Mastering your breathing on the court is vital in keeping your energy levels high and your concentration focused in the heat of battle. I’m not suggesting everyone is playing for ATP/WTA money but tennis is more fun when you’re winning and anything that can improve your performance naturally should be seriously considered.
Breathing in tennis is something that can be learned and practiced. Obviously your Cardiovascular fitness will ultimately determine your recovery between points, but during the point your fitness can be maximized by your breathing. Exhaling through the contact point is important for stamina, but also for concentration. Why do you think combat snipers are trained to exhale as they pull the trigger? It allows them to focus and remain steady as they execute their shot. Exactly what tennis players need.
Obviously the harder you hit the more effort you exert and the more force needed to exhale. Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Victoria Azarenka are all famous grunters, and although their grunting also has an intimidating effect on the opponent, its primary function is to keep their intensity and stamina high.
Not only does breathing have an effect during the point but making sure you use your time between points to control your breathing and relax really helps settle the nerves before big points. You have 25 seconds between points to recovery physically, or to strategize with your partner for the upcoming point. This is valuable time, don’t neglect to use it!
Practice incorporating good breathing patterns into your game, it will help your concentration, stamina and nerves both during the point and following it.
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