By Andrew Miles, Tennis Professional
We've all heard the importance of a proper warm-up routine. But are you doing it consistently and efficiently, or are you rushing through it with a lack of focus? Do you perform a dynamic warm-up before practice sessions or only before matches? Whether you're a recreational player or a competitive college player, tennis is a rigorous, total-body sport that requires an efficient warm-up to prepare the mind and body. A proper tennis warm-up is often neglected or not taken seriously enough, leading to nagging injuries that can easily be avoided. Don't wait for an injury to occur to get serious about stretching and warming up!
1. Light Cardio Warm-up
Perform some type of cardio activity for 5 minutes to warm your body and increase your heart rate and blood circulation. You should break a light sweat so your muscles are activated and your nervous system is alert.
Exercises to try: Jogging (forward, backward, lateral), skipping, jumping rope, jumping jacks, butt kicks, side shuffle steps, carioca steps
2. Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching involves movements (such as wide arm circles) that more closely resemble what the body does during sports activities, but without the bouncing often involved in static stretching. Perform dynamic range-of-motion exercises after your cardio warm-up for 10 minutes to awaken your muscles & joints. Incorporate multi-directional movements that mimic the movements you'll be making on the court.
Exercises to try: Forward & backward leg swings, elbow curls, walking lunges, arm hugs, trunk rotations, backwards step overs, straight-leg marches, walking knee hugs
Perform shadow movements for all tennis strokes to stimulate your nervous system and mentally prepare you for your upcoming match or practice session.
4. Post-Play Cool Down
Perform a light cardio cool-down with some static stretching immediately following your tennis session. Light jogging and mini-tennis is a great way to bring your heart rate and breathing rate down. Perform each static stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times per muscle group to improve flexibility and prevent tightness and soreness. Pay extra attention to areas of the body that are noticeably tight. Utilize a foam roller when you get home to self-massage any sore spots.