Maximizing Performance By Following A Routine
Whether you take your tennis serious and are striving for greatness or play on a recreational level, you need to be hitting some benchmarks with your tennis flexibility and how you recover for tennis.
Having the ability to get in and out of certain positions on the court is critical for good play. Also, keep in mind that having adequate flexibility ranges will help make this happen.
Being flexible enough also helps prevent injuries by ensuring muscle is not over stretched and damaged during play e.g. muscle tears and connective tissue damage.
I can guarantee you every top player work on flexibility, they have to. I have been lucky enough to have personally seen the best players do their stretching, mobility, and other recovery protocols. Some players are spending up to 3hrs to recover after a hard day on the court.
When I worked with Lleyton Hewitt our daily routine post hitting/match was:
- Pool (15min)
- Ice bath (10min)
- Massage (1hr)
- Stretch (20min)
- Hyperbaric chamber (1hr)
I’m not joking here either! This is what it takes at the top level!
Now I am not expecting you to follow a recovery routine to this extent, but I would encourage you to set up a basic plan to help enhance your tennis flexibility and improve how you move and feel on the court. (Stick around I have some programs for you to follow below)
Before we move on let’s have a look at what flexibility is…
What Is Flexibility?
Flexibility is the ability of muscles, joints, and soft connective tissues (tendons/ligaments) to move through an unrestricted, pain-free range of motion.
So if your flexibility is good, you will move faster, be able to get into better positions on the court, recover better and will feel much stronger in general! I am sure you can agree that all sounds good….
How To Avoid Injuries In Tennis?
The most common tennis injuries are “Overuse injuries”. They occur when muscles are tight, restricted, and fatigued. Making sure you are flexible and mobile enough to withstand the levels you play at is important to prevent these injuries, you also need to follow a tennis specific strength and conditioning program to make sure your body is physically robust enough to handle your time on court. You can check out some tennis training programs.
By doing the right training combined with enough recovery you can prevent most injuries. If you are someone that is constantly injured with nagging niggling injuries, then there is a good chance you need to improve your strength and flexibility and also do some extra work with your recovery protocols. If you don’t change what you are doing, you cannot expect the results to be different.
We are all built differently, some players are naturally more flexible than others, I call this being “flexibility blessed” these players can generally get into and out of deep ranged positions with ease. Ask them to touch their toes and they can put their hands flat on the ground! Having been a tennis strength and conditioning coach for over 20 years, I would say 10-20% of players fall into the Flexibility Blessed category, but even they need to be maintaining their levels of flexibility following a specific tennis flexibility program. The rest of us, well it can be a constant battle, but the good news is if we are following the right tennis preparation and recovery protocols the battle is easy!
Before we get into what you need to be doing to get your flexibility ranges at the right level and how to maintain them, you will need to know where you are at with your flexibility. What is your starting point? What needs to improve?
How do you do this? Good question! Tennis Fitness Testing is the answer, and we actually have these tests set up for you (plus others) so be curious and check them out, it is worth your time and money.
Let’s now look at what you need to be doing to improve your mobility and flexibility and enhance your movement on the court.
If you are serious about improving your tennis flexibility and mobility, you need to be working in 2 key areas;
Mobility Exercises In Tennis
Mobility can best be explained as dynamic stretching. Instead of holding a stretch for say 40sec, mobility exercises are more focused on movement and flow. Mobility exercises are a great way to open a “chain of movement” or what is commonly referred to as “kinetic chain” which means opening up joints and stretching out multiple muscles through a specific movement. At Tennis Fitness we recommend you follow a tennis mobility routine before every session.
Mobility exercises will help prepare your body for tennis, they are an important tool to use to prevent injuries by making sure your body is loose through multiple planes of movement e.g rotation, bending, lunging, squatting, reaching above head etc.
When? Pre-exercise. Before every major workout e.g tennis practice, tennis workout, tennis match.
How often? 1-2 times daily. Once a day before your main workout/session of the day is ideal. If you are playing multiple matches on a day you should do the routine before each match.
How? Checkout this video with some mobility exercises I put together for you.
Flexibility Exercises In Tennis
To improve your flexibility ranges (length of muscle) you need to be doing static stretches, specific for tennis.
Static stretches involve holding a certain stretch/position at end range (to the point of it feeling uncomfortable) for an extended period of time, we recommend 20-60sec per hold.
What this does is elongate the muscle length – Stretches it out, which not only feels better for the player but also helps you perform better by giving you more muscle length which helps you get into better positions on court, prevents over stretching, straining and tear muscle tissue.
Improving your flexibility through tennis static stretching takes consistency, you also need to be willing to get uncomfortable and push your stretch holds to the point of it feeling uncomfortable (not painful though)
When? Post exercise or end of day.
How often? 1-2 times daily. During tournaments you should be stretching between matches and outside tournaments you should be stretching after your last exercise session of the day.
How? Checkout this video with some tennis static stretching exercises I put together for you.
At tennis fitness we offer a wide range of online programs that have mobility and flexibility programs included. We cater for junior players, high performance players, players over 40 and everyone in between. Check out below if one of our programs fits you:
In order to best help your body recover and be prepared for your next practice session, tennis workouts or match, you need to create your ideal recovery protocols. In this blog we covered Tennis Flexibility and Tennis Mobility, you also need to consider; ice baths, hot baths, massage therapy, body compression, hyperbaric chamber, hydration, nutrition and supplementation (yes a lot I know ☺)
Get started with the mobility and flexibility exercises above and then reach out for more help when you need it.
Final tip – Without being consistent you won’t get a change with your flexibility. So, get yourself set up, follow the protocols I have given you and get them done daily!
You will thank yourself for doing it!
Nathan Martin – Tennis Fitness