10 Tournament Tips for Tennis Players
- Recharge your battery on changeovers. Don’t watch a lot of the other tennis matches going on so you can detach yourself emotionally and mentally while you aren’t competing. In between your matches, get out of the tournament area when there is some time to do so.
- Do not make the tournament into an “special” event. During practice, you’re active for multiple hours during multiple drills and even some practice match time. So, competing at a tournament for continuous hours is no different. If you can handle practice, you can handle and succeed at a tournament.
- Don’t spend too much time looking at brackets or rankings. (1) All you need to know is what court you’re on. You really don’t need to know the name of your opponents or their seedings because that shouldn’t influence your performance. (2) Over-analysis of brackets leads you to be “looking ahead” and playing “what if” scenarios in your head: “If I make it to the second round I will have to play the #2 seed”. Avoid this type of thinking. (3) Brackets can make the tournament into more of a special “event” which could add more unnecessary pressure.
- Avoid being around negative people/small time thinkers. Upsets happen to even the best teams because everyone can be beat – no one is superhuman! The only person in the building who needs to believe in you is YOU.
- Stay away from people who make you overthink or add pressure (certain team coaches, private coaches, parents, friends, teammates). In some cases you will need to “block out” negative comments from teammates or even doubles partners which would otherwise pull your game down.
- Stay positive and BELIEVE in yourself even when it’s tough to do so. Part of being mentally tough means staying stubbornly positive and optimistic despite adversity. This will result in a clear mind before you compete.
- In between each match, stretch and give yourself time to relax. This will help keep you loose and will lower anxiety from just aimlessly waiting for game time. Thinking too much about your next match in between matches will leave you emotionally exhausted by the time you get on the court for your next match.
- Use warm-ups like you are already playing the first couple of games. Go all out during warm-ups to make sure your muscles and techniques are ready. Make sure your groundstrokes, serves and returns are at full speed by the end of the warm-up. Don’t tire yourself out too much; but do use the warm-up time to get you ready.
- Don’t over or under eat/drink. Be full, but stop when you’re full. You should also be fully hydrated when you compete.
- Stay in the present moment. Don’t look ahead or behind. If you lost or played poorly, move on quickly so that you can stay positive for any consolation rounds. On the other side of the coin, do not celebrate or become too content when you win a match, pull off a big upset, or fulfill/exceed other people’s expectations of you. Just stay focused on the matches ahead of you for that tournament.
Perhaps you just beat a player seeded or ranked higher than you in the tournament. It is easy to become too satisfied with this accomplishment and give in to a lesser opponent in the next round. More commonly, this occurs during matches, where players take a lead against teams/players ranked higher than them, and start to think: “Oh my gosh, I might beat this player”. Their thinking has shifted from the present to the future, and the lead becomes very difficult to close. Always just play the next point!