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The unbalanced tennis player
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Tennis is a game of repetition. Whether it is hitting hundreds of serves during the course of a tournament or running several kilometres during a practice, the basic movements of tennis are performed over and over and over again. With such a great amount of repetition it is easy to see how a tennis player could develop strength and flexibility imbalances throughout their body - imbalances that could lead to injury or limit performance if not corrected.

Some muscular imbalances are to be expected in a tennis player; for example, it is natural for a player to be stronger on his or her dominant side. But what happens when one muscle group is stronger than all the others that are acting at a given joint? What happens if flexibility is limited? These types of imbalances are often a cause for concern since, in many instances they can impair performance and / or lead to injury.  All parts of the body are linked together in a kinetic chain. Force and power generated in the legs, for example, can be transferred from the legs through the body and ultimately be used to generate racket head speed. A weak link, or a break in the kinetic chain, brought about by limitations in strength or flexibility, can lead to injury as muscles throughout the body are forced to handle abnormal loads.

HIGH PERFORMANCE PROFILE

The US Tennis Association's Sport Science Committee has developed a series of tests, called the High Performance Profile (www.playerdevelopment.usta.com), to identify some of the more common muscular imbalances seen in tennis players. These tests are designed to provide information that can be used in constructing appropriate strength and conditioning programmes to prevent potential injuries before they occur. Below we will discuss some of these imbalances in the tennis player and ways to address them will be presented. 

For the full article, please download the PDF article below.