In a tennis warm up, the goal is to loosen up the muscles in preparation for physical exercise. Warm up exercises for tennis begin slow, allowing a player to gradually tune in with his or her game until the player is completely warmed up.
If you don’t warm up properly before doing any physical activity, especially a vigorous one like playing tennis, you will end up suffering from injuries or unable to perform at your best.
Your timing and rhythm will be off and your movements sluggish and uncoordinated. This will also affect your strokes leading to breakdowns in technique.
When you watch tennis on TV, you see the athletes come into the court and then do around 20 minutes of hitting before the actual match starts. What you didn’t see was that the players had already warmed up before heading out to the court.
In your case, if you have participated in a tournament at a local club or league, you usually have less than 20 minutes. Sometimes, only 5 minutes are allocated as warm up time. This makes it even more important for you to prepare ahead of time. You should do warm up exercises for tennis about 30 minutes before you head to the court so that once there, the 5 minute warm up rally will be sufficient.
Basic Tennis Warm up Exercises
The first set of your warm up exercises for tennis can be a simple trunk twisting exercise. Hold your racket in front with one hand on the handle and the other at the tip of the head and then simply twist your trunk from side to side, being careful not to over exert.
Next, you can do arm circles to loosen up the shoulders. Start with doing 10 small circles forward and 10 backward. Follow this up with medium circles and finally, big circles where you try to use almost the full range of motion of the joint.
You can continue your warm up with a light jog around the court. Follow this up with a few quick side skipping jogs left and right along the one of the lines of the court. This gets your muscles used to the lateral movement that is greatly required in tennis. Your next warm up exercise for tennis should be a high knee jog in order to stretch your hamstrings.
Warm up Exercises for Tennis #1: Slow Jog
You start at the baseline and jog to the net kicking your knees high with every step. Then, you do the same kind of jog backward back to the baseline. After this, do butt kick jogs where you try to touch your buttocks with your feet as you jog in place.
This stretches the quadriceps. Additionally, you can also do high-step trunk rotations. To do this, place your fists in front of your chest with your elbows out to the sides. Raise your knees to the chest on the opposite side, twisting your trunk back and forth as you do this exercise.
You can be flexible with your warm up exercises for tennis. Some of your tennis footwork drills can be used as part of your warm up in place of a regular jog or side skipping jog. The following are examples of such exercises:
Warm up Exercises for Tennis #2:
Carioca step – this is a sideward moving run where you move at constant speed. To move to the right, your left foot alternately cross in front and behind your right foot. To move to the left, reverse the steps.
Warm up Exercises for Tennis #3:
Wedel – this is a diagonal hopping drill where you hop with both feet together forward to the left and then forward to the right, and repeating the pattern.
Warm up Exercises for Tennis #4:
Baby Bounds – keep on the balls of your feet as you run forward using big steps while keeping the legs body width apart.
If you will be playing on a clay court where you need to slide into your shots, incorporate a few sliding drills as part of your warm up exercises for tennis. These include the following:
– slide at a 45 degree angle to the right and then to the left.
Sprint and slide
– sprint diagonally to the right for about 3-5 steps and slide, and then do the same diagonally in the opposite direction.
Warm up Exercises for Tennis #5: Basic Stretches
Warm up exercises for tennis should also include stretches for the lower back. You can simply sit down on the ground with your legs extended and try to touch your toes. First, just touch your toes straight forward, then spread your legs and try to touch the left toe with your right hand and your right toe with your left hand.
Warm up Exercises for Tennis #6: Mini Tennis
After all of these exercises, you are now ready for some light hitting. Gradually, you can progress to hitting the ball harder. However, the first few hits should be made from inside the service line. Hit some soft ground strokes, volleys and half volleys to get your reflexes up and ready. After about 5 minutes, move to the service line where you continue your rally. Move back further to no-man’s land and finally to the baseline. Once you are at the baseline, try to keep your ground strokes as deep as possible. It is better to hit long than into the net during this warm up. Try different spins and trajectories but always focus on keeping proper form. After about 10 minutes of ground strokes, move back to the net where you practice your volleys and overheads.
Warm up Exercises for Tennis: Practice Serves
This time, your warm up partner will be at the baseline so you will now be trying to volley balls that are struck harder than in the first part of the warm up when both of you were inside the service line. Finally, finish off your warm up with some practice serves, both to the deuce court and to the ad court. Do this for about 5 minutes.
Once again, do not be too rigid with your hitting warm up routine. If you feel like you need more serving practice, take more time to do so. But keep in mind that you have to be at your match on time, so you may need to reduce your time warming up the other strokes.
Cool Down Exercises after the Tennis Warm Up
You should be finished with your warm up exercises for tennis around 10-15 minutes before your actual match. Try to cool down a little during this period. Change your shirt, take a drink, eat a banana or an energy bar and assess overall how you are feeling physically. If you feel any little aches and pains, you might need to put on some kind of support or have the affected joint taped.
Sometimes, you do not have time or access to an available court to hit before going to your match. In that case, you can add some shadow swings to your warm up exercises. For example, as you side skip laterally, you can mimic hitting a forehand or backhand.
As you sprint forward and backward, you can shadow swing a volley or an overhead. Once you do get to the court for your match, use the warm up time wisely, especially if only 5 minutes are allocated.
The Mental Tennis Warm Up Preparation
The last thing to remember about your warm up exercises for tennis is that aside from getting you physically ready for your match, you should also be getting your mind in shape to play. Use your warm up to get your mind thinking that it is ready to do battle on the court. Keep thinking positively and visualize you moving and hitting well.
For example, if you are doing your side skipping jog, visualize being able to cover the court and getting to every ball. If you are doing shadow swings, visualize hitting the ball well and putting your opponent in trouble with your shots. You can Use the 10-15 minutes between your last warm up exercise and your actual match to think about strategy and tactics.
Proper Tennis Match Warm Up & Preparation
When you get to the court and start hitting against your opponent, try to assess how he is as a player. Ideally, you should have scouted him out already, but it is still a different thing when you start playing.
If you warm up properly for your matches, you can take charge from the first point onward. If you have to spend the first few games finding your way, you might find yourself behind in the score already and you wouldn’t want to give any kind of advantage to your opponent right away, would you?
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