One of the most important skills that any tennis player can have is the ability to size up their opponent quickly and easily.
Often times a player will face someone they have never played before or have never seen play before. Knowing how to read their opponent starting at the warm up gives a player a distinct advantage.
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Whether playing for high school, college, a recreational league or even in the professional ranks, the ability to size up your opponent is a huge advantage.
During the warm up, concentrate on getting yourself physically and mentally prepared for the match. Remember to keep an eye on your opponent early on for any apparent strengths or weaknesses.
What to Watch For
Hit your shots down the middle of the court and see if your opponent favors one side over the other. For example, do they run around their backhand every time?
Does your opponent practice all the strokes in the warm-up? Some players will skip volleys or overheads all together. Others will only hit one or two balls before changing to something else. This could give you an indication as to their strengths and weaknesses. *Hint: Players typically warm up with their strengths.
Hit your groundstrokes to them and determine where they stand on the court. Do they come forward to the ball? Are they aggressive? Include a few lobs, hitting a few over their opposite hitting shoulder and see if they come forward after the overhead.
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Does your opponent only practice their first serve, blasting it all around the court? How many serves do they hit? Are they in control of their swing and can they control the ball? Does the ball seem to go in the same direction all the time or do they rotate the placement of their serve?
Studying your opponent in these four areas will give you an excellent read of your opponent’s game even before the match begins.
Any advantage you can gain early on will be a huge boost for you throughout the match.
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