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.

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

Tips for Traveling with Tennis Racquets

Whether You are Going Near or Far

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

To say it lightly, it has been a long year for sure. Having to stay inside for most of 2020 may have helped our bread-making game, but not our tennis game.

Tennis Racquets - ways you can use them while traveling

As states begin to reopen, and travel becomes safe again, we are so excited to travel to our favorite tennis courts, tournaments, and professional events around the US.

Whether you are traveling to one town over or if you’re going to a beachy destination, forgetting your racquets while traveling for any excursion is not an option.

So, let’s talk about tips for traveling with tennis racquets.

Flying to your destination?

While the TSA does not list a tennis racquet as prohibited, they do recommend the following: “For sporting goods that are not prohibited, you should check with the airline to ensure that sports equipment will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane.” Not willing to risk carrying on? Your best bet is checking your racquets in a hard-sided piece of luggage or stacking more than one racquet together in your soft-sided baggage in between your clothes to lessen the risk of damage.

Driving to your destination?

Packing them up shouldn’t be a problem, but don’t forget that your strings and frame don’t do well in extreme hot or cold, so don’t forget to take your racquets inside between those practice sessions.

Traveling by train?

Not knowing whether you will be able to store your racquet next to you, above you, or in front of you makes us all a little anxious. Would you agree? That is why we recommend packing your racquets in a hard-sided piece of luggage or stacking more than one racquet together in your soft-sided baggage in between your clothes to lessen the risk of damage.

Want to know the best part? You’re not limited to using your racquet only on the tennis courts while traveling. There are endless ways you can put that racquet to good use. Let’s consider some other uses for those racquets in a pinch while traveling*:

  • Going somewhere buggy? How about your racquet doubling as a fly swatter!
  • Traveling into snow zones? How about treading through a few feet with tennis racquet snowshoes on?
  • Headed to the lake without paddles? How about swapping in your old racquet to get you back to shore. Note: It’ll probably be more effective as a paddle if you leave the case on.
  • Decoration! Hang those ornaments or Holiday cards off your strings for a cute decoration in a pinch!

*We have never tried using a tennis racquet for any of these activities, but if you do – please send us photos!

Tennis Racquet Snow Shoes

With these tips for traveling with tennis racquets, you’re ready to go anywhere with your tennis gear! So where are you going first?

Interested in learning more about tennis in the Mid-Atlantic? Visit www.usta.com/midatlantic to find your place on the court or click here to learn more about the positive impact tennis creates in communities across the Section.

Year-end Ratings: What You Need to Know

Due to the disruption in League play from COVID-19 USTA has made the decision to not publish 2020 League year-end ratings. This means that your current league rating will transfer to the 2021 League season. Continue reading to learn how dynamic ratings are calculated and what that means for tennis players like you.  

When the USTA League championship year ends, tennis players everywhere anxiously and eagerly await a most highly anticipated time of the year – the moment year-end ratings are published! This is when you’ll know if  your NTRP stayed the same or is adjusted and that can mean a lot for your tennis game.

We know this is an important moment for tennis players and having helpful information to understand ratings is essential.

Adult NTRP ratings are used in leagues and tournaments to group players of similar skill levels; for general information on the rating system, click here.

How are dynamic ratings calculated?

A player’s dynamic ratings, calculated after each match, are not solely contingent on record. They are calculated by an algorithm that considers your rating, your opponent’s rating, the expected outcome of the match, and the actual outcome of the match.

What is the difference between a dynamic rating and a year-end rating?

  • Dynamic ratings are not disclosed to players, whereas year-end ratings are published annually at NTRP levels.
  • Dynamic ratings are expressed to the one-hundredth of a point, whereas year-end ratings are expressed only to the one-half point.
  • Dynamic ratings are calculated regularly and based on an average of the current match plus the previous three dynamic ratings, whereas year-end ratings are based on a combination of a player’s cumulative dynamic rating during the season and a comparison to an appropriate benchmark player.

Why did [insert USTA employee] decide to change my rating?

All NTRP ratings are generated by a very smart computer using a very advanced algorithm. Whether your NTRP level increases, decreases or stays the same, no humans are involved in creating that year-end rating.

My NTRP has changed. How do I find a team at my new level?

We can help! USTA Mid-Atlantic offers Tennis Connect, a service that can match up players and captains.  Just fill out the form here. We’ll help you find the right match for a team in your area!

How do I appeal my rating?

As a Computer (C) rated player, the way to appeal your rating is online through TennisLink. When you do, TennisLink checks to see if you are within the appeal range.  This is a scale based on your dynamic ratings and the number of matches you’ve played in the most recent Championship year.  You will receive an immediate response (Granted or Denied).  If your appeal is granted, TennisLink will automatically adjust your rating level.

Here is how to appeal:

  • Log in to Tennislink and click the USTA League tab (across the top and to the left)
  • To the right of “Welcome!”, look for your NTRP Level
  • Under that, click “Appeal Rating Level”
  • Select Appeal rating level “Up or Down”
  • You will receive an immediate response at the top of the page

Things to know:

  • There is no appeal committee, thus no written letter of explanation. It’s all based on match data and numbers.
  • Appealing will NOT reveal your rating in the 100th of a point.
  • When an appeal has been granted, that player is eligible for dynamic disqualification

I see my ratings on other websites.  Are they the same as USTA?

The USTA posts the official NTRP ratings on TennisLink, located at tennislink.usta.com. This is the only public website where official NTRP ratings authorized by the USTA are posted and can be obtained.

The USTA is aware of other sites that suggest they provide NTRP ratings or player statistics and skill analysis. Any alleged NTRP related information available on these other sites is not endorsed by the USTA, is not accurate, and cannot be relied upon.

I’ve been away from tennis for a while, how do I get a rating?

If you have never had an NTRP Rating or it’s been a few years since you’ve played USTA Leagues, your first step will be to Self-Rate online through TennisLink.  

  • Log in to Tennislink
  • On “Welcome!” page under the USTA League tab
  • Look for “Find NTRP Rating Info”
  • Under that, click on the blue “Self-Rate” button 
  • A pop-up window will appear with the questionnaire
  • Based on your answers you will be assigned a minimum self-rating
  • You have the option to accept that rating, choose a higher rating, or request to appeal for a lower rating

I just really want to talk to someone about my NTRP. Who do I call?

Adult league tennis players in the Mid-Atlantic Section can call or email Adult Programs Coordinator Cassie Nocera. She is your go-to on all things year-end ratings and NTRP. She is totally cool with you reaching out!

Hmmm, alright you’ve answered my questions. Got any fun facts to share?

Funny you should ask, we really do have fun facts about NTRP and year-end ratings!

  • You need three valid matches to generate a year-end rating
  • Your Computer rating does not change during the year. It stays the same until the next year-end.
  • Nearly 81.8 percent of Mid-Atlantic players will NOT have their rating change at year-end.
  • Last year, when year-end ratings were published, TennisLink received 5.4 million page visits over a four day period.
  • The highest rating on the NTRP scale is 7.0. Note: This does not mean two 3.5 players could go toe-to-toe with Rafael Nadal, but it sure would be entertaining to watch.