The latest episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast is now available! In this week's episode, “How To Do A Dynamic Warm-Up For Tennis,” you'll learn how to do a quick and easy dynamic warm-up that is specifically designed for tennis players. And – bonus – the show notes below include photos of me demonstrating these moves out on the beach! You can listen to TQT 018 by clicking on the gray media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app.
Below is an edited version of the transcript for this episode that you can read through for notes or to get more information.
In Episode 17 of Tennis Quick Tips, we talked about how you can use your warm-up time with your opponents before your tennis matches to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and then how you can use that information to come up with a game plan for your match. And if you want to go over that episode, you can find it at tennisfixation.com/quicktips17.
But in this episode, we’re going to talk about a different kind of warm-up. We’re going to go over the personal warm-up I think you need to do every time you head out to the tennis court.
Specifically, we’re going to talk about warming your body up and preparing for tennis play through dynamic stretching.
So just what is dynamic stretching?
Everyone is talking about dynamic stretching these days so you may think it’s something brand new and hard to do. But really, dynamic stretching just means stretching as you are moving. This is the opposite of the type of stretching you may be more familiar with – static stretching. Static stretches are those where you stretch a muscle and then hold the position for several seconds. So if you bend over to touch your toes and hold that position for ten seconds, you’re performing a static stretch. If you bend over and touch your toes immediately and come back, you’re performing a dynamic stretch.
What’s the benefit of dynamic stretching over static stretching? Well, dynamic stretching is a great way to get your body warmed-up and ready for action. Since it involves continuous movement of large muscle groups, it gets your blood flowing and raises your heart rate.
Dynamic stretching can also mimic the movements in the sport you’re about to perform, thus waking your body up and cuing it to get ready for those movements. In tennis, for example, we use our shoulders and upper body a lot and we perform a lot of lateral movement with our legs and lower body. There are specific dynamic stretches we can do to get our body prepared for those movements.
Finally, dynamic stretching can increase flexibility and range of motion, something all tennis players need to work on.
Static stretching just doesn’t do these things for you. In fact, a number of studies have shown that static stretching can impair your athletic performance and should be avoided before engaging in physical activity. I’ll link to a few resources about this in the show notes for this episode which you can find at tennisfixation.com/quicktips18.
So let’s talk about some simple dynamic stretches you can do before the next time you head out on court.
When going through a Dynamic Warm-Up routine for a tennis match, you need to be sure to incorporate stretches that are tennis specific. Okay, what does that mean?
Well, our sport is a little different than many other. For example, tennis regularly requires you to perform a lot of explosive movements. Meaning that, when you’re doing something like hitting a groundstroke, you can basically be at a stand still in the ready position, then move into a sprint towards the ball, and then move back to a stand still of you recover and get ready for the next ball.
Tennis also requires a lot of lateral, or side to side movement, as well as a lot of rotational or twisting movement, especially through the core.
So when warming-up our muscles for tennis, we want to do stretches that incorporate all of these types of movements.
So I’ve worked up a dynamic warm-up routine incorporating some great tennis-specific stretches. I try to go through this between 10 and 30 minutes before each of my matches. It only takes a few minutes to complete and really helps get my muscles warmed up and ready to play.
Here’s my Dynamic Warm-Up for Tennis. It only has five parts to it so it’s about as simple as you can get:
- Perform 20 to 25 jumping jacks. This will start your heart pumping and will begin warming your large muscles in your upper and lower body.
Do 20 plie squats. In this move, begin with your feet just beyond shoulder width apart. Squat down into a plie, keeping your knees in line with your feet. As you squat, reach your right arm up overhead, and lean to your left, keeping your hips centered and getting a great stretch down your right side. Bring your arm down as you come up from your squat. Perform your next plie squat, but reach up with your left arm this time and lean to your right. Perform 20 plie squats so that you end up stretching each side ten times.
- Perform 20 twisting toe touches. Keep your feet in the same position, just beyond your shoulders. Your arms should go straight out to the sides and stay straight throughout this stretch. Now reach with your left hand to your right toe, slightly bending your right knee, keeping your left knee straight and with your right arm going up in the air. Your arms are remain straight so it’s a windmill like movement. You should feel a stretch in your left groin and inner thigh as well as throughout your core. If you can, look back over your right shoulder to add a little additional twist to your torso. be sure your bent knee remains centered over your foot and does not bend out beyond your toes. Come back up to center and perform the same move in the opposite direction, with the left knee bending, the right hand to your toe and the left arm in the air. Perform 20 of these twisting toe touches so you work each side 10 times.
- Power skip 20 times. This one is simple. You just skip in place with a hop, bringing your knee to your chest and reaching overhead with your opposite arm. You’ll feel your heart pumping and you’ll loosen up your knees and shoulders with this stretch.
- Finally, perform 25 jumping jacks.
Although this entire warm-up will take you only two to three minutes to perform, by the time you finish, your heart rate will be up, your large muscle groups will be warm and engaged, and your big joints in your knees, hips and shoulders will be loose.
Now, if you’re confused by my descriptions and you have no idea what a plie squat, a twisting toe touch, or a power skip is – don’t worry. If you check out the show notes for this episode, you’ll not only find the descriptions of these dynamic movements, but you’ll even see photos of me performing each of these moves showing you exactly how to do them. And bonus – I’m doing my dynamic warm-up out on the beach just because I happened to be at the beach this weekend and convinced my husband that was a good place to take these photos. So go check those out at tennisfixation.com/quicktips18.
To wrap up, if you’re looking for every little edge you can get in your next match, then add a tennis-specific warm-up to your pre-match preparations. It takes less than 5 minutes to perform and gets you warm and ready to go.
If you'd like more information on the benefits of dynamic stretching and why it's better than static stretching, you can find a huge list of articles and studies by clicking on this PubMed link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=dynamic+stretching.
Hey – what are your biggest tennis fitness problems? I'm working on a series of posts and videos on tennis fitness and would love to hear just what it is you're interested in. You can let me know in the comments below.
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Thanks for listening and, as always, Happy Tennis!