How to Keep the Lead in a Tennis Match
You were up 5-0 and ready to close out the tennis match. Your opponent started edging their way back one game at a time. Before you knew it, they were back in the match. How many times has this happened to you?
The solution is:
You need to become a good front runner and take away your opponent’s confidence by staying ahead.
Here are four tips that can help you keep a lead in your next tennis match.
Play Tennis Matches in the Present Moment
You need to remember:
The current score is not an indicator of the future.
A lack of focus may cause a momentum shift.
Thoughts of wins or losses during the match may cause you to lose focus. Instead, focus on sticking to your shots that have taken you to the 5-0 lead. Focus your energy on tasks that will have you play your best tennis.
Your opponent may be down, but not out. You need to prevent them from staging a comeback.
You must continue to be relentless and persistent with your intensity.
Your opponent must receive the message that you are continuing to bring it. Stay in the present moment to prevent momentum shifts in a tennis match.
Stick to Your Plays in your Tennis Match
You need to practice your best shots and tactical patterns of play. It is crucial to know which shots you will hit in defensive, neutral, and offensive positions.
Here are a few two shot plays that will get you playing in the zone:
- Hit a flat serve- attack a weak return with a forehand groundstroke down the line.
- Hit an out wide serve- attack a forehand groundstroke to the open court.
- Use your cross-court two handed backhand to set up an inside in or inside out forehand.
- Attack a short ball with power and hit an angle volley.
Choose the plays you are most comfortable with and have the highest percentage of execution.
Development of high percentage patterns will give you confidence in your game. Focus on tactical patterns of play that caters towards your strengths and avoid your weaknesses. Master two shot patterns to take the lead and stay ahead in your next tennis match.
Stay Fit throughout your Next Match
Tennis is a physically demanding sport. An ideal tennis fitness plan will:
1. Help you achieve your on-court goals
2. Minimize your risks of injury.
Here are some aspects of physical fitness that you need in your training program.
Be prepared to outlast your opponents and get them questioning their fitness. To develop endurance, you need persistence. You must put in the time to develop your endurance and it will pay off in close matches. Confidence in your endurance will help you overcome many challenges on the court during your next tennis match.
In your next tennis match, you will probably hit shots from difficult positions. Flexibility may help you generate effortless power by increasing your range of motion.
Flexibility may also help prevent injuries. Tight muscles and flexibility imbalances could prevent you from playing at your top level.
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Strength and Power
Strength and power are necessary for playing the explosive modern game. An ideal strength training program will develop your strengths and improve any weaknesses. Added strength and power will help you create effortless spin and velocity on your shots.
Agility is the ability to change direction quickly while maintaining control of your body. Each point played may require several changes in direction. Stay efficient in your movement on the court to become a more agile player.
Your speed will force your opponent to overhit as you run down their shots. Fast recovery to the center of the court also takes away time from your opponent.
You must have an explosive first step. Strive to beat the ball to the bounce so that you have offensive options.
Make sure your routine includes these aspects of physical fitness. This will help you be better prepared to handle anything opponents throw at you. A strong foundation of physical fitness will give you the confidence of being a great front runner in a tennis match.
Find your Rhythm
Finding rhythm is crucial to your success in tennis. Once you find your rhythm, your movements and decisions become more automatic. You strokes operate by themselves. The correct rhythm of a match has a way of carrying your game along with minimum effort.
Rhythm enables you to play more in your “zone”, and in the “zone” is where you will play your best tennis. An easy way to get into the zone before tennis game or match is to jump rope. Coordinate your feet, hands, and eyes as you focus on counting your repetitions. Focus on a consistent steady breath to be able to find the “zone”.
In a tennis match, the opponent may try to frustrate you by taking away your rhythm. They will change the pace, depth, placement, and spin of the ball. You can gain a rhythm in your breathing and your footwork. There is also a rhythm in the sound of the racquet hitting the ball. Can you hear the spin coming off of the strings?
Make sure to find your rhythm in between points as well. Your stride should be free of tension and your racquet should be held loosely in your non-dominant hand. Try to be efficient as you focus your energy on your strategies and tactics.
Be careful to not let opponent’s tactics during or between points throw you off of your rhythm.
Now you know the four steps to dictate play and keep a lead in a tennis match! You’ve got the lead and you know that you will keep it. You will play confident tennis in the present moment and not focus on the scoreboard. You will rely on your physical training to remain relentless and persistent in your attack. It will be difficult to throw you off of your rhythm as you play your best tennis in the zone. Next time you gain the lead in a tennis match you will play the role of a confident front runner.
USPTA Elite Professional
Director of Tennis at My10sFriends Academy
Director of Tennis at Woodfield Hunt Club in Boca Raton, Fl
Graduate of Ferris State University’s Professional Tennis Management Program