This is a simple guide to help you play your best every time you step on the court.
It’s based on 15 fantastic years getting to help many lovely, young ladies play at a high level through recreational, league, and tournament play.
Here are 8 keys that you should focus on anytime you have a match, so you can play your best.
1. GET “ENOUGH” SLEEP:
This may not always possible as a busy woman/mom (I’m engaged to a busy woman).
However, it would behoove you to try and get at least 6 hours (7-8 is better).
The reason is… being sleep deprived is like being DRUNK!
Shoot for 7-8 no matter what you do the night before (you may want to talk this over with your husband/significant other beforehand).
Do something that relaxes you the night before your match, and get your room very comfortable (very dark and cool temperatures).
You’ll feel better, react better, and perform better.
2. ABOUT WATER AND FLUIDS:
Tennis makes us hot and sweaty (DUH, RAMON).
When we get hot and sweaty, we lose water and electrolytes.
Our bodies are at least 70 percent water (our blood is upwards of 90%).
And a 2% reduction in water in our body can cause our performance to drop by 10-20%!
Clearly then, we need to be drinking enough water (makes sense right?)
Start with a big cup of water first thing in the morning, and sip continuously throughout the day.
Everyone’s body is different, but a general rule of thumb is, drink 500 ml every hour you’re on the court.
This is best done by sipping every 15 minutes (so we don’t get bloated).
What about Gatorade/sports drinks?
If you’re really working hard on the tennis courts, you will need to replace electrolytes as well as water.
Electrolytes are things like: Sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They’re lost in sweat.
Sports drinks are one way to replace these.
3. WHAT YOU SHOULD BE EATING:
There is no hard, fast rule that says what you should be eating to play your best.
Your body is different than Suzy’s, whose body is different than Cheryl’s.
However, a good general rule is to eat a complete balanced diet that is based around whole foods.
Whole foods are things that have one thing in the ingredient list: Apple, bananas, Almonds, Chicken, etc.
Also, avoid eating anything new before a match.
Stick to foods you know your body likes and responds well to!
Great supplements may be beneficial for you based on what you need in your body.
When you should be eating:
Have a filling, balanced meal 3-4 hours before your match.
This meal should have a good balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.
Ex: Chicken breast, broccoli, and brown rice (if you’re gluten-free you can use quinoa) with a few slices of fresh avocado.
Vegetarian/vegan example: Lentils, kale, sweet potato cooked in olive oil.
Simply put, the better the food you put in your body, the better it will perform on the day of your match.
For a few recipes that are quick, easy, delicious, and nutritious, click here!
If you’re hungry during a match:
Low acid fruits such as bananas, apples, and even mangoes can be great.
When paired with some nuts or nut butter, you have a snack that is delicious, immediately satisfying, and satiating.
Save protein shakes for after the match.
4. VISUALIZE SUCCESS:
What color is your front door?
The only way you can answer that is to visualize it.
You visualize every day.
You need to visualize WHAT YOU WANT to happen during a tennis match.
The reason being, it gives you a sense of positive expectancy (this is a very powerful, positive emotion).
It also has the same physiological effect on your brain as actually DOING the desired action.
Studies have shown that people who ONLY visualized shooting baskets performed as well as people who physically practiced shooting the baskets.
How to visualize effectively:
Spend 5-10 minutes getting into a totally relaxed state.
You can do this with some deep breathing using your diaphragm (think bottom of your belly, not chest).
Next, in your mind, play the entire match.
See yourself winning every point.
Feel the exhilaration of playing your best tennis.
Listen to the sound of the ball on the court.
Hear your opponent repeatedly say “great shot.”
The more senses you get involved in this process, the more easily you get your brain wrapped around playing your best.
5. USE AFFIRMATIONS TO INSTILL POSITIVE BELIEFS
“I’m good enough… I’m smart enough… and gosh darn it, people like me!”
Silly as it sounds, this is an example of a positive affirmation.
Affirmations, when accompanied by a strong FEELING, can do wonders to make you feel great about yourself.
According to Napoleon Hill, they also have the power to reach the subconscious mind (which is controlling as much as 95% of what you do).
Make a list of empowering beliefs that you feel will help you on the tennis court.
Examples: I’m a great competitor, I’m highly skilled, I’m mentally tough, I’m in phenomenal shape, I’m great at calling balls out quickly…
The last one was a joke. :)
It’s important to state all of your affirmations in the positive present tense.
Ex. I AM GREAT… NOT I will be great… or I’m not bad.
