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Between points, in preparing to return or to serve, you should utilise and benefit from routines. That is by employing appropriate combinations of cognitive and emotional control strategies, you should assume optimal states of physical and mental readiness. Here are some examples of routines for specific situations that arise during the match:
Before the serve
- Use a rhythmic and systematic serving ritual
- Go to the spot from where you will serve
- Adopt a relaxed stance and loosen your muscles
- Take a deep breath and bounce the ball
- Visualise a perfect serve
- Focus on your specific cues on your serve
- Decide the type and placement of serve
- Focus on the ball toss and on hitting up
- Balance the raquet and the arm, and then serve
Before the return of serve
- Keep focussed and know when to activate or relax depending on the situation by observing your opponent
- Use self-talk if needed (motivational: pump up, or instructional: goal related)
- Decide how and where to return; visualise the desired-return
- Take a deep breath and assume a comfortable ready stance
- Focus on the server and the ball toss
Time between games
- This period should be productive and see you use any one or combination of drinking water, towelling off, aligning strings, and deep breathing among other commonly used strategies, to maintain game focus.
- Evaluating, mentally rehearsing and planning tactics should also be completed in this down-time
Time between points
- Jim Loehr developed a routine called the 16 Second Cure. It comprises of a series of short physical and mental exercises within a four-stage response: 1. Physical (as soon as the point ends). 2. Relaxation or Activation. 3. Preparation and, 4. Ritual.
- Slaikeu and Trogolo (1998) developed the 3R (Release, review and reset).
After missing a shot
- Rehearse the stroke positively and assertively, and then move on, completing the rest of your standard between point routine. Keep your mind in the now.
Following a distration
- Take time to settle, put the racquet in the non-dominant hand, visually focus on something “neutral”, breathe calmly, plan the point, activate, move into position and finally complete the serve or return of serve routine.
- When the opponent intentionally delays the game, stop for a second, take a deep breath, and perform your routine again.
from Tennis Psychology – ITF, 2006, M. Crespo, M. Reid and A. Quinn.
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