Monthly Tip

Mental Preparation - May 2010

So you’ve done everything you can do to make the physical part of your game operate optimally.

From the bottom up, you’ve worked on your footwork so that you would be ready to go out and join “Dancing with the Stars”:

Your calves and thighs are fit and strong, and probably been massaged lately, so you are fast and full of energy. They have been stretched and extended, yoga-ed and pilate-ed, and are in the best shape. In fact your whole body is in tip top condition:

You have eaten all the proper food at the right times to be ready for your match:

You’ve practiced all your shots. Well, we all know there could be some technical improvements and something is always a little off, but basically you have put in hours on the court and have your game in order.

So travelling to the top of the body, what have you done about your head? How are you going to get yourself in the right mental state so that you perform at the highest level? This is the biggest question.


You know who your opponent is. So now you have to picture him or her in your head. See yourself hitting a shot and how it’s likely to come back. Figure out in advance what percentage of your serves should be directed to which point in the box. Where will he serve and what is your response? How will the rally ensue, so that you stay in the point as long as necessary? Have a game plan that incorporates your strengths to their weakness. Be ready for any eventuality, such as bad line calls, gamesmanship like stalling or distracting, weather delays, toilet breaks, or, in particular, weird scores; (That could be winning the first set way too easily, or losing it way too easily.)

When it’s a difficult opponent, it is that much harder to get a clear image in your mind, so you have to pursue that avidly. For the time available before the match, you must rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, so that you not only know the lines, but you are free to act them in a variety of ways.

You have 3 sets in which to work it all out. Your objective is to win the match so you have to constantly remind yourself that nothing will put you off that mission.

If you are really prepared, you will be ready for the nerves, which are a natural reality for everyone. You will understand how you are reacting to them and not let them deter you from your goal. You will go out on the court and deliver!


Virginia Wade with Roger Federer