How to Play Tennis After a Long Break?

It happened to me so I decided to write an article about it. I stopped playing tennis when Covid-19 spread globally at the beginning of 2020, My tennis club closed its doors and we could no longer be able to enjoy the game we love.

It was difficult for all of us, and my tennis club didn’t reopen until the end of 2020. That means I didn’t play tennis for a whole year just like any other amateur player.

However, it was not the only reason. At the beginning of 2020, I was focused on learning internet marketing and some technical aspects of creating websites and optimizing them for search engines. Then in September 2021, I caught Covid.

So, between my full-time 9 to 5 work, my late lessons, and struggling with Covid for a month (and still struggling with ongoing symptoms even after recovery), I couldn’t find time to hit some balls.

Finally, I made my come back after almost 2 years of laziness and no sport activity. What a relief to put my shoes on, dust off my tennis bag, and head to the court. So, how did it go?

A short answer: I still have all the techniques, but my physique is poor.

So let’s talk about how to play tennis again after a long period of stoppage.

Why Tennis Players Take a Long Break?

knee-injury
Terry Shultz – Unsplash

There are many factors to why a tennis player stops the game for a while. Mostly:

  • Injury or sickness: A severe injury can end a tennis player career. A mild injury can put a player out for weeks or months. A health condition can also make a player stop until he recovers.
  • Responsibilities: This one happen to many amateur players and even some pros. Not everyone finds the right balance between work, family responsibilities, and daily tennis practice. Sometime life pressure can have the better and force the player to take a break.
  • Covid/Lockdown: The lockdown in 2020 forced thousands of players around the world to stop for months. Catching Covid is also a cause and the period can be weeks or months depending on the player recovery speed. Personally, Covid affected my physical abilities even after recovery. Now I tire much quicker.
  • Winter/Rain: Players stop tennis in some regions in the world where it gets cold in the winter. In addition, rain forces you to play indoors, which not everyone can afford.

How to Play a Tennis Session After a Long Break?

clay-courts

It is difficult to find your old tennis groove after stopping for months or years. But with dedication and a positive mindset, you will convince yourself that you can go back to your brilliant best.

Personally, the hardest part was to regain my physical abilities, especially after struggling with Covid. In my sessions, I train less than I was before and I focus on running and strengthening my muscles.

Playing tournaments is out of my mind now until I feel I am able to play 3-hour matches again with full power.

So, here below is what I recommend doing in a tennis session after coming back from a long break.

  • Take it slow: Don’t try to rush things and play a match or 2 hours of intense tennis. Instead, do a 30-minute session. The objective is regain physique and momentum.
  • Warm up well: We want to warmup the muscles and joints to prevent injuries, which happen a lot after coming back from a long break. There are good exercises to accomplish within 5 or 15 minutes:
    • Running the lines
    • High knees
    • Lunges
    • Leg stretches
    • Arm stretches
  • Play shadow swings: Imagine balls coming from different angles and heights, then prepare and hit imaginary strokes while moving in tiny steps. Variate the strokes and hit successive different types of shots.

Example: High forehand > Backhand slice > High Backhand > Top spin forehand > And so forth.

This helps you warm up and have a real feel for your strokes.

  • Find a cooperative partner: Preferably, don’t play with a coach who would just toss balls at you, but find someone to hit with.
  • Start easy: Begin from the service line with simple controlled shots. The goal is to keep the exchange going to find a good rhythm. Don’t start with heavy
  • Have a fun near the net: Play some net games with your partner for example, slices only, slices or top spin to the cross service box. Eventually, make it fun with a score objective. This helps you control the ball and hit over the net while building momentum.
  • Gradually move back: While playing the shots take some steps back until you reach the baseline. Ow, you can hit strokes with more power and control since you already built momentum.
  • Volley: After baselining for a bit, move to the net and hit volley to volley with your partner. After 5 minutes, hit volleys to your opponent’s groundstrokes. This puts you in a tennis match mindset.

Gradually Get Back to Your Brilliant Best

Chino Rocha – Unsplash

You know how good you can play tennis. The goal is to restore your level and progress further. Just imagine not driving your car for months. When you pick up the steering wheel again, you drive even better than before. It is the same in tennis.

When being a few months older, you gain more wisdom and tactical awareness by watching games on TV and analyzing better.

In these few steps, you might be able to play better tennis in no time:

  • Improve your fitness: This is the key to a high level. Do short and consistent practice sessions working on the fundamentals and focusing on your physique. Also, consider jogging and doing muscle exercises and stretches outside the club.
  • Pick up the pace: After 4 to 6 weeks of leveling up physically, start playing practice matches against decent opponents with the same level as you. This is important to measure yourself in a real match and improve your tactical awareness.

Play anywhere between 5 and 10 matches. Winning some of the games is a bonus.

  • Play a local tournament: When the next club tournament happen, you will measure yourself in a competition to see how you perform mentally, tactically and physically.

Now you are back on track. Congratulations!

To wrap it up

It is not easy to play tennis again after months. It requires determination and self-belief. I would say 50% of the recovery is done after picking up the tennis racquet and renewing the club subscription. After that, it all comes down to your dedication and consistency. I personally follow exactly what I preach in this article since I’ve been in the same situation, and the results are so far so good. Long live tennis!

Read Also:

How to play tennis alone?

Is it Good or Bad to Play Tennis Every Day?

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