Addendum: Tennis And The Yoga Connection

For tennis players, the benefits of practicing yoga are indisputable. I would not make such a bold claim without substantial personal proof. Let me explain.

As noted in a previous post, increased flexibility can add to explosive movement while lowering the probability of injury and enhancing recovery.

Tennis is particularly demanding on joints. I can’t think of a single joint  that is not engaged when playing, whether at an elite or recreational level. It behooves all players to treat their joints with the utmost care.

I continue to monitor the effects of different exercise motifs on my own body. I’m particularly interested in specificity as related to my sport. Over the past four months, I’ve inadvertently made a startling personally beneficial discovery about the power of yoga.

Let me first reiterate that I am an awful student of yoga. I’ve only formally tried it twice. By formally I mean under the direction of a knowledgeable practitioner.

The first occasion was under the watchful eye of a friend who has employed the discipline for years. The second time was in a class at the health club to which I belong.

While abandoning the formal education, I did continue home study by practicing a few postures and stretches that I felt would benefit my tennis game. I can honestly report that I have been pleasantly surprised to find that, of all things, my serve has improved measurably.

I’ve always had some right shoulder problems stemming from an injury incurred trying to dunk a basketball while in college. That injury never compromised the technical aspects of my serve, but it did cause a persistently tentative delivery due to a low level nagging discomfort.

The improvement after the yoga stretches is astonishing. I’ve not altered my technique whatsoever in thirty-plus years of playing, yet at 62 years of age, I can now generate significantly more mph’s than ever before.

Undoubtedly, some of that is due to present day advances in racket and string technology. But to a far greater extent, it’s because I can now generate more racket head speed while serving. My serving arm is looser.

That unexpected benefit is attributable to a reduction in shoulder pain and greater flexibility I’ve gained from yoga. And I’m a horrible student!

Let a few words to the wise be sufficient, “Give it a shot.” You have much to gain and nothing to lose.

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