Prepare Less, Play More: Tennis in Atlanta – The Problems

This subject came to me as I was in a personal training session with a few of my clients that play tennis.  It is unreal to me how much they actually play every week to begin with.  But when you add in the lack of getting themselves ready to play, most tennis players are sports injuries waiting to happen.  Being a former competitive athlete and fitness expert I cannot understand this concept of what I call not being prepared.  In the Atlanta recreational tennis community it is rampant and routine.  Here is a list of the 5 most common mistakes that make up this prepare less, play more mentality:


  1. Playing too much

This might be the biggest issue of them all when it comes to Atlanta tennis.  These players simply play too often.  Now the Atlanta has at least 3 competitive leagues (ALTA, T2, and USTA) and they each have various divisions including singles, doubles and mixed doubles.  The thing is the leagues run into each other and allow very little “off-season” time, which when it comes to sports performance training is the worse.  I have seen players that play matches 4 days out of the week, practice with their teams on 2 days and then have their personal lesson on their open day.  Every so often I hear of people playing 2 matches in the same day or 3 straight days of matches.  All of this repetitive motion is a big cause of overuse injuries like rotator cuff injuries and back problems.


  1. Not having playing condition equipment

This is a tricky issue and may be taken the wrong way.  I am not saying that people are not playing with the right equipment.  Trust me, most of these tennis players will have all of the latest and greatest tennis gear, rackets and accessories that they can buy.  The problem comes when they do not have the time to check their shoes or rackets and make sure they are in good condition.  With the amount of time they spend playing their shoes get worn out a lot quicker than normal and not making sure that they have the proper tread can lead to leg, foot and ankle injuries. The bad racket doesn’t lead to any injuries except maybe pride when they get whooped!


  1. Not properly warming up before matches

This problem is standard with all of the tennis community.   Players get to the match, sit and wait for their game to start, get on the court and hit a few ball back and forth with the other team then start to play.  At no point in time did they properly warm up their bodies. With all of the running and changing of directions that take place in a tennis match, to not go through a thorough movement prep program is insane.  Without proper warm-up the body will be more prone to sports injuries such as muscle strains and joint sprains.  Also, the quality of play at the start of the match will be compromised because they spend it trying to get loose.


  1. Playing in adverse conditions

The weather in Atlanta is a big issue across the board.  It is either too hot, on occasion too cold and we have one of the worse pollen rates in the country.  All these factors affect the conditions of all outdoor activities.  I have seen and heard of many players that will play 3-4 hours of tennis in bad conditions just because the team “needs the points”.  Now I am not saying that they need to blow the team off just because the weather is bad, but there does need to be some precaution taken in these instances.


  1. Not taking care of the body after playing

This may be the easiest problem to take care of and would probably lead to less overall injuries, but it is the most widely problems to date.  Most tennis players go through all the issues that I talked about previously then go home and don’t do anything for their bodies.  This is the most important time for recovery from putting their bodies through the rigors and stress of their matches. This is the time that the body needs to get ready for the next day and playing again.  Not taking care of issues that occur, both known and unknown can lead to major overuse injuries like tennis elbow and tendinitis.

One of the things that I tell all of my clients is that even though they watch and try to be like the professional tennis players, they do nothing like them.  They play way more than professionals and take less time off to recover or to just train. Watching a match we just see the players come out to the court and hit the ball, but what we don’t see is the hours of preparation that they do pre match. You will never see a player come out of the locker room stiff and not sweating, because they spend time getting their bodies ready to perform before they step on the court. Lastly, if you watch post interviews you will see just about every player with an ice pack on their shoulder or elbow.  This is to make sure that they cool down any inflammations that build up during their match.  In short you need to prepare more and play better.  Part II – Prepare less, play more:  Tennis in Atlanta – The solutions