Preparation is a vital part of playing tennis, so what are the factors that make up good preparation?
Tactics & strategy
A good way of preparation is to use visualisation and imagery, this can help to accelerate preparations for your match.
Visualisation is not some dark art, it is a valid tool that many people use daily. Tennis players sometimes use visualisation negatively, seeing failure and problems. When this happens it is very detrimental to the individual.
What Areas Of Your Game Can Visualisation Help?
When you are learning new shots or improving existing shots, it is good advice to copy a video or your coach. Replay the imagery of the correct way to play the shot in your head and it will help immensely.
Tactics and strategy
When planning your strategy before a game try to visualise how you will hit certain shots. Visualise the correct way to serve, volley etc. Then when you play you will react and decide much faster as you will have already pre-programmed your decisions and movements.
Athletes visualise how high they can jump etc. so a tennis player can also visualise how fast you can be, how not to be tired and how strong you will be in the final set. Mental images have an incredible influence on the body.
Try to imagine you are in the final of a competition and many people are watching, that will help to stop you getting nervous before or during a game, it will alleviate the pressure a great deal.
Visualise potential situations that may happen during a game, and how to cope with them and to defeat them. That way you will respond better when they actually happen, and your brain will respond quicker as you have already played it all out in your mind.
Practise Using Visualisation
Relax and sit down comfortably in a chair, breathe deeply and then put yourself in your mind on the tennis court, try and see the colours. If successful progress on to the shapes of the objects, the net, the chair the fence.
Build this visualisation up, try to hear the sounds that would be familiar on the court, racket hitting ball, your breathing, the noise of other players.
Then try and feel your movement and your strokes, make a volley in your mind and try to imagine how it would feel. Try to feel your own movements about the court.
Finally, try to feel your emotions when you hit a winner, won a match. When you include positive emotions in your visualisation technique it will be far more powerful.
Visualisation can be a very effective technique in the preparation before the game, the more relaxed you are when you practise the better. Try to evoke positive thoughts about both yourself and the match, this will help you to take a good frame of mind into the game and you will feel more confident in your play.