How to Win High-Pressure Breakpoints
It’s hard to argue that winning a break point is one of the most crucial points in any tennis match. That means both saving a break point against you (your team serving) and converting a break point for you (opponents’ serving). The problem for club players is that these are also the highest pressure-inducing moments in a match and we need to treat them as times to bring our mental “A” game. Hopefully as a reader of this blog, you have many tools to your mental arsenal for these points.
Saving Break Points
To save a break point, it comes down to your first serve percentage. If you can get your first serve in consistently, you have a higher percentage opportunity to win the point as opposed to having the start the point on a second serve. The math bears it out with the pros: top servers like Isner and Roddick save the most break points vs. servers with lower first serve percentages.
Therefore, it goes without saying that getting your first serve in is paramount. You and your partner should conference before this point and promise to take a little bit off the first serve to get that fuzzy yellow ball into the box. If you can do this, the pressure is all on the other team to return well to set the point up for them. Take deep breaths and focus on the serve itself, using visualization techniques, mantras, or whatever works best for you to have complete focus in this moment.
For more on key tactics in holding serve as a team, read this blog.
Converting Break Points
This is not as easy as it seems, especially when you are playing a team with a great first serve percentage, as illustrated above. But there are things you can do to stay tough and return the ball with purpose.
It’s best to look at the conversion point as important, requiring all the focus and positive energy you can muster, but to also view it as if you have nothing to lose. You are not expected to convert a break point because the advantage is always given to the server. So throw caution to the wind, discuss strategy with your partner for where to return the ball and how to play the point, and GO FOR IT!
This is especially so it they give you a second serve. You can usually return a second serve in any way you want: smoke it cross court, slice it, lob it, put it down the line., etc. Know where you want to play the ball and how you can set up your partner to get the sure win.
One either side of the coin, you want to use your GlamSlam mental techniques for handling big pressure points in a match. Read here for more on mental toughness during big points. Good luck!