Constant adjustments while analyzing performance during the match

            Tennis tournaments are exactly the same for tennis players what war is for soldiers. Everyone wants to beat opponents and win the battle so players have to prepare for hard work. Professional athletes like Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer need 2-3 hours before the match to prepare so it shows how important each aspect is for the performance. Junior tennis players don’t show the same professional behavior and too often it results in poor playing. 30-45 minutes before the match is a necessary period of time that should be used to prepare physically, mentally and tactically for the incoming battle. What we are doing before the match has a big influence how we play under pressure but it doesn’t guarantee success. In this article, we will discuss important areas that should be considered while playing matches and how we can use them to make crucial adjustments in our game.

            Player-centered approach to practice is a primary way to develop responsibility and ability to solve the problems among our students. Coach saying all the answers is an old technique that doesn’t work well for the players because they are not able to make adjustments on their own during the game. It is important to point out many examples of players who have performed great during the practices but they aren’t able to show the same level of performance while being “on their own” during the tournament’s match. Tennis is a sport where coaching is not possible so player is the only one to make any changes while being under pressure. Without practicing these skills, it is impossible to develop players who will make adjustments while losing the first set or apply different tactic while struggling with weaker opponent. Too many times players lose matches 1/6 1/6 without trying to change anything and it should be a sign that maybe player is too dependent on the coach.

            Players who lose but use different tactics and shots are materials that can achieve good level of performance in the future because they are able to analyze strengths and weaknesses and quickly apply proper techniques to make own chances bigger for winning. Practice is the best time to observe if players take care of own business and try to correct mistakes or maybe they get frustrated and look for the coach to say “magical words”. Before the tournament, coach should explain to players what to look for during the competition and why it is important to be own coach under pressure. Below, I have pointed 2 questions that every player should consistently ask him/herself to follow the tactic and apply possible adjustments.

 

  1. Why am I winning?

 

When winning 4:1 or 3:0, it is important to know why it has happened and what we should continue to do to win the set or match. Many players unconsciously change offensive tactic that has brought them to the lead and replace it with defensive mindset what results in troubles and lost chances. By asking “Why am I winning”, we have to also consider if it happens because of my play or because of the opponent’s performance. If we took a lead by playing mostly to the opponent’s backhand and we clearly dominate the match, we shouldn’t change this strategy because it works and it shows that we have an influence on the rival’s shots. On the other hand, if we don’t do anything special but the opponent has a bad day and misses all the balls, we should continue the match. Taking the lead doesn’t mean that we are going to win the set or match so players have to be aware what factors had impact on a current situation on the tennis court. Armed with this knowledge, it is quite easy to make right decisions under pressure and continue the march for glory.

 

  1. Why am I losing?

 

This question is even more important to ask because it is much more difficult to get out of the slump than to maintain the big lead in the game. When we are losing, we are negative and angry so it is not so easy to think straight and make proper adjustments. Players have to remember that if one player was able to win 5 gems in a row, other player can do it too so fighting and self-confidence have to be present even in the most difficult situation. When the opponent has a lead 5:1 or 4:0, it is a time to start thinking about possible changes in the game. Firstly, we have to understand if the score is a result of our bad play or it is because the opponent performs really well. Discovering that we take too many backhands down the line and choose risky options while being under pressure, we can make adjustments in our game and see how the opponent will respond to the new environment. On the other hand, if the opponent plays well tactically what forces us to make mistakes, we have to find a way to put him/her into more difficult positions and push to play uncomfortable shots. Every time we are losing, we have to take care of business and make adjustments instead of waiting for the luck and drop in the rival’s performance.

 

Lack of coaching possibilities during the tournament puts a lot of pressure on the tennis player. Tennis as an individual sport forces players to make decisions during the match so coach’s job is limited to pre and post-match times. That’s why impact on improving these skills should be put during the training sessions to guarantee the same approach while playing tournament’s games. Preparing the plan before the match is an important base that every player should start with, but we have to remember that tennis is an unpredictable game where constant adjustments have to be made to finish the battle as a winner. Remember that all these advices don’t mean that you have to analyze every lost/won point – use given questions after you have won/lost few gems in a row because it means that something is going in the right or wrong direction.