The match starts before the first serve has been hit.
We’ve done some blogs and posts on the warm-up before but I think it’s very important to reiterate and expand on some of these points.
You can check out some of our previous musings on the warm-up from our series of posts on the warm-up here.
Seal an early mental blow
If you warm or knock-up like a pro, it sends out an early message to your opponent. It may even be enough to intimidate and worry them for a while, which could earn you an advantage in the early rallies and even help you win a few points. It can certainly make them doubt themselves and their own ability if they let it.
Warm up how you want to play
More importantly though, it helps you to control the things you can control, namely yourself. If you warm up by whacking the ball aimlessly, or equally bad, by playing one cross-court shot to your opponent, you’re not going to start the game in peak condition. Never let the ball bounce twice in a warm-up – always do your best to keep the ball alive, especially if that means dashing to retrieve the ball. You should treat the warm-up like it is a match, even if only against yourself to get your mind, body and racket acting as they would in a match.
Don’t be coerced into what your opponent is doing either. Feel free to hit the ball to yourself two or three times before cross-courting to your opponent – just make sure you don’t take too long.
You should also, as we discuss more in ‘Knocking up with purpose’, tailor your warm-up and knock-up to your style. If you want to volley a lot or take the ball early, your knock-up should include lots of solo volleys and attempts to volley the shots your opponent plays to you. If you play lots of drops, then make sure you play plenty of drops. In general of course you want to play a good variety of shots, angles, paces and spins.
Next time you play a match, check who is winning the warm-up. If it is not you, you have work to do. And never let the ball bounce twice.