Andre Agassi’s best-selling book, Open, provided readers with a good number of personal anecdotes and behind-the-scenes tales from the Hall of Famer’s playing days. One aside I found particularly interesting—and never forgot about—is when Agassi mentioned that he barely stretched. That’s cool and all, but what about the risk of injury that comes with it?
In regards to today’s game, people often point to racquet technology as a major reason for the increased pace and skill put on display by advanced players. However, the evolution of sports science is also a big reason behind the level of play seen at the professional, college and other levels.
As opposed to traditional parochial methods of being in game-day shape (running till you puke, lifting until you pull something, etc.), the state of modern athletics makes for a more carefully navigated environment when it comes to preparation.
First of all, an emphasis on stretching before and after competition is a key element to preventing injury. Agassi may be an 8-time major winner, but he did have significant back problems and other injuries down the stretch of his career—injuries that could’ve maybe been prevented with a more elastic body.
Nowadays, one would be hard pressed to find a competitive player or team that doesn’t have a regular stretching routine. It sounds like a basic or a given, but it can significantly prolong a career.
Another seemingly general, but important, way to prevent injury is a healthy diet. Protein, veggies, fruits, and nuts and you can’t go wrong.
In addition to putting in good work at the meal table, and based on the steadily improving play across different levels, it’s safe to say the majority of today’s professional players also follow a strict regiment in the gym and on the court
A prime example of one who follows a strict routine is rising star Noah Rubin, a New York native who is making strides as a budding professional on the ATP Tour. Rubin is challenged by his height, standing at 5’10” in a field of mostly taller players, but he makes up for that deficit with exceptional fitness. And that isn’t an accident; the Long Islander regularly posts videos of his practice sessions on Instagram to show just how much he’s pushing his body to compete at the pro level.
Training like Rubin is indeed part of staying in top shape. However, it takes proper care off the court to make such routines practical.
In essence, allocating time for stretching, a good diet and carefully thought out training is the best way to your ideal playing shape. Don’t run out there unprepared and have fun!