I can not take credit for this month's column. However, my sincerest thanks go out to my colleagues that contributed their sport science and medical tips from around the world. Some of the world's top tennis sports medicine and science practitioners and researchers contributed their favorite tennis tips for you. Let's see what they had to say!
Returning To Play After Tennis Elbow
Contributed by Babette Pluim, M.D., President of the Society for Tennis Medicine and Science, Physician for the Royal Netherlands Lawn Tennis Association, Member International Tennis Federation Medical Commission and Wheelchair Tennis Medical Commission
"When hitting backhands, try to hit the ball in front of the body, so it is
easier to fully use the shoulder and trunk and to stabilize the wrist. When the
ball impacts the racquet, the wrist should be straight. The forearm extensor
muscles are better able to handle the shock when the wrist is straight than
when it is flexed. Try to use the forearm for control instead of strength. The
application of strength should come mainly from the shoulder and trunk muscles,
which are much stronger than the forearm muscles."
Loosen that Grip!
Contributed by Duane Knudson, Ph.D., Member United States Tennis Association Sport Science Committee, Associate Professor California State University, Chico Physical Education and Exercise Department
"For many years tennis players were encouraged to firmly grip the racket to
increase the 'power' of their strokes. Surprisingly, this is not good advice
because tennis impacts are so short (3 - 5 milliseconds) that there is not
enough time for hand forces to substantially increase the force transmitted to
the ball. A tight grip at impact may also be a problem because the shock wave
and frame vibration after impact is more effectively transmitted to the hand
and arm. A very firm grip allows the forearm muscles and their common tendon
attachment to absorb much of the force of impact that, over time, may lead to
tennis elbow. A simple technique point players can incorporate into their game
is to grip the racket with moderate pressure. The speed of your shot depends
most on the speed of the racket and where the ball impacts the strings on the
Fast To Slow Court
Contributed by Howard Brody, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of physics, USTA Sport Science Committee, ITF Technical Commission, Advisor PTR
"When going from a fast to slow court, reduce string tension a bit and hit
the ball farther out on the head."
Graphic Courtesy and Copyright Howard Brody
Mishits On Heavy Topspin
Contributed by Simon Goodwill, Ph.D., University of Sheffield, Sports Engineer Specializing In Tennis
"A tip aimed at players who are trying to hit more topspin on their shots, using their old racket which hasn't been restrung for over a year. Consider getting your racket restrung to a tension of say 60 lbs, anymore would probably lead to the racket feeling boardy. (Whilst this is not a high tension, your old racket will have lost a lot of tension over time so you will notice a difference.) The stringbed stiffness of the restrung racket will be higher, and this will reduce the time that the ball is in contact with strings. This will reduce the likelihood of mishits when heavy top spin shots are attempted, which involves the racket being 'whipped' over the ball."
Contributed by Carol Otis, M.D., USTA Sport Science Committee, www.sportsdoctor.com, past chief medical officer for t
"Remind players to apply a sun block at least 20 minutes
before getting to the court, apply it to forgotten areas, such as the
back of the neck and calves, and tops of ears. Reapply every two hours.
Don't forget to put sun protection on your lips as well!"
Fluid, Salt and Carbs
Contributed by Michael F. Bergeron, Ph.D., FACSM, USTA Sport Science Committee, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Prevention Institute
"Especially when playing tennis in hot weather, be sure to take in enough
fluid, salt, and carbohydrates in order to rehydrate, have the energy to
play well, and reduce the risk for heat illness."
The amounts are really individual. However, here are some references:
Prevention Of Heat Stress
Contributed by Babette Pluim, MD, President of the Society for Tennis Medicine and Science, Physician for the Royal Netherlands Lawn Tennis Association, Member International Tennis Federation Medical Commission and Wheelchair Tennis Medical Commission
Before play, drink 500- 600 ml (18-20 oz) of fluid two to three hours prior,
then again another 200 - 300 ml (8-10 oz) ten to twenty minutes before
exercise. Your urine should be clear before a match.
During play, drink 200 - 300 ml (8-10 oz) every ten to twenty minutes (during
change-overs). Start drinking during the warm-up and do not wait till you feel
When first trying sports drinks, do so in practice and training to assess
taste and gastro-intestinal response, and to find the one you prefer. It is
possible to "train" drinking during practice; the body adapts to it and fluid
uptake during high intensity exercise will gradually increase.
You can make your own sport drink by mixing 3 gram (0.5 teaspoon) salt and
60-80 gram (15-20 cubes) sugar in one liter of water.
Strength Training And Rest For Ages 8-15
Contributed by Carol Otis, M.D., USTA Sport Science Committee, www.sportsdoctor.com, past chief medical officer for the WTA
Begin limited strength training - Focus on
developing core stability, endurance and
basic athletic skills like agility, balance and
coordination. Teach dynamic warm-up and
its importance before practice. A firm foundation
in the core muscles (trunk, hips,
abdomen and lower back) is the basis for all
future strength and power development.
Always insist on proper technique.
Establish periods of rest and recovery -
Most children should have at least two days off
each week to help the body as it grows. Rest
will help to avoid over-training and consolidate
the gains made during training. Plan times
away from tennis to coincide with high demand
times at school. Also, teach about proper
nutritional recovery following competition or
Take time now to form a sports medicine
team - Connect players with sports medicine
professionals as part of their support team:
physician, nutritionist, conditioning specialist
and sport psychologist. Use these professionals
to lead workshops for players and parents.
What type of training is recommended for
young adolescents off-court? They need additional
work beyond playing tennis to develop
general cardio-respiratory fitness. So, add running,
or other more aerobic sports like soccer
or basketball, to your training. Some training
in different sports will help develop coordination,
speed, and flexibility and balance the
body from the one-sided demands of tennis. It
also continues to build the player's body of
knowledge about competing.
I'd like to thank my colleagues SO MUCH for helping me produce this month's Tennis SET column.
Until Next Month ... Jani