Coaching Tip - November 2023

Are you losing to “Weaker” Opponents?
Enjoy the Challenge
Turn this around

The majority of tennis players enjoy the experience of playing against higher division or stronger opponents
but their game often gets shaky or falls apart against seemingly “weaker” opponents.

Tennis players often get ahead of themselves by
• Expecting to win
• thinking that they have the match won before playing
• trying to finish the points off quickly and going for too much

The resulting mistakes or errors then lead to that feeling of nervousness and despair.
That loss to the seemingly ‘weaker” opponent can easily follow.

The tips outlined below will hopefully help your tennis game so that you are better prepared for your next match against that seemingly “weaker” opponent.

Use Your Pre Match Hit Up
When you are on court hitting up before the match at hand use this time to your advantage by
• using breathing techniques to try to relax so that you can overcome your pre-match nerves
and to push aside that win expectation feeling
• getting your game in order by finding the rhythm with your ground strokes and serve
• check out your opponent
Is he or she right or left handed?
Which shots does he/she prefer to hit or avoid?
Does he/she move well to the ball?
• Adjust to the weather conditions by checking out the direction of the sun and wind
How does this affect your ball toss for the serve or the direction you would like to hit your ground strokes?

During the Match
You will need to practice the tips below during your hitting and organised practice sessions so that they become a natural part of your game plan.

When your match is underway try to adopt the following guidelines
• Don’t underestimate your opponent
Looks can be deceiving.
Height or lack of it?
Body shape – slim or heavy build?
You may have noticed during the hit up that your opponent hits very well under certain conditions.
For example He/She may hit consistently when the ball comes near them so try to hit the ball from side to side to check out their movement.
Hit your shots with consistency not power
Try the combination of hitting short and then using the lob.
Do not over or under play the shot – just play naturally
Be prepared for inconsistency from your opponent
Your weaker opponent will often have little or no tactical plan during the rally
They also may have little or no control of their shots so be prepared for a series of mis-hits or frames often called “flukes” by their often frustrated opponents
So be prepared for anything

Patience is a virtue
You should be prepared for every shot to come back – often it does
Don’t rush or force your shots during the rally – this will result in errors and can mean the loss of many games or even sets or the match
Use your rallying skills to set up the point so that you can put the ball away with a steady shot into the open court instead of trying to power it away.
Work hard during the rally
Your seemingly “weaker opponent will hit balls often - without intention - into parts of the court where it is difficult to return
Keep chasing the ball to get it back making your opponent play that extra shot.
Play the game one point at a time so that you keep your game together.
• Relax and enjoy the game
During a match players will generally tense up on important points.
However this tension can escalate during a match when you are playing against a seemingly “weaker” opponent so much so that if this tension is not controlled a loss can result.
The tension or resultant stress leads to you tightening up physically and mentally so that you play badly with poor shot selection and numerous errors.
The keys to overcome this tension is to
• Calm down
• Relax
• Enjoy the challenge
• Loosen up

If you adopt these key elements then it may take a while but you will beat that “weaker” opponent.

Just another reminder that you will need to adopt these strategies or tips as part of your regular practice hitting/match sessions so that it becomes a part of your game plan.

I hope that the above tips re beating that seemingly “weaker’ tennis opponent will help you defeat those nagging hard to beat opponents and as a result allow you take your game to the next level.

Try not to confuse yourself by thinking too much.
Keep it Simple. Relax and let it happen

Let me know if you can think of any other options to help you achieve a more consistent and effective physical and mental game.

Tennis the game of a lifetime

Contact me by Email if you have any comments or helpful Tennis hints.
Let me know the things that work for you.

Coach Steve