The Warm Up

Many players today do not know what it means to “warm up” prior to a tennis match. The fact that players are given a chance to “warm up” before match play indicates that they use the 5 minutes allotted to them to warm up their game and get ready to play a match. This cannot be further from the truth. Let’s examine a better way to “warm up”.

First, let’s discuss what the definition of warm up means. The definition by the Mayo Clinic is: Warming up helps get the body ready for aerobic activity. A warmup slowly warms up the heart and blood vessel, also called cardiovascular system. It does this by raising the body temperature and increasing blood flow to muscles. When you warm up, it also may help lower muscle soreness and lessen injury risk. source

With this definition in mind it is important to understand that in the course of a tennis match the player should actually be warmed up prior to even setting foot on the court. If a player is not sufficiently warmed up prior to even the “warm up” at the beginning of the match then are they truly ready to play?

A great way to get warmed up prior to the match is by performing “Dynamic Stretches”. The University of Virginia defines dynamic stretching as: Dynamic stretches are a series of gentle arm and leg swings performed in a smooth controlled manner. They involve continuous movement throughout the exercise and are considered more effective in “warming” up a muscle and promoting more blood flow to the region than do static stretches. source

The reality is, if possible a player should take approximately 20 minutes prior to the start of their match and perform these dynamic exercises and get their body prepared for the task at hand, playing the match. Now, you may ask, if I do this prior to the match, then what do I do with the 5 minutes allotted before the match while I hit with my opponent? That answer is simple. Scouting.

Scouting your opponent.

Since you took the time before the match to warm up, the 5 minutes before playing allow you to scout your opponent. Look for things they like to do, like hitting forehands, look for things they struggle with, such as hitting backhands or serving. Find their strengths and weaknesses and start to assess what you can do with your game to help you win. Remember, do your best to be prepared for the match before you ever set foot on the court. Use the time you have to your advantage and make the task at hand, winning the match, that much easier.