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Image Courtesy of Time Magazine

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Letter From the Editors Making an Olympic Sized Splash Cost of Swimming There’s More to it than Just Kicking

Countries Most Involved with Soccer How Tennis was Revolutionized Overnight Top Tennis Players of the Open Era Cracking Skulls & Taking Names Highest Paid Football Players per Position

Letter From the Editors

Image courtesy of Pintrest

As a group, we are very passionate about athletics. We each have different sports we enjoy, and we’ve spent years dedicating time and effort to them. Sports are an amazing way to escape from the stress of school, and they provide athletes with essential life lessons. Over the years, we have learned a lot about our respective sports, and we hope to share the training and technology that define them. Most people judge an athlete by the end result: the number that appears on the scoreboard. But it is also vital to consider everything it took to get there. By the time you turn the last page, we hope you will have gained this knowledge.

Thank You! 1 | Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018

Meet the Team


Alex has been swimming for seven years, most recently for Longhorn Aquatics. She is primarily a distance swimmer, and her favorite stroke is freestyle. She also swims for the LBJ swim team and hopes to compete at state at the end of the season. She is currently trying to qualify for higher level swim meets, including TAGS and Sectionals.


Tennis has been a passion for Milind since he was six years old. He participates in the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which consists of state and national level tournaments. Milind is currently ranked number two on the LBJ varsity tennis team, and the team qualified for the area competition this fall. He enjoys playing tennis because it is a great source of fitness, and it allows him to meet new people.


Lonnie started playing soccer when he was four years old, and he has never stopped. He is currently a forward on his club team, FC Westlake, which made it to state finals last year. Lonnie likes playing forward because he says it’s fun to score and set up goals. To Lonnie, soccer is a fun and challenging way to get exercise in.


Dylan Marintzer played many sports growing up, including football. He has always been passionate about football, and he played tackle football during seventh and eighth grade at Gorzycki Middle School. He is currently participating in wrestling at LBJ and looks forward to other sporting opportunities. Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018 | 2

Making an Olympic Sized Splash What it takes to swim at the highest level in the world By Alexandra Watson

As you step onto the starting block, you can feel yourself shaking, and you struggle to remain steady. You can’t afford to falter—the entire world is watching. The second you hear the buzzer, you slice through the water and propel yourself forward. You’ve given everything you have to this sport, and this is your chance. The Olympic Games allow athletes to represent their countries and achieve fame and recognition. Swimming is one of almost 30 sports featured in the Summer Olympics, which are held every four years. Competitors who wish to swim on the Olympic team have to qualify at Olympic Trials, and only the very best are chosen.

The University of Texas swimming facility where Laitala currently coaches and Crocker, Schurr, and Laitala all trained during their time on the U.T. college team. Photos by Alexandra Watson

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Mike Laitala has coached age-group and college swimming for more than 15 years, and currently holds the position of head coach at Longhorn Aquatics. He said one of the main traits Olympic swimmers should possess is commitment. “Most of our achieving Olympians have a strong work ethic,” Laitala said. “They are very driven, and they have pretty good lifestyle management to make sure schedules are set so they can make all their practices. They give 100 percent of their emotional, physical and mental being to a performance.” Ian Crocker has competed in three Olympics and set world records in

seven different events. He agreed that hard work is an important part of the equation, but other factors contribute to successful swimming as well. “The biggest piece of the puzzle is completely out of anybody’s control: what gifts you were given,” Crocker said. “You don’t see a lot of five-foot basketball players in the NBA because they just don’t necessarily have the gift. The guy that’s seven feet isn’t seven feet because he worked harder; he was just given that [advantage].” Crocker said swimming in the United States is extremely competitive. The chances of making the team are very slim, even for those at the

“For the most part, my biggest hurdle in swimming was Phelps,” Crocker said. “I remember the first time I raced him. I was the American record holder in the 100 fly, and he ended up beating me in our first race and breaking the world record. I remember thinking, ‘Maybe I should quit swimming.’ But I ended up working for another year harder than I’d ever worked before. In the semifinals at World Championships, I ended up breaking his world record.”

