Playing a tennis match during the tournament is always exciting. Players draw the opponent and they have to show better performance on a given day to advance to the next round. To win the tournament, players have to beat 5 opponents but every opponent will have exactly the same task to achieve: to beat us. Knowing that, players have to be ready for physical and mental challenges that will happen during the match to never give up and always fight for the win up to the last point.
Tennis is one of the sports that official coaching is not allowed during the matches. There are some exceptions to this rule like ITF tournaments or ATP Cup but on a daily basis, players have to decide on their own what to do after every point and they are the only ones who will have to deal with all the effects of own actions. Because of this format of competition, good tennis coaches always try to make players self-assess own game and be responsible for tactical adjustments to make sure that players will never find themselves on the court without a clear plan for the next points. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done and players, who are underperforming and losing, have a negative body language and look at the coach for possible solutions to get. That’s definitely not the most effective way of competing.
“What can I do”? That’s the question that every coach doesn’t want to hear from his player. “What can I do” is more than just the words. This sentence shows the overall mindset and the feelings of the player. Player, who says these words, is focused on his difficult situation but doesn’t try to look for solutions to get out of the slump. He thinks that he has tried everything and the opponent is just too good on a given day. That’s not true. Tennis is a dynamic sport where everything can change in few minutes. Including the fact that there is no time-limit in the match, until the last point is won by the opponent, we have always a chance to change the momentum and win the match.
How to avoid the state of “What can I do” mindset?
- Remember that you can control a lot of things during the match
- Be responsible for your game and results
- Analyze the previous points and be aware of how they have ended
- Understand if “you are losing the points” or if “the opponent is winning the points”
- Be aware of opponent’s weaknesses and try to put more pressure on them
- Use different factors (spin, direction, trajectory, power, consistency) to put opponent into more difficult situations
- Take full time between the points to prolong the match as well as to have enough time to plan everything
- Always have a plan for the next points based on the previous actions - not on the emotions
- Have positive mindset
- Focus just on one point at the time
- Always believe that you can win
Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are great examples of athletes who never give up. Even while playing poorly, they always fight to the end and believe that they are one decision away from getting on the right way to win the match. Tennis is a mental game and good performance starts from the thoughts - if the mindset and attitude are right, it is much easier for the body to function effectively and help player execute strategy with high quality. It is important to understand that points in tennis last much shorter than the breaks between the points so using the time after the point is finished should be priority for any player to relax, understand own situation and prepare conscious plan to never stop doubting in own chances for the final win.