3 reasons why players can’t play up to their potential during the tournament

We all have different goals why we play tennis. It can be improvement or socialization but tennis as a sport has only one ultimate goal – to win the match. If you are able to perform at the same level during the competition as you do while training it means you are really good. There are many players who practice well but they are not able to come even close to this level while playing under pressure. Is it possible to change that? Of course. Can you do it on your own? Yes! What do you need to play well during the tournament? This article and inner motivation.

There are many reasons why tennis tournament is the real test on any player’s skills. It doesn’t matter what you did few days ago on the tennis court if you are not able to repeat it when it really counts. Playing against different opponents, competing in unknown environment or dealing with unfriendly audience are just few examples why our game can break down. What connects these factors is one thing: it is not controllable. We can’t control who we are going to play as well as we can’t have an influence on audience behavior. That is why we should take care that all the areas that we can control are prepared perfectly so we don’t put additional stress on our body and mind.

Many players come well-prepared to the tournament venue just to waste everything by committing some serious mistakes that cause drop in performance. Knowledge about these factors is the first step to avoid these setbacks but without inner motivation to change it you don’t have a chance for the final success. If you combine theory with practice you will discover that it is not so difficult to play your best game even when it is final of the most prestigious tournament in your country.

By working and travelling with many players I have experienced many situations when my players lost their matches because of few small actions. I would like to share with you these mistakes because it is much more effective to learn from others’ mistakes. These failures are:

  1. Changing your daily routines

Your body clock is automated by your daily actions so it functions the best if you don’t change anything. It simply means that if you wake up every day at 7 o’clock your best performance is possible if you do the same during the tournament. Too many players adjust their wake up time according to their first match schedule. If it is scheduled at 10 they will wake up at 7. If they are scheduled at 4pm they will have a nice sleep and „rest” more. This is not a proper approach. Real athletes always get up early so better get use to it. Wake up every day (on and off the tournament) at the same time and you will make your chances much bigger to perform at the same level no matter what.

  1. Lazy preparation for morning hitting

Many tournaments offer free tennis courts for practice before first matches start. It means that athletes only possibilities to hit some balls are between 7 to 9 am. It is sad to see so many players getting on the court still yawning and starting hitting the balls after „intense” 2 minutes warm up. Remember – proper warm up decrease the risk of injury and increase your level of play. If you don’t prepare your body and mind before hitting session you won’t get a lot from this on-court time. Learn from the best players in the world. They always check-in 30-45 minutes before the practice to prepare. They know how valuable this practice is for their match as also they are aware that cold body can make you stop playing tennis for months if you get injured.

  1. Poor time organization

It is easy to play first or second match of the day because you don’t have to wait for your battle. Completely different story is the fact that your match is scheduled not before 5 pm. This scenario shows players’ ability to organize their time. Unfortunately too many of them don’t have these skills at all. They watch their friends’ matches sitting in the sun, they run and have fun with peers, and ….. they lose their own match. If you want to perform your best during the tournament you have to learn how to adjust your schedule to your match. If you play afternoon, take care of morning hitting session and make sure that you have plenty of rest in your hotel (or at least in shade). This is what pro players do. They travel around the world but they don’t have too much time to sightsee because they mostly switch from hotel to court and back to hotel. Learn from it. Organize your time and your game will be organized too.

So these are 3 major areas that can increase or decrease your level of performance. Tournament is what you were working for so don’t waste all the effort with one small detail. There are many external things that already put a lot of stress on us so it is not smart to add another amount of pressure on ourselves. Learn from professional players, act like professional player, and win like professional player!


Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 100 ITF and WTA/ATP players. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.


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