How do you pre-game for your big match?
Me, personally, I do this to get my mind right:
Music to set the mood. I don’t like to talk to teammates, family members, or opponents before a match. Instead, I listen to music before a match. Some of you can probably listen to classical music and relax. Some of you probably jam out to old motivational songs like “eye of the tiger” or the “rocky theme”. My music of choice before a match is rap. I want to listen to something fast paced, with lots of base, and lyrics that will pump me up. I play tennis like there is a chip on my shoulder. I try my best to get in a mindset of feeling disrespected before a match and rap music gets me there. Never quit, fight for every point and be willing to leave it all on the court win or lose is my motto. Don’t back down from anyone!
Play tennis first, socialize after. This may sound rude, but I’m not there to make friends. I usually arrive 10 minutes before the match to stretch and shake hands with everyone. My goal is to stay away from all the chatter that goes on before a match….like talking about the opponent’s record, who they’ve beat, lost to, whether the other team stacked their lineup, and all that nonsense. I can tell in the warmup and first few games of the match everything I need to identify about my opponent. So many times I’ve seen players lose matches before they even step on the court. They mentally jinx themselves before the first ball is even struck. Very disappointing and I want no part of it.
Look good, play good. Just because I don’t like to participate in small talk before a match doesn’t mean I’m not prepared – mentally & physically. I have multiple racquets, towels, fresh grips, drinks, snacks (our bag check will coming up in a future post) and anything I might need appropriate to the situation (weather, indoor vs outdoor). Hat is turned backwards, shoes are laced up, clothes are comfortable, I’m looking good and I’m ready to win.
Remember coach’s small tips. When I go watch my players compete I try and give simple instruction. You can’t completely change your game pre-match so don’t try! That would be an over-reaction. KISS (Keep it simple stupid). Believe in yourself, trust your preparation leading up to the match and make small adjustments when necessary. Hopefully your coach has given you small, easy to remember tips that you can draw on mid-match. As a coach, before one of my teams plays, I usually have a good motivational speech prepared, and if you go to Nationals, you might even hear me rap.