5 Essential Post Match Stretches for Tennis Players

Novak Djokovic's incredible flexibility helps him stay injury free and hit effective shots on the run.

Novak Djokovic’s incredible flexibility helps him stay injury free and hit effective shots on the run.

So you just finished your second match of the day with more tournament action scheduled for tomorrow morning.  What steps can you take towards recovery?

Arguably the most important action you can take is to sneak in all important cool-down stretch. This will help to ensure that your fatigued muscles do not remain stiff going into the next day of competition. Research has shown that static stretching performed after an activity can often be more important to athletic performance over time than when done before exercise. Yet it is important to get your stretching in very soon after the workout while the muscles are still warm. Below are five of my favorite stretches that you can do even before leaving the courts!
(NOTE: The stretches below should each last a total of 1-3 minutes)

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The Fila Cool Body Sports Towel – I am a believer

FCBST6LFS-1My personal journey with the Fila Cool Body Sport Towel.

I was initially skeptical about the Fila Cool Body Sport Towel (FCBST). On paper it seemed like a Wet Nap on steroids. To be completely frank, I just couldn’t imagine wiping my face, legs, arms, etc., with a big Wet Nap. Then one day a sample pack of FCBST appeared near my desk, arm’s distance. Even then, with it sitting right in front of me, I never considered using it. I was content to let it sit there forever, if that’s what it took. And though I don’t feel the need to defend my initial skepticism, I’ll just add that I grew up with, and felt extremely loyal to the old fashion towels, the ones that feel dingy and sweat-drenched after only a few wipes. Regardless, the FCBST is just not the kind of thing I would use or even consider using.
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Tank top ready!

The warm summer days are here! And if you are anything like me or any of my tennis friends, this means valuable time in the sun working on your game and that tan. So I wanted to show off some of our cutest tank tops for practice, matches or the gym that will show off those arms. And to make sure your arms are tank top ready, I have a few exercises to help tone and tighten!

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These four exercises are really simple to add to your workout routine whether it’s at the end of a hit or while in the gym. You can do these 2-3 times a week to add a little extra focus on your arms. I suggest doing each of these exercises for 3 rounds and try to get in 10-15 reps in per round. Pick a weight that isn’t too heavy but is challenging enough that by the last couple reps your muscles are tired and feel a burn.
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Cause and effect of tennis injuries: Injury culture

As far as tennis goes, we all know injuries come with the territory.

Sharapova had shoulder surgery. (Photo courtesy of Cynthia Lum)

Sharapova had shoulder surgery. (Photo courtesy of Cynthia Lum)

Tennis is a year-round sport. There is no “off season,” and high performance and athletic prowess are not only required for years upon years by the athletes themselves, but also demanded by their fans.

With my personal experience (which, granted has been worst than most) I find the culture surrounding injuries in modern tennis interesting. In a sport that puts the human body under extreme strain, injuries are prevalent, yet the response from the world is usually less than understanding. This is not always the case, but often: If you’re playing injured you’re criticized for mentioning it because it’s seen as creating an excuse for poor performance or loss. If you’re playing injured and don’t mention it, then have a bad performance because of that injury, you’re criticized for playing horrible tennis. If you’re not playing because you’re injured, it’s common to get criticized about whether you’re not being tough enough or why your recovery is taking so long.

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Jump Start Your Spring Workout

Now that winter has officially ended and the sun is out, the warm weather is the perfect motivation to get out and get moving. Since graduating college almost two years ago (where has the time gone?!), I went from playing 4 hours a day of tennis to 1 hour a day. I have had my ups and downs when it comes to working out after graduating. I had a bout with spin classes (so much fun and so much sweat!) and a bout with eating out and drinking wine (we are in wine country, I can’t help it!). However, I found a new motivation a couple weeks ago. It’s called Mud Mash X, a 10-mile obstacle course that is not for the faint of heart and, you guessed it, includes mud! I was hooked by the mud run craze after completing a 5K Warrior Dash two weeks ago with fellow TW playtesters Siobhan and Jason.

Jason, Siobhan and I at Warrior Dash

Now that the Mud Mash X is 5 weeks away, I have put in 1 week of training and let me tell you it is not easy. I do have a background in long distance running and have completed 2 half marathons in the past so I know how to get in running shape. Besides the weather, what are some good motivations to go out and go? Here is my list to get me through the tough days:

1)    New music- adding some new fast paced music to my iPod always helps

2)    Workout with buddies- I tend to hold myself more accountable to run/hike when I have set up a date with a friend. I even don’t mind my friends with bad knees riding a bike next to me!

