Sunday, February 19, 2012


In the heat of the battle it’s difficult to think clearly.  With so many things going on it's sometimes easy to forget the basics. But to play at your best certain parts of your game must function in order to win matches. 

Some people call them “The Percentages”, but everyone has a slightly different version of what “The Percentages” actually means.  I like to call them the “5 Core Elements” needed to play at your best.

I expect my students to mentally check the 5 core elements at different times during the match, particularly during those important periods of a match such as after a break of serve, or when either their opponent or themselves establish momentum. 

Important moments in a match can mean either you or your opponent are ahead on the scoreboard, it's about maintaining positive momentum or reversing negative momentum in your favour.

The 5 Core Elements of match Play are:

1.     High Percentage of First Serves
Any time your 1st serve begins to fail and you are beginning points with your 2nd serve you are automatically putting pressure on yourself .

2.     Consistent Returns
Remember that the serve is an advantage, while the return means you are at a disadvantage.  By getting the return back in play consistently you are neutralizing the servers’ advantage and can now work at winning the point.

3.     Pressure in the Rally
It’s impossible to win points at the highest level if you can’t exert pressure on your opponent during the rally. Creating pressure during the rally can give you the opening to either hit a winner or draw an error from your opponent.

4.     Low unforced Errors
By keeping the unforced error count to a minimum you force your opponent to come up with more and that often means that they try to do too much themselves.  Great players never beat themselves.

5.     Mentally Stable
Keep mentally stable when you are up a break, otherwise you come out of the patterns and mindset that got you the break in the first place!  Likewise, if you go down a break or a set, analyze the situation clearly and come up with a plan to get back on level terms.  Sulking won’t help you and neither will becoming too confident and “show boating”

When using the 5 Core Elements of Match Play remember that every match is different.  If you served well in yesterdays match you may serve poorly in today’s match, you need to monitor your performance throughout the match and be constantly aware of the 5 elements in each match you play.