If you want to have any kind of success in tennis you need to come to the court physically and mentally prepared. This goes for any kind of level you compete on. The level of preparation is of course different depending on if you’re a tour or a club player, but it will still impact your game a great deal.
I had one of my worst experiences in my amateur tennis life yesterday and a lot of it was due to lack of mental and physical preparation.
My match was scheduled at 5:30 and I started day with a quick workout at the gym. That’s all fine, warms the body up, you do some stretching etc.
Then I went with family and friends to the local strawberry festival and stayed several hours in the sun among hoards of people. I didn’t drink a lot of water and at two or two-thirty I went for a filling pasta lunch. I thought three hours would be plenty of time to restock on energy and get ready for the game.
It’s always good to be at the court early before a match to get into the right mood. So yesterday I went there one hour before to relax a bit, get warmed up and maybe more importantly be able to digest food in peace, but when I went in to the tournament office to sign-in my opponent was already there and asked if we should start early since the court was free.
This was a key point. The only sane reply would be that I’d rather wait until match time. I had food to digest for good sakes. I wasn’t warmed up and felt pretty nervous. But instead I said yes and after only a few minutes on court I felt nauseous due to the pretty extreme heat and the food wanting to exit my throat.
It was too late. I was already in the middle of a losing match and I since I couldn’t move properly I got discouraged and ended up getting completely hammered. A great shame because I’ve been training pretty hard to be in shape for the tournament and thought I had what it takes to give even stronger players a good match.
It’s especially annoying since I didn’t get the chance to really play because of my lousy preparation. I came up against the number three seed and a good opponent so I would probably have lost anyway, but it really stings me because of embarrassing way I performed on court, especially in front of people (no two ways about it, to have an audience see your destruction makes it hurt ten times more).
So I promise myself not to do this ever again. Not to be late before the match, not to eat too close to the match, and to give myself time to prepare both mentally and physically.
A few pointers:
* Get there early. It’s not nice to jump straight onto the court before a match. Your head will be elsewhere and you’ll likely feel stressed.
* Make sure the warm-up gets you going properly. Hit all shots (don’t shy away from the backhand, that needs to work too) and enough shots to get rhythm.
* Don’t eat too much before a match and give yourself 2-3 hours to digest the food.
* Hydrate! Drink a lot of water before the match and also refill often during. Especially if the conditions are hot.
* Try to clear your head from distractions? You’ve had an argument at home still lingering in your head? Not good. Maybe some kind of meditation half-an-hour before the game?
* Music. Bring your favorite music to the court. Use it to get into the right mood.
* Start easy. Don’t go for the lines. Make sure you get rhythm and length on your shots before you start going for it. You will likely be nervous so it will take a while before you loosen up enough.
* Take your time. Don’t let your opponent stress you. Play at your normal tempo and stick to it.