Platform tennis is an explosive sport that requires quick changes of direction, power, balance and agility. Are you guilty of stepping out of your car and on to the court…hitting ten balls and declaring you are ready to play? Or touching your toes three times as your warm up? Or how about the infamous leg up on the net post hamstring stretch? These are clearly not the best ways to prime yourself for your platform tennis game.
An ideal warm up incorporates movements that mimic what you will be doing on the court and this is done through Dynamic Stretching. Some of these movements include lunges, quick kicks or butt kicks, high knees, and of course light and easy hitting. While your goal is not to “win the warm up” you shouldn’t be lazy either. Don’t let balls bounce two or three times before you hit them. Gradually ratchet up the intensity of the warm up.
An adequate warm up accomplishes several things; it literally increases your core temperature as well as increasing heart and blood flow to your skeletal tissues. This improves the efficiency of oxygen uptake and transport and carbon dioxide removal. Other physiological benefits include activation of your central nervous system which helps to increase coordination and reaction time.
The problem with the “typical” warm up that may even include some light jogging and stretching is that it falls short of adequately raising your core temperature and is not intense enough to prepare you for the demands of a vigorous racquet sport. Traditional “static” stretches that most of us have been taught are best reserved for post match. Static stretching, where you hold a stretch for fifteen to thirty seconds with tension but not pain, lengthens muscles and increases flexibility. This is beneficial over the long haul but during vigorous play muscles that have been lengthened will exhibit temporary decreases in power and hence performance. Not helpful for getting up on an overhead! So, leave the static stretching until after your match – but before you hit the road. It will help to decrease stiffness and soreness.
Try the following Dynamic Warm up before your next game. (Do at least 8-10 repetitions of each)
Jog forwards (or stand in place)…bring your knees up as high as you can.
QUICK KICKS/BUTT KICKS:
Jog forwards (or stand in place)…bring heels to your butt rapidly. Go easy if you have knee problems.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart and planting one foot, take a big step out to the side with the opposite leg and do a quarter squat. Switch legs and repeat.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, plant one foot and take a large step forward with the other leg…go down into a quarter squat. Your knee should not hit the ground. Switch legs and repeat.
Same as above…just take a long step backwards, alternate legs.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, plant one foot and with the opposite foot take a long step across your body and a little forward. Go down into a quarter squat.
If you are really pressed for time you can try some old fashioned jumping jacks.
-Tina Cressent, CPT, ACE