The origins of tennis date back at least to the Middle Ages, if not earlier. It appears to be related an ancient Greek game known as sphairistike. Tennis was a popular pastime among European monks and was played in various forms at monasteries throughout the Europe, (though at one point, the church sought to ban the game).
If you're looking to improve your tennis game or just seeking to prevent tennis injuries it is important to follow the information in this article. In addition, adding a few simple stretches to your fitness program will also help. To get started on a safe and effective stretching routine that's just right for you, check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility.
The equipment and rules for tennis were formalized and patented much later (February 23, 1874, to be exact), by Major Walter C Wingfield, this version being close in its details to modern tennis. Soon, tennis courts began appearing throughout the United States and within a year, equipment for tennis began to spread beyond the U.S. as well. The first official tennis tournament was held at Wimbledon in 1877. By the 1930's, tennis was a highly popular and stylish sport.
Tennis is either played between two players (singles) or two teams of two players (doubles). A tennis racket featuring a stringed grid is used to strike a felt-covered rubber ball over a net into the opponent's court, within boundary lines which are marked on each player's court. Tennis rules remain largely unchanged since the 1890s, (though a method of tie-breaking was introduced in the 1970s).
The sport is played on a rectangular, flat surface, which may be grass, clay, or a hard court of concrete or asphalt. The singles court is 78 feet in length, and 27 feet width. Doubles matches use 36 foot boundary markers for the court width. The tennis net is stretched across the entire width of the court, parallel with the baselines. A tennis match is generally played in one to five sets, each set consisting of games. Each game is made up of points, with players alternating the serve across the net, after each game. A game is won by the first player to have scored at least four points against his or her opponent, (though the winning player's score must exceed his opponent's by at least two points).
The set is awarded to the first player to win six games and win by at least two games and match victory generally requires winning 3 out of 5 sets. Along with millions of recreational tennis players, huge audiences follow tennis as a spectator sport, particularly the four annual Grand Slam tournaments.
Tennis is a fast-paced sport making extensive use of both upper and lower body anatomy. The game emphasizes hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness and keen agility. Cardiovascular endurance is required for competitive play, and tennis places significant demands on the musculoskeletal system, most particularly, the legs, midsection, upper body, and arms.
Muscles requiring extensive use (and therefore, conditioning) include:
Strength training and flexibility exercises targeting all of the above areas are essential for competitive players.
Most Common Tennis Injuries
Tennis players are subject to a range of injuries, falling into the broad categories of acute and overuse. Due to the considerable requirements of the sport in terms of hand-eye coordination, cardiovascular endurance and complex musculoskeletal participation and flexibility, a range of conditioning exercises is recommended.
Among the more common afflictions plaguing tennis players are rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow, strains or sprains of the wrist, back pain, anterior (front) knee pain frequently involving the knee cap, calf and Achilles tendon injuries, ankle sprains, and tennis toe.
The Top 3 Tennis Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don't make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won't be effective. Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for tennis; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions beside each stretch.
|Rotating Wrist Stretch: Place one arm straight out in front and parallel to the ground. Rotate your wrist down and outwards and then use your other hand to further rotate your hand upwards.|
|Assisted Reverse Chest Stretch: Stand upright with your back towards a table or bench and place your hands on the edge. Bend your arms and slowly lower your entire body.|
|Kneeling Heel-down Achilles Stretch: Kneel on one foot and place your body weight over your knee. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward.|
While the recommendations on this page are a good starting point, you'll get a lot more benefit when you include a wider variety of exercises. So to improve your athletic ability, reduce injuries and really take advantage of all the stretching exercises on offer, grab a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility (Handbook, DVD & CD-ROM).
In total, they include 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretching exercises for every major muscle group in your body. Plus, over 80 printable stretching routines for 22 sports and 19 different muscle groups.
The DVD also includes 3 customized stretching routines (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core, plus a bonus CD-ROM that allows you to print out over 80 stretching routines that you can take with you where ever you go.
The Handbook and DVD will show you, step-by-step, how to perform each stretch correctly. Plus, you'll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility for yourself.