The Importance of a Dynamic Tennis Warm Up
A dynamic tennis warm up routine is a critical component for all tennis players to perform before all practices, matches, and tournaments. Its purpose is to properly prepare the upper body and lower body for the constant stopping, starting and the rigors of moving around the tennis court. Tennis is extremely hard on the joints and skipping the dynamic warm-up may result in otherwise preventable injuries.
What is a “dynamic” warm up? This simply means you are moving as you stretch. It differs from “static” stretching where you would hold a stretch position for 10 to 30 seconds while remaining motionless. When compared to static stretching, dynamic stretching has been proven to:
- Better activate the muscles you will be using when you play,
- Improve your range of motion,
- Enhance muscular performance and power and
- Improve body awareness.
Your dynamic warmup should focus on the rotator cuff, back, hips, calves, hamstrings, IT band, and knees and should be completed right there on the tennis court. The workout should take approximately 15-20 minutes depending upon one’s age, the weather conditions, and any physical limitations that one is suffering from. If you don’t like keeping time, it should take as long as it takes to either remove an article of clothing such as a warm-up jacket or pants or get a light sweat, which indicates that the body is fully prepared for the upcoming practice or match.
The routine will be shorter when exercising in hot and humid conditions because the tennis player will get sweaty at a faster rate. On the flipside when performing the warm-up drills in cooler temperatures one will need to spend more time warming up the body to be properly prepared for the upcoming tennis training session.
Remember, a thorough workout will help prevent injury; improves your performance, improves coordination, and will help tennis players get ready for the physically demanding practice and/or match.
In this article I am going to share a complete routine of dynamic warm-up exercises that tennis players can perform right there on the tennis court. Always remember when performing these individual exercises to use correct technique and listen to the body so you can achieve maximum value and prevent injuries.
Tennis Warm Up Drills
Hamstring – Tennis Warm Up Exercise
The first tennis warm up exercise is called Frankenstein walks, which is designed to stretch the hamstrings, hips, and calf muscles. For this exercise I recommend performing 2-3 sets for 10 repetitions on each leg right there on the tennis court.
Learn How to Warm-Up Your Hamstring Muscles
Trust me when I say this that this exercise just works! It’s so simple to do and many of my tennis players perform this exercise during their pre-match practice routine. Your lower body will thank you big time when you start doing this exercise on a regular basis!
Hip Opener – Tennis Warm Up Exercise
Hip openers are an effective dynamic stretch that tennis players can do to properly warmup their hips and groin muscles. For this exercise I recommend performing 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions on each leg right there on the tennis court.
Stretch Tight Hips Before You Play
By properly performing this exercise tennis players will be fully prepared to move around the tennis court, prevent injuries and will be fully prepared for their upcoming tennis training session or match.
Calf – Dynamic Warm Up Exercise
This is one of my favorite dynamic warm-up exercises that tennis players can do to properly stretch the knee, ankles, and calf / leg muscles. To perform this exercise you will only need a stretch band. I recommend performing 2-3 sets for 10 repetitions on each leg. The first set will get the cob webs off and the remaining two sets are where you will receive all the benefits!
Learn My Favorite Dynamic Calf Stretch Right NOW!
By properly performing this exercise tennis players will move more fluidly around the tennis court, improve their overall coordination and prevent injuries.
Front Lunge – Tennis Warm Up Exercise
Front lunges are an ideal warm-up exercise that tennis players can do to properly warmup their hips and groin muscles. Always make sure when performing this stretch to stand up straight and make sure the knee does not extend beyond the toe. For this exercise I recommend performing 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions on each leg.
Preparing Your Body With Front Lunges
By properly performing this lunge exercise tennis players hips will be fully warmed up so they can twist and rotate their bodies on all shots. Many top professional players use this tennis warm up drill on a regular basis before all matches.
Lateral Hips – Using a Band
This is one of my favorite exercises to warm up the hips, knees and entire lower body. On a recent Fit to Hit show on the Tennis Channel top professional player John Isner said, “This band is the most important thing in my tennis bag”. The exercise isolates the hips, which are used on all shots and these muscles help tennis players move all around the tennis court.
For this exercise perform 1-2 sets for 10-15 repetitions on each leg.
Learn How to Prepare the Hips for Tennis
By performing this exercise tennis players will be properly prepared for the lateral movements needed to move around the tennis court while most importantly preventing injuries throughout the body.
Hips – Warm Up Exercise
Another lower body warmup drill is called Knee Tucks. This exercise stretches the hips, groin, and calf muscles. For this exercise I recommend performing 2-3 sets for 10 repetitions on each leg right there on the tennis court.
