If you have jumped into the tennis world, you have probably fallen in love with the sport very quickly. While tennis can be challenging and very strenuous on your body, it is a great form of exercise and a way to release your competitive side. Of course, there will come the time when you need to compete against others beyond a simple match and join an upcoming tournament.
How do you prepare for your first tennis tournament? Every tournament will be a little different, and your exact experience will differ from others, so we will discuss some tips to keep in mind before your first tournament arrives. To make preparing for the big day easier, I have divided up the tips into three main categories:
- Preparing for Your Tennis Tournament
- 10 Ways to Improve Your Tennis Performance Skills
- 10 Things Not to Do During the Tournament
It can be easy to overthink your upcoming tennis tournament to the point where you are extremely nervous. However, following these tips can help you feel easier about your upcoming event and your preparation level. Researching what to expect at a tennis event is also a great way to feel at ease and know more about what will happen.
Preparing for Your Upcoming Tennis Tournament
There are a few things you should keep in mind to prepare leading up to the tournament and the day of the event. You want to ensure that your mind and body are ready for the big day and that you are ready to perform. Unfortunately, too many individuals wait until the last minute to begin preparing for their big day, but it is important to start thinking about the tournament at least a week in advance.
Prior to the Tournament Starting
- Schedule practice matches. One week before your tournament, you want to schedule a few practice matches with individuals who are similar in skill level to you or those that you can beat. This is a good way to get easy practice and build your confidence. You never want to over practice, but a few good matches are always a smart idea.
- Take time to rest. A couple of days before the tournament, you should lay off competing in any practice matches or doing any serious training. You want to be well-rested and give your body a break before the big event. Some tournaments can last hours, and you do not want to feel worn down before it even begins.
- Light workouts as the day approaches. The day before the big event, any workouts you do should be very light and try not to overwork any one muscle group, the last thing you want is to be overly sore the next day. If it is possible to get a hitting session in at the tournament site, this is a good idea to increase your comfortability. Remember to take things easy and do not overwork yourself!
- Feed your body and ease your mind. Throughout the day, make sure you are eating regularly and eating plenty of water. Try to eat healthily but enough to feel full and ready to perform. Try to ease your mind by reading, watching a movie, going for a light walk, etc. Make sure you get plenty of rest!
The Morning of Your Tournament
Even if you have an early morning match, you want to wake up a couple of hours before the event begins. This guarantees that you are fully mentally aware and that you are ready for the event. It can be beneficial to do some light stretching and may even a walk or run to loosen up early on.
A couple of hours before the match, eat a light meal that is going to keep you full throughout the day. Now is not the time to experience a new food that you do not know how will affect your stomach. Simply eat a filling, carbohydrate filled meal that will boost your energy and keep you full. Do not overeat as this can make you sluggish or even sick once you start running!
Always drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. It is not recommended to drink milk or other dairy products; these can be heavy on the stomach. Some juices or electrolyte drinks should be fine. Make sure you arrive at your match around an hour early and ready to play.
Right Before the Big Event
About thirty minutes before your match, you will want to do some stretching and warm-up exercises. Do the same routine that you would normally and do not try any new movements that can harm you. Do a few loading and unloading drills with a partner, coach, or against a wall nearby. Warm-up, but do not overwork your body, practice each stroke a few times and move on.
If you find yourself hitting badly or not feeling sharp from the drill, you need to take a break and relax a few minutes. Some feel better with a short jog to release this nervous energy. If you begin feeling negative about your abilities, simply stop and postpone your warm-up a little or do something else.
A few minutes before your event starts, take some time to have a little inner reflection and a personal pep talk. Often, taking a minute to yourself can help you ease your mind. Make sure that you think over your goals of the event and hype up your confidence. Go into the event feeling at ease with whatever results happen but confident in your personal abilities.
10 Ways to Improve Your Tennis Performance Skills
Now that you know more about what to do on the actual day of your event, there are a few things you can keep in mind to guarantee your performance is top-notch. While you probably are on a team or have a coach, there are some things that you can keep in mind to improve your overall performance. Some key tips to improving your tennis performance are:
- Get the best tennis racket: the first step to guaranteeing you have the best performance possible is to use the absolute best gear for your budget restraints. You will want to try out several tennis rackets and guarantee that the one you choose matches your body and grip size. If you have the ability to try several rackets prior to any big events, this is key so that you know using the best racket possible for your needs.
- Get plenty of practice: while you should limit your practice around the tournament, you will want to ensure you are putting in plenty of practice time. The best players spend years practicing and fine tuning their abilities. Work to keep your skills on point and not to lose your abilities. Always practice at home or even in winter.
- Work with a quality coach: the best way to improve your abilities is to find a coach that can help you improve your skills and find areas that need further help. Even if you are on a team, it can help to pay for extra lessons or ask your coach for additional training sessions. If you have an area you are struggling with, getting extra help before the tournament is key.
- Practice your warm-up and cool down: prior to your big tournament, make sure you have a good warm up and cool down routine in place. You will want to ensure you are fully stretched both before and after the event. If you do not have this routine memorized and perfected, you can miss important areas.
