It is a fact that tennis is mostly a mental game, especially at a high level of play. Almost every professional player is fast, strong and have amazing techniques and skills. The difference that separates the champions from the others is the mental strength.
Here are some tips that can help you improve instantly on court and can even be used off court.
Physical and Mental Fatigue
If you have played a full tennis match or watched tennis players in the grand slam, you know for a fact that tennis is long and tiring. When your body starts to get tired, it lets you know by making your legs feel heavy, muscles start to cramp up or ache, joints start to tingle and you start to breathe heavily.
This happens to every single person in the world.
However by the time you receive these signals, it is too late. Your brain tends to let you know what is going on a bit later than your body. Before you know it you are out of mental strength, you start to lose focus and concentration.
You are making more mistakes now than a few minutes ago, It is easy to recognize when you are running low on mental strength. But it is hard to fight it. This is where the best tennis players have an edge over the others.
How can fatigue affect your tennis?
Fatigue has both a physical and psychological aspect.
Fatigue can be an energy and concentration killer.
The physical effects of fatigue are:
- heavy legs
- muscle stiffness
- joint aches
- shortness of breath
- slower reactions
- reduced pace on the ball
- reduced accuracy
- reduced focus
- reduce concentration
- easily angered
While the physical effects of fatigue are a problem, the psychological impact of fatigue can be a killer to your sport performance.
When you get tired towards the end of a match, you often lose focus and concentration. Your mind wanders as you start dwelling on your physical condition.
Not only do you feel lethargic, you focus on the feelings of being lethargic. So during the most important points of the match, you are no longer focused on winning points.
You also start to get irritated easily by even the slightest of things, like a bird flying past, or a bee making a buzzing sound.
Suddenly you’re making mistakes that you were not making earlier in the match.
If you want the edge over your opponent at the end of a match, you need to respond to fatigue in a positive manner. You need to learn how to effectively control this problem.
Control the Controllables.
So how do you prevent mental fatigue from setting in? By controlling what is within your control and knowing what is not.
OK here is a two step exercise that will help combat mental fatigue:First, make a list of the things you truly cannot control. Most are obvious such as the weather, bad line-calls, windy conditions, what your opponent is doing, cheating, etc… You may be surprised at how many things really are outside of your control
Next, make a list of the things clearly under your control, such as your serve, what you are saying to yourself, what you are eating and drinking, time you spend between points, how you react when things don’t go to plan, etc…
How to win the fatigue battle?
- Take control of your game. Between points take a few deep breaths. Deepening breathing will help energize you and improve your focus.
- Never show your hand to your opponent. No matter how you feel, act as if you have a lot left in the tank. If your opponent perceives that you are still energetic, you will gain a mental edge.
- Stay focused on strategy. It doesn’t matter how you feel. Focusing on your feelings is counterproductive. Identify a strategy for each point.
The “fatigue fighter” mentality
Understand that fatigue happens to everyone, including your opponent.
No matter how well-conditioned you are, there will be times when you will feel exhausted during a match.
If you give in to fatigue, you give up your chances of winning the match.
Make a conscious choice to fight through fatigue.
Let fatigue be your cue to amp your game up and go in for the knockout blow. It is the moment of fatigue that you have your opponent on the ropes, so come out swinging.
Try these tips to develop the “fatigue fighter” mentality:
- Tip 1: Practice to the point of fatigue you feel in a long match. If you push more in practice, you will begin to stretch your comfort zone and know that you can still perform despite being tired.
- Tip 2: Practice responding positively to fatigue. During your practice sessions, choose how you want to respond in matches. By responding positively to fatigue in practice, you will begin to condition that response for future matches.
Why Does This Work?
Simply making these two lists will raise your own awareness of what you can and cannot control. The key is to take full responsibility for what they are, and practice letting go of the things you are now aware you cannot control.
This is the best way of conserving valuable mental energy for more important things such as good concentration. So you are now making less unforced errors and winning more games, more sets and more matches. Which will build your confidence.
This is one of the things that separate great athletes from the rest of the herd and allows them to focus even when they are physically exhausted.
Tools to improve footwork
20ft Agility Ladder & Speed Cones Training Set – Exercise Workout Equipment To Boost Fitness & Increase Quick Footwork – Kit for Soccer, Lacrosse, Hockey & Basketball – With Carry Bag & Drill Charts
Crown Sporting Goods Hexagonal Ladder Set, Fluorescent Orange – Plyometric Hex Speed Rings for Agility Footwork Training & Vertical Jump Workouts, Features 6-Rungs of Hexes