Full disclosure: I am married to a tennis-playing nut. He went to state in high school and continues to win local tournaments (in his age bracket, but still). So I am highly aware of the do’s and don’ts of the sport, even though I’ve rarely put a sneakered foot on a hard court, much less grass or clay.
However, even he could learn a lesson or two from the tips I gathered for this entry. I’ve been begging him to cross-train for years, worried about overtrained shoulders or too much strain on his knees and hips. And while he knows that he feels better after a yoga class, he’s usually not in the mood to make time for one; he’d rather be on the court. So this is yet another plea (backed up by professionals) to think about that yoga class on Saturday, OK?
Playing tennis safely
The summer heat has died down and many people are hitting the courts after Andy Murray’s British win at the London Olympics, and while waiting for the U.S. Open in New York in a couple of weeks. But don’t forget that tennis is a physically demanding sport, with quick changes in direction, repeated serves putting pressure on the shoulder and elbow, and reverberation through the body every time that little fuzzy ball comes into contact with a racket.
All tennis players should keep these tips in mind as they approach the court (or as they walk away from it):
Cross-train to maintain strength throughout the body and not just the muscles used on the court. This applies to just about any sport, but it is particularly important as tennis players often end up stronger on one side than the other. (You can often deduce if a serious tennis player is right- or left-handed by noticing which forearm is bigger.) Doing exercise like yoga or Pilates can also increase core strength and balance, both key to success in any match.