Five Seasons Family Sports Club Blog

6 Ways to Alleviate Pre-Match Jitters

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 9/14/17 9:00 AM

Most athletes are all too familiar with having "butterflies in the stomach" before a big game. The anticipation and heart-pounding excitement you can feel before engaging in competition is perfectly normal, but if left unchecked, it can spiral into nervousness and anxiety. If you're tired of feeling like a bundle of nerves before every tennis match, below are some tried-and-true ways to alleviate those pre-match jitters.

1. Practice controlled breathing. 

Studies have shown that practicing controlled breathing exercises can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety while also improving your focus. Try breathing in deeply through your nose to the count of four, and then briefly pause before exhaling slowly out of your mouth to the count of five. Repeat this exercise about three or four times, and you should begin to feel a greater sense of calm and relaxation. 

2. Guard your mind against distractions. 

There can be a thousand and one thoughts running through your head in the moments leading up to a match. Chances are, most of these thoughts are just temporary distractions, which can divide your focus and sap your energy if you're not careful. Avoid wasting your mental energy on things that are unimportant or out of your control (e.g., the weather, court conditions, who your opponent is, etc.), and instead direct your focus towards productive thoughts, such as reviewing strategies and tactics, or visualizing your ideal serve. 

3. Loosen up by listening to some music. 

If you regularly watch professional tennis matches, more than likely you've seen some of your favorite players warming up while listening to music. Many athletes consider music to be an essential part of their pre-game ritual, often using it to elicit a certain type of mental or emotional state. Famous tennis champions such as Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, and Maria Sharapova routinely listen to music before matches to help them loosen up and get motivated. 

4. Practice positive self-talk. 

You can calm those nerves and reinforce productive, encouraging thoughts by practicing positive self-talk. Say to yourself "I am a winner," "I'm ready for anything," "Match day is my favorite day," and/or basically anything else that keeps you in a positive mindset. 

5. Stay in the moment. 

Replaying past failures or worrying about future performance can rob you of the mental energy you need to focus on the task at hand. Do your best to stay in the "now" and make the most of your pre-match warm-up session. One serve at a time, one forehand at a time, one backhand at a time – focus on executing your very best technique and stroke mechanics, so that when match time comes, you will simply be continuing the good playing habits you initiated during practice. 

6. Trust in your training. 

You have done plenty of work to prepare for this moment, and once you've warmed up, there's really nothing left to do except trust in your training. Trust in your own mind and body to act and respond according to the skills you have developed during countless hours of practice. You've trained for this moment – now go out on the court and own it! 

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Topics: Tennis

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