Being able to move well across the court is very important for a tennis player. This demands a lot from a body. But why do tennis players need flexibility? You’ll find out in this article.
Flexibility is important for tennis players because it can help prevent injuries. In addition, it can improve movement on the court and help to make better shots. Flexibility is not a necessity for a tennis player, but it certainly contributes to performance.
As mentioned, flexibility can contribute to tennis performance. But in what situations does a tennis player use flexibility, and how can you best train it, you will find out in this article.
Flexibility is very important in most sports. When you’re playing a sport, your body makes lots of different movements and motions. Tennis is no exception to this.
Range of motion helps you play tennis in the most efficient way. The bigger your range of motion, the more easily you will be able to move around the court.
This range of motion is important because it means your body is comfortable with a variety of movements. If your body is used to how you move, the chances of injuries will decrease.
Examples of muscles that get used intensively during tennis are the hamstrings, the psoas, and the pectoralis major and minor.
If you are flexible, these muscles will be better able to adjust to your movements. Therefore you won’t get injured as quickly.
Besides injury prevention, flexibility also helps tennis players build momentum and therefore allow them to hit better and faster shots.
How this works exactly will be explained in a bit.
So, do you need flexibility for tennis?
Technically, you don’t need flexibility for tennis. However, it definitely helps in more ways than one.
For example, flexibility helps tennis players hit better shots, eventually resulting in more points and, therefore, more wins.
It also decreases the chance of injuries, which is quite important. Anyone can play tennis, but some flexibility is more than desirable.
As mentioned before, flexibility can result in better and faster shots. This is due to the range of motion creating more momentum.
There are several situations in which flexibility can help.
When a player gets a fairly easy ball, they have plenty of time to get into the right position and take a proper stance. They might want to give the ball some more speed.
If the player rotates their torso enough, pointing their shoulder at the ball, and then moves along with the swing of their racket, their body adds speed to the swing.
The more flexible a player is, the better and further, they can rotate their body. This is how flexibility can lead to faster strokes.
Another example where a player can benefit from some flexibility is when the court is slippery.
Wimbledon, for example, is played on grass. This means that after a few matches or after some bad weather, the court may be slippery.
If a player is flexible, they might be able to fall more gracefully. They are also able to spread their legs apart further to keep themselves up.
It is not unusual to see a tennis player do what comes close to a split on the court.
But a slippery court is not the only situation in which being flexible is beneficial.
Sometimes players lose their balance during difficult points, or they simply can’t reach a ball unless they stretch their body as far as they possibly can.
The further a player can stretch, the less it will hurt, and the higher the chances of hitting the ball and staying in the rally are.
Tennis does increase flexibility in the sense that practice makes perfect.
By hitting lots of balls and practicing the rotations, you will eventually have less trouble with them.
However, you should not count on just tennis to improve your flexibility. It is extremely important to do stretching exercises.
Even though it might sound logical to do some static stretching right before playing tennis, this is not always the best option.
By doing this, you might help with the flexibility of the muscle, but not with the strength.
This means that when you have to stretch that muscle during a point, there might be more pressure on other muscles to compensate for the lack of strength compared to the flexibility.
This can eventually cause injuries.
What you should do is switch to isometric training from time to time. Isometric means that there is no change in the length of the muscle or muscle group while you contract the muscle.
An example is pushing against a wall. You put pressure on it, so you put your muscles to work, but the wall doesn’t move. This means the tension is all inside of the body.
You should combine this with static stretching for a few minutes and then use the isometrics to show your body everything is alright when you add force.
A great example of a flexibility exercise that is important for tennis is the sleeper stretch.
This exercise focuses on the internal range of motion in the shoulder, which is an important body part in tennis.
To add more isometrics, you can push your elbow into the ground while doing the exercise, but make sure to stretch without this extra force first.
Flexibility is important in tennis because it decreases the chances of injuries.
Falling or slipping on the court is not uncommon. The more flexible you are, the better your body might take any unexpected movements.
Besides that, flexibility helps create more speed for your shots, and you’re able to hit more balls.
You should always warm-up and stretch before a match, but keep in mind that you should throw in some isometric training as well and not just stick to static stretching.
(Click here to learn more about the different physical demands for tennis)