Yesterday I had one of those tennis session that tests your mental strength. It was really windy, one side of the court was drenched in sun and the other one wasn’t and there were farm animals all around the court shouting excitedly at every mistimed shot.
When you play a lot of tennis you need to learn how to deal with various circumstances: unfamiliar court, opponent playing with weird spin, sun on one side of the court, blustering winds, bad lighting, noisy crowd, or even farm animals.
I personally pretty much hate playing in strong wind. It just ruins the natural flow of the game in my head and I easily get frustrated and do the opposite of what I’m supposed to do, which is move more and watch the ball like a hawk.
So playing in difficult or unfamiliar circumstances is a mental challenge more than anything. You need to focus on what you can do and not on the things which you cannot change such as the weather, the spectators around the court or other annoyances that has popped into your head. You need to work on your zen-like focus and at least “pretend” that nothing affects you on the court.
If you’re playing in really windy conditions for example there are some more practical advice you can apply as well. Shortening your back swing usually helps because timing will be crucial when you’re playing with balls that are constantly on the move due to the wind. Also, you need to be ready to move your feet even more than usual since the ball might move differently than you anticipate and do some weird stuff at the last second.
It’s also good to be prepared for the playing conditions when you arrive at the court. If you’re playing indoors, life is easy, but outdoors it can be cold, warm, windy, sunny and if you’re not ready for it, it might cost you the match or at least an enjoyable session of tennis. Put sun lotion, a cap, sweat bands, food (like a banana or an energy bar, not a tuna casserole), a change of clothes in case of a long, sweaty match, a towel, possibly some sunglasses, plenty of water etc.
Being prepared will make life much easier and will keep you hydrated, your energy levels in tune and you less prone to complain about the conditions. This is another key competitive advantage you can bring to a tennis match – the preparation. And besides being rested and physically and mentally prepared it can be as easy as what you have in your tennis bag.
Tennis will be more fun if you take care of these seemingly small things and can focus on what’s happening to the tennis ball on the court.
What do you do to battle difficult playing conditions? Do you have any tips on dealing with wind, sunshine and noise? Please comment below.