- Fitness and Mental Toughness
Need for Speed
Slams, we take the opportunity to watch not only
our current and former players, but new and upcoming
pros breaking through. We always use these tournaments
barometers for our juniors who aspire to the top
of tennis, and observe stroke production, general
fitness, and mental toughness trends. One characteristic
that stands out at
this level is the use of speed; in terms of footwork,
racquet acceleration, and judgement.
A fast player can get most balls with time to make
the best tactical play possible, as opposed to a
slower person who barely gets there in time, and
has to make a lot of emergency shots. A mentally
quick player can rapidly determine what opportunities
exist based on the ball coming towards them, and
gets in position early, choosing the best play for
the situation. With enough time, the player can
generate the appropriate amount of racquet head
speed to make a forceful shot, taking the ball early
enough to give the opponent less time to react.
Good footwork sets up more opportunities to take
control of the point, cutting down emergency plays.
A strong, fit player can maintain speed throughout
a 3 or 5 set match, wearing out a less-conditioned
opponent both physically and mentally. Being in
great condition, eating nutritional foods, and hydrating
properly allows players to hang in against other
well-conditioned players. Superb fitness gives them
the confidence they need to have an edge against
the highlyranked opponents theyll meet deep
in tournament draws.