Junior tennis injuries are starting to get more media attention as youth sport injuries have increased over the past decade; it is more common to see surgeries performed on young athletes for overuse injuries. Much of this media attention stems from other sports like baseball and football, but tennis is also one sport where overuse injuries is an area that every coach, parent, tennis performance trainer (TPT) and Certified Tennis Performance Specialist (CTPS) should hold a strong education. Many of these injuries, and even surgeries, used to be only performed on college and adult athletes. Fortunately for tennis, the average young tennis player experiences relatively few severe injuries and is considerably lower than many other sports [1]. However, overuse is a concern in competitive young tennis athletes. Although injury rates and types of injuries are not as well researched as in some other sports (i.e. baseball, soccer, etc.) some interesting data exists that can help us better understand young tennis athletes and the typical issues that they see. Over a multiyear period a major junior national tennis tournament 21% of participants sustained an injury [2]. Over the last few decades research has been inconsistent about where the majority of tennis injuries occur. Earlier research showed that a large percentage of injuries occurred in the lower body [3]. However, more recent research has showed that upper body and core injuries are becoming more prevalent [4]. This is likely due to the change in technique (more open stance movements and greater reliance of upper body in stroke production, the slower surfaces and new technologies in the racket and strings.)

One unique study involved a series of questions on training, technique, competition and other factors that was provided to all participants at the largest junior team tennis event in the US [5]. It was collected at 12 different locations and 861 junior tennis players completed the survey:

- 97% of individuals who completed the study

Gender breakdown:

  • males-43% (356);
  • females-57% (N=476).

Age: 10-17

As the goal of the study was to evaluate injury patterns and trends a clear definition of injury was important. “An event that forces a player to miss 3 or more consecutive days of tennis play, either practice or competition, or that requires medical attention from a trainer, therapist, or doctor.”

Major Findings From This Study

  • For both the 12 and under and 14 and under age group the shoulder was the most often injured area. However for the 16 and under age group the back was the most commonly injured area.
  • Only 51% and 54% (male and female) of respondents use free weights and only 38% and 39% use machines.
  • Only 43% and 58% (male and female use medicine ball during training).
  • 90% and 97% (male and female) use a double-handed backhand
  • 20% and 22% (male and female) use an abbreviated/short service motion
  • 83% of all players predominantly train and play on a hardcourt surface
  • 81% of all injuries in junior tennis players were tennis related
  • 51% of all athletes that reported an injury visited a Physician or Physical Therapist

Below are three charts that provide the breakdown of the location of injuries based on the three different age groups (12 and under; 14 and under; 16 and under).

When all the data was pooled together the following showcases the most common injury areas in the junior players who participated in this study (male and female combined ages 10-17)


The shoulder and back are two major areas that need a greater focus in training and injury prevention programs. The high prevalence of hardcourt tennis play is something that needs to be taken into account when devising on and off-court training programs. The increase in injuries as athletes’ age through their junior career is also something that should be of major interest to coaches, trainers and administrators. More education is needed to ensure that appropriate understanding of volume and injury prevention programs are implemented to help reduce the likelihood of injuries in junior tennis players. This is something that requires good communication between tennis coaches, certified tennis performance specialists and parents to ensure that the young tennis players develop and optimize performance while limiting the occurrence of injury.

1.         Kibler, W.B. and M. Safran, Tennis Injuries, in Epidemiology of Pediatric Sports Injuries, D. Caine and N. Maffuli, Editors. 2005, Base, Karger. p. 120-137.

2.         Hutchinson, M.R., et al., Injury surveillance at the USTA boys' tennis championships: A 6-yr study. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1995. 27(6): p. 826-30.

3.         Reece, L.A., P.A. Fricker, and K.F. Maguire, Injuries to elite young tennis players at the Australian Institute of Sport. Aust J Sci Med Sports, 1986. 18: p. 11-15.

4.         Winge, S., U. Jorgenson, and L. Nielson, Epidemiology of injuries in Danish championship tennis. Int J Sports Med, 1989. 10: p. 368-371.

5.         Kovacs, M.S., et al., Demogrpahic data and injury trends in American national junior tennis players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2012. 26(1): p. S62.

