Sure, cardio, speed, quickness and power are all important attributes for a tennis player, but let’s not discount the importance of flexibility.
An effective stretching program will have you reaching the balls that you were missing in the past. It will also improve your serve, and return power while helping prevent injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments.
The below flexibility exercises will help take your game to the next level, and keep you there while you’re playing at your best.
Tennis requires a lot of reaching and stretching for the ball, so you’ll often find yourself in a half or full lunge position in attempt to catch up with the ball.
Therefore, stretching of the groin region (hip adductor muscles—the adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, gracilis, and pectineus) is paramount.
Long Adductor Stretch
The long adductor muscles that attach below the knee will be stretched during this exercise.
Sit with your feet and legs wide apart, and lean forward until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
In addition, your quadriceps and hamstring are constantly taxed. So, you’ll need to limber up these important muscle groups.
Stand with your legs shoulder width apart, preferably with a hand on a door frame or chair for balance. Grab the ankle of the leg you’re stretching, and pull back until you feel the muscle working.
Frequency: Hold for 15-30 second. Repeat 3-5 times, then stretch the opposite leg.
Stand with your legs shoulder width apart. Slowly lower your fingers downward while bending your trunk at the waist and locking your knees. Reach down as far as possible, and hold.
You should feel a slight pulling sensation in your hamstrings. Do not force it to the point of extreme pain.
Frequency: Hold the stretch for at least 10 seconds, then gradually return to the starting position. Perform 3-4 reps.
If you cannot serve the ball over the net, it doesn’t matter what else you can do well.
So, stretching the rotator cuff and shoulder muscles will permit a greater range of motion, allowing for a more powerful serve and returns, especially anything over your head, as in the overhead smash.
Rear Deltoids and Rotator Cuff Arm Stretch
Raise one arm and move it diagonally across your chest. With the opposite hand, apply slight pressure on the arm near the elbow, pulling it gently across your body. Press smoothly and evenly without bouncing the arm.
Frequency: Hold the pressure for about 30 seconds and release. Repeat with the other arm. Repeat 3-5 times.
Flexor and Extensor Wrist Stretches
Tennis players often experience pain at the elbow due to lateral epicondylitis also commonly known as Tennis Elbow. This is a form of elbow tendonitis in which the tendons on the outer side of the elbow become inflamed, causing pain. It is usually due to the tennis club grip and repeated swing, as well as constant impact between ball and racquet, reverberating up the elbow.
These exercises stretch the muscles and tendons along the forearm and wrist:
Flexor stretch: With your right arm facing straight out and fingers pointing upward (palm away from you), take your left hand, and pull back on your right finger tips.
Frequency: Hold for 10-15 seconds, and repeat 3-4 times, alternating arms.
Note: Perform the opposite for the extensor stretch (with palm facing downward and fingers pointing downward).
* Special Note — the information above is for reference only. Please consult with a licensed medical professional or credentialed health and fitness professional for more information.
Written by Jerry Del Priore for bodono.
Jerry Del Priore has worked as a certified personal trainer, and received his degree in Physical Education from Brooklyn College. Jerry is also a veteran print and digital Sports Writer-Reporter-Author experienced in writing in-depth profile stories on a variety of high school, college and professional athletes and teams. He covers several Brooklyn areas including Canarsie, Bensonhurst, Old Mill Basin, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Gravesend, East NY, East Flatbush, Fort Greene, Georgetown, Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach, among other areas in NYC and Long Island. Additionally, Jerry has developed a presentation based on his book, Running Through Roadblocks, that encourages children to overcome obstacles and never give up…no matter what! Specialties: Baseball, football, hockey and basketball writing. Jerry also has covered lacrosse, soccer, golf and track and field, with ample experience cover women’s sports. Food Writer/Blogger experienced in venue write-ups and reviews. In addition, Jerry has ample experience working with medically fragile children, children with behavioral challenges and children with cognitively impairments. Read Jerry Del Prior’s book: Running Through Roadblocks and view his presentation.