Tennis match is the real test for any player. All players want to step on the court and use own strengths to play more effectively than their opponents. However, it is easier said than done, and many times players underperform and they are not able to come even close to their regular level of performance from the practice sessions. There can be many reasons of this negative change but the one that mostly decides about the low quality of own actions is the stress. Too much stress.
Every day is a great opportunity to prepare for the next tournament. Players have training sessions that they should use to learn new things, improve weaknesses as also to build strengths that will allow them to get advantage over the rivals. Additionally, they perform physical workouts or even mental consultations to make sure that their body and mind can function optimally when it really counts. If they work really hard, they see the daily and weekly progress in their performance so they are positive about their chances for obtaining good results. However, when it gets really close to their first match, they start to get stressed. They feel stiff, have doubts in the mind and make a lot of unforced errors in the beginning games. Overall, their performance is much worse than it was few days ago while practicing.
Why is the stress so bad? At the beginning, it is important to understand that stress is not a negative thing but its volume can be really detrimental. Actually, stress is a reaction of our body that suppose to protect us from the danger but if it is too much of the stress, it starts to paralyze the player. Even the best players in the world feel stressed before stepping on the court so our job as athletes is not to avoid the stress or get rid of it but rather to be able to consciously reduce the amount of it to be able to function normally. With specific steps, players can control the level of stress and play well from the beginning of the match even when they compete in the final in front of thousands of fans.
How to reduce the stress level before the match?
1. Have plan based on your strengths To be able to play quality match, you have to start doing things before the match that will help you to achieve good performance. You need a plan that you will want to execute against specific rival and that plan should include both your skills and the skills of your opponent. The more you know about your next opponent and the more conscious you are about your strengths and weaknesses, the better performance goals you can set and execute them without thinking about how technically to hit forehand or which serve to use while having 40:30.
2. Do mental routine The most typical reason of underperformance while being under pressure is related to the mental side. If you want to increase the chance for solid performance in the competitive match, you have to prepare for this uncomfortable environment. Dynamic stretching and jump rope take care of your body preparation but the mind decides how your body will be able to function. Use breathing routine and dedicate at least 10 minutes before the match to visualize your performance. These 2 simple steps will significantly reduce the stress level and will allow you to show your opponent how good you really are.
3. Focus on things that you can control The stress occurs because of our automatic biological response but it can go to the much higher level than necessary when the focus is placed on things that players can’t control. Focusing on score, opponent’s ranking spot or the opinion of others are definitely the things that our mind shouldn’t be occupied with. To reduce the stress level, player has to focus on proper preparation, healthy nutrition as well as the equipment needed to perform at own best. Thinking and doing things that can have positive impact on the future performance is definitely a better and more effective solution for stress reduction than sitting and worrying about the probability of making the double fault in the first point of the match.
Tournament can be a great experience but it won’t happen just by luck. To play well and show own best performance, players have to be aware of the challenges that will occur while competing. Stress is definitely something that bothers a lot of players but not many of them know how to deal with it with simple actions. Use tips from this article and observe how your opponent struggles during the first games while you playing with ease and quiet mind.