For Media Inquiries: Mary Jo Kovacs
International Tennis Performance Association (ITPA)
(770) 828-5779

July 9th, 2014

International Tennis Performance Association (iTPA) becomes the sport science and physical conditioning education advisor for the Research and Coaches Education Department of  Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET).

Atlanta, Ga (USA)--The International Tennis Performance Association (iTPA) today announced a new agreement with the Spanish Tennis Federation (Real Federación Española de Tenis), namely with its Research and Coaches Education Department to become the sport science and physical conditioning education advisor for tennis coaches, physical trainers, strength and conditioning professionals and physical therapists who work with tennis athletes throughout Spain. The iTPA is the worldwide education and certification organization for trainers, coaches and specialists who are passionate about tennis-specific performance enhancement and injury prevention. The iTPA is the first of its kind in the tennis industry.

Through quality, evidence-based education combined with accurate, professional credentialing overseen by a Certification Commission comprised of world leading experts, the iTPA offers three levels of tennis-specific certification: Tennis Performance Trainer (TPT), Certified Tennis Performance Specialist (CTPS) and Master Tennis Performance Specialist (MTPS). “The iTPA was established to ensure that tennis players are provided with the best training from iTPA certified individuals using the latest evidence-based practical information to improve on-court tennis performance while limiting the likelihood of injuries,” said Dr. Mark Kovacs, Ph.D., FACSM, CTPS, MTPS, CSCS*D.  “The iTPA is excited to become the official physical conditioning education partner for the RFET. As part of this great partnership over 350 Spanish tennis coaches, who are members of the RFET through the Professional Coaching License, are now members of the iTPA and gain access to the unique educational offerings focused on improving on-court tennis-specific performance and the reduction in injuries. Over the coming year the iTPA and RFET will work closely together to develop combined educational offerings to help increase the opportunities for high quality evidence-based education for Spanish tennis coaches, physical trainers, physical therapists and healthcare providers who train and treat tennis athletes.”

“For the RFET, this agreement will be a valuable support for the development and training tennis players in Spain and from the Department of Research and Coaches Education we may increase the services and the resources available for our Spanish tennis coaches, physical trainers, physical therapists and healthcare providers in order to update knowledge and support them in their daily work with tennis players,” commented Dr. David Sanz (PhD., High Performance Masters Degree, Director of Research and Coaches Education RFET). “The iTPA platform provides a high quality resource, with the thoroughness of information that not only comes from experience, but of evidence applied to tennis players in recent years. This partnership starts today with this first initiative and we will increase our relationship with new activities in the future.”

About International Tennis Performance Association (ITPA):
The iTPA is the worldwide education and certification organization for trainers, coaches and specialists who are passionate about tennis-specific performance enhancement and injury prevention. The education company offers a professional training and education process that establishes recognition through 3 certifications:  Tennis Performance Trainer (TPT), Certified Tennis Performance Specialist (CTPS) and Master Tennis Performance Specialist (MTPS).  The certification materials are overseen by the iTPA Certification Commission consisting of world experts in improving tennis performance and reducing injuries; visit the iTPA website at www.itpa-tennis.org.

About Real Federación Española de Tenis (RFET):

The Royal Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET) is the governing body of tennis in Spain.

The RFET has a Coaches Education and Research Department which deals with the coaches education program for tennis coaches as well as with the research projects funded by the RFET in cooperation with other institutions.

The tennis coaches education in Spain has two main streams: the initial education and the continuous education. The initial education is recognized from 1997 by the Spanish National Sports Governing Body (CSD) and the Ministry of Education. There are more than 10.000 tennis coaches certified in Spain by the RFET. The continuous education combines both traditional approaches such as refresher courses, conferences and workshops with distance learning courses organized in conjunction with Universities and other academic institutions. Visit the RFET website at www.rfet.es.


Download the press release PDF HERE. Also available in Spanish on our media page.

For the last few decades, the discussion around whether young kids should lift weights or perform resistance training has progressed substantially. It is important to review the science around resistance training in young individuals and make decisions about training based on the best available science. Basing decisions on how to train young athletes without understanding the underlying science is not recommended and something that can put young athletes at greater risk of injury and/or slow the development and progress. Recently an international group of experts in youth resistance training were asked to review the large body of scientific literature and develop an International Consensus on “Youth Resistance Training.” Three individuals on the iTPA Certification Commission were heavily involved in the consensus document, and is something that should be read by all coaches, trainers, performance specialists, physical therapists, medical doctors, chiropractors, parents and sports administrators. 

