How to prepare for the post-lockdown return of tennis in 2021
For many amateur tennis players the start of 2021 has been especially difficult as tennis clubs and courts around the world have been closed, but this month sees a number of tennis playing countries relax their COVID lockdown restrictions. Here Tennishead provides a handy list so you can make sure you return to the tennis courts is succesful and most importantly fun!
Unfortunately the pandemic has meant a lot of sitting around being less active than normal and whilst you may have taken up running outdoors its unlikely you’ve managed to replicate the cardiovascular work out that a game of singles gives you. Make sure that before you walk onto court this month you’ve prepared your body.
- Warm up your muscles with a gentle bit of running on the spot. Gradually increase the tempo and get your knees up high. This will get your blood flowing and heart beating
- Set up a 5 meter space somewhere in the garden or even a corridor and do some sprints up and down. Really focus on your explosive speed as if you were charging to reach a drop shot
- Change direction by doing even shorter sprints in multiple directions to replicate playing a rally on a tennis court
- Grab your racket and do some side to side practise swings so that your upper body muscles remember what it was like
- A good 20 minutes of this every day will really help
- Then go for a 30 minute run to help your stamina as you don’t want to fade during the first set tie break!
Tennis involves using nearly every muscle and ligament in your body, so prepare these crucial areas as follow:
- Start stretching from ‘head to toe’ or ‘toe to head’. This will make sure you don’t miss any important parts of the body
- Make sure you are warm before you start as stretching cold muscles can be dangerous
- Think about the big muscles in your shoulders, back, bottom and thighs. These need the most work as they provide all the power when you play tennis
- Don’t bounce when you stretch a muscle, push gradually until you feel some pain, then hold for 5 seconds, then stretch a little further, then hold. Then do it again…
Without doubt some of you will get over excited at being back on court and try and play as much tennis as possible on the first day! This will then lead to soft hands getting blisters. Team Tennishead learnt the hard way how quickly this can ruin your return to tennis!
- Try hardening up your soft hands beforehand by holding your racket as much as possbile or do some gardening or lifting without gloves on
- If you feel a blister starting when you play tennis then stop and wait a day then start again. Much better to avoid a blister than have to wait a week for one to clear up
- Consider wearing a glove on court the first time you play. You might feel silly but at least you will be able to play as much as you like
The latest racket
Technology moves at a frightening pace and tennis racket brands are always utilising the latest materials and research to help manufacture the best racket for your game. Maybe now is the time to invest in a new racket, in which case please follow these simple steps:
- Think about your own game and the style of play you prefer and the level you are at. Most tennis rackets are designed for specific players
- Research online with a reputable retailer like AllThingsTennis.co.uk
- Read our reviews and guides
- Speak to an expert for advice. The owner of AllThingsTennis.co.uk Ross Batten is always on hand to provide advice. His contact details are here if you want a chat
- Always buy a racket frame only, without the strings, then ask the retailer to string the racket for you with your chosen strings at your favoured tension
- Buy two of the same rackets so that when your strings break you don’t have to try and win the 3rd set tie break using your Mum’s warped wooden racket from 1964
Did you know that your strings will lose tension over time just by being in your racket. And if you’ve stored your racket in a cold or hot place then this will also change the tension.
- Get your racket restrung to your preferred tension. Read our helpful article if you haven’t done this before
- Think about having a second racket as a spare with you on court that is restrung at the same tension
- Ask an expert such as a coach or a tennis shop owner if you want advice on the best strings and the correct tension for your game
It sounds simple but many people will forget to change their grip. They don’t cost much and a nice fresh grip will help your game and also smell a lot better than the old one you’ve been using since 2019! Your local tennis shop or online tennis retailer will be able to sort you out
Tennis clothing brands like Dunlop and ASICS spend huge money on researching and developing apparel that is perfect for tennis players, so whilst it’s tempting to stroll onto court in your shabby joggers, you will play, feel and look better if you are wearing specialist clothing. You’ll find a full range for every style and body size at our retail partner AllThingsTennis.co.uk
New shoes with good grip for the surface you will play on
Never underestimate the importance of wearing a specialist tennis shoe with the correct grip for the court surface you are playing on. In general that means either a hard court/indoor court sole versus a clay court sole. You will find some helpful advice here from our friends at ASICS
- Your tennis shoe is the only part that actually touches the court surface which makes it a crucial part of your game
- Tennis shoes are designed for the way tennis players move, so always wear a specialist tennis shoe rather than a running shoe or cross trainer. If you don’t believe us look at the edge of the sole of a tennis shoe versus another sports shoe and you’ll see the difference.
- There are different tennis shoes available for different styles of tennis player
- Take a photo of the sole of your new shoe then you can refer back to it to see if the sole is wearing out. If you can’t see the pattern on the grip of the sole then it means you need a new pair immediately!
Buy new balls
Old tennis balls are useless! They lose their bounce and grip quickly especially if you’ve left them in the cupboard. It doesn’t cost much to use new balls and they will bounce better and help you have a better game. Dunlop are the world’s leading ball manufacturer and have a range of balls to suit all players
Wash your new socks
Did you know that wearing brand new socks straight out of the packet can cause blisters? The new fabric doesn’t always soak up sweat as well as washed fabric which is why its a good idea to wash your new tennis socks once before you wear them for the first time
Watch a coaching video
As you won’t have hit a tennis ball possibly for months then preparing your mind for the return of tennis is just as important as preparing your body. We’ve teamed up with tennis coaching video specialist Top Level Tennis to offer Tennishead readers a 10% discount on their superb coaching videos from the likes of Boris Becker and Marco Panichi (Novak Djokovic’s long time physical trainer). Simply use coupon code TH10 when you reach the checkout.
Join a club
Tennis clubs are great places to learn to play, meet other players of the same standard, join a team for some competitive tennis or simply to hand out with like minded tennis lovers! contrary to some uneducated people’s belief, tennis clubs aren’t stuffy in fact they are incredibly welcoming and in general are run by the members which helps create a warm and inviting atmosphere. If you can’t find a local club then join the World’s only virtual tennis club, the Tennishead CLUB
Don’t worry if you play awfully on your first time back on the courts. You won’t be alone and your opponent will be feeling the same way. Just remember that tennis is a difficult sport to master but that is what makes it the best sport in the world!
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