With the demands of today’s tennis game, a warm-up is an important component of any pre-match routine; it helps prepare your body for the task at hand and can help minimize injuries. The United States Tennis Association recommends performing a 10-minute dynamic warm-up. This is essentially stretching with movement. Even though the exercises are the same for men and women, each warm-up session should start off slowly, incorporate specific movements to focus on different parts of your body and end with cooperative hitting.
Light Jogging Exercise
Begin your warm-up session by running the lines. This exercise elevates your heart rate and gets your blood flowing to your muscles. To start, stand at the baseline behind one of the singles sidelines. Lightly jog up the line to the net, touch the net and without turning around, jog backward to the service line. When you get to the service line shuffle across to the center service line, jog up to the net and then backward to the service line. Again, shuffle across to the singles sideline, jog up to the net and then back pedal to the baseline. Complete one repetition by shuffling across the baseline to the opposite singles sideline. Perform three reps.
Arm and Shoulder Warm-Up
Add arm circles to your jog to focus on your upper back, shoulder and arm muscles. Stand on one of the doubles sidelines and face the opposite doubles sideline. Extend your arms out to your sides, shoulder high, and while jogging across to the opposite line, swing your arms forward to make small circles. When you get to the opposite line, turn around, swing your arms backward and jog back to the start. Repeat two more times, each time increasing the size of the circles.
Hip and Leg Warm-Up
The knee hug lunge is an effective exercise to warm up your hamstrings, lower back, hip flexor and calf muscles. Stand on one doubles sideline and face the opposite line. Simultaneously lift your right knee, pull it toward your chest with your hands and rise up onto the ball of your left foot. Release your right leg, take a large step forward and lower your body into a lunge position. Concentrate on keeping your head up and back straight during the lunge. Next, push upward from your right foot, stand and bring your left foot up alongside your right foot. Repeat by hugging your left knee and continue alternating legs across to the opposite sideline.
Shadow stroking involves going through the movements of the basic tennis strokes without actually hitting a ball. Stand on the baseline, use the correct technique and practice hitting a ball with your forehand stroke. Envision hitting the ball cross court and down the line. Shadow stroke your backhand in a similar way and then your serve. Shadow stroke each stroke 10 to 12 times.
End your warm-up session with light hitting using only the four service boxes as your court. Stand on the service line across the net from a partner. Hit the ball softly back and forth, allowing the ball to bounce once during the rally. After a few minutes of ground strokes, warm up your reflexes with volleys. Hit the ball back and forth without a bounce.