Tennis Injuries: Recovery (cont.)

Moderator: What are the most effective stretches for tennis?

Jarosz: There basically is about ten good different types of stretches to do prior to playing. The US Tennis Association has a card with all the stretches on a sheet that's available if you contact the USTA directly. That would be Key Biscayne, Florida. But stretching for the calves, the hip muscles, the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the shoulder rotator cuff, the forearm of the elbow -- these are the highlighted areas to stretch. It's good to stretch before and after you play both as a warm up and a cool down.

Moderator: Do warm-up and cool-down exercises help to prevent injury?

Jarosz: Yes. Stretching is just one aspect of the warm up and cool down. Also do some active exercises, especially for warming up. I term that as dynamics. That can include jogging around the court, doing some side shuffling - just to mimic the motions of playing, going thru the strokes without hitting the ball, per se, are all good dynamic type warmup exercises.

Moderator: How can one prevent shin splints? And what exactly are they?

Jarosz: Shin splints are an inflammation of the tissue in the lower leg. It's a very common overuse injury. It's typically seen in a lot of runners. It's seen in tennis players on more of an occasional basis. Good ways to prevent them are with a lot of calf stretches and Achilles tendon stretches. Proper shoe wear is very important. Make sure you don't play with old shoes. A softer surface such as a clay court will help tremendously to decrease the forces to that injured area.

Moderator: Here's a question regarding training. What should one focus on? Ball control? Sprints? Endurance?

Jarosz: As far as physical training, tennis is an anaerobic sport. Therefore, from a cardiovascular standpoint, you focus more on short bursts of sprints, with a longer rest time. If you think about playing a game or a set, a point probably last maybe ten seconds. So you want to mimic that same situation when training from a cardiovascular standpoint. In addressing strength training, you probably should focus more on endurance, which would be high repetition and lower weight, since tennis is a repetitive motion sport.

Moderator: How can one find a good coach? Are there organizations that accredit coaches?

Jarosz: Yes, there are organizations which accredit coaches. There is a certification process. The most widely known certification association is the United States Professional Tennis Association. There also is a United States Professional Registry Association. I would look for someone who has this type of certification, because they have gone through specific testing in order to become certified. I would ask a coach what their background is. How long they've been in the field? Were they a player themselves? Maybe ask them for references, too, of other players they've coached. I would also observe the coach working with a group of players or even a private lesson to see what his or her style is like.

Moderator: What do the pro's have -- besides training and experience -- that the average tennis player does not?

Jarosz: They have extensive knowledge from a technical standpoint. They have an understanding of the mechanics of the sport. They also have knowledge in the areas of marketing, management, and things like that, in terms of running a club and not just specifically teaching tennis. They must have organizational skills, and they also have a lot of contacts in the field in terms of developing programs for player, league, social events, etc.

Moderator: Children are very prone to fall when playing tennis. What can a parent do to help prevent this?

Jarosz: If a player is falling, potentially an area to address would be balance and court awareness, so balance drills such as single leg balance, eyes open, eyes closed, balancing on a mini tramp or a pillow even is good. Balancing with a racquet in your hand, and balancing on one leg and going through the ground stroke motion. Also doing some coordination drills -- some side shuffles, some running forward, running backward, some crossover or grapevine type activities. Even some hand-eye coordination exercises are good -- bouncing and catching a tennis ball in a standing position, or catching one you have to move to or run to to catch would be a higher level exercise or activity.

Moderator: Are sports drinks better than water? How much should one drink?

Jarosz: Technically water is the best drink to have while you're actively playing, because it's easily absorbed into the body system. The sports drinks are high in carbohydrates, which gives the players more energy, particularly during long matches or in the hot summer heat. But I always recommend players to -- if they want to use a sports drink, to try it prior to using it in a match. Make sure that their stomach does not get upset. If a player wants to use a sports drink while playing, I don't discourage it, but I often recommend that they water it down. Most importantly, after a match the sports drinks are very good because they help replenish the nutrients lost while playing.