Are Your Players Stretching Correctly?
Do your players stretch before and after they practice and play matches? If so, when should they perform static and dynamic stretches? What’s the difference between static and dynamic stretches?
If your players are stretching in the traditional way before matches, they are temporarily decreasing their ability to perform physically, not improving it. Knowing when and how to stretch will help your players start practices and matches much more effectively.
Static vs. Dynamic Stretching
According to USHSTA Advisory Board member, Dr. Jeff Chandler (Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Jacksonville State University), static stretching is stretching to the point of tension in the muscle and holding it. Bending over to touch your toes and staying in the position for 20 to 30 seconds is a static stretch. Dynamic stretching is moving the body rapidly through a sport specific range of motion. Jumping jacks or swinging a tennis racket quickly are examples of a dynamic stretch.
Which Stretch When?
Dynamic stretching is the type your players should do immediately before a match or workout, while static stretching done before a match has a detrimental effect on muscular strength and power. Static stretching before a match also does not provide increased protection against exercise-related injuries during a match.
According to Dr. Chandler, static stretching decreases a vertical jump. USTA sports science advisor and noted tennis biomechanist, Dr. Ben Kibler (Lexington Clinic Orthopedics-Sports Medicine Center), also tells the USHSTA that static stretching in the upper body area immediately before a tennis match is also detrimental.
Avoid ballistic stretching, or rapidly bouncing into and out of stretches, altogether. This provides no benefit and increases the chance of injury.
Stretching: The Truth (Tennis magazine)