Sunday, May 18, 2014


Okay, spring tennis is in full swing! I have discovered you need tactics especially in singles to have a chance for a win, and if nothing else then a really great match.

As for myself, I have a 50-50 standing in my singles wins and losses this season. Before it is over toward the end of June, that gives me 4 more weeks, I need to really assess my game and what I need to do.

No easy feat! Seriously, how does one improve?  

I am working on nutrition, less breads, no sugar, I have to quit caffeine coffee in the morning again, just one cup makes my heart pound in initial games of set 1. Not good, it goes away but is a worry and simply not worth the favored aroma first thing in the morning. Back to green/black tea! I like the Stash brand of green/black, mild caffeine level, no jitters!!

Strawberries have now replaced the multi-grain bread, and oatmeal mixed with slivered almonds and cinnamon remains a staple before morning matches. This combination stays with me for a 2 hour + match.

Stay hydrated!  Days before a match prepare for optimum hydration.  Sounds mundane, but cumulatively your body will thank you for it. On court, I have been drinking ice water, but may change this.  Sports drinks can taste too heavy, but sometimes too I mix water with Gatorade, and use a bit less of the ice.

As singles matches tend to be long, up to 3 hours even, I pack in my bag the following~

A banana, grapes, bag of almonds. That is enough, and can break up negative momentum between points. This can serve as a tactic!

The Tactics

1.  Know thy game! Create a SWOT analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats on the court. 

Strengths. These can be~ An intimidating presence. Knowing thy opponent's game.  Obviously your best shots, forehand, backhand, serve and volley, a strong consistent serve. Great legs and light on your feet foot work. Clear lungs, you must breathe properly.

Weaknesses. These can be~ the opposite of your strengths.  Also, not acknowledging you have weaknesses, hubris can really get in your way of an honest reality check. To learn these, after a match talk to your opponent as to what happened out there, and give honest feedback to her as well. These post match chats can go a long way in improving your game.

Opportunities.  These can be~ Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and how best to manage them in a competition. We compete to improve our tennis game.  One way is to play down. Yes, get rid of your ego and play weaker players.  This tactic  will allow you the opportunity to identify your strengths and weaknesses, you will simply see more on the court.  Also, conversely play a stronger player. You will not identify your strengths, her level of play will offset your wonderful strong abilities, however, a strong player will readily identify your weaknesses. She will go to your weaknesses to win the match. Period.  

Take note of how your opponent is winning, and then work on converting your weakness into a strength. For instance, if the points are long and your game breaks down after you hit 5 times from the baseline, try to shorten the points- get to the service line after shot 3. Set up the shot from shot 3 at service line to put away as your next shots of 4 and 5. This tactic may not work every time, but will give you control of the court and your game. Plus,  it will take your opponent out of her comfort zone. 

Threats.  A major threat to all players is a lack of self confidence. Time and again I see this illusion creep into people's games, my own too, but we must all remember that we have played well in the past, we train, we are strong, and it is silly and also a weakness to think we cannot perform well. So, this incorrect thinking is really not a threat at all, and your new realization has now converted to a strength! Go figure!!

Other threats can be the physical environment~ you do not have the training of playing outdoors in wind and sun, you prefer clay court to hard court, you are not comfortable with your new tennis racquet or the strings are not to your liking.  In these instances, just get on with your game and try your best.  No excuses, remember your opponent has the same circumstances, and if any of these external factors continue to work against you, get out there and practice in those environs.  

In Summary.  The SWOT analysis provides a framework for improvement.  Notice that the goal is to convert weaknesses into strengths, threats into opportunities.

2. Play tennis like a chess game.  Yes, know your moves! Personally I need to do this more, but through creating your SWOT analysis, you will be able to construct scenarios that suit your style of play.  What I have discovered, is that at the higher levels, you must have some plays that work for you especially under pressure. The high level player will not let you simply make a great shot and win the point, she will return it, even place it better, then what? You have to be prepared for at least 3 shots of your own to create a winner.  Sitting on laurels does not stand up here! 

3. Some really informative links for you~

I love Jeff Salzenstein Tennis, and have several of his tutorials on tennis play.  Jeff gives you stroke production for left handers and right handers, body stance and mechanics, and walks you through step by step on how to optimize your shot production.  Over time, you will improve and if following correctly will minimize injury, and thus get so much out of this game. 

Jeff is passionate for his sport, and his instruction is hands on! He also gets into the wholeness of the sport, as in nutrition, mindset, the cumulative value of practice, practice, practice!!!

This tutorial on the inside out forehand has it all.  Using this shot as a weapon will put you on the map of being a serious player, and Jeff gets you there! Jeff was on the ATP tour for 11 years and shares his knowledge with the rest of us tennis aficionados. As a spectator I remember Jeff on the tour, and so loved his playing then as I do now.  How fortunate for all of us to benefit from Jeff's love of the game.  

That in and of itself is a huge tactic, love what you are doing and you will automatically be loose!

For the mental aspect of the game, I gravitate toward Jeff Greenwald.  I have his book from Amazon entitled The Best Tennis of Your Life, 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance~

available at Amazon
Jeff Greenwald also has motivational tapes to get you "in the zone," and stay there!

Another link that I find quite useful, regarding the actual game play of tennis singles, is from, Singles Tennis Strategy.

And yet another, is from, A Strategy of Success: How to Win Singles Tennis Matches.

In Summary

Systematically incorporate these components into your singles game.  A wonderful tactic~ absorb and implement all the information out there that you can, then find a way to make it work! get that SWOT analysis running, really take a hard look at your game and your capabilities.  

In the middle of spring tennis now, I had a great start, then my numbers faltered, so I am here now with you my readers to keep forging ahead, improving, and instilling a true love of the game.  Only then will results consistently appear. 

And they actually already have, as compared to my skill level and record last year. It is important to keep the big picture in mind.  So, right now, one step at a time, practice, think, research, visualize, be positive (of course you can do this!) and appreciate the huge gift of being on a tennis court and competing with some really great players!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment