Playing The Percentages...
"Mind, Body & Soul..."
Being prepared in mind, body and soul can help reduce the number of injuries and slow starts. Proper warm-up and being prepared in only one or two of these areas can contribute to a slow start and put the player in a position to have to come from behind to win.
The Mental Preparation for a match starts the day before with proper rest, diet and the
optimal energy level by relaxation or even meditation. Everyone is different and one great technique is to listen to music. Other techniques such as visualization or just relaxing to a favorite movie may be beneficial to some players. The point is to begin to prepare with enough time to get into the right frame of mind and have a game face on by the match time.
Once the match warm-up does begin, the competition phase of the mental warm-up begins. The warm-up is supposed to be cooperative and can still be competitive by keeping the ball in play until your opponent makes a mistake. You can get every volley back to your opponent at the net even if your opponent does hit a ball out wide, you should chase it down and get it back into play. This will get you into the mode of competing for points before the first ball of the match is ever struck.
The Physical Preparation should also start the day before. Athletes perform better when
they feel good. The day before the match, the diet should include complex carbohydrates to ensure there is fuel in the tank, and it is also important to take in lots of fluids. If the body is properly rested, the brain functions much better, reflexes are sharper, and the energy level is higher. A 5 min. warm-up before the match is not enough time to develop a feel and fine-tune the strokes.
You should have at least 20-30 minutes of hitting session to warm-up before the march and once the body temperature has risen, the next step is to stretch. A light jog, jumping rope, or some other type of light physical activity may be used to warm-up the body if practice courts are not available. Work hard during the 5 min. warm-up by double-time footwork. This over-stimulation will sharpen your reflexes and get your feet moving. This extra footwork will burn-off any nervous energy and help you settle down before the match begins.
Remember, developing a competitive edge means being prepared in Mind, Body and Soul to help reduce the injuries and not having to come from behind to win the match.