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.
The key to balancing between playing too tight and too loose in a match is to practice in training by using a scale of 1-10 to recognize the feeling of being loose (at 4-5). Commit to this feeling during matches, focus on your tactics, and don't get caught up in the tension. Transcript: "This is a very common question. How do you balance between playing too tight and too loose in a match? This is probably the number one presenting issue I get because players want to play freely, you want to play loose and free and that's just such a important feeling, right? And of course, you win more when you do the, when you're tight on the court, you know, you're feeling that feeling in your legs or your arms, and you're probably Up on the score and you and you don't want to miss, right? Giving away a free point. And so it's really important to train yourself in practice to be loose and become aware of that feeling. Again, I use a scale, one to 10, 45 on, the dial is pretty loose in a match, you know, once we get 6 or above it starts to become tighter controlling the ball too much. The concept that I think is really useful. Here is controlled aggression building the point. I ain't playing, you know having margin going to Big targets but you are really sort of replicating this feeling of looseness releasing through the ball, not guiding and Contracting, your muscles as you hit. So when you get more clarity and do this in matches practice hitting at at a four and then go to a 77 is tight, kind of controlling the ball. 74 you could do two balls at each 2 and a 4 2 & a 7. Get familiar. With what loose feels like freeze it, let it sort of become aware of that physical feeling and that becomes something you're able to call up in matches. So the oftentimes, it's the willingness to be loose when you're tight especially because your body doesn't want to let go. So it's remembering that feeling being willing to be loose exaggerating that that feeling a little bit committing to it, which it takes time, it's a process but The commitment to being loose and free is something that you can really sort of move the needle on right? And lastly make sure that you're not too focused on the tension and you get your focus on to something productive tactic the target it. So you're not really internally, getting caught up in the tension. But replicate that feeling of being loose, get closer to a four or five and and really commit to this. And I think it'll work well for you."
My favorite podcasts are Sound Bites with Melissa Dobbins, The Unmillennial Life with Reagan Jones, Performance Nutrition Podcast with Dr. Mark Bubbs, Whoop Podcast, and Mindset Mentor with Rob Dial. Transcript: "What is my favorite podcast? Well, I've got a lot so I'm gonna run through them and I wrote them down so that I wouldn't Forget any so as a registered dietitian, there's a few that other registered dietitians do that I love so one of them is sound bites with Melissa Dobbins fabulous the Kerry report k-e-r-i Very kind of quick ones and and to the point I really love hers as well The unmillennial life with Reagan Jones. That one is really good topics for Women, especially but especially in this like 40s time frame I love the performance nutrition podcast with dr. Mark Bubbs He's fascinating and has some really great guests. I love the whoop podcast they have really good guests as well and get into some really interesting topics and And and then non nutrition. I like the mindset mentor with Rob dial I think that one is fabulous for some just really positive thinking"
Pre-hydration is extremely important for competition prep, as it can help to prevent dehydration and maintain performance. This should include electrolytes, such as sodium, to be consumed before the start of the competition to ensure adequate hydration. Transcript: "How much does pre-hydration weigh into your competition prep? I think it's huge, especially for endurance athletes, especially for anyone who's going to be sweating a lot, competing in heat. You know, being well hydrated is going to help you so much in terms of your competition because you can get dehydrated very quickly. That can affect your performance quite quickly as well. So I want to encourage you though to, when you think of pre-hydration, it's not just water, it's not just fluid, but also getting electrolytes on board. So a lot of the triathletes and marathoners and tennis players that I work with, I'm trying to get them to pre-load. Pre-load with sodium, pre-load with those electrolytes night before, morning of, so that you're not just waiting until 20-30 minutes into your competition to start with electrolytes, but you're really getting that sodium, especially that's the number one thing we lose in our sweat, on board before you even start. Because that actually helps you to retain some hydration is when you have that the sodium and those electrolytes on board. So pre-hydration is not just fluid, but also with electrolytes."