3)    Setting a goal- mine is the Mud Mash X!

4)    New workout clothes- nothing beats it!

And luckily, Tennis Warehouse has gotten in a new crop of training and workout clothes that I am absolutely drooling over. The first outfit is the adidas Summer adiStripe Tank and adidas Summer Blitz short. I love the summery feel of the striped tank matched, and with the sporty short, it’s perfect for a long run or tennis clinic.

adidas Summer adiStripe Tank and adidas Summer Blitz Shorts

The next outfit can be found in the Puma section. The Puma Summer Faas Tank comes in two bright colors with a bonus of being reversible so you get two different color shirts in one. Pair the tank with the Puma Summer Faas Short, which is perfect for a yoga class or practice match!

Puma Summer Faas Tank and Short

Under Armour is known for its workout clothes and doesn’t let us down in the tennis department. One of my favorite shorts – the Under Armour Spring Play It Up Short is a loose short that’s perfect for a weekend hike or private tennis lesson. Match it with the Under Armour Spring Tech Sleeveless Tank to complete the look.

Under Armour Spring Tech Sleeveless Tank and Under Armour Spring Play It Up Short

Lastly, by the end of your workout kick, you will want to show off your body. Head toward the Nike Training section for a variety of workout bras and shorts and skorts. Combine the Nike Summer Racerback Bra with the Nike Summer Woven Skort to use for a beach run or throw on a Nike Summer Legend Tank to be tournament ready!

Nike Summer Racerback Bra, Nike Summer Summer Woven Skort, and Nike Summer Legend Tank

What do you like working out in?

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Brittany

Get flexible with the Athlete Stretch Strap

Fine. OK. Since we’re being honest, I will admit that when it comes to stretching I have not always been the most disciplined. Old habits die hard, and you could in fact say, that as a youth, I hated stretching. My flexibility has always been varied. I can touch my toes easily, but my hips are like steel rods. So stretching always consisted of a quick quad stretch, calves, achilles. Maybe sit on the ground and stretch my butt or hamstrings but in terms of quality or quantity? It was neither. Stretching is like flossing. I know it’s good for me. I know it’s going to help me be healthier. Growing up, my parents used to yell at me for not doing it. You could even offer me incentives for doing it, and I still wouldn’t want to. It was just one of those things. It took ages, it was uncomfortable and because I was playing so much tennis and was always tight, it took a lot of effort for very little payback. I even unwittingly signed up for a yoga class in my freshman year of college and spent the entire time either in serious amounts of pain because I couldn’t cross my legs like a normal person, or asleep on my yoga mat. The solution? The Athlete Stretch Strap.

Athlete Stretch Strap

With age comes wisdom, a general tolerance for things I previously hated and the realization that my back pain (I have a chronic lumbar injury) is greatly reduced with stretching. This is where the Athlete Stretch Strap comes in. I think a lot of people are discouraged because if it’s hard to touch your toes, then where do you even start without being in a lot of pain? Yeah, we all want to do everything we can to be better athletes or tennis players, but the level of discipline needed to consistently stretch is pretty high. The Stretch Strap simplifies everything. It really works as an extension of your arms, with convenient loop holes that cater to the measurements of any athlete.

The Athlete Stretch Strap is great for both before and after practice, as an injury prevention tool or recovery aid. What I like most about it is that it can be an aid for really getting into your stretches and pushing yourself or as a way to gently stretch areas that are otherwise really hard and painful to reach. It’s particularly good for stretching legs while lying on the ground, but it’s also good for arms and back while standing up too. It has loop holes along its whole length so it’s adjustable to whatever stretch or level of difficulty you’re looking for.

Examples of just one of the ways to use the Athlete Stretch Strap

As with most of my favorite products, these come in different colors: blue and the ever-so-feminine pink. The Athlete Stretch Strap is definitely one of those products that, with a little bit of commitment to a greater cause (your flexibility), makes a mundane and annoying task really that much easier. The joy of it is that it’s not limited to a certain type of person. Use one as a way to help with your regular stretch routine or as a way to increase general flexibility for greater well-being. It’s hard not to sound like a commercial going on about the benefits of this product so let’s put it this way: Stretching makes you feel great, can reduce pain or (hopefully) prevent injury. So do it. Want to make stretching easier? Use the Athlete Stretch Strap.

