90 seconds that can make you a winner
It is surprising for all players when they understand that tennis is the game of breaks. When they play on the court it looks like activity doesn’t end but the real face of tennis is completely different. When 2 players compete on the court, there is significantly more time without playing the points so at the same time players have a lot of breaks. Top players use these breaks to improve own performance and get advantage over the opponent.
At different levels and at different surfaces playing time lasts from 10% to maximum 25% of the total match time. It simply means that for 2 hours match, players run and hit the ball only from 12 to 30 minutes. It is hard to believe that knowing how tired players are after the match but that is the reality. Breaks between the points and games happen over and over again so it should be priority for competitive player to learn how to use this passive time to improve quality of own actions when the ball is in play.
There is a big difference between thoughts and actions between players at beginner or intermediate levels and athletes who participate in Grand Slam tournaments. Top players are aware of the demands of competition and they know that they have to use every opportunity to keep own performance at the highest possible level. (Read here what kind of questions pro players ask themselves to play their best every time). Unfortunately when we watch matches on TV, breaks between the points are filled with commercials so spectators at homes can’t really see how players approach this passive but important time. That is why it is helpful to travel to tournaments if possible and learn little details that can make a lot of difference in our own game.
Break after 2 games, that allows for sitting and resting, lasts 90 seconds. It has to be enough to take care of your body and mind and prepare for the next 2 games when you will be competing. This 90 seconds period should help you to make some changes if you are losing or to help you to maintain good performance while having a lead. If you want to be successful tennis player you can’t only practice shots and decisions – you have to also practice skills that you can use more often than your shots.
Every successful break between the games should include:
Hydration (+ energy intake)
Even the playing time is quite short in comparison to the total match time, still it is really big effort for the body and mind. The human’s body can function optimally only when it has proper amount of water inside so that is why top players always hydrate during the breaks. You should never wait until you have dry mouth – if you do, you are already dehydrated.
A lot of players mistakenly think that rest between the games means total relax. That’s not true. Player’s focus during the break has a positive or negative impact on what will happen in the next few minutes so ability to narrow the focus to the most important aspects is crucial to maintain a good level of play. Players should avoid looking at the audience because they can see things that will take them mentally away from the game.
Analysis of the last 2 games
Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic or Rafa Nadal constantly fight for the trophies because they are aware of the actions on the court. They are conscious of previously played points and armed with this knowledge they can make necessary adjustments to take advantage over the rivals. Try to use the break between the games to think about the last won and lost points and take conclusions to play the most effective tennis.
Plan for the next 2 games
Without a plan, you can’t be a successful competitor. You should have your plan before you step on the court but additionally, you have to constantly adjust your plan to the actions that happen on the court. 90 seconds break is a good time to think about how to use your strengths against the opponent’s weaknesses and put more pressure on the rival by executing planned steps. It is much more comfortable to play when you know what you will be doing next.
To achieve good results, players have to use all available time during the match to get advantage. Breaks between the points and games have a crucial impact on player’s performance so focusing on this specific time will help players to achieve good quality while hitting the ball. 90 seconds can look like a short period of time but it is definitely enough to make a difference in your game.