Play Tennis for your Well-being

Tennis Creates Well-Being

For both your physical and mental health

Putting an emphasis on self-care, in any form, has been a priority for most during the COVID-19 pandemic. But have you thought about fortifying your mental health lately? In May, Mental Health America encourages you to strengthen your mental well-being by celebrating Mental Health Awareness month.1 An easy and fun way to prioritize your mental health is by picking up a tennis racquet. 

Now you may be thinking, how do tennis and mental health go hand in hand? Well, you’d be surprised to know that tennis is one of the leading sports that benefit your mental well-being.

Tennis creates well-being, get out and play tennis today.

“Since tennis requires alertness and tactical thinking, it may generate new connections between nerves in the brain and this promotes a lifetime of continuing development of the brain,” according to scientists at the University of Illinois. In turn, advancing your brain function helps reduce stress which supports your mental health.  

The mental and social challenges involved with tennis can increase your capacity to deal with stress.2 The best part is, there is no time limit on when you can take advantage of the psychological benefits the sport has to offer. Whether you are a brand new player or someone who used to play tennis and is ready a get back out on the court, tennis creates well-being at any stage

Tennis helps strengthen your mental health by3:

  • Developing a work ethic: Improvement through lessons or practice reinforces the value of hard work. 
  • Managing mistakes: Learning to play within your abilities and realizing that managing and minimizing mistakes in tennis or life is critical. 
  • Managing adversity: Playing tennis enables you to learn to adjust to the elements (e.g. weather, a hard match, tiredness) and still be able to compete tenaciously. 
  • Learning to solve problems: Since tennis is a sport based on angles, geometry, and physics you learn to anticipate certain scenarios in order to play out a point during a match.
  • Accommodating stress effectively: The physical, mental, and emotional stress of tennis will force you to increase your capacity for dealing with stress. It will also help you learn how to recover from a stressful situation. 

We can’t forget about the social benefits tennis has to offer. Tennis will help you4:

  • Develop performance rituals before serving or returning to control your rhythm of play and deal with pressure. These skills can transfer to taking exams, conducting a meeting, or making an important sales presentation. 
  • Learn sportsmanship since tennis teaches you to compete fairly with opponents. 
  • Learn to win graciously and lose with honor. Gloating after a win or making excuses after a loss doesn’t work in tennis or in life. 
  • Learn teamwork since successful doubles play depends on you and your partner’s ability to communicate and play as a cohesive unit. 
  • Develop social skills through interaction and communication before a match, while changing sides of the court and after play. 

And most important, when you play tennis you will have FUN… because healthy feelings of enjoyment, competitiveness, and physical challenge are inherent in the sport.

Junior Playing tennis

At USTA Mid-Atlantic, we believe tennis creates well-being. Playing tennis an hour a day may improve your physical, mental, and emotional fitness. Get out and play today so you can maximize those benefits on and off the court. During Mental Health Awareness Month, inspire yourself and others to make tennis a part of your mental health journey. 

Let’s strengthen our mental health together. Meet us out on the tennis court this summer to take advantage of the lifelong benefits the sport has to offer. 

And don’t forget to catch up on the endless physical health benefits tennis has to offer by reading our Improve Your Overall Health with Tennis article

We can’t wait to see you out on the courts!

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1Mental Health America, Celebrate Mental Health Month

2USTA.com, Tennis Makes You Happy and Healthy, Study Shows, 2019

3Health Benefits of Tennis: Why Play Tennis by Dr. Jack Groppel

434 Reasons to Play Tennis, Webinar Series with Dr. Jack Groppel

Header image-prevent injury on court blog

Keeping Injury Out of Your Game

Stay healthy and safe on the tennis court

This year is looking up. Our daily lives are slowly returning to normal, the warmer weather is here and we are grabbing our racquets and hitting the tennis courts. However, with the rush to get out there and start playing, is your body truly ready for the demands of our beloved game? If not, you run the risk of sustaining an injury. Being injured is no fun. In addition to the pain, we can be out of the game for an extended amount of time.

Remember the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” We should aim to prevent injury to preserve the body and not lose any time on the court.

What can be done to reduce the risk of an injury? Before we review ways to prevent injury, let’s look at two of the most common injuries tennis players experience – tennis elbow and knee issues.

Tips to keep injury out of your game:

Prevent injury on court with these helpful tips

Tennis elbow is the weakening of the tendons that join your forearm muscles to your bone. It’s typically caused by repetitive motion, like painting or lifting objects. But for tennis players, tennis elbow can be caused by the stress of hitting the ball, incorrect form, incorrect racquet grip size, or having a racquet that is strung too tight. If you would like more information and tips on tennis elbow, check out our previous article, Doctor’s Tips for Tennis Elbow. 

