Serving Off Court: Three Tips for Preparing Your Body for Summer Tennis

After missing almost the entire spring tennis season, players are eager to take to the local courts and get in some tennis this summer as the sport resumes in the Mid-Atlantic. However, long absences from tennis may mean approaching getting back onto the court differently than you may be used to, both physically and with the equipment you use. 

As part of our #ServeItForward campaign, USTA Mid-Atlantic has teamed up with some local experts and tennis business owners – featured on the #ServeItForward business list –   to bring you tips and info that can help you get back into tennis.  

First up, we talked with LaRue Cook, Owner/Managing Member of LEC Fitness, LLC. LaRue has more than 24 years of sports performance training experience and has served as consultant and trainer to various tennis, golf, fitness, and health organizations and programs such as Army-Navy Club and Aspen Hill Racquet Club. Additionally, he has written/contributed a number of articles for publications and organizations such as the International Tennis Performance Association, Tennis View Magazine, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. His articles covered topics such as Tennis Fitness and Conditioning, Injury Prevention for Athletes, Post-Rehab Training, and Strength and Conditioning for Female Athletes.

LaRue knows firsthand the powerful effect of post-rehabilitation strength and conditioning.  During his senior year of high school, LaRue was on track to play collegiate baseball when he suffered a rotator cuff injury. He was unable to continue playing and was in significant pain for years until he started post-rehabilitation strengthening exercises. The strengthening exercises specifically targeted the muscles surrounding his injury and allowed him to regain the strength and movement necessary to return to sports.

In the years since LaRue returned to playing sports, he took up tennis. 

“I primarily compete in USTA-sanctioned tournaments,” LaRue says.  Last year he represented the Mid-Atlantic Section at the NTRP National 50+ Championships in Surprise, AZ, and ranked in the Top 10 of the Mid-Atlantic Men’s 4.0 Adult [18+] Singles for more than 10 years.  

With all of LaRue’s experience as a tennis player and professional in sports training, USTA Mid-Atlantic asked him for a few tips for getting back out on the courts in the summer months and after an absence from regularly playing. 

Here are his top three tips: 

Tip #1: Warm up by doing a series of dynamic stretches 

During the summer tennis season, a common misconception is that the warm weather outside is an adequate warm-up for playing sports or exercise. However, your body does not function this way. The best and most effective way to warm up your major muscles and joints is to perform dynamic stretches.

Dynamic stretches are a series of repetitive motions that increase your range of motion and slightly increase your core temperature. These stretches are used for warming up the muscles and loosening the joints to prepare them for a strenuous workout. 

Try this quick, 5-minute warm-up consisting of side shuffles, backpedal jog, power skip plus reach, and walking knee to chest.

Tip #2: Do not underestimate how heat can affect your body 

Heat can be harmful during the summer tennis season and conditions ranging from muscle cramping to heat exhaustion can creep up on players. Therefore, it is especially important to stay hydrated by drinking at regular intervals to replace some of the fluids the body loses through sweating. Equally as important is to cover up with clothing and sunscreen. Light-colored, breathable clothing and sunscreen of at least 30 SPF will protect the skin and help your body stay cool while on the court.

Tip #3: Take it easy the first few times you return to court

During the last several months, many of us have not been as active as we normally would be and because of this, we may have all regressed in our ability to play tennis. Do not return to the court expecting that you will immediately perform at the same level of play you had prior to the pandemic shutdowns. Take it easy and be patient with your body as it gets used to being active again.

LaRue’s final nugget of advice:  “Remember, the most important piece of equipment you ALWAYS take out onto the court with you is your body. Tune it up through exercise and conditioning before trying to go ‘full tilt’ back into the competition!”

USTA Mid-Atlantic hopes that these excellent tips will help your body adjust to getting out to play! 

USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section as part of the recovery process we’ll all need.  Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community. 

Let us know how you or your tennis friends #ServeItForward by emailing hughes@mas.usta.com.

Physical Fitness Month: On Court Steps Challenge and Giveaway

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and what better way to celebrate than playing tennis! Spending time on the tennis court playing matches, practicing your serve and volleying the ball with friends and family can help you stay active this month and all year long. Also, research shows that tennis is better for your physical, mental and overall health, so now you have all the proof you need to pick that racquet up, get some tennis balls and get active!

USTA Mid-Atlantic has lots of ways you can add more tennis to your life. From adult tournaments and leagues to fun social tennis opportunities, there is always an opportunity to get on the court and play. To celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month we are sharing stories of how tennis helps people of all ages get and stay healthy and fit.

