Coach Samson Dubina US National Team Coach 4x USATT Coach of the Year

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The Upset

Pull Off the Upset of the Tournament!

The Upset!



Everyone wants to pull off the biggest upset of the tournament – that is everyone’s aspiration when entering a tournament. In this article, I’m going to outline some of the major keys that can turn your dream into a reality.


#1 Forget About It

Forget about winning, just play your best. You have about 4-7 seconds between points during the match. Instead of spending those 4-7 seconds on calculating your new rating with the big rating adjustment you will get, focus your attention on your performance. Are you moving well? Are you spinning the ball? Are you adjusting? Are you making good decisions?


#2 Expect a Dog-Fight

You need to expect this match to be huge battle. Hoping that your opponent will be injured or hoping that his racket fails the thickness test won’t put you in the best mindset for an upset. Of course, things do happen – elite players get cramps, elite players get injured, elite players get into arguments, elite players have equipment problems – these external factors could seriously help you with a win – but you shouldn’t be hoping for these traumatic events to happen to your opponent.


#3 Take Some Risk

If you play normal and your high-level opponent plays normal, then you will likely lose. Especially in the beginning of the match, you must take measured risks to put pressure on your opponent and steal the first game.


#4 Don’t Be Risky

Ok I thought that I was supposed to be risky? I’m going to re-emphasize the point I just said…… …..MEASURED RISK! MEASURED RISK! About 90% of elite players don’t need to perform against the low guy because the low guy goes for too much risk. Please don’t try to smash every serve, please don’t try to smash every loop. Don’t be TOO risky!


#5 Continue to Adjust

For sure, the elite player is smart. If he starts losing, you might make some adjustments. As the match progresses, continue to think tactics between points and make necessary adjustments. Just because a particular tactic won the first game 11-2, doesn’t mean that it will continue to work!


#6 Remember It

After the upset, you can back to the club the following week. Instead of just remembering the look on your opponent’s face, you should remember the tactics that you used, remember the mindset that you had, remember the aggressiveness or consistency that you played. My game is structured around my upsets. When I had my biggest upsets, I was able to mentally list the factors that contributed to the upset and continue to restructure my game around those aspects. You can do it too – just remember, write it down, and train accordingly!






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