Prevention of back injuries is really important. At the JC Ferrero Academy we believe that the best treatment is always good prevention, so our team, with their knowledge about injuries in young athletes, works thoroughly in that direction.
Prevention of Spondylolysis (Picture 1) focuses on the right technique on the biomechanical movements of tennis, especially on the serves and overhead; the equipment used; the right rest breaks; and planning the correct training. In this regard, we work on the following preventative measures:
Back pain is one of the most common injuries in sports, including tennis. Young tennis players have a higher risk of lower back pain or structural injury compared with other athletes from the same age. Some studies that correlate back pain and tennis suggest that back injuries result in about a month and a half of lost training time. A study conducted by Hass on 143 professional tennis players concluded the back pain was responsible for 38% of those players not being able to compete in at least one tournament a year.
Even though there is still much to investigate about the back pain on young players, there is something we already know. Although there are several factors, generally these injuries are repetitive stress injuries. We know the fast and repeated rotation of the lower back during strokes and the hyperextension during serves can be associated with the high injury rates amongst tennis players.
To reach the elite levels of tennis, career planning begins as a junior player. Thus, we emphasize the following points:
1. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH A GOOD TEAM
Here is a detailed list of the professionals you should have on a team:
– COACH: This person is responsible of coordinating the team. It is essential to have the commitment and trust of the player, a good attitude, background and some experience.
– PHYSICAL TRAINER: Attitude is key. It is also essential to have experience. Having been a good trainer in other sports does not guarantee efficiency with tennis players. The trainer will have to reach the goals the coach established for the player in each phase.
– DOCTOR: This key team member needs experience treating tennis-related injuries. The doctor must have knowledge of the sport’s technique and must act quickly to resolve any physical problems.
– PHYSIOTHERAPIST: Experience in high-level sport is required as is good communication with the coach. The physiotherapist must not take on the responsibilities of the physical trainer and doctor.
Even once the team is set with the essential members, there are two common mistakes – first, family members who try to decide the goals or the ways to reach those, and second, the tendency to change the team or part of it if the objectives are not reached in a short period of time.
In an effort to avoid these problems, I would recommend players evaluate the coach’s disposition and commitment, and also the volume of work. The chemistry between the player and coach is also very important. In that case I would let the coach take the team’s decisions.
In this article we will try to clarify and define why tennis players need a strong core to be able to hit harder and with more control. We will breakdown exercises that should help increase the strength and elasticity in that part of the body.
First we need to understand that tennis is a sport that uses the entire body to generate power – the foundation of power is the core, then we add the racquet and ball. Strength travels from the bottom to the top of the body, and we call it the kinetic chain. A kinetic chain is a group of elements that produce the movement (body segments, with its muscles, joints and nerves) and offer strength. Kinetic chains can be open or closed, but we will not get into details because we do not need to understand kinematics in tennis strokes.
Once we understand this, we can see how a weak core could break the power transfer from the bottom to the top parts of the body, resulting in a slower and less powerful stroke. We also should note that back injuries are common amongst tennis players. That is why we need to work on strengthening the back.
Here we describe some exercises you can do. It is also important to start with a good warm-up and to finish any type of core work doing mobility exercises.
1- The first — and most important — exercise will help prevent injuries and stabilize the entire core. We use isometric strength exercises (static exercises where the muscle doesn’t change length) like front and lateral planks.
Example: Lying face down on your stomach, you will press up until arms are straight, like a push-up. Hold that position and activate the whole core. How long the position is held will depend on the level of the player and the timing of the workout. This type of workout can be done the entire year but will be used more during the harder weeks of training when we cannot workout much because we need to avoid fatigue so we do not affect our game.