“OK now… do you want to serve or receive?” is what I heard the two guys say five minutes after they just stepped in the tennis court…
It always makes me laugh to see people so excited to… just play. The love for competition is so big that they don’t even take the time to warm up properly: “Let’s just play!”
You can tell dedicated players from the not-so-dedicated ones. The first are those who play to improve, the latter are the ones who are content (or would like to get better but always find excuses) with their level of play. I don’t blame the last ones – they enjoy tennis and have fun playing it.
But if you plan to enjoy this sport for a longer period of time, especially competitively, here are some warm-up guidelines that might help you get a better start of the match:
– Avoid hitting hard, putting the ball away, or running too much in the warm-up.
– Focus on feeling the ball and getting the body loose.
– Try to spot weaknesses in your opponent’s technique (which you should exploit during the match).
– If you have any “special shots” that you are very confident with, do not show them in the warm-up.
– Do not let any emotions come out in the warm-up – remember, this is not the actual match.
– Avoid conversations with opponents during warm-up – they can make remarks to distract you from the match ahead.
I would like to elaborate on the last one (true story)…
I learned my lesson long ago when my opponent began complimenting my forehand groundstroke right after the warm-up.
Guess what? As much as I enjoyed the compliment, I could not stop thinking about it.
The result: It made me conscious to not show it off during the match. That led to feeling more tense and eventually questioning my abilities.
So do not fall into the trap of initiating any conversation with your opponents before, during, or after the warm-up other than the usual match-related information.
I tell my students (and now to you) that talking is for after the match is over… only!