This time of year it can be very difficult to play your
opponent and battle the heat. In fact, many matches come
down to who can handle the conditions the best. Being able
to keep your concentration and execute shots under extreme
conditions could be the deciding factor in a match. Of
course, you know of the usual tips of drinking plenty of
water and wearing a hat and sunscreen but there are a few
other things you might take into consideration.
Many players rush through points without taking the proper
time that is allowed. According to USTA rules, you are
allowed 25 seconds between points. When playing in extreme
heat, using the full 25 second break can really add up over
a set. I would suggest practicing by learning to relax,
get your thoughts together, and towel off within the time
limit. Sometimes when you lose a point you might be quick
to start another one so that you can redeem yourself.
Learn to pace yourself and regroup between points so that
you can be better rested and prepared to start the next
point. The same is true for the changeover break of 90
seconds. Take the full amount of time because you'll be
glad you did if you go three sets in a long, hot match.
A little tip my coach had me do was to hold my racquet in my
non-dominant hand between points. It may not sound like
much but taking an 8-12oz weight out of your hand for a
little while can give you a much needed break. Just
think how heavy your arm feels after a long match! Taking a
little weight off at key times could help.
How about wearing a bandana or cap soaked in water? That is
a great way to keep cool and some companies are making
Velcro wraps to put around your neck. Do you happen to
remember Jimmy Connors wearing bandanas during the heat of
the U.S. Open several years ago.
These may seem like silly ideas to you but I bet they could
make a big impact on how you feel during matches this time
of year. Give them a try and tell me if any of these ideas
help you! You might send me some of your own tips that
help you make it through the summer.