Electrolyte imbalance is when your levels of sodium are too low and can lead to hyponatremia. This can affect the heart, brain, and in extreme cases, coma and death. Juice cleanses don't usually contain enough electrolytes, specifically sodium, to stay healthy and this can lead to electrolyte imbalance if the cleanse goes on for too long. Transcript: "Clarify electrolyte imbalance and how it can negatively affect someone doing a juice cleanser detox diet. So electrolyte imbalance is when your levels of specifically sodium are going to be too low. It can lead to something called hyponatremia where you have low blood sodium levels and that can affect the heart, it can affect your brain, it can actually really cause coma and potentially death and this is of course extreme cases. The reason why it happens is because we get electrolytes from food. We get electrolytes from you know the foods that we're eating and juice, while it has a lot of potassium which is an electrolyte and magnesium which is an electrolyte, it doesn't have sodium naturally very much and so when you're just doing a very very very clean detox diet that might be just like a bunch of vegetables or you're just doing juice you're not going to get a lot of sodium which is okay in the short term but if this goes on for more than you know maybe 24 hours or longer then you can have an electrolyte imbalance which again can then affect the beating of your heart, cause an arrhythmia and can cause some significant problems especially if someone has some underlying disease that they're not aware of and then this can potentially trigger that."
To improve mentally in tennis, practice with your coach and read books on sports psychology. Transcript: "First and foremost, I think that you have to practice mentally. When you're training, you have to sit down with your coach and come up with things that you both feel that you need to improve the mental side of your game and then you need to apply those during your practices. Just like you would practice, hitting a forehand or backhand. Hand volleys or a serve. You need to practice the mental aspects of the game. And the best way to do that is during your training time, practice, mentally, focus on doing things that you want to do. Remain calm, remain positive, do the things that, you know, are going to help you to perform better when you're actually playing matches. Secondly, there is a plethora of great sports psychology books that you can read specifically about tennis. Also about other sports or in general about sports psychology. So, sit down and read, give yourself a chance to study and become a student of what it takes to be a better mental competitor on the court. For me, those are the two first things that you can do especially with Junior players. So as coaches, we need to facilitate that mental practice. And then we need to encourage our players to reach out and do some reading, find some areas that they can gain some knowledge in themselves and then discuss with you as the coach."
To reduce the amount of tension in matches, it is important to cultivate a Mastery mindset and interpret the nerves as positive. This can be done by playing with intention and being present, trusting your body and not worrying about the outcome. Transcript: "The question is, how do I reduce the amount of tension? I feel in matches, if I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me this question, I would definitely be moved. Probably hitting a cruise right now, perhaps but it is certainly the most commonly asked question and challenge, you know, to how do you deal with tension? And then there's, of course, how do you deal with it and how do you reduce tension in the first place? So there's a You Pathways here that I'd like to share one is what I teach is really learning to cultivate a mindset of Mastery as opposed to the other mindset. That is so pervasive which is outcome. We all know that the outcome mindset being in the future and hoping and playing tentatively under pressure and protecting against mistakes. This is all related to how come you don't know what's going to happen and you worry and it actually hurts your game, the Mastery mindset. It is one that you have control over one hundred percent, which is better than the outcome because you don't have 100% control over that only partial control, right? So developing a Mastery mindset is key. How you do that, of course, is more than I can fit in here, but but it is understanding that that and I'll send it. I'll put a link in here as well for this because I think it could be helpful for you but it's really getting clear on, you know, playing with intention and playing. More aggressively in assertively under pressure and and what does it mean to be present? So you cultivate the qualities relative to this Mastery mindset? I was playing a tournament recently, in Seattle, I was in the finals and I was up 6151 and I got broken and in 52 and I started thinking a little bit about the outcome in the future a little bit. And I pictured, my document that I'm going to link here to being in the green zone, which you'll see is the Mastery mindset and And so that's a really, really helpful to just cultivate those qualities, their trust in your body, Etc. The the other thing in terms of tension that I like to say is to reduce it is to interpret the nerves as positive is not - that's really important, you still can play well you can still work through that and manage nerves everybody gets nervous. So interpreting the feelings in your body as positive and not negative. These should help you"