Tennis warm up drills focus on warming up a tennis player for the rigors of a competitive tennis match. High performance tennis players should incorporate tennis warm up drills and exercises into their practice.
Tennis warm up drills are a crucial element of a successful tennis training session.
Tennis warm up drills are the beginning of every elite tennis player’s practice and training session. These tennis warm up drills and exercises physically prepare the body for movement and activity. Any tennis warm up drill should be performed by both advanced and beginner tennis players alike, and this part of a tennis practice should never be avoided.
Starting Tennis Warm up Drills
Any physical activity, especially one that can be strenuous like playing tennis, should be preceded by a warm up. During this period, the circulation is enhanced and the blood flow to the muscles is increased. They become more efficient and powerful.
The nervous system is also stimulated. This gets the body temperature up and all the systems ready for some action.
Previously, static stretching was thought to be an important part of the warm up. But newer studies have discovered that these stretches are better suited as part of the cool down period after playing or exercising. Instead of static stretching, dynamic stretches are now recommended during the warm up.
Examples of these are arm circles, trunk twists, toe touching and high knees. The exercises used in calisthenics are also great for warming up the body. Light jogging and jumping jacks are also used as warm up exercises.
Tennis Warm up Drills: Gradually Preparing for Exercise and Activity
With regards to playing the game itself, it is also recommended that you refrain from hitting all out the moment you step out into the court. In other words, your first few swings should not be your hardest swings at the ball. You have to gradually allow yourself to get into the feel of hitting the ball and moving properly out on the court.
A series of tennis warm up drills has been formulated in order to get your timing, rhythm, control and reflexes in the proper condition to play a competitive match. Because you always want to give yourself the best chance of winning, you shouldn’t start a match without properly warming up not just your body but also your game.
Backboard Tennis Warm up Drill
One of the most recommended tennis warm up drills ever is a very simple one and it does not require a practice partner or coach. All you need is a wall. Backboard drills allow you to independently practice the basic ground strokes and volleys.
It is ideal if you could plot out the lines of the court relative to the wall, which would represent the net. You would also be better off if you can draw a line on the wall that would represent the net. Needless to say, you have to try to hit all of your shots above this line.
When you start out your backboard drill, stand away from the wall at roughly the distance between the service line and the net. Gradually move backward until you are about on the baseline.
Hit your ground strokes with moderate power and avoid angling your shots. Try to keep hitting straight ahead or only slightly cross court. After hitting ground strokes, you should move back to the service line or closer and practice hitting volleys. Again, do not go for sharp angles. Do this drill for about 20 minutes every week (15 minutes of ground strokes and 5 minutes of volleys) and you will see that even if you are lacking in matches, your timing and control will still be there and not be affected too much.
Tennis Warm up Drills for the Overhead
Another one of the tennis warm up drills involving the backboard is the overhead drill. In this drill, you try to spike the ball down into the ground and let it bounce before the wall.
After bouncing off the ground, it should bounce off the wall and go high up in the air.
Smash it again. This is a great drill for you to properly time your overhead smashes.
Tennis Warm up Drills: Using the Medicine Ball
One of the new great tennis warm up drills is medicine ball tennis. You and your practice partner should use only a light medicine ball and stand at the service line.
Throw the ball to your partner as if you are rallying. Catch the ball after bouncing and throw it immediately back to your partner.
Use different kinds of throws – from the right side or from the left side either underhanded or over the shoulder, overhead throws either forward or backward. This warm up drill is also basically a plyometric exercise.
You can actually play a game based on this. Score points when your opponent fails to get the ball past the net. Don’t go for “winners” by throwing the ball too far away from your practice partner. It is, after all, just a warm up.
To keep things fun and competitive, there are tennis warm up drills that have been designed as games. The following are a few examples:
Tennis Warm up Drill #1: Serve and volley mini tennis
Use only the service boxes. Stand at the service line and serve underhanded and hit your next shot by volleying. All the rest of your shots should be volleys. Try to keep the ball only within the service box. Your opponent can hit off the ground but must also keep his shots within your service box. Play to 7 or whatever you both agree upon (11, 15, etc.).
Just don’t make the game too long because it is still just a warm up. This develops touch, placement and timing.
Tennis Warm up Drill #2: Mini tennis with no volleys
Use only the service boxes and stand close to the net. The serve is a drop of the ball over the net. You and your opponent are not allowed to hit volleys and must hit all shots within the service boxes only. This develops timing and the feel for the half volley and the proper use of spin to keep the ball within the lines.
Tennis Warm up Drill #3: Mini tennis with cross and alternate hitting
Use the opposite deuce service boxes or ad service boxes only during a particular point. This means that you have to play all your shots cross court. Additionally, you must alternate hitting forehands and backhands. If you hit two forehands or backhands in a row you lose the point.
After the first point on the deuce courts, switch to the ad courts. This drill improves footwork and tactics along with proper shot placement and accuracy.
There are also tennis warm up drills that are used regularly before playing an actual match. You and your hitting partner or opponent should start warming up for your match first by having both of you rally with short ground strokes from the service line. This will get both of you to properly feel the ball and control it well.
Tennis Warm up Drills for Volleys
After about 2 minutes, both of you can spend the next 2 minutes up at the net rallying by hitting volley-to-volley. This helps wake up your reflexes.
Only after this should the two of you move back to each other’s baselines and hit ground strokes. When hitting in the warm-up, keep the ball near the middle of the court and do not try to hit angles or winners. Instead, concentrate on depth and consistency of form.
The next part of the warm up will have one player up at the net volleying while the other is at the baseline. The baseliner should hit the first two or three shots to the net player without trying to pass him.
If the net player volleys back to him, then he can try to hit a passing shot. Similarly, the net player should hit his first two or three volleys within reach of the baseliner. Only after this can he attempt a volley winner.
Tennis Warm up Drills for Lobs and Overheads
After about a minute or two, switch to hitting lobs and overheads. Again, keep the rally going for about 3 hits each before the smasher tries to really put one away. After another minute or so, switch places – the player who was at the baseline moves up to the net and the player who was at the net moves back to the baseline. The process is repeated.
Tennis Warm up Drills for the Tennis Serve
After both players have practiced their volleys and overheads, both can now practice serving. If one player is serving from the deuce court, the other must practice from the ad court and vice versa. Each player should also try to practice returning the other player’s serve. Overall, the warm up should not exceed 20 minutes.
When you have properly done your tennis warm up drills, you will find that you are more comfortable on court and can hit your shots the way you exactly intend to. This will only help your confidence level in a competitive match and give you the best chance to earn a victory.
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