For weight loss to work, you can never let rain stop play, and don’t ever give up
Wimbledon has just come to a close and the usual suspects were in contention once again. Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams were the winners, whilst the other talking point was the longest ever tennis match, that took place between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut.
Tennis is a sport that places extremely high demands on the structural integrity of the body’s joints. Players have to perform repetitive and challenging movements at high speed in dynamic movements, often at the limits of their physical and mental endurance.
For many athletes on the ATP tennis tour, it can become a daily battle against chronic injuries, which too often result in a premature departure from the sport.
Athletes in tennis are reaching the upper echelons of the sport from a young age and if their bodies are not screened for muscle imbalances, and educated in exercises to prevent injuries, their longevity will be cut short.
If players were screened, educated and performed specific injury-prevention exercises regularly from a young age, they would see a substantial decrease in injury over their careers.
There has been coverage recently about the increases in injury rates on the professional tennis circuit as players struggle to meet the demands of the tour, meaning that some continue to play on with chronic injuries.
Injuries have increased in tandem with the speed of the game, the greater number of competitions and the power that can be delivered from modern rackets.
Social players too run the risk of injuries if they do not prepare adequately.
It is important, therefore, that participants strengthen up the muscles that stabilise the shoulder, known as the rotator-cuff muscles, and the shoulder-blade retractors that keep the shoulder blades nearer the spine.
By strengthening the muscles at the back of the shoulder, the brain will allow the body to generate more power when striking the ball, thus reducing the likelihood of injury.
For the lower body, exercises like lunges, split squats, hamstring curls, calf raises and low-back work will help prevent ankle sprains and calf and Achilles strains during your playing season.
Injury-prevention programmes should target key areas of flexibility and strength around the common injury sights of the shoulder, medial elbow, wrist, lumbar spine the knee.
While this might all sound a bit too tennis specific, the game can provide general lessons in weight loss. There are many who embark on a new lifestyle change in nutrition or exercise only to give up a short time later. Feeling like a failure, they resort to their previous habits dejected, and the hole they are in gets deeper.
Australian tennis player Mark Philippoussis was renowned for winning most of the points if his first serve went in. The problem for Mark was that he only ever managed to get 40pc of his first serves in, unlike his compatriot Leyton Hewitt.
Hewitt would often defeat him because when Mark’s serve was not on form, he had no back-up plan.
There are two ways to win a tennis game. In the first, you hit winners — shots that are un-returnable, killer smashes, or balls placed where your opponent is not.
A different approach would be to keep the ball in play. Now this might not seem like such a radical concept, but even if you don’t have a terrific shot, what happens? Your opponent is going to have to return and they will eventually get frustrated, lose patience, try for a winner, and most of the time he’s going to miss his shot. And you will win.
Most people don’t succeed at the weight-loss game because they keep trying to hit winners. There are no winners in weight loss. If you want to succeed, you have to keep the ball in play.
That means not expecting miracles, staying patient, staying in the game, and hitting back whatever ball life throws.