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

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Immediate Strategy

Look for these 4 important clues!

When playing a tournament, you might not be familiar with your opponent.  In this blog, I am going to list a few quick things to look for in the first 30 seconds of a match.  Implement these ideals, and you will be able to immediately form a game strategy.
#1 Rubber
Before the match begins, shake hands with your opponent and ask if you can see his racket.  Using the ball, check the rubber’s friction; the more friction that top-sheet has, the more spin your opponent will be able to impart.  Be sure to check both sides because your opponent might have a combination racket with two different kinds of rubber.
#2 Grip
When your opponent is holding his racket in the ready position, see if he is using a forehand grip or a backhand grip.  A forehand grip has the racket shifted slightly to the thumb side of the hand.  A backhand grip has the racket shifted slightly to the index finger side of the hand.
#3 Stance
Before serving, check to see if your opponent is standing with his feet parallel to the table (backhand stance) or with his right foot back (forehand stance).
#4 Aggressiveness
After the first two points, stop and think to yourself, “Is my opponent offensive or defensive?”  If he is winning most of his points attacking, then your must begin to find ways to stop his powerful weapons.  If he is winning most of his points by long rallies and allowing you to make mistakes, then you need to be patient, eliminate unnecessary errors, and choose the right ball.
Implementing these four quick tips will allow you to begin making a game-plan to beat your opponent.  As the match progresses, be willing to change your original plan.