Professional approach to tennis warm-up

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All tennis players know how important it is to warm up. Before we step on the court, we should do some physical and even mental exercises to prepare our body and mind for the upcoming challenge. Our monthly contributor, coach Marcin Bieniek, founder of instructional Enjoy Tennis Blog, will talk about how we should keep our warm-up flexible and make the most out of it in different circumstances.

Should the warm-up be the same all the time?

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic warms up for her match at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournamentTennis coaches always talk about routines. Players should have serving and returning routines to play automatically, control their body and mind, plus, make the most of the first shots in tennis. They should also perform a specific routine between the points, which is often based on the famous video of world-renowned psychologist Dr. Jim Loehr. But should players always prepare in the same manner no matter what? Is it effective for players to perform the same exercises with the same duration every day of the week?

The goal of the warm-up is to prepare body and mind for the activity, reduce possibility of injuries and increase chances of high performance. All these three tasks can be achieved only when the warm-up is customized to the particular player and situation. Players need different tools to warm up for the practice session at 6 a.m. and when the training is scheduled in the afternoon. The same happens with other factors — players should be aware of a current environment, adapt their general warm-up to suit the requirements and get all the benefits of pre-match activities.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia warms up before her doubles match at the 2018 Western & Southern Open WTA Premier 5 tennis tournamentTennis is a weird individual sport. You play on different surfaces, in different weather conditions and, on top of that, many times you don’t even know the exact time your match starts. That is why applying general warm-up rules won’t give you maximum benefits.

Here are some factors that should have impact on your pre-match warm-up decisions:

Time of the practice/match

Time of your practice or match has crucial impact on the warm-up. When the match is scheduled in the early morning hours, you definitely need a little longer and more intensive warm-up to raise your heart rate and get yourself into optimal alertness. The same happens when you play tennis in the evening — after the whole day, your body and mind are tired, so you have to “wake them up” by doing your routine in a little different way.

Naomi Osaka of Japan warms up before practice at the 2018 WTA Finals tennis tournamentWeather conditions

Tennis is played around the world and there are countries where weather changes dramatically between winter and summer. Low temperature makes your body stiff, so it has negative impact on movement and it puts your body in danger of some sprains and strains. To avoid these negative experiences, players should perform specific exercises to be physically ready for the dynamic activity of tennis.

The level of tiredness

This individual feeling has to be taken into consideration while planning warm-up. Fresh players on Monday can perform their regular routine, but when Friday comes they should think of some less intensive exercises or some other techniques (e.g foam rolling) to be sure that they can still play solid tennis without risking injuries.

As you can see, general rules are good for general days, but athletes don’t have many general days. Make sure you adapt to every situation and prepare your body and mind to be able to perform at your maximum level. It is like with tactical choices — you have to be aware of what is going on and use your knowledge to increase your chances of good results.

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