Contributor: Dan Wise
Before hitting the court it’s important to warm up in order to ensure you don’t only get the best out of your session, but also reduce the risk of injury. Some of the best types of warm ups that you can do before playing are dynamic warm ups. Dynamic warm ups have you moving while you stretch and have been proven to better activate your muscles and improve your range of motion, thereby reducing the risk of injury while ensuring you can play at your best. As pointed out earlier in Practice with Purpose, simply showing up for practice or a match isn’t good enough if you want to win. You need to show up with intent and having a dependable routine is step 1. That routine starts with a good warm up exercise such as the dynamic ones we will highlight shortly in addition to getting into the right state of mind and maintaining focus. More on this latter topic in a later blog. For now, we’ll focus on how to prepare your body when you step out onto the court. So without further ado here is a list of dynamic warm ups to perform before playing tennis.
- Frankensteins – Whether playing tennis, soccer, or any of a variety of sports Frankensteins are a great way to stretch your calves, hamstrings, and hips. To perform this exercise walk with your arms out at your sides should level and while doing so lift your leg straight up like Frakenstein does in classic films. While doing this exercise try to touch your right foot to your right arm and your left foot to your left arm. To really get loose perform 2-3 sets of 10 reps for each leg.
- Opening the Gate – Another great lower body warm up that is used to warm up for a variety of sports, opening the gate is an excellent way to stretch your hips. In this exercise you’ll walk forward then you’ll raise your right knee with leg bent directly in front and then bring it out to the side and drop. You’ll then take a step forward and repeat this same motion only using your left leg. Perform 2 sets of 10-15 reps on each leg. This exercise will really hope you reach your full range of motion when out on the court.
- Here’s our instructional video: Dynamic Warmups – Opening the Gate
- Forward Lunges – Lunges are a great way to warm up your lower body before playing tennis or any sport that requires a lot of running. Not only do they stretch your hamstring, lower back, and hips, they also improve your balance. To perform this exercise you’ll want to start by bringing your knee up to your chest while at the same time lifting yourself up with your plant foot. You’ll then release yourself from your position and take a large step forward. Then you’ll hold your balance for 2 to 3 seconds before standing up and repeating the exercise with your other leg. In order to get nice and loose perform 2 sets of 10-15 reps for each leg.
- Instructional video: Dynamic Warmups – Lunges
- Side Shuffle Arm Crosses – Another great way to stretch your shoulders, chest, and back. This exercise will have you crossing your arms as you side step across the court. Start with your arms at shoulder height and extend them out to the side then keep doing this hugging motion as you shuffle from one side of the court to the other. Make sure to keep an athletic stance while performing this exercise. Shuffle across the court to the right once and then to the left once to warm up your shoulders, chest, and back. 4 x’s back and forth should suffice.
- Instructional video: Dynamic Warmups – Side Shuffle
- Trunk Rotations – This exercise does an outstanding job of working your core and will also help strengthen your legs as well. Begin by standing still in one spot with a wide athletic stance. Once set bring your arms up to shoulder height and rotate your torso from side to side. As you rotate from side to side gradually lower your body by bending your knees and pivoting. To warm up your core perform 15-30 twists in each direction for a duration of 30 seconds.
- Instructional video: Dynamic Warmups – Trunk Rotations
- Arm Circles – The upper body is important to warm up in addition to legs and core. Rotator cuff injuries are far too common in tennis players and all it takes is one to put you one sidelines for a long time. The rotator cuff in short are the muscles and tendons in the shoulder that allow you ability to move your arms above shoulder level and are obviously critical in playing tennis. Simply pretend you are a windmill and your arms are the blades. Swing them around gently in both directions 8 to 10 times to warm up the shoulder and rotator cuff.
- Instructional video: Dynamic Warmups – Arm Circles
- Figure 8 – The Figure 8 serves the same purpose as arm circles, but you do this with a racket in your hand. Go through your serving motion as if you were serving but in at a slow but consistent pace. Do this 8 to 10 times as well to loosen up the shoulder muscles and rotator cuff.
- Instructional video: Dynamic Warmups – Figure 8
Now that you are armed with a suite of warm-up tools, you no longer have any excuses to get seriously injured. We encourage you to take this exercises out on the court and try them out. Let us know how they worked out for you too by commenting below. If you liked what you read and saw, don’t be shy, share it with your friends!
How Open Court Club can Help
At Open Court Club, you can find a wide variety of tennis services including physical trainers as they know the importance of off-the-court practices to help improve your game. You can check out folks like Brandon, Dustin and Ben right at OCC: