Tennis – warm up, cool down and stretching

I’ve had a request for some ideas for a tennis warm up and cool down.

Tennis is excellent all round exercise, and you can play tennis as long as you’re able to walk and move your arm. However as you get older, the warm up becomes even more important to help prevent injury and keep you playing your best.

Whilst a debate rages whether stretching before exercise is worthwhile, one thing not in doubt is the importance of the warm up. This should increase your heart rate and increase the blood flow to your muscles. It also improves elasticity of the muscles, tendons and joints which is particularly important for injury prevention in older adults.

Warm up

  1. 2 circuits of the tennis court at a fast walk, marching arms
  2. Arm Swings
    1. Stand with feet comfortably apart, knees slightly bent, and start with arms straight in front of you
    2. Swing arms wide, contracting shoulder blades together, then bring them all the way across the chest in a hug, gradually speeding up the movements and increasing the range of motion for about 30 seconds
  3. Side step from one side of the court to the other, and back. Do this twice.
  4. Arm circles
    1. Stand with feet comfortably apart, knees slightly bent amd hold both arms straight out to your sides.
    2. Starting with small arm circles, gradually increase the size and speed of the circles for about 30 seconds.
    3. Reverse your direction and repeat.
  5. Walks backwards from baseline to net and back . Repeat twice (if you are feeling confident then increase speed)
  6. Spinal Rotation
    1. Stand with feet comfortably apart and knees slightly bent.
    2. Relax the shoulders and lift your arms so hands are horizontally in front of the upper chest
    3. Gentle rotate the upper body to the right and then to the left, keeping hips and feet facing forwards, for about 30 seconds
  7. Slow  jog from baseline to net. Repeat twice

By now you should feel your heart rate has elevated slightly and be feeling warm, if not you can replace the walk with a jog and increase the speed of the side steps and the slow jog.

Enjoy your game.

Cool down/Stretching

At the end it’s good to get used to a cool-down, it just needs to be a slow walk around the perimeter of the tennis court followed by some stretching. As tennis tends to be a social game there is a temptation just to down racquets and start the socialising part but as tennis uses pretty much every muscle in the body this is an ideal time to do some stretching. Flexibility is a “use it or lose it” skill and you can always improve your range of motion and increase your flexibility (thus improving your game!).
Stretching shouldn’t hurt – stop at the point of tension and avoid bouncing or jarring movements. Inhale deeply as you begin a stretch, and exhale fully as you move deeper into the stretch. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds.

Quadricep stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Bend knee, grab the front of the ankle and pull the foot towards the bottom until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Hamstring stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Place hands on hips and take a small step forward keeping the front leg straight and slightly bending the rear knee.
  3. Lean forwards from the waist, keeping the back straight.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Calf stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees bent slightly
  2. Take a step backwards – the front knee should be directly in line with the ankle.
  3. With hands on your hips lean your body forward slightly, keeping back foot on floor.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Chest stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Place your hands on your hips just above the bottom with palms facing the body and move the elbows backwards until a mild stretch is felt.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds and then release.

Upper back stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Clasp your hands together in front of you with palms facing the body
  3. Straighten the arms and gently raise to shoulder height
  4. Make a round back and push your hands away from you, lowering the chin slightly.
  5. Hold for 15 seconds and then release.

Shoulder Stretch

  1. Hold your left arm across your body and grab the back of your left elbow with your right hand
  2. Pull the left elbow in as far as you can so that your left fingertips can reach around your right shoulder.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change arms.

The  warm-up and stretching should take no more than 5/10 minutes and could make the difference between playing again next week or being injured.

If there is anyone out there who would like to see some suggestions for their particular sport then please leave a comment.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over-50s This will open a new browser window.

About Whole Life Fitness
Whole Life Fitness is a Personal Training business which caters exclusively to the over 50s. It is run by Helen Witcomb in Farnham, Surrey and the surrounding areas. Personal training is not just for the fit and healthy. Leading a more physically active lifestyle will help to maintain an ability to perform everyday tasks as well as helping to prevent immobility and isolation. For more information please call 07785747669, email or go to our website at

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