If you are a competitive tennis player, tennis coach, tennis parent, or tennis strength and conditioner, you know that all the hard work that gets done is ultimately for one reason; Match Play.
The hours that are invested into a player's game should be reflected in how they perform on the court, in tournaments. Attitude, intensity, performance, and results can all be controlled to a large degree by you, so in reality, you dictate how you perform and the results you get.
You are responsible for the outcome!
If we break tennis up into a few areas, we can start to see what is involved in getting you to reach your potential.
- On-court practice - Most players spend the majority of their tennis time practicing. Most players love to practice.
- Tennis strength and conditioning training - Some, but not as many as I would like to see do Tennis fitness training, tennis stretching, tennis agility drills, etc. Most players who follow a structured tennis-specific training program reap the benefits and realize the importance of doing it.
- Tournament play – Competitive players may play up to 20 tournaments a year. Very few actually have tournament protocols that they follow eg warm-up routines, cooldown routines, tennis mental preparation, eating, and hydration. They do the hard work to get there and then in the most critical time are not doing the right things.
So today's blog is about, “Getting the most out of yourself in tournaments”
Today I want to give you some Tournament Tennis Tips on how to get your tournament management on track! Improving in these areas will even help you win more matches!
Have you ever thought about the complexity of tournament management?
Having been a tennis strength and conditioner for over 20 years, I have seen 1000’s players in tournament mode. Warming up, playing matches, cooling down, ice baths, massages, hydration, nutrition, massage guns, managing bodies, dealing with hot/cold climates, I’ve seen it all!
There really is a lot to get right! But it does not need to be complicated, you just need structure and then some basic discipline to get it done.
To be honest, I would say 90% of players are way off getting their tournament management working well for them. It seriously costs you wins and when you think most players work really hard to get the match ready and then to go and drop the ball right at the finish line, it is not good!
Here is an example of what I see;
A player turns up for their match having had a lousy breakfast, having not drunk enough water, there is no mental preparation before they arrive (basic visualization) they feel flat. They sit around for a while getting distracted instead of going over their game plan and what they have been working on in practice.
They then do a slack pre-match tennis warm-up. The match starts and it takes them 3 games to get going, in some instances the first set is a right off. The body language stinks. During the match, they don’t have any coping mechanisms (mental resilience strategies) in place to deal with challenges.
The match finishes and they do no cooldown (stretching, foam roller) they sit down and eat some junk food, and drink minimal fluids (often high sugar drinks). After the match, they often want to be left alone or not talk about the match or what they need to do. You can imagine how they are feeling at this stage! Like crap…..
Am I exaggerating? I may be generalizing, but it is what I see most of the time these days….
You may be someone that is getting most of these areas right or maybe you’re thinking “heck yeah” I need to make some changes…
Tournament Tennis Tips
Here are some basic tournament protocols to focus on when you are preparing, playing, and recovering in tournament mode.
Be prepared – Have your food, drinks, sunscreen, and tennis kit prepared the night before.
Breakfast – Eat a low GI carbohydrate-based breakfast e.g oatmeal with banana or wholemeal toast with avocado. Drink 1 liter of water before you leave the house (sipping on it for over 1 hour).
Visualization – Visualise the day; Your warm-up, your attitude, the matches, your recovery. Be positive at this moment. Take 2-5 min to do this.
Warm-up – Follow specific tennis warm-up. The warm-up should build up in intensity. Your aim should be to walk on court feeling like you have already played for 10min.
Matchplay – Stick with your plan. This should have been worked with a coach. No matter the result you should always gauge your performance on how well you executed your game plan.
Mental Tennis Fitness – During matches you will rarely play your best tennis all the way through and you will rarely have no mental challenges on court. So you need to learn how to cope with these situations. If are not doing anything to improve in this area you are crazy! Check what we recommend here
Recovery – After matches, you should be doing a 2-3 min slow jog or walk, followed by a range of tennis stretches (5-8 exercises) you need to focus on your main areas of tension. Then hydrate, eat something light (carbohydrate/protein-based snack), and stay out of the sun.
This is the time to listen to music, read a book, or chat with friends, but preserve your energy and chill in preparation for the next match. You need to follow your recovery protocols between every match. This is how you keep yourself as fresh and prepared as possible, it’s how you get the edge over those who are not doing anything.
End of Day – After the last match of the day it is best to cool down by walking or jogging for 2-3min. Then I recommend getting out of the venue and heading into your own environment.
Have a shower, eat, and then do stretching, foam rolling, and deep breathing. It is best to do this when you will be in the most relaxed state, this will ensure you get the most of it and will be willing to be more thorough with what you are doing. Other options for recovery are; massage, ice bath, hot bath. In reality, most people won’t have access to this. But they are great options that all have big benefits.
Other Tennis Tournament Tips
Focus on your goals – You should have goals set that you are trying to achieve, it is important when in tournaments to keep coming back to these goals to help keep you disciplined and focused.
Don’t get caught up with what everyone else is doing – It is easy to get distracted and lose focus in tournaments, you should be aiming to have a good time and enjoy the event, but stay focused on your goals and that should help determine what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
Keep it positive – No matter how you are playing, keeping a positive mindset will always give you the best outcome. It is hard at times, but self-talk and positive affirmations will help keep you upbeat and as motivated as you can be. The other option of negative self-talk and poor body language is always going to lead to a bad outcome! Do what’s best for you!
To play well consistently in tournament mode takes discipline, preparation and focus. Only a few get it right, be the one that rises up in tournaments and gets better the longer the tournament goes.
We are currently working on an online tennis mentorship model. It is going to run for 12 weeks and it is open for anyone that wants to grow as a tennis player, coach, or parent. Over 12 weeks people will learn; how to best structure their on-court / of court training, how to train for tennis (strength, agility, endurance, speed, core, etc), what to eat and drink for tennis, mental fitness training, recovery techniques (foam roller, stretching) tournament protocols, meditation, and tennis breathing. Look at it as an interactive, hands-on learning experience. By the time applicants get through the 12 weeks, they will have learned how to be a more complete and confident player, with the skills and knowledge foundation to use forever.
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My hope is that you learned some basic tools to use in and around tournaments today. What I encourage you to do, is read over the blog again quickly, jot down some notes on what you can do better during tournament mode, and start applying them as best you can. It is a process of finding what works best for you. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will be feeling better and playing better in matches!
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