The Awesome Power Of Body Language In A Match
Your body language on court has a huge impact upon not only your own game, but your opponent's performance as well.
Every top player on the tour would have been instructed on how to better use the powerful art of body language during matches. You can also use body language to know when your opponent is just about to hand you the match on a platter!
So exactly what is body language? Well, it's pretty much everything you do on a tennis court in between the points and games - such as the way you walk, stand, talk, react to points, etc.
Every single action you make sends signals to your opponent which they pick up either consciously or subconsciously (and the other way around) - and these signals either report that you are confident and strong - or otherwise nervous, irritated, tired, frustrated etc. Body language never lies, unless you know how to use it, of course!
First of all lets talk about how your body language affects your opponent. When a player is behind in a match and they are feeling frustrated, their negative body language (such as drooping head and shoulders, moving slowly between points, yelling self-abuse in frustration, smashing rackets and balls etc) all make their opponent feel more in control and cruising to victory - as they can visibly see that their opponent is unravelling and self-destructing.
This encourages the opponent even further, and helps them to raise their game to greater heights, making it even harder for the negative player to make a comeback.
Positive body language however, is a different story. This sends out danger signals to your opponent - that conveys: "I am in control and nothing can stop me".
Here are just a few of the subtle actions which are the sure sign of a future winner:
Pumping your fist after you hit great shots
Moving quickly and briskly between points and changing ends
Keeping your head and shoulders up
Giving the impression that you have heaps of energy in reserve as you walk past your opponent at the change of ends, including jogging to the chair as Agassi so often did. (if you are breathing heavily from a long point, even hold your breath as you walk past them!).
Agassi and Federer conveyed this positive sort of body language, and to even use an example of a past World No. 1 - Stefan Edberg from the 80's - whose coach instantly began working on his negative body language as soon as he began working with him, and the results to follow for him were awesome.
You see, body language also has a huge impact upon your own game. It is a fact that if you simply forced yourself to use positive body language on court (eg. even just walking faster between points) your mind simply has no choice but send positive commands through to your body - and so your tennis level immediately increases.
You see, while it's your mind that controls your body, your body influences your mind, through its body language! So if you ever need to rapidly increase your standard of play, change your body language, quickly!
If you begin to watch another tennis match, you rarely need to see the scoreboard to know the score if one player is well ahead - as you can instantly tell who is winning through the positive and negative body language, being displayed by the winning and losing player!
So if you find yourself locked even in the 3rd set (eg. 3 games all), this is when your positive body language can have a very powerful effect upon your opponent - as they will begin to believe that you are simply not as tired or frustrated as they are, and begin to wonder "what does it take for something to get to him (or her) ?"
Once thoughts like this run through your opponent's mind, you are very close to making the vital break and cruising to a victory.
Last but not least, make sure you keep an eye on your opponent's body language for signs that they are becoming frustrated or tired, as they often give you some major insights as to when they are reaching breaking point and about to crack under the pressure.
Watch for shaking of their head after a point, muttering or yelling at themselves, looking downwards, walking slowly (not when used as a delaying tactic however, this is quite different) and breathing very heavily after points, especially if they take extra time or squat down to rest in between points.
Body language is all a part of the mental warfare that a competitive tennis match involves, so ensure you begin to add this aspect of your game if you are a serious tournament or competitive player.
"The Mind controls the body, and the Mind is Unlimited"
The best of success, Craig Townsend