The first thing we all have to realize is that everyone, even Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Simona Halep, and Sofia Kenin, gets nervous before and during a tennis match. Some players look as if they are extremely relaxed when in reality they are feeling a lot of the same things you feel when you are nervous. It’s all about how you deal with what you are feeling.
There are many remedies for nerves. It is very unlikely that a player will find one great thought and be able to rid themselves of all anxiety and nervousness. However, going through some basic routines before you get on the court will help. Try jumping rope, jogging, or running in place for two-to-three minutes. Focus on taking nice long breaths and relaxing; keep your thoughts to a minimum. Sometimes just counting and regulating your breathing can calm you down.
Once you get on the court, move around a lot in the warm-up. Try to break a sweat as quickly as possible and run after some balls that are far away from you. Relax the grip on your racquet when you are swinging and hold the racquet in your off hand when you are not hitting. Continue to take deep breaths in between rallies and just focus on watching the ball all the way from opponent’s racquet to your racquet. Continue this when the match starts.
Probably the most important thing to ease nerves and anxiety is to realize that everyone loses-even the best players. If you never lose, which doesn’t happen in tennis, you do not learn how to deal with adversity and the feelings that you have after a tough match. Losing makes you better. Try not to think about the winning or losing. Think about how to hit the next shot, how to play the next point, and how to try the best you can for the next two or three hours on the court. Have fun and enjoy your time playing a great sport!
“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed" – Michael Jordan
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis (http://www.annaconetennis.com) and MyHamptonsPro based in Sag Harbor, NY (http://www. myhamptonspro.com) and Tennis Professional at Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club in Tucson, AZ. For details on lessons, clinics, or coaching, contact Steve at email@example.com or call 865-300-7323