If you’ve been a slacker like me, find stretching never gets you anywhere or, I’ll just say it because I’ve been there, are just plain ol’ lazy, then heed my advice: take it from the stiffest, previously-most-stretch-lazy Kiwi in the US. The Athlete Stretch Strap is worth it. And the sense of achievement you feel when you can do basic movement without hurting? Worth it, mate.

Yours,

Siobhan

Ice Down, so you can Fire Up

With all the tennis I play weekly, I’ve developed a mild case of tendinitis in my knees over the past year. One thing I’ve found to help alleviate the next day stiffness and pain is that age old remedy of icing. Makes sense and sounds easy enough, right? Just get some ice and put it on your knees. But when icing at home, using ice from your freezer can be more trouble than you think. The ice cubes can be too big or uncomfortable, not creating even distribution of cold, not to mention the bags that hold the ice can leak, causing a mess. Yes, these things have happened to me, and it’s a real drag.

Enter Ice Down.

Re-freezable cold packs with neoprene wraps. No ice cubes or possible leaky bags to deal with. Simple, yet convenient. Just pull the cold packs out of the freezer, insert them into the neoprene wraps and wrap them around your problem areas while securing them with that old versatile Velcro enclosure.

I, along with my avid running wife, use them all the time and find them not only soothing on our aches, but highly convenient as well. With a year of regular use under our belts, they’re still in great shape, and when we Ice Down, it helps us get ready to fire up for our next workout!

Order yours today!

Spencer, TW.

Beat the Heat

“Ole ole -ole ole/ ole ole-ole ole/ feeling hot hot hot/ feeling hot hot hot”


While growing up in the desert, temperatures easily reached into the high 110s during the summer. On top of that, tennis courts can range anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees hotter than the actual outdoor temperature. So when I played tennis in this type of heat, my goal was always to stay as cool as possible. Here are some helpful products to help you to not overheat.

Wearing a hat or visor is always my first go-to accessory on a sunny day. Nothing is more horrible than feeling like your face is being fried and serving directly into sunlight. At Tennis Warehouse, we have a wide selection of polyester and cotton hats and visors in all styles and colors. One of my favorite hats/visors is the Feather Light series from Nike. They feature mesh inset to keep you cool along with a lightweight feel.

Nike FeatherLight Hats and Visors

If hats and visors aren’t your thing, make sure to protect your eyes from the sun. The Bolle Competivision series of sunglasses not only offer 100% UV protection, but the teal green lenses increase the visibility of the tennis ball on the court as well. They are available in four different styles.

Bolle Compeitivision Sunglasses

During a changeover, my goal is to cool down my body as much as possible. I always bring two towels, one dry towel and one wet one. The Tourna Sport Towel and Liquicool Towel are perfect options. The LiquiCool is the perfect towel for instant relief from the heat. Another cooling accessory is the LiquiCool Bandana. It has crystals that expand when wet to turn into a cooling gel. You can wear this when you play to keep the back of your neck cool. And it comes in seven different colors.

Tourna Towel and Bandana

Lastly, it is very important to stay hydrated. I always make sure I drink a lot of water and also some sort of electrolyte drink on each changeover. The Tennis Warehouse Stainless Steel Water Bottle holds 26 fluid ounces, as well as being BPA free and dishwasher safe. The perfect way to keep your drink cool!

TW Stainless Steel Water Bottle

And don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

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Britt

Is it in GU?

GU Products- Gel, Chomps, Electrolyte Brew, and Recovery Brew

Have you ever been in the middle of match and feel like you are losing that pep in your step? And no matter how much water or how many sports drinks you consume, nothing seems to work? Well, GU might be the answer for you. GU has an assortment of gels, chews and mixes that are meant to help fuel your body and give you superior energy and provide maximum recovery.

GU Energy Gel

I will start with the original GU product, GU Energy Gel. This goo (GU)-like substance comes in small packs that are easily stored in a pocket of a tennis bag and are available in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, lemon, orange and strawberry banana. These little “shots” of energy contain amino acids, antioxidants, chamomile and ginger. It is recommended to consume one packet 15 minutes before activity and then one energy gel pack every 30-45 minutes after if needed. The playtesting team has a drawer of these gels, and whenever anyone needs a pick-me-up, the GU Energy Gel is definitely utilized. My recommendation is to drink lots of water with this product and to test it in practice before using it in a match situation to see how your body reacts.

