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Ask the High Perfomance Lab

May 25, 2008 12:25 PM

PLEASE NOTE: The medical opinions in USTA.com's Ask the High Performance Lab are responses intended for the average player. Please consult with your primary physician before beginning any new exercise program.

If you would like to submit a question that may be answered by our Health & Fitness team or want to share an idea for a future column, please click here.

Scott works closely with the Coaching Education and Strength and Conditioning staff within High Performance, as well as the USTA Sport Science Committee, to collect and disseminate information related to sport science and tennis. Scott is also a Certifie© USTA
The answers to this week’s "Ask the Expert" column come from Scott Riewald, PhD. Dr. Riewald is the USTA Administrator of Sport Science.

Dr. Riewald and the Sport Science staff work with Coaching Education to provide information to the coaches of top American players through seminars, workshops and newsletters.


From Jerry Malman of Denver,CO: The sun in Denver is especially dangerous because of the high altitude and my 13 year old son is quite fair skinned. I have strongly advised him to wear a hat while he plays in addition to putting on sunscreen. My son feels sunscreen is enough. Is there any scientific/medical literature that addresses this issue? It would seem that most of the sunscreen comes off by the second set. Any info on this would also be helpful.

Dr. Riewald: Thank you for the question about the sun. As most people know, there is a direct link between sun exposure and developing skin cancer. So, taking steps to limit the body’s exposure to the sun has the immediate benefit of preventing sun burn (which can make it very difficult to play tennis) and also has the long-term benefit of helping to prevent skin cancer.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone use a broad-spectrum sunscreen having an SPF of at least 15, and advises consumers to check for ingredients that screen UVA: benzophenone, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane (also called avobenzone and known by the trade name Parsol 1789).

Tennis players should use sunscreens with higher SPFs, however, if possible. In general the sunscreen should be applied 15-30 minutes prior to the start of the match and should be reapplied according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

One recommendation provided in a Tennis.com article (see below) is that an adult should apply 1 ounce of sunscreen every two hours when a person is sweating. As for hats, they can provide additional protection, but only to the areas they cover – so do not expect a baseball cap to protect the ears and back of the neck. The protection offered by a hat can also be extended to the eyes, as sun exposure increases your risk of getting cataracts.

Additional information can be found from the following websites:

From Michael Basha, DO, FCCP of Fort Gratiot, MI: It seems that tennis players are jump roping more and more, prior to a match or as part of regular training. Can you talk about the benefits of jump roping as it relates to tennis?

Dr. Riewald: Jumping rope offers a number of benefits to a tennis player and we’ll list a couple below:

  1. Jumping rope helps to develop coordination and balance. There is a “window of opportunity” in early childhood to develop athletic skills like agility, balance and coordination, and jumping rope can help players develop these skills.
  2. Jumping rope teaches players to stay on the balls of their feet, as opposed to being flat footed or on their heels, which can help with overall on-court movement.
  3. Jumping rope is a low-level plyometric exercise that can help develop muscular power. Jumping rope can be done by virtually any player this exercise can serve as the base for higher intensity plyometric exercises. (Note: high intensity exercises should not be done until after a player has been through puberty and has demonstrated he or she has sufficient strength to be able to handle the demands of these exercises.)
  4. Jumping rope can develop cardiovascular endurance and fitness.
  5. Jumping rope can serve as a great general warm-up exercises.

Keep in mind that jumping rope does put stress on the joints and muscles of the lower body. Try to avoid jumping rope on hard surfaces, like concrete or even a hard court, and look for “softer surfaces” like a clay court or grassy area to minimize these impact forces.

As with any exercise, do not try to do too much, too soon. Build into a jump rope program gradually, jumping rope for a short period of time to begin with and building to longer periods and/or more complex jump rope drills. If you experience any pain while jumping rope or after you are done, stop the exercise and be evaluated by a doctor.









If you would like to submit a question that may be answered by our Health & Fitness team or want to share an idea for a future column, please click here.

Click here for USTA.com's Health & Fitness Archive.

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