Having the right game plan can make a big difference in your
match results. Most players just use what they do best on
any given day. For instance, they know their forehand is
stronger than their backhand and the same goes true for
their opponent. So their game plan is to hit as many
forehands to their opponent's backhand as possible. I even
hear some players say their game plan is "just to get the
ball over the net."
When putting your game plan together, you need to be aware
of a few things about your game and about that of your
opponent. It is a must that you know what shots you hit
well and consistently under pressure. If you hit 20
forehand winners in a set but have 35 forehand errors your
forehand may not be your "go to" shot while under pressure.
It is important to know what shots you would really like to
hit on important points. This goes for serves and returns
and styles of play such as staying at the baseline, rushing
the net, etc. If your best serve is a slice out wide then
make sure you know that before the match begins.
As far as your opponent's weaknesses, I think it is
important to evaluate their game during the warm-up. Give
them a variety of shots and spins and see how they react.
Do they automatically run around to hit forehands? Do they
lob every high backhand? The warm-up is the time to find
out about their style. Many times I've heard players
mention that they figured out how they could win but it was
simply too late in the match to use that strategy. Try to
put together a strategy and game plan during the warm up and
adjust throughout the match as needed.
Once you have determined the strengths and weaknesses of you
and your opponent, see if anything matches up. For
instance, if their backhand is weak does that fit into your
wide serve plan? If they never seem to make good contact on
overheads then your lob might be the shot of the day. But
make sure you evaluate both you and your opponent's game.
If my opponent has a very weak overhead but I have a very
weak lob, it probably isn't a good idea to throw the shot in
on a routine basis. You have to have confidence in your
shots for your game to come together.
In your next practice session see if you can really nail
down 2 or 3 shots or styles that you feel you are completely
comfortable with in match play. The next time you play a
match make it a point to have a definite game plan. That
plan might change throughout the match but there is always
some type of plan. Remember, a bad game plan is better than
no game plan at all and I think you'll be surprised at how
it can work. You'll also enjoy watching your plan in action
when you are successful.