When you talk about important body parts for a tennis player, the shoulder would be right at the top of the list!
Although to become a top tennis athlete you need to be fully abled and without chronic injury. But to put it simply without a fully functioning shoulder joint, you will always be limiting your ability to perform how you should.
Without good shoulder mobility, stability, and strength it can be futile walking on the court. If you are prone to injury and pain symptoms that are shoulder-related, you soon realize how important the shoulder girdle is and how much it is relied on during play. It is the one main joint in the body that professionals aim to avoid injuring over everything else.
The shoulder girdle consists of the ball and socket joint, scapula, humerus, and clavicle. The important muscles that we rely on to move and support the shoulder joint are; Deltoids, Pectoralis, rotator cuff (Supraspinatus, infraspinatus, Teres minor, and Subscapularis) & Rhomboids. These muscles help stabilize and move the most vulnerable joint in the body – the Shoulder.
One particular group of muscles, that make up the rotator cuff are especially important for any tennis player. This group of 4 muscles sit on and around the shoulder blade, they come together to form a cuff like a tendon at the head of the humerus (arm bone) They help maintain stability in the shoulder joint. They all have specific roles in shoulder joint function;
Supraspinatus – Holds your humerus in place and provides stability for the arm (overhead, ball contact) It also helps lift your arm.
Infraspinatus – Enables rotation (External rotation) and extension of the shoulder (Serving)
Teres Minor – Assists in rotation (External rotation) away from your body (Backswing, Serve Preparation)
Subscapularis – Holds the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade. It assists in the movement of the shoulder joint, arm Rotation (Internal rotation), and moving the arm up and down.
The importance of these muscles is highlighted by the fact they provide stability and protection for the joint. This group of muscles is small compared to larger primal movers. So, it is important to continually look after them (Keep them long and strong).
The key to preventing shoulder injuries in tennis is doing the right exercises that suit your physical capabilities and then being consistent. Due to the fact, these stabilizing muscles are small and you need them working when you are on the court, you do not want to walk around or be playing with them fatigued constantly. So performing the below shoulder exercises for tennis players every other day (3 times per week is ideal) is the right amount. It is best to do them away from tennis practice or matches, once again you do not want to be on the court with them in a fatigued state.
Here are some introductory Shoulder Exercises for Tennis Players you can do to target the rotator cuff and help protect your shoulder.
Start with exercise 1 and follow these until you can do 3 sets of 15 repetitions comfortably. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions for each exercise.
For all these exercises the focus is the same and it should be stipulated if you cannot maintain good form whilst doing these exercises you can do more harm than good.
Here is what you need to do;
- Find the right resistance. Remember these muscles are small and don’t need a lot of resistance to challenge them. If you load up too much you will encourage larger muscles to help out. This defeats the purpose. So, start out light and move from there.
- Draw your shoulder blade in towards your spine and down towards your lower back. It is important to maintain this position the whole time. At the same time, you are doing this, set your shoulder back and down.
- Stand with good posture. Have your knees slightly bent, feet hip-width apart, back straight and head in neutral.
Maintain these 3 points and you will be ok.
Shoulder Exercises for Tennis Players
1. Banded Side External Rotation
2. Banded Side Internal Rotation
3. Banded 90/90 External Rotation
4. Banded 90/90 Internal Rotation
5. Banded High Row
Strengthening the shoulder girdle will help prevent injury and also boost performance. It is a must for any serious player.
For more information on how you can protect and strengthen the right areas for tennis players, contact us - [email protected]
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