| By Frank Dolan

In order to design an effective dynamic warm-up routine, it is important to understand the science behind each component and how it can affect your tennis game in the short- and long-term. Most tennis athletes rarely warm up, or when they do, it is done in an ineffective manner. This can give you a tremendous advantage if you have a quality warm-up program in your repertoire.

It is traditionally understood that a warm-up should include some type of static stretching (holding stretches for extended periods of time). Contrary to this belief, research shows that static stretching will actually make you feel more relaxed, tired and could potentially increase your risk of injury. In many cases where trigger points are present, you could actually be making things tighter.

Another common form of warming up is jogging or jumping rope. Although this will get your heart rate up, it neglects to activate the active motor programs you need for tennis. Jogging while standing straight up and bouncing on your toes while jumping rope are very much in opposition to the aggressive ready position and full foot contacts needed for tennis performance.

When designing a dynamic warm-up for maximum tennis performance, it is important to include some form of muscle lengthening as well as increasing core body temperature, but the methods make all the difference.
Here is a more specific approach to warming up:

1. Soft tissue and mobility
As mentioned previously, stretching can become problematic in the presence of trigger points. Foam rolling, massage stick work, and using a tennis ball for trigger point release, are inexpensive ways to restore tissue quality. These methods can be done prior to an Active Isolated Stretching routine. Active Isolated Stretching, or AIS, was a term coined by Aaron Mattes and is used widely as a way to elongate muscles actively. The main difference between AIS and static stretching is that instead of holding stretches for long periods of time, the athlete is instructed to actively move the muscle through its full range of motion, and then assist with a stretch rope at the end range for two sec.

2. Stability and activation
After a mobility routine, it is important to “turn on” muscles actively. This is included, but not limited to, performing exercises that isolate the glutes, the torso and the shoulders. These are the three stability points in the body that allow you to transfer force into the court when you run and allow you to generate power in your strokes.

3. Movement preparation
These are combinations of mobility and stability exercises performed to activate motor programs required in competition. Unlike jogging and jumping rope, here is where the athlete can incorporate the mobility and stability work and make it look more like movements need on the court. If done correctly, this will also elevate core body temperature, enhance proprioception and stabilization (balance), as well as facilitate nervous system activation (reactiveness and power).

To view a tennis specific warm-up routine that includes videos of mobility, stability, and movement preparation exercises log on to http://coachfrankdolan.com/tennis-specific-warm-up/.

Frank Dolan

<p>Frank Dolan is a Strength and Conditioning Specialist and the owner of Sports and Fitness Performance in Islip, NY. In addition to studying directly under such industry luminaries as: Gray Cook, Mark Verstegen, and Mike Boyle, Frank consults for organizations such as Equinox Fitness Clubs, Major League Strength, The Baseball Factory, and several local colleges, high schools and sports organizations. He is an expansion team presenter for Functional Movement Systems (FMS) and in 2008 he worked as consultant to the NY Yankees during Spring Training. He may be reached by e-mail at <a href="mailto:coachfrankdolan@gmail.com">coachfrankdolan@gmail.com</a> or at the facility by phone (631) 650-7140.</p>