Michael Phelps and Ian Crocker prepare to swim the 100 meter butterfly at the 2008 Olympic Trials In Omaha. Photo courtesy of The New York Times

highest level. “The United States, for well over 40 years, has been the top swimming nation in the world. So it’s very challenging to try to make the Olympic team,” Crocker said. “Matt Grevers won the gold medal in the 100 backstroke at the London Olympics. Four years later, he couldn’t even qualify. So it’s just that tight of competition; there are no guarantees on who’s going to actually make the Olympic team.” Christian Schurr, who represented Mexico in the 2012 Olympics, said in addition to fierce competition, swimmers have to face mental and physical barriers in their training. “Eight times out of ten, I just didn’t feel very good, and it was hard to come to practice,” Schurr said. “Sometimes I just physically didn’t have it. I knew I was going to give it the best I could, and that’s what mattered,

but overcoming not feeling the way I wanted to was probably one of the biggest obstacles I had.” Swimmers who compete at a very high level have to manage the challenges that accompany their success. Because of his introverted personality, Crocker struggled with traveling and making transitions. “I qualified for my first national team the summer after my junior year in high school,” Crocker said. “Most kids that had goals of trying to make the Olympics [would be excited] if they got the opportunity to swim on a national team and go to Australia for a month. But I was such a shy kid that it was terrifying. It took almost the entire year for my parents to convince me that it’d be a good idea for me to go on the trip.” Crocker also said he was somewhat impeded by rivalries with fellow swimmers, but this also contributed to his success.

Crocker said his Olympic aspirations started when he was very young; only two years after he began swimming. “When I was ten and I saw them on TV, that was when it became a goal of mine,” Crocker said. “It was eight more years of training before I got to go to my first Olympic Trials and qualify.” However, Schurr said the Olympics didn’t become a goal of his until much later in his swimming career. “It was always in the back of my mind, but I don’t think I was like, ‘Hey, I can make it’ or ‘I really want to make it’ until after 2004 Olympic Trials,” Schurr said. “When I went to that Olympic Trials, it wasn’t one of my best meets. I think having that meet where I didn’t do very well just made me even more hungry to do it. I didn’t get really serious until I was basically a sophomore in college.” As a coach, Laitala has helped prepare 20 athletes for Olympic Trials. He has seen swimmers develop Olympic dreams at many different points in their careers.

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training process for Trials and the Olympics involved a lot of different components. On his high school club team, he swam and lifted weights in the morning. After school, he would do dryland exercises before getting in the pool. Laitala’s team practices roughly 17 hours a week, but he said most Olympic-level swimmers will do 20 to 30 hours. According to Laitala, the intensity of swim training has to do with how the body functions in the water. “Obviously, water is foreign to the human body to be in all the time. So the more we can be in Laitala coaches his National team at the University of Texas swim center during a swim the water, the more fluid our meet. Photo by Alexandra Watson motion becomes,” Laitala said. “In the lifestyle sport of swim“That can start at any point in capability.” ming, it’s pretty much time for any individual,” Laitala instrumental that a swimmer said. “So far, it seems like the Making Olympic Trials depends is experiencing the water on a younger in life, the more it helps. entirely on qualification times. [But] I have seen swimmers later Regardless of age, swimmers who daily basis. Getting away from the water for an extended period in their career—say high school— achieve the given time standard loses our fitness and performance start swimming at a really high at a sanctioned swimming event level. So that’s how we stack level. So it can happen at any will be allowed to attend. time.” Laitala’s National team, which is and build training, growing and made primarily of high-schoolers, increasing all the way through a According to Laitala, is currently working toward those four-year block to get ready for the Olympics.” swimming has evolved over the times. last 20 years. Age no longer plays as much of a factor in Olympic “We like to think we have a good Schurr said in regards to training, there is a very quick turn-around qualifications—many swimmers contention headed toward 2020 between each Olympic Games. competing at recent Trials have Olympic Trials,” Laitala said. been high school students. “Times are not out—they’re “It starts right when four years going to be out in a couple of “High-level training done at a months. We have one high school is up for that last Olympics,” Schurr said. “It’s kind of a long young age, as soon as you get to swimmer that’s under the process. It’s not like you can full height and maturity of the previous Olympic Trials cut, so body, has proven that they can we’re hoping that it doesn’t drop start a year before the Olympics and expect to make it. You’ve swim as efficiently as the best too far. But we definitely see a got to plan ahead.” swimmers,” Laitala said. “The good number of athletes in our whole equation is how to get group right now that will hopethe human body to work with fully get there over the next two In the Olympic Trials, nearly 100 swimmers compete in the the water as fast as [possible]. I years.” preliminaries of each event. In think that we can all learn from shorter events, swimmers that each other and swim to the same As a young adult, Crocker’s finish in the top 16 advance to 5 | Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018

