Warming up for tennis requires a number of steps to get the job done right. Warming up well or insufficiently can be the difference between getting on the court and being up 4-0 or down 0-4 after 20 minutes. You want to be warmed up in way that has you playing your best tennis as soon as you walk onto the court to do your final warm-up before the match begins.
Too often players jump on court and are ill-prepared to put in their best effort from the very first point. In fact because of this the tennis warm up can be used in a very tactical way to get a quick head-start on your opponent knowing full-well that they are not as prepared as you are.
Here’s the key elements that go into having an effective warm-up.
1. Eat and Drink 1-2 hours beforehand – yes we haven’t even begun our traditional “warm-up” but to be in the right place when we do begin our warm-up it’s essential that you have a meal that consists of both protein and complex carbohydrates. Here’s a couple of resources on ideal protein and complex carbohydrates to eat. Begin consuming a drink that is high in electrolytes such as a good quality sports drink and continue to drink this throughout your warm-up and into your match.
2. Light Cardio – the time before your actual match that you should start the first physical warm-up phase is dependent on your level of competition and the degree to which you will warm-up on the practice courts before your match. This could be a couple of hours beforehand for professionals or as small as 20-30 minutes beforehand in certain cases, for certain aged players. The key here is to ensure you raise your heart-rate level and get the blood flowing.
A great addition to this is to use cone based drills to warm-up or with a jump-rope, as shown in the video below:
3. Dynamic Stretching – dynamic stretching is one of the preferred stretching styles for tennis players before a match, rather than the traditional static stretching. For those that are not sure what dynamic stretching is, see this link – however it is basically stretching performed through movement, rather than in a stationary position like static stretching. It makes sense since tennis is a movement that stretches the body through movement. Therefore you should prepare your body in that same way.
4. On court hitting – This element of the warm-up will obviously cover the full range of shots, including, your groundstrokes, serves and volleys. Below are some important elements you shouldn’t forget when warming up your shots on court:
– Warm up from a regressive standpoint, i.e. warming up playing mini-tennis
– Include tactical fundamentals in the warm-up. If the warm-up is before a match that you have certain tactical fundamentals that you will focus on be sure to include that in the warm-up.
– Include an exercise that gets you moving. The video below shows Novak and follow Davis Cup players warming up and covering both a mini-tennis style game with fast-paced movement – similar to our bounce court.
This tennis warm up article has been written with a tournament in mind, however the principles applied here should be taken onto the practice court. Of course in certain situations each element can be shortened when done in a practice environment, however a lesson we can take away from the professionals is no matter what the tennis exercises or programs, there are no shortcuts for those that want to be the best.