The summary of the document concludes with this statement: “A compelling body of scientific evidence supports participation in appropriately designed youth resistance training programmes that are supervised and instructed by qualified professionals.”

Here are a few take-home messages from the “Position statement on youth resistance training: the 2014 International Consensus” which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine this year.

1. “The use of resistance training by children and adolescents is supported on the proviso that qualified professionals design and supervise training programmes that are consistent with the needs, goals and abilities of younger populations.”

2. “Parents, teachers, coaches and healthcare providers should recognize the potential health and fitness-related benefits of resistance exercise for all children and adolescents. Youth who do not participate in activities that enhance muscle strength and motor skills early in life may be at increased risk for negative health outcomes later in life.”

3. “Appropriately designed resistance training programmes may reduce sports-related injuries, and should be viewed as an essential component of preparatory training programmes for aspiring young athletes.”

4. “Regular participation in a variety of physical activities that include resistance training during childhood and adolescence can support and encourage participation in physical activity as an ongoing lifestyle choice later in life.”

5. “Resistance training prescription should be based according to training age, motor skill competency, technical proficiency and existing strength levels. Qualified professionals should also consider the biological age and psychosocial maturity level of the child or adolescent.

6. The focus of youth resistance training should be on developing the technical skill and competency to perform a variety of resistance training exercises at the appropriate intensity and volume, while providing youth with an opportunity to participate in programmes that are safe, effective and enjoyable.”

Read the position stand for more detail:

  • The use of resistance in youth is recommended
  • The need exists for appropriately designed programs
  • Programs need to be appropriate for training age, motor skill competency, technical proficiency and current strength levels.

Read the full International Consensus below:

Position statement on youth Resistance Training the 2014 International Consensus

Please follow the iTPA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/itpatennis), the twitter feed (@itpatennis) and the iTPA website for more information on this topic and other updates related to tennis-specific performance enhancement and injury prevention www.itpa-tennis.org

by Josh Bramblett, iTPA Staff

Athletes and coaches must understand that tennis requires quick reactive responses in order to improve movement on the court. Tennis specific movement training must take into account the athlete’s strengths, weaknesses, and style of play. The movements of tennis players are different from many other sports. For example, the movement of a tennis player reacting to his opponent’s next shot is different from a wide receiver breaking from the line of scrimmage.

So what makes movement in tennis different from other sports?

In tennis the average point last less than 10 seconds. Recovery in between points lasts around 20-25 seconds and 90-second rest periods every two games. Knowing the style of movement in which tennis is played is critical to developing conditioning programs for high-level players. “Tennis players make an average of 4 directional changes per point but can range from a single movement to more than 15 directional changes on a very long point.”(Kovacs) It is normal for players to make up to 1,000 or more directional changes in a match.

The majority of tennis movements are side to side, which is important for trainers to focus on a player’s lateral acceleration and deceleration for developing ample movement ability on court. “In a study of professional players’ movement, it was found that more than 70% of movements in lateral direction less than 8% of movements in a backward direction.”(Kovacs) It is recommended that training time focuses 60-80% on lateral movements, 10-30% on forward movement, and only around 10% backward movement.               

The game of tennis is evolving as the speed and power involved are constantly improving. Due to increased speeds players have adapted their split step movement. The split step was originally describes as both feet landing at the same time, however resent studies have shown that athletes actually land first with the opposite leg to the direction that they will move toward. For example, a right-handed player hitting a forehand would land first with their left foot as the support stance and then the right leg lands with the right hip turned to the direction of the next step.

How can this information be used to train athletes?

Trainers and coaches must understand the movement patterns of tennis. The movements of tennis players are different from other sports. Strengthening and training lateral movement patterns is critical in developing tennis players at every level of the game – junior, collegiate, professional, adult recreational, adult competitive and senior players.

