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Pre Tournament Practice: One Week Before Event

Every player is different so every player will require a different practice regimen during the week leading up to a big event. I venture, however, that the routine for most high level players often follows a specific pattern (unless the player needs specific work with a part of her game). 

In a previous tip, we have covered the practice regiment that the player should follow in the 2-3 months leading up to the main tournament. Here, we are focusing on the week immediately prior to the event. I would recommend that for a Saturday/Sunday event, the practice schedule should be tailored to achieve peak performance for the weekend of the event as follows:

1. Monday - Monday is you basic "consistency" day; this should be your longest workout day of the week. In these practices, your focus should be on long rallies and high percentage plays. You are reinforces the foundation that you have established in the prior week. Imagine studying for the bar exam or the boards - although the main work is done, you are trying to establish feel, timing and consistency with all of your shots. You should do a lot of cross-courts, down-the-line and figure 8s. In addition, infuse some side-to-side drills, inside-outs, volley-overhead repetitions, and serves. You are laying the foundation for your "C" game. 

2. Tuesday. Tuesday is your an intense day in that you are incorporating more pattern drills into the practice and transitioning from more artificial practices to point-playing. If possible, drills should alternate between high-intensity feeding drills, to rallying drills and points. Rinse and repeat until you are comfortable implementing the plays and pattern into your game. 

3. Wednesday. Wednesday is your match day. Here is where you play 3 sets (I never recommend playing less, regardless of score) and see how all the things that you've practiced come together. By analogy, this would be your practice exam day. Coaching should be relatively minimal so that you can learn to teach and correct yourself. At the end of the practice, work on serves and returns and go over some of the points. The coach's job is not to judge you or "put you down" but provide you the quick-and-dirty criticism on the points. 

4. Thursday. Thursday is the day when you go over - in a focused fashion - on the parts of your game that still need more work. This is synthesized from your previous practices. Maybe you have specific problem with a certain type of shot or ball in particular part of the court. Focus the practice on improving this part of the game but also work on your favorite shots and plays as well. Again, the key is to alternate between feeding drills and live-ball drills but with more emphasis on limited parts of the game. Your weapons - you want to establish confidence that you "still got them". With regard to your weaknesses, you will want to improve them so that, in the worst case scenario, you know what to do to get yourself out of a jam.

5. Friday. Friday is your "fun" day. I am an advocate of a light day on Friday that is focused on some fun shots. Maybe drop shots or drop volleys; doubles; overheads and sky-hooks; jump shots; swinging volleys; etc. Maybe you want to play some tie-breakers, hit some light cross-courts, work on some returns; etc. Normally, you will not try to kill yourself during this practice and are only sharpening your hand-to-eye coordination in order to make sure that you're "firing on all pistons" the next day and seeing the ball nice and big. 


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