A successful tennis match does not start on the tennis court. Here are 5 helpful pre and post match tips to have better match play results and a more positive experience on court.
1. Physical Preparation Physically prepare your body for the rigors of a tennis match with a proper stretching routine and warm-up. Cold muscles are stiff and not elastic and lead you prone to injuries. Combine stretching exercises that target your hip flexors, quads, arms, and core with light cardiovascular activity to warm up your body. A half mile jog or ten minutes of jumping rope are great choices to get ready for a match.
2. Mental Preparation Prepare for the match ahead mentally by focusing on the things you do well. Now is not the time to harshly criticize yourself or fixate on your weaknesses. Go through the physical, mental, and tactical parts of the game and think about the things you do well. Consider areas of your game that have improved since your last match. Positive thinking will help fuel your excitement and adrenaline for the tennis game.
3. Nutritional Preparation Giving your best at a tennis match is only manageable if you have been giving your body proper nutrition and hydration in the days and weeks leading up to a match. Make sure you are drinking enough fluid in the days leading up to your match and begin your match day by hydrating, increasing fluid intake if the day is very hot or humid.
Your body needs energy-rich, healthy foods to perform well! Load your plate with fruit and vegetables and lean proteins like chicken and fish. Increase your intake of healthy carbohydrates in the days before your match with choices like whole wheat spaghetti or a baked potato. Avoid foods that may upset your stomach like fried food or fast food.
On the day of your match, eat a healthy breakfast with a good balance of healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Feeling hungry will cause you to lose focus! An omelet, toast, and fruit will keep you satiated without making you feel overly full or sluggish.
4. Sleep Preparation Build up your energy by getting enough sleep each night! No one performs at their peak level when they are tired and low on energy. The average adult needs approximately 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Make sure you are getting enough sleep all of the time and not just the night before your tennis match.
5. Proper Recovery After a tennis match, a player needs to warm down. Ride a stationary bike or take a brisk 10 minute walk. This will help remove the lactic acid that has built up in the muscles and will cause soreness or stiffness the next day. Immediate hydration is also important with either water or a recovery-specific type drink. You may not feel hungry after a tennis match, but it is important to replenish your muscles within 30-60 minutes of the end of the tennis match. Known as the “glycogen window”, eating carbohydrates within 30-60 minutes of the tennis match will help refuel your muscles with glycogen.
Finally, address how you might be feeling after a match. There are many emotions involved with a tennis match, a tough loss may have you feeling angry or sad. It is important to address how you are feeling. Doing something you enjoy may help you relax and blow off steam. Reading a good book, going out with friends, or treating yourself to a massage will help!