Playing Under Tough Conditions

Playing Under Tough Conditions

How have subpar conditions during past tennis matches affected your mind and performance?

Rarely are conditions perfect for competitive matches. Unfavorable weather, poor court conditions, and flat tennis balls are a few challenges you may face during matches.

If allowed, these conditions can throw off your mental game and dramatically hurt your performance.

Players adversely affected by playing conditions tend to use the word “unfair” to describe their circumstances. Unfair implies that conditions are not equitable or that you are disadvantaged.

However, within a match, your opponent faces similar or the same conditions.

Think of this scenario for a moment. You are playing in the quarterfinals of a tournament.

The court is a bit slick, and you find it difficult to get traction. Each time you slip during a return shot, your frustration builds. What you deem as “unfair” conditions overtake your mind.

You begin to focus more on the playing surface than the match itself. Meanwhile, you notice your opponent has the same issue with their footing, but they seem unfazed and crushing the ball for winners.

In this instance, your mental response, rather than your physical ability, dictates your performance. When you view your circumstances as unfair, you give your opponent a significant advantage.

The key to competing in subpar conditions is consciously choosing a mentally tough response…

Even though you are unhappy playing under subpar conditions and may not be playing your best tennis, you can give yourself a mental edge and improve your chances of winning with a shift in mindset.

A mental toughness mindset focuses on adapting and adjusting. Instead of focusing on the problem, you focus on solutions.

At the 2023 WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico, many players were upset by the tournament conditions.

Some complaints were that the court surface interfered with the player’s footing, the balls bounced oddly, and the courts were not ready early enough to allow for sufficient practice time before matches.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova was frustrated during her matches and criticized the playing conditions at the season-ending championship.

VONDROUSOVA: “The court is, honestly, very bad. It’s very crazy. I don’t think this court is very good for the WTA Finals, to be honest. The stadium is not at all ready for the matches, and to me, it feels like the people from WTA are absolutely not interested in how we – who are supposed to play on that court – feel.”

Aryna Sabalenka was unenthused by the conditions. However, Sabalenka was able to find a positive in her circumstances.

SABALENKA: “Thank you for this challenge I’m facing right now, to kind of like learn how to adapt quick to the conditions. Thank you for that. But this is not something I expect from such a high- level tournament. And I’m really happy that I’m able to ignore all this.”

No players like to play in poor conditions, but if you shift your mindset, you can focus on playing your best tennis despite the circumstances.

Tennis is often a war of attrition, and the mentally tougher player has a significant advantage when playing in adverse circumstances.

The key to winning is finding a competitive edge. Get into the habit of asking yourself before matches, “What mindset will give me an advantage over my opponent?”

Let your opponent be upset over conditions while you focus on winning points.

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Tennis Confidence 2.0

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