The beginning of spring means it’s time to start getting fit for your local flex tennis league. After a winter of festivals and holidays, it’s important to accustom your body to strenuous physical exercise again. Once the competitive season begins, there is no time to spend on nursing injuries. In order to prevent muscle pulls and cramps and stay at the top of your game, start working out now, so that you’re prepared for the league in the spring.
Months of muted physical activities during winter can stiffen the body and make your muscles contract. This increases the risk of game injuries once your flex tennis league commences. Test your body out for apparent weaknesses, aches and pains, so you can know which parts of your body to work on.
Plan Your Workout Routine
Before the joining a league, and even before you start practicing at the court, you should acclimatize your body to a constant and regular exercise. Begin with a regime of free-hand exercises that will stretch out all your tight muscles and strengthen the weaker ones. You should plan out a workout routine where you target the most important muscle groups separately, and later you can include full-body routines and more complicated and challenging moves.
It will be tough at first, but a regime of pre-training exercises will build you up and reduce the chances of later injury. You can do a simple test for your lower body, core and upper body (squats, crunches, push-ups) to see which part of your body is the strongest, or weakest and needs more attention.
You can begin by working out 15-20 minutes a day, especially if you don’t have much time for working out, and later you can go for half an hour or 45 minutes. Make sure you always warm up before the routine and you stretch the muscles out after the routine is over.
Strengthen Your Glutes
As a tennis player, you should know the importance of having strong glutes. Maybe other athletes don’t need them that much, but tennis players sure do. These muscles provide support to your hips, and hips connect the lower and upper part of your body, and are one of the important parts of the mechanism which transfers the force from your feet and ground to your arms and tennis racket. Strengthening your glutes means building quickness and improving your explosiveness.
Like every person, tennis players also have a more dominant side of the body, but since they play tennis, they must work hard to create balance between both sides. Imbalances and week glutes can start causing slight aches, eventually also injuries in your ankles, knees, lower back and shoulders. To get in shape, you should focus on strengthening your glutes with some targeted glute exercises.
Like with any exercise, form is key. Your feet need to be shoulder-width apart, back straight. Imagine you are trying to sit on a chair behind you while your back stay straight, chest up, and you focus on keeping your weight in your heels and not your toes. You don’t have to go very low at first, but then try sinking as lower as you can with correct form. Also, focus on really squeezing your glutes on the way up for extra boost. You can straighten your hands in front of you each time you squat, and then you can start making the move a bit harder by interlacing your finders behind your head, adding dumbbells, barbell or a sandbag.
Lunges are another great glute exercise. Pay attention to your form here as well. You should start by standing straight, crown of the head tall, back straight, core tight. Next, take a large step forward with one of your legs, but transfer the weight to your heel and not your toes. Your back leg should sink as lower as possible, ideally an inch off the floor. Work on keeping your torso straight while in a lunge. After a few seconds, push back with your heel and get back to standing position. Repeat with your other leg.
3) Glute Bridges
To do this exercise, lie on your back, knees bent to 90 degrees angle, feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms on the floor next to your body, palms facing down. Squeeze your glutes and push your hips up off the floor. Pause for a couple of seconds and then bring your hips back down on the floor while keeping your back straight. Make sure your knees stay straight and are not shifting sideways. You can also do glute bridges on one leg at a time – keep one heel on the floor while you hig the knee of the other leg with both of your arms, and keep it close to your chest. OR you can keept raised leg straight with toes pointing to the sky.
Work on Your Core
The core of your body (whole torso to half of your tights) is responsible for providing the force for every tennis shot. The core transfers the power you invest in pushing yourself off the ground through your legs to your arm and wrist. The stronger the core, the more power it will transfer from your feet and the harder you’ll hit.
1) Bicycle Crunches
Bicycles really stimulate your lower abs and obliques. While lying on your back, with your fingers behind your head, and head lifted off the ground, keep one leg straight and off the floor, while you bend the other at the knee. Try bringing your opposite elbow to your bent knee. Repeat on the other side. For an extra boost, you can do 100 repeats while doing every 10 reps really slow and then the following 10 really fast.
2) Mason Twist
Sit on your sit bone with your knees bent, keep your heels either on the floor or off and parallel to the floor. Engage your core, lean slightly back, clasp your hands in front of you. Start rotating from one side to the other with ultimate goal of getting your knuckle down to the floor. If you want to make it more challenging, grab a weight or a sandbag.
3) Boat to Low Boat
This is an awesome exercise for upper and lower abs, it trains your stability and protects your back. Sit on your sit bone with bent knees. Start leaning back, raising your bent knees, so that they are parallel to the floor. Arms are straight and parallel with your lower legs. You can perform the high boat this way until you are able to straighten your legs. Now, lower your back to the floor while keeping the legs straight and arms parallel to the body.
Strengthen Your Upper Body
Upper body strength is equally important – tennis is a lot of running all over the place, but you need strong upper body as well, if you want to be able to hold the racket throughout the match and to play effective tennis.
Chin-ups are the good old-fashioned exercise for the upper back and shoulders, which is what a tennis player needs for a fast serve. Keep your grip close and palms facing you. In case you can’t do a single chin-up or only a couple, use a resistance band or a chair to help you get up.
2) Y- Raise
To do a Y-Raise lie on your stomach, legs straight and arms straight over your head in a Y-shape. You can do the move without any weights or while holding two light dumbbells, palms facing in. Raise your arms with straight elbows to a 30-degree angle, pause for a couple of seconds and then slowly lower them back. Y-Raises strengthen and tone your shoulders, arms and upper back. Shoulder stability gets improved and shoulders become less prone to injury.
3) Medicine Ball Overhead Slam
This is an advanced move that builds explosive power in your upper body and improves your serve. Stand straight holding a medicine ball at the waist level. Then, bring the ball with straight arms above your head. Then, tighten your core and smash the ball into the ground in front of you while bending your knees. Start with caution and later your feet can even leave ground while doing the smash with more power.
Find Local Tennis Players
Once you get in shape, join eTennis League community and find local tennis players who would like to get together to play friendly matches. You can meet a ton of new people, have fun, and put yourself to a test at the same time. You’ll notice your game weaknesses and have a chance to work on the moves you want to master. After you are ready and want to put yourself to a more serious test, you can join a league and compete against other players for the ultimate prize.