Seven load management tips to help prevent tennis injuries

Inconsistent training and exercise loads is one of the most common reasons why tennis players get injured. Many tennis injuries can be avoided by adhering to the following guidelines:

1. Establish a basic fitness level

Continue to play tennis during the off-season 2–3 times a week, and include basic strength and conditioning exercises in your weekly programme. Consistent and moderate training levels will protect you at the start of the season and when playing tournaments.

2. Minimise the week-to-week changes

Build up training load gradually and have a longer preparation period—at the start of the season, when entering a new training programme or when resuming play after injury.

3. Try to avoid peaks in load

This may be difficult—tennis is very unpredictable with long and short games, and matches that last two to three sets (or even five sets in Men's Grand Slams and Davis Cup). Think twice before signing up for more than one division in a tournament (e.g, under 18 and adult) or before signing up for both singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

4. Make sure you maintain a correct work–rest balance

Taper off in the period leading up to a match or tournament and schedule recovery training the day after a tough match or training session. Schedule enough rest between tournaments.

5. Ensure a minimum training load is maintained

You should continue to exercise regularly during holidays and in the winter period. When injured, try to continue some form of cross-training.

6. Don’t overdo it!

There is a maximum that any athlete can handle. More than three matches a day or more than eight matches a week is a risk for any tennis player, no matter how well trained they are, with a lower number for juniors.

7. Monitor your load

Your physiotherapist can assist you with how to monitor your training load. A written or online training diary is necessary to track your training and maintain a low injury risk.

 

Guidelines by Gena Wallis (Physiotherapist at PhysioLogix) adapted from: Pluim B, Drew M. It's not the destination, it's the ‘road to load’ that matters: a tennis injury prevention perspective. British Journal Sports Med 2016;50:641-642.