INJURIES ARE NOT SETBACKS

INJURIES ARE NOT SETBACKS

by: Matt Vaughn, PsyD from ProWorld Tennis Academy | Professional Tennis Coach | Doctor of Psychology

If you have read earlier articles of mine, you’re probably aware that I’m fond of the chess and tai chi champion, Josh Waitzkin. I want to discuss and expand on an area he briefly touched in The Art of Learning.

When it comes to reaching high levels of tennis, there are clear differences between what it takes to be a decent player, what it takes to be good, what it takes to be great, and what it takes to be near and at the top. If your goal is to be mediocre, you don’t have to do too much more than other players with that same goal—practice a couple hours a day, do a decent amount of fitness, and put a lot of effort into your matches. Do this and you’ll probably become an okay player. But, if you want to maximize your potential and have chances to be at the top, you need a different mindset. Injuries, usually disguised as frustrating and disappointing moments, are often wonderful opportunities to get exponentially better and improve important areas of your game otherwise neglected.

Occasional injuries are inevitable when practicing at a high level and playing a full tournament schedule. Most people view injuries as setbacks. From my experience, most players who get injured, whether a sprained ankle, pulled muscle, torn ligament, or other injury, take time off and don’t do much of anything. If the legs weren’t affected, they might run to stay in shape, but that’s about it. Most of this time, however, seems to be used to watch television and play on the phone.

I have strong feelings that a different mindset is needed to get near or at the top of the game. To become the best, your mind must always be searching for ways to improve, even when injured. After an injury, get on the court the next day. Figure out how to use your current situation (with the injury) to enhance other parts of your game. If you’re unable to run or move well, work obsessively on your serve, hit thousands of volleys, or drill your forehand or backhand, whichever is weaker, standing in place until it gets better—search and experiment with ways to make that stroke better. If you injured something that prevents you from hitting certain shots, go on the court (if you can do so without exacerbating the injury) and work on another area that isn’t affected by the injury. Take these moments to improve parts of your game that you might otherwise neglect. Imagine coming back from injury with a 25% or more improvement in your serve, volley-game, forehand, backhand, agility, footwork, flexibility, or strength.

Of course there are times when your body needs rest to heal, or simply to recover from a rigorous tournament schedule. If that’s the case, make sure you rest, but use those moments to improve the mental or tactical aspects of your game. Seek out help with your mental game and/or watch YouTube videos of professional matches to study how they construct points. What other areas can you improve during this time to help you maximize game? You might be surprised how many you can think of.

Most importantly, make sure you come off an injury as a better player than when the injury happened, whether the injury lasts for a few days or multiple months. Injuries and periods of necessary rest are not setbacks—they are moments that separate the decent and good players from the great and world-class.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP TO PRACTICE AND PLAY AT YOUR HIGHEST LEVEL

THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP TO PRACTICE AND PLAY AT YOUR HIGHEST LEVEL

by: Matt Vaughn, PsyD from ProWorld Tennis Academy | Professional Tennis Coach | Doctor of Psychology

Consistent quality sleep is one of the most important aspects to playing tennis at the highest level. It is also one of the most ignored, especially among junior players. Lack of sleep causes reduced performance, poor emotional control, loss of motivation, decreased ability to concentrate, poor decision-making and shot-selection during matches, and a lowered ability to master new information and skills learned during practices. You will get tired more quickly during matches and your body takes longer to recover. Even injuries take longer to heal.

For most people, 7-9 hours of sleep is needed for good cognitive abilities, emotional well-being, and overall performance in daily life. Elite athletes require even more—at least an hour extra. Because of the long training days and how hard the body is pushed, high-level tennis players require a consistent 9-10 hours each night to perform at their best. Throughout the night, sleep goes through four cycles, or stages. These stages progress one by one (1 through 4) over the course of 90 to 100 minutes. After the body passes through each of the four stages, the cycle starts over again at stage 1. The goal is to complete as many full cycles as possible. The most important stage of the sleep cycle is the last one, which is why athletes need a lot of sleep to perform at their highest level during practice and matches—9-10 hours.

Follow these tips to improve your sleep hygiene (different practices and habits that help improve quality and length of sleep) and sleep environment to maximize on-court performance.

Sleep Hygiene

  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day and night, even on weekends. Staying up too late and sleeping in on the weekends negatively impacts your sleep cycle for the rest of the week.

 

  • Put away all electronics with a screen (smart phone, television, video games, tablets, computer, etc.) at least an hour before bed. The blue spectrum light from these devices severely disrupts ability to fall asleep and sleep quality.

 

  • Turn your phone on silent and keep it out of arm’s length from your bed (even if you use your phone as an alarm clock).

 

  • Avoid food and drink (especially caffeine and fatty foods) within two hours of sleeping. For some, a small snack before bed might help sleep. If so, make it healthy.

 

  • Avoid stimulating activity within two hours of sleeping.

 

  • Do not use your bed for anything besides sleep (homework, watching television, etc.) because your brain will learn to associate lying in bed with being awake.

 

  • Take a warm shower before bed and brush your teeth well. The shower helps to relax the body and being clean has calming effects.

 

  • When you wake up in the morning, get out of bed immediately and into the lights. Turn your lights on and open the blinds. Your brain is expecting and needs bright light to keep the sleep cycle stable. Get up to your first alarm and do not hit the snooze button. Washing your face right away is helpful.

 

  • If you become tired during the day, take a nap if you have time. Make sure the nap is before 2:00 PM and is 30 minutes or less, otherwise it will negatively impact your sleep cycle.

Sleep Environment

  • Keep the temperature cool. It’s usually much easier to fall asleep in a cooler environment.

 

  • Keep the bedroom as dark as possible. Even tiny sources of light can impact ability to fall asleep. Your brain releases a hormone at night called melatonin that signals the body to begin falling asleep. Light sources, even if small, decrease the amount of melatonin released. Consider using an eye mask if necessary.

 

  • Make the bedroom as quiet as possible. If helpful, especially if needed to drown out other noise in the household, use a white noise maker to generate constant and peaceful ambient sound. Consider using ear plugs if necessary.

 

  • Your mattress, pillows, and covers should be high quality and as comfortable as possible. Pillow cases and covers should be cleaned frequently.

 

  • Keep your bedroom as neat and organized as possible. Your brain associates clutter with stress and organization with relaxation. For example, clothes lying on the floor and a disorganized desk actually makes falling asleep more difficult.

 

  • Keep your bedroom as clean as possible by vacuuming and dusting. Airborne particles negatively impact sleep.

 

  • Make your bed in the morning. Your brain is more relaxed at night getting into a made bed.
Summer Tennis Camps – Tennis Fitness – Player Results – ProWorld Tennis Academy

Summer Tennis Camps – Tennis Fitness – Player Results – ProWorld Tennis Academy

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@olivia_estelle_smith and @lb2616 working hard during the fitness session with Coach Ben from @espsports_train ?????‍♀️

 

 

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Laura Buchs

 

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