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How to get warmed up before a tennis match

February 18, 2016 11:07 AM

By Dr. Carol Alan, Secretary of the USTA South Carolina Board of Directors

Dynamic warm-up is a way of preparing the body for the demands of tennis by increasing the core body temperature, improving range of motion, and boosting blood flow to the major muscles. Dynamic warm-up simply means warming up in motion. In the past, traditional “static stretching”, where one stretch was held for certain period of time, was used in warm-up routines. However, research now shows that if static stretching is done before playing tennis as part of a warm-up routine, this can actually reduce muscle strength, reduce speed, and increase injury risk. Dynamic warm-up, on the other hand, has been shown to  improve muscle performance and power and to decrease the risk of injury. Experts widely recommend using dynamic warm-up before recreational tennis play.

The best dynamic warm-up involves body heat generation, muscle preparation, and tennis specific movements. Body heat generation involves a gradual increase in blood flow to the muscles. This causes the muscle temperature to increase and the flexibility of those muscles to increase as well. Dynamic warm-up exercises that increase body temperature are cardiovascular exercises such as power walking, jogging, jumping jacks, or cycling.

About 5 to 10 minutes of exercises that increase core body temperature is useful at the beginning of a dynamic warm-up.

The muscle preparation phase of the dynamic warm-up should also be about five minutes of well controlled movements that are functional and multi-directional to mimic the movement patterns used in tennis. This can include exercises such as walking lunges, walking leg swings (like a Zombie walk), and side leg swings. It is a good idea to gradually increase the speed and range of motion of these exercises as the warm-up progresses

Tennis specific movements as part of the dynamic warm-up can be accomplished during the official match warm-up. This is often what we see at the beginning of practice or league matches when players start with a short court warm up and start hitting strokes. Intensity is gradually increased and the movements are used to activate the muscles used for specific strokes and motions of tennis.

Tennis is a sport that can be played for a lifetime. Each player is unique with specific and individual physical needs. All players should consider using dynamic warm-up exercises before each session on the court to prolong the tennis playing years. For a complete dynamic warm-up routine, visit and click on the Improve Your Game link.