Knee injuries can affect any area around the knee including the ligaments, bursae (fluid sacs located near major joints), tendons, cartilage, menisci (plural for meniscus), and the bones forming the knee joint. Because our knees are complicated, a knee injury can be caused by any number of factors such as inappropriate shoes and moving when our bodies aren’t warmed up. Visit our previous article, Doctor’s Tips for Knee Pain for more information on knee issues and to help keep injury out of your game. 

Now that we know a little bit more about common tennis injuries, let’s look at how we can prevent them. Here are a few tips that you can use that are simple and effective:

Prevent common tennis injuries:

  • Warm-up your body before you play. Warming up increases your body temperature and blood flow to your muscles and reduces tension. Reduced muscle tension can decrease your risk of injury. You should aim to warm up for at least 5 minutes before you play and can start with jogging around the court. For additional tips on warming up and preparing to play, check out our post from a fitness trainer, LaRue Cook
  • Stretching before and after you play. So many players skip stretching. But stretching improves mobility, relieves tension, and reduces soreness. A few quick stretches you can perform are thigh stretch, cross body shoulder/arm stretch, hamstring stretch, and calf stretch. Remember to hold each stretch between 15 and 20 seconds without bouncing. 
  • Strength training not only improves fitness and performance but also protects your joints, ligaments, and tendons from injury. Aim to strengthen the major parts of the body – arms, legs, and core. Simple strength exercises include walking uphill or upstairs, biking, push-ups, triceps dips, and plank.  

Getting to the technical aspects:

  • Having the appropriate gear will help to reduce your risk of injury. Your tennis sneakers should not only fit you properly but be supportive enough to suit your style of play. When it comes to your racquet, consult your coach or tennis professional on choosing the right racquet and string tension for your skill and strength. Check out our post on the latest gear for 2021.
  • Taking the time to learn proper technique. Incorrect technique can cause you to stress and strain while hitting the ball which in turn can lead to an increased risk of injury. Learning good form will allow you to move effectively while minimizing injury. A certified tennis pro can help you.

We know that not all injuries are avoidable. However, investing in injury prevention will help to keep injury out of your game and you healthy on and off the court.  

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section has lots of opportunities for you to play tennis in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and eastern and southern West Virginia. Visit us and see what’s available near you!  And make sure you are following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. 

Click here to find all sources for this blog article.

Tennis is a Game Changer

Tennis and Nutrition, Together like Racquet in Hand

Celebrate National Nutrition Month with USTA Mid-Atlantic By Maintaining Proper Nutrition on the Tennis Court

Nutrition tips to keep performing on the tennis court.

No matter your level of play, tennis is a great way to get physically active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you hit the court and play, you’ll burn calories, strengthen muscles, improve your coordination, and much more. Your time on the tennis court can contribute to your wellness goals; just as it contributes to your goals to improve your tennis game and skills. Critical to reaching your health and physical activity goals is having proper nutrition to fuel your body. Paying attention to your nutrition can support all of the gains you are making on the tennis court. Plus, it can be a differentiator when it comes to your performance. 

March is National Nutrition Month®, spearheaded by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During March, the Academy encourages everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits they can follow all year long. 

Corey Kuck helps teach you how to maintain proper tennis nutrition.

Making informed food choices is an important part of cultivating nutrition habits that will support your tennis game. There are a wealth of resources for tennis players interested in stepping up their nutrition game and making sound choices. Whether that is nutritious foods to fuel your tennis workouts to the best choices for the recovery. 

We’ve gathered up some resources you can review to learn more about making informed choices in your nutrition. 

Fueling Your Body for Tennis with Mid-Atlantic-based chef, Corey KuckThis article has some good tips from Chef Kuck, a recreational tennis player, and includes an awesome recipe for Herb Pesto crusted Pork Tenderloin with Mediterranean Couscous.

If you haven’t yet explored the “Improve” section of usta.com there are many great articles that can help you, well, improve in tennis! The site has several articles dedicated to nutrition specifically for tennis players of all experience levels. No matter your level, proper nutrition is key. 

