Coaching Tip - January 2011

    Preparing for a match/tournament - A guide for tennis players.

    Your routine prior to a match in either a interclub competition or tournament should incorporate the important aspects such as organisation, sleep, nutrition and physical and mental preparation.

    Just a reminder that the preparation for any match or tournament should start months or weeks before the event but the suggested pre-match routine may be of some benefit.


    The following factors can be used to develop a pre-match routine that will give you complete peace of mind and enable you can concentrate on the game at hand.

  • Prepare your equipment and racquet bag (kit) the night before
  • Check out your racquets and strings and put them in your bag.
    Players have been known to forget their weapons of choice when going to a venue to play a match.
    Make sure that you have included a cap(s), towell and sunscreen and sunglasses if you wear them.
    Ensure your drink bottles (muliple) usually water and a sports drink are full and include a snack for extra energy if required during a long match
    Develop a Check List to ensure that all your equipment is in your bag(s).

  • Organise a time schedule for getting to the match location for a practice hit and/or the match

  • Set your goals for the match and also establish clear strategies and tactics to be used during the match ie your preferred match plan

  • Plan for a good night's sleep
  • Listen to music or watch a movie to help you relax before bed.
    Avoid parties and alcohol and other drugs.

  • Nutrition (Diet)
  • A few days before your match start developing your energy store by including rice, pasta and potatoes in your meals but restrict your intake of pork and beef. You should try to include a meal of fish with vegetables if possible.
    In addition increase your intake of fluids preferably water to keep your body hydrated ready for your match at hand.
    As mentioned earlier when preparing your tennis kit have a snack and sports drink available if you need energy during your match.

  • Physical preparation on match day
  • In your schedule allow time for a warm up prior to your match.
    Off court allow at least 10 minutes as part of your warm up including jogging, shadow work with your racquet imitating the movements involved in match play ie footwork using the sideways shuffle, forward and backward and crossover steps. Include shadow swings with your serving action as well.
    On court your time is limited but emphasize your movements to warm up your legs and all parts of your body during the brief hit up prior to the match.

  • Mental preparation on match day
  • Find some quiet time (away from distractions) before your warm up so that you can focus on the match at hand.
    Concentate on breathing slowly so that it has a calming influence on you and your body.
    In this way you can visualise the match at hand and you hitting the perfect shots thus helping you to achieve a positive outcome.

  • Most players are nervous before a match
  • This is often known as having "Butterflies" in the stomach.
    A good Physical and Mental preparation can help to overcome the butterflies.
    When on court focus on watching the ball so that you increase the level of your concentration and your anxiety will dissipate.

    During the match follow your planned strategies and tactics so that you can focus on your performance rather than the outcome of the match.
    This will help you through the mentally tough periods during your match.

    To become a good tennis player you must develop good techniques, sound tactics and be able to cope with the mental pressure that evolves during a tennis match.

    I hope that the hints above will help you develop these skills.

    Tennis the game of a lifetime

    Contact me by Email if you have any comments or helpful hints re preparing for a match/tournament.
    Let me know the things that work for you.

    Steve James
    HEAD coach