In honor of this special month, USTA Mid-Atlantic invites you to participate in a fun challenge and GIVEAWAY. We want to see how you are staying active in May through tennis. Get out there with your FitBit or Smartwatch on and then share photos on social media that show how many steps you took during your match or even while you are just hitting around and having fun! Use the hashtag #OnCourtSteps and tag USTA Mid-Atlantic!

This will be a fun and exciting way to see how players are constantly moving during the game. You can even make it a challenge with your teammates; make it a competition to see who took more steps during the match. Tennis is not only a game of focus, but a game of motion, and we encourage you to capture this motion by sharing the number of steps you took while playing the game.

To enter the GIVEAWAY, simply share a photo of your @FitBit or Smartwatch on Instagram or Facebook and tag @ustamas and in the caption or comments tell us how many #OnCourtSteps you got during your tennis match or outing. You will then be entered in the GIVEAWAY and have a chance to receive a USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis bag filled with recovery rollers, sunscreen, tennis balls, and other goodies. This offer is valued at $60 total.

The giveaway will run from Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 through Friday, May 31st, 2019 and a winner will be drawn at random and notified on June 3, 2019. The winner will be messaged directly through Facebook or Instagram in order to claim their prize.

We know that you are enjoying Physical Fitness month as much as we are by celebrating the benefits of tennis every week. Now it is time to share those moments with us on social media so we can celebrate together. Don’t miss this opportunity to enter this GIVEAWAY and have a chance to receive this awesome tennis goodie bag.

The specific rules of this giveaway are outlined below:

The contest will be announced on official USTA Mid-Atlantic social media platforms on May 15th and run through May 31, 2019.  Users can enter one of two ways:

1. On your public Instagram, post a photo and tag @ustamas and tell us how many steps you got during your tennis match or outing using #OnCourtSteps in the caption or comments.

2. On your public Facebook, post a photo and tag @ustamas and tell us how many steps you got during your tennis match or outing using #OnCourtSteps in the caption or comments.

  • Individuals can enter up to one time per week per platform. An individual may have eligible entries on multiple platforms within the same week. Each week is defined as beginning at 12:00am EST on Monday and ending at 11:59pm EST on Sunday. Week 1 of the contest will start May 15th. Week 2 of the contest will end at 11:59pm EST on May 19.
  • Among eligible entrants, one winner will be selected to receive a USTA Mid-Atlantic tennis bag and miscellaneous tennis gear with an equal value of $60. The winner will be selected by USTA Mid-Atlantic at random from eligible entrants.  
  • Winners will be notified via Facebook, or Instagram message and must respond with their address within 24 hours or a replacement winner will be chosen. By accepting the contest prize, winners agree to allow their photo and name to be shared on USTA Mid-Atlantic social media outlets.
  • OFFER VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. By submitting an entry, you agree to be bound by these rules and represent that you satisfy all eligibility requirements.
  • ELIGIBILITY: The Physical Fitness #OnCourtSteps  (the “Contest”) is open to residents of the United States over the age of 18. Employees and other representatives of USTA Mid-Atlantic Section (“USTA MAS”) or its affiliates, distributors, agencies, and members of each of their immediate families are not eligible to enter or win. Offer is void where prohibited or restricted by law.
  • TIMING: Winners will be selected from submissions received within two weeks. The contest will begin on May 15, 2019, and the contest will conclude on May 31, 2019. To be eligible for submissions, entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on May 31, 2019. USTA MAS reserves the right to select no winners.
  • SELECTION OF WINNERS: Winners will be chosen at the discretion of the USTA MAS employees, by selection and random drawing. USTA MAS reserves the right, at its discretion, to disqualify any entry that does not comply with the rules or to disqualify any individual (and their entry) who tampers with the entry process.
  • WINNER VERIFICATION: Potential winners will be notified by Facebook or Instagram message. If the winner is unreachable, ineligible or fails to claim the prize within forty-eight (48) hours after being contacted, such winner will forfeit the prize and the prize may be awarded to another winner, at the discretion of USTA MAS.
  • GENERAL CONDITIONS: Entrants grant to USTA MAS the right to use and publish their proper name online, in print or in any other media in connection with the Contest. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for USTA MAS to use winners’ names and likeness’ for advertising and promotional purposes without additional compensation unless prohibited by law. By entering, participants release and hold harmless USTA MAS, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, employees, and agents from any and all liability for injuries, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the Contest or any prize won. Promotion is subject to the USTA Privacy Policy found at https://www.usta.com/en/home/about-usta/who-we- are/national/usta-privacy- policy.html?intloc=footer  A list of winners can be made available upon request.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook or Instagram