Injuries and illness in elite junior tennis


Evert Verhagen


The project team is composed by Evert Verhagen (Associate Professor), and Babette Pluim (Sports Physician). This project there is sponsored by the KNLTB.


Background:Like many other sports, playing tennis—at either a recreational, collegiate, or professional level—places participants at risk of injury. Though many injuries that occur in tennis are common to other sports, tennis does have a unique profile of injuries. Differences in equipment, biomechanics, and physical demands result in an injury profile that differs from other racquets and throwing sports. Sports injuries, including tennis injuries, are a common cause of disability and, in the case of youth players, a loss of interest in sports. This can have substantial socioeconomic consequences, both on a personal and a societal level. For these reasons it is important to develop effective measures for the prevention of tennis injuries. To develop prevention strategies and provide proper medical care and guidance, the incidence, severity and causal factors of tennis injuries must be determined. While for adult players this has been studied relatively extensive, for elite junior players specific information on the nature and extent of the injury problem and the causes of injury are missing.

Objective(s): The objectives of this study are (1) to describe the incidence of injuries and illness in elite youth tennis players; (2) to describe the nature of injuries and illness in elite youth tennis players; and (3) to determine intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors of injuries and illness in elite youth tennis players 

Methods:The study is a prospective cohort study in Young tennis players (12-16 yrs) (n=73) who participate in the Royal Dutch Lawn and Tennis Association (KNLTB) tennis development program (LOOT). The data that will be used for the analyses is gathered for the LOOT program of the KNLTB. The KNLTB has implemented the physical ‘intake’ and injury registration in order to better streamline the medical guidance of children enrolled in their LOOT program. At baseline all children received a LOOT intake of the KNTLB. This intake consisted of measurements on physical characteristics, physical fitness, physical functioning and psychological characteristics. For the injury registration part of the LOOT program our department has developed and validated a questionnaire in concordance with the Norwegian Olympic Center and the KNLTB. This questionnaire consists of a weekly set of questions on (a) training and match exposure; and (b) any sustained physical complaints. In case of physical complaints additional questions will go into the nature of complaints.