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Know Your Strength, Stop Using Your Opponents
Time and time again tennis players find themselves losing a match they know they should have won. It is impossible to diagnose exactly what went wrong in your own individual match, but many times players tend to mock their opponents style of play. This is never good. It can be a serious issue when two players with completely different styles clash! My example includes two familiar styles of play. The first player is referred to as the “pusher” and the second player, known at the local club as the “gunner”.
I will begin by noting the strengths of each style of play. The pusher, an extremely smart player, has the ability to take almost any ball and put it back into the court. The pusher is usually fast on his feet and will get to any shot you throw at him.
The gunner is a highly aggressive, winner-hitting, big shot who loves to slug the ball. Generally, this player is very good at taking their opponent out of their comfort zone by hitting with power.
When these two players play a competitive match it is easy to see who has the more dominant style of play in this particular match (usually evident within the first 4 games):
If the score is 2-2:
Chances are each player is having success with their own style and the pusher will keep pushing, and the gunner will keep slugging
*If the score is 4-0:
This is where things have gotten bad or soon will get worse. Either the pusher or the gunner has found that they have been successful thus far in the match.
The natural reaction when a player is losing is to “change a losing game.”
We have heard this advice time and time again. The problem with that advice is that most players misunderstand it, take it to an extreme, and do something so brash that it ends up making everything worse. The player will adapt the other player’s game.
It is not uncommon for the hard hitting player to realize how many errors he is making, flip-flop, and start tapping the ball over the net in an attempt to fight fire with fire.
The problem is:
· The big hitter has now been taking completely out of his comfort zone and is playing under stress.
· The big hitter will not get anywhere by pushing the ball over the net
It is also not uncommon for the pusher to realize he needs to start hitting harder to stop their opponent from hitting winners
The problem is:
· The pusher is not used to hitting the ball at a faster pace and will begin to increase errors
· Secondly, the big hitter can handle a harder hit ball, and is probably more comfortable with it. The pusher may only be helping him by hitting harder!
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