semifinals later that day, and the top eight from semifinals make it all the way to finals. The first two finishers are usually selected for the team, but additional swimmers are taken for relays. About 32 athletes make the Olympic team overall. Once the team is assembled, they still have almost a month to prepare for the Olympic meet. On the American team, the competitors travel to a training camp to get ready. From there, they go to an area with a similar time zone to where they will be competing. This allows their bodies to adjust and recover from jet lag. “At that time, you’re just spending time at the hotel with your teammates. So you’re training and eating and just being together,” Crocker said. “Everything you can possibly think of is taken care of for you. They give you all the clothes you’re going to need for that entire month, and there’s always really great healthy food. You’re completely spoiled for a month.” Since Schurr anticipated that he would make the Olympics, he had a clear plan in place to prepare for the meet. “I trained really hard from June until the beginning of July because I knew I needed a big taper,” Schurr said. “I took that into consideration. I started bringing the yardage down. The weights came off. [I was] doing different meets and different sets to see where I was at. [I was] making sure I was hitting my pace, which I was doing really well with. Those last two weeks were just fine-tuning the details.” Crocker said once you’re at the Olympics, it’s important to take it

seriously. The chance to swim at the Olympic level is granted to very few people. “Since it’s only once every four years, you feel like you have to get everything just right because you don’t have that many opportunities,” Crocker said. “For most people, making one Olympic team is all they’re going to end up making. I feel grateful that I was able to swim in three different ones.” Because the Olympics are considered such a big deal, Crocker said it was difficult to deal with the stress involved. “If it was a small meet in my

“For the most part, when you keep your mind focused on the right stuff, it’s a huge honor to be able to be one of the best in our country.” - Ian Crocker hometown, I was nervous. So you can imagine what it would be like when the whole world is watching and you’re standing behind the blocks and Phelps is next to you and you’ve got a camera in your face,” Crocker said. “There’s a lot of pressure there.” However, Crocker also said it’s important not to let anxiety detract from the excitement of making the Olympics. “For the most part, when you keep

your mind focused on the right stuff, it’s a huge honor to be able to be one of the best in our country and go do a cool thing like the Olympics,” Crocker said. “It was a big deal for me; I was the first swimmer to ever go to the Olympics from the state of Maine, and I was only the second gold medalist [in any sport] from the state of Maine in the summer Olympics. People get really excited about it.” While swimming in the Olympics was a rewarding experience for him, Crocker advised that young swimmers shouldn’t fixate on making it. “It’s always a noble goal. Realize that even for the fastest swimmers in the world, there is no guarantee in our country that you’re going to make the Olympic team,” Crocker said. “It’s okay to have that goal way out in the future, but try to have small goals that are more short-term.” Schurr also encouraged swimmers to build up to the Olympics rather than only focusing on achieving that goal. “I would keep that in the back of your mind like I did,” Schurr said. “Take some baby steps first. If you look too much in the long-term for what you want to accomplish, it might hurt you short-term. For a lot of people, that long-term goal is a stretch. So take it one step at a time. One practice at a time. One day at a time.” The next Olympic Trials will be held in late June of 2020, and the Olympics will be a month later in July and August. Swimmers who hope to make the team will be training heavily to get ready for the demanding process of Trials and—for the few who make it—the Olympics. Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018 | 6

Cost of Swimming by alexandra watson

Statistically, swimming is one of the most costly sports to participate in. These are some of the common expenses for USA Swimming at the age group level.

cap: $20 goggles: $20

racing suit: $400

images courtesy of: swim west swim2000 zwemza amazon triathlete dan’s dive shop swim training amazon behance

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kickboard: $15

paddles: $20

parka: $100

equipment bag: $20 swim bag: $50

fins: $20

team: $3000

pull buoy: $10

snorkel: $30 Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018 | 8

There’s More to it than Just Kicking An in-depth view of the skill set and recovery required to play soccer By Lonnie Glasscock

