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Number of Matches Played Determines Junior Tennis Players’ Risk for Injury, New Study Says

Significant increase in medical withdrawal after fourth match

ROSEMONT, IL - The number of matches junior tennis players compete in during a tournament directly affects their risk for medical withdrawal during a tournament concluded a study published in the youth focused May/June 2009 issue of Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach.

The study, which analyzed data for every match competed at all four 2005 United States Tennis Association (USTA) junior national tennis tournaments, discovered that the risk players might withdraw from the tournament due to a injury or illness increased significantly after their fourth match.

"It makes sense that a player would have an increased risk for injury or illness as the tournament continues due to variables such as dehydration, stress (both emotional and physical), and exhaustion," explains lead author Neeru A. Jayanthi, MD, from Loyola University Chicago. "Until this point, however, there have been no large-scale studies designed to determine the specific risk factors related to medical withdrawals. This study moves us past that; we now have data to support what was before an intuitive guess."

Medical withdrawal, which is self-reported, can occur prior to or during a match and is defined as an injury or illness that prohibits the athlete from continuing to compete. Competitive junior tennis players play up to ten matches in a tournament depending on how far they advance and whether they also play doubles.

Sixty-four tournaments with evenly distributed match exposure between males and females and among four different age groups (12, 14, 16, and 18-year-olds) were analyzed in the study. In addition to the number of matches played, higher injury rates were experienced by older players, males, in singles matches, and in main draw matches.

Limits to matches per day, extended rest after 4th match suggested

"Medical withdrawal rates in USTA national junior tournaments are higher than injury rates in other overhand, noncontact sports, such as baseball and softball. On top of that, the rates are closer to that of other intercollegiate contact sports such as soccer. Limiting the number of matches a player plays per day and initiating an extended rest period after the fourth match within a tournament may decrease the risk for withdrawal due to an injury or illness," suggests Jayanthi.


Source: Sports Health, a bimonthly, collaborative publication from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA), and the Sports Physical Therapy Section (SPTS). Other organizations participating in the publication include the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (AOASM). For more information on the publication or to submit a manuscript, click here

 

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