Coach Samson Dubina 2016 US National Team Coach 2015 - 2018 USATT Coach of the Year
 

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Look. Listen. Feel.

Learn to somewhat-predict the future

 
 
 
If you look, listen, and feel between points, you can have an idea of what your opponent might possibly do in the next rally.
 
Look
After the point has finished, look at your opponent.  Without knowing it, he might be frantically waving his arms demonstrating what he should have done or demonstrating what he wants to do.  For example, you just surprised him with a deep serve to his middle (he used a backhand push).  Disgustedly, he does a shadow stroke showing that he wants to use his forehand loop.  Knowing that he wants to use his forehand loop on the next serve return, should give you (as the server) a much better idea of what to serve and what to expect from him as the receiver.
 
Listen
After the point has finished, listen for your opponent’s mumbling response.  Many players mumble under their breath without knowing it.  Some opponents will do it on purpose to mess you up, but most of your opponents just do it unknowingly because they are in the habit of doing it.  For example, if you just served heavy backspin short to your opponent’s backhand and he flipped it into the bottom of the net, you might hear him mumble, “Com’on Billy, just push the ball!”  So at that moment, you need to decide if Billy said that for you to hear, or did Billy say it to himself.  If Billy said that to himself, then he will probably make a passive return next.
 
Feel
Before serving, look at your opponent.  From the look on his face, to the tension in his muscles, to his right/left position at the table, to his distance away from the table, to his stance, to his racket height, to his grip, you should be able to tell if he wants to receive the serve with his backhand or forehand and whether he wants to receive aggressively with a flip or loop or passively with a push or chop.  If you spend enough time studying various opponents, you will learn to get a feel of what they might possibly do.
 
You might only have about 8-10 seconds between each point, use this time wisely to analyze the last point, clear your mind, build your confidence, LOOK & LISTEN & FEEL, then strategize for the next point.
 
 
 

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