Tennis Cool-Down and Warm-Up Exercises
Many tennis players warm up incorrectly before tennis matches and fail to cool down afterward. This results in less power and a decreased vertical leap during matches, stiffness and soreness afterward and a missed opportunity to improve strokes with more flexibility. Understanding the basics of a tennis warm-up and a cool-down will help you play better, win more matches and improve your fitness.
It's important to understand how your body works during tennis before you create a warm-up and cool-down routine. Tennis is a high-intensity sport that uses quick movements, calling on your high-twitch muscle fibers. Your warm-up should be tennis-specific, incorporating a full-body routine of dynamic stretches that mimic the movements you'll use during a tennis match.
Start with a jog around the court to elevate your heart rate and get blood flowing to your muscles. Play mini-tennis for several minutes, using good footwork and full swings to gently stretch muscles. Finish your warm-up with a variety of upper-body, lower-body and core movements. Perform high-step trunk rotations by putting your fists in front of your chest, with your elbows out at your sides. Raise one knee to your opposite chest and turn your torso the opposite way. Repeat 10 times. Perform butt kicks, jogging in place while kicking your heels up to your buttocks. Hit shadow forehands and backhands, using the same footwork and technique you use during a match. Skip with high knees across the court. Use quick lunges to warm up the hips and knees, bending your front knee over your ankle as you lower yourself. Alternate lunges.
After your practice, take a light jog around the court, slowing to a walk. Raise your arms above your head several times during your circuit. Perform trunk rotations without raising your knees. Perform a variety of movements that allow your heart rate to gradually come down to your resting heart rate. This allows blood, lactic acid and other anabolic wastes which have pooled in your muscles to dissipate. This will help prevent stiffness and soreness later.
Do not use static stretches before a practice or match. This temporarily desensitizes your muscles and will hurt your performance. Use dynamic stretches before matches, such as the ones previously described. After workouts, static stretch all of your muscles, holding stretches for 20 to 30 seconds. Forward bends, static lunges, hurdler stretches and calf stretches focus on the lower body. Stretch your shoulder muscles by grabbing a towel in your two hands, behind your back, and alternately pulling down, then up. Static stretching lengthens the muscles you shorten during your on-court work, preventing later soreness, increasing overall flexibility.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.