Preparing for the next big match

Our team has a big match tomorrow, and for the last few days I found myself thinking about what I've learned about preparing for these occasions. "Tomorrow" happens to be a Sunday, so I have the luxury of utilizing the whole Saturday to increase my chances of doing well.

Tennis players learn early that their energy is best spent on what they can control.  So as I'm going through my to-do's and not-to-do's for today, I thought I'd share a sample checklist for inspiration:

Do:
  • Prepare to sleep well
  • Eat 3 full meals
  • Hydrate
  • Perform a bag check to see if anything needs to be washed, bought, or backfilled (got bananas?)
  • Plan the trip, e.g. see how long it will take and come up with one alternative route, if a long trip get some water and tennis-food car ready
  • Check weather forecast and adjust gear
  • Go through what's known about the match, for example opponent, courts, any special rules etc, and adjust strategy accordingly
  • String racquets (make sure to adjust string job to surface, weather, balls)
  • Build up confidence, for example go through past successes in similar situations or watch yourself on video
  • Arrange warm-up (partners and court)
  • Rally up supporters and let them know how they can best help
  • Consider a light hit and/or jog the day before if that has helped in the past
  • If doubles, sync up with partner about match & strategy
  • If team match, sync up with team and/or captain about lineup, combos, and backup players & plan
Don't:
  • Exhaust yourself (e.g. heavy workout, heat, long drive, extended hike)
  • Be too lazy either
  • Do anything else out of the ordinary (eat different, sleep different, ...)
That's my list for the most part.  Even if some things seem obvious it helps me to skim over it to make sure I didn't forget anything.

If you don't have a day off before your next big match, start thinking and prepping a little earlier.  Last minute stress drains energy, and noticing that you underprepared won't be pleasant to find out once you're on court.

Alright, time to prep for tomorrow!  What better way to wrap up this post with the quote we all know and love: "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare" :)

Hope you found a couple extra things that can improve your preparation.  Please let me know if missed anything!

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