Building a strategy for match success
We talk pre-match sprints, picking a theme song, clarifying your strategy, and the power of visualization
The crazy thing about tennis is how close the matches come down to. It's literally not done until the final point.
So we believe it's all about making micro advantages over your opponents - sharpening your blade sharper than theirs so you can edge out that one extra point.
At Vacation we are on the front line figuring out how we can all make improvements - so let's take a look at the things we are doing around here to prep to play the best tennis possible.
And yes, you can do it too.
The Monday Grind
After the close nail biter of a match last week, we looked back at the match and defined what worked and what didn't work. Knowing exactly what we needed to work on, we hit the ground running, literally.
A weapon I am building is the physical game. I want to out-run, out-grind, and out-last the competition.
Tennis is no doubt a physical game so before the hitting session on Monday, I did a good 40 minute run with speedwork. After getting a good solid warm up I did a series of interval sprints and short bursts to shock the legs and spike the heart rate.
You can go heavy on these ones, these are where you make gains. Makes you feel fast, makes you feel alive.
The Monday evening practice session was what we all live for - the perfect 70 degree weather, sun shining through the trees, great court conditions, and a great buddy to hit with.
After blowing that 10 point tiebreak last week we did a couple rounds of practice 10-pointers to get comfy with the length of them.
The day before the match
On Wednesday, the day before the match, I headed to the city courts to practice with one of my teammates who I've never played with before. This would help keep both of us on our toes not knowing what our playing style was previous to it.
Being at a different facility, it helps get you used to changing court conditions, sun, wind, and distractions.
It was another amazing warm day - everyone was out playing tennis. After showing up early and doing a nice on court warm up, we played an 8 game pro set then a 10 point breaker. Didn't want to go too heavy though, need to save some in the tank for tomorrow - match day.
I followed up the session with a full body stretch - something I've been adding to my routine that is helping a lot. Yeah it sucks, but try it and feel the benefits yourself.
The day of
On Thursday a couple hours prior to the match I went out for a pre-match warm up to get the body moving. To get loose I hit the grass field and did a series of high knees, butt kicks, side steps, and footwork, then did some speed bursts to get the blood flowing and legs moving.
This is a page out of the book from my old cross country running race days where the coach would make us perform short full-speed bursts prior to the race. It gets your heart rate going, blood flowing, and gets you used to your speed - your race pace.
In this case, we are doing sprint bursts to get us used to the feeling of flying around court, and give the legs a warning that it's about to go down.
The goal of these isn't to tire you out, it's to make you feel light, fast, and fit before the match. They make you feel good and confident that you're ready to go.
It's all about gaining that edge over your opponent.
I follow up the prematch warm up with a full body stretch and range of motion test. This helps you get comfortable with the current state of your body and exposes areas you need to be careful of not overdoing.
Clarify your strategy
This is also a great time to take a few minutes and mentally confirm your strategy and game plan for the match. Make it clear so you can easily go to it at all times. My current strategy is:
Drill to their backhand - Just grind it down until the very last point.
Execute my serve strategy every single serve - Focus on that only.
Be patient - We're in it for the long haul.
Apply pressure on 2nd serve returns - Not winners, pressure.
Have a good, fun, enjoyable match. At the end of the day we are playing tennis and it should be fun. This right here is really important because it will calm the nerves and get you to a good place - where you can focus on playing good tennis.
Pick an inspiring theme song to go to in your head to get you back on the right track during the match. For this one we are getting into a hustle mindset and going with Monday to Monday by Saba.
Daydreaming is a good thing
Another thing to add to the pre match routine is mentally rehearsing strokes.
Picture yourself hitting that short ball clean and confidently. Picture a low one, then a high one. Do it again.
Mentally play out an entire point, as if you were watching a replay of yourself.
You can build confidence in your shots and strokes using these visualizations without even being on court. Try it.
Stay tuned for the full match report
We want all this to be on the record so we can go back and figure out what is working and what we need to tweak.
With my strategy set, my head in the right place, and my body prepped for battle - I'm headed off to the courts.
Remember, tennis often comes down to the very last point and it's the small things that can add up to big victories. So what weapons will you be polishing for your next match?
We'll be back for the full match report and analysis.
Until then, good luck out there.