One of the easiest mistakes to make on the tennis court is playing the game too much in your own head. Many players are so caught up in what’s going on in their own mind, that they often don’t notice the subtle changes taking place at the other end. When we learn to get out of our own heads and see what’s happening with our opponent though, we can make big improvements with our tennis.
Tennis is an incredibly mental sport. You have a lot of time between points to ponder everything from the last point back to the first match you ever played. It’s so easy to start overanalyzing ourselves, our frailties and our weaknesses, but so often we fail to recognize our opponent has weaknesses and frailties too.
Take Pressure Off Yourself
Learning to think about your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and what shots those strengths and weaknesses might lead them to play is not only a great way to get a step ahead of your opponent, but it’s also a great way to take the pressure off yourself.
If you’re about to return a second serve on a breakpoint and you’re busy thinking about how you missed the return on your last breakpoint then the chances are it’s not going to help you to play your best tennis. However, if you spend your time thinking, “my opponents second serve is weak and he likes to hit it out wide to give him more margin for error, so, I can step in and take time away from him,” you don’t have enough time to have those negative thoughts.
Build Your Game Plan
Everyone has their own natural style of play which they’re roughly going to stick to no matter who they play against, but you can use your analysis of your opponent to further enhance that game plan. You always want to find ways to isolate your best shots against your opponent’s weakest shots, so the more you can know about your opponent, the better.
If you notice your opponent really struggles to hit backhand passing shots, then mix the approach into your gameplan a bit more. If your opponent is a bit jittery on the second serve, then step in and put him under pressure. Tennis matches are won and lost by just a few points, so if you can use your opponent’s weaknesses to win you just a couple more points that could make all the difference.
Don’t Become Too Predictable
While you want to prosper from your opponent’s weaknesses, you don’t want to become too predictable. Going to the same tactic too often can play your opponent into form on their weakness and make your life much more difficult, so make sure you keep mixing things up.
Remember, it’s as important to get your strengths into the game as it is to keep your opponent on their weakness. Keep using strategies like the serve plus one and attacking the second serve to make sure you keep playing the shots you want to play whilst keeping your opponent on their toes.
Article by: Will