Watch the top professional tennis players closely and you will start to see behavior that they repeat over and over again. Novak Djokovic bounces the ball 20 times before he serves. Maria Sharapova tucks the wisps of blonde hair behind her ears before serving, even when most of the time itís already in place. Venus Williams is always tugging at her some piece of tennis clothing.
There are some tennis players who never walk on the white lines during a match. Most all players go to the towel between points. So why so many quirky habits on the tennis court? Are these bad habits that should be broken?
Tennis is certainly a physical game, but even more itís a mental game. A long singles match requires a focused and sustained effort for 2 to 3 hours, and sometimes longer. Itís often been said that the fifth set of a Grand Slam match isnít about tennis. Thatís the time when it becomes most important whatís between the ears.
The mental aspect of tennis isnít always given the attention and recognition it deserves. Your ability to make the right split-second decision could decide the outcome of a match. How quickly you can pick up on your opponentís weakness will give you a huge advantage if done early in a match. The winner of a closely contested tennis match is quite often the player who is most mentally aware and able to think clearest.
So back to the quirky habits of tennis players. All the tennis ball bouncing, hair placement techniques, skirt tugging, and towel wiping are about one simple thing. Focus. A quick little routine allows the player to regroup, reset, come back to center, and focus on the next point.
A really easy way for beginning and social players to gain this mental advantage is to take a moment after each point and focus on your strings. Turn your back to your opponent and study the strings on your racquet as you take a few steps. Itís not that thereís anything wrong with your strings, and they donít really need adjusting, but the focus on your strings gives you a quiet moment to prepare for the next point.
The next time you find your mind wandering during an important tennis match, remember to take a few seconds between points to adjust your strings.
Have fun on the courts!