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! 

______________________________________

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.

Handle It: Addressing Common Tennis Rules and On-Court Questions

Nothing is more frustrating than when you are having a great tennis match and a question comes up about a rule that stops your game or makes you lose focus. USTA Mid-Atlantic is here to help! We talked with our expert official from the Mid-Atlantic Section, Dzarr Daniels, to find out a few concerns/questions and tips for handling them. These scenarios are good ones to know whether you are playing competitively in USTA League play or for recreation and fun.

  1. Can I call foot faults in non-officiated tennis matches? Yes you can – on deliberate ones where your opponent’s foot is clearly over or on the line as they’re serving the ball.  In a respectful way, you should inform your opponent and request that they monitor their feet before they serve.
  2. Can Player A call a double bounce on opponent Player B?  No, you can’t. Only the player B while attempting to hit the ball can make that call.  And a let should never be played. If player A prematurely makes a call for them they still will lose the point.
  3. What if doubles partners disagree about a ball being out? In a doubles match Team A was serving to their opponents on Team B.  After Team A served to their opponents one player from Team B called the ball “out” but their partner stated the ball was good.   Team B wanted to play a “let.”  No let is played. Team A subsequently won the point since their opponents saw different versions of the ball. They would have to weigh in the favor of the ball being “in” and the point goes to Team A!

For more information about common issues and “Friend at Court,” questions you can also check out this great resource from USTA, “What’s the Call.”

And if you are looking for ways to spend more time in the sport you love, give consideration to officiating. Officiating can be a great way to deepen your involvement with tennis and gain new experiences and appreciation for the sport. New officials are always in need. Find out more about getting on the path to officiating now. You can also contact Bonnie Vona at USTA Mid-Atlantic about becoming an official in the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section.

Gearing Up for League Tennis: The GEAR (Giveaway)

From that pop and hiss of a fresh can of tennis balls to the feel of a new racquet, to the latest tennis apparel trends, having the gear to get your season of USTA Mid-Atlantic Leagues started right is just as essential as it is to making sure you’ve got your rating and registration all taken care of!

Turn sound on! ^

There’s just something alluring to having new tennis gear items in your bag at the start of the season. When your tennis gear is ready, you’re another step closer to fun competition.

We’ve been getting you prepared for the season with our “Gearing Up” series of articles. So far, we’ve covered:

Now, let’s talk a little bit about gear. Any tennis player knows that your basic essentials include a tennis racquet, tennis balls, the proper shoes and attire, and towels or items to keep you dry/cool. A bag is helpful to keep everything organized, too, and don’t forget a water bottle. You may want some additional accessories such as grip tape, vibration dampeners for your strings, and of course if you are playing outside, protection from the sun (hats, visors, sunglasses) and sunscreen.  

And you’ll want to proudly rep the Mid-Atlantic Section this league season, so you’ve got to get some gear in our official “color wars” color for 2019: ROYAL BLUE!

To go a little more in depth, there are excellent articles on USTA.com that have helpful information about tennis gear, from selecting the right racquet, to the importance of the strings in your racquet, to buying the right shoes. Check them out here.

As tennis enthusiasts ourselves, we love new gear just as much as you do! So we want to get you “geared up” and ready to play with a fun GIVEAWAY to kick-off the spring adult tennis league season.

You have a chance to WIN our Gearing Up prize pack that includes tennis strings from @MainandCrosses, 10 grips from @AlienPros, a case of tennis balls, a foam roller, and $100 in  gift cards. To enter, simply leave a comment on this Facebook post telling us “I signed up for my local spring league” and let us know which one. The contest is open now, March 6, 2019 and will run through Friday, March 22, 2019. One winner will be drawn at random at the end of the contest period; good luck!

Read the official rules here.

What tennis gear do you have in your tennis bag? Let us know on Social Media. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and subscribe to the blog.

The 2019 calendar is here for you to see which leagues are registering in your area. Contact the listed Local League Ambassador for your local area or our Tennis Connect service to get playing!