How to prepare for a tennis match
The preparation of a match is not only defined by a warm-up. There are also other practices to learn and then repeat before entering the court. Here is our advice
A tennis player is going to be interested in all elements of his job. It is essential to set up a performance oriented environment (rest, transportation, food, etc.), allowing for technical preparation similar to game conditions (surface, weather, ball, etc.), considering the opponent’s abilities (offensive or defensive player, right or left handed, etc.), and providing material preparation (racket, tension, shoes, etc.). In this environment, the player will surround himself with his coaches or friends, as he looks for stability.
He will want to have precise warm-ups as soon as possible. Generally, two days before the match will give him the best shot at winning. He will also look for the best feeling during his practices because above all, he wants a useful “pre” warm-up.
Now, I’m not talking about the warm-up on the court. I’m talking about all the preparation before ever stepping foot on the court. Minutes, hours, even days before. This can be hard for those who think too much, or allow nerves to get to them. However, some can remain calm before entering the court.
How can you make your preparation time the most useful?
A good warm-up is the best first step before a match. Professional players know what to do to be completely ready to play.
However, amateurs and rookies have more difficulty finding the right rhythm before a match. We often see a lot of “bad starts” which affect the player’s behavior and tip the scale in the opponent’s favor. Of course, one of the advantages in tennis is that thanks to the scoring, there is still time to strike back. But that can all be avoided by properly preparing for a match. You can find a lot of books and articles on the physical training. Thus, I am going to focus on the mental aspect of the preparation – how thoughts and emotions affect the game.
In the tennis world, I’ve noticed that an amateur player’s training is focused on the physical aspects (the muscles, articulations, movements, etc.). Most of the time, the players mechanically repeat their warmups. Because of their routine, the player’s preparation is disconnected from his reality (his emotional state, his thoughts, his muscles tensions in the moment). He doesn’t get the chance to prepare himself for the following match. Instead, he is still feeling some stress when entering the court rather than being 100% focused from the start.
A good warm-up is the best first step before a match.Jacques HervetMental preparator
Integrate the mental aspect in preparation before a competition.
It is essential to couple physical training with this mental training. It will allow you to focus on your relaxation, your trust, your motivation, your energy, and the positive emotions needed for the performance.
It is also crucial for everyone to know how he takes reacts in the moment of competition
My mental battery:
Make a connection with the voice inside you that tells you if you will be able to manage the situation mentally or not, based on your personality type (pessimistic or optimistic). Then, get in the right state of mind. Push yourself with motivating words. Choose the right thoughts, such as: “I’m better than I think”, “I can win against my opponent”, or “the main thing is to be focused”.
Remember to think only of what you want to happen, rather than fearing what could happen
My emotional battery:
Embrace every feeling that occurs. Accept negative emotions… use the tension to put you in performance mode, even if it is true fear.
If needed, activate your emotional valve. If the emotion is invading or paralyzing you, remember to free yourself of the negativity. This activity allows you to drain the emotional pressure in one moment. It could be a word, a scream, or a motion that helps you… No matter what, there should be a feeling of release.
If you want to remain in total control of your emotions, you have to enjoy the game. Your self-awareness must be precise on the court. Ask yourself, what am I looking for? The pleasure from the game? The challenge? The victory? Showing off what I can do? Helping my teammates in team competition? Whatever it is, without positive energy while playing, there will be no results.
Lastly, remember to develop rituals at the start. Rituals are a routine that allows you to calm the emotional fire by finding security and therefore avoid losing control of your emotions.
My physical battery:
More than the muscles’ actions, there is an inside spirit that eases you.
It is essential to couple physical training with this mental trainingJacques HervetMental preparator
More than the muscles’ actions, there is an inside spirit that eases you. If you are more interested in the physical feeling, focus on flexible and relaxed muscles. Find the right tension for you. Based on your personality and physical conditions, your warm-up will be either tonic or relaxed. You’ll know based off of what you feel.
For some players, it is better to be alone in the locker room, whereas others will prefer to stay with their friends or their teammates. Usually one situation will stress a player out over another.
In addition, help yourself with your body control. This includes:
- Your posture and face details (eyes, eyebrows, mouth, smile)
- Breath (abdominal or chest)
- Muscle tones (gestures or movements, energy)
- Body details (hands, arms, legs, feet)
One possibility is to adopt the Jim Loehr model. In his research, Loehr determined that an athlete can create a particular mental state which allows him to reach excellence. This is what we call a “modified awareness state”; or in sports, the ideal performance state (IPS).
It includes the mental, emotional and physical aspects:
- Relaxed and flexible muscles
- A calm and easy state of mind
- Little anxiety
- A strong energy
- Positive and optimistic emotions
- A love for the game
- An effortless game
- Instinctive and automatic actions
- A true self confidence
- A quick and alert mind
- A safe and controlled feeling
- A present and focused mind
Find 3 notions on this list that suit you and keep them in mind during your next preparation time
Ultimately, I hope that these categories help you to better prepare as you get ready for a big match. Good luck!
More than the muscles’ actions, there is an inside spirit that eases you.Jacques HervetMental preparator
Jacques Hervet : Mental skills coach
"To accompany an athlete is to help him or her to stand on its own"
A tennis player (227th in the world singles and 159th in double-participation at Roland Garros in 1983), and then a 20-year coach on the world circuit, he continues to play the gesture by playing with the "elders". He is the world champion of +55 in 2017