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Size Up Your Competition

You know how to take advantage of an opponent’s weaknesses when they present themselves, but there’s no need to wait until the second set for adjustments and revelations. The following, from John Whitlinger, Stanford University men’s head tennis coach, will allow you to do some quick analysis, expose his game sooner and get off to a powerful start.

1. Warm up a half-an-hour beforehand.

More than getting loose, for 20 minutes, go through every shot that you plan on hitting. Once the points start to count, no situation will be a surprise.

2. Study his warm-up.

You won’t discover everything, but pay attention to how many volleys and overheads they take. If it’s not a lot, it’s probably not their game. Note to self: Make them hit volleys and overheads.

3. Act a like a leadoff hitter.

Hitting winners and aces are never bad, but you need to keep a lot of early balls in play. You’ll send the message that nothing will be easy, but you also need to find your rhythm and detect their strengths and weaknesses. On approach shots, hit to both sides and the middle and see how they handle them. “If he’s not comfortable doing it early, I’m not sure he’ll be comfortable doing it late,” Whitlinger says. Do the same with your serve, and make sure you kick one out to his backhand. Even good players have trouble with that, regardless of how many times that they see it, and it could be a source of easy points.

4. Receive first.

If you’re not completely comfortable, having your opponent serve will make you see more balls and get you into the flow of the game sooner. Even if you lose, there’s minimal damage since you’re still on serve.

5. Attack the second serve.

During their first game, hit a backhand approach and come into the net. You’ll send another message that you’re going to be in their face. Even if you don’t come in much more, you’re in their head. They knows that they can’t afford weak second serves, which will affect their first one, forcing them to either try to do too much or make sure that they just put it in to start the point.

About The Author

Steve Calechman – Steve Calechman is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com. He has published articles for Men's Health, Natural Health, The Robb Report and Women's Health magazine.

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Tags: Tennis, Focus, Planning