Tennis Serve


With the U.S. Open upon, tennis fever is in full swing. A sport steeped in tradition, with roots stemming from as far back as the 12th century, tennis is as thrilling to watch as it is to play.
My love for tennis began at the mere age of 5. My Mom, sister, and I would be glued to the TV, watching John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert-Lloyd, and other legends passionately power through nail-biting matches. It’s a sport for all ages; a sport for a lifetime. It requires minimal equipment (racket, balls, sneakers) and can often be played for free on public courts. Physicians across the globe agree that tennis is one of the most healthful activities in which you can participate, as it has proven beneficial for physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Studies have shown that tennis players demonstrate the following:
• decreased risk of morbidity
• increased vigor, optimism, and self-esteem
• positive personality characteristics
• improved brain development and acuity
• superior calorie-burning capabilities
Physically, you can improve your overall fitness, speed, strength, coordination, agility, balance, bone strength, and flexibility. Tennis requires quick footwork, anticipation/quick reactions, stamina, movement in all directions, and dynamic arm, trunk, and leg movements. That being said, tennis players need to be mindful of proper conditioning, appropriate footwear, and injury prevention strategies to fully enjoy all the wonderful benefits of the sport.  Let us help show you how to prepare for your tennis season!
Common injuries suffered by tennis players include:
• Lower limb (ankle/knee/thigh/hip) sprains, strains, and tendonitis – can be caused by sprinting, pivoting, quick stops/direction changes, and pounding nature of tennis. They can also be attributed to unsupportive footwear, technique, condition of the court surface and balls used, and/or poor physical conditioning.
• Upper limb (elbow/shoulder/wrist) sprains, strains, and tendonitis – typically caused by high-velocity arm movements, repetitive motions, racket size/weight/stiffness, shot force, and/or poor conditioning.
• Back injuries and pain – common due to the trunk twisting, extension, and sidebending involved in groundstrokes and serves.
Some basic tips to avoid injuries:
1. Always warm up and cool down.
2. Maintain an appropriate fitness level. Condition and train with exercises that address physical demands specific to tennis.
3. Develop and practice proper skills and correct technique. Seek the advice and instruction from a qualified coach or professional if necessary.
4. Try to avoid over-repetition of any one type of stroke when practicing. Mix up forehands, backhands, volleys, overheads, and serves to alleviate repetitive stress on muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
A tennis specific training program should consist of balance training to strengthen hip, knee, and ankle stabilizers and foot intrinsic muscles; a dynamic warm up and cool down stretching program; core exercises to increase stability of the hips, torso, pelvis, and lower back; strengthening of upper and lower extremities to increase power and stability; coordination and agility training. The program below has been designed to provide a challenging mix of stretches, exercises, and cardio bursts to condition your strength and stamina, and prevent potential injuries.
Warm Up/Dynamic Stretching: (~5 minutes)
– Front to back leg swing x 20 each leg
– Sideways leg swing x 20 each leg
– Butt kicks x 20 each leg
– Arm swings across your body and out x 30 seconds
– Arm circles x 30 seconds
– Wrist circles x 30 seconds
– Trunk twist x 30 seconds
– High knees x 20 each leg
– Toe walking/Heel walking 20 steps each
-Squat with Side Kick x15 to each side
*Perform a squat; when returning to stand, transfer weight to one leg and kick other leg out to
the side. Return to start and repeat on the other side.
Push ups (can modify on knees) x 10
Repeat above 2 exercises
Cardio burst: Quick feet x 30 seconds
*While feet about hip width apart, run in place moving feet as quickly as you can. Your feet will
not move far from floor.

Walking Lunge x 15 steps each side
Upright Row using dumbbells x 15                  upright row
*Be sure to keep shoulders away from ears and core engaged

Repeat above 2 exercises
Cardio burst: Lateral Hops going forward 6 steps and backward 6 steps x 30 seconds
Monster Walk

Monster walk with resistance band x 15 steps forward and backward
Tricep dips off edge of chair x 15
Repeat above 2 exercises
Cardio burst: Plank Jumping Jacks x 30 seconds
*In high plank, maintain a tight core while jumping legs apart and together, like a jumping jack

Heel raises 3 ways x 15 each (toes forward/toes out/toes in)
On the floor:
Bridge x 15
Bicycle crunch x 15 each side
Repeat above 2 exercises
Superman (on stomach) with alternating arms x 15 each side
Cat/Cow x 10
*On hands and knees, alternately flex back, drawing in abdomen and chin to chest, then
move into arched back looking forward

Repeat above 2 exercises
Plank with alternating shoulder taps x 10 each side
*Holding high plank pose, maintain tight core while alternately touching one hand to opposite
shoulder. Keep torso as stable as possible.

Supine Leg Raises x 10
*Lying on back with legs extended, contract core and lift legs 3 inches off floor. Lift legs up to
about 60 degrees, then lower back to starting position. Lower back should maintain contact with
floor to prevent potential injury. Place hands under buttocks, if necessary, to protect your back.

Repeat above 2 exercises
Cool Down Stretches:

hamstring stretch
Hamstring 90/90 stretch x 10 each side
Hip flexor stretch in low lunge position 2 x 20 seconds each side
Standing quad stretch 2 x 20 seconds each side
Calf stretch against wall 2 x 20 seconds each side
Wrist flexion/extension 2 x 20 seconds each

Wrist Stretch

A common injury often suffered by tennis players is called Lateral Epicondylitis, a.k.a. “Tennis Elbow”. This chronic injury is typically caused by overuse of the hand, forearm, and arm muscles. Inflammation results in the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. These are your extensor tendons that are involved in stabilizing the wrist when the elbow is straight. Overuse can create microscopic tears in these tendons, resulting in inflammation, pain, and even decreased grip strength.
80 to 95 % of Tennis Elbow sufferers recover without surgery. Research has shown that exercise is the best remedy, specifically Therapeutic Eccentric Exercise (or TEE). Other options could include modifying strokes, changing racket weight or stiffness, or trying a brace.
Should you discover symptoms of Tennis Elbow, or suffer any strains, sprains, or pains during your tennis adventures, be sure to reach out to your preferred Physical Therapist to treat your symptoms before that get worse. The skilled professionals at Dee PT have decades of experience in sports-related injuries, and would be happy to evaluate and treat your injury.

Earlier treatment = earlier results = more time on the courts!!!


Written by Wendy Holmes, PTA