If you say you WILL BE great, it implies you’re not great yet.
If you say “not… bad” you have to think of being bad first… and it will confuse you (Like when someone says don’t think of a pink elephant).
Spend 5 minutes a day reciting your affirmations and FEEL the positivity that comes into your body.
You can do this in the car on the drive to the courts.
If people stare at you, they’re mostly likely awestruck by how awesome you look. :)
Emotionalized affirmations immediately empower you, and over the long term can change your behavior on the tennis court and in life for the better.
6. HAVE A GREAT WARM UP
How to warm up your body:
As you may know, one of the keys to playing great tennis is Movement and elasticity.
So how do you improve your movement and flexibility before you play?
First off… DON’T STRETCH!!!
You may be thinking I’m crazy here…
What I mean is, don’t use static stretching (go down and touch your toes for 30 seconds).
Reason being, this effectively puts your muscles to sleep.
Static stretching is great for AFTER tennis.
But to get ready for a match, you’ll want to dynamically stretch your muscles.
This means going through movements that heat up your muscles, increase your range of motion while preparing your body for explosive movements.
A great idea is to go through a yoga-flow type routine for 5-10 minutes.
Ideally, you’ll want to be sweating before you step on the court.
If that’s not possible for you, here’s a routine I love to use when I’m on the court:
60 seconds marching in place, 60 seconds jumping jacks, 30 second straight arm arm circles, 30-60 seconds lunges, 30-60 seconds side lunges, 30 seconds wrist circles, 60 seconds side twist
30 seconds straight leg front kick, 30 seconds small hops on tip toes.
If you really want to take it to the next level, you can invest in a foam roller and use that for 5 minutes before you begin your dynamic warm-up.
Doing a warm up similar to any of these will make a HUGE difference in how your body feels, responds and performs on the court.
How to warm up your strokes:
If you’ve done your warm-up, your body is feeling great now.
When you get on the court, you’ll want to get your strokes feeling great as well.
If you begin with mini tennis, this is a great time to find your range.
A great way to do that is get a FEEL for your contact point.
Ideally, your contact point should be in the same place every time.
Start very slow and focus on developing rhythm in your strokes and your movement.
For some help on your technique, be sure to subscribe to my free emails and videos.
Tennis is a game of rhythm and movement.
As you move back to the baseline keep your target area large.
Don’t go for the lines or winners.
This is a time to gauge your opponent and see what he/she does well and more importantly DOESN’T do well.
Gauging your opponent
Study your opponent carefully.
Does he/she only like to hit forehands?
Does he/she move well?
Can you out hit her?
Is he patient?
Can she volley?
Is he in shape?
Having answers to these questions will give you a chance to develop a great gameplan.
7. THE PERFECT GAMEPLAN
Generally speaking, do what you do well… and force your opponent to do what he/she DOESN’T do well.
Ex: If she has a terrible backhand, hit it there early and often.
Decide early on if you can beat him/her by just “being steady.”
Does she get anxious and go for a winner she can’t hit?
If so, you may want to hit a lot of balls down the middle of the court, and force her to go for too much.
If your opponent is very steady, you may need to take some risks (come into the net/go for a little more).
If your opponent looks like she just ran a marathon after a 3 shot rally, I’d suggest making her hit at least 4 shots every time.
After you have a solid gameplan, you may need to adjust throughout the match.
Continue to ask yourself in between games/sets if you have a winning strategy.
Always keep a winning strategy and…
Always change a losing strategy.
Continue to adapt and evolve if you need to.
8. PLAY YOUR BEST
After all of the work you put in to be ready and have a great gameplan, you can relax a bit.
It’s time to go out, compete and trust all of the preparation you have done.
Develop the mindset that THIS point is the most important point of the match.
The more you stay in the moment and play your absolute best, the better your chances of winning the match.
For a great ritual for in between points, click here.
HOW CAN YOU CONSISTENTLY IMPROVE AS A PLAYER, WHILE WINNING MORE MATCHES AND HAVE RIDICULOUS AMOUNTS OF FUN ON THE COURT?
These techniques work extraordinarily well when it comes to playing your best during your match.
But you may want more help. Specifically, you may want quick, fun videos that clearly demonstrate the techniques, tactics and strategies you need to keep increasing your skills.
You can get that help by clicking here and signing up for my FREE emails/videos.
I create new videos every week that are designed specifically to entertain you WHILE teaching you
vital skills on the court so you can continue to better your best.