When is the Best Time to Stretch?
When your muscles are warm and relaxed! For optimum performance you should stretch after you have done a general body warm-up of about 5-10 minutes (light running, or another light aerobic activity) You should also stretch after your match and between matches if you are playing in a tennis tournament. Tennis is a dynamic sport so you'll need both dynamic and static stretching. Dynamic stretches form part of your pre-match or training warm-up. They are used to prepare your muscles for the rapid elongation they will incur during the game. Static stretches, on the other hand, are more useful to improve your overall flexibility and are most effectively done at the end as part of your cool down.
Rules for Dynamic Stretching:
- Warm up your body first, then stretch while your muscles are still warm.
- Move through your range of movement, keeping control of the movement with your muscles. Do not allow momentum to control the movement by "flinging" or "throwing" your body parts around.
- You may feel light resistance in your muscles, but you should never feel pain during a stretch.
- Start with slow, low-intensity movements, and gradually progress to full-speed movements through range of motion. Complete these motions for several repetitions (10-15 times.)
- Finish with simulated quick tennis movements such as lunging and reaching with practice shots. Repeat for several repetitions (8-10 times.)
Rules for Static Stretching:
- Warm up the muscles first.
- Slowly take your muscles to the end of their range. You will feel slight resistance in the muscle, but you should never feel pain during a stretch.
- Hold the stretch in a static position. Do not bounce.
- Maintain each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat each stretch 3-4 times.
Essential Stretches for Tennis:
These muscles are your prime movers for tennis. You'll need to stretch these muscles each time you play. Don't forget to stretch both sides. The stretching program shown below will take about 15 minutes to complete.