I am going to continue to write about some things that surprise me in American junior tennis. From what I’ve seen, most players don’t do a proper warm up and cool down, but I would like to believe that’s not the case everywhere.
I often see that at the beginning of a tennis session, players run for 3-5 minutes or less, and then do some dynamic stretching. Sometimes players just go directly on the court and begin to play tennis. Usually the total time for warm up takes about 10 minutes. That’s what I saw at some tennis academies. I once tried to discuss this matter with the coaches, but was told that they knew better what to do and how to train.
Common recommendation from ITF, or Sports scientists, for junior advanced players who train for 2-3 hours, is that the warm up should take at least 30-45 minutes. This part of training consists of a general warm up and a specific warm up.
The purposes of the warm up are to prepare the body tissues to optimally respond to the exercises, to prepare, both physiologically and psychologically, the whole organism for the high load of the main part of practice, and to prevent injuries that come from improper condition of a player.
Before my son goes to play a match or a private lesson, he always starts with slow running, followed by short sprints, and then proper dynamic stretching exercises. He never does static stretches before training because it can lead to injures.
Only after that does he go on the court and begins the specific part of the warm up that takes 10-15 more minutes.
Frankly speaking, I don’t see often a junior tennis player that does proper general warm up before playing a tournament match. More often, players just sit around chatting with their friends.
It is an obligation of a tennis coach to teach his players about the importance of warming up and cooling down. Cool down is the final physical part of a tennis session. It starts with slow running, best done for about 5 minutes, followed by stretching exercises. Cool down is also very important because it helps the whole body condition to gradually return to normal and it prevents soreness and tightness. Very few players do a cool down after their tournament matches. Usually, they just grab their stuff and get in their car.
I think that is a good idea for parents to more carefully watch how their tennis kids warm up and cool down, and to explain to them the absolutely necessity of these parts of the training process.