How To Warm Up For A Tennis Match

How To Warm Up For A Tennis Match

Warming up for any physical activity is absolutely necessary to avoid injuries, get your head in the game, and optimize the time you spend.

Think of warming up for your tennis match as the prerequisite to a good game.

You can choose to do nothing and maybe do okay, or you can rise and grind and get your body and mind ready for what’s about to happen.

If you’re like us, then the latter option is the only one that you’re willing to take, and that’s a good thing. Let’s discuss how you can warm up like an absolute legend.

8 Useful Tennis Stretches

These stretches and warmups are designed to be done anywhere, no matter what time of day.

No equipment is required, though some may benefit from adding equipment in a controlled environment.

If you built your own DIY tennis court on your property and have a home gym, you could stretch/warm-up with equipment since you won’t be traveling far to the court.

These are the best stretches.

#1 Arm Circles

When you put your arm into this motion you’re stretching a lot more than you think.

Yes, you can feel your arms move around a bit, but it’s actually exercising your rotator cuff in your shoulder, which prevents some of the most common types of tennis injuries.

You don’t need many forms to achieve this one either; just swing your arms around in dynamic circles, as much as your arms are willing to stretch.

You’ll feel your arms/shoulders loosen up as you go, but don’t stop there. Continue this for 90 seconds up to 2 minutes for the full effect.

#2 Side Steps

People are always so obsessed with how well your arm movements are that they forget about your feet.

You’re not just magically moving around the court; you can get leg cramps and see a negative performance from neglecting to stretch out your legs before a match.

For side steps, take one full step to the right with your right foot, plant it, then bring the left foot in. Do the same on the left side. Repeat this for about two minutes.

It’s not only a good way to stretch before a game, but it’s like a mini cardio workout all at the same time.

#3 Knee Lunges

In the spirit of keeping those court-trotting legs fit and stretched, some knee raises are going to do the job just fine.

You can work these three different ways, from beginner to intermediate to expert.

Standing still and maintaining your own balance, raise one knee until your lap is at a 90° angle. Lower that leg, go to the other, and repeat multiple times.

If you want to ramp it up, you could raise that knee just a bit higher to a 105° angle, and to get really intense, do running knee raises.

This kicks up the speed and really gets a workout where you’ll also engage your core at the same time. It’s a great way to feel your body come alive.

#4 Structured Push-Ups

You know the basic push-up, but did you know that deeper and better-formed push-ups can actually stretch your shoulders, wrists, back, legs, ankles, and core?

It’s some amazing stuff. TO structure them better, it’s all about form.

Without form, you’re just positioning your muscles in a way that increases your likelihood of an injury, so it’s important to get these down pat before you try to use them just before a match.

When you let your body descend from the pressure of your arms, hold your core tight and your legs strong.

Don’t let your ankles drift apart. Descend slowly and get as low as you can, then hold it there for a while.

When you rise back up, do it slowly so you’re really engaging all those muscle groups for an extended period of time.

#5 Trunk Rotations

These help out with the dynamic movements you’ll be doing when you twist your body to hit that backhand, as well as over a dozen other common movements in tennis.

Trunk rotations are simple to do; raise your arms up to where your shoulder is, and while holding your core, twist your body slightly from side to side.

To add some difficulty to it and stretch out even more muscles, lower your body with a half-squat while doing it.

#6 Walking Lunges

Lunges can be part of a full-body workout, but if you limit the number, they’re basically highly dynamic stretches.

Walking lunges get more of your body moving than just standard lunges, and stretch out most of your leg muscles while also focusing on your ankles.

To do a walking lunge, step forward with one leg and drop your knee down into a 90° angle while your hands are on your hips, lean into that lunge, and then go right into the next in a walking pattern.

Continue this for ten total lunges, and as a forewarning, we’re sorry about how sore your legs will be.

Any more than ten times and you’re in a full-blown workout, but this will stretch your hamstrings extremely well for tennis.

#7 Hip Circles

With your hands on your hips, lean to the left and slowly begin rotating your hips in a clockwise position.

You might feel a bit silly doing this, but it’s the best way to loosen up those joints prior to tennis.

The key here is to switch positions and rotate counterclockwise after a while, so you’re impacting every muscle and joint along the way.

Having your hands on your hips and your elbows extended also works your shoulders and adds to your warmup.

#8 Heel Toe Walk

Cyclists often use these to warm up before a long ride, and they do absolute wonders for your legs and hips.

A heel-toe walk is when you step forward and land with your heel while keeping your foot raised, and your legs nice and straight.

You can put your hands on your hips while doing it to keep your center of gravity. Lean over slightly until you feel the muscles in the back of your calves begin to stretch.

Lean back up and relax your foot, then hop to the next one. Repeat about five or six times until you feel your legs come alive.

How to Warm Up Your Shoulders

Everything begins at your back, but the next phase of kinetic energy coursing through your body is in the shoulders.

From your back to your shoulders and down your arms to your hands, every moment matters, and having a proper warmup for your shoulder is imperative to a good match.

  • Stand with your arms pressed up against your side, stick straight.
  • Gently swing them forward while keeping them straight and have them stick straight out from your body.
  • Continue this motion until they’re perfectly above you. Let your arms fall completely at this point.
  • Repeat the steps about ten times.

If you’d like, you can also alternate by beginning in an upright position, and slowly moving your arms down.

Either way, it’s going to exercise your rotator cuff and arm muscles to ensure your shoulders don’t sustain any injuries.

Warming Up Your Elbows

Ever heard of tennis elbow?

It became a generalized term people would use to describe just about any elbow pain, but it’s a real condition that you can actually get from playing tennis without warming up your elbows properly.

