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How Does a Tennis Player NOT get Injured and Know the Difference?

A topic that is probably as old as it is has been asked — for decades and then some more. Then add a little extra. A question that essentially remains the catalyst from my playing days — forever getting injured from my earlier years before my later transition into coaching — how to help tennis players to not get injured, before pushing it a little further — a Masters in this very area before eventually tackling my PhD. In other words, no page was and/or has been left unturned. If there is someone who knows the answer to this in the tennis domain — here I am.

In equal merits, these answers have been pulled across multiple fields as my doctorate was and remains incredibly diverse. Whilst being responsible for uncovering a scientific first and for the tennis player and coach, this was by no means an easy task. After all, the very nature of a doctorate is to fill a void in the literature and to contribute something ‘new’ to our understanding of the world and/or those who live in it. Incredibly broad to accommodate the varying fields, my doctorate was based between not one but two schools — Allied Health (think High Performance, Sports Science, Biomechanics and more; and Education (think Human Behaviour/Psychology, Communication theory, Learning theory and more) — then you’re starting to understand the depth of how far I had to go to really find the answers to this worldwide unknown.

But that’s what 12 x Books and my doctoral thesis have dived into to most recently my new release: How to Develop a Top 10 Tennis Ranking and, Beyond Top 10 Tennis — a Podcast designed to address these very queries including our latest episode that includes both Indian Wells and the Miami Open.

Although that’s not why we’re here. By all accounts, to really understand the nature of this question and its breadth to its corresponding endpoint — a Top 10 tennis ranking to achieving Grand Slam success, that’s where these respective publications come into play. So, eat them up and get started.

For a quick run down on this predominantly unknown, let’s start with the basics: coach education. Unfortunately, how coaches are educated and continue to be educated does not account for this overriding question. Rather, a coach is performance based to optimise a player’s playing capacity in contrast to safeguarding them. This concept of protecting the player is not in the nature of a coaches “learned” pedagogy — rather, their pedagogy is one that is taught through various providers, simply because the essence is in the performance and results in contrast to knowing how a player can reach the pinnacle of play and stay without being derailed. There is a reason why most tennis players that are accepted into a national tennis academy and/or its adjoining federation and its respective pathway — do not achieve a Top 10 tennis ranking let alone Grand Slam success. In Australia nonetheless, this is incredibly rare for good reason. Universally, the odds are not in a player’s favour if they align with such national bodies. 

Why? Because put simply, safeguarding is not the name of the game — results are.

Funding and grants come from noise which is attributed to results that shout — over and over again. But there’s a reason why a tennis player’s body in their adolescent years is able to peak over and over again due to a greater pliability at this age in contrast to the tennis player that matures into a young adult and no longer has this level of elasticity on their side. Sure, there’s much greater ‘give’ for a 20-something in contrast to a 30-something but the damage has been done in these earlier developmental years that often halt a player’s progress towards the Top 100 and ultimately the Top 10 for the simple fact that the technical parameters a player’s game is comprised of are not aligned with the key technical properties attributed to not simply a Top 10 tennis ranking — but longevity at the top.

Put simply, these technical properties remain unknown to 92% of the tennis playing cohort. How do I know this? Revisit the earlier paragraphs. That leaves 8% with this knowledge — but there’s a catch. These percentages are merely representative of the Top 100 on the WTA and ATP tours. This means that these percentages are much MUCH smaller on a global scale. The knowledge of these principles is scarce — minute. How do we overcome this? That’s a good question. A big reason why I put pen to paper in a manner of speaking and have published 11 specific Books in this area — to educate tennis players and coaches on a global scale to have access to what it really takes to develop a Top 10 tennis ranking and to maintain this level of play at the top of the game.

You see, my research was lucky enough at the time to be in sync with the peak performative results of Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Interestingly, but by no means surprising, is that Djokovic was the one to trail the initial three at this time — but, if he followed the findings and continued to implement these key properties in his game (which he already was at the time), he would be able to maintain his course and overtake the likes of Federer and Nadal — leading at the time, and eventually, Serena herself. Fast forward a decade and we all know what has transpired.