Here are some exercises to help with lateral training:

  • Lateral movement with medicine ball (MB) catch-This exercise is great to simulate movement laterally. In addition the MB helps the athlete visually to accelerate and decelerate to the MB.
  • Side lateral mini hurdle runs- This plyometric exercise has athletes laterally hurdle through a set of small hurdles. Once through, the athlete must decelerate, stop and hold for a few seconds, then resume the exercise the opposite way.
  • Lateral resistive running- Once an athlete has appropriate strength then they should incorporate this exercise. Have the athlete put on the waist-band and attach the other end of the elastic band to the fence. Have the athlete side shuffle low to the ground keeping the upper body balanced as the lower body drives against resistance.
  • T-line to S-line shuffle- Have the athlete start at the center service mark. Side shuffle to the singles line and then back to the service mark. This exercise is about the same distance an athlete will travel before having to change directions.

Example of a lateral tennis-specific training session

Please check out the International Tennis Performance Association (iTPA) for education courses, tennis-specific fitness certification and hundreds of exercises and drills to help improve tennis-specific training www.itpa-tennis.org
Please share some other exercises that you have found to be beneficial in developing lateral movement!


Kovacs, M., (2009). Movement for Tennis: The Importance of Lateral Training. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 31 (4), 77-85.
Premier and upscale Athletic Club in Sudbury, MA  has an opening for a full-time High Performance Coach and Assistant Director of our Tournament Training Program position.

Position Overview:

 We are looking for someone with junior development experience that has created players on their own and has worked with Sectional and Nationally ranked players. This person preferably went through the early stages of the High Performance program and uses a sound fundamental philosophy of coaching along with being able to work well with others and part of a team. This person will work closely with the Director of Tournament Training Program and Tennis Director in taking a good existing program to a well respected program both regionally and nationally. Our Tennis Professionals are courteous individuals interested in promoting the game of tennis and ensuring the satisfaction of our members and their guests.


  •  As an integral part of our team you will have a positive impact on our club and the lives of others by:
  • Providing tennis lessons for adults and juniors
  • Marketing duties to grow the program  (Newsletter, Facebook…… to promote the program to the members and to the outside)
  • Help organizing the summer camp
  • Tournament Travel
  • Evaluating student progress and teaching tennis best practices and techniques
  • Motivating students by providing encouragement and positive feedback
  • Providing a remarkable member experience by caring and connecting with students
  • Expressing enthusiasm for the game of tennis


  •  This career minded professional will possess:
  • Have three or more years of teaching experience working with junior development and tournament level players
  • Possess a Tennis Performance Trainer (TPT) certification through the International Tennis Performance Association
  • Possess a NTRP rating of 5.0 or higher with collegiate/tour playing experience
  •  USTA Sport Science Level 1 and 2
  • Sincerely enjoy helping others improve their ability to play tennis
  • Carry themselves in an enthusiastic, friendly and positive manner
  • Understand the importance of being punctual
  • Maintain at least one nationally recognized certification in tennis
  • Enjoy talking about and promoting tennis
  • Work as part of a team
  • Must be willing to work evenings and weekends

We are looking for the right person, are you out there? If this sounds like you, we would love to hear from you!

Compensation and Benefits:

 Full-time associates are eligible to receive a competitive compensation package and benefits

Email the iTPA and we will put you in touch.  contact@itpa-tennis.org

LOCATION: Atlanta, Georgia, USA


The International Tennis Performance Association (iTPA) has a unique internship opportunity available in the area of tennis-specific applied research. The iTPA is looking for an applied coach/scientist to assist in multiple applied tennis-specific research projects. Additional responsibilities will be to assist in the training of junior and professional tennis athletes as well as working on multiple iTPA projects including contributing educational content, data entry, video analysis work, writing articles and analyzing research. Interns are expected to represent iTPA with high standards and in accordance with ethical guidelines for human research and conduct.


BS in Exercise Science/Kinesiology with 2 or more years of lab/research experience
Previous experience working with tennis athletes


MS in Exercise Science/Kinesiology/ Biomechanics/ Athletic Training
Certified Tennis Performance Specialist (CTPS)
Current CPR/AED certification
Field testing experience
Experience playing competitive tennis (high school and/or college)


Option 1: July thru December 2014
Option 2: September thru December 2014
Option 3: January thru April 2015


Option 1: May 12th – June 12th, 2014
Option 2: May 12th – July 30th, 2014
Option 3: May 12th – September 30th, 2014


Email a letter of interest and resume here and please put “Internship Application” in the subject line

Download PDF HERE

Heat-related illness and death are on the rise. Each year about 200 people in the US die from heat stroke, making it one of the top three causes of death in athletes - and the leading cause of death among athletes in July and August. Yet heat illnesses and dehydration are largely preventable...

