A lot of tennis players pay strict attention to their warm-up exercises while some others just do a few chest twists and muscle releasing movements before a tennis match. Doing a planned series of warm-up drills, which also includes cardio and dynamic stretching exercises, is quite beneficial for both professional and amateur players. Warm up exercises for tennis should be done for at least 10-15 min prior to playing or practice.
There are a variety of tennis exercises that help in reducing injuries and assist in developing functional flexibility, range of motion and balance. The range of tennis warm up exercises includes:
1. Cardio – Cardio exercises should be done for 3-5 minutes. Skipping or running can be done for cardio. The main purpose of cardio warm up is to increase your heart rate and circulation, thereby increasing the length of muscles and preparing the joints for exercise.
2. Muscle Activation – To overcome any muscle imbalance or any instability issues around certain joints, it is important to excite the correct muscles and push them to work during exercise. This can be achieved through muscle activation. Some useful activation exercises are Four Point extension, Supine Bridge and Shoulder External Rotation.
3. Range of Motion (ROM) – Tennis exercises are a great way to move joints and lengthen muscles. ROM exercises can be considered as exercises for an active stretch or loosening up of the body. The main benefit of ROM exercises is that they help in the movement of the whole body rather than just isolating a specific area or muscle, which is mandatory to do before playing any sport, especially tennis. Some of the best ROM exercises are Sumo Squat Lift, Lunge Twist, Thread The Needle and Spine Flexion.
4. Shadowing – This is the final phase of the warm up schedule. Shadowing imitates the movements that are performed on the tennis court. Shadowing gets the nervous system working and ensures that your body follows specific movement patterns. Shadowing exercises for tennis can be used to help you in preparing mentally for practice or play. The intensity of shadowing should increase every 20-30 seconds; so that you feel yourself ready physically as well as mentally before you start your session or match. A tennis player should do shadowing for at least 2-3 minutes (20-30 sec on: 20 sec off x 3-4 sets) alternating between forehands, backhands, overhead, volleys and serves.
5. Stretching – Stretching is very important after playing tennis. Players can feel tired and fatigued after playing tennis for hours, if they don’t follow a regular stretching program, it can have a long-lasting effect on their tennis fitness and performance. Once the match is over, players need to do a steady jog until their breathing has slowed down and they feel close to a resting heart rate. Then they should follow their stretch program, holding stretches for 30 seconds to 1 minute, targeting tight areas throughout their body.
Following these warm up steps that are specific exercises for tennis, will ensure you are ready every time you train, practice or play.