This is why I love science — the data, the work, the unfolding. It’s super cool. Why some are surprised the by the ailments of Nadal, I am not one of them. The same goes with Federer on his comeback that wasn’t to be and why Serena wasn’t able to regain that peak performance she was so use to recapturing after time away from the training grounds. Djokovic however, that’s another story.

But there’s equal merit in why it has taken so long for new players to rein at the top of the game. From Swiatek to Alcaraz there’s a reason why no other player in the last few seasons has been able to successfully hold their own at the top of the game and overcome their fellow Top 10 with such ease — although Medvedev was there first. Sure, there’s the odd fight here and there but the percentages are in their favour. The same can be said for Sinner and then Sabalenka — although her percentages do fall behind. But that’s no what this is about.

It’s fair to say that in answer to ‘how does a player not get injured and know the difference’ is precisely where the 8 Keys come into play. Don’t know them? Odds are you’ll get injured. Know of them and are actively integrating them into your game? Odds are you’re following The Pathway and embarking on The Long Game towards a Top 10 tennis ranking. Want to know the difference between getting injured and not getting injured? Ask your coach if they’re not simply aware of the 8 Keys (start with the initial 7 Keys), but also for the tennis player — if they’re actively integrating them into your game. The same applies for a Top 10 player to achieve Grand Slam success and a Top 900 player looking to ascend towards the Top 500 inside the next 1-2 seasons or sooner.

But you’re still at the Club and/or Academy level? That’s okay. If you don’t want to get injured, get to know the 7 Keys as your starting point. How do I know the difference? That’s simple. Check with your coach — for the players, if they know the 7 Keys before integrating the 8th Key. And if they don’t? That’s simple, too. Together, actively work on them and integrate them into your game.

Any coach worldwide — yup, that’s a big call, that promises a tennis player ‘Gold’ at the 2024 Olympics to future Grand Slam success and does not have their finger on the pulse with these specific publications available at AM8 International(or Amazon for that matter), is letting you know what you want to hear — without the factual (*scientific*) truth. And trust me, I’ve been in your shoes and was promised the same results. But for that, I’ll leave to another time. Most importantly, because I’ve walked in your shoes — players and coaches alike, I wanted to make the road to the top quite literally possible and within reach for both of you. Not just the player, but the coach, too. Why? Because it truly does take a team and by both player and coach working together with the 7 Keys followed by the 8th Key, that is quite simply how a tennis player does not get injured whilst knowing the difference on their way towards claiming that Top 10 tennis ranking.

To learn more about AM8 International check out our selections of Books to options to join Dr B’s Pack to gain exclusive access to the best in the world. Not quite ready? Head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for free access to 75+ episodes directly from Dr Berge of what it really takes to win multiple Grand Slams to securing that Top 10 tennis ranking. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Injuries in Junior Athletes — not just Tennis and how it is Connected to their Technique

Truth be told most techniques in tennis have a correlation with the development of an injury over the course of a players/athletes career if not modified and/or amended for that specific player/athlete. It is that simple. The majority of these players are taught a specific technique to ‘play’ the game and yet these techniques are one and the same in the onset of injury. Ironically, players within the developmental spectrum will not notice an immediate discomfort due to the somewhat pliability of their growing bodies. Unfortunately, once this development phase has run its cause the player becomes more susceptible to the very same technique they were taught years prior. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

The principles of human movement are readily available for all and to help navigate the core principles that are responsible for the development of the respective discrete and serial skills. Unfortunately, these are often filled with scientific jargon that make them not as readily accessible to those in need. The foundation of AM8 International has been built on one of these principles — accessibility. In simple terms, this means more often than not the scientific jargon is left behind — to an extent. Rather, the scientific jargon is integrated into our programmatic analyses, for example, but over time to ensure the reader is placed on a learning curve akin to performance progressions.

