Rhythm is the key!
Badge Playoffs are upon us! And anxiety rises for
most players as match time approaches!
Playing finals tennis brings out the best and the worst in players.
And if you can’t control the adrenaline, your nerves will freeze
your legs and breathing, while encouraging you to try stupid shots (e.g
drop shots), thus ensuring you play "brain dead". What was easy to do
suddenly isn't so easy. And it happens at all levels of tennis!!
Fortunately, there is a simple answer which you might have noticed
when you’ve watched any of the top 10 men or women play. They all
have ‘rituals’ before each point/game. For example The Joker often
bounces the ball 10 or more times on big points. For us mortals, a
better word to understand ritual, is “rhythm”.
Whether you realise it or not each of us enjoys playing at a pace or
speed that is most comfortable to us. And clearly with the pressure
of finals tennis, there is an overwhelming tendency to want to
change this. And particularly so if you’re playing a team that has
given you difficulty before in either play or court attitude! This
is one of the few times it’s sometimes better to be the underdog!
Instead of focusing on your own anxiety, if you’re smart you can
feed off the other team’s anxiety to calm your own nerves. From time
to time, glance down the court: the dead give a away is the "stunned
mullet" look! And you can do this without having to change your own
game – which is tough to do at the best of times let alone in
Above all, don’t forget to “breathe’. You’d be surprised how many
players hold their breath under pressure!
Lastly, remember the secret of the game: “the person who hits the
ball over the net and into the court the last time, wins the point”.
In tie breakers this translates to first serve, first return and
first volley to make sure you get into the point. After which your
rhythm will naturally kick in and take over.
(c) Rob Muir USPTA
January 08, 2017