Did you know that as much as 80 percent of your time on the court during a tennis match is actually spent NOT hitting the tennis ball? That's a lot of time. How can you put all this time to good use? In this episode, I'll tell you about the benefits of using rituals between points. And I'll give you a quick, easy, non-quirky looking ritual that you can adopt for your own tennis game. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link: tennisfixation.com/itunes.
Maybe you haven't realized it yet but not much of your time playing tennis is actually spent playing tennis. In other words, a lot of your match time will be spent doing things other than hitting a tennis ball. During last year's U.S. Open, the Wall Street Journal analyzed a second round, four set match between Andy Murray and Leonardo Mayer and found the players spent only 16.4% of their time actively playing tennis. While some of the other 83.6% of the players' time was spent on changeovers, arguing over line calls and between sets, the Wall Street Journal found that most of that non-playing time was spent between points, walking around, toweling off and bouncing the ball before serving.
You can see this right now, in fact, if you watch the Australian Open which happens to be going on at the time I'm recording this. Players spend much less time hitting the tennis ball during their matches than doing everything else that they do on court.
So is there some way to use all of this time you spend not hitting the tennis ball during your tennis match? Specifically, is there some way to make use of this time to play better tennis?
Well, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do between points is to keep yourself focused and in your own personal zone. Whatever it is you are thinking about between points, will affect how energetic and positive you feel, how you hit the ball, and how you approach the next point.
But a lot of us don't take advantage of all of this time we have between points. We rush right into the next point without any thought at all about what's happening on court. So how can you stop doing that? How can you make the most productive use of the time you have between points?
A great way to do this is to use between-point rituals. Now, I'm not telling you to adopt anything weird, crazy or strange. You certainly don't have to start tugging on your underwear like Rafael Nadal or flipping your hair like Maria Sharapova. But, by using some very simple between-point rituals, rituals that you use after every, single point, you can make sure you maintain your on-court focus and energy throughout your entire match. The bonus benefit to using these rituals is that they help you to behave in a positive manner which can help keep your emotions in check and your mind-set positive, even when things are going wrong.
So, what are some great between-point rituals that you can put into practice right now? Well, here's a set of rituals that will work for you and won't make you look the least bit odd:
- As soon as the point ends, move your racquet from you dominant to your non-dominant hand. This helps release any tension in your dominant hand and arm.
- Saunter around behind the baseline for a few seconds. Towel off if you want. If you're at the net in doubles, take a few steps around your position in or near the service box. Again, this helps release any tension in your legs and back and helps you to pause and breathe before the next points.
- Move your racquet back to your dominant hand and look at the strings. You can even play with the strings for a few seconds. Use this time to focus on what you want to happen in the next point.
- Move back to your on-court position confidently, with a little bounce to your step. You want to not only look energetic, you want to feel energetic and ready for the next point.
Now, that's what I recommend you do between each and every point, whether you're serving or receiving. If you're serving, I also have some great recommendations for serve rituals you should use. You can find those in Tennis Quick Tips Episode 4 which is called, Improve Your Tennis Serve Consistency With A Service Ritual, and I'll link to that in the show notes for this episode.
So that's what I want you to try in your next tennis match – these very simple between-point rituals. They don't take a lot of time but they definitely can help you get into and keep an upbeat and focused mind-set to help you play the last point of your match with just as much energy and positivity as the first point.
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