US Soccer Team Training Courtesy of UNF Spinnaker

Many athletes that play soccer go through challenging training and intense recovery programs. They have to go through special recovery programs to ensure their muscles get the treatment they need. Soccer players have to run, use weights, do technical drills and stay on a strict diet plan. Their lives are pretty much controlled by the sport they play. The average professional soccer player trains four to five hours a day, at least five times a week. Soccer is a huge workout for your whole body, but mainly your legs; in soccer, you run, jump, 9 | Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018

kick and switch directions, all at fast speeds. Soccer coaches are just as involved as the players, working day and night to help train their players as best as possible. Coaches are skilled in the game and most have been playing their whole life. “Being fit is extremely important,” said Paul DeFelice, a Westlake Football Club soccer coach. “If you play anywhere else besides the goalkeeper, you’re going to move around that field for 80 minutes. So if you can’t run, you can’t really

play, and that’s not just jogging, but throwing in intermixing and sprints and change of pace.” Due to the immense amount of running and versatile movement required, soccer players put loads of stress on their legs, and lots of times they can get injured. Dr. Kyler Brown, a chiropractor at Austin Sports Therapy, said one of the most common injuries in soccer is a pulled muscle. With an untreated pulled muscle, you can have loads of trouble playing in a game.

“Soccer is a tough one to get someone back to playing because it asks a lot. You have to be able to change direction really hard, and then you also need be able to deliver whatever skill it is.” - Dr. Kyler Brown Brown said torn muscles can take anywhere from a couple of days to months to heal. For serious tears, you can sometimes need surgery and intense physical therapy. Brown does specific exercises to get athletes back to their previous physical position; he’ll have them do control activation drills and eventually add weight to get their strength back. In soccer, there are many drills

that each help you improve your skills in specific ways. There are special drills for shooting, passing, dribbling, movement; the list is endless. But what is the most important aspect of soccer? If you asked DeFelice, he would tell you that anyone who knows anything about soccer would say your first touch. Your first touch from a pass dictates where you go next and what options you have to play. Having a bad first touch can really affect your play.

Coach Paul DeFelice (left).

“If your first touch is one that’s going to put you in bad positions, it’s going to put you in a position for tackles. If it’s one that’s going to make it bounce up, you got to deal with the bouncing ball on your second touch, which is difficult.” DeFelice said. How does one get a better first touch? DeFelice said it’s all about practice and the 10 thousand hour rule. “You always want to do technical

Dr. Kyler Brown

work,”DeFelice said. “It’s a lot about repetition...a lot of times that’s just a matter of repeating it. Thousands upon thousands of times to make sure to get to a spot where it’s just muscle memory.” Another important aspect of soccer is strength. Whether you’re pushing over another player or trying to keep the ball, strength will always be important in soccer, especially when you go up to the higher levels. “More strength never hurts, as long as you’re not trading off agility or speed. Sometimes guys get yolked.” DeFelice said.

Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018 | 10

Evolution of Soccer Cleats Early 1900s:

Mid 1900s:

Examples of machines used help athletes gain their strength back. Photo courtesy of Giggster.

Late 1900s:

Early 2000s:

Present Day:

Images courtesy of Adidas

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In soccer, I would rather be fast and strong. I would like to be both, ideally. You know how it is when you’re up against a big dude that kind of throws you around a little bit or they’re just really physical. Strength would definitely help.” Soccer requires a lot of endurance, which can take a toll on the teenage body. Legs are used very often in different ways, which means they’re highly affected by soccer. Recovery from injuries is super important to soccer players and all other athletes. With an injury, athletes’ play is very

limited. Eli Betton, an eighth-grader at Kealing Middle School who has Osgood Schlatters disease, said he can barely sprint with his condition. Osgood Schlatters is a disease that lots of teenage athletes experience due to growth spurts; it causes a painful lump below the kneecap, reducing the athlete’s ability to run fast. This disease is one that can be treated. All diseases and injuries must be treated to help the athlete get better, or they could face consequences. Brown treats many teenage soccer play-

ers who have gotten injured. “You’ll get ankles for sure,” said Brown. “Soccer is one of the more interesting sports because it has endurance and the explosion of power and then a unique skill set. So the most common stuff in soccer is going to be ankle and knee and the lower extremities stuff and then your muscle pulled.” A lot of times, people will come to Brown, and he will introduce them to other options they can use to get better.

