“Tennis is a racquet game in which the players alternately hit the ball over a net into the opposing half of the court using special rackets. This sport, which was originally considered to be rather elitist, has developed over time into a popular popular sport”. (Wikipedia, 06.2021)
When I read these lines on Wikipedia, I really had to laugh heartily. It is hardly possible to describe a sport as athletic and fast as tennis in a more boring way. This has prompted me to formulate a somewhat more timely description for you. I also have some tips on how to get fit for your next match.
Then to now - a sport for winners
It's hard to believe that tennis, in a simpler form, was practiced as a sport and pastime as early as the 15th century. As early as 1877 there were the first championships in the now famous Wimbledon in London.
Olympic tennis was unfortunately dropped from the program in 1925, but resumed in 1988, to the delight of the ever-growing tennis community. With its current popularity, it has also become an integral part of the Olympic discipline.
Especially in the last few years, tennis has experienced a strong upswing nationally and internationally. In Austria, certainly also thanks to the numerous successes of Dominic Thiem , who is making big strides towards tennis Olympus. After all, in addition to important tournament wins, such as the US Open, he also has victories over legends such as Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer . These are very impressive achievements. As most know, Nadal and Federer have been topping the rankings alongside Novak Djokovic for many years.
Tennis - the ultimate power sport for body and mind
I only know of a few sports that so intensively demand a combination of concentration, speed and endurance from the players over several hours.
You're there longer than at a soccer game and you have to play the match alone: you have no chance of being substituted and no teammates to support you if you're having a bad day.
So it's one against one. This means that in competition you can only rely on yourself. The fans donate the only backing.
Mental strength is therefore an incredibly important component in this sport. It combines trust in oneself and in one's own abilities, paired with physical performance, playful technique and cognitive presence . That's what makes winners. That's why an athlete like Novak Djokovic, at a (sportingly speaking) old age of 34 years - almost with ease - sweeps the strong newcomers off the field.
Unfortunately, athletes who do not prepare for this strain often suffer from long-term injuries. And by that I don't just mean the "good old" tennis elbow. Torn ligaments and wear and tear on the joints are often a reason why amateur and professional athletes have to throw in the towel. But there are several ways to counteract this.
My tips: This is how you get your body ready for your success on the pitch!
My many years of practical experience in performance coaching of Austrian tennis professionals shows me that almost all ambitious tennis players end up in physiotherapy sooner or later. But we could absorb a lot through prevention and prepare our bodies for the stress on the pitch.
1 - Train your muscles
Additional training of heavily used joints such as knees, elbows and shoulders should be part of the standard program in the gym for tennis players. In this way, muscles can also be built up in areas that are not specifically strengthened by training on site. Overloads are easier to avoid.
An example here would be working on external rotation of the shoulders . This strengthens the back of the shoulders, which are usually too weak, and relieves the front.
This also applies to the knee ! Surrounding small muscle groups can be strengthened with ease, you don't even need additional weights. The teardrop-shaped vastus medialis directly at the knee and the back of the thigh are particularly important here. They help stabilize the knee.
2 - Take your time and know your limits
It is important that you give your body time to grow with your motivation. Above all, keep in mind that tendons and ligaments need much longer to become stronger than our muscles. Knowing your own performance limits and not constantly overexerting yourself is therefore just as much a part of injury prevention. Even inexperienced players manage to get through a Sunday tournament day with friends in the club. But if the body is not prepared for it in the long term, a painful week in the office often follows.
3 - Eat like a superstar: The “Djokovic recipe for success”
Not only in the gym you can prepare the body for stress! You can also do a lot of good for yourself with your diet. You can see that again with my favorite example Novak Djokovic. Djokovic is an advocate of the Paleo diet, or Mediterranean diet . That means he eats lots of fish, seafood, meat, vegetables, high-quality carbohydrates from fruit, sweet potatoes, and gluten-free grains like rice or buckwheat. Supplemented with high-quality fats from olive oil and nuts, your body will find valuable nutrients to perform and more importantly to recover quickly.
4 - Get the support you need
However, our everyday life is often anything but gentle on body and mind! A high workload, obligations in private life and "on top" intensive training on the tennis court - "to compensate", as the saying goes.
In this case, our body needs more nutrients in order to be able to keep up with our performance requirements. As already mentioned, joints, tendons and ligaments are particularly challenged in tennis.
Collagen is known for its positive effect on connective tissue and cartilage. Frankincense and MSM are popular for their anti-inflammatory effects. B vitamins can help you stay focused on court and take away stage fright during important matches. Also note that hyaluronic acid and glucosamine can have a positive effect on cartilage degradation.