I’ve been playing league tennis for a long while, and I’ve noticed that nearly all players will actually skip warming up. Now, I’m not talking about the quick 10 minutes on the court with your opponent(s), where you practice a few strokes and serves; I’m referring to the warm up that should be done before that one… the warm up that gets the muscles moving and blood pumping.
Tennis consists of numerous quick movements, both from side to side as well as forward and backward, so it’s important that players properly warm up. In talking to a number of players, I found that while a few do warm up before they get to the court, the majority choose to skip it because it is “too much of a hassle” and “takes too much time”, that it’s not worth the effort since they warm up during the match. Well… whatever their logic is, they couldn’t be more wrong!
A proper warm-up should ALWAYS be done before each match or workout session, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time either, since 5-10 minutes is typically all you need to get your body ready for working up a sweat.
Warming up will:
- Increase blood flow to your working muscles, better preparing them for the match or workout to come.
- Increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which prevents you from getting out of breath too early or too easily.
- Prepare your heart gradually for an increase in activity, helping you avoid a rapid increase in blood pressure.
- Prime your nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for vigorous movement, which can improve the quality of your match or workout.
- Improve your coordination and reaction times.
- Reduce the chance of soft tissue (ligament, tendon, and muscle) injuries by allowing your muscles and joints to move through a greater range of motion easily and safely.
- Lubricate your joints for easier (and less painful) movement
- Increase blood temperature, which can allow you to play or work out longer and harder.
- Prompt hormonal changes in the body responsible for regulating energy production.
- Help mentally prepare you for the match ahead, giving you a few minutes to get pumped up!
A warm up can be a lower intensity version of the activity you are about to do, or it can be something totally different, but that uses the same muscle groups. I like to warm up at home with this fab video, just before heading to the courts, though we have lots of choices in our tennis-specific fitness section.
Warm up before every match and you’ll not only have an advantage over your opponent, but you’ll also have fewer injuries.