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Hardscrabble Scramble
August 1998 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Tips For The Heat

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Mike Whittington

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.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


 

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