By this logic whether a player/athlete, parent and/or coach you’re privy to the science in a progressive format which has an underlying purpose of heightening your general knowledge base — you bet progressively, to align with your performance advancements, progressively, so they both run parallel to optimise your results.

It is often unknown to those involved at the developmental level that injuries are being developed in conjunction with the conditioning of a new skill. It is the specific discrete skills, if not given enough attention, that when the serial skill is in action through play that the player becomes susceptible to the onset of injury — whether in 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years. A common example in tennis is “tennis elbow” which can readily come about by a player making contact with the oncoming ball behind their elbow. It’s that simple. The pressure placed on this joint becomes immense over time and the elbow is not designed to withstand this force. Rather, the player should be conditioned to make contact in front of their body whilst extending through the ball. For a more detailed synopsis be sure to delve into the What is Your Game Missing Series with the technical complexities of varying techniques shared throughout a significant number of elite players on both the WTA and ATP tours for an incredible eye opener.

Using the elbow as an example, over the course of an hour of play, a player will make contact with their groundstroke at least one hundred time or greater — depending on the level of play. By all accounts this is a minimum as for a more advanced player this will track in the high hundreds if not more, whilst a player that is earlier in The Pathway will potentially remain close to that initial hundred. Irrespective of the total the concern is in the number.

Whether one hundred to nine hundred plus times of a repetitive motion that involves direct pressure on an elbow joint, the cause for concern is substantial. And that’s merely inside the scope of 60 minutes!

To mitigate injuries from the beginning and/or from here on in it is important to be conscious of the pitfalls of techniques — not all techniques are good for your body and/or conducive towards developing an optimal performance. But I have good news. The core techniques that have been backed by >150,000 inferences — that’s a significant dataset, align with functional movement patterns and adhere to core principles of biomechanics and in turn human movement. In other words, they’re designed to mitigate injury and have been scientifically proven to be attributed towards elite performance. And by elite we’re specifically referring to a Top 10 tennis ranking.

To learn more about Injuries in Junior Athletes — not just Tennis and how it is Connected to their Technique, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 38. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Why are the Top Tennis Players Dropping like flies? Periodisation

A player’s performance follows a patterns and more precisely a cycle that allows them to peak within a predetermined window if the work is done to ensure a proper plan is put in place and adheres to the rulers of periodisation. For a more in depth understanding of periodisation there is ample amount of research available. I’d encourage those of you who are intrigued to delve into the research to be careful of those who claim to share otherwise as this is an important topic to understand and just as important to be cautious of those that may lead you down a less than desired path that may very well cause injury to overload the player/athlete.

A thorough plan involves sprints — short bursts of high intensity output, followed by a decrease in load akin to tapering in the lead up to a planned peak performance. This is merely a simplified example of an effective plan that has multiple cycles throughout a season. Unfortunately, the understanding around periodisation is often lost or increasingly ignored when it comes to developmental players/athletes who then succumb to injury due to doing too much, or achieve less than desired results due to their planning not being conducive for the predetermined period i.e. at an event/tournament.

It is common practice for players/athletes to have carefully crafted plans that follow distinct periods throughout the duration of a calendar year. These periods are the aforementioned sprints that also accommodate the need to taper and ultimately peak.

Those on the WTA and/or ATP tour have (or should have) carefully crafted plans set in place. It is all too common, however, for players/athletes outside the Top 100 to participate in tournaments near week after week in their quest to secure those maiden ranking points. But these players/athletes are just as susceptible as those inside the Top 100 to developing an injury due to poor prior planning.

Those ranked inside the Top 100 primarily have carefully crafted plans in place that adhere to periodisation guidelines. If a player/athlete inside this ranking range does not have their season planned to peak at multiple times throughout the year, they’re more susceptible to their performance regressing and/or developing an injury due to overloading. Either way, without a plan the outcome is not positive for the player/athlete.

This begs the question then why developmental players/athletes are often not following carefully crafted plans and why the majority of coaches at this level are not structuring a player’s performances to peak at set times throughout the season.