GU Energy Chomps

My favorite of the GU products are the GU Energy Chomps. These little bites are the chewable version of the gel and taste like candy to me. The small packs will fuel between one-and-a-half hours and two hours of activity and come in flavors such as orange, strawberry and watermelon. My preference in flavors is watermelon; it tastes like a Starburst or Jolly Rancher. Each Chomp contains amino acids, vitamins, complex and simple carbs, sodium and potassium. I like the bite-size portions. During one of my matches, at the beginning of the second set I was lacking a little energy, so during a change over, I opened a package of Chomps and popped two in my mouth. As I went back onto the court, I could feel my energy returning. Throughout the match, on changeovers and when in need of energy, I would simply eat two or three Chomps and be ready to get back on the court. My one word of wisdom is to be prepared, these Chomps are very chewy.

GU Brew Electrolyte Canister

When you are sweating out on the court, you need to replace all the electrolytes you are losing. The GU Brew Electrolyte Canister fulfills this need with its easy-on-the-stomach formula. Available in two flavors, orange and lemon lime, the Brew Electrolyte replacement drink is not too sweet or sugary tasting. I tried the lemon lime flavor, and it was similar to Gatorade but not too overwhelming. The directions are simple: Just fill a 20-ounce water bottle half way, put in a scoop or two, shake until dissolved, top off the bottle with water and shake well. You can also customize the taste and strength by how much you scoop in. In addition to sodium, the brew contains complex and simple carbs. It’s also gluten and dairy free.

GU Brew Recovery Canister

The best thing to do when you are finished with a hard workout or match is to replace what you have lost. With an option of two flavors, orange pineapple and strawberry watermelon, the GU Brew Recovery mix helps you quickly replenish energy and rebuild muscles. It’s packed with protein, amino acids, carbs and vitamins — all premium quality ingredients that are good for the body. I did find that the brew was a little bit hard to mix, I had to shake it a lot to get all the clumps to dissolve. The taste was on the sweeter side when I tried the strawberry watermelon flavor, and the smell was a little on the medicinal side. Make sure to drink the mix with 16-24 ounces of water.

Have you tried any GU products?

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Brittany

One swing at a time

I’ve hit only twice since my last blog entry. To me that’s shockingly infrequent as someone who played five times a week pre-baby. I thought that once I was back at work, it would be much easier to find the time to play. Like many notions about life with baby that I had while I was pregnant, I’m discovering that Mom Reality has different plans.

I usually try to workout or playtest during lunchtime, but before baby, I didn’t need those lunch hours to run errands. Technically, I guess, I don’t have to run my errands during lunch now, but as a mom who works full time, I want to spend as many off hours with my daughter as possible and make those hours count. For me that means not running errands like going to the grocery store and post office after work and instead trying to do them during the day while she is at day care. As I see it, I am not only relearning my balance on the tennis court, but also learning to balance my new life.

Those two times I did get out on court, though, I have noticed marked improvement. I am feeling much less alien on the court and have worked out my spacing and timing. I don’t feel like I’m on my heels as much as I was those first couple of times out, but I’m still not getting down and don’t feel like I’m committing enough on my groundstrokes. I feel like I might have picked up a habit from when I was playing pregnant by playing too upright and being overly cautious. So during a hitting session with Spencer earlier this week, we worked on cross court forehands and backhands. I used this opportunity to work on bending my knees and stepping into the ball. We finished up our hour doing the cross court and down-the-line control drills at net with volleys, and I know how much fitness work I have to do because my quads were burning from those net drills.

I feel like I’m regaining some feel with racquets as well. I restrung the Yonex V Core 100 S at mid tension with a new WeissCANNON string that we’ll be carrying. It’s called 6StarString Supercharged. It’s a unique mono-multifilament, according to WeissCANNON. Monofilaments and multifilaments are twisted together to form the string. While stringing it showed some nice elasticity, but not quite as much as some multifilaments I’ve strung. On court, I enjoyed the comfort most of all. I didn’t find loads of spin, but I’m not much of a spin player. This change in string setup is just what I needed for the racquet, too. The V Core 100 is delivering me a softer feel that I enjoy, and I’m glad Yonex has brought back that feel. I prefer it to the crisper response I felt I got from the RDiS series. I’m working to sharpen my strokes right now, and I’ve noticed I’m catching the leading edge of the 24.5mm beam of the V Core. I’ve also been playtesting the Volkl Organix 10 295g, which has a thinner 20mm beam, and haven’t had this problem. I didn’t have this problem before, so it means more time drilling those groundstrokes.

I’m playing Jason today, and this weekend my husband wants to play some tennis, so I’ll bring home the playtest racquets. We’ll wheel the baby out there in her stroller and hit some balls. Maybe that’s the ticket to more court time: making tennis a family affair!

Happy Hitting!
Tiffani, TW