The warm-up is a very important part of match preparation. Your warm-up prior to stepping on court for the match should basically be an extended version of the five or ten minute match warm-up, plus a few other things. This means, hit groundstrokes, volleys, overheads, serves (and returns), and possibly play a few points out. It is fine to start with a little mini-tennis from the service line as well. Keep in mind that the purpose is to warm-up, get your feet moving, break a sweat, and hit some balls. This is not a practice so try not to analyze how you are hitting or make big corrections to errors you may have. In a match, it is best to move on quickly after a mistake and the same is true during your warm-up. Too often players are trying to improve in the warm-up and this often leads to over analyzing and not preparing mentally for an actual point situation. It is human nature to be apprehensive about missing shots in the warm-up but this is not always an indication of what will happen once the actual points begin. Many times the match situation is very different both physically and mentally, which means the good and bad shots you hit in practice may not happen when you are playing and keeping score. Save the practice idea for your time on the court after the tournament, or when the competitive match situation is over. Work on specific things that you know you can improve and give yourself the time to repeat them correctly. This should result in better execution during the match.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Professional, is a Tennis Pro with Traveling Tennis Pros in Tucson, Arizona, the Director of Annacone Tennis, MyHamptonsPro and First Serve Tucson. Steve is also a Volunteer Assistant Coach for the University of Arizona Women’s team. For questions about lessons, clinics, or coaching, please go to our Tennis Lessons Arizona page or contact us.