Tennis players who consistently win their matches bring more to the court than a killer forehand or serve.
Winning is an art that involves the ability to observe your opponent and act on what you see. It also takes mental fortitude and an ability to protect, and even mask, your own weaknesses.
Here are 12 strategies that will help you become a better competitor and, ultimately, win more matches.
Pay Attention to Your Opponent's "Current" Style of Play
A top player won't stick to a losing game for long. They'll often shift to a different style of play known as their pre-developed plan B. They may lose the first set with plan A. But they'll go onto win the match with plan B or C.
Stick With What Works
Don't stop attacking the weaknesses until they have proven repeatedly that they have solved the problem.
In other words, stick with the same old boring winner.
Watch How Your Opponent Moves
Pay attention to the opponent's movement and spacing likes and dislikes. Some opponents are terrific from the baseline yet pitiful while pushed back or pulled forward into the forecourt.
Pay Attention to Patterns of Play
If a certain serve pattern of yours works like a charm, revisit it on game points. If the opponent's killing you with a certain pattern, expect it on big points and shut it down early.
Watch for Negative Emotional Cues
Remember, not all forms of communication are verbal. Watch between points for the opponent's negative facial expressions and body language as well. Whatever caused the negative reaction, plan on repeating it often.
Focus on Where the Ball Lands
Pay attention to where your ball is landing on your opponent's court as well as where the opponent's ball is landing on your court.
The court zone in which the ball lands dictates shot selection. For example, if you hit a short ball, weak into their service box, that ball has landed in their attack zone. Preparing your defensive skill sets early is court awareness.
More: Shot Selection Tips