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When burnout creeps in, give it a rest

Chris Sadkowski is one of the finest all around racket stars ever produced in Western New York. He started playing tennis at age 5 and was already playing tournaments at 8. He went on to star in tennis and squash at Nichols School and the University of Pennsylvania. Sadkowski and Dirk Dugan won the National Public Parks Tennis Doubles in the early 1970s. In 1973, Sadkowski was a finalist in both the city tennis and squash championships.

At age 23 he suddenly stopped playing tennis and squash and didn't pick up a racket for almost eight years. In Sadkowski's own words, "I was burned out from playing racket sports nonstop all of those years." Now living in Boston, he plays once or twice a week for enjoyment.

Jeff Boychuk was another great local tennis player who had wins over Rev. Bob Hetherington and Seth Bowen in the mid 1970s. He, too, stopped playing in his mid 20s, citing "burnout." He now lives in Toronto and plays occasionally.

Anthony Mazareigos, 17, was No. 5 in The Buffalo News tennis rankings. He stated that he has periodically suffered from burnout and it has greatly affected his game. By taking short breaks from tennis, he now is playing better than ever.

Tournament and recreational players both suffer from burnout at different times. What can they do about it?

The following suggestions could be helpful:

*Change your routine. One of the surest ways to burn out is to keep playing without taking a break or changing your tennis regimen. When we are playing badly we often feel that we need to keep playing to work through it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even professional tennis players try to take at least one day a week off from playing and sometimes two.

Most of us don't play six or seven days a week. However, you should try to add variety to your game, such as playing against new opponents or playing more doubles than singles.

*Take a break. If you dread going to the tennis courts because you feel totally burned out you must take some time off. Usually, a week to 10 days is helpful in recharging your tennis batteries. Anything longer than that could result in great disappointment when you do return to play.

When you decide to take your break be sure to work on your fitness by doing cardio and weight work. This is imperative and should also be done when you are playing tennis to ensure that you are in top physical shape.

Working out, in addition to playing, will keep your body limber and will reduce your chances of suffering serious injuries.

*Develop your mental game. You can't be thinking about your profession, your spouse and kids, and other distractions while you're playing. Concentrate on each and every point. Instead of worrying about winning every match, strive to work on improving your game.

*Prepare for a tournament. Some tournament players feel that they have to play up to the day before a tournament starts. They are only thinking of fitness and their stroke production. Unfortunately, rest rarely enters their mind.

Of course, preparing for a tournament is important. However, you also need to prepare time to rest. You should realize that making time for relaxation is just as important as working on your strokes and fitness.

*Take lessons. There are many fine tennis professionals in the Western New York area. They will be able to see what stroke weaknesses you have and can give you valuable tips for strategy and playing mentally tough.

*Get a new racket. Sometimes trying or purchasing a different racket has worked wonders for my game. Sometimes a lighter or heavier racket can do the trick. Be sure to demo at least three rackets before you decide on purchasing a new one.


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