Getting Stronger Between Points
If you haven’t heard this yet it’s going to blow you away. Only 1/3 of time during a match is spent playing out points. The rest of time is spent picking up balls, toweling off, regaining your breath and getting ready for the next point. If you serve and volley, even less time is spent playing points. In a 2 hour match, less than 30 minutes is spent playing. I want you to take the other 90 minutes and get stronger tactically, mentally, and physically.
How do you do this?
Immediately after the point is over, give yourself positive feedback. Regardless if you win or lose the point, stay positive. What Mikhail Youzhny did was not well utilized time. It only reinforced his weaknesses and set him up for failure. Every player has a breaking point and he succumbed to the pressure after a long and grueling point. If you made a mistake stay positive by saying to yourself, “hat was a great opportunity and I just missed it. That shot will come around again and next time I will make it.” If you made a nice shot or forced your opponent into an error say to yourself, “Yeah!” or “Come on!” These are great reinforcers and a way to stay up in match.
Use this time in between points to evaluate your game plan. Don’t make any adjustments if you are winning the match. Continue to expose and breakdown a weaker stroke if it is working. If your opponent is not in good shape, prolong the points and keep them moving. If your plan is not working, change it up. For example, if the player you are playing is great from the baseline, try coming to the net a few times. They may be great off of the ground but they get uncomfortable when trying to pass their opponent. This little change can disrupt their tempo and game plan enough to swing the match in your favor. This is where you need to be your own “coach” on the court. Analyze what is working and not working and make adjustments.
Steffi Graf was a great champion. She did something that was very effective for her. It was rare for her to take much time in between points when she was playing. She liked to step up to the baseline after a point and get started immediately. This worked for her but it may not work for you. If you just played a long point and are winded, take the time between points to grab a towel, regain your breath and energy, evaluate the point and prepare for the next point. Rafael Nadal is great at this. He controls the tempo of a match and is ready physically for the next point. He does this so well that it can frustrate and get into the heads of his opponents. Novak Djokovic is another prime example. At the Australian Open I counted him bouncing the ball 27 times before one serve. He gets to rest and his opponent is anxiously trying to prepare for his serve. I would not encourage you to bounce the 27 times before serving. It is a bit annoying.