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The 10 Best Stretches for Tennis

Tennis is a highly demanding sport that requires multi-direction movement, cardiovascular endurance, agility, and flexibility. To hit those tough backhands with precision, increasing your accessible range of motion through correct stretching is important. 


That’s why it’s important to stretch for tennis. Flexibility in tennis allows you to expand your availability across the court, making it easier to reach for sudden drop shots, increase the velocity in your serve, and make you a better and more durable player. 

Muscles Used While Playing Tennis

Side-to-side movement is more common in tennis than in many other sports that have more forward running and sprinting. This means that tennis players utilize their abductors and adductors, which are positioned at your groin and outside hip.


This does not negate other muscles from being used, such as your quads, calves, and thoracic spine. In general, all sports necessitate recruitment of almost every muscle in your body to help keep you injury-free and performing at a high level. Your sport will only help indicate which muscles used relate to which common tennis injuries. 

What are Common Tennis Injuries?

Common tennis injuries can include injuries to the knee, spine, and elbow. Considering an injury to the outside of the elbow is routinely known as ‘tennis elbow,’ it indicates the prevalence of elbow injuries in tennis. 


The intensity of tennis swings can also make injuries to the spine more likely, as the repetition and velocity of serves, forehands, and backhands, all require immense force production generated from the spine. This can make injuries such as herniated discs, hyperextensions frequent occurrences.  


Similarly, the knee can be prone to injury. Twists, sprains, and general aches and pains are common when playing sports, and the speed and hard surface of tennis courts can cause injury to your knee. 

Why is Stretching Important for Tennis?

Stretching is important for tennis because it helps increase the range of motion and enhance blood flow to essential muscle groups and joints. With increased range of motion and circulation, you can perform better, reduce injury risk, and shorten recovery time.


In addition, stretching can improve your longevity, allowing you to play tennis longer and more efficiently. Your body’s pliability starts to dissipate as the sport takes a toll on your body, but stretching can mitigate the reduction in pliability and help you maintain muscles and joints that are elastic and flexible. 

Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching

Even though dynamic stretching and static stretching increase flexibility, dynamic stretching is more valuable for athletes and injury prevention. While holding a lengthened position from anywhere of 30 seconds to a few minutes like you do in static stretching can be beneficial, dynamic stretching (where you stretch with movement) is more appropriate for tennis players for these 3 reasons:


  1. Increases your heart rate while you stretch
  2. Utilizes similar body motions as your sport
  3. Enhances mobility, not just flexibility

Static stretching does have other good applications, such as nervous system relaxation, but for optimal tennis performance and reducing injury risk, dynamic stretching is a better approach. 

The Best Tennis Stretches to Try Today

Want to improve your tennis game? Try these 10 best tennis stretches to get a leg up on the competition and keep your body healthy. 

9. Cat Cow Pose

Cat-Cow Pose is one of the best tennis stretches for spinal flexibility, as well as the ideal warmup exercise, since the combination of flexion and extension of the spine can loosen up any stiffness in your abdominals and/or spine. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Come onto all fours on your Yoga Strong Mat with hands placed underneath shoulders and knees underneath the hips. 
  2. On an inhale, drop your belly towards the ground and arch your spine lifting your chin off your chest for cow pose. 
  3. On an exhale, push into your hands to round your back, spreading your shoulder blades wie and tucking your chin to your chest. 
  4. Repeat 5-10 breaths.

8. High Knees

A common stretch for volleyball players, high knees are a dynamic stretch to further activate the nervous system and increase range of motion in the hips. High knees can expand upon a static stretch knee hug to give your hips more active mobility.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start in a standing position, raising your right leg up to waist height. 
  2. Then, simultaneously, drop your right leg to the ground and raise your left leg up to waist height.
  3. Repeating this alternating leg movement, start to move forward at a brisk pace until fatigued.

