Cooling down is an important, but often underestimated part of tennis training. It allows your body to restabilise after exercising so it can recover better. This in turn helps improve your performance. Here’s how you do an effective cool-down.
Getting the most out of your training
Competitive tennis is becoming more physically demanding, and matches – especially five-set matches – are often decided when one of the players is getting exhausted and starts making to many errors.
Tennis training routines are following suit, with more attention to strength and endurance training. A proper cool-down is an essential part of such training, because it ensures that you get the most out of your physical exercising. Cooling down also signals to your body that it can rest.
Here are some simple exercises to cool down after your training or match.
First, however, make sure you rehydrate your body by drinking plenty of water!
Run for 10 to 20 minutes at a gentle jogging pace. Your pace should be slow enough so you are not short of breath and able to talk with your training buddy.
If you have a heart rate monitor, you can also calculate the proper speed for your cool-down run. This should be a speed that lowers your heart rate to around 60 to 70% of your personal maximum. You can calculate your personal maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from the number 220.
Keep in mind that if there’s no space available for running, skipping is not recommended as an alternative. The reason for this is that your osteo-articular system has already undergone a lot of stress during the preceding training or match.
After jogging, do a series of stretching exercises. You can use the warm-up exercises for this.
Do the exercises in an energetic fashion, without forcing movement and without bouncing up and down too much. In contrast to the warm-up, during cool-down make sure to lock your stretching positions. This way more muscle groups benefit from being lengthened.
For example, do a set of hip twists lying down. Bend your right knee up to your chest, and, with your left hand, pull your leg towards your left shoulder. Hold this position for 30 to 40 seconds on each side without turning your chest or lifting your back off the ground.
Another common stretching exercise for tennis players requires lying on your back on the ground and stretching your legs in the air. Rest your legs against the court boundary netting. Hold this pose for 1 minute. Add a stretch with your arms above your head and resting on the ground.