Graham Anderson, leading ATP World Tour physiotherapist talks about his experience and life on tour

What is your name, age and profession?

ANSWER: GRAHAM ANDERSON 49, Chartered Physiotherapist

How long have you been a sports physiotherapist?

ANSWER: 25 years

Which sports have you worked in over the years?

ANSWER: I began in rugby, then gradually worked with different sports including badminton, judo, boxing, korfball, athletics, football, hockey, triathlon, golf, and road cycling – all at national / elite team level. I then became more specialists in professional tennis, England badminton and endurance cycling and have often been used to support GB squash too. Now most of my time is taken with tennis and badminton.

What elite athletes have you treated?

ANSWER: I have treated many household names when working at the last 3 Olympics with team GB where as HQ physiotherapist I worked with rowers, track athletes, gymnasts and tennis players side by side. Now working in professional tennis I work with all the men on the ATP world tour from Novak Djorkovic, Federer, and Nadal to some of the lesser ranked doubles players.

When did you set up Balance Performance in Clapham in London?

ANSWER: Just over 10 years ago

What services does Balance Performance provide and who are your clients?

ANSWER: Balance Performance provide medically orientated multidisciplinary sports and wellbeing team (including doctors, sports physiotherapists, masseurs, strength and conditioning trainers, podiatrists, nutritionists) to treat injuries and improve the performance of the elite and the not so elite. Everyone is treated like an Olympic athlete at a level bespoke tailored to their needs, be it injury or improvement. We provide expert and professional analysis through biomechanical knowledge and video analysis – be it tennis serve, a golf swing a running style or even on bike cycle analysis. Our speciality is rehabilitation taking the client that bit further. Our feeling is that we need to turn an injury into a good thing and improve people 120% rather than just getting 70-80% better.

What is different at Balance Performance compared to other sports physiotherapists?

ANSWER: We work as team and aspire to go beyond getting people better but try to get people then better at the level they participate in by improving fitness and performance.

You have just spent five months working with some of the world’s leading tennis players on the ATP World Tour. Can you describe a typical working day?

ANSWER: Yeah it’s long! Get up eat breakfast and meet with players – often at 8am… Go to site and prepare players for practice and early matches. Help players with stretches and KT tape. Meantime I also have a long list of players with injuries requiring attention. Players playing on the day of course have priority but there is usually a queue. Once play starts (usually out about 11am) I am then on duty for all court calls. When called I usually have to stop treatment or player preparation and run fast to get to court on time. Can be busy if have 3-4 court calls one after another. This busy day continues until end/close of play. Oh and then I usually have to wait for a player to come back from media before I can treat them before we both leave site often in the early hours of the morning.

You have worked as Lead Physio at Wimbledon at The Championships for the past 9 years. Can you describe your most memorable experience?

ANSWER: I guess it was my first court call on Centre Court. It’s a great place to visit far less to be put under pressure to show your skills to a packed audience!

Which ATP and WTA players have you treated over the years?

ANSWER: Not many WTA players (although a few now seek me out for occasional assistance with their neck etc.) I have treated nearly ALL the top 300 ATP players and still treat may of the past players/champions.

What are the common tennis injuries you see on a daily basis on the ATP World Tour?

ANSWER: Well it’s like any of us who play tennis. It’s the usual back pain, neck pain. These top players push themselves so far they all stress their hips (usually non dominant side), elbows, knees and of course shoulders. That not including the odd sprained ankle – we get through a heck of an amount of KT tape!

You have just come back from the US Open at Flushing Meadows? What was that like?

ANSWER: It was my first time at this event – I haven’t even been to it as a tennis fan. I’m familiar with Wimbledon being one of the organisers behind the scenes there but this seemed so much bigger. The crowds were very non SW19!

What are the most enjoyable parts of the job and are their elements that you dislike?

ANSWER: If you’re talking about the ATP. My dislike has to be the travel (well the airplanes and airports) – although it’s the travel that brings me in touch with so many fantastic people from all walks of life around the world and even at my gathering years I am still able to learn each day from other therapist from another nationality.

You are about to work at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the 02 Arena in London? Have you worked at this tournament before?

ANSWER: The event was reborn in 2009 as the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals to be held in the heart of London at the O2 arena from 2009 to 2012.

Why is physiotherapy so important for elite athletes as well as for amateur sports mens and women these days?

ANSWER: A strange question – both get the same injuries and both want to win! The injuries are maybe due to intensity and the goal to win is definitely more financial with one group.

In your option what are the long-term health benefits for people who have regular physiotherapy treatment throughout their life?

ANSWER: My belief is that physiotherapy is not a role for repair only. In fact I get fed up patching the same people up sometimes. Prevention is the cure that why the ATP physio team including myself are continually educating these elite athletes to self help themselves from recurrent injury. Speaking with the coaches can also highlight technical and technique errors. All these points are with the aim to see us physios less. But, when you slip up, fall, fracture, sprain, bruise, or tire we will be there to help pick you up and get you on the court again.

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One comment

  • physiotherapy Sydney October 21, 2011  

    great portfolio of Graham Anderson, this just shows how a physiotherapist is so important to individual persons life. Thanks of the share on the interview!

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