Jordan Belga blog: The art of the pre-match routine

August 5, 2018 09:52 PM

Jordan Belga is a recent graduate of the University of Florida, where he received his B.S. in Sport Management along with a minor in Business Administration. Belga has been involved in tennis for 13 years and was a star junior player, with highlights that included being ranked No. 1 in the Boys' 12s and representing the U.S. in the World Junior Team Tennis competition in the Czech Republic. In college, he competed for the Florida Gators and helped lead the men's team to the SEC Tournament championship. Belga has received a coaching fellowship with USTA Player Development and is writing a blog about his experiences this summer. He writes about the importance of a pre-match routine in his latest entry.

By Jordan Belga

Hi guys! I just finished up in DC for the Citi Open and will be going back to Orlando for a couple days before Cincinnati. It was certainly quite the change flying from California to DC. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing my first ATP 500 at the Citi Open. This tournament was quite rough in terms of scheduling and organization. All the matches started at 2 p.m., and it rained almost every single day. There were days when I would not get back to the hotel until 1 or 2 a.m. Although it was not an easy tournament to deal with, it is all a part of the process of being on tour.

This week, I’ll discuss the art of the pre-match routine. It is coming closer to your match, and what do you do? One of the most important factors in preparing for a match is what happens leading up to competing. Every player has his or her own routine and process that they go through to help get into the right state of mind. This also ties back to my beliefs on individuality. The routines will be completely individualized, but there should be five factors that need to be taken into account.

1. Timing. Make sure to plan in advance and find the necessary time that you need to prepare. The last thing that you want is to have either too much or too little time. Also, plan out enough time to fuel up and warm up on the practice court.

2. Physical warm-up. Before having the warm-up practice session, you should dedicate at least 15 minutes to a dynamic warm-up. I cannot stress enough how important this is. The dynamic warm-up would generally include a light run/jog, dynamic stretching, band exercises, shuffling, crossovers or any other necessary exercises you need to perform. This is even more critical for a player if it is in the morning or in a cooler climate.

3. Tennis warm-up. The tennis warm-up ties back to your preferred method of how you want to practice. The main purpose is to gradually get comfortable and find your rhythm. All shots should be warmed up, movement should be engaged and the tools should be sharpened. Ideally at the end, point play would be suggested to get the mind engaged. This should last around 30-45 minutes.

4. Equipment. After the practice warm-up, you should take the time to make sure all your gear is ready. First, check the scores on your assigned court and have an idea of when you will be going on. Racquets should be gripped and freshly strung and put in order of preference in case a string pops. Drinks, bars, banana and gels should also be prepared to maintain energy throughout the match. You should also change into a fresh pair of clothes and pack extras to change into during the match.  

5. Mental Preparation. After everything is ready, take 20-30 minutes alone to mentally prepare. Again, it will be based on preference, depending on how you want to prepare, but a tip would be to use visualization. Imagine yourself playing your opponent and feeling great out there. Prepare your mind for all possible situations that can occur on the court. Block out all the distraction and get in the zone. Whether it is focusing on your breathing, listening to music or going somewhere private, have your own personal routine that best suits your needs. Everyone is different, so there is no set way of going about it.

I will be back in Orlando for a couple days before flying out to Cincinnati at the end of next week. Hope you guys enjoy until next time!