Q. I know that stretching is beneficial to a tennis player, but I read that static stretching before a match can actually reduce performance. I thought that it would help because it increases one's range of motion. Should ONLY dynamic stretching be done before a match? Please clarify this!
A. The most current research indicates that it is best to utilize dynamic stretching before you play and rely on static stretching after you have finished. Our High Performance website has a great article on Dynamic Stretching if you'd like to read more information on the subject.
Q. What are the typical stretches that a player should go through before playing? Specifically, are there any areas that are commonly missed, but vital to a good warm-up?
A. The latest sports science research indicates that players should use “dynamic stretches” before they play, and “static stretches” when they are finished. I would encourage you to read the following excellent article. In it, Vice Chairman of the USTA Sports Science Committee Todd Ellenbecker explains this theory in some detail, while also offering examples of each stretching method.
Q. I am a 4.0/4.5 USTA singles player and I’m wondering what is the conventional wisdom about getting ready for competitive matches? What should I do the week before? Should I hit the day before the match or take a day off? What about on the day of the match? When should I start warming up? Should I hit before the match? How far in advance? An hour? Two hours? Should I try to break a sweat and stay warmed up until the match starts or cool off? Should I eat? How far in advance?
A. Those are a lot of questions, Ken! A lot depends on your comfort level. I would not recommend changing your routines too dramatically for competitive matches. Becoming and staying relaxed is crucial, and changing too much might cause nervousness. The following are a few things that have helped some to prepare for matches, although every player is different.
One week before…You should spend more of your practice time playing “live points” and sets. This is, obviously, pretty specific to how you’ll play when it counts. Look to work on your preferred patterns of play and your favorite shot sequences. Do lots of stretching so your body gets/stays loose.
On the day/night before…Have a good hit where you groove your strokes. This is not the time to make any significant changes to your strokes or the way you approach your match strategy. In many cases, getting rest is more important than hitting too much. Eat some nutritious meals, drink plenty of water and get a good night’s sleep.
On the day of the match…Try to eat a healthy meal three hours before you begin. Drink plenty of water to assure that you are properly hydrated. Depending on your fitness level, arrange for a 30-45 minute warm up hit. Change into some clean, dry tennis clothes and then begin your pre-match ritual. Some players like to stretch a little, some listen to their favorite songs on a Walkman, most like to exercise again- perhaps by skipping rope- to get the body loose and ready for a fast start.