The feeling of a hard-overhand smash for the winning game point, or the bullet ace serve to preserve a victory can be indescribable! To accomplish this feat, the body has to work in harmony with all of your joints having the mobility to act as a unit. Any dysfunction in one area such as your ankles, and you can’t generate the power needed to hit that winning shot. Because you sit most of the day at work, your body molds itself into movement patterns that aren’t conducive to a winning tennis game, even if you are taking lessons. I’m going to help you with the three body parts to stretch than can give you the mobility you need to be the consistent winning player.
- Hip Flexors – When you sit all day, your hip flexors and quadriceps are in a constant contracted position, which makes them overly tight. Over time, this pulls your hips into a forward and downward tilt, making it difficult and painful to stand-up straight. Tight hip flexors and quadriceps do not allow full hip extension at the height of your overhand smash or serve. You limit your power and ability to flex your lower back and also bring your shoulder back into proper position. Stretch your hip flexors and quads before and after each practice and match. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds each, you can do one or two sets of stretches.
- Biceps – Having your elbows bent, typing on your computer keeps your biceps in a constant slightly contracted state. Over time, this leads to tightness and an inability to extend your arms fully. If you can’t get full arm and shoulder extension, there is now way to get on top of the ball to hit it accurately and with power. Tight biceps can also lead to tight forearm flexors, which contributes to tennis elbow. Racquet sports such as tennis have been linked to tennis elbow due to the high biomechanical stresses placed on the forearm and wrist with gripping and swinging the racquet (Abrams, Renstrom, & Safran, 2012). In an overhead tennis serve, the wrist extensors must contract to assist in decelerating the forward moving arm. Making sure your biceps have flexibility and full elbow range of motion is crucial to proper form in any overhead motion. Similar to the hip flexors, perform a couple sets of stretches for each arm before and after practice or a match.
- Pectorals – In performing overhead squat assessments with clients, a typical symptom seen are the arms falling forward from tight pectoral muscles. These muscles are also typically contracted from hunching over a computer or device all day. The shoulders round and close in from hands being on a keyboard and wrapped around a phone or tablet. Leaning into your screen also adds to this tightening with a forward head position. You can see this noticeably on people who have a closed off appearance with their shoulders. Tight chest muscles don’t allow for full shoulder retraction to get the racquet behind your head and extended for power and accuracy. Bend your arm into an L position with the forearm at a 90-degree angle to your upper arm. With erect posture, lean into any doorway and hold the stretch for 20 seconds.
Obviously practicing and working with a professional is optimal for developing a powerful and consistent service game. Don’t underestimate the power you lose from these tight muscle groups. Integrate the stretches into your practice and training to see better results than solely working with a coach. You’re not investing time and money just to be average, take this info and raise your game to the next level!
To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com. I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies. Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know. Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!