Tennis is much more challenging than it looks. It is not just about striking the ball, you have to have the right mindset to play too. In this sport, split-second decisions must be made. The players must achieve their maximum capacity and produce highly precise movements, even the slightest bit of error can lead you towards failure.
Regardless of your competition level, you can improve the most important element of tennis during training, your mobility.
What is mobility?
Mobility is what we call “the kinetic chain” and it relates majorly to the joint movement. In tennis fitness training, mobility is a key ability that is usually overlooked. When we mention “mobility”, we refer to the ability of the player to walk and run on the court and to hit the ball.
Every tennis lesson should have one primary goal: to teach the player to take a good position while hitting the ball. The player needs to have strength, speed, and endurance, regardless of how distant or close the ball is.
What is footwork?
Footwork, as the name suggests, is the manner in which a person moves their feet in different sports. In tennis, having good footwork is essential as it allows the player to move quickly across the court. Having great footwork ensures fewer errors in your game. If you do not have good footwork, your technique will become useless even if you are using it in the right manner.
Therefore, to deliver a better game, every player must do whatever it takes to improve their mobility and footwork.
How to improve tennis mobility and footwork?
The good news is that mobility can be improved with practice and mobility exercises. To improve footwork, flexibility is one of the most important components.
This article discusses some of the mobility exercises for tennis players you can do to improve your mobility and footwork.
Tennis mobility exercises
#1. Kneeling thoracic rotation
A lack of thoracic mobility causes many athletes shoulder problems. This happens when the thoracic rotation required in order to wind to strike, delay, and twist during the serving action is limited.
The shoulder joint and arm are compelled to do more work, resulting in lower back problems without appropriate thoracic rotation.
This exercise focuses on the thoracic region. However, hips, shoulders, and lower back are also reopened with this mobility exercise.
- Step 1: Start with your knees and hands.
- Step 2: Bring your hips backward, close to your feet, and transition your forearms from your hands.
- Step 3: Bring a hand behind your head while allowing the forearm to remain on the ground. It should be close to your knee.
- Step 4: Rotate your upper back, turning your elbow and torso toward the ceiling.
- Step 5: To direct your movement, use your eyes and your head.
#2. Hip flexor slides
The stop and start nature of tennis lead to a lot of players getting tight through the front of their hips as the muscles in that region are most commonly used.
The hip flexor slide is a fantastic exercise to help relieve tension and build an expanded hip range. It does not necessarily require sliding discs. If you do not have them, you may lift your back knee up and down while moving the front knee forward and backward.
- Step 1: Put your right leg down and go down in a half-kneeling position.
- Step 2: Make sure your foot and your leg are directly behind your hips.
- Step 3: Use your toe to push in
- Step 4: Squeeze your glute, stay tall, and roll your pelvis up towards your ribs.
- Step 5: Extend your hand and use a stick or a rail to slide down and mobilise.
#3. Bent over rotation
This exercise aims to create a better kinetic motion between the lower middle back, the hip, and the hamstring. This exercise requires solid attention, a commitment, and the sensation of what muscles challenge the range.
Make sure to keep your back straight, chest high and you must keep the leg you are rotating straight at all times.
- Step 1: Go into a hinge position and make sure your back is completely straight.
- Step 2: Pull your arms back at 90 degrees at shoulder height.
- Step 3: Rotate your hands while maintaining your elbows at shoulder height.
- Step 4: Repeat!
#4. Lateral lunge
Lateral lunges help in opening up the adductors muscles in your legs. This exercise is great for pushing you into a deep hip range in your loaded leg. In the game of tennis, both the hip joint and adductor muscles are widely used therefore it is important to maintain these muscles.
- Step 1: Step towards your left side and lower your hips in a squat position with your left leg.
- Step 2: Make sure to keep your right leg straight.
- Step 3: Come back to the starting position by pushing upwards with the help of your left leg.
- Step 4: Change directions and repeat until you are done with ten reps on both sides.
#5. Knee hug
This is an effective exercise for stretching the hips, lower back, and hamstrings. It strengthens and tones your thighs, calves, and your ankles. This exercise is known to ease lower-back pain and improve one’s balance.
- Step 1: Stand on both your legs.
- Step 2: Make sure to keep your back straight.
- Step 3: While remaining in the standing position, lift your right knee and bring it to your chest.
- Step 4: Grab your knee using both your hands.
- Step 5: As you pull the right knee towards your chest, make sure to contract your left glute.
- Step 6: Move forward and switch to the other side and do not stop until you are done with ten repetitions on both sides.
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