Here are just a few of the articles that you may find helpful: 

  • Snack Smarter: Tips for Before and After Exercise – This article is jam-packed with great, easy, healthy options for snacks that can power your tennis workout, practice, or match. 
  • Nutrition at Home– Check this article for some thoughtful reminders and hints for making your nutrition count throughout the day. Especially if you are home more or working from home.
  • Nutrition for Recovery – After a long tennis match or tournament, what you put into your body matters. Check this article for foods and tips to help with recovery. 
  • Hydration Matters – It cannot be said enough how important hydration is for your body especially during warmer days or even down-right blazing hot and humid days playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic region. This article can help you learn more about proper hydration for your body. 

These are just a few articles and resources that can help you maintain nutrition on the tennis court. As part of your celebration of National Nutrition Month®, take a few moments to review some of these articles and tips on nutrition. Plus, share them with your teammates and tennis friends as you prepare to play more tennis during spring and summer. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section has lots of ways you can get into tennis in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and eastern and southern West Virginia. Visit us and learn about the ways you can play today!  And make sure you are following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

Creating More Opportunities for Play

The Building of New Tennis Courts with Safe Place to Play Grant

A story published in USA Today reported that tennis participation skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article references a study by the Physical Activity Council (PAC) that found that 21.64 million people played tennis in 2020. This is roughly a 22 percent increase in creating more tennis play from the previous year.  

Tennis is one of the few sports that allows you to play while maintaining a safe, social distance. Additionally, tennis helps you stay fit both physically and mentally; one of the greatest benefits of the sport is the way it brings people together. Tennis helps build communities by bringing people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities together. And is a sport that you can enjoy your entire life.

Now, imagine not having access to tennis because your community either lacks a tennis court or the courts are not safe to play on. Not having playable tennis courts available, communities miss out on all the benefits tennis has to offer. Overall, no one should be precluded from the sport because of the lack of resources. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic’s solution is our Safe Place to Play Grant. Our grant provides funds for tennis court construction and refurbishment in the Mid-Atlantic – often to communities in areas that need economic investment.

Creating safe places to play with the Mid-Atlantic Safe Place to Play grant

The Safe Place to Play Grant is creating more tennis play and supports communities in tangible ways. In the last three years, USTA Mid-Atlantic has granted nearly $70,000. These projects also include community outreach in the form of accessible and affordable tennis programming so that more people can learn and play the sport.

One such project to benefit from grant funds is in West Virginia. The Safe Place to Play Grant helped one community gain the first four tennis courts, ever, for the county. 

USTA Mid-Atlantic checked in with Ryan Fincham of Morgan County Tennis Association, a 2020 grantee in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. to see how their grant funds are impacting their community.

USTA Mid-Atlantic: What’s the status of construction?

Construction began in June 2020 and the courts are 99 percent completed. The courts will open to the public on March 1, 2021.

What types of tennis programming are you planning?

MCTA Board approving new courts with the Safe Place to Play grant

For almost a decade, the Morgan County Tennis Association has offered year-round youth tennis clinics for ages 4 to 14 either on two local courts in poor shape or in high school and church gyms. With the new courts, we are planning on continuing and expanding those programs.  Secondly, the courts will be used by the middle school and the intermediate school PE classes and the Berkeley Springs High School Boys and Girls Tennis Teams (that have been in existence for more than 15 years and have never held a home tennis match).  Finally, we plan to promote USTA Adult League play, as well as start Junior Team Tennis and host USTA sanctioned tournaments.

What do these courts mean to the community?

The courts have been a dream to many in the community for nearly 20 years. The community rallied around the project, and we feel the entire community is proud of the achievement. We think that many people will try tennis for the first time on these new courts.  

Creating safe places to play in Berkley Springs W Va.

For 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, USTA Mid-Atlantic was able to continue its work supporting communities. We awarded three organizations Safe Place to Play grant funding. 

Charles City County Parks and Recreation, Charles City County, Va

The goal of rural Charles City County is to grow tennis by improving the tennis infrastructure. They recognize that tennis is an individual sport that is ideal for our current times. Their award will fund refurbishing and restoring the Parks and Recreation tennis courts. Kimberly Barrow of the Charles City County Parks and Recreation states that through this project “we would be able to affect both the physical and mental well being of the community on a large scale.” The project is scheduled to start in spring 2021.

Lindale Middle School, Anne Arundel County, Md.

Lindale Middle recognized that tennis should be accessible to all – including those who have a disability. They received state grant funding to resurface their courts but will use the Safe Place to Play grant to create more accessible tennis courts. “Our school is a community school where many organizations utilize our facilities. We want to make it another option to gather and learn the game of tennis,” says Elena Thomas of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Their plan is to complete the entire project by fall 2021.

