If you were lucky enough to see an intense tennis match between two legends of the game you’ll see Tennis is an unforgiving sport, with its long grueling matches that quickly take a toll on the players’ body and mind. A good complement to Tennis is a yoga practice as it helps cultivate strength as well as help players combat injuries. Even John McEnroe does it! So here are 5 yoga poses proven to be beneficial on the court.
With the long laps around the court, you’re required to have stamina as well as strong legs. Practicing the Chair pose will help strengthen the legs as it works on the thighs and quadriceps. More importantly, holding this pose strengthens the supporting muscles of major joints, including the hips, knees and ankles. Utkatasana also helps prevent knee injuries by building stability in the knee joints and the muscles around them, which is a common problem for many Tennis players.
Tip: Move the tailbone towards the pubis when holding this pose to avoid arching the lower back, which will result in back pain. Engage your lower abdominal muscles as you do so as it will help strengthen your core too! This can be a full lower body movement perfect before or after the match.
Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)
Another great pose to build strong legs is the Warrior 2. Staying in Virabhadrasana II for a long period of time will not only build endurance but also improve the flexibility of your knee and hip joints. Two parts of your body that’s constantly working when you’re playing Tennis. This pose also opens the chest and increase your breathing capacity, which is crucial because often the person who is the most in shape has a better chance of winning.
Tip: Keep the alignment of your bent knee in check, ensuring that the heel is in line with the knee. You’re aiming for a 90 degree angle, if the knee is moved too far forward, you might run the risk of putting too much stress on your ankle joints and defeating the purpose of the movement.
Cow Face (Gomukhasana)
In Tennis, plenty of tension goes through the shoulders and arms as players utilise a swinging motion to perform backhands and forehands. Furthermore, as players generally use one dominant hand to play, it is important to work both arms to promote muscular balance. The Cow Face pose is a great way to get a good stretch on both arms and shoulders, while also offering a stretch to the outer hips.
Tip: As this pose is asymmetrical, you may find that one side will be more difficult or tighter than the other. Use props where necessary to modify the pose and listen to the needs of your body. If you have trouble breathing do a less deep version of the posture and to connect your arms use a strap or a belt if you cannot link arms.
Reversed Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
Cultivating flexibility in Tennis is a great way to maximise your range of mobility as well as help protect yourself from injuries. All yoga poses help you increase flexibility, but the Reversed Triangle goes one step further by increasing flexibility in all parts of your body and activating your muscles at the same time. The pose stretches the legs, arms, and torso. It also stretches the spine and chest.
Tip: Keep your legs hip width apart to provide more stability in the legs when you’re starting out. You can also put your hand that’s on the floor on a block this will give you more room to stretch and open up. And slightly more open legged stance will help you better anchor your feet on the mat, which will support the twist of your upper body.
Tree (Ekapada Vrksasana)
The most important element in any sports is mental focus. This is even more so in tennis, as players often play long matches that test not only their physical endurance but also their mental strength. In yoga, balancing poses are a great way to train mental focus as practitioners are required to find balance on one leg or the other. The tree pose is the most common balancing pose practiced in yoga which not only help you find balance but also stretches and opens the hips. To improve your balance, make sure to focus on one point in the room that doesn’t move and this will help you stay on one leg. Be sure to try out these moves first with a certified yoga instructor to avoid any injuries. Also don’t be afraid to ask the teacher to suggest more postures to help with tennis your game and recovery time will vastly improve. Plus you’ll look great with that Tennis trophy and when you’re posing for pictures!