Shoulder Exercises for Tennis Players

When you talk 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 court. If you are prone to injury and pain symptoms that are shoulder related, you soon realise 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 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 (Back swing, Serve Preparation)

Subscapularis – Holds the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade. It assists in 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 are small compared to larger primal movers. So, it is important to continually look after them (Keep them long and strong)

Here are some introductory Shoulder Exercises for Tennis Players you can do to target the rotator cuff and help protect your shoulder.

I have broken these exercises into 2 sections. Start with the section 1 exercises and follow these until you can do 3 sets of 15 repetitions comfortably. Then progress onto the section 2 exercises. Perform each one of these 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

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;

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Banded Side External RotationBanded Side External Rotation
1. Banded Side External Rotation

Banded Side Internal RotationBanded Side Internal Rotation
2. Banded Side Internal Rotation


3. Banded 90/90 External Rotation

4. Banded 90/90 Internal Rotation

Banded High Row
5. Banded High Row

Please note:

Any injury should be seen to by a qualified physiotherapist or doctor. These exercises are for injury prevention purposes.

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 -

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