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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Real Tennis Warm-Up

For Top Tips on staying Fit for Real Tennis see Tom Huelin's Website

Warm Up - Warming up before a game of tennis or any sporting activity is essential for improving performance and minimising injuries. The primary physiological effects of a warm up are to increase core temperature, increase heart rate and blood flow to the skeletal muscles, increase the activation of the central nervous system and to increase the force and suppleness of connective tissue. A warm up should include an initial pulse raising activity such as jogging, cycling or rowing, followed by a series of dynamic exercises, finishing with some sports specific drills.

Pulse raising: The initial stages of a warm up should consist of a pulse raising activity to initially increase heart rate and blood flow to the working muscles. Jogging, rowing and cycling are effective pulse raising activities (although jogging is the most suitable for real tennis).

Real tennis is a game that requires a large amount of lateral movement. Therefore it is important that the warm up should replicate a game situation as much as realistically possible. I suggest performing activities such as sideways and backwards jogging, high knees, crossovers, and short bursts of running or sprinting.

At this point many fitness professionals and coaches would encourage players to perform static stretching exercises where muscles are contracted and held for a period of time. My research and experience has lead me to believe that pre event static stretching does more harm than good. Also, I can’t think of a single sporting activity where a player is stationary during a game.

Dynamic exercises: The game of real tennis requires players to be quick, agile and be able to perform complex movements quickly. It is therefore important to prepare for these situations in the warm up. I suggest forward, backward and side lunges with twisting hip rotations. Upper body exercises should include dynamic arm rotations.

Sports specific drills: Real tennis specific practices (forehand, backhand, volleying) should be performed with your opponent immediately prior to playing.

By following these principles you will give yourself the best possible chance of success and decrease the chances of picking up an unnecessary injury. I am proposing that members use a squash court (if available) or the 2nd floor area to warm up, although I appreciate that there is limited space for jogging and running. However, as mentioned previously rowing and cycling are effective pulse raising activities.

If anybody has any questions on warming up or has any ideas that they use before playing then please get in touch.