Warm-ups are an essential part of every lesson and your programme. Your warm up routine reflects you and what you are about – don’t let it be boring! Use it as a way to set your standards for the lesson and your programme.
At the LTA North’s Conference in Leeds I presented 3 sets of multiple warm-up exercises that are guaranteed to help get your junior players ready to move, ready to play, ready to learn! Don’t worry if you couldn’t be there – this post gives you everything you need PLUS a tonne of drills. I’ve also posted an agenda that you can use to plan your warm up.
“READY TO MOVE, READY TO PLAY, READY TO LEARN”
What type of sport is tennis at any level?
- Dynamic, with varied multi-directional movement
- Open skill – no 2 movements or shots are ever the same!
- Problem-solving – players have to concentrate hard on every new challenge thrown at them by the opponent, the ball and the elements
- Warm ups in a typical lesson are often missed opportunities. The warm up is part of the lesson, so treat it as such.
- In the same way you wouldn’t want to miss the start of a film at the cinema, the warm up should also be unmissable
- Use it as a way to set your standards for the lesson and your programme. Your warm up reflects you and what you are about!
- Use a ball in every warm up. It is guaranteed that your players can improve receiving skills!
- Don’t be afraid to teach or correct in the warm up. The alternative is to watch players do things badly over and over again!
- Warm ups aren’t just about movement. They are the time to focus on quality and effort and to get into ‘tennis mode’
- Have a purpose for every warm up. If you can’t see clear benefits, don’t do it
- Think about achieving 3 objectives in every warm up – ready to move, ready to play, ready to learn
Ready to move
- Objective – to get players moving in varied ways with good precision and quality
- Principle – movement of whole body, not just feet, to include a ball to establish the ready, read and react
Movement drills for warm ups
- ‘Groundstroke volley drill (1 player)’ – in service boxes with one player as feeder and the other moving. Moving player plays alternate groundstrokes and volleys, with emphasis on moving forwards to a variety of volleys and moving back for a variety of deeper groundstrokes
- ‘Groundstroke volley drill (2 players)’ – as above with both players alternating groundstrokes and volleys
- ‘One leg rally (1 player)’ – goal is to focus on positioning of outside/back leg in the set up on groundstrokes. In service boxes with one player as feeder and the other moving. Moving player plays all groundstrokes off one leg to find good set up and maintain balance through the stroke
- ‘One leg rally (2 players)’ – as above with both players playing off one leg
- ‘Ker-plunk’ Aim is to judge positioning in relation to first bounce, and to have the second bounce on the racket placed on the ground. One point is earned every time the ball bounces on the strings
Ready to play
- Objective – to play every shot on time and on balance with precision, care and intensity
- Start to develop sharp movement, feel and timing for the ball
- Principle – set the minimum standards for the lesson and the players
Racket warm up drills
- ‘Quarters’ – use lines to split each service box into 4 quarters. Players rally cooperatively and cannot hit 2 consecutive balls to the same quarter. As variations, add an overarm serve to the drill, serving to any quarter, or use a cone to block out a chosen quarter to reduce the options for the opponent
- ‘Inside out’ – mark out a tramline down the middle of each service box. One player (the actor) can hit anywhere either inside or outside the marked tramline. The reactor must return by hitting to the opposite
- ‘Inside out with spin’ – as above but the actor chooses the spin and the direction, and the reactor hits opposite direction and opposite spin
- Two ball drill – players in service boxes rallying with 2 balls at the same time. To increase the challenge, try one yellow and one orange ball giving different speeds and bounces
Ready to learn
- Objective – to engage brain as well as body; to set personal and session goals around quality rather than just outcome; to know “what will I learn today?”
- Principle – switch on the brain; get into learning mode
Brain drills for warm ups
- ‘Hand grenade’ – throw and catch between 2 players, 1 as feeder and one as reactor. Use 3 balls, two yellow and one orange. The yellow ball bounces before the catch and the orange ball is the hand grenade and mustn’t bounce
- ‘Run around hand grenade’ – feeder throws up 2 balls at a time, with one yellow and one orange ball in one hand, and one yellow ball in the other hand. The yellow ball bounces and the orange ball is the hand grenade and mustn’t bounce
- ‘Racket Hand grenade’ – throw and catch between 2 players, 1 as feeder and one as reactor. Use 3 balls, two yellow and one orange. The yellow ball bounces and the player catches on the racket, and the orange ball is the hand grenade and mustn’t bounce