Best Stretches for Tennis Players

Novak Djokovic Stretching Upsides Down (

Above is Novak Djokovic Stretching out his whole body during his down time at the Dubai Championships 2016.

Stretching! You might hate it, but you know you have to do it in order to keep your body in the best shape possible. Stretching is vital for athletes, and should be routine, to achieve optimal performance during play and aid in recovery. Why is stretching so important? According to Harvard Medical Experts “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight.” [1]

I am certainly guilty of feeling like my body is stiff before or after matches because of not taking the time to stretch.

Stretching is not a difficult task to do, but most players underplay its importance. If you say “I feel great today” or “I’ll start stretching tomorrow”, many times it will get pushed out of your mind and you’ll completely forget about it. But that ends today! Tennis Express wants to help you get on the right track and keep your body in peak condition. Here are some of our favorite basic stretches that every tennis player should be doing before and/or after playing tennis.

Notes to remember before you get started:

  • Body Warm-Up: It’s always a good idea to get your body a little warmed up before starting these stretches. This can help prevent your body from getting more sore or worse injured. Some examples of light warm-ups are a short 1/2 mile run or 100-200 jump ropes.
  • Always Breathe: Holding your breathe while exercising actually strains your body more. Breathing helps our muscle engagement for a deeper stretch and helps clear the mild in order to maintain a strong mental game. Exhale as you initiate movement and inhale as you come back to center.
  • Modify: If you’re having trouble with a certain stretch, make sure to modify it. Not everyone’s body has the same amount of flexibility, so changing the stretch to benefit yourself is sometimes necessary. Just remember that discomfort = normal and pain = not good.
  • Consult: If you have any medical restrictions please consult a health care professional for a routine that is most appropriate to meet your specific needs.

Elevated Hamstring Stretch

Elevated Hamstring Stretch Tennis Express

This is probably my favorite stretch to do as it works my hamstrings the best. I will often do this lying flat on my back with my leg either against the net post or a wall. Also a great tool to use is an elastic stretch band which makes it easier to get your leg into a deeper stretch. Below are the steps.

  1. Lie flat on either the ground or a mat with the legs fully stretched out.
  2. To stretch the right leg, hold the back of the right knee with both hands, pull the leg up toward the chest, and slowly straighten the knee until it feels as though it is stretching.
  3. Hold the stretch for 10–30 seconds.

 

Seated Butterfly Stretch

Seated Butterfly Stretch Tennis Express

This is another great stretch for developing flexibility in your inner thighs, groin, hips and knees. These muscles help you draw your legs together so you can maintain stability and balance. Follow the below steps. If you’re having trouble with this stretch, try extending your legs further away from you body like in the photo below.

Seated Butterfly Stretch Variation Tennis Express

  1. Sit down on the floor with your back up straight and both legs bent at the knees.
  2. Bring the soles of your feet together and your knees facing outward
  3. Lightly hold your ankles, and slowly lean forward keeping your spine straight.
  4. Place your elbows on the tops of your thighs and gently press down until you feel a stretch.
  5. Continue to gently push down on the thighs with your elbows, to move your knees toward the floor.
  6. Hold for 15-30 seconds.

 

Standing Lunge

Standing Lunge Tennis Express

The standing lunge is a standard stretch for athletes that is great for opening up your hips as well as stretching your lower legs.

  1. First stand with your legs parallel with good posture and balance.
  2. Step your left leg straight back onto the ball of your foot while keeping your right leg bent and your hips even. (Tip: Don’t let your right knee bend past your toes).
  3. Straighten your back leg as much as you can without locking your knee. Increase the stretch if you feel balanced.
  4. Keep your back up straight and even with your hips. You can rest your hands on your knees or handing down by your side.
  5. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds.
  6. Release then switch to the other side and repeat.

 

Supine Spinal Twist

This is a very common pose to do in Yoga and it’s an awesome stretch to do before or after tennis. It focuses on your glutes, chest, lower back and obliques. For a more intense stretch, try also putting a Contoured Foam Roller underneath your glutes or hips.

  1. Lie flat on your back and raise your arms in line with your shoulders, creating a “T” shape
  2. Draw your right knee into your chest and extend your left leg flat on the floor.
  3. Cross your right knee over the left side of your body trying to touch the floor. Meanwhile try to keep your shoulder blades on the floor.
  4. Turn your head to the right with your eyes looking over your right shoulder.
  5. Hold the pose for 15-20 seconds, then come back to neutral and do the same on the left side.

 

Forward Fold and Halfway Fold

Forward Fold and Halfway Fold yoga pose
On the left is the Forward Fold stretch and on the right is the Halfway Fold stretch

 These are two more common Yoga stretches that really focuses on your hamstrings, calves and lower back. It’s great for relaxing your body and relieving stress.

  1. Stand tall with your feet side by side pointed straight ahead and hands by your sides.
  2. Bend your upper body down towards the floor while you hang your hands and head, letting go of any tension you mind be feeling
  3. Bend your knees slightly so they do not lock and bring your weight a little forward onto the balls of your feet keeping your hips over your ankles.
  4. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  5. Rise slowly so your hands are on your shins while focusing creating a flat back, imagining a line going from the crown of your head to your tailbone
  6. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  7. Lower your upper body again all the way down with a slight bend in the knees and release your head and arms of any tension
  8. Hold for 5-10 more seconds then come back up to a standing position.

 

Lateral Arm Raises

This is an effective exercise that can stretch and strengthen your shoulders. It’s designed to isolate the lateral and anterior heads of the deltoid muscle.

  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Hands should be down by your side with palms facing towards the body.
  2. With active engagement from shoulder to fingertips,raise both your right and left arms straight until you reach shoulder height.
  3. Hold for 1-2 seconds then lower your arms back to your side.
  4. Continue this process for 10-12 reps.

 

Arm Circles

This is an oldie, but a goodie because it makes you feel like a kid. It’s easy and relaxing to do before or after you play. This stretch will help get your blood moving and focuses on your shoulders, triceps and biceps.

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Extend your arms parallel to the floor about shoulder height.
  2. Circle your arms forward using small controlled motions, gradually making the circles bigger.
  3. Continue this motion for 20-30 seconds then reverse the direction.

 

Wrist Extension and Flexion

Wrist Extension and Flexion Stretch Tennis Express
On the left is the Wrist Extension stretch and on the right is the Wrist Flexion stretch

The last exercises are great for preventing and strengthening your wrists which are prone to cause tennis elbow pain. These are simple to do, and they don’t take much time away from your day.

  1. Stand up tall and bring your arms straight up to shoulder height. (Like Frankenstein)
  2. With your left hand, grab the outside of your right hand firmly. Allow your right fingers to point inward and your right wrist muscles to flex.
  3. Hold stretch for 15-20 seconds, then switch hands and follow the same steps.
  4. With your left hand now, grab the inside palm of your right hand firmly and point it upwards. Allow your right wrist muscles to flex.
  5. Hold stretch for 15-20 seconds, then switch hands and follow the same steps.

 

Thanks for checking out our tips on stretching and learning some simple ways to prevent tennis injuries. To continue improving your tennis game as well as your health, head over to the Tennis Express Buyer’s Guide. For more workout accessory gear click here.


For More:

How to Combat Tennis ElbowNutrition Tips for Tennis Players Blog


[1] The importance of stretching. Retrieved April 23, 2020, from Harvard Health Publishing website: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching.