3 Ways to Improve your Paddle Game
As we get into the later months of fall, many local athletes are starting to play paddle and indoor tennis. While these sports are both fun and stimulating, they also are associated with an increased injury risk. Sharp change of direction and the surfaces cause a lot of knee and low back injuries. Local physical therapy practices grow in volume with paddle and tennis players this time of year. To avoid being in this injured majority, be sure to include supplementary training into your program. It can be the difference between thriving on the court and spending your time treating your injuries.
While injury mechanisms are likely to be very individual-specific and continue to be hotly debated in the scientific world, it is fairly unanimously agreed upon that strength, conditioning, and general movement training have an injury proofing quality on the body. Numerous studies show that when athletes improve their movement competency, work capacity, and strength levels, injury rates greatly decline. Read below to find out 3 ways we can help you achieve this!
Strength. Many injuries occur because the body is ill-prepared for the physical effort at hand. When muscles are put under excess strain and stress, the result is often an injury. Ways to avoid this are smartly programmed and cued strength training exercises. These exercises are compound, multi-joint movements that have an effect on the major muscles of the body. It is crucial that these exercises are properly done and utilize a full range of motion. This increases the ability of muscles to accept tissue strain without resulting in a breakdown or injury because now they are strong in all ranges of motion. Commonly used exercises for this are deadlifts, chin ups, squats, pushups, and planks. There is also a special emphasis put on the core muscles of the trunk as they transfer power from the legs to the arms, a marked sign of the racket sport swing.
Work capacity, or the ability to perform a task for a long period of time is a crucial injury preventing attribute of a successful racket sports athlete. Since racket sports often require an athlete for play for several hours, it is crucial that the body can maintain such lengthy efforts. Multiple documented studies show that if work capacity is low and fatigue sets in, an athlete starts to move in a less coordinated and precise way which can set up potential injury. Training slow, steady state endurance and fast, sprint style endurance can both be beneficial as the racket sports possess both of these attributes. Steady state training is often associated with hours of running or biking which many do not find fun or exciting so they opt out of it. This is not the only way to achieve these training goals. Circuit training where you move from various exercises like jump roping, crawling, bounding, skipping, medicine ball throwing, rope slamming, and kettlebell swinging can keep the heart rate elevated for the necessary duration while moving through many diverse movements. This is often a more effective and fun way to achieve the work capacity goals.
Moving well is crucial to injury prevention. It has been said by experts that the best corrective exercise strategy is awareness. This may sound mystical to some, but it is remarkable advice. When someone has awareness of how they move and where their body is positioned in space, termed proprioception, they can better improve their position and optimize performance. As was discussed in the strength training section, proper cues are crucial and the value of sports drills specific to either paddle or tennis cannot be understated. Improved awareness is largely mental and has to be encouraged in the athlete to be a constant. Positions of the body must be constantly assessed and improved. This needs to be done not only during strength training and the sport but also while grocery shopping, sitting in the car, and working at your desk. If you are doing anything, you should be assessing your position and improving it if possible. This can go a long way to optimizing your body and performance.
Following this advice can be the difference between spending your time beating your opponents and having a great time on the court, and spending time in the office of your doctor or therapist. Be sure to call us at Fitness Together Lake Forest at 847-283-6060 or contact us through our website at www.fitnesstogether.com/lakeforest to schedule a complementary consultation session where we will assess your strength, endurance, movement and personalize a training plan to improve performance and decrease injuries on the court.
Written by Vlad Klipinitser.