May 10, 2010

Ed Dickson to Teach at my T3 Summer Camps

I’m pleased to announce that, Ed Dickson - a great, veteran Division I head tennis coach - will be a teacher at my 2010 Total Tennis Training Summer Camps in Lexington, Sumter, and Brevard.

I spent several of my earlier coaching years side-by-side with Ed. We both worked for my mentor Harry Hopman and became similarly inspired to coach and to teach. Ed helped me get off of the ground at Clemson, as we coached two ACC championship teams together. He spent the next 25 years leading programs at Purdue, West Virginia and Austin Peay.

He’s a great man and a great tennis teaching mind. I am looking forward to reuniting with him in our tennis teaching work.

May 5, 2010

Playing Against a Player with a Different Style

One of the best ways to determine the strategy to use against an opponent is by using player match-up charts. Simply, I give my own player a basic rating from 0 to 10 (10 being the best) in the three playing style areas: Delayed Pressure, Quick Pressure, and Countering Quick Pressure.

Of course, the standards for rating are relative based on the level that a player is participating. Each player has strengths and weaknesses that are more directly related to his or her style of play than proficiency in each particular stroke. By matching up your strengths and weaknesses against an opponent's, a style of play for the match can be determined. You want to decide on a strategy that accents your strengths but also forces the opponent into his weaknesses. This figure shows how this technique can be used effectively.

Sample Strategy: In this mach my opponent is a great counterpuncher, but he is weak as an attacking player and only fair when it comes to creating pressure while working the ball off the ground in the backcourt. He basically needs a target or his weapons are not that effective. My game revolves around my attacking ability, but because my opponent likes targets, I'll do my best to minimize my targets until the time is appropriate. I will take away his first exchange strength of returning serve by not serving and volleying as much as I would normally like. I will instead use more of what is often referred to as "Wide and Glide" tactics, serving and attacking the second ball. In this case I want to create pressure with the serve. This will take away the opponent's ability to hurt me with his great return of serve. Because he doesn't like to play long points and wants a quick target, my objective will be to make him play long points whenever possible, especially on his service game. This will hopefully frustrate him into going to the net more that he is comfortable with; therefore, he will have to use a weak part of his game. If my opponent starts to falter and become frustrated, then I pick up the quick attack and dominate his game.

While there are many strategies that can be used to win a match, the most basic and most important ones to remember are:
1) Get locked into the way that you want to play and 2) Try to make your opponent play in a way that he is not comfortable. One of the most common mistakes in this strategy is, while trying to throw the player off of his style, not sticking to your own strengths.

A Winning Tennis Player is Comfortable at Being Uncomfortable.