Dealing with Pressure During a Tennis Match: Learning to Manage Your Nerves

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Caroline Wozniacki hitting a ball with a racket

Have you been playing tennis for a while? Having trouble managing your nerves? See if this situation seems familiar:

The score is four all, 30 all. You’re serving. You bounce the ball erratically, betraying just how nervous you are. You muster your will to hit a first serve. It goes 50 feet long. You’re gripping your favorite from https://tennisracquets.com/ really tight. Now, it’s time for a second serve. You hit a power puff over the net that barely gets in. Then, you watch helplessly as the serve is return right in the corner out of reach. You’ve been broken. Now that match is in the other player’s hands.

Does that seem familiar? It should. At one time or another, every tennis player has to learn to deal with pressure. It’s a necessary evil. No matter how good you are you will eventually have to produce in a pressure situation. Multiple grand slam champions are known for their ability to handle it. Learning how to handle that type of pressure can help you on the recreation courts, too. If you can learn to manage pressure while making your opponent play under pressure, you’ll win more matches.

The first step in managing pressure is calming down. If you don’t relax, you won’t be able to do anything about the situation. Think about all the time that you’ve seen Sampras down break point. He would relax, steel himself, and rifle off a 111 mph second serve. You won’t be able to perform at your full potential if you are a nervous wreck. Take a couple of deep breaths. Take a little extra time between points to get yourself to together. Play with the strings in your racquet for a second. What does this do? It makes you stop and gives you time to think. Remember, the majority of tennis is mental. If you don’t think, you’re not using you’re most powerful weapon.

Also, recognize what pressure points are. Pressure points are any point in the match that, if won, will tip the match in the winner’s favor. For example, 30-40 is a pressure point for the serve. If they lose the point, they are down a break. And it makes matters worse if it’s later on in a set, or in a match. When these points come up, realize it and deal with the stress. Honestly, a lot of people don’t do that. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll start coming out on top if you just mentally prepare.

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