PreMatch Mental Warm-Ups
How many times have you had a bad warm-up prior to a tennis match and felt doomed to play poorly?
Think back to a warm-up where you miss-hit shots and lost your confidence…
You may have told yourself something along the lines of, “I can’t touch my opponent’s serve, it is wicked fast,” “I don’t have it today” or “I can’t play well because the court conditions are horrible.”
You probably felt your anxiety level slowly increase as the match approached…
You may have gone through the motions of your warm-up because you believed the result was a foregone conclusion.
All these thoughts are distractions that interfere with your focus and preparation for the match.
Moreover, these types of thoughts are illogical and based more on opinion than fact.
Illogical or irrational thoughts significantly increase anxiety.
Just because you have a thought doesn’t make it true. So what if your opponent’s serve is fast? That doesn’t guarantee he will get his first serve in or that the serve can’t be returned.
And just because you feel like you don’t “have it” or court conditions are less than favorable does not mean that you can’t play at a high level.
But when you “buy in” to these types of thoughts, you have lost before you’ve even started.
The purpose of warm-up is not to predict the outcome of the match.
The function of warm-up is to get your equipment, body and mind ready for the match.
Not only does a pre-match routine warm up your body for the upcoming match but it helps you attain optimal levels of intensity, focus and confidence.
Your pre-match routine should gradually lead you to that unique mental state that helps you play your best tennis.
Routines enhance familiarity with the competitive environment and increase a sense of control.
Performing your routine has a “normalizing” effect on tennis players which conditions your mind and body to view the upcoming competition as “just another match.”
If you adopt a consistent routine that you commit to doing prior to each match, you ill warm up your mind too with greater focus, confidence, and focus for the match.
Try these tips to mentally warm up for a tennis match:
- Tip #1: You should develop your own personal pre-match routine. Perform it consistently no matter the importance of the match. Consider everything you need to do to prepare yourself for the match: nutrition, hydration, equipment, physical warm-up, match strategy and mental preparation (relaxation, imagery, self-talk, etc.)
- Tip #2: You need to learn to counter illogical thoughts or doubts when they arise. Debate those thoughts then quickly return your focus on what you need to do right now!
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“Since you last worked with AJ in early September, his National ranking has improved from 349 to 148. His tournament record at one point, since talking with you was 17-4, with 3 of the 4 being in third sets or tiebreakers and 2 of those matches being the same player, whom he has since beaten (you may recall he was on an 0-9 losing streak when we contacted you). His tie-breaker record is at least 90% through last weekend when he won the 18s District tournament with a semi and final match tiebreak win. Your help has definitely improved AJ’s results and his on-court demeanor has substantially improved.”
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