Tennis Athletes: Treat Your Body Right

Posted by Nick Crossley on January 31, 2018

As we start the new year, let’s see if we can train smarter and spend more time on the court. Like any physical activity, tennis can be very demanding on our bodies. Personally, I would like to see every one of our tennis players feeling strong and playing as much as they want.

Even though playing tennis is not our full time job, we should still take a page from what the pros do before and after a practice or match. Although he makes tennis look all too easy, I’m sure that Roger Federer does more than just take a shot of espresso before he goes out on the court!

A dynamic warm up is crucial for you to loosen up your muscles before playing. You can warm up on the Fitness Floor at the RAC using a stationary bike or jogging and shuffling on the track. Resistance bands work great to loosen up your shoulder. You can also pack a jump rope in your tennis bag or do various dynamic movements on the tennis court before hitting a single tennis ball. The key is to get a sweat going before you play.

A cool down is also important to do after you play. Try to save time for a stretch after you play or a light jog. The foam rollers on the Fitness Floor can also be used on your tennis muscles.

Eat a small snack for a protein boost after you play or have the deli prepare you a protein shake to help your muscles recover after your workout. If you have time, eating a full meal soon after playing would be an even better plan.

Even as a tennis teaching professional, I must admit that I have started hitting tennis balls without a proper warm up many times. Often, because of this, I have found my body will have extra aches and pains when I wake up the next day.

Here is my warm up routine that I follow on my best days:

  • Start with a warm up jog for a couple minutes.
  • Progress to high knees, shuffling with a strong first crossover step, and butt kicks for a few minutes.
  • Continue with arm circles or band exercises.
  • After this, I am ready for some light hitting which usually starts with a short court rally followed by some effortless swings from the baseline. My goal is to find a rhythm with my body and swings while moving my feet. After 10-15 minutes, my goal is to be in full flight!

Please ask any of our tennis staff for recommendations on specific exercises to warm up certain muscles. I realize that you are always in a hurry to get somewhere, but do your best to find extra time for these important activities before and after you play so that you do not have to spend extra time recovering from an injury.

Our goal is to see you on the court more with fewer ice bags, knee straps, and elbow braces needed this year. And remember, if you develop anything worse than aches and pains, stop by Active PT to set up an assessment before you head home!
Nick Crossley

Nick Crossley

Nick has been teaching tennis since 2002 and enjoys working with the casual tennis player as well with higher level college and high school players. Nick is currently the head coach of the Rochester Century boy’s high school team and assistant coach of the Carleton College men’s team. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife and their two boys.

Contact Nick Crossley at (507) 287-9335 ext. 308.

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