Before I begin this post, I should point out that I’m not a person who likes to stretch before practice. In the past, I’d often skip this altogether or would only do the minimal amount. Even if I was going out to play a match.
As you might expect, this would often lead to me feeling sore the next day. My typical tennis day was 2-4 hours on court, at a time.
As my game developed, I came to understand just how important stretching was. In my late teens, I adapted to a more defensive playing style. Not stretching beforehand would lead to my knees aching afterwards.
Overtime, I’ve made quite a few adjustments to my game and I now have a routine which seems to work fairly well.
Today, I’d like to share a few of the most important ones with you.
This is a great back strengthening exercise that can also be used during your warm up. The birddog targets your lower back, thigh, hip, and glute. It also has the added benefit of improving your balance.
To perform this exercise, you need to start off in a kneeling plank. Keeping your toes on the ground. Gradually, you’re going to lift one leg and the arm opposite from it until both are fully extended.
Here’s a picture of how this should look:
With the arm and leg both fully extended, you’re going to hold this position for several seconds before gradually lowering them and repeating the process with your opposite side. It is possible to do this exercise with the same side arm and leg, however this requires a great deal of balance and fairly decent form. I don’t recommend doing same-side bird dogs, if you’re just starting out.
2. Front Shoulder Raise (with a resistance band)
This is a phenomenal exercise for your shoulder. If you don’t have a resistance tube, please consider getting one as it will greatly assist you with your warm-up and keeping your shoulder injury-free.
Step onto the tube with either one or both of your feet and raise the band until the handles are roughly at your eye level. Hold this position for a moment before gradually lowering your arms back down to your sides. You can perform this exercise in 3 sets of 10 or even 15 if you’re feeling up to it.
3. Ankle Rockers:
At the end of 2013, my ankles were killing me. By not warming-up this vitally important tendon, before practice, I had created an unnecessary problem for myself. I couldn’t move to the ball without feeling stiffness or even soreness.
Knowing that I had to get this resolved, I started performing ankle rockers on a near daily basis. Combing this with a few weeks off from the tennis courts allowed me to recover from my injury.
As of April 2015, I haven’t had to deal with it since!
4. Adductor Stretches:
If you’ve ever played a long tennis match then you know how important this muscle group is. The adductors and hips are essential to your lower body’s flexibility. Make sure you take the time to perform this exercise.
Start off by kneeling on the ground in a plank position. Extend your right leg out laterally, as far as it can go. You then want to gently lean backwards until the back of your heel is nearly touching your glute. Hold this for several seconds before returning to your original position. Repeat 5-10 times before switching to the opposite leg.
5. Hip Flexor Stretch
This is an often overlooked exercise that, if performed correctly, can seriously enhance your range of motion. One major benefit is that it allows you to work a lot of different areas at the same time. Your glutes, hamstring, hip, lower-back, knees, and even balance, will all be improved by doing this routinely.
To perform the hip flexor stretch. Start by kneeling on one leg while stretching the other one out in front of you at a 90 degree angle. You want to make sure that your leg is out far enough so that when you rock forward the knee isn’t extending well over the front toe.
Gently move forward until you feel a gradual stretch in your hip. Hold this position for a few seconds before moving back. Repeat this several times before switching legs.
One last thing I want to point out is that it’s extremely important to stay erect during this exercise. If you’re having a difficult time doing this try squeezing your glutes before you move into the stretch.
All right guys, I hope you found these stretches to be helpful. Leave me a comment below with what you’d like to see next! I want to bring you the best tennis knowledge possible and I’ve got a whole lot planned for 2015.