If you want to win, you need go on the attack during your matches. You need to take control of the point and beat your opponent. This takes more than raw talent and physical agility. The best players develop a winning strategy for each match. This is how they control each point and anticipate their opponents actions. The best players have a game plan in mind, before stepping onto a court. They work out a winning strategy that leverages their strengths and minimizes their weaknesses. They’ve worked out when to play offensively (when they have the upper hand) and when they need to fall back to a defensive shot to ensure the point continues.
A great strategy involves more than just your game, but also analyzes your opponent. Here are some types of players you are likely to encounter and some tips to use during the match.
Not everyone darts around the court chasing every shot. If you notice your opponent doesn’t move much or has trouble running down balls, he may be a slow-poke. Do everything you can to force this player to move:
- Put more spin you’re the slice serve, hitting it out wide.
- Leverage crosscourt down-the-line pattern.
- Leverage your drop shots and lobs.
- Be patient and play long points.
Not only will you tire your opponent out, but they will eventually make an unforced error. This player is not accustomed to moving so much and will be thrown off his game.
This player runs down everything. You thought you placed a perfect winner only to see the ball come flying back. Our first instinct is to hit the ball harder and faster to overpower this player, but we are better off focusing on variety.
- Keep the player off-balance, never be predictable.
- Change your placement and spin types constantly.
- Hit towards the player, he may trip over his own two feet.
- Give the occasional floater, they will get over aggressive and hit crazy.
These players are typically good at anticipating the ball. So while they just seem fast, in reality they know where they should go giving them an edge. Being completely unpredictable will take away that edge.
Every shot is hit hard and fast. You feel uncomfortable and may even think you are out of your league. Focus on moving the player around the court and keeping the ball in play.
- Hit hard flat first serves, slice second serves right into the body.
- Leverage drop shots and lobs, a hard shot is more difficult on the run.
- Vary the speed to break any type of rhythm
- Play your style and wait for the unforced error.
These players insist on making every shot a winner. Use this to your advantage by letting them hit every wild shot into the net or fences. Keep them off-balance and they will miss more shots. If you can keep the point going, just one more shot, they will eventually make that costly mistake.
While you are developing strategies against your opponents, realize they are sizing you up as well. Identify your own weaknesses to ensure you can compensate appropriately. In our next post we will focus on five offensive shots you can practice to ensure a win.