Common Mistakes with Kids Tennis TrainingApr 15, 2021
Yes, it’s correct we are really disappointed. It really brings us down as Tennis Trainers.
It’s so disappointing to see so many young tennis kids get injured.
Over the past year, we have seen kids as young as 12 years with tears in rotator cuffs, young tennis kids having surgery, major tendonitis issues, and frightening stress fractures in shoulders and lower backs. We are seeing more and more young athletes present with limited flexibility, stability, and strength.
In a nutshell, what parents, coaches, and players need to know is;
“There is no short-term fix….. there is no quick fix pill, if you are not willing to do the correct things at the beginning, you are setting young athletes up for disaster. That combined with early specialization, young players doing more than bodies can withstand.
This is one of the major issues causing many injuries in young players. We are not seeing as many athletically diverse tennis players as we use to. Most young serious players just play tennis and are not active in other sports.
It is hard to point the finger at any one thing. Education (learning what to do) and attitude (being consistent and diligent) are really the 2 areas you need to focus on when it comes to getting injury prevention right.
So that is why we are here to EDUCATE YOU!
Then it is up to you to apply it!
Here are 8 tennis fitness mistakes we hope you don't make when working with tennis kids.
8 Tennis Fitness Mistakes
1. HYPER MOBILITY/FLEXIBILITY
Being hypermobile or hyper-flexible with not enough stability or strength around joints is a problem, instability is a major issue with developing bodies, add in hypermobility and it is not a good scenario. We see some players present with hypermobility. These players generally enjoy stretching and not doing stability and strength work.
It is important to strengthen the smaller stabilizing muscles that support joints. People get stuck on working for the larger muscle groups without stabilizing the joint. This leads to “Joint instability” The good news is this can be managed with the correct tennis training program
2. REDUCED MOBILITY/FLEXIBILITY
Having a lack of mobility/flexibility around joints leads to joint dysfunction and restricted joint movement, this is possibly the most common issue you find with young players. Injuries like tendonitis and muscle tears occur when we have restricted mobility/flexibility issues.
We have had kids come to us, as young as 10 years old who cannot even get close to touching their toes. We find that applying a simple foam roller, stretch, and mobility program make a dramatic shift in a matter of 3-4 weeks. You can check one of the tennis mobility programs we recommend here
3. FOUNDATIONAL STRENGTH
Stop jumping the gun. You cannot build a house on crappy foundations! Having an adequate strength base is crucial for power development, injury prevention, and recovery. From 20 years as tennis fitness trainers, we can tell you it takes time to build strength.
In fact, it is a constant climb, it never ends for an athlete, the problem is some players never start the climb. There are too many young players on the court who are not strong enough to cope with the demands they place on themselves. This is the main reason we see players get injured and stop playing! I am 100% confident that most players would do the work if they knew what they needed to do. We developed this strength development program for this exact reason.
Watching the new WOW tennis exercise on the internet and doing it without knowing WHY and HOW can cause some serious harm. Doing the right amount of repetitions, sets and loads is just as important as doing the exercise itself. Getting the combination right is the key! Exercises must be age-appropriate and complement the sport they are playing.
5. INCORRECT LIFTING TECHNIQUE
Not learning the correct technique at a young age is damaging for athletes. This can cause problems for the future. If you have incorrect form and technique from a young age, it can be very hard to retrain the body to get it right. Get it right from the start!
6. LIFTING TOO HEAVY TOO SOON
Young athletes should never lift the load (weights, dumbbells, etc) like adults. This can cause long-term issues. Even if you think a young athlete can handle it at the time, there is a good chance excessive load will cause long-term complications. What happens with excessive loading is, the athlete's technique diminishes and they are compromised.
7. TENNIS SPECIFICITY
It is important to follow training systems that are related to the sport the athlete plays. Tennis involves a lot of loading (absorbing force) change of direction and rotation, just to name a few things. Athletes need to be able to allow their bodies to adapt to the demands by doing specific tennis exercises to improve and protect their bodies.
8. COACHES CALL
Having tennis coaches with no tennis strength and conditioning experience takes their players in the gym to lift weights with the wrong loads and poor form. Even getting players doing lots of burpees, jumps and pushups can be dangerous, if they are not physically up to it. Not every young player should be trained equally.
Some 12-year-old kids cannot do a functional push up let alone 20 in a row (alarm bells). Everyone needs to know their place in the team, whether that be a parent, coach, or friend. Do not put young athletes at risk if you are not qualified and experienced.
Here are some solutions:
1. ASSESSING - Having a Tennis Fitness Assessment by a professional in order to determine areas of weakness (Mobility/Stability). Work out their strength and weaknesses and then you can get a plan moving forward.
2. IMPROVING MOBILITY/FLEXIBILITY – If your player has limited flexibility/mobility, there is no doubt, compensation will occur within the body. You need to have good mechanics and a good range of motion in all joints. Some players can compensate for a week, a month, or even a year, but eventually, the body will weaken and break down. Getting a thorough mobility/ flexibility and stability plan for a young athlete should always be the first step.
3. CORRECT TECHNIQUE AND FORM - Before attempting to lift the load, athletes need to be able to perform the 6 primal movement patterns – Squat, Lunge, Bend, Pull, Push, and Rotate. These fundamental movement patterns are crucial to get right at a young age.
4. IMPROVE STABILITY – If you want longevity for a young athlete (which should be our goal) you need to protect and strengthen those smaller muscles around their joints. Work inner (smaller) muscles first and then progress to strengthening the outside (larger) muscles.
5. IMPROVE STRENGTH – Progression is the key. Start with basic stability and strength exercises specific for tennis and not to mention for their age and then progress them. E.g. Static Lunge into Walking Lunge into a Multistep lunge. Then once accomplished add load.
We are so so passionate about helping and educating tennis coaches, players, and parents and we said to ourselves, we can do two things...either sit back and cross our fingers and hope players can get educated and the correct advice from somewhere or we can do something to help prevent the above issues from happening.
So we decided to do them later.
I think by now you realize how passionate and at times frustrated we are about this. I can tell you from having created over 20 online tennis fitness programs, it isn't easy. Online programming is challenging, but we have stuck with it because we know we can make a difference by preventing injuries and boosting a player's chances of reaching their potential, through education and effective programming.
We have developed a very effective Junior Tennis Strength Development Program (Foundation Program)
For less than half the cost of a tennis lesson, you can get started today.