Best Tennis Intensity: How to Own Your Zone To Perform at the Top

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Don’t get psyched up, get psyched right! When tennis players are “flowing” or “in the zone”, they are maintaining a certain intensity level while being mindful of the moment. Let’s see what helps players achieve their peak performance.


Perform At Your Best – Best Tennis Intensity

Since a direct relationship exists between performance quality and intensity, your performance may be poorer when your intensity level is too low, you feel tired or disinterested, or too high, you feel wired or overexcited. If, for example, your intensity level is low when competing against a lower ranked opponent, your play may become sloppy. Conversely, if your intensity level is high when competing against a higher ranked opponent, you may play at too hurried a pace and make unforced errors.

To get in the zone, each athlete has an optimal intensity level for peak performance, depending on their sport. For example, golf is a game of calm, serenity and narrow focus. Tennis is, on the other hand, associated with passion, emotion, speed and excitement. However, a golfer may have to increase their intensity level to blast a long drive down the fairway, while a tennis player decreases intensity as they move into the rhythm of a rally before a bust of energy to seek the winning shot which requires top tennis intensity.

Finding your zone or “golden median” so you can perform at your best, requires the necessity to learn to throttle up or throttle down to find the ideal intensity for each situation in your match.

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Finding Your Zone – Throttle Up – Throttle Down

Consider the following strategies to increase or decrease your intensity levels to meet the demands of the situation.

Throttle Up

Imagine you need to increase your intensity to complete your final service game of the set and you are 5-4 up after an earlier break of serve. Here are some strategies for throttling up:-

  • Take three to five forceful breaths.
  • Create a powerful image in your head of your final winning shot that takes the set.
  • Make powerful movements to imitate that final shot or pump your fist or slap your hand on your thigh.
  • Repeat energising thoughts such as “C’mon”, “You can do it!” or “Yes, I can!” and don’t be frightened to verbalise these thoughts to pump yourself up, or throttle up into your zone.

This will enable you to increase your internal energy level to ease you into that winning zone mindset. Alternatively, between games or more so at the end of a set, during your rest period you may need to “Throttle Down”.

Throttle Down

Here are a few ways you can calm yourself down during the break.

  • Take three to five calming breaths.
  • Imagine a serene scene such a a cool mountain lake.
  • Perform some light stretches, wipe your face with your towel, sip some water and stare into the distance from your seat.
  • Think calming thoughts such as “Clear mind, relaxed body.”

Most players or sports athletes are under-activated for practice and over-activated for tournaments, competitions or important games. The next time you are practising or competing, ask yourself the following;

Is my intensity level too low, too high or just right?

Adjust accordingly to achieve your ideal zone for peak performance and best tennis intensity.

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Are You Psyched Up or Psyched Right?

Here are some questions we asked our Zoe Alexander junior tennis players about their experiences.

    • How do you cope with the optimisation of your energy levels during practice and tournaments?
    • Are training sessions too calm in intensity?
    • Do pre-match nerves affect your sleep the night before a big tournament?
    • How do you react to a missed finishing shot or a double fault?
    • What goes through your mind after losing your first set?

    We’d love to hear your feedback. Contact us on WhatsApp +44 7849 502790 or email us at Alternatively if you wish to leave us your Comments, see our section below.

    Excerpts taken from “The Champion’s Mind – How Great Athletes Think Train and Thrive by Jim Afremow PhD. ISBN 978-1-62336-562-2 – An excellent read from a leading sports psychology consultant and licensed counsellor.

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