The Eight Biggest Soccer Stadiums He said he likes to think of what he does as a gateway into other methods to help people. Brown uses filming to help people. People will come to him with pain or stress, and he uses videos of them to help them. With the videos, he can get a closer look at what’s creating the pain. “It’s a lot of watching them move, filming them and watching them do their sport, but also watching them do exercises here in our lab and then figuring out what’s causing stress,” Brown said.

“To an athlete who plays soccer, rehabilitation is just as crucial [as running]. In soccer, not being able to run means you can’t play the game. Without recovery from training, games and injuries, you won’t be able to run.” - Dr. Kyler Brown

#1 Rungrado May Day Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea (capacity 150,000)

#5 FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa (capacity 94,736)

#6 The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, USA (capacity 92,542)

#2 Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain (capacity 99,354)

#7 Wembley Stadium, London, UK (capacity 90,000)

#3 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico (capacity 95,500)

#8 Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia (88,083) Images courtesy of Business Insider

#4 Azadi Stadium, Tehran, Iran (capacity 95,225)

Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018 | 12

Countires Most Involved With Soccer By Lonnie Glasscock

Soccer is a sport that is played all over the world. Almost every country has a different name for it. Here are the top 10 countries with most registred professional players, and what they call soccer, courtesy of Google Translate.




6,309,000 Professional Players “Fußball” 4,187,000 Professional Players “Soccer” 2,142,000 Professional Players “Futebol”


1,795,000 Professional Players “Football”


1,514,000 Professional Players “Calcio”

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1,486,000 Professional Players “Football”

South Africa

1,469,000 Professional Players “Sokker”


1,139,000 Professional Players “Voetbal”


1,045,000 Professional Players (Pronounced) “Sakkā”


866,000 Professional Players “Soccer”

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How Tennis was Revolutionized Overnight

Coach Ward explained the many different changes in the equipment in an interview at Austin Tennis Center

In the past years, the game of tennis has experienced drastic changes in equipment, technology and injury prevention By Milind Mutala

As the years have passed, tennis has experienced significant changes in many aspects of the sport, which have created the modern, respectable sport of tennis. Tennis is still changing to this day, and many more athletes are joining the sport. Image Courtesy of Timeless

Aside from the stereotypical fast strokes and quick movement, tennis has experienced an amazing history, consisting of new advancements that have helped improve the sport. There has been a significant difference in the attitude towards tennis as well as the effort put into the sport. Since the origins of tennis many centuries ago, the basics have changed, making the sport more elegant and respectable. Many experienced coaches have helped players improve their game over the years, but they have had to change their teaching styles in the process. Changes including the equipment, physicality and technique have formed what we now perceive as the sport of tennis. “The game of tennis has had a 15 | Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018

long history of improvements,” Naman Galvin, an experienced tennis coach at MAC 360 tennis center said, “which have created better versions of the outdated wooden rackets and shaggy balls.” As more companies such as Babolat and Lacoste started to develop rackets, the market expanded, and tennis started to become more popular. In 1968, tennis company Wilson introduced the first steel racket, which revolutionized the sport, making rackets more powerful and flexible. In the 1970s, tennis took a sharp turn as the company Prince introduced aluminum rackets, which were improved to have graphite frames, giving players more freedom with their shots. “The game was played with wood

and then it went to aluminum,” Lincoln Ward, a tennis coach at Austin Tennis Center said. “[The equipment] changed the playing field and the styles of play.” This change created a new way of playing in terms of technique and agility while older methods became obsolete with the new, more efficient style of play.

“The game of tennis has had a long history of improvments.” - Naman Galvin

“Tennis shots have changed a lot throughout the years because many players are now using a modern stance.” - Lincoln Ward In the present day, rackets are much more powerful, aerodynamic and last longer. Tennis balls and strings have become more durable and easy on the arm, due to the nylon material and the minor adjustments regarding the shape. Additionally, many players are using different stances and grips, which are much more effective. As the sport is experiencing profound changes, new companies are reeling in large profits. “Tennis shots have changed a lot throughout the years because many players are now using a modern stance that yields them more power and spin on the ball… many players are using a different grip,” Juan Miguel, a tennis coach at Austin Tennis Center and Pharr Tennis Center said. “Back in the day, every player had a flat, monotonous game.” In the past, most players were accustomed to one game style, which all coaches recommended, and there was no sense of creativity or innovation, but this ideology has been transformed into a much wider realm of possibilities.

