Creating Momentum In Your Matches

Article © 2000 - 2035 Craig Townsend / Its Mind over Matter. All Rights Reserved.


Momentum swings are amongst the most powerful forces in the tournament tennis match - and usually being the ultimate decider of the winner of most matches. 

So today I am going to share a few very simple ways to create your own momentum in a match, without your opponent even knowing - as well as how to snatch it back when your opponent has the match rhythm going all their own way. 

Momentum changes become obvious when you analyze match scores to see where some of the major momentum swings were - eg. 1-6 7-6 6-1. Of course, its much easier if you happen to be the one riding the wave of momentum in the match - because when its against you, it can be a tough one to turn around - but unless you are someone like Roger Federer who tended to win most of his matches fairly easily, the key is to maximize your own momentum while minimizing that of your opponent. 

So let's look back at one of the former masters of creating momentum, and also for taking it away from an opponent - a master tactician who was one of the greatest players ever, winning 8 grand slam titles back in the 80's. 

Possibly he was even the first player to make 'momentum swings' an art form - and his name was Ivan Lendl. He was the guy who stopped McEnroe's supreme reign at the top of the game - and even after losing their first 7 matches, he went on to win the next 7, in a row. They were the 'Federer and Nadal' of the 80's.

One of the subtle but very powerful methods Lendl used during his matches was this: Lendl would slightly reduce the amount of time between points whenever he won a point, and slightly increase time between points whenever he lost the point (but he rarely did this enough to ever be easily noticed, or to incur a penalty point). So what did this Lendl tactic do? Let's analyze it from both player's points of view. 

Whenever Lendl would win a point, he would briskly move to the other side of the court in readiness to start the next point - and each time he did this, it would reinforce within him the mindset, feeling and emotion of winning a lot of points in a short time. 

This is winning momentum. Meanwhile, his opponent was losing a lot of points in a very short time - feeling as though the set was slipping away, right before his eyes, one point after another. That, of course, is losing momentum. 

Lendl may have initially exaggerated this tactic a little too much at the beginning of his career, as he was probably one of the main reasons why the ATP brought in the '30 second rule' between points.

But even so, he used this tactic of momentum change highly effectively even within the 30 seconds, which goes to show that we are not talking about dramatically stretching out the time between lost points - possibly just an extra 10 seconds or so getting set up to serve or receive. And of course, reducing the time by the same amount when you have won a point.

It sounds like an incredibly simple method, but it has the eventual effect of creating a strong feeling of momentum within you, while at the same time, increasing the feelings within your opponent of a complete lack of momentum (and this never goes astray! ; ) 

Needless to say, this is done most effectively when it is done very subtly - because making it obvious will alert them to what is happening, and they may well begin to use it back. 

When it's used properly, your opponent does not even know that you are doing it - which allows you to command the rhythm of the match without them even realizing. 

This is a tactic that you do not need to use all the time either - you might just choose to use it at select times in the match, whenever the pressure is on. Begin to implement this into your tournament play and see if it makes a difference to the momentum in your matches.


"The Mind controls the body, and the Mind is Unlimited"

The best of success, Craig Townsend

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