How to Play against Stronger Players

“- He’s too good! I’ll lose this match for sure…
– Don’t worry about him; let HIM worry about you!”

It’s one of the best advice I had ever received when played competitive tennis.

Besides the above quote, what else can you do when playing stronger and faster opponents?
– hang in there; the momentum could switch and swing in your favour;
– vary the spin, height and pace of your shots;
– shorten your backswing – you’ll be able to handle his pace and contact the ball early;
– take more time in between the points, within the 25 seconds decent limit… or is it 20 seconds? 😉
– believe you can do it and keep fighting – this one I can tell from experience that good things happen when we believe and fight all the way to the end.

Cosmin Miholca

A Tennis Warm-Up Story

“OK now… do you want to serve or receive?” is what I heard the two guys saying 5 minutes after they just stepped on the tennis court… 😯 

It always makes me laugh when people are so excited to… just play. The love for competition is so big they don’t even take the time to warm up properly: “Let’s just play!”

You can tell dedicated players from the not-so-dedicated ones. The first are those who play to improve, the latter are the ones who are content (or would like to get better but always find excuses) with their level of play. I don’t blame the last ones – they enjoy tennis and have fun playing it.

But if you plan to enjoy this sport for a longer period of time and especially playing competitively, here are some warm-up guidelines that might help you get a better start of the match:
– Avoid hitting hard, putting the ball away or running too much in the warm-up.
– Focus on feeling the ball and getting the body loose.
– Try to spot weaknesses in your opponent’s technique (which you should exploit during the match).
– If you have any “special shots” that you are very confident with, do not show them in the warm-up.
– Do not let any emotions come out in the warm-up – remember, this is not the actual match.
– Avoid conversations with opponents during warm-up – they can make remarks to distract you from the match ahead. 

In fact, I would like to elaborate on the last one (true story)…

I learned my lesson a long time ago when right after the warm-up, my opponent began complementing my forehand groundstroke. 
Guess what? As much as I enjoyed the compliment, I could not stop thinking about it. 
The result: It made me conscious to not show it off during the match. That led to feeling more tense and eventually questioning my abilities. 

So do not fall into the trap of initiating any conversation with your opponents before, during or after the warm-up other then the usual match related information. 

I tell my students (and now to you) that talking is for after the match is over… only!

Cosmin Miholca