A New York Times article titled "Reasons Not to Stretch" by Gretchen Reynolds was published today, April 3 and posted on the USPTA Eastern Division Facebook page. This article refers to two recent studies that add to the scientific body of evidence that pre-exercise static stretching alone is counter-productive to athletic performance, and dynamic warm up is a more effective preparation.
Unfortunately, the title and theme of this article is an irresponsible, and a potentially harmful representation of the facts for several reasons.
First, the goal for most athletes is not simply performance, but health, wellness, recovery and injury prevention, and these studies address performance issues alone. Additionally, they address a singular performance and most competitive tennis players, at some point, play multiple times a day, several days in a row.
Furthermore, many equate all stretching with "static stretching" and this is not the case. It's not news that holding a stretch for a minute as the only way to warm up is not productive but saying that a dynamic warm up is better then a static stretch should not be misunderstood as a ringing endorsement of dynamic warm up alone.
There are more choices than the two misleading narrow one's presented by this article. The optimal off-court warm up for tennis performance for example, would include foam rolling for muscle fiber function, muscle activation for targeted stability, stretching for targeted mobility and movement preparation or dynamic warm-up exercises.
Steven Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.