“It’s OK…..I ran from the car. I don’t need to warm up!”
Did you ever hear that statement or something similar from your adults? Do you have adults who regularly turn up 5 minutes late so that they deliberately miss the warm up?
If this is what you hear or what you get from some of your players, ask yourself why someone would pay for a lesson and deliberately miss the first 5 minutes. Would you do that at the cinema? Surely not! The reason someone would look to miss the first 5 minutes is either because they don’t see the point, or because they were going to be asked to do things that they don’t want to do!
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Let’s be clear – the warm up is important. So, the question is not “if”, but “how to warm up?
Most adults, especially men, don’t have the same range of movements as children. They have tight hamstrings, tight shoulders and stiff backs. The synovial fluid lubricates the joints as the body warms up, which increases the natural range of movements. The warm up needs to prepare them physically for the rigours of what is to follow.
- Most adults don’t have the same range of movements as children. Adults need to warm up to increase flexibility in the muscles. Injury is more likely with cold or tight muscles.
- Many adults will come from a rushed or pressurised environment after leaving work or the house. The warm up helps your players to tune out of work, and tune into tennis.
MAKE IT DYNAMIC – USE BALLS ALL THE WAY THROUGH
Many of your adults will expect a static warm up involving a few lunges against a wall or a net. Have you noticed in many cases how the people who do these warm ups are also the ones with bandages on knees and elbows?!
Tennis is a dynamic sport, so it needs a dynamic warm up, which takes the players through the range of movements and actions which they will go through when they play. It is best to encourage and educate your adults to perform a gentle pulse-raising warm up like a gentle jog, before going into more dynamic movement warm-ups. Alternatively, or if you can’t convince your adults to do it, you can achieve a gentle dynamic warm up by using soft foam balls from the start. It provides a gentle, low-impact and dynamic activity which doesn’t feel like a warm-up.
NON-RACKET DRILLS FOR WARM-UPS
All these drills are to be done close to the net until the players are fully warmed up.
The following exercises need to be done in pairs using a ball. This sharpens up the sending and receiving skills as well as giving a dynamic warm up. Remember that they are warm ups, so a gradual increase in the range of movement (lunging, pre-stretch, rotation) is needed as the warm up is performed. Emphasise excellent posture and balance, and use of the whole coordination chain when throwing. With each pair using a large ball like a football or basketball, throw the ball to each other over the net, using two hands on every throw and catch:
DRILL #1 The Rugby Rally
Rugby pass, where the ball is thrown with both hands from the hips
- A throw from an open stance rather than a closed stance, which will accentuate good rotation of the upper body on each throw
- Good rotation of the upper body to absorb every catch
- Gentle bending of the knees when catching and throwing
- Gentle movement to each on-coming ball to achieve a good balanced catching position
- Alternate throwing from left and right hip
DRILL #2: The Netball Rally
Chest pass, where the ball is pushed out from the chest using both hands. Check for:
- Good bending of the arms to hold the ball into the chest, and fast extension of the arms to propel the ball to the partner
- Good bending of the arms to absorb the on-coming ball when catching
DRILL #3: Football Throw-in
A two-handed throw from behind the head, with the ball crossing the net with a high looped trajectory. Check for:
- Good bending of the arms to propel the ball upwards and outwards
- Extension of the chest when throwing
- Slight knee bend when throwing
DRILL #4: Throw and Run
Split the group into two even teams. Each team should stand in a line one in front of the other with the first in each line standing on the doubles tramline facing into the court. Using one large ball, the first player in Team A throws to the first in Team B. After they have thrown the ball the players run across the court to join the back of the opposite line. The players continue this pattern, using different types of throw. After 30 seconds the coach can introduce a new throw so that all muscles are warmed up in a dynamic activity:
- 30 seconds – football throw in
- 30 seconds – rugby passes
- 30 seconds – netball pass
- 30 seconds – shot put
- 30 seconds – slam throw
To ensure good quality, ensure that:
- players run at steady pace between the lines
- players throw from behind the singles tramline
- throws are cooperative so that the opposing player can catch the ball