How to Win Ugly in Tennis When Your A-Game is Lost

Staying Aggressive to Grind Out a Match

Staying Aggressive to Grind Out a Match

Not having your “A” game may seem like a guaranteed loss.

Think of a time when you didn’t have your “A” game or were off your game…

At some point in the first set, you just knew you were off…

You found it difficult to place your serve…

You felt slow reacting to volleys…

You had no answer with your returns…

With every unforced error or misplaced return, you questioned whether or not you would lose in straight sets…

You were embarrassed and frustrated and just wanted to get off the court as quickly as possible…

Does this sound familiar? It’s impossible to pull out a win when you feel it is impossible to win.

When you believe you have no chance for success, several negative consequences occur:

  • Your self-talk becomes predominantly negative. You berate yourself internally or talk yourself out finding ways to win.
  • Your body language becomes counter-productive. Negative body language, such as slumped shoulders, playing flatfooted, dropping your head and throwing your hands in the air restricts oxygen flow, tightens muscles, reduces your energy stores, creates anxiety and signals a sense of resignation to your brain.
  • Your level of effort is reduced. Anxiety burns off energy. And why would you even try if you believe you cannot win?
  • Your emotions become intense, unproductive and negative. You are overcome with frustration, anger and hopelessness.
  • Your focus is difficult to maintain. All you can think about is losing the match. Instead of attacking each point, you play back on your heels and conservatively.
  • Your confidence plummets. When your confidence is lost, so is the match.

What if you still had a chance to win without your “A” game, whether it be 25% or even 5%?

Even though the odds may not be fully in your favor, you still have a fighting chance.

What if your opponent loses their top game in the middle of the match? You would still have a fighting chance.

What if your game picked up in the next set? You would still have a fighting chance.

But you only have a fighting chance if you keep fighting, if you stay aggressive and if you keep grinding until the end.

Top-seeded Elina Svitolina retained her Dubai Championships title by beating Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 6-0 even though she did not have her “A” game.

SVITOLINA: “I am very pleased with the performance throughout the week. When I had to play well, I played well. I did good at important moments. I was serving good, returning well, getting lots of balls back… Maybe not amazing tennis, but I was pretty solid. It was enough.”

If you want a fighting chance, you need to be a fighter. Since you never know what might happen, why not keep grinding?

Winning Ugly Without your “A” Game:

In order to keep grinding, you need to focus on sending your brain productive messages. This may be difficult at times but it is a doable task.

To remind yourself to keep pushing onward, use positive verbal cues, “Fight,” “Push on,” or, “Keep Grinding.”

Know that your opponent might get tired, play tight, or fold at the end of the match…

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