Recovery is a crucial part of your tennis training. With all of the practicing and playing that tennis players do on a daily basis, active recovery is necessary to help you reach your full potential. Learn more about how to recover, so you’re ready for your next match!
- After a practice or match, you should aim to consume 20 ounces of fluid (about the size of a regular water bottle) per pound of body weight lost during your practice/match.
- Eat a recovery snack that’s around 200-400 calories of carbohydrate. For example, chocolate milk, a recovery shake, or a six inch sub with meat or fish are all great choices.
- Be sure to stretch afterwards to reduce stiffness and improve your range of motion.
Pain Relief & Hydrotherapy
- Relieve any post match pain with Biofreeze. The cooling gel was found to be better at relieving pain than ice.
- You can also use hydrotherapy to enhance your recovery. Taking a warm bath in 93-97° water increases your blood flow, while a cold 50-59° bath helps reduce the sensation of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Alternate between the two to increase metabolic activity.1
- Learn more about pain relief for tennis players
5 Essential Parts of Tennis Player Recovery
Hydration is a key part of recovery. Even a 2% loss of body weight due to dehydration can have a major negative effect on your muscle strength and power.1 You should drink a fluid volume that’s equal to the amount you lost from sweating. Your goal should be to drink 20 oz. to every pound of body weight you lost during the match. Drink the fluid slowly; don’t chug it. If your goal is to drink 32 ounces, you should then aim for 5 ounces every ten minutes, not 16 ounces every half an hour.
In addition to water, flavored sports drinks are a great source of hydration. In fact, one study found that athletes drink 30% more fluid when using flavored drinks compared to plain water.1 Recovery drinks also help replace the sodium that you lost and stimulate glucose (energy) absorption.
Nutrition is another important aspect of recovery. Proper nutrition creates new muscle proteins and restores your immune system. It also replenishes the nutrients and fluids that you used while playing.
After a practice or match, eat your recovery snack (recovery shake, banana, sandwich, etc.). Within three hours, follow this snack with a substantial, healthy meal, like chicken, pasta, fish, vegetables, rice, salad, beans, eggs, potatoes, or steak. At the end of a tournament day, add a light snack before bed, like a glass of milk, crackers with tuna, or a low sugar shake. After a tournament, add in more fruits high in vitamin C and antioxidants, like oranges or berries.
3. Sleep & Rest
Getting enough sleep and rest are also important forms of recovery. You should get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Adolescents players may need 10 or more hours when going through a growth spurt. If you have trouble sleeping, try powering down electronics and creating a peaceful nighttime ritual. If your sleeping problems are due to back pain, these pillows can help.
Naps can also be beneficial, improving your alertness and performance, as long as you keep them to 15-30 minutes in length, any longer and you’ll wake up groggy and sluggish instead of alert.
Rest is another crucial part of recovery. Make sure you have at least one active rest day a week, don’t spend the whole day on the couch! Use this time to socialize with friends or play a less demanding sport, like golf or swimming. Recharging and adding in cross training will help prepare you for future practices.
4. Musculoskeletal & Physical Recovery
After practicing or playing, you need to stretch to keep your muscles in top shape. Increase your flexibility and relieve stiffness by using the TheraBand Stretch Strap. It’s the perfect companion for all of your static and dynamic stretching needs. Your shoulders, hips, hamstrings, calves, and more, can enjoy a satisfying stretch using the strap.
Another common problem athletes face after playing is muscle soreness. Cryotherapy using
Therapearl Hot & Cold Packs can help relieve your pain. The same packs can be microwaved if heat soothes your aches better. If you need immediate, on-the-go relief, try Biofreeze - the cooling analgesic comes in gel, spray, and roll-on forms for quick relief. If you have a high level of pain, pain lasting more than 2-3 days, inflammation, or swelling, you should see a medical professional.
Use massage to enhance your recovery. You can give yourself a targeted massage using the TheraBand Massage Roller+ after a practice or match. Or use a TheraBand Pro Foam Roller to roll out large muscle groups at home. Try to fit in one self massage every day. Then weekly, enjoy a massage by a professional or partner using Bon Vital Complete Massage Creme.
5. Psychological Recovery
Mental recovery after a match is just as important as physical recovery. If you don’t take the time to recoup, it can lead to overtraining fatigue and burnout. Take time to relax, watch a funny movie, or spend time with friends to take your mind off of training.
Another stressor can be how to handle losses. At the end of a tournament, only one player has made it through without losing. While it’s okay to be disappointed and voice your feelings to a friend or family member, don’t obsess about the loss.
Instead, focus on what you gained: “I got to play one of the best players in the U.S.” or “My serve was better this match!” And focus on what you’ve learned and how to improve going forward: “My shots weren’t sharp enough, I need to practice to improve for my next match” or “I forgot my opponent has such a good backhand, I’ll be prepared for that next time.”
Looking ahead to your next match or tournament can help you move past a disappointing loss and on to your next win.
Overtraining Risks and Recovery
Overtraining syndrome affects as many as 20% of elite athletes.1
It’s defined as “a condition of fatigue and underperformance often associated with frequent infections and depression which occurs following hard training and competition. The symptoms do not resolve despite two weeks of adequate rest and there is no other identifiable cause.”1
The fatigue, apathy, and burnout can lead to lower performance. While some cases of burnout can lead to players that stop competing, other players complete with high levels of stress and play less effectively.
- Mental exhaustion
- Increased irritability
- Increased anger
- Emotional exhaustion
- Increased depression
- Decreased self-esteem
- Reduced motivation
Factors that Increase the Risk of Burnout
- Perfectionist tendencies
- Perceived high expectations from key individuals
- Negative parental involvement
- Feelings that the player has less input in training
- Not using planning strategies, like goal setting
How to Prevent Burnout
- Make sure you get sufficient recovery after playing tennis and enough rest
- Find people who can provide:
- Listening Support
- Someone who can listen without judgement and without giving unrequested advice, like a parent or close friend
- Emotional Support
- Someone who can give you unconditional support and care
- Emotional Challenge Support
- Someone who can challenge you for personal growth
- Reality Confirmation Support
- Someone who sees things in the same manner or can share your experiences, like a fellow tennis player
- Task Appreciation Support
- Someone who appreciates and acknowledges your efforts, like a parent or a coach
- Task Challenge Support
- Someone who provides support and guidance to help you improve your tennis skills, like a coach
- Personal Assistance Support
- Someone who can help you with financial or other means of tangible support (funds, transportation, etc.)
- Be aware of the potential for burnout in young athletes and help prevent it:
- Aim for 1-2 days per week without tennis practice or matches to give players time for rest and recovery
- Don’t increase weekly training time by more than 10%
- Ideally, young players should take 2-3 months off per year from tennis
- Emphasize a focus on fun, sportsmanship, safety, and skill building over winning
- Watch for signs of burnout, including muscle pain, poor school performance, and fatigue
Recovery is a crucial part of your training. Rest, hydration, nutrition, pain relief, massage, stretching, and psychological recovery are all key components that help keep you on the court.
When you’re taking a recovery day, check out these exercises to improve your tennis serve. Add them to your practices to improve your performance!
- Sport Science Committee of the United States Tennis Association. (n.d.). Recovery in Tennis A Guide to Improving Performance and Limiting Injury Through Improved Recovery. USTA. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2JECoxU
- Heitler, S. (2011). What Tennis Players Understand About Handling Losses. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2XLDhJK
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