Preparation for the Upcoming Season of Competition

Here are 10 ways to prepare for the outdoor playing season and upcoming team and/or tournament competition.

  1. Hit a lot of balls. Hit for repetition (with an emphasis on cross-court patterns) to establish consistency, rhythm and confidence in your ability to execute shot sequences. Hitting balls is the “groundwork” necessary to build a solid foundation for the season.
  2. Work on your technique. Take advantage of your off-season to work on improving your stroke techniques. Take an inventory of your game and work specifically on improving your identified weaknesses.
  3. Get in great playing shape. Establish a tennis-specific fitness conditioning program focusing on developing complex coordination and movement, linear/multi-directional speed, strength, flexibility, core and shoulder stability and power.
  4. Restring your racquet(s). The general rule is to restring your racquet every six months whether used or not and to restring your racquet three times per year if you play on average three times per week, four times if you play on average four times per week, etc. Check for fraying strings and cut marks. Protect your racquet and strings by using a thermal bag with a clear plastic bag wrap (if really serious about maintaining the integrity of your strings) and keep your racquet out of your car on cold (and hot) days.
  5. Work with your partner and teammates. The off-season is a good time to work with your partner (or teammates) to improve communication, dynamic positioning, coverage patterns and styles of play.
  6. Set goals for the upcoming season. The best practice is to establish process versus outcome goals.  An example of a process goal would be a goal to improve your first-serve percentage.
  7. Focus on your mind game. Examples of tools to improve mental toughness are imagery and role playing. Use imagery to improve focus and concentration and to establish a module or construct to govern your actions on the court.  Use role playing to improve your ability to respond to different situations and conditions (both positive and negative).
  8. Set and prioritize your schedule. Identify the team matches and tournaments you are earmarking for the season particularly your key events and matches.
  9. Establish a “periodized” training schedule (both on and off court) focusing on peaking for your identified key events and matches.
  10. Get your life in order. Complete outstanding projects. Get a jump on pending work or school assignments. Learn how to better manage your time. Do your best to ensure competing interests and outside pressures do not disrupt your ability to focus on your competitive playing season.

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