There are about three weeks left before the USTA National Clay Court Championships kick off the summer grind. As I work with players getting ready to peak at the summer nationals, there are common themes that should be addressed so that players can cash in on their hard work.
By now, the training foundation has been completed. From building the physical toughness and endurance, to cleaning up the technical changes, players must now transition into a different mode for the weeks leading up to the big events.
1. Sharpen the blade:
- Focus on your weapons and what you do well. Win with your strengths each day of practice to build confidence.
- Shift your focus to tactics over technique. Ask questions that matter during competitive point play. What adjustments can I make? What does my opponent do well/not well? How can I play to my strengths?
2. Approach each day with purpose:
- Create "mini-match goals" to stay engaged during competition. Create measurable goals that relate to your game style. For instance, "Win 10 points at the net," or "Serve out wide on every first serve to the deuce box."
- Never leave the court frustrated or mad; finish with something positive each day. If you had a rough training day then end it with a drill that you love. I like to have players end practices with finishing drills like floater volleys, overheads, or mid-court balls; they work on being aggressive, which can alleviate the frustration.
3. Execute your mental routines:
- Use practice matches and smaller tournaments to work on your on-court presence. How do you want to look and act when you are competing at the larger tournaments? Practice being the player you want to be when the pressure arrives.
- Use your self-talk in a motivational way. Remind yourself of the long road you have taken to get to this point and the challenges you have overcome.
4. Use the excitement and nerves as motivation
- As the excitement and pressure builds closer to the tournaments, keep yourself accountable for having a good attitude and work on being a positive player each day. The nerves are a good sign; you care, and you are emotionally engaged. Now direct this nervous energy into a positive manner.
- Remember, the tournaments are the fun part! They give you an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and test yourself in new ways.
Look for the ASP Team in Florida during the Clay Court Nationals events. If you are interested in working on your mental skills, reach out to us today to schedule training sessions. Best of luck this summer!