Tennis Fitness: Learn From the Best in the Game

Novak Đoković at 2007 US Open
Image via Wikipedia

After defeating Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open on Monday night, Novak Djokovic thanked the members in his box, who consisted of his family, friends, coach, physiotherapist (physical therapist), and fitness trainer.  Despite having a shoulder injury going into the tournament, Djokovic went on to claim his 3rd Grand Slam title this season while only dropping two matches the entire year.

What is Novak doing differently?

He has changed to a low carb, gluten-free diet, he spends hours in a CVAC pod (pressure chamber used for recovery), and he has teamed up with tennis professionals, physical therapists, doctors, nutritionists, sports psychologists, and fitness coaches to maximize his physical and mental capabilities.  This type of “team approach” has allowed Djokovic to have one of the greatest years we have ever seen.

In fact, this “team approach” is becoming a popular trend among the top players in the world.  When you look at the top four tennis players in the men’s game today (Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray), you can’t help but notice the one thing they all have in common– an entourage of professionals in their box.

How can you take a “team approach” to improve your tennis game?

You can start by speaking with qualified professionals in their respective fields.  Here at Baudry Therapy Center we offer a tennis fitness program that focuses on developing the physical aspects of your tennis game.  You can enhance your shot making capabilities and footwork by improving your flexibility, strength, coordination, power, agility, and endurance.  In the process of improving your performance, you will also decrease the risk of common tennis injuries.

A physical therapist or fitness coach is a vital aspect of the “team approach”.  Stay tuned for more posts discussing other aspects, including nutrition, hydration, tennis instruction, sports psychology, and more!

For more lessons like these, follow Baudry Therapy Center on Twitter or like Baudry Therapy on Facebook.

Kevin P. Dessauer, PT, DPT

Reduce Tennis Injuries with the Right Equipment

reducing tennis injury

Which racquet is right for you?

The type of racquet you use on the tennis court can play a huge role in the amount of stress you put on the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder.  Injuries such as wrist tendonitis, tennis elbow, and rotator cuff tears can all be in part caused by the racquet you use.  Here are a couple things to consider, when choosing a tennis racquet:

Larger racquet head! Contacting the ball in the center of the racquet instead of the outer frame will reduce the amount of stress on the arm.  A professional can get by with using a smaller racquet head, but a beginner may want to use a larger racquet head to assure clean ball contact and decrease stress to the arm.

Ease Up! Gripping the racquet too tight prior to ball impact increases the vibration load on the arm.  Try lightening up on your grip.

Just ease the tension! When getting your racquet strung, try reducing the string tension. This will allow the ball to spend more time on the strings during contact, which decreases the average stress on the arm with each stroke.

Heavier or lighter? A heavier racquet will place less stress on the arm in terms of initial shock created by impact.  However, a heavier racquet will require more muscle activation to create racquet head speed.  So a lighter racquet may be preferred for a beginner adult or junior player.

So which racquet will you choose? When in doubt, “demo” a few racquets from your favorite tennis store in order to find the perfect one for you.  Get some input from your tennis pro. They will be able to provide some valuable advice based on your style of game.

Just remember, a racquet that has a larger head, is of moderate weight, strung at moderate tension, and gripped loosely before and during impact combines the best characteristics to decrease the risk of injury from the interaction of the ball hitting the racquet.

Final thought! A tennis racquet is just one factor in reducing the risk of common overuse injuries. The forearm and arm muscles have a large capacity to absorb the stresses placed on the arm as long as those muscles are strong and flexible.  A good tennis strength and conditioning program can be helpful in addressing those muscles that need work.  Proper stroke technique and an appropriate training schedule are also important factors that reduce the risk of injury as well improve your tennis performance.

If you have any questions about tennis health and fitness please call us at 504-841-0150 or follow us on Twitter @BaudryTherapy.

– Kevin Dessauer, DPT

Some of the information from this article came from the USTA Sports Science Committee White Paper on Tennis Technique and Injury Prevention.