- Perfect your swing: unfortunately, when put under pressure, it can be challenging to remember what you have learned. If all else fails, ensure you have a good swing that fits your needs. This swing should be at around waist height.
- Work on your speed: when you begin performing in tournaments, you are not as likely to know what you are going up against. Even if you have performed well against teammates, you do not know how fast your new opponents speed may be. You want to be prepared to take on anyone by working on your speed around the court and perfecting your footwork.
- Improve your stamina: going hand in hand with speed, you have to have good stamina when it comes to performing properly at your first tournament. Unfortunately, many are not physically ready for their first tournament because this requires you to have immense stamina. Before your big event, you want to ensure that you are practicing and pushing yourself, building up this stamina level.
- Work on your grip: similar to your swing, if you have a good grip in place, the muscle memory will serve you well once you are in the middle of your tournament. You will want to work on the different types of grips you need to perform each swing well long before the actual tournament begins. Try to stop any bad habits before they become a habit.
- Stay hydrated: while staying hydrated leading up to your tournament and during it is key, you also want to get used to drinking water long before this. You will never want to allow yourself to get thirsty or feel dehydrated. Also, you may want to grab a few snacks to bring along to big practices, matches, and especially tournaments.
- Approach your tournament one point at a time: do not get so focused on what you have done wrong at the beginning of a match and focus on the point that is currently at hand. You want to work on handling your emotions well while you are playing so that you do not get too frustrated or angry while you are playing. Even if you are ahead, you do not want to get too excited and get too comfortable.
10 Things You Should Not Do
Just as there are things you will want to keep in mind prior to and during your tournament, there are things that you should stop worrying about when it comes to tennis. A few things you want to avoid while preparing for your upcoming tournament and while performing are:
- Do not doubt yourself: the biggest problem with tennis tournaments is that you can easily begin to doubt your abilities, especially if you do not start off strong. If you are feeling negatively leading up to the event and during your match, you want to push these bag feelings aside and focus on what you know you are good at. Know that as long as you are putting in 100% effort and you remain confident; you will not leave disappointed in yourself despite the outcome.
- Do not forget to fuel your body well: while you do not have to be a on a strict diet, you should always be fueling your body with the best foods possible and this can lead to better performance. You want to fuel your body especially well around your tournament and during if you begin to feel like you are losing steam. Try to avoid eating overly fattening or greasy foods while training for tennis events, these will only leave you bogged down. Keep a light snack in your bag if needed.
- Do not forget important gear: you want to have everything that you need for your tournament prepared in advance and do not forget any important gear that you could possibly need. Making a list of the things that you need for your tournament in advance and having that list readily available when packing your bag can help make you feel at ease. Try to avoid forgetting the little things like an extra grip and a drink, as these can come in clutch when you are heavily competing.
- Do not forget to warm up: if we have not mentioned enough how important it is to warm up prior to competing, once again, do not forget to warm up for your match. You want to ensure that you are at least setting aside five to ten minutes to warm up for your tournament. Warming up can help you start your tournament as strong as possible and can help improve your performance throughout the event.
- Do not look at the draw: while it can help you prepare to know who you are competing against, you do not want to get so caught up on the next match that you do not perform well in your current match. You can briefly look at the draw and see who you would be playing next, but do not obsess over this. Often, if you believe the next competitor is better than you, it can cause you to overthink and perform worse than if you had not looked at the draw.
- Do not rush to your match: you want to wake up and get ready for your match in plenty of time so that you do not feel rushed once you arrive. This is especially true if you are going to your very first tournament, as you do not want to get there late and miss out on having time to get comfortable. If you arrive after your match has started, you can get penalized and it can cost you significantly both mentally, physically, and your final score is affected.
- Do not skimp on sleep: it is critical that you get enough sleep before your big tournament and that you feel well rested leading up to your performance. While it can be nerve wracking to have a tournament the next day, you want to ensure that you are as rested as possible so that you do not have decreased focus, motor skills, or energy levels. However, you want to make sure that you go to bed early and wake up in plenty of time to prepare for your day.
- Do not get overly confident: while you can get excited for your tournament, you also want to ensure that you are not getting overly confident, and this confidence leads you to not take your event seriously. You want to get amped up for the big day but still keep a level head when it comes to what you want to achieve and how you should perform. Once the match is underway, you do not want to get ahead and get so confident that you allow your competitor to sneak up on you. Overall, work to play confidently but smartly.
- Do not forget to drink water: once again, another tip that you cannot hear or listen to enough is the importance of staying hydrated as much as possible. You want to drink water before, during, and after your match to guarantee you are functioning at your utmost level. Your muscles need water to properly function and if you are not hydrated you will not perform at your best. Find a water bottle that you love and make sure that you are taking it with you to every event!
- Do not lose focus: leading up to your tournament, it easy to think you have weeks to improve your abilities and practice, but these will go by faster than you think. You want to ensure you are giving yourself plenty of time to prepare and practice up for your big day. You want to remain focused on how you are hoping to perform and do your best to reach these goals. Most importantly, if your first tournament does not go how you had planned, you want to make goals to do better next time, work towards these goals, and let any failures from the first event go.