Control Over Nerves in Tennis
When there is another person across the net from you, whether in warm-up, practice, or a match, it is important to learn techniques for controlling your nerves..
5 Ways to Control Your Nerves
- Warm up properly. Take the time beforehand to get your body moving-do some slow stretches, jog a quarter mile, skip some rope, perform some calisthenics,etc. If you have the time, do this an hour before your time on the tennis court. Your mind and body will benefit from this.
- In pre-warm up on the tennis court with your partner/opponent focus on the ball travelling from racket to racket. The nerves you feel with gradually dissipate as you begin to adjust your timing and your movement in accordance with the movement of the ball. You will find yourself adjusting different elements in your game: i.e. your forehand isn’t as comfortable as your backhand, your not tracking the ball as well as you volley at the net, your first serve is smooth and powerful, etc. By focusing on these your nerves will calm as you focus on putting the different elements of your game together for this occasion.
- Determine your emotional state. Some days you are too relaxed and need to push yourself to perform at a higher level. This causes you to ‘ramp up’ your physical approach and get the adrenalin flowing. Other days you are too nervous and need to take deep breaths and slow yourself down, forcing yourself to a more relaxed state of play. Exercising control over nerves while playing tennis is extremely important.
- Slowly tune out the sounds and action that have nothing to do with your ‘on court’ play. Spectators watching, dogs barking, horns honking, sirens in the distance-all fade away as you submerge yourself in playing your ‘best’ tennis.
- Recognize your level of concentration and your opponents. This will help greatly in overcoming your anxiety at certain times. For example, you go up 5-0 in the first set and are cruising. Your opponent, raising the level of his game, gradually turns his 0 into 1,2,3,4, and then 5 games. By now, and hopefully quite a bit before 5-5, you have realized your opponent is concentrating at a higher level and has found a way back into the match. Instead of letting your nerves get the better of you, at this point, you have to analyze what is happening and find a way to counter act it. Focus of intensity of concentration has much to do with this ‘turnaround’. This could turn into a winning experience for you, or a learning experience, as you grow in your practice/match play.
This blog is just touching on how learning to control your nerves before, during and after practice/match play in tennis, will benefit your having fun playing tennis. I hope you find these helpful and share some of your experiences in ‘controlling’ nerves.