Have you ever watched a pro match when one player (or a doubles team) was down, but then somehow they found their “groove” and dominated the rest of the match for the win? How do they do that?
In every match, there are moments when a player or doubles team can capitalize on this powerful force to get into a rhythm that is difficult for their opponent(s) to break. When this happens, it seems like everything seems to go their way. Not only are they winning their points, but their opponent(s) seems to be more and more prone to unforced errors.
So how can you create this seemingly magical force known as momentum, and how can you maintain it? Below are some tried-and-true tips to help you leverage momentum in your tennis matches for maximum benefit.
Play more aggressively after winning a point.
This could mean going for the ace on your first serve or hitting an aggressive return shot on the very next point. Your objective is to quickly follow up one small victory with another so that you can begin to string together enough of these winning events to get the momentum snowball rolling.
Exploit your opponent’s weaknesses.
It may be a succession of unforced errors on their backhand stroke, or an inability to handle rapid net play. Whatever that weakness is, your job is to pound away at it until you drive home the point that you’re the one in control of the match.
Keep your opponent on the run.
Even a highly athletic opponent is going to have difficulty setting up great shots when they’re constantly chasing the ball down. By keeping them on the run, you not only deprive your opponent of the time and ability to properly place their shots, but you also boost their fatigue level, which will frustrate them and increase their odds of making costly mistakes.
One of the biggest mistakes tennis players make when they’re winning by a decent margin is that they slack off and begin to play more defensively. In other words, they start playing to not lose instead of playing to win. Tennis history is replete with examples of players who thought they had the game in the bag, only for an unexpected momentum swing to completely knock them off their post. Always remember that the game is never over until the last point has been played, so if you’re not there yet, keep pounding!
Focus on one point at a time.
This definitely comes in handy when it feels like momentum is swinging in your opponent’s favor. Be quick to forget past mistakes, even if you just made an error on the previous point. Yeah…you might be disappointed because of the mistake you made, but that has no bearing on the points that follow. Be willing to have “selective amnesia” when it comes to your mistakes so that you can clear your head and position yourself to create momentum during the point you’re playing right now.
One thing to keep in mind is that all tennis players experience ups and downs in momentum during tennis matches. All you can do is manage the things that are actually in your control: attitude, strokes, court positioning, and response to your opponent’s shots. Make constant adjustments to keep momentum in your favor as often as possible, and you will discover a whole new level of play that will leave you feeling empowered to maintain control of the match!