From rackets to shoe recommendations to advice around different techniques, the world’s top professional tennis players answer your tennis questions. Whether you want to learn about the best ways to train or which equipment would help achieve your goals, browse informed answers from our curated list of tennis experts.
When choking in big moments, it's important to accept it in the moment, not overreact, and use tools such as breathing and focusing on what's relevant in the task at hand to refocus. Transcript: "Great question. How do you avoid choking in big moments? The problem with choking is that most players, most athletes, when this happens, they get overly conscious, self-conscious, thinking too much, overthinking technique, and what we call "get in their heads." So the problem is just overreacting. You feel nervous. You're having negative thoughts. And it's really easy to get swept away in that. And of course, yeah, the brain gets activated. Adrenaline kicks in, and it feels really overwhelming sometimes. But really, it's so important to expect that occasionally, you're going to get nervous. You're going to have negative thoughts. So when it does happen, you can accept it. You can accept it in the moment, not overreact, and use your tools, use some of the things that I'll be discussing in some of these questions, whether it be breathing or shifting your focus to something that's relevant, the task at hand. You really need to be disciplined in this regard. But of course, the feeling when you're, quote, "choking" and overthinking is so inconsistent with how you feel when you're playing well. So there's this sort of tendency to evaluate subconsciously how different it feels, and so there's that overreaction and panic. So it's so important to accept what's happening, as hard as that is. And then you are-- it's really important to shift your attention away from yourself and onto the target and what's relevant at the moment."
A great practice session would be one where players have a good attitude and work hard, while also having fun and working on new skills. Transcript: "The answer to this one, for me, is pretty easy. I would define a great practice session as any practice session where the players that you're involved with have great attitudes, they work at a very, very high intensity rate with focus, concentration. And during that time frame, at the same time, they find a way to balance all that with having some fun in what they're doing. And then finally, in the last portion, let's see if we can also add to those things that we're adding some new skills, improving areas that we want to improve, whether that be focusing on our strengths because maybe we're closer to a competition, or whether it's developing some of our weaknesses because we have a little bit more time and a training block to work on some areas that we want to focus on and try and get better within our game. But always, first and foremost, Attitude and Effort, A&E, those are the two biggest things."
To keep poor performances from affecting your confidence, become more aware of what affects your game, practice tactics that will help you win points in matches, and get clarity on your identity as a player by asking yourself how you like to play and staying true to yourself. Transcript: "The question is, "How do I keep poor performances from affecting my confidence?" Well. So this really is an opportunity to become more aware of your tendencies, the things that tend to affect your game, and often it is about fear of missing, being too tight, not really being decisive. So there is the mental and emotional aspect, of course, that you need to become more aware of, and when you are able then to make better adjustments and identify those things that are affecting your game, your first-serve percentage, your ability to release, your forehand, using your strengths, are you really targeting their weakness? So there's tactic as well. So all of these factors make this game so interesting, and it's a constant project to just keep chipping away at the most important aspects of your game, particularly as it relates to match play. So awareness is really important to help you actually fix some of those things. And practice them. So practicing the things that are actually going to win you points with your matches. I'd also just like to say that after a string of poor performances, if you haven't effectively adjusted, you could start to lose confidence, but remember that you have an identity as a player. And I think this is a really important idea. Who are you as a player? You're an aggressive baseliner. You attack the net. You're solid, consistent. You build the points well. How do you how do you like to play? What does it mean to play on your terms? Because if you can continue to stay true to yourself in terms of your identity as a player, I think you'll be less vulnerable to the performances that kind of go up and down. So getting clarity on that. Who are you as a player? How are you going to play, and being in the driver's seat, as I like to say. So I think these are some important ideas related to your performance and making them more consistent."
Transition from grass to hard is easy, just play your normal game, focus on the things you do well and enjoy yourself. Transcript: "To be honest, the transition from grass, back to hard is a pretty easy one, as you're going back to a service where you don't have to worry about that bounces or losing your footing. So you go back to playing your regular Style game from grass to hard the transition from Hardcore to Grass. Court is much more difficult as the bouncers are much different and the play overall is different, but grass too hard. Pretty easy transition. Just play your normal game, Focus. On the things that you do well and enjoy yourself, that's it."
To determine your ideal emotional state and energy level in competition, journaling can be helpful to reflect on performances. You can also use three dials- focus, loose, and intensity- to measure your performance on a scale of one to ten. It is also important to be aware of how these qualities affect each other and to try to embody the physical feeling of a successful shot or match. Visualizing yourself as confident can also help you replicate a successful mental state. Transcript: "Question is, how do you determine your ideal emotional state and energy level in competition becoming aware? This is really the challenge. It's common to just play and you play well and it's sort of random Monday's. You play well and days that you don't feel as good. Obviously, we all have moods and things can affect that from from the outside. The way you're thinking about your off-court life or the upcoming match or event that you're playing. And so, Fairness is really important here, journaling can help, you know, really reflecting on good performances. How did you feel? What were the qualities really sort of internally scanning your body? In fact, and your mind, what were you thinking in those moments? Usually you won't be thinking very much you know you're full, what's your focus like how loose are you how much intensity do you have? I use three dials, Focus loose and intensity. Those are three that if your antennas in particular if you're if you're able to really focus narrowly on the Target, on the task at hand, be loose in your upper body, you know, feel free for your and your legs, and your lower body, have good intensity and your you have these dials that you're playing with. You get better at that, you get better. I use a scale one to 10 here. So when I'm practicing or playing or reflecting on the match, I can I can get clarity on. What number was I had that's just at the beginning to get a sense. Well, the lower number for example, being loose is about a four or five. That's loose, you know, pretty loose at 67. You're definitely muscling the ball a bit more, controlling it too much. They the dials affect each other intensity will affect your focus and so getting clear clear on these dials and these qualities, you know sometimes it may be acting as if you are confident visualizing what it feels like when you're playing really well. But honing in on this becoming more self-aware. Journaling is really helpful freezing. The moment on the court when you hit a good shot in practice, really sort of embodying that physical feeling will help you, then replicate it, and match it. So you can sort of quote, call it up when you need it. This becomes a muscle sort of Ro memory in your in your body that you can, you can train over time with awareness."
To generate more power while playing, use a drill called "As Big As You Can" for 5-8 minutes, where you hit every ball as powerfully as you can without missing or losing your balance. This will help you become more comfortable with higher intensity and pace on your basic rally ball. Transcript: "Great question and obviously in today's modern game Power is at a commodity. So you want to learn to generate as much power and maintain as much power as you possibly can on your basic rally ball as early as you can, while you're developing your game as a junior player and into your later years, I like to use a drill that I call as big as you can for starting out a lot of drilling. Spend about 5 minutes to 8 minutes. Literally hitting every ball as big as you can. I say sometimes as heavy as you can, but as big as you can without missing and without losing your balance on balls, very important to maintain your structure, your position and good quality mechanics and ball striking while you're doing this. But you spend about 5 to 8 minutes literally. Hitting every ball as big as you can without missing that. Being said, you're gonna miss more than you normally do doing this drill and then one of the things I like to try and do is once you've done this, then I asked players to carry that over into the next drills that they're doing and try and maintain that pace as much as they possibly can that just helps create and generate a greater comfort zone at a higher ball-striking level and doing that on a regular regular basis, generally will lead to you being more comfortable with a higher pace, and intensity, and heaviness on your basic rally ball. Good luck."