This primary exercise is your best defense against elbow injuries.

It’s a full-bodied arm curl that requires dynamic motion and movement, so you can actually feel the effects in your elbows.

  • Holding your elbows into your sides, you’re going to extend your hands outward as if you were shrugging.
  • Pull those arms up until your hands are basically resting on your shoulders, still without moving your upper arm.
  • Raise your elbows as much as you can, and then perform all of these steps in reverse to be out of the movement.
  • Repeat up to ten times for full effectiveness.

Warming Up Your Wrists

These two exercises seem a bit silly, but they’re basically going to cover every area of your wrist that you need to warm up.

The last thing you want is to go for a strong wing and feel something move out of place in your hand.

First of all, let’s take a look at simple wrist circles to get a good warmup exercise.

  • Lay your hands out flat in front of your, palms facing down. In an instant, allow your fingers (not your wrists) to relax entirely.
  • Using the strength you have in your wrists, gently move them in clockwise and then counterclockwise circles. You should do about ten of each.
  • Now bring your hand back up and regain control of your fingers. Lightly clench them into fists, and continue that previous exercise. This is more akin to the position your hands will be in while you’re playing.

There’s also a slightly more simple method you could try that also doesn’t require any equipment or weights.

  • Put your hand out in front of you so that your palms are facing outward. Gently lean them against a wall.
  • Apply light amounts of pressure so that you can feel all of your palm/fingers on the wall. Ease back, and repeat five times per hand. This loosens up your wrist muscles in the same direction as you’ll be using them to swing and hit the ball back over the net.

Warming Up Your Back

It’s ridiculously easy to throw your back out at any age, and the motions of tennis are one way to really do some damage if you aren’t careful.

Take this simple exercise and apply it each time before you head to your match.

It’s called the world’s greatest stretch, and it’s there to dynamically help your back, shoulders, arms and even your hips.

  • Slowly, lunge forward with your dominant foot to start. Lean down entirely into the lunge until your torso is forward.
  • Ensure your knee touches the ground and you’re stable.
  • Put your non-dominant hand on the floor, and using your dominant hand, stretch your arms out to reach a maximum wingspan.
  • Raise that dominant hand straight up, so your arms are at a 180° angle. Hold this for five seconds and slowly release.
  • Repeat the same steps with your non-dominant side.
  • Perform each stretch three times, switching off between sides.

This offers a wide range of protection against numerous injuries.

You never know what’s going to happen on the court,  so it’s best to be prepared for every type of sudden knee-jerk movement.

How to Mentally Prepare for a Tennis Match

Tennis Player On Knees

The mental preparation is just as, if not more important than the physical.

You’ve already trained your body and skill to get you to this point right before a tough match, but now what do you do?

You mentally elevate yourself so that nothing can psych you out. This is how to do that.

#1 Run Through Your Strengths

In your head, talk about all the things that got you here.

You’re up against an opponent who’s put in the same amount of time and effort to hone their skills, just like you.

They got here on their abilities, so now it’s time to remind yourself of what got you here.

What are your strengths? What is your absolute best racket method? You were good, but somewhere along the lines you became great: what did you do to make that difference?

You get the idea. Mentally hype yourself up to understand that you do deserve to be here, your capabilities will be put to the test, and you will pass it.

#2 Focus on Your Playings, Not Theirs

Preparing To Serve

Yes, you have to know how to outsmart or outplay your opponent, but that’s only going to help you out so much.

How well they play is not determined by how well you play; you each have your own skills coming into this that was not built by or defined by one another.

Don’t worry about them, just focus on how you’re going to play, how you’re going to score, and what moves you’ve got up your sleeve.

Think about the standard matches you play and how they normally go, in terms of your own performance. You can do this, but only if you focus on your movements. Don’t get intimidated.

#3 Don’t Predict the Outcome

That brings on panic, worry, anxiety; you’re defining what will happen with your actions, and just thinking about the outcome isn’t going to make it happen.

It’s going to psych you out. Despite what some people believe, you cannot focus on two things at once.

You cannot completely, 100% focus on your game and how you’re performing if, in the corner of your mind, you’re asking “What if I lose?”

That’s not an option. Right now, losing is not an option. Eliminate options by performing with actions.

If you play you’re very best, you’re not letting yourself down.

It’s impossible to win every single match you go into, but it’s not impossible to change your reaction and understand when you have fulfilled your obligation to yourself to play your best.

Don’t predict the outcome, or you’re going to fumble it.

#4 Understand Bad Game Calls Happen

Hitting Head With Racket

We all want a bias-free world, but it’s never going to happen.

Everyone is biased towards what they believe is best or what they believe is right, and that even applies to bad calls from your opponents in a tennis match.

What do you do with that, when someone combats your moves with gamesmanship?

You accept it. It’s going to happen. There’s a difference between standing up for yourself and not combating everything.

Pick your battles.

Understand that when you go into a match, things are going to happen that don’t exclusively benefit you. Don’t expect that to happen.

When your opponent gets bent out of shape or heated over a move you made, do you know what you did?

You got inside their head. Are you going to let them get inside yours? No, you’re not; you’re going to continue outclassing them.

Getting Ready for Every Match

It’s time to ready up for every single match going forward.

You have an obligation to ready your body and mind before that first serve, and you know who’s holding you to it?


There’s always an opportunity to do better, but it starts by being proactive and ensuring you have the best possible moral advantage over whoever’s on the other side of that net.

Even if you’re just practicing solo with a tennis ball machine, go into every match or match equivalent like you’re going for the gold. Who knows; someday, you just might be.

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