Strategy is the most neglected part of a player’s development, and yet with the correct strategy any opponent can be beaten
In my opinion, Strategy is the “next Frontier” of tennis. Most of the competitive players I see today are technically very good and are physically in great shape but few are playing their matches with any real understanding of Strategy.
Here are three super-effective ways for you to add some basic strategy to help boost your game almost immediately.
1. Hit Crosscourt
There is a saying in boxing that “The Jab is everything, everything comes from the Jab”. Every fighter is trained to establish the Jab during the fight because once a fighter can dominate with their Jab, they dominate the fight.
Why? Because the boxing Jab establishes the distance between the two fighters allowing one fighter to dictate whether the fight is conducted at close quarters or further apart.
The Jab is also the “stepping stone” for other punches. Fighters throw the Jab out and look to follow-up that Jab with another more telling punch such as a Hook or an Upper-cut.
In tennis, the equivalent to the boxing Jab is the Cross-court (forehand and backhand). Here are the reasons why the tennis Cross-court can be so helpful to you in matches:
– The Cross-court shot in tennis puts your opponent under more pressure because it’s always moving away from them. If you’re Cross-Court game is strong enough your opponent will eventually drop a ball through the middle of the court and short. That’s your chance to attack with a forehand or to come forward to the net!
– If you are in trouble during the rally the best direction to defend is Cross-Court. There’s more court to defend to when you hit to the far corner, but even more importantly you have given your opponent the toughest option on their next ball, a down-the-line shot. Although they can still hit the ball back cross-court, you probably haven’t recovered your position yet after the previous shot, so hitting down-the-line is their best option. For your opponent, changing direction down-the-line is a tougher shot to play.
If your game can be based around a strong Cross-Court foundation you become a much more difficult opponent to beat.
2. Give Your Opponents What They Dislike
It sounds obvious but why wouldn’t you give your opponent the type of balls they don’t like, and as often as possible?
The problem with most players, however, is that they are unable to analyze their opponents well enough to really know for sure their opponents’ likes and dislikes. Here’s how to analyze at your opponent better.
If you’ve played your opponent before or have seen them play matches before then you have some idea of their preferences. If you’ve never seen your next opponent before then you will need to focus hard during the 5 minutes of the warm-up. The 5 minutes of the warm-up tend to show you everything you will need to know about their preferences and dislikes.
Of course, you should be still trying to “read” your opponent as the match is in progress and make adjustments to your plan when you see anything that may help. Here’s what you are looking for:
– Tsun Tzu