Rappahannock Community College Education Foundation, Warsaw, Va.

According to Kerry Wiersma of the Rappahannock Community College Education Foundation, their community’s vision is to create “a multi-generational gathering place that provides opportunities for healthy living and community engagement.” With that goal in mind, they built a joint initiative with the town of Warsaw, Richmond County, Richmond County Public Schools, and individual community donors to renovate and rebuild the tennis courts at the Rappahannock Community College. These tennis courts are the only tennis courts for the counties of Richmond, Westmoreland, Essex, and Northumberland and will be available for use by the community college, public school system, and the general population. Construction started in September 2020.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit, USTA Mid-Atlantic’s mission is to promote the growth of tennis. Quality tennis infrastructure in more communities is a key aspect of succeeding in the mission and vision of the organization. With more courts and by creating more tennis play, that means more lives and communities improve.

Your tax-deductible donations support this grant program. And supports changing lives by adding valuable tennis court infrastructure throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Make a donation today so that we can continue to offer Safe Place to Play grants.

USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, Inc. is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN 54-1472806. All donations made to USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Inc. are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Team Playing Tennis

Improve Your Overall Health with Tennis

Top Reasons to Play

Have you thought about your heart health lately? In February, the NHLBI encourages you to celebrate American Heart Month to get motivated to adopt heart-healthy behaviors. One of the ways you can take care of your heart and improve your health is by playing tennis with your friends and family.

In other words, join the 3 million new players who picked up a racquet for the first time in 2020 because tennis is the safest sport to play in order to maintain social distance and safety while having fun.1

Reasons to play:

Team Playing Tennis

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Research shows that we’re more successful at meeting personal health goals when we join forces with others. When we take care of our hearts as part of our self-care, we set an example for those around us to do the same.”

There are a multitude of reasons why playing tennis is a great activity to improve your health at any age. Whether it is your first time picking up a racquet, or if you are a seasoned player the heart health benefits are endless. 

Play tennis to improve your health by:

Family playing tennis
  • Get fit, lose weight and burn more calories: An hour of singles play can burn 580-870 calories. Put on your favorite fitness tracker, hit the tennis court and watch those calories sizzle away!2
  • Live longer: Playing just three hours/week will reduce your risk of heart disease 56%3
  • Strengthen your heart muscle and your bones: Compared to other sports, tennis players have the lowest incidence of cardiovascular disease4
  • Develop hand-eye coordination: Playing tennis involves several skills that all contribute to good hand-eye coordination. You can improve your agility, balance, coordination, reaction time, and more. 

Together we can celebrate American Heart Month with stronger and healthier hearts today by getting out to play. 

But wait there’s more. The advantages of playing tennis do not stop there. 

Additionally, the lifetime sport of tennis helps your mental and overall well-being by:

  • Reducing stress: Tennis helps you with physical, mental, social, and emotional challenges which increases your capacity to manage stress
  • Increasing brain power: From alertness to tactical thinking, tennis enhances the neural connections in your brain. Kids who play tennis regularly get better grades.5
  • Helping you learn to problem-solve: Tennis is a sport that is based on evaluating angles, geometry, and physics to get the best result, which translates into better problem-solving off the court6
  • Enjoying time with family and friends: Great for the whole family no matter what your age. With minimal equipment needed, it’s easy to meet up with  a friend to play or find one through the game
  • Developing teamwork and sportsmanship skills: From doubles play to team and league play, tennis develops your ability to communicate and work together
  • Improving social skills: Tennis outperforms all other sports in developing positive personality characteristics7

Ready to get out on the courts?

Man Playing Tennis

Most importantly, playing tennis is not just about the competition, it is about living your life to the fullest potential. Additionally, tennis can become part of your life at any age. So get started and gain a positive impact on your life immediately. During American Heart Month, inspire and motivate yourself and those you love to make heart-healthier choices as a regular part of your routine – go play tennis! 

We can’t wait to see you out on the courts! 

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12020 Physical Activity Council Participation (PAC) Report

2Oja, et al, Brit J Sports Med, 2016

3According to a 2016 Harvard University study

440-year study conducted by Johns Hopkins University

5 2013 USTA Study

6In a study in the late 1990s, several experts proposed that tennis, since it requires alertness and tactical thinking, may generate new connections between nerves in the brain and promote a lifetime of continuing brain development. This was supported in John Ratey’s book “Spark.” Ratey was quoted in USA Today as saying, “A heart-thumping game of tennis can keep the brain in top shape.”

7According to a study by Dr. Jim Gavin at Concordia University