Healthy Warmup Key to Injury Prevention
The most important habit for any tennis player is a good warmup before playing. Too many players (especially amateurs) just hop onto the court and start playing and then wonder why they are so sore or injured afterwards.
The following tennis warmup was designed by Andy Shupe, a USPTA tennis professional and former head coach of men's and women's tennis at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. This is appropriate for advanced, aggressive players preparing for match play. Recreational players may not need such an extensive warmup, but can follow the steps outlined below.
- Begin with about 10 minutes of light hitting (or another light aerobic activity).
- Do 5 minutes of slow on-court running, including forward and backward running and side stepping.
- Move into another 5 minutes of what Shupe calls "dynamic flexibility movements" (eg, slow running with knees to the chest or feet to the butt).
- Stretch for 5-10 minutes, working on shoulders, triceps, forearms, wrists, chest, back, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, and ankles.
- Move back onto the court for about 15 minutes of hitting. Start at the net with easy volleys, move back to the service line for a short rally and make the natural progression back to the baseline, picking up pace on your shots as you back up.
- Warm up your shoulder with light overhead shots, first to the service line and then a few light overhead shots to the baseline.
- Take about 5 minutes to warm up your serve. Start slowly. "Warm up your second serve first," Shupe says. Work up to a harder serve. You may not be serving at full pace until a few games into the match.
- Don't forget to cool down after an intense tennis match, and stretch again when you're done.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to warmup all your shots and you need to do it gradually. "If I see my guys hitting hard right away, I get on them. They won't play well if they don't get their blood flowing and their footwork going. And not warming up is a good way to get hurt," Shupe says.
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