Mental side of Matches

This past Friday, I had my first legitimate match in years.  Now I have to preface this with the fact that my friends had hyped up this guy, going on and on about how good he supposedly was.  Well I knew I couldn’t listen to people who don’t play really play tennis, but nonetheless, the trash talking and ego smack started coming out.  I have to admit, it got to me, because I found myself on Friday nervous as hell.  However, in the warm up, I could clearly hit better than this guy, but for whatever reason, my nerves wouldn’t go away.

I wasn’t sure if I was nervous about the outcome of winning or losing, but I certainly wasn’t playing the way I normally do, and it was evident in all parts of my game.  However, this got me thinking, what does it mean to really be match ready?  A lot of people forget how many “parts there are to their game”.  Case in point, I needed a lot of practice in my return of serve, and my net game.  Both of which used to be strong points in my game at one point, no longer were they there to help.  All they did was contribute to the unforced errors category.

So I ask you, how ready do you think you are for a match:

- How’s your footwork?  I found myself not moving well again because of my nerves.

- How’s your return of serve?

- How are your volley’s?

- How are your approach shots?

- How are your backhand overheads?

All of these made me realize that while I can hit really well in general, I was certainly not match ready, especially for the mental side of a “hyped up match”.  Interestingly enough, I’m now looking forward to a 2nd attempt at playing this guy because I know that I won’t be nervous and I will have broken through whatever block I put out there last time.

Think about how you feel before and after a match the next time you play…

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