If you take the time to study a decent number of professional tennis matches, you will begin to see how momentum swings can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of a match. Almost without fail, there will be at least a few critical points during a tennis match where a player can capitalize upon this powerful force to get into a rhythm that is difficult for their opponent to break. When this starts to happen, it's almost like the player with momentum has the Midas touch – simply put, everything just seems to go their way. Not only are they aggressively constructing and winning their points, but their opponent seems to be more and more prone to unforced errors. So how can you create this seemingly magical force known as momentum, and once you have it, how can you maintain it? Below are some tried-and-true tips to help you leverage momentum in your tennis matches for maximum benefit.
1. Play more assertive after winning a point. This could mean going for the ace on your first serve or hitting an aggressive return shot on the very next point. Your objective is to quickly follow up one small victory with another so that you can begin to string together enough of these winning events to get the momentum snowball rolling.
2. If you begin to notice that your opponent has a certain weakness, exploit it to the max. It may be a trend of unforced errors on their backhand stroke, or an inability to handle intense net play. Whatever that weakness is, your job is to pound away at it until you drive home the point that you're the one in control of the match.
3. Keep your opponent on the run. Even a highly athletic opponent is going to have difficulty setting up great shots when they're constantly chasing the ball down. By doing this, you not only deprive your opponent of the time and ability to properly place their shots, but you also boost their fatigue level by keeping them on the run, which will increase their odds of making costly mistakes.
4. Be relentless. One of the biggest mistakes tennis players make when they're winning by a decent margin is that they slack up and begin to play more defensively. In other words, they start playing not to lose instead of playing to win. Tennis history is replete with examples of players who thought they had the game in the bag, only for an unexpected momentum swing to completely knock them off their post. Always remember that the game is never over until the absolute last point has been played, so if you're not there yet, keep pounding!
5. Focus on one point at a time. This definitely comes in handy when it feels like momentum is swinging in your opponent's favor. Be quick to forget past mistakes, even if you just made a major blunder on the previous point. Yeah, you might be disappointed because of the mistake you made, but that has no bearing on your ability to do much better this time around. Be willing to have "selective amnesia" when it comes to your mistakes so that you can clear your head and position yourself to create momentum during the point you're playing right now.
One thing to keep in mind is that practically all tennis players experience ups and downs in momentum during the average tennis match. Your job is to control the things that are in your control – e.g., your attitude, your strokes, your court positioning, and your response to your opponent's shots. Make constant adjustments to keep momentum in your favor as often as possible, and you will discover a new level of play that will leave you feeling empowered to maintain control of the match!