Yoga for tennis players: exercises and benefits for athletes

If you’re an avid lover or player of tennis, you might be a bit surprised to hear that yoga can positively affect your game. This old but powerful discipline would bring useful improvement to your core, strength, balance, and flexibility. Also, you would realize that it can, in turn, help you develop greater focus and mind control.

Playing tennis might take your body out of its normal alignment, causing particular injuries and strain to the wrists, ankles, knees, elbows, and even spine too. Yoga seeks to focus on balancing the body while still creating alignment and symmetry. These advantages tend to lead to having a more excellent range of motion, plus increased strength and agility, as well as a reduced risk of having injuries.

Also, yoga places so much emphasis on breath control and techniques that help to calm the mind, as they would, in turn, add more mental power to your game. If you want to build a strength-building practice that is quite intense, you should try Vinyasa Yoga or Ashtanga, Bikram.

If you’d like to emphasize more on creating symmetry and alignment, then try the Hatha Yoga or Iyengar. To make it fun, you could play around with different teachers and styles until you locate a good fit. There is a common misconception that tennis and yoga are only for the middle-aged!

However, there have been some fantastic results from players that are as young as ten years old. You could try to watch Novak Djokovic in any of his yoga poses; you’d agree that they are often very entertaining and impressive, as they could be entertaining as well! It is not surprising to note that a lot of top players like Andy, Novak, and Serena all have incorporated a Specific Tennis Yoga routine into their training.

It is quite amazing to see how much tennis has evolved over the last five years off the court. We now know a lot of players who are trying to focus so much more on their health and recovery than ever before. A player like Novak has opened new paths and doorways for other athletes to try exploring.

Further Insights

Injuries often play a vital role when you talk about individualized sports. If you participate in a team sport and you get injured, all you can depend on our teammates that can help provide cover for you and also help you out while playing. While this is not the same in tennis, you are all but alone!  This is why it is ideal for you to avoid injuries as much as you can.

Yoga is perfect to use as a form of workout, and it is also a very effective way of recovering after playing in a hard match or even a training session. Trying out yoga poses for tennis players has been observed to be an essential recovery tool, because as it encourages tissue resiliency and helps with stretching tight muscles.

Mobility, flexibility, and stability are crucial and necessary for developing a robust and all-rounded tennis player that is resistant and more resilient to injury. Joint mobility and flexibility are one of the essential foundations of having a fast and healthy and robust athlete. If a tennis player suffers from a limited range of motion within tight muscles and joints, then it becomes tough and hard to build a solid strength background.

If you find it challenging to develop a solid strength foundation, then it is also difficult to produce power or speed. As you can see, mobility and flexibility is the foundation, as they all work together hand in hand.

It is recommended that when making a return from an injury that players spend the initial months on mobility and flexibility, and after this has been worked on thoroughly, you proceed to work out a sound and sturdy strength foundation.

Some tennis players are known to have reduced mobility and flexibility, and they might be able to compensate for some amount of time. Still, eventually, the body would get broken down and become quite susceptible to injures.

Yoga isn’t just designed for the middle-aged, as it is slowly becoming a significant part of a pro’s athlete’s program. It is now reasonable to see surfers, swimmers, tennis players, and runners incorporate yoga exercises into their fitness and training programs on almost a daily basis.

Benefits of Yoga for Tennis Players

  • Balance is improved
  • Muscles are lengthened
  • The shoulder becomes more mobile
  • Muscle imbalances are removed
  • Rotation range becomes increased
  • Increased strength

Performing some tennis yoga workouts regularly would leave you feeling surprised at how easily and quickly you would observe increased mobility in your joints, and notice lengthened muscles all over your body. This would further enable you to maintain an optimal and functional movement, while still opening joints up for correct and precise movement structures.

Your shot control and execution would improve overall, and you would experience more balance while controlling the ball. What is becoming more common these days is that young players are becoming exposed to more playing time on the court, with no form of crossover whatsoever into other types of sports.

This particular combination often leads to constant playing patterns and some times, overuse issues. What is essential is to note that for all tennis players, no matter how awesome or incredible they are at play, if they do not have healthy mobility ranges and flexibility, it needs just a little time before they come against an injury scale.

Preparing Mentally

Yoga would help bring a series of improvements to your physical techniques and skills, as it would also contribute significantly in training and developing your brain! Practice deep breathing exercises which are referred to as “pranayama” in Sanskrit. This would further help with increasing your breathing capacity while still bringing calm to your mind. Pranayama overall improves cardiovascular strength and circulation, but it also develops higher concentration and focus. Practising yoga would train your brain and equip you with techniques that can be useful for relaxing during a match.

Consequently, it will help you too playfully in the zone with all of your awareness and focus totally on the game. With all of the many advantages and benefits that yoga has to offer, it is indeed not surprising to see so many excellent tennis professionals, like Venus and Serena Williams, and Pete Sampras that have included yoga to their training practices!

