Pre-event Routines to Improve Your Tennis

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Here's another excellent article by Bill Cole on pre-event routines. It is a powerful tool for you as a tennis player. We all go through a stage, when we are new to the game, when we look hard for ways to improve our game.

We look for tennis tips, go to the library a borrow a tennis book, watch tennis tournaments on tv, buy the finest tennis racket available, stay on the tennis court all day.

Tennis becomes the center of our life. In our desire to improve our play technically, we neglect the mental aspect. I think it's the most important part of the learning process in tennis.

So prior to every game, it's important that consciously, we go through pre-event routines. Without the development of the mental game, we remain stagnant and don't advance beyond the beginner level.

Pre-event routines do help in our quest for performance enhancement. They keep us more focused but at the same time, prevent our minds from becoming unduly focused to the coming match; hence the unnecessary worries arise.

Hoping this article will help you. Profit from it. Make pre-event routines part of your tennis repertoire.

Here's the quickest way to improving your game and mental toughness. There are of course no substitutes for hours of practice, gaining experience and improving your strokes. Try these tennis tips and win more matches.

Bill Cole, MS, MA

Athletes, sales people, teachers, public speakers, media people and anyone else who "officially performs" successfully uses pre-event routines or rituals. Even if you don't view what you do as a performance, you can use routines to help you relax, focus and prepare mentally and physically for an upcoming event.

A pre-event routine ritual is a systematic series of steps undertaken prior to the execution of a task designed to help you sharpen mentally, emotionally and physically. If you are an athlete, you may have things you like to do ahead of your event that make you feel optimistic, confident and energized.

This is your pre-event routine ritual. If you are a businessperson making a presentation, you probably perform tasks ahead of time that contribute to your focus and organization.

If you have to make an important, difficult phone call, you should have a routine you use to keep you calm, in the proper mood and frame of mind.

Choose Your Ritual Style

There are two times to use your pre-even routines. One is used for mental preparation just prior to the start of your event and the other is used during the event, but during breaks in the action, to re-focus or re-energize.

In addition, there are two broad styles of rituals. If you enjoy focusing specifically on the upcoming event and organizing details, thinking about it, imagining yourself performing well and can see yourself completing the event successfully, you use an associative style of preparation.

If doing all that makes you nervous, and you'd rather not focus on what is about to happen, and instead prefer to distract yourself by listening to music, reading, viewing television or the like, then you use a dissociative style of preparation.

Both styles are valid and appropriate. The key is to know which one works best for you and to consistently apply that pre-event routines ritual.

Remember that even not thinking about the upcoming event is a legitimate style of preparing if you use it consistently across all your performances. This is your customized way of preparing to perform your best.

Ultimately, it may be best to work with a mental game coach to be able to purposively focus on the upcoming event so you can iron out any performance issues and to prepare as fully as possible using the associative approach.

Having a pre-event routines ritual does not mean you are obsessed with its completion. Your ritual exists to serve you, not the other way around.

We hear about professional athletes who have superstitious, elaborate rituals they must perform to feel ready to play. We hear of tennis pros who may not shave the week of a big event, may eat the same meal at the same restaurant and may wear the same clothes for each match.

This is extreme, but it does make them feel secure and confident. Even for professional athletes, the ritual should be easy to perform, take no longer than a few minutes, always be under your control and not require any special equipment. This way you can always perform your ritual.

Ritual Success Strategies

Here are twenty practical items you may use as a menu for designing your own pre-performance rituals:

1. eat specific meals at specific times

2. make an overall game plan

3. make back-up and emergency contingency plans

4. check all equipment you will use

5. stretch and exercise to burn off excess nervous energy

6. visualize your success in the event

7. warm-up everything you will use in your performance

8. seek a coach or confidant who will listen to you

9. wear clothes that make you feel confident

10. provide some quiet time for yourself

11. check out the venue where you will perform

12. use positive self-talk and positive imagery

13. watch your best performances on video tape

14. be around people who support you and make you feel confident

15. be around people who are excellent models of mental toughness

16. know your opening tactics cold so they are automatic

17. read your mental training journal for evidence of past successes

18. maintain a consistent, organized schedule so there is no last-minute rushing

19. seek support staff to reduce pressure on yourself

20. stay tuned to any last minute time or program changes for your event

Rituals are perhaps the most misunderstood and most under-usedmental training tools in a performer's tool kit. If you have experienced hypnosis, relaxation training, autogenics, meditation, prayer, long retreats, yoga or other mind-body disciplines, you can attest to the deep focused relaxation and feelings of well-being that accrue. If you spend time with any top performers you will observe their rituals and routines that propel them out of ordinary consciousness into the hyper-state of intense focus that is required to reach the flow state--the peak performance state. Begin building your custom rituals for personal power now.

Copyright © Bill Cole, MS., MA. 2003.

(There you have it, pre-event routines as written by Bill Cole.)

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