In my last article I stressed the importance of the
shot before the shot that ends the point. Knowing which
shot started your downfall in a point can be just as
important as the shot itself. Now let's take that one step
further and look at the final shot. It is also important to
know if your errors are mechanical breakdowns or
Let me give you an example. Suppose you've hit a
short ball to your opponent who drives the ball wide and
deep to your backhand. As you are running deep to your
backhand corner you attempt to hit a sharp angle cross court
backhand pass. Unfortunately, the ball goes into the net.
If this happens a few times you'll probably hit the practice
court to work on that sharp passing shot. You know from my
previous article that your short shot allowing your opponent
to drive the ball deep was the start of the whole losing
point process, but what about the backhand passing shot?
Was that a mechanical error? Did you just not hit up enough
on the ball? Or was this a strategical error in that you
were in a defensive position and this wasn't your smartest
shot selection at the time.
In a recent tournament I noticed a junior player
that really got down on himself for missing a big, flat
serve several times. Over and over this flat hard serve was
attempted without success. A week after the loss this
player came to me to work on his flat serve. Although his
flat serve did need some work, it wasn't what would probably
have saved him during the match. Had he kicked in his
first serve with spin, he would have prevented his opponent
from attacking his second serve for valuable service breaks.
As a player he saw a mechanical breakdown and as a coach I
saw a strategical breakdown in that he should not have
attempted that serve at that point during the match.
If you are unsure why you are losing points or
matches or are a bit unsure as to how to direct your
practice, have a friend of coach chart your next few
matches. It can be a valuable tool finding the weaknesses
in your game. Try to learn if you are hitting the the
right shots at the right time. Remember that it is better
to rely on having control and confidence in your shots and
decisions on the court than to hope your opponent misses
his or her shot!