Warming-up is a part of any sport, and tennis is no exception. Going through a comprehensive, dynamic warm-up allows a player to:
- Prevent Injury
- Move Faster
- Improve performance
Just to name a few benefits...
Also, tennis is a full body sport and the body should be worked from head to toe during the warm-up. Tennis players need to prepare the body for quick sprints and stops, jumping, reaching and swinging.
Before we jump into the warm-up, first thing’s first: Show up early! Not only is showing up early a part of good tennis etiquette, but it allows you 10-15 extra minutes to get prepared. By the time your opponent arrives they’ll see you’re anxiously waiting and will get the match started ASAP, giving you a competitive advantage.
First, Get the Heart Pumping
The first part of any warm-up should consist of an exercise that increases the core body temperature such as running or jumping jacks—you could even bring a jump rope with you.
This exercise should be done for several minutes, to the point where heart rate has increased and the body is starting to get warm. This helps to get blood flowing, loosen the joints and warm the muscles to prepare them for strenuous activity.
|Novak always makes sure to stretch first|
Next you want to specifically work on footwork and short bursts of speed. Not only does this help the body warm up, but it prepares the lower body for the match ahead in terms of coordination and movement.
Consider using these agility exercises for several minutes. You can also use techniques like carioca, high steps, and hops, for example.
Lower Body Warm-Up
The goal here is to specifically target and loosen up the ankles, calves, hamstrings, quads, and hips. All of these muscles and joints deserve attention on their own.
To do so, use a combination of static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is where you stretch and hold. For example, reaching down to your toes and holding the position.
Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, involves movement during the stretch. So instead of holding the position when touching your toes, you would reach down once, come back up, and then reach down again.
Both forms of stretching have their own benefits, which is why both should be used. For joints like the ankles and hips, you’re going to need to use mobility drills. A mobility drill is when you take a body part and put it through it’s natural range of motion.
For example, a good mobility drill for the ankles and hips is to move them both in circles.
Upper Body Warm-Up
The shoulders and arms work on every stroke you hit, which is why they require plenty of attention during your warm-up.
Again, it’s a good idea to focus on both static and dynamic stretching. For static stretching, make sure to stretch your triceps and shoulders. For dynamic stretching, do plenty of arm circles: Forwards and backwards, big and little. This takes your shoulder through a wide range of motion, preparing it for the match ahead.
Warming-Up With the Racquet
If you’ve been playing for some time now, it’s likely that you begin your matches by hitting back and forth with your partner. While this is no substitute for a full warm-up, it is an essential part of preparing for your match as it acclimates your mind and body for the match ahead.
Begin by playing ‘mini tennis’, that is, playing within the two service boxes on each side. This forces you and your opponent to hit softly from the start. It also prepares your body to react and reach for balls.
From there, make sure to practice volleys. It can be one person hitting from the service line, or both players at the net.
Then, move back towards the base line. Don’t start crushing balls yet, but do make sure to get a deep, full range of motion on your shot.
It’s also a good idea to practice serving. A serve requires a lot of exertion muscles, and it’s something that should be eased into as opposed to 100% power from the get-go.
Although warm-ups may seem time consuming, they will pay off well during your matches. If you take 10 extra minutes before your match to warm-up, you will not only prevent injuries and enjoy the health benefits of tennis more, but you’ll develop an advantage of your opponents.