but by basically unraveling or “Un-Kinking” the muscles, your ability to push off will be a lot more explosive, and you’ll be able to travel across the tennis court in much less time – something that’s incredibly important to the players in this year’s US Open.
These are just 3 of the many stretching techniques to help tennis players elevate their tennis fitness level. But try these out and you should have a much healthier time as you’re kicking butt out there on the court.
All the best,