but every person uses the same fundamentals. These fundamentals have to do with the movement of a player’s core and the positioning of their legs and hips. “Before, the game of tennis was more of a linear sport, and now it’s more of an angular momentum sport,” Ward said. “You are getting more force through centripetal rotation…it changes the way you move in your agility. There’s a lot more dance steps involved in tennis compared to the past.” Players are starting to practice side shuffling and moving backward because every form of agility is needed for a player to succeed and win a match. Professional players in the past were able to do other extracurricular activities and enjoy their lives outside of tennis without compromising their training. Even though this is still possible in the modern era, it is highly unlikely due to the high competition. Many professional players didn’t have to worry about their future or their financial status because of the limited competition at that time. “Back in the day, [players] used to be able to go party and do extracurricular activities,” Javier

Contreras, an experienced coach at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School said. “There are some that still do that stuff, but it is definitely harder to maintain.” Previously, only a few tennis players were succeeding and well-known because of the limited technology. Players that would advance in a tournament and make it far in the draw would be shown on television because they were considered the best. Therefore, most foreign players, who still had excellent shots, would not have the chance to succeed in the tennis world. “I didn’t know about a lot of players from different countries except for the players that are on top,” Ward said. “They had more footage.” Technology has been booming over the past years because of the increased number of companies and people involved in this career. Online technology has created a new learning atmosphere because competitors of all ages can look on the internet or YouTube to find videos or simulations. These resources have proven to be helpful for tennis players because they are able to learn the fundamentals at a young age without having to go out on the court.

Tennis rackets have evolved since the beginning of the sport, and companies are continuing to make minor adjustments to make modern rackets more powerful and efficient. Image courtesy of Stinston Tennis

There are various new motions that have been introduced to tennis, which make it more interesting and fun to watch. Each player has a unique game style, Athletes 101 — Fall Ezine 2018 | 16

“Communication has changed over the years,” Ward said. “It’s so much easier to learn about tennis on the internet. The ability to see and learn about tennis has changed over the years.” In addition to the substantial improvements in digital technology, there have been various physical innovations, which are helping players in the present day. These tools have allowed players to practice at home, without a tennis court or coach, and they are able to develop their shots when the weather is not favorable outside. One such tool is the stationary ball holder as it is a contraption that holds a tennis ball at optimal height. Any athlete can now practice hitting the ball in front of them at a nice height, which will help them when they are in an actual match. “You can practice when it’s raining outside; stationary objects allow you to hit more frequently in a smaller amount of time using less energy,” Galvin said. “It allows you to really focus on one thing and get that one thing down.” Even though this technology seems promising and fully effective, there are a few disadvantages of using these resources.

Technology can often be harmful because players will try and reenact the exact motions and movement of the players online, which can severely damage their game. Every tennis athlete has a unique game, which pertains only to them, but most players have the same basic technique.

often slow the ball down and prevent a proper bounce while the court itself would often wear out soon, making the cost to maintain courts expensive.

“Instead of worrying about a ball bouncing three feet over their head, children are playing on the correct size court for them.” - Naman Galvin

In the present day, we see hard courts and clay courts all around the world. In contrast to the grass courts, the installation of clay and hard courts is relatively simple and cheap, but with clay courts, long-term maintenance can be a problem because of the mix of materials used to create the perfect balance that makes clay courts playable. Both courts provide much faster gameplay and bounce because of the materials in the court.

“[It’s] a double-edged sword,” Soler said. “In my own experience, people that try and emulate something on YouTube, which maybe is not the right game style, can actually [become] hurt. Each person is going to have to improve their own games.” The surfaces of tennis courts have had an important role in tennis because each court surface has its own advantages and disadvantages. When tennis was first introduced in Britain, it was played on a grass surface. This grass surface would

As time passed, clay courts and hard courts were popularized in the U.S. and Europe as they were more convenient.

