There are days when you feel like you can beat any opponent. The forehand is outstanding, the backhand is solid and the serve is stronger than ever.
Nevertheless, you sometimes might have days when you want to leave court as quickly as possible. Your opponent beat you in two sets, even though you were sure you could beat him. Everything that worked out great in training didn’t go well in the match.
As tennis players we all know this rollercoaster ride, one time we win more matches and the other time we have to take more defeats. If we look at the most successful players, one thing becomes clear: consistency is the key to success in tennis.
In today’s article you will learn how you can become more consistent in your matches. Here are our 5 tips to help you win more matches.
Many tennis players neglect the first step, which often costs them the match in the end. It is extremely important that you make an exact game plan before every match so that you are not stuck later.
More precisely, you should first consider your strengths and weaknesses. Make a note of what worked particularly well in the previous matches. This is what you will focus on in the next game.
If you already know your opponent, analyse him in detail before the match. You should also try to find out as much as possible about him. This doesn’t have to be the exact serve percentage of the second set of his previous game.
Rather, it is the basic things, such as his playing style. Is he an offensive baseline player or a counterattack player? Is he a right-handed or a left-handed player? We recommend that you ask your colleagues from the club. Maybe someone has already played against him and can tell you about their experiences.
Based on this information you can then build your strategy for the match. You should differentiate between a defensive and an offensive strategy.
First of all, you should imagine how you will place your shots when you hold the upper hand in the rally. Do you like to hit the forehand cross court or down the line? What do you do in case of a drop shot? Then you go through all possible scenarios. You do the same for the defense afterwards.
In principle, it’s helpful if you have a plan B in mind. If your plan A doesn’t work out in the match, you can always resort to an alternative.
Meanwhile we have arrived at the match. The second aspect is all about unforced errors. Of course it’s more fun to finish the rally with a winner, but is that really effective?
Most of the time it is not, because you simply make too many unforced errors. Therefore, the ratio of winners to errors is not optimal for you. For this reason, you should first concentrate on getting the ball into play.
Bjorn Borg was one of the famous players who used this strategy. His goal was to hit the ball over the net once more as his opponent. You don’t have to follow such an extreme style of playing, but you should try to keep the ball in play for at least a few shots.
This gives your opponent the chance to make a mistake. As the rally progresses, you can then gradually increase the pressure on your opponent and possibly finish with a winner.
You have partly dealt with this point in the preparation for the match. Now it is important that you take a look at your opponent during the match. Pay attention to special playing patterns that show up in the rallies.
As tennis players, we are not always aware of this, as we mainly focus on the ball. However, on closer inspection, you will be able to recognise a certain rhythm of your opponent.
He might hit two shots cross court and the third shot down the line. Or you may notice that he is increasingly running around his backhand. The ball toss on serve is also a good indicator for a kick or a slice serve.
Such insights give you a considerable tactical advantage in a match. From now on, you can anticipate the direction of the ball and take up the appropriate position.
In addition to a certain playing pattern, your opponent may show additional weaknesses that you did not expect previously. Most of the time, these weaknesses depend on his form on the day.
For example, if you notice that most of his volleys end up out of bounds, you should try to get him to the net with shorter balls. So make the best possible use of his weaknesses.
At the moment you are in the middle of the rally. Your opponent’s forehand is relatively short and you respond with a quick approach shot. You place the ball so well that your opponent can only hit a high defensive shot.
At this moment, you swing your racket back and prepare for the smash. You follow through and hit the ball out of bounds. After a few seconds, you look at the ball in frustration. You can also see that your opponent is happy about the mistake, which makes you much more angry.
Every player will remember such situations. Suddenly, you are seething with rage inside. The problem is that anger will cause you much more damage.
Now you are so emotionally distracted that you can hardly concentrate on the next rally. And that’s what’s playing into your opponent’s cards. He will notice your mental weakness and take advantage of it mercilessly.
So instead of letting yourself be dragged down by the lost point, you should accept the mistake. You can’t undo it anyway.
It is important that you put your focus on the following rally. Straighten up again, stretch your chest forward and signal to your opponent that you will fight for the next point.
In tennis, the decisive question is not what mistakes you make, but how you deal with them.
Have you ever watched the last Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic? In the fifth set, the situation looked almost hopeless for Djokovic when Federer had two match points on his own serve. But Djokovic fought back and finally turned the match around. What does this match show us?
It makes it clear that you have to play your match through to the end in order to walk away as the winner. Even if you are 5-1 up, for example, you shouldn’t rest on your lead.
Because then there is the danger that you will give away the next points carelessly and let your opponent come back into the game. To prevent this from happening to you, you should treat every point the same and consider it independently of the score.
At the beginning it certainly requires a certain discipline, but over time you will develop the appropriate mentality for this. The best way to achieve your goal is to become aware of your goal in the respective sentence and then proceed point by point to reach that goal.
In the same way you proceed in situations where you are behind. Do not write the sentence down prematurely, no matter how far behind you are. Instead, do your best in every rally. The set or match is not over until the last point is played.