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Tennis safety precautions includes proper court and equipment maintenance.
Tennis is a popular racket sport that combines muscle-strengthening activities with aerobic exercise. Played with just one opponent or a group in a doubles game, tennis can be a fun way to get outside and enjoy the weather while fulfilling physical activity guidelines. Take safety precautions on the court to keep yourself safe while enjoying the game.
Tennis safety precautions include playing on a safe court. A visual inspection of the court gives you an idea of the playing conditions and any maintenance that may be needed before the court is deemed safe. Cracks or chips in the playing surface can be a tripping hazard, as can pieces of fraying netting that lie on the ground. Clear all stray balls and other debris from the court before your match. Leave sports bags and water bottles outside the court, too. Playing on a dry court is much safer than a wet one; dew, rain and other sources of dampness can cause you to slip and fall. If possible, stick to clay courts that are easier on your feet. Cement, asphalt and other hard, synthetic materials do not have as much give and can contribute to injuries such as shin splints.
Choosing the right tennis racket for your ability and size helps you play safely, reducing your risk of injuries to the elbow, wrist or shoulder as you swing. Find the right grip size by measuring the tip of your ring finger down to the middle of your palm. Choose a larger racket that will help you hit the ball more easily without straining if you are a beginner, and gradually move to a smaller, lighter model as you improve your game. Starting out with a heavy racket might lead to muscle pulls if you're not used to proper tennis techniques. Tennis equipment also includes appropriate shoes and socks. Moisture-wicking socks made from synthetic materials keep you dry and free of blisters. Tennis socks extend up onto the calf to provide ankle support and have ample padding to protect the soles of your feet. Tennis sneakers are designed especially for the sport with a tread that lets you glide across the court for a shot without absorbing clay debris. Tennis shoes made for harder court surfaces offer more inner padding to protect from pounding steps.
Safety precautions for tennis extend to paying attention to the weather. Hot, humid days on the tennis court can be a hazard if you are not appropriately dressed or hydrated. Wear light clothing that lets your skin breathe and wick away moisture. The U.S. Tennis Association recommends wearing a cotton/polyester blend in white or similar colors to reflect the sunlight. Drink several cups of water before playing as well as during breaks on the court to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion, muscle cramps and general dehydration. Protect yourself from UV rays with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat or sun visor. Prepare for tennis on nippy days with several layers of lightweight clothing that you can shed as you heat up on the court, such as a shirt and fleece jacket.
Proper tennis techniques protect you from injury on the court. Keeping your body balanced at all times prevents falls and helps you avoid overuse injuries. For example, bend your knees but keep your back straight on overhead shots, and bend your elbow when hitting a forehand to reduce shoulder stress. Remember that backhand swings begin at the shoulder, not the elbow. A general warm-up is always a good idea before exercising. Take a brisk walk, perform range-of-motion stretches or do some jumping jacks before you start playing tennis.