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How To Fight and Prepare to Win in Pressure Situations

The ability to play well in pressure points and situations is what separates a lot of tennis players from one another.  Having the ability to be successful while faced with pressure can make a big different in where pros and juniors end up in their careers.  Players that struggle in these situations find it difficult to take their tennis game to the next level, as they cannot ease their nerves to play to the best of their ability while in matches.  If you do not succeed in pressure situations, what can you do to ease the nerves to play to the best of your ability and thrive in pressure spots?  If you are strong in pressure situation, what can do continue to do to get better?  This is one of the most difficult aspects as being a tennis player as you are on the court by yourself and unlike team sports, you do not have your teammates to rely on to work together to pull through tough situations.

We reached out to our ADNA Junior Select Players asking for help to educate the ADNA community on how to deal with pressure situations.  One of the biggest things is how you prepare in practice for tough spots.  Also, how you mentally deal with a pressure situation while in the heat of the moment can help you stay relaxed and focused to lead you to being successful.

Here are some drills our ADNA Select Juniors do in practice to you should take to your practice routine:

  • Shelby Graber has two drills that she routinely practices.  First, she plays one set with the server only having one serve per point. This makes the players get used to the pressure of having to make their second serves in and getting prepared for a hard return, since the returner knows that they won’t have a hard first serve.  Second, the server starts each game at love-30 for a set. This gets the players used to having to come back and be more consistent in games and learn to control points and where they will hit winners.
  • Andrew Dale does a drill where two people will rally 4 balls crosscourt. After that, one person will change direction and go down the line. This will continue as long as you can until someone misses. This helps with consistency and translates to success in pressure points.
  • Gabe Smilovic does a drill where the player has to hit 50 balls in a row cross court and inside out in order to finish the drill. If you miss a ball out, you get a 2 point penalty.  If you miss a ball in the net, you get a 4 point penalty.  If you get to 10 points, you need to do 10 pushups and then start over.
  • Greg Lebanowski plays games to 11 and starts points on the run instead of feeding down the middle.  When you are fed a tough ball, it immediately puts you at a disadvantage. Doing this sort of a drill over and over helps a lot when you get in tight situations.
  • Conner Stroud plays sets and if you win the first two points of a game, then you automatically win the game.  Conner also plays a tiebreak and if a player wins 3 points in a row, they automatically win the tiebreak.  If you lose three points in a row, you automatically lose the tiebreak.  The forces you to focus on every point while in practice.

Here is what our ADNA Select Juniors suggest you do while in the match to make sure you stay relaxed and are mentally tough:

  • Neel Raj: “During the match, I touch the back curtain with my racket to try to get my mind focused and not think too much about the critical point I am about to play. I also take a few deep breathes to calm my nerves before crucial points.”
  • Armando Gandini: “When I am in a tiebreak, I always tell myself, ‘No double faults, and no missed returns.’ I say this because it makes me play steady and grind more.”
  • Gabe Smilovic: “If you have a towel in your bag, bring it on the court with you. After every point you should wipe your face with the towel as this will help you stay focused and stay in the match.”

Lastly, one of the most important things is to go into matches with confidence.  The best way to build the confidence is to ensure you are prepared with your fitness.  Dean Zoglio stressed how having confidence with your fitness will help give you confidence that you are one step ahead of your competition.  By have the confidence going in, Natasha Subhash discussed how you have to execute your game plan you had going into the match and not to lose sight of it while faced with pressure.  Natasha also said to always try to stay relaxed and have a positive attitude.  Getting tight and a negative body language will just lead to more unforced errors.

Making sure you are prepared for pressure situation is very important for the success of tennis players.  We encourage you to always find ways to improve your mental preparation for matches so you can play to your best ability while in matches.  Focusing on pressure situations and going into matches with the confidence will help you take your game to the next level.

Keep up the grind!

Team Athletic DNA



Thanks for the contributions from the following ADNA Select Players that helped create the blog:  Neel Raj, Armando Gandini, Patrick Maloney, Shelby Graber, Ethan Kolsky, Lauren Seale, Gabe Smilovic, Nikki Fernando, Andrew Newell, Dean Zoglio, Tyler Vermillion, Sophia Edwards, Parker Stearns, Greg Lebanowski, Thomas Barraque, Connor Aulson, Eliott Spizziri, Michael Zhao, Natasha Subhash, Michael Kay, Ben Ingbar, Jada Hart, Andrea Amortegui, Daniel Rayl, Nishesh Basava, Michael Ogundele, Jackson Ross, Stephanie Sharge, Ryan Storrie, Conner Stroud, Peyton Miller, Anna Kern, Andrea Golindano, Gabe Diaz, Vennmukil Pothiva, Taylor Russo, Harrison Saladini


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