Click on the below link to download the PDF with much more information on this topic. Produced in conjunction with our partner, STOP Sports Injuries.

Hydration Issues in Sports PDF
Click below to listen to the iTPA's Executive Director Dr. Mark Kovacs being interviewed on blogradio by Alex Ramirez 4/23/2014.

               Keep Kids in the Game for Life Through the STOP Sports Injuries Campaign

                              Healthcare and, Business Leaders, and Professional Athletes Join Forces to  Help
                                                                    Young Athletes Play Safe and Stay Healthy

Atlanta, Ga. –– Today, leaders at International Tennis Performance Association are coming together with the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association and Safe Kids USA to promote the STOP Sports Injuries campaign. 

The campaign educates athletes, parents, athletic trainers, coaches and healthcare providers about the rapid increase in youth sports injuries, the necessary steps to help reverse the trend and the need to keep young athletes healthy. The STOP Sports Injuries campaign highlights include teaching proper prevention techniques, discussing the need for open communication between everyone involved in young athletes’ lives, and encouraging those affected to sign The Pledge to be an advocate for sports safety. The campaign website and pledge are available at www.STOPSportsInjuries.org.

Sports injuries among young athletes are on the rise.  According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high school athletes, alone, account for an estimated two million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations every year. 

The iTPA is excited to join this important campaign, as a major emphasis of our education is focused on preventing and limiting injuries in young tennis players,” said Dr. Mark Kovacs, iTPA Executive Director.

The high rate of youth sports injuries is fueled by an increase in overuse and trauma injuries and a lack of attention paid to proper injury prevention. According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.

“Regardless of whether the athlete is a professional, an amateur, an Olympian or a young recreational athlete, the number of sports injuries is increasing – but the escalation of injuries in kids is the most alarming,” said Dr. James Andrews, former president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) and STOP Sports Injuries Co-Campaign Chair.  “Armed with the correct information and tools, today’s young athletes can remain healthy, play safe, and stay in the game for life.”

Supporting the STOP Sports Injuries campaign are the country’s leading sports medicine organizations along with professional athletes and business leaders who have signed on as members of the campaign’s Council of Champions. This Council will help raise additional awareness about this growing epidemic of youth sports injuries.  Some of the founding members of the Council include former Olympic champions Christie Rampone, Eric Heiden and Bonnie Blair, professional golfer Jack Nicklaus, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr, MLB baseball player John Smoltz, NFL Hall of Fame defensive end, Howie Long, and Heisman Trophy winner and St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

Improving youth physical fitness is a major objective of city, state, regional and federal government agencies, multiple organizations and trade associations, non-profits and private companies. Below is an article provided by SHAPE America (The Society of Health and Physical Education – formerly AAHPERD). The goal of this article was to provide physical educators and health professionals with new and relevant information about physical fitness. This is a very good resource that covers in greater detail the following 10 Concepts of Youth Physical Fitness.

1)      Fitness education is an important part of the total physical education program

2)      Health-related physical fitness assessment is an important part of physical education and fitness education programs.

3)      The relationship between health-related fitness and health  varies by age, but it exists for people of all ages.

4)      Although the strength of health relation­ships varies for different parts of fitness among youth, it is important to teach about all health-related fitness components in fitness education programs.

5)      Functional fitness is an important consideration in fitness education.

6)      Health-related fitness test items for use in fitness education may differ from those used in research or for national surveillance.

7)      Cardiorespiratory endurance is the recommended term for the fitness component frequently described as cardiovascular fit­ness, aerobic fitness, cardiorespiratory fitness, or cardiovascular endurance.

8)      An understanding of the term aerobic capacity is important for fitness education

9)      Fitness components classified as health-related are also criti­cal to performance in a variety of sports and other activities.

10)   Power, formerly considered a skill-related fitness component, can also be considered a health-related component of physical fit­ness.

Information from : Corbin et al. Youth Physical Fitness. JOPERD, 85 (2), 24-31, 2014

Download the 10 Aspects of Youth Physical Fitness PDF HERE