A Physio’s guide to preparing for a Tennis Event like a Pro
Tennis competitions are excellent for improving your performance as a tennis player. How you prepare, as the tennis stars of Wimbledon know all too well, is the difference between winning and losing. Here are some top tips, from a physiotherapist’s perspective for how best to get ready for a big event.
If you follow these tips, this will reduce your chance of injury, improve your performance at the event and recovery afterwards, so you are in great shape for further events:
1. Include muscle and joint conditioning exercises in your training:
Your training should include dynamic muscle conditioning, plyometrics, strengthening and flexibility exercises, especially in the hip, knee and shoulder regions. This will help to prevent common tennis injuries found in tennis players; rotator cuff injuries, hip conditions, ankle sprains and muscle strains.
2. Wind down in the last 3 days before an event:
- Stop all competitive matches: to allow adequate recovery for your muscles and soft tissues so they are match-ready.
- Continue gentle physical activity: which may include lower intensity work-outs. Do some gentle strength and conditioning exercises. If possible, go to the event location and do light drills on the court. You should be very familiar with any workouts on these days and take them more gently than usual. This will enable your musculoskeletal system to be match-ready.
- Have a session of Vibration Therapy. This is very popular with top level sports people at ALO Physiotherapy who have sessions to help prepare and recover from events. They experience improvements in muscle endurance and quicker recovery following events.
- Allow plenty of time for rest and relaxation: this is absolutely vital for injury prevention and it is important to plan time to relax before an event. If you are experiencing stress in the lead up to an event, it can reduce your performance and increase your risk of injury. Stress raises adrenaline levels, which can reduce the visual field and cause eye blurring, it can also increase muscle tension and discomfort, placing them at greater risk of injury.
3. On the day of the event, warm up and prepare yourself mentally:
- Eat and drink sensibly: eat food you are familiar with at least two hours before exercising and have snacks you are used to having whilst playing tennis. Stay well hydrated prior to and during the event.
- Allow at least an hour to warm up: This will include warming up all joints, dynamic stretching and practicing all strokes. Stretches must include the hamstrings, groin and calves as these are the most commonly effected by muscle strains during sprints and dynamic changes of direction in the game. During the warm up, spend time preparing mentally, this may include spending 5-10 minutes on your own. Mental preparation can include relaxed breathing and focussing on a few key phrases to help your performance.