Often junior tennis players arrive at a tournament and there are no practice courts to warm up on. Even if you have been able to get on court at another venue the player will still need to do another physical warm up before they go on the court. The aim of a warm up is to physically and mentally prepare for the match, and a proper warm-up is a key to maximizing performance and minimizing the risk of injury on the court.
So how is this done without a tennis court at your next junior tournament?
First of all, don’t think you junior players are alone, this can happen at any level; even the professionals have to improvise on occasions. At a past Masters Series event in the lead up to the US Open, French player Nicolas Mahut was forced to do his pre-match warm up in the car park.
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So why do Junior Players Need to Warm Up?
Well there are the obvious reasons; increase the opportunity to perform and decrease the change on injury. In a tennis warm up, the goal is to loosen up the muscles in preparation for physical exercise and prepare mentally for the match.
Remember, once you get onto the court you only have 5 minutes to complete the on court hit up before you must start your match. This is the time when you want to be feeling the ball on your strings, going through all your shots getting rhythm & timing, activating your tracking / reaction time and increasing your movement. Ideally you want to walk onto the court having already got you heart rate up and created a sweat. Your muscle are already loose and mind switch on.
One of the common areas a junior play does not “warm up” or start to prepare before they go on the court, is the mental aspect of the match. Use your off court warm up to get your mind thinking that it is ready to do battle on the court. Keep thinking positively and visualize you moving and hitting well. Go over your process driven objectives for the match, your routines and game plans.
What can you do in the car park or other area around the club?
The ideas are endless, but here are a few options;
- Shadow Swings
- Movement Patterns (tennis specific)
- Reflex Volleys
- Agility Ladders
- Cone movement drills
- Dynamic Stretching
- Jogging, Lunge, High Knees, Side Steps, Cross over Steps
- Med Ball
- Tennis Ball Catching with movement
- Thera bands
So junior players, at your next tournament, remember it is your responsibility to make sure you enter the court ready to give yourself the best opportunity to play well and enjoy your match. You shouldn’t need to be reminded by your parents, friends, family or coach to get ready for your match.
Good luck and remember, enjoy your match and take away your learning each time you step on the court.