“In clay courts, the ball kicks up high, so a topspin shot would work well in that situation,” Ward said. “Hard courts are right in the middle, so you can use a combination of all [your] skills.” Court size is also an important part of tennis because many children are interested in playing tennis, but the size of the court is too overwhelming. The standardized court size is 36 by 78 feet. This court is still used by professionals and many amateur players, but tennis unions and companies decided to introduce smaller courts, which would suit younger players. These courts are often used by many parents who want to teach their children the basics of the sport. There are four court surfaces in the game of tennis, and certain playing styles are more effective on specific courts. Many countries are accustomed to one court while tournaments are held on all surfaces. Image courtesy of Tennis Court Supply

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Injuries are very common in the sport of tennis, and stretching plays a major role in injury-prevention. Image courtesy of Tennis Week

force a player to sit out for the rest of the season. Not only does it take a long time to recover physically and game-wise, but lots of effort is needed in order for the player to regain their confidence. “You have to rely on the athletic trainer,” Contreras said. “So for me, the physical injuries are a nightmare.”

As competition has been increasing in the game of tennis, there is an increased importance for the mental aspect of the game. There are different coaches in the world, but they will always preach the importance of mental toughness. Mental toughness is the ability to cooperate with losing a point and being able to calm the mind and strategize to win the next point. As the game has progressed, this characteristic is critical in order for a player to succeed. This mental toughness can lead players to come back from an extreme losing position to win the game. “The mental aspect of the game is extremely important and accounts for about 60 percent,” Contreras said. “Nowadays, all the players have good speed, training and strokes, so tennis is evolving... competition is getting difficult as tennis progresses.” In addition to the mental aspect of the game, the physicality of a player is important, and injuries can cause an abundance of harm. In any sport, injuries are a major setback and are damaging for a player, their coach and the parents. Especially in tennis, injuries can affect a player’s game negatively because one tweaked muscle or fractured bone will

Injuries have always been a time-consuming issue, but with the improving stretching and medical methods, injuries are becoming more preventable. With new medical taping and sport bands, tennis players can more easily flex their arms or move their legs. There are different types of grips that players use, which will suit the comfort level that the player wants. All of these minor changes have had a huge impact on injury prevention, making tennis a safe sport for everyone.

Galvin believes that both injuries exist, but physical injuries are more common due to the rough external factors. Maturity also plays a role in tennis because a player’s reaction or mindset after losing and winning a point will affect the next points as well. Most tennis athletes are not conscious of their behavior on the court, which can have serious consequences. “10 percent of the game is what actually happens, and the other 90 percent is how you react to what occurred,” Galvin said. “If you’re not mature enough to handle it and have the proper foresight, you will struggle.” With the countless improvements in tennis, there have been various sharp turns in terms of the popularity because of the rise and fall of many top players.

“More people are playing and falling in love with the Many factors have sport.” changed the sport of including the - Javier Contreras tennis, equipment, courts,

Even though it sounds bizarre, there are forms of mental injuries in tennis. Frequently, coaches will refer to this as not being calm on the court, but there are indeed numerous mental problems that come with the stress and physicality of any sport. “Mental injuries are hard to analyze because the brain is so complex,” Galvin said. “In some cases, players get mental injuries, which I would describe as not having a stable mind in the game and getting mad at yourself on the court.”

mindset and injury prevention. As newer generations of players are coming in, there have been major improvements, on and off the court, which are directly helping tennis players. Without a doubt, tennis has become a sport that is welcoming towards all and rewarding for top professional players. As time passes, the game of tennis is becoming admirable as well as fun to watch and play.

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Cracking Skulls & Taking Names The evolution of concussions and how they can be prevented By Dylan Marintzer

The physical trainer attends an injured player on the football field. Photo courtesy of ESPN

Pow! You just got hit in the head, and you think you might have a concussion, but you don’t know what to do. What happens next? Previously, concussions were as common in football as making a touchdown, and people didn’t worry about them, but now everything is changing. As our world gets more technologically advanced, we are beginning to fully understand concussions and the large effect that they have on the brain. Football players exchange head-to-head contact. Photo courtesy of Independent Media Clients

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As we get to know more about concussions, concussion-prevention equipment also becomes more advanced in stopping concussions, especially infootball. For a long time, people have tried to improve the helmet, and helmets have come a long way. But they’re far from perfect. Helmets still don’t have full impact reduction, nor can they fully protect a blow to the head. But there are other things we can do to help prevent these

concussions. Dr. Greg Westmoreland, an orthopedic surgeon and the team physician for Regents Catholic School, believes one way to help prevent these concussions is to warn children from a young age. “There’s a very real risk...a high risk of concussions, [and let them know that they need to be careful]...[but] if they want to play, let them play.”

