Looking to get better of your opponent in a match of tennis? The best way to do that is to be well-prepared for it and in the piece we look at the various ways you can get into the scheme of things while playing tennis.
Tennis is a demanding sport. While one needs to be tactically sound to win matches, it’s also important to be in top physical and mental shape.
The sport demands a lot of energy as players need to do a lot of running and use power. At the same time, players need to stay focused throughout the match.
One point can turn the outcome of a match and therefore, one cannot afford a lapse in concentration. To do well in the sport, one needs to prepare well for every match.
Ways to Prepare for a Tennis Match
There are multiple ways to prepare for a tennis match in the early days of your tennis playing career. Below, we have listed 12 such ways or methods you can use to improve your game to the best of your abilities.
Work on the Tactics
Working on the tactics with your tennis coach a day before the match is important. One of the keys to preparing well for a tennis match is to understand your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and prepare accordingly.
Knowing the weather conditions is important as well.
Analyze the conditions and also read the weather predictions a day before and be ready with a Plan B in case there are chances of the match being affected by adverse weather conditions, like rain or wind or scorching heat, which may not suit your style of play.
Sleep Well, Avoid Distractions
To keep the body in the right shape for the match, one needs a proper night’s sleep. Tennis players do need a well-rested body to last stamina-sapping matches.
Many coaches strictly advice budding players to follow a disciplined routine, which means no phones, no movies and no PSPs after a point of time in the day, which allows them to go to bed on time and get a good night’s sleep.
Water is the fuel that drives our body and therefore staying hydrated is the key to playing well. Less water in the body can lead to dehydration, which can result in fatigue, muscle ache, cramps and loss of energy.
We can easily get dehydrated while sleeping, so it’s important for a tennis player to have ample amount of water at night and then drink an adequate amount after waking up in the morning.
Players should drink at least one or two glasses of water every two hours to stay hydrated. It is also advised to add electrolytes to water after strenuous activities to replenish the loss of minerals from the body.
Therefore, it’s important to consult your health experts to know the right fluids to take before, during and after a match.
Eat Nutritious Food
Just like fluids, eating well before a match is extremely important, but tennis players need to be cautious of what they eat.
Overeating can hamper your performance and so can having a lot of sugar in your diet. Focus on taking cereals, juices and fruits for breakfast. They are healthy and nutritious and keep you light.
Do carry energy bars with you for the match, just in case the matches that precede yours take time to finish and delay the start of your match, making you hungry.
Always leave for the match with time in hand. If you get late, things would start getting chaotic and that would show on your game. One needs a relaxed mind before the start of the match and being on time can ensure that peace of mind.
Prepare the Tennis Bag in Advance
One thing that can delay you for the match is preparing the bag in a hurry at the eleventh hour. One of the best practices is to prepare your bag a day in advance.
Make a checklist of things and ensure that everything is in place. Check the strings of your racquets, your fluids, towels, wristbands, caps, extra pair of clothes, shoes, socks, energy bars and any such thing without which you can be easily put off.
A missing piece from a tennis player’s bag can be upsetting and can affect the player’s game. So, it’s paramount to prepare the bag in advance and ensure that everything is in place.
Remove the Clutter from the Brain
On the day of the match, one must be completely focused on the game.
Thinking about too many things can clutter your mind and prevent you from staying focused.
Train your mind to switch off from everything else that’s happening around you and focus on the task at hand.
A lot of battles can be lost in the mind even before the start of the actual contest. Tennis players can’t afford to think negatively.
Never get intimidated by the stature of your opponent. Focus on areas you do well, think of your opponent’s weaknesses and if you can exploit those.
Stay positive and have faith in your abilities. Self-belief is extremely important when playing against more fancied opponents.
Warm-Ups and Stretches
It’s always good to have a hit, do your stretches and loosen your muscles before the match to keep your body warm and ready for the match.
If you do not warm up before the match, your body will be stiff and you would be slow off the blocks. By the time your body is properly warmed up your opponent would have taken a sizeable lead. So, it’s important to bring the body temperature to a certain level to hit the court running.
Stretching is also important after a match is over to help in the recovery process.
Calm Your Nerves
It’s natural to get nervous on match days but it’s also important to find ways to tackle the nerves. Getting nervous hampers your confidence and prevents you from playing freely.
People have different ways to reduce their anxiety; some may rely on quick meditation or breathing exercises, while some may just listen to music. Select music of your choice and cut out the chatter around you. Focus on the job and relax.
Read Your Opponent During On-Court Warm-Ups
The on-court warm-up can give you a good idea about your opponent’s game. Keep an eye on the opponent’s serves and forehands and backhands and get a sense of how things could go during the match.
The flip to that is at times the opponent could smartly give out a different feel than his/her usual to try and trick you. Be careful about that and tweak your game accordingly during the match.
Prepare for Post-Match Recovery
It’s extremely important for players to begin their post-match recovery soon after the match as there isn’t too much of a gap between matches and players need to get better every day as the competition, more often than not, keeps getting better with every round.
Therefore, it’s always good to prepare for the post-match recovery in advance. When preparing your bag for the match, make sure to keep all the equipment and food needed for the recovery process, so you don’t have to fret after the match.
Now that we have a list of things one should do before a tennis match, here’s what one should avoid doing as well.
Don’t Doubt Your Own Self
The human brain is a funny thing. It can be trained into believing something, anything.
What’s more interesting is that it is easier for the brain to get attached to negative thoughts than positive ones. Which is why it is imperative to dispel all those negative thoughts, and to stop doubting one self.
Keep the faith in your own skill and preparation and go into the match knowing that’s the best you can do at that moment.
Don’t Get Too Far Ahead of Yourself
Take it a game at a time, a set at a time and at the most a match at a time. Don’t look at whom you might play if you win your current match and what could happen if you got to a particular round.
It’s easy to get far ahead of oneself but try and prepare for just the match in question rather than allowing yourself to think you have already won the ongoing match even if you are a huge favourite.
Final Words on Preparing for a Tennis Match
Properly preparing for a tennis match in its leadup is very crucial and an absolute must in order for you to be able to get out the best of your tennis-playing capabilities. There are multiple ways you can do that and whether it’s about remaining hydrated, sleeping well or fine-tuning one’s tactics, they are all quite necessary.