7. Tennis Elbow Stretch

Several muscles of the forearm start at the outside part of the elbow, where tennis elbow resides). So to complete the tennis elbow stretch, you will focus on stretching the forearm


Here are the steps;


  1. Start standing with your right arm in front of you, chest height, palm facing the floor.
  2. Using your left hand, gently push on the back of your right hand so your right wrist bends downward and you feel a stretch in the forearm. 
  3. Keep in mind, your elbow should be straight and do not apply too much pressure. 

6. Cross Body Shoulder Stretch

The repetitive swinging motion in tennis indicates a need to stretch your shoulder muscles in order to reduce the risk of injury and maintain good function of the shoulder joint. With the Cross body shoulder stretch, you can effectively stretch the deltoid muscle in your shoulders, as well as your lat muscle.


Here are the steps:


  1. Raise your right arm to chest height and then move it horizontally across your chest, so your right hand is now on the left side of your body.
  2. Then, using your left hand, gently place pressure on your right arm and pull the right arm further across your chest. 
  3. Remember, keep the shoulder relaxed and do not apply too much pressure.
  4. Hold for 20 seconds and switch sides.

5. Supine Twist

Supine twist can reduce tightness in your spine in rotation. Since your spine needs freedom of movement in all directions to play tennis and prevent injury, this stretch is great because it emphasizes mobility in the rotational position that basic spinal stretches do not. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Lay on your back on your Yoga Strong Mat and hug your right knee into your chest. Let your right arm extend wide out to the right. 
  2. Using your left hand, guide the right leg up and across the body to the left.
  3. Now, let your knee fall to the left. Bottom leg stays straight. Release your left arm to the left and if comfortable, bring your gaze to the right. 
  4. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side  

4. Standing Chest Stretch

Tight chest muscles can inhibit mobility in the spine, so performing the standing chest stretch can be especially effective at loosening up the entire upper body. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Standing, start by bringing your arms behind you and clasping your hands together.
  2. With your hands locked, squeeze your shoulder blades and begin to raise your arms up higher up your back until you feel a stretch in your arms, shoulders, and chest.
  3. Breathe, hold, and repeat. 

3. Quad/Hip Flexor Stretch

When you have good quad and hip flexibility, you can have unrestricted, pain free movement of the hip and upper leg. This allows you to be faster and stronger, thereby making the quad/hip flexor stretch an essential stretch for tennis performance. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Start in a half kneel position with your right leg in front, and your left leg down
  2. Then, lift your right foot and shin off the ground, but keeping your right knee on the ground.
  3. Next, reach with your right hand to grab your right ankle, and pull the right foot towards your butt. 
  4. Please note, if you cannot grab your foot, just reach to your maximum distance.
  5. As well, if you are finding balance to be difficult, start the stretch next to a wall so you can use your left hand against the wall for stability.
  6. Breathe and hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. 

2. Overhead Triceps Stretch

The triceps help protect both the elbow and the shoulder, so keeping the triceps loose is recommended. In particular, the overhead triceps stretch is effective because it also utilizes shoulder external rotation. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Stand or sitting, raise your right arm overhead and let your elbow bend so your hand falls behind your head and neck. 
  2. Then, using your left hand, grab the right elbow and push down so that your right hand travels downward towards your mid-back. 
  3. Breathe and hold for 30 seconds and switch sides

1. Lateral Lunges

The groin often gets tight due to restrictions in your quad, hamstrings, or hip, and can be a neglected muscle when stretching. But, lateral movement is especially important in tennis, so dynamically stretching the groin with lateral lunges is key for success. 


Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing in a wide base, with your feet wider than shoulder width. 
  2. To begin, bend your right knee and hip for depth and horizontally, while maintaining an elongated straight left leg.
  3. Return to starting position, then lunge laterally to the opposite side, repeating this sequence 10x each side. 
  4. Remember, you should feel a nice pull into the groin of the elongated leg. If not, make a wider stance. 

References :

The importance of stretching. Harvard Health. (2022, March 14). https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching 

Milano, S. (2017, May 7). Dynamic stretches for tennis: U.S. High School Tennis Association - 22 years! U.S. High School Tennis Association - 22 YEARS! | Helping high school tennis coaches improve their skills. https://ushsta.org/dynamic-stretches-for-tennis/