Perhaps some of you out there still don’t believe it, but spending time in highly uncomfortable (sometimes eye-watering) or shaky poses during your workout routine, can indeed improve your overall performance as an athlete, and tennis players are no exception.
Yoga is taking over the world and more and more professional tennis players are including yoga (and meditation) in their regular weekly routines.
How can yoga help me with tennis, you ask?
Well, as you can imagine, yoga helps you build your balance. Imbalance can cause injuries and pain, and most people (especially tennis players) are by default side-dominated. Being side-dominated means that your spine is out of balance, pulled out of alignment, so it consequently pulls your hips, knees and ankles out of alignment as well. Yoga helps you restore balance and learn to transfer the center of gravity from hip to hip.
Yoga increases flexibility and mobility. Your mid-back rotation is crucial for your backhand and it helps you avoid tennis elbow, so this is where yoga steps in. Also, many tennis players have stiff hips, which transfers stress to their knees. Yoga helps here as well, as it has a lot of poses that are focused on opening the hips and stretching the hamstrings (for these sequences you'll soon end up quoting the fintess guru Tony Horton: I hate it, but I love it!).
Yoga is also a whole lot of diaphragmatic breathing and engaging your core and these two go hand in hand – proper breathing and a strong core bring you endurance and strength.
You can also try Vinyasa, Ashtanga or even Bikram yoga if you are up for some intense strength-building sequences. It just helps you with everything: body strength, mind, breathing, flexibility, balance, speed – you name it!
Let’s not forget that yoga helps you develop greater mind control and focus, which only adds mental power to your game. Deep breathing exercises increase your overall breathing capacity, they calm and clear your mind, improve circulation and cardiovascular strength, resulting in completely restored and revitalized energy and body.
Bottom line is: whether alone or with help of a teacher and a class, give yoga a try. We guarantee that after you surrender yourself to it, you won't be able to live without it.
Here are 5 yoga possess especially good for tennis players:
1. Cat-Cow Pose
Great for warm-up and stretching your back; 6-8 slow rounds are desirable.
2. Cow Face Pose
Great for stretching the outer hips, arms and shoulders. About a minute per side.
3. Pigeon Pose
Wonderful hip-opener. It stretches quads and hip flexors. About 3 minutes per side.
4. Warrior II
It helps you develop balance and strength – quads, calves, Achilles’ tendons, core, it expands the range of motion, helps you learn to move your hips (especially Warrior I to Warrior II transition). Stay for 3-5 breaths.
5. Tree Pose
It stretches the hips, thighs, torso and shoulders, it builds strength in your ankles and calves and it helps improve balance and coordination. One minute per side.
Bonus move: Tree pose + Toe Stand
It strengthens the knees, core, glutes, obliques, joints, it stretches the knees, spine, hip joints, groins, lower back, Inner thighs, Ankles, and it stimulates the circulation. 60 seconds per side, if you can!