In the Swing – Off Court Strengthening Pays Off at the Baseline

By Meggan Barnett, Personal Trainer at The Village Health Club and Spas, DC Ranch location

Many who enjoy racket sports neglect strengthening the muscles surrounding their shoulders and upper back. Take a look at Serena Williams, her powerful upper body is the result of strategic strength training and stretching for tennis, not just swatting at tennis balls.

The addition of the following stretches and strength exercises to your weekly regimen will help stabilize your rotator cuff, the joint that gives your shoulders their amazing range of motion, and help prevent injury:

Anterior Deltoid Stretch

Importance:   Helps release tension in internal rotators.

Muscles Involved: Anterior Deltoid, Pectoralis Major and Minor, and Biceps Brachii

Equipment: Ledge of wall, doorway, machine, etc.

Execution: Stand facing away from ledge. Arm is behind you and at shoulder height. Keep a slight bend in the elbow to keep from hyperextending. Palm should be flat on ledge and thumb pointed up. Slowly rotate torso away from hand, don’t lean. Hold 10-15 seconds, release and repeat on other arm.

Frequency: Daily, hold 10-15 seconds, 2-3 sets each arm.

Anterior Delt Stretch.jpg

Posterior Deltoid and Upper Back Stretch (with stability ball)

Importance: Helps release tension in upper back and neck.

Muscles Involved: Should feel stretch in posterior side of shoulder and upper back.

Equipment: Stability Ball.

Execution: Kneeling on floor 1 hand is on ball, palm pointed up. Slowly push ball straight across until feel light tension in shoulder and upper back. Head should be neutral. Other hand can rest on floor.

Frequency: Daily, hold 10-15 seconds, 2-3 sets each arm.

Posterior Delt Stretch A.jpg     Posterior Delt Stretch B.jpg


Seated Row

Importance: Protects shoulders and upper back muscles, especially after ball contact. Focuses body posture to reduce over-development of the trapezius, and limit neck pain.

Muscles Involved: Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Posterior Deltoid, Biceps Brachii.

Equipment: Machine, cable, or resistance band.

Execution: Sit facing anchor point or machine. Handles should be at chest height. As you pull handle towards you, squeeze your shoulders blades like you are trying to pop a balloon between them. Don’t shrug your shoulders. Slowly release and return to start, without letting the handles pull you. Focus on shoulder blades doing the work.

Frequency: 3x week, 8-10 reps, 2-3 sets.

Seated Row A.jpg  Seated Row B.jpg




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