Practice/Match Ready Routine: Get Loose
Whether you’re picking up a racquet for the first time in a while, you’re feeling a little tight, or you’re brand new to the game, tennis can be hard work and great exercise. And, just like any form of exercise, it’s important to stretch beforehand. Since you’ll be moving quickly around the court, hitting with all your heart, and taking few breaks during your games, dynamic stretches are your best bet in preventing injury. So, we’ve put together a list of a few no-equipment dynamic stretches that will keep you feeling strong and healthy!
Something to note about tennis, in particular, is that some of the most common injuries associated with the sport are related to the elbow, shoulders, and wrists, so stretching your arms and upper body is imperative.
Everyone has heard of tennis elbow, so we’ll start there.
Tennis Elbow Stretch
This tennis elbow stretch can be done sitting or standing. All you have to do is:
Look straight ahead and lift one arm in front of you at a 90-degree angle.
Extend your wrist by rotating your hand so that your palm is facing out and your fingers are pointed at the ceiling.
Use your other hand to pull on your fingers and pulse for 30 seconds. You should feel this in the wrist, elbow, and forearm of the hand you’re pulling on.
Then, just repeat this stretch, switching hands.
Note: You can also do this stretch with your fingers pointing down, whichever works better for you!
Next, let’s move on to shoulders to get you ready for some powerful serves and swings.
Cross Body Shoulder Stretch
This stretch will target the back of your shoulders.
Take one arm straight across your chest and wrap your opposite hand around your elbow.
Hold this for 30 seconds, and then switch your arms, repeating three times on either side.
Note: If you’re not feeling any stretch, try to drop your shoulder, and that should help!
Now, to make sure those shoulders are nice and warm, let’s stretch the front of them too.
Anterior Shoulder Stretch
This stretch will help target your pec muscles and rotator cuff to avoid any tears.
Stand up straight and face forward with your arms at your side.
Clasp your hands behind your back with your elbows slightly bent and palms facing up.
Roll your shoulders back and gently squeeze them together.
Slowly straighten out your arms and hold the stretch for a few seconds, repeating until you feel loose.
Note: This stretch requires some flexibility, so if you’re feeling any pain, you can use a towel or yoga band if needed.
We’ve got your upper body all stretched out, so let’s move down to your lower body. With all that running, it’s important to keep your bottom half limber as well. So let’s loosen you out.
Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Your quadriceps are used in pretty much every form of motion in tennis, so they’re a really important component of your game and worth stretching.
Stand with good posture and your feet shoulder-width apart.
Bend one of your knees, raising that heel while keeping your other foot planted firmly on the ground.
Reach behind you with the same side hand as the leg you lifted and grab your ankle.
Pull the ankle closer to your body, stretching the muscles in the front side of your thighs.
Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and then switch sides, repeated about three times.
We’re wrapping things up with your hips and legs, making sure you’re ready to run and twist to make that save.
Low Lunge Twist Stretch
This stretch is meant to target your hips and lower back to keep you flexible and warmed up to dart around the court.
On a soft surface, assume a forward lunge position, stepping forward with one foot and dropping your back knee to the ground.
Twist your torso toward the direction of your grounded knee and take the elbow on the same side of your body as your upward knee and press it against the inside of that knee.
Extend the arm on the same side of your body as your downward knee behind you. You should feel this stretch on the inside of your thighs and your lower back.
Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Performing these stretches, or any others that you’ve found to work for you, before heading out onto the court is a great way to prevent injury and improve your game. Tennis requires a lot of strength and endurance, and warming up your body is a great way to ensure you play and feel your best!