Warm Up Exercises For Tennis – The Proper Tennis Warm Up

Ryan Krane

Ryan has his Master's Degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in Rehabilitation Sciences and has been featured on ABC, NBC News Radio, Prevention and Women’s Health and the homepage of Yahoo.

A dynamic warm-up routine is a critical component for all tennis players to perform before all tennis practices, matches and tournaments.

The purpose of the warm-up is to properly prepare both the body and mind for the upcoming physical activity. A thorough warm-up will also prevent injury; increase one’s performance, and one’s overall body temperature.

Tennis players need to perform a comprehensive dynamic warm-up before all tennis practices and matches. A dynamic warm-up will properly prepare the body for the stopping and starting and the rigors of moving around the tennis court. Tennis is extremely hard on the joints and skipping the dynamic warm-up will result in decreased performance, altered biomechanics and movement, and potential injury.

A thorough dynamic warm-up should take approximately 15-20 minutes depending upon one’s age, the weather conditions, and any physical limitations that one is suffering from. The dynamic warm-up will be shorter when exercising in hot and humid conditions because the body will warm-up faster.

On the flipside when performing the dynamic warm-up in cooler temperatures you will need to spend more time warming up the body to be properly prepared for the tennis workout. The dynamic warm-up 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 tennis workout or match.

Always remember that the dynamic warm-up needs to occur immediately before playing even if you have a short drive to the tennis courts. Every time one sits down and/or stops moving the body tightens up and the warm-up routine needs to be performed again. Many recreational tennis players skip their warm-up and jump right on the court and begin mini-tennis even though their bodies are not fully warmed up yet.

Mini-tennis is a common warm-up exercise that many tennis players perform before hitting groundstrokes. I recommend my players perform mini tennis once their dynamic warm-up routine has concluded. Performing the dynamic warm-up routine before mini tennis requires focus, dedication and accountability to execute because many tennis players believe that mini tennis is sufficient to properly prepare the body for the upcoming tennis workout. By performing both the dynamic warm-up and mini tennis one will be fully prepared to play and move around the tennis court.

Throughout this article I am going to share various dynamic warm-up exercises that you can perform right there on the tennis court. Always remember when performing these exercises to use correct technique and listen to your body so you can achieve maximum value and prevent injuries.


Tennis Warm Up – Lower Body

The first dynamic warm-up exercise is called Frankenstein walks, which addresses the hamstrings, hips, calves, and gluteal muscles. For this exercise I recommend performing 2-3 sets for 10 reps right there on the tennis court.

Learn How to Warm-Up Your Hamstrings

Trust me when I say this that this exercise just works! It’s so simple to do and many of my tennis clients perform this exercise before all tennis practices and matches. Your body will thank you big time when you start doing this exercise on a regular basis!

Outlined below is one of my favorite dynamic stretches that you can do to properly stretch the feet, ankles, and calf muscles. To perform this exercise you will only need a stretch band. I recommend performing 2-3 sets for 10 reps 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

By properly performing this exercise you will move more fluidly around the court, prevent injuries and muscle cramps.

The final lower body dynamic warm-up exercise is called Knee Tucks. This exercise addresses the hips, groin, and calf muscles. For this exercise I recommend performing 2-3 sets for 10 reps right there on the tennis court.

A Simple Dynamic Warm-Up Exercise

By properly performing this exercise you will get to more balls, recover faster between shots, and most importantly prevent injuries.

It is also important to properly warm-up the shoulders because they are used vigorously on all shots. Many tennis players suffer from rotator cuff injuries due to weak muscles, overuse, and not properly preparing the shoulders for the upcoming tennis practice and/or match.

Outlined below is a simple dynamic rotator cuff exercise that you can incorporate into your dynamic warm-up. For this exercise I recommend using a light resistance band and focusing on performing it with correct technique and in proper postural alignment. I recommend that my tennis players perform 1-2 sets on each arm for 10-15 reps in a controlled tempo.

Tennis Warm Up – Upper Body

Learn How To Properly Warm-up Your Rotator Cuff

By properly performing this exercise your shoulder muscles will be properly prepared for the upcoming tennis practice or match and most importantly prevent injuries.

There are several other dynamic warm-up exercises that can be incorporated into your warm-up routine, but for the purposes of this article I wanted to focus on the most effective exercises that will help you get to more balls, win more matches, have more fun, and most importantly prevent injuries.

It is absolutely essential for you to perform your dynamic warm-up prior to all tennis practices and matches. By performing this dynamic warm-up routine on a regular basis your body and mind will be fully prepared for the stopping on starting, the change of direction and the overall rigors of the game.

Always remember when performing these dynamic warm-up 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.

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.


Below is the original content that previously appeared in this article.

Warm up exercises for tennis prepare a player for physical activity and movement on the tennis court. Performing a proper tennis warm up is key to maximizing on court performance.

Warm up exercises for tennis are done at the beginning of every tennis training session or practice.


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.

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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:

Angle slides

– 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.

tennis-warm-up-drills (2)

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.

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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?


  1. Evie

    Thank you for these. ..especially the lower body ones are right on. Last time I played I was 15, I really need to make these adjustments 30 years later!

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