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Sports That Hurt Your Tennis
Part I: No Home Runs in Tennis
 More of this Feature
• Part 2: Is Golf Making You Droopy?
 Related Resources
• Sports That Help Your Tennis
• Playing Tennis Without a Court
• Stroke Repair Central

As I mentioned in last week's feature about sports that help your tennis, I haven't found a lot written about how other sports affect one's tennis, so most of what I write here is based upon personal observation of my tennis students and experiments with my own game.

When we talk about sports that can harm your tennis game, we're only considering potential harm--and only for some people. If another sport does damage your tennis, it will almost certainly do so by damaging your stroke production. Unless you do intense training for a sport that builds interfering muscles, you are unlikely to experience any harm to your tennis footwork, court speed, strength, or flexibility. In fact, these aspects of your tennis game are likely to benefit, even from those sports that might harm your strokes.

If your tennis game is solidly grooved, it will be less likely to be thrown off by another sport. The converse is more likely: you'll play the other sport with motions that look too much like tennis strokes, such as trying to hit a racquetball with topspin. Tennis players who are still in the steeper part of the tennis learning curve are the most vulnerable to the effects of other sports.

From my teaching experience, especially with kids, the sports that have the worst effect on tennis stokes are baseball and softball. The reason is fairly simple: in these sports, rotating your wrists has little effect, because bats are round. If you rotate a tennis racquet, it has a profound effect. One degree of upward tilt on a hard-hit tennis shot will send the ball several feet deeper than intended. When the spring baseball and softball seasons come around, I see lots of beginning and intermediate tennis players hitting unintentional "homers" that need to be collected in the grass outside the court fence. Some also start raising their racquets too high on their backswings, like a baseball backswing, which will often make them hit into the net. Many players adjust within a few weeks, but some have persistent trouble keeping the swings from the two sports separated.

Next page > Is Golf Making You Droopy?

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