Post-match tips: Recover and refocus

June 4, 2015 12:05 PM

By Dr. Larry Lauer & USTA Player Development Coaches, special to

Routines are important not just before and during matches, but after the match as well. Champions commit to habits of excellence that are followed with discipline.

Post-match, the goal should be to recover and professionally prepare the body and mind for the next opportunity to practice or compete.

After the match:

1.    Recovery

  • Five-minute jog on a soft surface plus stretching/cool down for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • “Decompress” from the match. Reflect on what happened and understand why it happened. Begin to let go of intense emotions and moving forward in your day.
  • Carbohydrate intake and hydrate within 30 minutes after the completion of a match.

2.    Post-match training  

  • Talk with a coach, parent or teammate who watched the match. Learn from their perspective.
  • Clean up and reinforce technical and tactical aspects.  
  • Prepare different tactical aspects for the next match.

3.    Dinner

  • Should be composed of carbohydrates, protein, fruit and vegetables (no pastries or fatty foods).
  • Take dinner as an opportunity to talk with your coach about life, examples of overcoming difficulties and other sports. (Try to use this as an opportunity to focus on becoming a better player, so no cell phones and other distractions.)

4.    Evening

  • Engage in conversation with a coach about the day and the plan for the next day.
  • Mentally deal with any concerns by either creating a plan that will be enacted the next day or by letting go and making a commitment to deal with it another time.
  • Mentally rehearse how you will play the next day by visualizing game style and best performances, watching video and/or writing about game style and best performances.
  • Relax by doing a favorite non-tennis-related activity such as reading a book or watching television and movies.
  • Sleep a minimum of eight consecutive hours. If you are having trouble sleeping, write reoccurring thoughts on a notepad and consciously choose to let them go. Also, use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to quiet the mind.

See the Player Development Journal for more detailed information on pre-, during and post-match habits of excellence.


Dr. Lauer is the mental skills specialist for USTA Player Development