Yes, it’s correct we are really disappointed. It really brings us down.
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, tendonitis in the elbow, wrist, Achilles, and frightening stress fractures in the shoulders and lower back. 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.
I know this might be harsh but it’s fair to say this, as we have been working with tennis players for over 20 years (on tour and in academies). We saw it first hand, working in Spain, with kids that did the correct things Svetlana Kuznetsova and Juan Monaco to name a few. Both at a young age did the correct things to prevent injuries. Now, look at them, reaching the upper limits of the game.
Now, we don’t want to point the finger at any one thing or anyone. 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!
1. HYPER MOBILITY/FLEXIBILITY
Being hypermobile or hyper-flexible with not enough stability or strength around joints is a problem. 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”
2. REDUCED MOBILITY
Having a lack of mobility/flexibility around joints leads to joint dysfunction and restricted joint movement, this is a common issue you find with injuries like tendonitis. (we have had kids come to us, as young as 10 years old and when bending forward, they can barely touch past their knees)
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. There are too many players on the court who are not strong enough to cope with the demands. This is the main reason we see players get injured and stop playing!
Watching the new WOW 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 are just as important as doing the exercise. Getting the combination right is the key!
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 taking their players in the gym getting them to lift weights with the wrong loads and poor form. 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 the 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 breakdown. 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.
Our passion is to help tennis players of all levels. For additional help from Tennis Fitness please complete the contact us form below.