A Simple Dynamic Warm-Up Exercise
By properly performing this exercise tennis players will get to more balls, recover faster between shots, and most importantly prevent injuries.
Rotator Cuff – Dynamic Warm Up Exercise
It is also important to properly warm-up the shoulder muscles particularly the rotator cuff because they are used vigorously on all shots. Many tennis players suffer from rotator cuff injuries due to a weak shoulder muscle, overuse, and not properly preparing the shoulders for the upcoming tennis practice and/or match.
This is a simple dynamic rotator cuff exercise using a shoulder band that tennis players can incorporate into their dynamic warm-up routine. For this exercise I recommend using a light resistance band and focusing on performing this exercise with correct technique and in proper postural alignment. I recommend that tennis players perform 1-2 sets on each arm for 10-15 repetitions in a controlled tempo.
Learn How To Properly Warm-up Your Rotator Cuff
By properly performing this exercise the shoulder muscles will be properly prepared for the upcoming tennis training session or match.
Mid-Back – Using a Foam Roller
Stretching the mid back muscles with a foam roller is extremely important to help tennis players rotate their bodies on their shots. This stretch will allow tennis players to increase their power on their shots by enabling them to uncoil their bodies into the shot. Top professional players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic use their entire bodies on all shots and this exercise will enable tennis players to use their bodies athletically.
For this exercise perform 1-2 sets for 20-30 seconds on tight and tender spots on the mid back. Perform 1-2 sets in total.
Stretch the Mid Back Muscles
By performing this back stretch tennis players will recover faster from their tennis training sessions and matches while also preventing overuse injuries to the shoulder.
Upper Back – Using a Foam Roller
Stretching the upper back is very important to help tennis players bend and twist side to side. By properly stretching the upper back muscles competitive tennis players can generate more power on their shots. Many recreational tennis players can greatly benefit from stretching these back muscles on a regular basis to prevent injuries and help them get ready for an upcoming match.
For this exercise I recommend that tennis players place the foam roller on tight spots of the back and hold this position for 20-30 seconds before switching sides. Perform 1-2 sets in total.
Learn How To Stretch Your Back Muscles
By performing this stretch before all tennis training session’s tennis players can generate more power on their shots, which ultimately improves your performance on the tennis court.
IT Band – Using a Foam Roller
Stretching the lateral part of the leg is extremely important for all tennis players to incorporate into their dynamic warm-up routine. This exercise will help tennis players improve their flexibility in the legs, knees, back, which will ultimately take pressure off of the joints.
For this exercise perform 1-2 sets for 20-30 seconds on tight and tender spots on the lateral part of the leg before switching sides. Perform 1-2 sets in total.
Stretch the Lateral Part of the Leg
By performing this stretch before all tennis training sessions tennis players can get to more balls, will improve their lateral quickness, and prevent injuries throughout the lower body.
Tennis Warm Up Tips
There are several other dynamic warm-up exercises that can be incorporated into a dynamic stretching warm up routine, but this routine focuses on the most effective individual exercises that will help tennis players get to more balls, win more matches, have more fun, and most importantly prevent injuries. All of the exercises outlined in this warm-up routine can be performed with minimal equipment right there on the tennis court.
Here are a couple point to always keep in mind about your warm up.
Perform IMMEDIATELY Before Playing
A dynamic stretching warm up needs to occur immediately before playing even if you have a short drive to the tennis court. Every time one sits down and/or stops moving the body tightens up and the warmup routine needs to be performed again.
Use Proper Technique
Remember when performing these exercises to use correct technique and ALWAYS listen to your body. If you are experiencing any soreness, stiffness, and/or pain take a few days off to allow for a full recovery.
Mini Tennis Is NOT a Substitute
Many tennis players skip their warm-up and jump right on the tennis court and begin mini-tennis even though their bodies are not fully warmed up yet. I recommend my players perform mini tennis once their dynamic warm-up routine has concluded. Warming up properly before mini tennis requires focus, dedication and accountability to execute because many tennis players believe that mini tennis is sufficient to properly prepare both the upper body and lower body for the upcoming session. By performing both the tennis warm up exercises and mini tennis all tennis players will be fully prepared to play tennis and move around the tennis court efficiently and explosively.
Warm Up Every Time You Play
It is absolutely essential to perform this routine prior to all tennis practice sessions and matches. By performing this tennis warm up program on a regular basis both the lower body and upper body will be fully prepared for the stopping and starting and the lateral change of direction needed to move around the tennis court.
I hope you found this article useful and I encourage you to share it with other tennis players to help them learn how to properly prepare their bodies for the rigors of playing tennis. Should you have any questions please leave a comment below.