Jul 17, 2023

Tennis tips for staying healthy

One of my favorite ways to stay active is tennis. I’ve played since I was nine years old, and the comradery and competition have kept me on the court ever since.

During high school I was ranked number six in the 18 and under division in Florida. My success led to a tennis scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

I still manage to play tennis about four days each week. Every few years I try my hand at competition again and have been ranked #1 for 55+ in Florida Men’s Singles. I enjoy the exercise and continuing to improve my game, even after nearly 50 years of practice with a racquet. I’m grateful for the consistency tennis has had in my life and I hope that others can find a similar activity that brings them decades of joy. However, I know physical activity can become more difficult with age.

Here are a few of my tips for folks looking to stay consistent with a sport, like tennis, for years to come:

  • Be Prepared: Preparation begins before you even hit the courts. Making sure you are ready with proper equipment and gear can help minimize injury. Preparation is also about more than just what you bring. Taking a few minutes before a match to stretch and get mentally prepared is also a great way to keep injuries at bay. I must admit, I’m guilty of not stretching before my matches, however that leads nicely into my next tip.
  • Listen to your body: Faster. Bigger. Stronger. It’s easy to fall into the competitive spirit and end up pushing your body too hard. That’s why it’s important to listen to the cues your body is giving you. For example, my body doesn’t feel much benefit from stretching before a match, however I tend to play more gently, and I manage to get a gradual increase in intensity during my games. But if my muscles begin to cramp or my back hurts, I back down. Rest and recovery are a critical part of staying active for the long term.
  • Try some cross training: Cross training is like eating your veggies. It’s not healthy to just eat protein all the time. An all protein and no veggie diet is a good description of what it can be like for your body when you focus just on one sport – while protein is key to health, after a while it would become hard for your body without other nutrients. In the same way, your body benefits from a variety of activities. Consider building strength and agility by engaging in activities that require a mix of muscles like running, biking, sit ups or swimming.
  • Don’t forget to have fun: This is the most important tip of all. Competition can be a great driver to get out and be active, but don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it. Win or lose, consider any day with exercise a victory. Whether you stay active with friends, family, or someone new, spending time with others in friendly competition is good for your mind and your body!
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