The Key to Better Tennis

Is anyone else glued to the television watching the coverage of the U.S. Open? It’s incredible tennis played by incredible athletes, and it never disappoints! It’s such an example of talent, power, and gracefulness all wrapped up into one.

While your game might not be at the level of those playing in the U.S. Open, my guess is that, at minimum, you’d like to improve upon your current skill level. I’m here to tell you that Egoscue can help, but I don’t want you to take my word on it. Today I’m pulling in our resident tennis expert, Buffy Baker. For those of you who have been clients here, you know that Buffy has been a therapist in the Nashville Clinic since 2010. For those of you who haven’t been clients of ours yet, let me introduce you to Buffy via her bio on our website:

Buffy Baker brings years of athletic experience to the table as a therapist for Egoscue Nashville. A Nashville native, Buffy was a high school All-American tennis player at Harpeth Hall School and attended Florida State University on a full athletic scholarship. After a stellar four-year career at FSU, Buffy took her talents to the coaching ranks. Buffy was an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin, Northwestern University, Florida State University and Vanderbilt University. She was also the head coach at Boise State University for two years before taking over the reigns at Penn State University for nine years. In 1997 Buffy was inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame as a result of her on-court performance.

As you can tell, Buffy has just a little bit of tennis experience, and that’s why I’m posting a short interview I did with her a few weeks ago about how Egoscue and tennis go hand-in-hand.

John Elder: How is tennis different from other sports from a function perspective?

Buffy Baker: I’m not sure that you could label it as “different.” Just like other sports, it requires a very functional body if you want to have long-term success. Tennis is largely a rotational sport–there’s a lot of torque and demand placed on the body–but that’s not exclusive to our sport. Obviously, golf is rotational. Throwing a football or baseball is rotational. Even a linebacker dropping back to cover a receiver requires rotation as he spins to open up his hips and run.

One thing that is somewhat “unique” to tennis, if you will, is that you have to be explosive in many different directions to succeed at this sport. One moment you’re charging the net and the next you’re sprinting for the deep ball on the opposite corner. You’re jumping up to hit an overhead shot, and then you’re basically doing the splits to reach a drop-shot. You have to be able to move on multiple planes, very quickly, yet under control.

JE: What is the biggest challenge facing young tennis players today?

BB: I remember you and I discussing this issue years ago. I think today’s players are very one-dimentional, meaning they’re just focusing on tennis, and doing so from a very young age. When I was at Penn State, I always love recruiting “athletes” who happened to be tennis players. Of course, I recruited some “tennis players,” and believe me when I say there were some studs in that category. But those kids who played other sports–like volleyball in the fall and basketball in the winter–were always great all-around athletes. They were great on the court, great in the weight room, their bodies moved well regardless of what we asked them to do.

JE: What role does Egoscue play for you personally and for your tennis team at Harpeth Hall?

BB: Honestly, it plays a critical role, and I’d say that whether I worked here or not! For myself, it keeps me functional and able to do what I want to do. I still coach tennis, obviously. I still play tennis for fun. I enjoy hiking, running. Egoscue keeps me functional and active.

With my players, I have found that this younger generation, girls and boys, spend a LOT of time in a sedentary position. This is the “Google” generation. These kids have everything at their fingertips. They text, play video games, things that you and I never had an opportunity to do. In addition to that, getting a good college education is becoming more and more important, and more and more difficult, and these kids are spending hours and hours studying. It all adds up to a generation that, unless we change it, is bringing their dysfunctional bodies to our practices and workouts. For me, that’s where Egoscue comes in. Each day before practice I have my girls go through an Egoscue “Pre-Tennis” routine. It’s something that I have written specifically for them to get their bodies more balanced and functional. By getting them functional they’re better able to do what I’m asking and needing them to do on the court.

I first noticed the importance of being balanced and functional when I was coaching my Penn State girls. As we implemented Egoscue into our training and my girls got more functional, I noticed they started playing better. They were getting to shots that whey weren’t getting to previously, they were serving harder than they had, and when it was all said and done they were winning matches that they weren’t winning previously. I realized that Egoscue was the missing link, and I still implement it to this day. It’s amazing to see the difference in my players.

JE: What body traits or characteristics do you see with today’s professionals?

BB: The biggest thing I notice is how dysfunctional they are! Even though they are playing at the highest possible level, they still have misalignments and imbalances. They’re just like the rest of us. Right now, their athletic ability is trumping their dysfunction, but sooner or later it’ll catch up to them. It’ll get labeled as a “nagging” injury or that they’re “injury prone,” but the truth is, their body is dysfunctional.

JE: What body traits or characteristics do you see with today’s “weekend warriors” or country-club players?

BB: Honestly, a lot of the same. With that group, we see a lot of clients who have been trapped behind a desk all day then try to go out and play as hard as they can. The dysfunctions that they’re bringing to the court are hurting them. Notice I didn’t say that tennis is hurting them. It’s the body they are bringing to tennis that is hurting them. Their bodies are sending them signals, sometimes very LOUD signals, alerting them to the fact that they are out of balance! Their body just can’t do what they’re asking it to do.

If you’re ready to take your tennis (or any other activity for that matter) to the next level, start by downloading 4 Free E-cises here. You can also request a free consult either in-person or via Skype by calling 615.771.8556.

QUESTION: What’s your biggest challenge with your tennis game? What do you struggle with the most?