Think back to the last tennis match you saw. If you don’t watch tennis, just think back to the most recent sporting event you saw. Did the players come out of the locker room ready to kick some butt right off the bat? No. If you watch, the players spend at least 20 minutes warming up before the game begins. Some players are stretching. Others practice shooting or throwing whatever it is that they’re supposed to be shooting and throwing. The purpose of warming up and stretching is to prepare your body for the game ahead. Now think about all the movement required in a game of tennis. There is plenty of darting, diving, dipping, dodging, etc. The sad truth is, it is all too easy to land wrong or twist something in tennis. These simple techniques I am about to give you will minimize your chances of injuring yourself and maximize your performance on the court at the same time.
Get Your Muscles Going
First and foremost, you must remember to warm your muscles up before you start using them. When your muscles are warmed up, they are much more flexible and less susceptible to tearing. It is not advisable to begin stretching when you aren’t warmed up-picture a rubber band that has spent a week or so in the freezer.In order to warm up your muscles, I suggest a very light cardio exercise to get your heart moving. When I was in sports, I always preferred to jog lightly the whole time I was going through the warm-ups because jogging is easy and therefore not at all strenuous for the muscles.Your warm up doesn’t have to be running, you are welcome to do something else to get the blood flowing if you would prefer. Whatever strikes your fancy, just remember never to start stretching without doing this beforehand!
The Cross Stretch
Next, we’re going to look at my number one all-time favorite stretch. Cross your right foot over your left, then bend over with your legs straight to touch your toes. Count to 10 while holding that position, then switch feet and repeat. It may seem a little too basic, but this stretch is a godsend for me because I’m 6’6 and have extremely long legs. I had to pull a few hamstrings before I realized the importance of stretching the legs, but better late than never! With the amount of movement required for tennis, it is crucial to keep your legs loose and limber.
The Groin Stretch
The last leg stretch I want to talk to you about is arguably one of the most important stretches a tennis player can do-the groin stretch. Unlike most other sports, tennis has a lot of the “shuffle-shuffle, side-to-side going on. Most of a player’s movement comes from their groin area, so it is essential that a tennis player keep the groin area stretched at all times. To do the groin stretch, start by bringing your right leg back as though you are trying to kick yourself in the rear. Once you reach this position, bring your leg up and around then back to the ground. Proceed to do the same with the left leg. Do this exercise from one end of the court to the other. If you want to see how this is done, feel free to check out the YouTube video at the bottom of this page.
Preventing the Arm Injuries
Now let’s look at doing what we can for the arms. The condition known as “tennis elbow” can wreak havoc on a player’s game if they are putting too much strain on their arm. Tennis is a game that requires the same repeated motion throughout the entirety of the match, so it is important to keep the arms flexible as well. You can start with a simple arm stretch that consists of holding your right arm straight out while using your left arm to hold the elbow in place. Hold that for 10 seconds, than alternate arms. With me so far? Awesome.
Next, we have a simple rotator cuff exercise that is designed to loosen- well, your rotator cuffs. All you do here is bend your arm, then rotate your shoulder for about 10 seconds. Proceed to do the same with the other arm. Once you have done this a few times, your arms will be sufficiently stretched. Although feel free to incorporate any other exercises along with these stretches if you so desire.The final thing I want to address is the weight of your racquet. Often, people are using racquets that are simply too heavy for them and this is a common cause for injury. You need to be sure your racquet is the ideal weight so that you aren’t inadvertently working against yourself on the court. There are many different quality tennis racquets to choose from, so remember to take a good look around and make an educated decision based on how much weight your arm will be able to handle. It will make all the difference, I promise!
Postgame Wrap Up
Unfortunately, many people tend to overlook the importance of stretching before engaging in physical activity and I don’t want that to be the case for you. It’s not fun getting hurt, so why wouldn’t you want to do your very best to stay healthy? Accidents still happen, I get that, but I hope that this little warm up guide is successful in stopping (or at least slowing down) the rate of preventable injuries on the tennis court. The Prince O3 Silver is known for its lightweight yet durable titanium alloy design, so it is a great option for those looking to put less effort into a swing and reduce the risk of unwanted shoulder injuries. Play smart and be safe out there!