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Tennis Blog: The Dragon’s Eye at Queen’s Club – Days 2 & 3

Published on: 14 Jun, 2013
Updated on: 14 Jun, 2013

The Guildford Dragon has a local pair of eyes at this year’s Queen’s Club tournament courtesy of James Avery, Chartered Physiotherapist and Partner at Bevan Wilson Physiotherapy. James explains that preparation is everything……and with weather like this most of the day is spent preparing!

James Avery - blogging from Queen's

James Avery – blogging from Queen’s

by James Avery

For many players, including Andy Murray, the weather frustrated proceedings on Monday and Tuesday as matches were interrupted on several occasions by showers.

Despite the fact that the showers were light, the pristine courts (which are closed to members until after the tournament finishes) are so green that they are fairly slippery anyway and so the showers soon make them unplayable due to the risk of injury.

Monday and Tuesday also saw Britain’s James Ward and French junior doubles winner, Kyle Edmund impress in defeat whilst one of Britain’s recent Davis Cup hero’s, Dan Evans beat both Guido Pella and World No. 37 Jarkko Nieminen to reach the third round where he faces Juan Martin Del Potro.

Have you ever wondered what happens in in the frequent weather breaks? How the players cope with an unpredictable start time and the frequent interruptions? Obviously every player has their own unique way to prepare but for most it consists of several components:

Nutrition and hydration – Optimum nutrition and hydration is a subject in it’s own right and as a Chartered Physiotherapist I am not the right person to discuss this in detail but each and every player will have a pre-match, mid-match and post-match plan. Some players will be on specialist nutrition programs whilst for others it will be just about trying to eat at the right time (which can be difficult when you have an unknown start time).

Warm-up – Each player again has their own warm-up routine but it will normally involve some aerobic work, footwork and movement drills, resistance band work (for example shoulder rotation work), stretching and possibly hitting some balls.

Stretching – There is a great deal of variation in how players address this important element. Some players will go through an active or dynamic stretching routine as part of their own warm-up whilst others utilise their trainer or one of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) / locally provided physios (that’s me!). As I mentioned last time, the grass takes its toll on the players and so stretching tends to focus on the lower back, hamstrings, glutes, quads and adductors although the aim is to loosen everything up.

Mental preparation – Visualisation, music, watching tennis, quiet focus – players vary as to whether they like to rest quietly prior to a match or get themselves a bit worked-up with music and movement drills or stretches – it depends mainly on their personality type and there are always a few tour players that you can rely on to keep the treatment room entertaining.

Taping – Kinesiotape, the bright-coloured tape that you see athletes wearing, have been used in tennis now for several years and are very useful for activating or inhibiting muscles, supporting joints or helping to dissipate bruising and swelling. The more traditional athletic tape is used a lot for ankles – both for prevention and protection, although players such as Murray also use ankle braces such as Aircast. Shoulder problems are common in tennis and either type of tape can be used to improve shoulder blade position and stability whilst the athletic tape is generally used to restrict wrist extension and reduce the risk of wrist impingement.

Physio – We’ll touch on physio in more detail (I can talk all day about this subject!) next time but some players use the services of the physios several times a day whilst others are hardly ever spotted in the treatment room. For some it’s a mental crutch whilst for others it’s a necessity if they are to compete at tour level for the whole year.

Unfortunately all of this preparation can be in vain if, as has happened this week, just as you walk on court the heavens open and play is abandoned! On Wednesday one of the players had their ankles taped on 5 consecutive occasions and still didn’t finish their match by the end of the day! When you take this into consideration, coupled with cool-down, gym sessions, tennis drills etc it is easy to understand how a professional tour player can end up filling their day.

Note: play was finally abandoned on Wednesday evening after a series of rain delays.

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