Tennis Mobility Exercises

If you have been following us for a while, you will know we are big on strengthening athletes, getting them flexible and mobile.

These are always our initial priorities no matter the age or tennis capabilities of the player.

Most people have a good understanding of what tennis strength training is and almost everyone knows about flexibility.

What about mobility? What is it, what are the benefits of having healthy mobility ranges and how do you improve it?

Let me briefly explain these answers from my own experience and understanding.

Mobility relates to joint movement and also what we call “The kinetic chain” Chain of movement, rather than an isolated hold. 

Imagine a chain laid out on the ground. Each chain piece represents a joint. Now if we needed the chain to function at full capacity we would need each piece to be loose and free to move adequately right? Otherwise, other pieces will have to do extra work, or the fused piece will get damaged. This is how mobility works.

The joints in our body and the muscles that enable movement need to be loose and free, otherwise, we are;

  1. Setting ourselves up for injury and
  2. Restricting performance by having a limiting range.

The priority mobility points for tennis are;

  1. Shoulder girdle -The most vulnerable joint for a tennis player. Without much muscle around it to support it and the multitude of positions it is put in whilst playing it needs all the help it can get. Considering it’s used in every shot, it needs special attention.

  2. Thoracic spine - I have seen too many players have shoulder complications due to a lack of thoracic mobility. This occurs by having limited thoracic rotation needed for winding up to hit, to decelerate after hitting, and twisting during the service action. Without it, the shoulder joint and arm are forced to do more work.

  3. Hip joint – When you look at the multi-directional movements completed during play, you start to realize how much work the hip joint does. Add in the dynamic capacity of tennis (jumping, accelerating, braking) and you can see how strong and robust this joint is. When its mobility is restricted, it can spell disaster. To have fluid, balanced, and effective movement, you need to have mobile hip joints, it’s a given!

In recent years, mobility programming has become more and more utilized for athletic development. Most high-end athletes use mobility techniques prior to training and playing. They do this to prepare and protect their bodies.

So how do we improve mobility?

Well, first you need to assess what’s going on. This should take place by a qualified trainer or physiotherapist. We use the Martin Method Tennis Fitness Assessment and Postural Analysis.

It is an assessment tool that we use with all our players. Assessing cuts to the chase and determines areas of priority. It also gives you measurable markers.

After a tennis assessment, a mobility program should be put in place. This should be changed every 2-4 weeks until a healthy range is established with a maintenance program used after that.

When should you do your Tennis Mobility Exercises?

Ideally, before practice, play, and definitely before doing off-court training (especially strength training).

Treat it as part of your tennis warm-up. This helps open up your joint ranges and kinetic chains prior to playing or training, enabling you to utilize those ranges whilst playing or training.

To help you get a better understanding of mobility and what it can do for you.

 

 


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