By Aleksey Zharinov – Tennis Coach
Would you like to play tennis till you are 100 years old?
If your answer is yes, then you must follow three simple principles, plus a bonus one that I can personally attest to from my 30+ years of playing and teaching experience. Each one individually will definitely help you, but all three will do miracles for anyone who can achieve them. Let’s take them one at a time.
- Good physical condition. You can avoid many injuries by just conditioning your body to withstand the necessary workload that tennis will put on you. Weight training, stretching, and plyometrics will definitely get you ready for a long tennis career. You will need to prepare your body for the beatdown that tennis will take on your body. Good leg strength and agility will serve your game well for many years to come. No wonder why every pro spends hours in off court training in their off-season and even inside their season. All training however will need to be tennis-specific. Getting jacked like Mister Olympia will not help you hit a better forehand. Developing very strong and lean muscles that are quick to respond is what all the off-court training should be focused on.
- Proper technique. Nothing will overuse your body faster like an improper form. Not only it unnecessarily overuses your muscles and joints, it also achieves only a fraction of a full potential your swing can have. Yes, it does take many hours of practice and dialing your shots in, but after you’ve done all that work, you can enjoy the largely increased quality of your game as well as longevity. That is because the main purpose of a good technique is to give you maximum effectiveness with the least amount of effort. You will more and win longer, it is a win all around.
- Recovery process. Long tennis sessions multiple times a week will surely take their toll on your body. To stay in the game (pun intended), you will need to give your body opportunity to recover. Most of us can’t have 2-hour massage after every match like Rafa, but we can do one every week or every other week. Stretching will definitely keep some of overuse injuries at bay, as well as sauna and Jacuzzi. For more targeted attention, you should definitely employ icing. It will take down the inflammation, and along with Advil, it is a powerful combo that can put you back on the court fairly quickly.
- Don’t get old. I think this one is self-explanatory.
I firmly believe that these three factors are the main pillars of your tennis longevity. The simple proof of it is the regimen of any pro tennis player. They all have all three components and constantly strive to improve in at least one of the them. My simple rule is, what is good for Federer is good for you. We are all prone to getting hurt every now and then, and to mitigate the risk of you being out of the game for a long time, it is best that you are keeping all three in mind.