However good your physical and mental fitness, take advantage of every aid to your success in match play.
Warming up before each match and being able to relax is both mentally and physically important. When to attack and when to defend – how to play the percentages – underlies all the strategies you have learned.
Except under special conditions, the warm-up period should last for only five minutes in a match.
If you need longer to get ready you can arrange private practice with another player before you are due to go on the court with your opponent.
Use the warm-up period to acclimatize yourself to the balls, court and your opponent’s individual method of striking the ball. Before you start warming up it’s wise to spin up first, so that you can go straight to the end you will play from first.
Look for weaknesses in your opponents game and disguise weaknesses of your own, but do not show your full strength and power until the match gets under way.
He may try to make you believe that he has a certain weakness because he wants you to play on it, so weigh up his game carefully. After you have exchanged groundstrokes take it in turn to volley and smash at the net.
Spend at least one minute of the four warming up your service. Many opening service games are lost because the server is not ready to serve competitively from the first point.
Percentage play basically means playing the right shot at the right time. You must be fully aware of your own strengths and weaknesses and plan your tactics accordingly.
Important points in percentage play are match, set and game points, followed by points which will create game points either for you or against you, such as when the score is 15-30 or 30-15.
Some players attach definite psychological advantage to winning the first point in each game. As the majority of matches are won by the player who makes less errors and not by the one hitting the most winners, control is vital and playing to the score essential.
This means covering your weaknesses by using your stronger strokes to play percentage shots on the most important points, and only taking risks when you have points in hand.
Percentage play also consists of selecting the right reply to your opponent’s shots and this may outweigh selecting the one that is easiest for you!
Strokes must be played with relaxed precision for maximum effect and minimum energy loss.
Casual play, on the one hand, results in loss of control and lack of purpose, while tension stiffens stroke play movements and reduces speed, using up unnecessary amounts of energy.
On court you must be mentally alert, yet physically relaxed enough to swing your racket and move about the court fluently. If you feel yourself tightening up at a critical point – say, when waiting to receive service – relax your jaw muscles and let your chin drop a little.
If you feel your grip tightening up, deliberately relax it in between shots. If you just need to relax at the change-over, sit down and relax every muscle, and keep perfectly still.
Practise relaxing and conserving energy by sitting perfectly still in a straight-backed chair, in front of a mirror.
Watch yourself all the time for the slightest little movement, apart from blinking. Keep adding a minute until you can sit still for 15 minutes at a time.