By integrating periodisation at the developmental level players/athletes are progressively being conditioned to train in cycles and in turn learn how their body peaks and reap the rewards as their game evolves. To the contrary, players/athletes who do not have access to this planning and/or structure do not benefit from these peak performance cycles and are more susceptible to being left behind opposed to progressing and/or overtraining that will in time lead to a more serious injury and the player/athlete will become sidelined. 

Implementing a structured plan for each individual player/athlete is fundamental at the developmental stage to not merely condition peak performance cycles, but to ensure each player/athlete gains an understanding of how their body works with increased loads and/or demands. This heightened understanding by the player/athlete of how their body ‘works’ can help prevent injuries now and long-term whilst builds a healthy baseline for coaches to work with as the player/athlete progresses whilst as an added benefit, being a positive performance indicator for a conducive and reciprocal coach-athlete relationship.

To learn more about Why are the Top Tennis Players Dropping like flies? Periodisation, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 37. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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How to Coach the Warm-Up: an Underrated Necessity for Tennis Players

Not just for the tennis player and/or athlete, the warm-up is an overlooked proponent of health and wellbeing for all and is often neglected to understood which leaves quite a significant number of active populations susceptible to developing an injury. But this can be easily avoided with some simple steps put in place. First of which is understanding the overall function of your body and how you use your body in everyday life. For the player/athlete you have incredibly high demand requirements in contrast to more general active populations. For more mature demographics, you’re more likely to be wanting to maintain a level of strength to protect yourself and your body from potential ailments we become more susceptible towards later in life. And for the non-athlete yet active individual — from young adults to those in that middle demographic, you most likely have your sights set on general health and well-being and participate in weekly activities 3-5 times per week — classes through to committed runs, you place your overall physical fitness as a priority. 

For those of you who do not fit into one of these categories it’s an important reminder to ask yourself why given the daily requirements of your body — as simple as walking to getting up from a chair to couch or maintaining a level of strength to ensure your posture isn’t as compromised if you’re sitting at a desk on a regular basis. All of these ‘actions’ have a roll-on affect for how your body in turn responds. An example can be given from a simple squat to lunge that can enhance your balance through to your strength — ‘ease’ in getting up from a chair to picking something up off the floor you may have dropped.

Activity is a part of everyday life and those who do not participate in a form of activity on a regular basis are more susceptible to developing ailments later in life.

So where does the warm-up come in? The same applies for those who go ‘all out’ prior to warming their body up as they become more susceptible to the onset of injury. But do it right, and you’re doing your body a favour and for the players/athletes you’re also doing your performance a favour as you’re ‘preparing’ your body to ‘progress’ towards its next caliber in a manner of speaking. Let me explain. I’m sure everyone has experienced the difference of jumping in the air once, and then after a few times, they feel a little more ‘loose’ like your body could go for more? Or, remember high-jump when the bar started low and then increased? And for the tennis player, hopefully you recall hitting inside the service box before progressing back to the baseline. The simple rule here is akin to an elastic band (i.e. elastic energy). By starting small and in gradual increments ‘increasing’ your range and/or energy expenditure (i.e. strength) you’re preparing your body to work at a certain level to increase the outcome (i.e. performance). But if you avoid this ‘warming-up’ altogether, you’re not giving your body a chance to reach this level and by going ‘all-in’ from the get-go can stretch your body/muscles in contrast to them naturally ‘preparing’ for this level/load.

By implementing best practices that include a warm-up not only are players/athletes setting themselves up for more purposeful performances, they’re also safeguarding their bodies for the load ahead. For the general populations, irrespective which demographic you fall into, the same applies. Whilst you may not be looking to reach a peak performance, the gradual load you apply to your body to build strength, for example, is just as applicable when it comes to ‘over-stretching’ your muscles in contrast to progressing to this stage. A simple and yet easy trick for all.

To learn more about How to Coach the Warm-Up: an Underrated Necessity for Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 32. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.