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Winning tennis tips - from warm up to match point

There are probably thousands of tennis tips, but here are 10 great ones that begin at the warm up and end at the match point.

Tennis tip #1
When you start your warm up before the match you first need to get used to the conditions and your feel and form for that day. It's not realistic to expect that you'll be feeling superbly well every day.

So check the conditions - windy, sunny, hot or something else and adapt your shots and tactics accordingly. Then check your feel for the ball and racquet, your general mood and look to improve on them.

Tennis tip #2
When you start the match you furthermore need to get used to your opponent's play. Most of the players don't play the same in the warm up as they do in the match. So you are very likely to see and feel new speeds and spins of the ball.

Don't panic if you can't adapt in the first minute. Your brain is getting the information, unless you're too emotional. Remember previous matches, how you found your timing on returns or volleys or whatever caused problems at first.

Just watch the ball well and notice what is happening - are you late, too far, is the ball too high and then gradually adapt. Don't force it - it will happen if you are relaxed.

Tennis tip #3
The most important shots which define how the point will be played are the serve and the return. If you have a weak serve and return, then you'll be on defense the whole point.

A good serving tip is to first find your serve. Don't blast your first serves in the match at your full power. Start at 75%, then increase the speed and see where is the best feeling and percentage of shots.

The same rule applies to returns - start with medium paced returns down the middle and then add speed and placement when the match progresses. The main goal of the return on the first serve is to get it back deep down the middle and on the second serve to make your opponent run - so preferably a cross court return.

Tennis tip #4
The game is obviously based on forehands and backhands - hence "groundstrokes". You need to find them also when you start the match. Start with long cross courts 2-5 feet over the net and aim 5 feet from both side and baseline.

When you find good length, start utilizing short cross court and down the lines shots to make your opponent run.

Tennis tip #5
The same principle applies to volleys and overheads. It may take you 10 or 20 minutes before you play your first volley or overhead, so don't expect a perfect shot. Or maybe you can expect it but don't get too upset if it doesn't happen.

Actually if you often play at the net you're maybe aware of this fact: you need to develop the feel and timing for your volleys too. You might play a couple of poor volleys or overheads first but don't let that discourage you.

You're showing your opponent that you are not afraid to come to the net and you are also adapting to his shots. Imagine how good it will feel when you hit excellent volleys and overheads towards the end of the set.

Tennis tip #6
This is actually a summary of the above mentioned tips: first deal with the tennis game and conditions on a given day. And when you get reasonably comfortable with the tennis game and conditions, start thinking and dealing with your opponent. This is my primary tennis playing tip whenever I start the match.

Tennis tip #7
Now you are trying to figure out how to outplay your opponent. Ask your self - where are his weaknesses and where are his strengths? Look to exploit his weaknesses with your strengths and try to avoid your weakness against his/her strength.

It sounds so logical but in my experience I don't see many players actually thinking logically on court. They are usually too emotional. You need to learn how to get out of emotional states quickly and start thinking smartly and positively for the next point.

Tennis tip #8
When you finally see what your opponent's weaknesses are you must first check with yourself whether your level of play realistically allows you to play certain shots. If you your opponent moves very slowly towards the net, is you drop shot reliable enough to use it?

Don't change your game too much or into areas that you don't master. Adapt your game so it is very difficult for your opponent, but stay in your limits.

Tennis tip #9
If you did a good job using the above mentioned tips, you are now probably ahead in the match. This is one of the biggest traps in the game. You might try to defend the lead. You'll start thinking: "I don't want to lose this lead now."

And since our brain does not understand the word NO, it hears: "I want to lose this lead now." and it will help you do it.

Does this sound familiar? You need to think what you want: "I want to finish the set." or "I want to extend the lead."

Tennis tip #10
You are now at match point having played masterfully through the whole match. There are many mind traps here. See if you fall into one of them:

- If I miss this opportunity, I won't get another one
- If I win this, it won't be fair. He/she is actually a better player.
- I don't want to make a double fault now.
- This is it. (and you make a historic event in your mind about one point in a tennis game)

If any of these thoughts enters your consciousness, smile at them, say: "Yeah, right." and then play your match point decisively and with courage. Then go shake the hand of your opponent. :)

About the Author: Tomaz Mencinger is a sports consultant and a tennis coach. He shows tennis players how to improve their game with winning mental tennis tips that make their mind their best ally. More resources at his website

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