How to Play with Your ‘B’ Game

Winning The Mental Battle in a Match

Playing Without Your ‘A’ Game

How do you perform on the court when you don’t have your ‘A’ game? Are you still able to compete without your ‘A’ game, or do you just give in and tank the match?

Playing without your ‘A’ game is a topic recently stated on our Mental
Game of Tennis Survey:

“When I’m playing my best tennis, I just go for my shots without thinking, but when my game is off, even a little, I mentally give up.”

Your frustration is understandable. You work hard in practice developing all aspects of your game. You feel in great shape. You have been hitting the ball great all week. You are psyched to play the next tournament.

When you take the court in the first match, something feels off. You are hitting your backhand shots long. It only takes a couple of games to conclude that you are not playing with your ‘A’ game. You think, “How can I win without being totally on top of my game?” You conclude, “I just don’t have it today” and mentally give up even though you have only played a couple games!

You may not be able to paint the lines with your backhand, but you still can use your backhand to hit effective shots. Even if you don’t have your ‘A’ game, you can still win. Are you that awful that you can’t grind it out with your B game?

Your ‘B’ game might be good enough when you keep your head in the game and compete for each point. You may have to alter your tactics, but you can still rely on other parts of your game to win points.

The ‘B’ game mindset is about mental toughness and winning points. Even with your ‘B’ game, you can still grind and fight for every point and focus on your strengths throughout the match.

Grinding out a point is one of the most rewarding feelings in tennis. When you approach a match with a ‘never give up’ and ‘never give in’ mentality, you gain a mental edge that can frustrate and demoralize your opponent.

Not having her ‘A’ game did not stop Katie Boulter from grinding throughout her Finals match against Jodie Burrage to win the 2020 Progress Tour Women’s Championship 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

Boulter stayed composed and fought hard to bounce back from a set down to win the tournament in two hours and 12 minutes.

BOULTER: “Obviously, I’m very happy to get the win. There was some good tennis and some bad tennis. Sometimes, you just have to find your way. I’m very happy with the result. I felt like I was struggling a little bit body-wise but I was trying to push myself through and got a little bit lucky and kept the ball on the court. Sometimes it happens. Today things went my way.”

When you are playing without your ‘A’ game, remember the match will only turn your way if you stay in the match mentally, continue to push, fight for every point and compete until the end of the match.

Winning Matches without Your ‘A’ Game

The top tennis players are able to grind out a match when they are not feeling perfect or hitting their shots. Roger Federer is able to change his approach to the match and problem solve when all his shots are not working.

You want to think you will have your best game when you step on the match court. But be ready to adjust your tactics when you don’t have all your shots working.

Remember, playing with your physical ‘B’ game while having an ‘A’ game mindset may be the right combination to take home the title.

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