Tennis often involves a lot of fast swinging, lunging, and even twisting on the court, without even mentioning the demand for a clear and focused mind during matches.

If you want to increase your mobility throughout your joints, reduce injuries, minimise soreness and muscle tension, then check out the Tennis Yoga, Mobility and Injury Prevention program.

Starting Out

Tennis is designed to be played as a single sport, which means that one side of the body would be more likely to get developed than the other. There’s always a dominant and robust side that gets more of all the action, and the ankles and knees tend to get more than their fair share during sprints and lunges on the court.

Having an unequal development of the body would, later on, lead to misalignment of the muscles, thus leading to pain in the hips, back, and also in the knees and legs. You could try these five first Tennis Yoga Poses, as they would prove to be very helpful, hence a perfect start.

You can proceed by holding the poses for about 10 seconds to build about 40 seconds holds for each of the exercises, while still ensuring you take no more than 20 seconds rest in between each of the poses. Try to complete about 2-3 sets of these, and in time, you are guaranteed to feel the difference.

Ensure you try to breathe all through these poses and while exhaling, allow yourself to go deeper in each of the poses. Most beneficial and advantageous yoga poses for tennis players emphasize a lot on increasing muscular balance, mobility, and even balance right in the spine.

Anytime the hips become stiff, the stress of movement most times goes directly to the knees. Therefore tennis players also prefer opening the hamstrings and hips to aid with the process of making rapid movements in quick succession done during games and practice.

Cat and Cow Movement

For stretching your back and warming up, try to do some rounds of the Cow/Cat/ movement. Start on your knees and hands. During the process of inhaling, try to lift your tailbone and chest towards the ceiling, and while trying to exhale, arch your back and press through the shoulder blades, while still trying to drop your head. Ensure you feel the muscles that are on your back, and be alert to notice if one side particularly feels tighter than the other one. Take it in 6-8 slow rounds.

Gomukhasana - Cow Face Pose

This is a perfect pose for stretching the shoulders and outer hips, and the arms all at the same time. Since this is designed to take an asymmetrical shape, you should be more able to note the differences and similarities between the two sides, and pattern your practice accordingly to this observation.

Start on your knees and hands, and slowly bring your right knee towards your hands, while you take your right foot and place it right over the left knee. Your legs should be in a crossed shape, as you should be able to widen the feet so that would quickly and slowly lower yourself in between your feet. Ensure you are sitting on a block to make the pose quite easier on your knees.

Make your right hand parallel to the floor, then twist your thumb in the direction of the floor and bend your arm slowly behind your back to avoid hurting yourself. Take your left hand and position it towards the ceiling, with the palm facing back, and also bend the elbow to reach down. If you are unable to touch your hand, you could take a towel or belt to gain more space. Stay in that exact position for up to one minute before then switch sides.

Wrist Stretch in the Cow Face Pose

You should know that there are different layers of ligaments that can be found in the wrists that can be easily affected and damaged by making repetitive movement. Applying slow Yin movements on the wrists would help make these tissues stronger and thicker.

You could then keep your legs in the Cow Face Position, or come to sit on your knees and hands. Position your palms to the floor, with your fingers pointing to you. Try further to adjust the position of your wrists and palms so that you can easily place them on the floor.

You would feel such a stretch on the inside of the forearm, alongside a slight pressure on the two wrists. Stay in this posture for about a minute. In case you were already sitting in the Cow Face Pose, don’t also forget to switch the legs.

Pigeon Pose

The Pigeon Pose tries to provide for a deep hip opening pose, by stretching the hip flexors and quadriceps for the side of the leg which is pointed backwards. Start on knees and hands as well, and slide your right knee in the middle of your hands.

Pay rapt attention to the right knee, and if the knee does not feel comfortable, position the right ankle closer to the hip. Position yourself such that your weight is made even. You could also support the upper body with the aid of your hands, or lower yourself through the assistance of your elbows, or even make it entirely to the floor. Stay for about two minutes, then swap positions.

Parivrtta Trikonasana - Revolved Triangle Pose

The Revolved Triangle stretches the chest, spine, and shoulders. It also extends and strengthens the legs so that you can improve on your balance. You could proceed by standing with your feet and shoulder-width apart, as well as your left foot back. Position your right foot to be facing forward, as you turn the left foot outwards a bit.

Leave the hips squared towards the front of the mat, and position your right hand on the bone. During the process of inhaling, try to bring the left hand up, and after exhaling, hinge from the hips, as you reach forward and position your left hand on your right leg. Take about 2-4 long breaths during the process of doing this.

If you want to increase your mobility throughout your joints, reduce injuries, minimise soreness and muscle tension, then check out the Tennis Yoga, Mobility and Injury Prevention program.

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