Abstract

 

A rising superstar tennis player wakes up at 5 o’clock in the morning in order to squeeze in an hour and a half of tennis before going to school. Once school ends, he goes back to the tennis court, pounding forehands and serves with his new extended racquet, which the racquet company that sponsors him sent last month. He stops chasing the balls only to tie his shoes, which another company sends him twice a month. After practicing for 2 hours, he returns home for dinner; his mother shows him a letter that came today from UCLA expressing interest in his tennis. When he completes his homework, he rushes to the court again in order to get at least another hour of practice in before he has to go to sleep. As he rushes towards the net to hit a volley, he hears a snap and falls to the ground; he has torn his Achille’s heel, an injury that takes at least 6 months to heal. With so much time off from tennis, there is no possible way he can bring his game up to speed in time for college tennis. His hard work is wasted; his dreams are shattered.

Injury rates in junior tennis are the highest for any sport. More players are being hurt today than 20 years ago. People blame racquets, shoes, and excessive hours of practice. While sports medicine is a growing field that can treat many injuries over a course of time, often the healing process takes too long. With so many dreams and college scholarships on the line, identification of the causes for injury and methods for prevention must be taught to junior tennis players along with the correct technique for hitting a backhand. By studying these concepts, sports medicine can advance even further and find faster treatments in order to get players back on the court as soon as possible. In my experiment, I sought to learn whether the most popular beliefs for injury causes were actually effecting the bodies of these young players. Using a speed gun, I tested the speed of serves using 3 different racquets: the wooden racquet (used 20 years ago), the standard size (the most popular), and the extended racquets (the latest technology). I also gave a questionnaire to 50 junior tennis players asking them about their injuries. According to the experiment, excessive hours of play almost guarantee injury, while extended racquets, not increasing the power of a serve as much as I believed, have only a slightly higher rate of injury than the standard size racquets. A high percentage of the players had injuries relating to their shoes. Most of the junior players do not do enough to prevent injuries, such as stretching. Injury rates are so high, because so many factors can contribute to them. Perhaps if technology and medicine could work together to eliminate most of the factors, the injury rate would go down.

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