How to Warm Up Properly For Tennis?

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Before playing any sport, it is essential to warm up. This is important to slowly increase your blood flow and have your muscles respond conveniently to the physical activity they are about to endure.

It goes the same for tennis. Before any session no matter if you are hitting with your coach or playing a tournament match, you must do warm-up exercises before you start.

Warm up for tennis in 5 easy steps

The warm-up routine depends on the time you have before the session. If you are renting a court for an hour, you don’t have much time to warm up so you may allow 5 or 10 minutes. If you have more time, the longer the warm-up the better for your body.

Let’s take a look at 2 warm-up routines tailored for players based on the time they have on their hands.

Quick warm up (5-10 minutes)

  1. Jogging: jog for 1 to 2 minutes around the court
  2. Running the lines: run the sidelines from the baseline to the net and then return backwards
  3. High knees: Do high knees while going from one sideline to the other
  4. Back Flicks: Return with bum flicks from one sideline to the other
  5. Shoulder turns: Again run from one side to the other rotating your arms around your shoulders
  6. Hip circles: circle around with your hips from left to right then inverse
  7. Lunges: with one leg back, flex your front leg knee with your hands around your hips. This is a classic exercise.
  8. Hips warmups: with hands on your hips, lift your knee and rotate it to the exterior side then repeat with the other leg.
  9. Leg throws: With total relaxation of your legs, lift them and almost throw them like doing a karate kick. This is a perfect example of beneficial dynamic stretching.
  10. 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.

Long warm up (15-30 minutes)

  • Running back and forth – 5 minutes
  • Chasing steps and cross steps – 2 minutes
  • jumping jacks – 2×20
  • Jumping rope – 2 minutes
  • Arm pronation – 1×10
  • Supinated arm drop 1×10
  • Knee Raises – 2×20
  • Bum Flicks – 2×10
  • Hips circles – 1 minute
  • Tiptoeing – 2×10
  • Squats – 2×10
  • Chest rotation – 1×20
  • Lunges – 1×10
  • Lunges with chest rotation – 1×10
  • Accelerations towards the net – 1×10
  • Shadow swings – 5 minutes
  • Mini Tennis Games – 10 minutes (you need a partner). It includes dropshots inside the service box. Whoever misses the shot makes the opponent score a point. You can play up to 5.
  • Volleys and smashes – 5 minutes

You can mix these exercises with the ones of the quick warm-up.

You don’t have to perform all the exercises.

The most important aspect of a long warm-up is to prepare extensively for a long session, unlike short warm-ups, which can be accomplished for short sessions.

Why You Should Warm up for Tennis?

Like any other physical activity, you should always warm up the joints and the muscles to increase their flexibility and prepare your body for repetitive movement.

By doing so, you drastically decrease the risk of injuries and you perform overall better on the court.

Before any tennis match, you can see both players warm up for 5 minutes, by playing short rallies, followed by volleys, overhead shots, and serves. In addition, some players like Nadal warm up exhaustively before entering the court in order to be ready physically for a long match.

When is Warming Up Very Important?

There are situations where it is crucial to warm up properly before you play tennis.

  • In winter: Injury happen frequently in cold weather. Always warm up and put on appropriate clothing to heat up your body and keep the temperature high.
  • After an injury: If you came back from a recent injury, you should warm up sufficiently to prevent soreness or worse, injury reawakening. Read this guide if you are playing after a long break.
  • If you are old: Players after 35 or 40 need to warm up extensively, as the body of a senior is more fragile and the risk of provoking injuries is higher.

Is Stretching Good Before Tennis?

We often confuse warming up with static stretching. In the reality, it is not the same. While warming up the muscles and the joints is beneficial, static stretching on the other hand can hurt your performance if done before playing tennis.

In fact, stretching before any physical activity weakens the muscles and decreases their volume hence their performance. So you end up having fewer cramps, but losing speed, balance, and shot power. Stretching is a fantastic exercise to do after your tennis match.

Instead, what you should do are joint flexibility exercises, which give you the ability to move through an unrestricted, pain-free range of motion.

What happened after flexibility exercises is the ability to move your body parts more freely with more volume and flexibility, without risking injuries.

You always have to include the following exercises in your warm-up routine:

  • Reels with the shoulders
  • Bust rotation
  • Legs bending
  • Leg throws forwards and backwards.

What Happens If You Play Tennis Without Proper Warm Up?

Tennis is a demanding sport in terms of speed, power, and quick movements. Not warming up properly is a free ticket to having bad injuries.

The most common tennis injuries are:

Tennis Elbow

According to, tennis elbow is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. The pain of the tennis elbow occurs primarily where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist.

Torn Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. The injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which often worsens with the use of the arm away from the body. It generally happens when you practice your serve without warming up properly.

Wrist Strains

Wrist strains happen when the ligaments and/or tendons are either overstretched or torn. The grip used by the player plays a role in the injury but it is mostly the not heated enough joints and tendons that are behind the pain.

To Wrap it Up

It doesn’t take much time to warm up for tennis. 5 or 10 minutes before your practice can increase your performance and avoid having injuries. Just follow the routine to do it properly.

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