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

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Make a Plan

Written By Richard McAfee

One of the most difficult skills for the average player to learn is match strategy.  There are several reasons for this.
1.    It requires the ability to focus on what your opponent is doing.  This can be difficult when your own strokes are not sound. 
2.    It requires a lot of experience to realize what strategies work against different styles. 
3.    Finally, it is hard to fine much in writing regarding match tactics.  This is largely due to the complexity and individuality of the issue.
With all this is mind, how does the developing athlete begin to develop his or her own match tactics?  Let me give you a simple way to get started.
 
A Simple Plan!
 
To begin with, you need to understand that there are four ways to win a point. 
·         Power
·         Setting traps for the opponent by varying speed, spin, height, and placement to force errors
·         Special Techniques – combination rackets, special serves, or unique shots
·         Time Pressure – playing faster than your opponent is comfortable playing
 
Every time you begin a point during a match you should have an idea of which of the above methods you want to try and use.  Your own primary method of winning points will depend on your style.  What is important is to always play each point with a purpose and to be aware of what is or is not working for you.  It is an old cliché, but you should never change a winning strategy and always change a losing strategy. 
 
You can help prepare yourself for match play by asking yourself, “how can I use my best shots to win points with each of the above four methods?”  Once you can answer these questions, then try and develop some practice drills to work on each skill.  
 
Learning how to develop and successfully implement match strategy is the real fun of the sport.  As you develop into the higher levels of the game, you will find a good coach can help you through the complicated maze of different styles and playing materials.  However, as your level goes up you will also find that your opponents are able to make several tactical adjustments during the match.  In the end, it is always the athlete who stands alone and must choose the right strategy to use.
 

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