Strategy is one of the most interesting categories on Tennisplayer, because it has such great potential for making immediate, dramatic improvements in your results.
Over the years, I eagerly embraced the work of coaches who have contributed to this section and found, gloriously, that they helped me win matches: Allen Fox, Frank Brennan, and in upcoming articles, an incredible series from top Southern California junior coach Craig Cignarelli. This also includes my own work here on understanding statistics.
The perspective I created for myself helped me beat players that I was losing to. It helped me beat players I wanted to beat (sometimes badly). It helped me beat players who considered themselves "better" than I wasand that many observers considered "better" as well.
So why is then that so many players would rather obsess over the details of their topspin backhand? What I've learned over the years, is that strategy is like the mental game. Powerful but scary. Many players would rather not really know how matches are won and lost. If they did, they might have to take more responsibility for the outcomeinstead of just think they need a little bit bigger first serve.
But if you fall into the category of players willing to take the riskthere is a huge payout for you here. I believe most matches aren't settled by firepower. It's the application of firepower that counts. More specifically, it means knowing what you really can and can't do, making similar assessments of your opponents, and then putting two and two together.
To give one example: in a high school tournament I showed up at the match of our #3 player to find her down 6-2, 1-0. "She's just too good. She keeps killing her forehand!" Caroline explained to me. I watched two games and on the changeover I told here one thing. "From now on you will hit every ball to her backhand, period." The girl did have a great forehand, but surprisingly, a one handed backhand with an extreme grip that she absolutely could not keep in the court.
To her credit, Caroline took this simple piece of strategic advice to heart. She won the second two sets 6-3, 6-1. Afterwards she was elated. She was a real competitor, who was willing to put herself on the line to win matcheseven if that inevitably meant some painful losses.
So how about you? Do you care about your results as much as Caroline? If so dive in and get ready to get much happier with your results.
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