Greg Westmoreland, MD Sports Medicine

Another way that concussions and their effects can be minimized is to teach children how to tackle and fall properly. The thing about learning how to tackle is to not use your head. When you tackle, the proper form is to tackle low, preferably near the waist or lower using one shoulder. Your head should

go on the outside of the shoulder that is tackling, and it should never go into or through the legs of the player getting tackled.

treated right away. That is why tackle football games have a trainer on-site, and every coach is trained in concussion protocol.

As for how to fall properly, there are a few things to keep in mind. You should fight as hard as you can to keep your head from hitting the ground, as that can induce serious head trauma, and never try to brace your fall with your wrist. If you fall on your wrist, you might be falling too fast and you might end up breaking your wrist. Even if you are able to brace yourself without injury, someone will likely fall on you. Their force will bring them, as well as you, to the ground, that extra weight will add pressure to your already-strained wrist.

Hays High School Nurse Sheri McKee said there are a few ways to identify concussions.

Concussions can also be prevented or minimized by having them diagnosed and

“One way is if one of your pupils is bigger than your other,” McKee said. “If they don’t respond equally to light, like if you shine a flashlight in their eyes and the pupil stays big, that’s a [bad] sign. Or if they have a headache, or if they can’t remember simple things like what day it is or what their name is, those are some [bad] signs.” Once someone has a concussion, they must go through a concussion protocol, usually seeing a doctor and resting up. Greg Westmoreland explained the diagnostic process.

Football player Nate Jackson receives a concussion. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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Evolution of Football Helmets 1920s:



“So what [Regents does] is all the kids at our school take a neurologic impact test as a baseline, and then when they think they have a concussion, they have to take that test again. When the score is less, then they’re considered [to have] a concussion,” Westmoreland said. “Next, you get checked out from a doctor, and if you have a decent [concussion] it’s at least two weeks without play. So then you rest them and you can’t let them do almost anything.” The diagnostic process sounds fairly simple, but the road to recovery can be long. While going to the doctor is easy, the hard part is resting and not actively exercising, as well as watching TV or even reading. All of these things get in the way of your brain fully healing. Kelly Davis has dealt with concussions

and their aftermath throughout her life. She had a very severe concussion playing soccer a couple years ago. “[I] was playing soccer,” Davis said. “I was going for a goal and I collided with the goalie. I flew back over my head and knocked my head onto the ground, and I was trying to keep my head up so it didn’t hit the ground, but that didn’t work, and I blacked out after I hit the ground. I can’t really remember anything else.” Davis had a much more severe concussion that normal because you don’t black out unless you acquire some serious brain damage, and while the incident may have happened almost two years ago, she still struggles with the side effects. To this day, she still can’t play any sport at full speed, and she can’t

Present Day:

Photos Courtesy of Riddell, Pinterest and The Sports Memorabilia Museum

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This image shows all of the things you can’t do while recovering from a concussion. Photo courtesy of Concussion-U

“You really need to take this seriously and understand that this is your brain, and it needs to fully heal or you won’t be the same as you used to be. And it’s really hard to do that...when you’re in the moment you really just want to do something but you can’t.” stay outside for too long or her head will start to hurt. “Take [recovery] seriously and turn everything off for at least a week,” Davis said. “Like nothing. Not phones, TV, computers, or even books. You really need to take this seriously and understand that this is your brain, and it needs

Concussion researchers perform studies on Bryan Muir. Photo courtesy of Toronto Star.

to fully heal, or you won’t be the same as you used to be. And it’s really hard to do that because you think ‘Oh, that’ll be easy,’ but when you’re in the moment, you really just want to do something but you can’t.” With all of this, concussion awareness is becoming more

well-known as famous athletes are speaking out about their experiences. With that, concussion awareness is gaining popularity and new technologies are being created to help in the recovery process. Someday in the near future, we might just see concussions as a thing of the past.

The doctor gives the football player a baseline concussion test. Photo courtesy of Beaumont Emergancy

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Photo courtesy of Luiz C. Ribeiro Photography

Photo Courtesy of Evening Standard

Athletes 101  


Athletes 101