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Turbo Tennis
February 2004 Article

Contact Ron Waite

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The Player Book

Ron Waite Photo
Ron Waite, USPTR

As promised in last month’s column, I am writing this month about record keeping. Frequently, those of use who regularly compete find ourselves facing an opponent that we have faced before. Unless this is a player with whom we have competed on many occasions, we probably do not truly remember what does or does not work against her/him.

Martina Navratilova used to keep a tennis journal when she was actively playing singles on the WTA Tour. Invariably, this journal would contain insights about the players that she was likely to face in tournaments.

I can tell you from photographing many of the ATP and WTA events, that players and their coaches normally have a "Book" that contains insights on how to best compete against other pros on the tours. This becomes particularly useful when a ranked player is competing against someone whom she/he rarely faces.

Now, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi did not need to have a player record on each others game. They faced each other so many times that the only real questions were the playing surface and the playing conditions.

But if Andre was to face a pro who was ranked 126 on the tour, it may be that this person presents an unknown entity. Here, the coach’s player book can be extremely valuable in helping Andre to win in the fewest sets possible.

As a tennis teacher and as a coach, I can assure you that I keep copious records on my own students/players and on those that they are likely to face. When I was competing in USTA sponsored tournaments, I always would keep accurate records on all the players I would face. I realized that I would probably see many of them again. By traveling with my "Player Book," I would have a handy and useful way of reviewing data that would help me craft a game plan and a backup plan.

If you want to play serious tennis, you need to start and maintain an accurate "Player Book" of your own. In addition to having a convenient and accurate means of crafting a game strategy, you will find that periodic review of this book will give you lots of insights into your own game.

For example, you may discover that you have a very difficult time competing against a net-rusher when on an indoor surface…but less difficulty when competing on an outdoor, slower hard court.

We all spend lots of time, energy, effort, and even money, on trying to improve our tennis games. Yet, one of the most effective means of achieving this goal is to simply start and maintain a "Player Book."

The logical question that arises is: "What kind of information do I want to put into this so-called Player Book?" Well, this month’s column will help you in this regard.

Below, you will find a form that I have created that can be copied and used to create such an information resource. If you invest in a ringed notebook binder, you can categorize these forms alphabetically…or in any other manner that suits you.

The key to a useful "Player Book" includes updating the information it contains on a regular basis and referring to it frequently. After each match, you want to create a new entry or update a current entry.

If you are like me and scout players in advance of matches, you are likely to come to insights that are not immediately evident when actually playing an opponent. With players that I coach, I will frequently watch a potential opponent play a match. I will record my impressions and insights on a form or update an existing form with new data.

When I am paid to coach a junior, his or her parents expect me to be able to help them win. To do this effectively, I find that scouting and maintaining a player book is most helpful…believe me!!!

So, you may want to copy and paste the following form to use. You may find that you wish to adapt it to make it more useful for your needs. The important point is to develop your own data base of player information. Some of you, who are very computer literate, may want to develop your own software for this kind of record keeping. There are programs that are available commercially make this much easier. Some of these programs are adapted to PDA use, which means that you can easily take your "computer" with you to matches.

 

 

PLAYER RECORD

(Copyright 2004, Ron Waite. All rights reserved.)

NAME:________________________________________________________

ADDRESS:_____________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________

PHONE(S):_____________________________________________________

CLUB AFFILIATION/TEAM________________________________________

HOME COURT AND SURFACE:____________________________________

____________________________________

DOMINANT HAND:______________________________________________

FOREHAND GRIP:_______________________________________________

BACKHAND TYPE AND GRIP______________________________________

FIRST SERVE TYPE(S):___________________________________________

___________________________________________

SECOND SERVE TYPE(S):_________________________________________

_________________________________________

BASIC PLAYING STYLE: (e.g. Serve/Volley)__________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

BETTER GOUNDSTROKE SIDE (Forehand/Backhand):_________________

____________________________________

____________________________________

BETTER VOLLEY SIDE (Forehand/Backhand):_________________________

____________________________________________

____________________________________________

OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF WEIGHT, FITNESS AND FOOT SPEED:______

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

PLAYER’S BEST WEAPON(S):______________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

PLAYER’S WORST WEAKNESS(ES):_________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

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WHAT DOES THIS PLAYER DO THAT I CAN EXPLOIT?:_________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

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WHAT DOES THIS PLAYER DO THAT HURTS ME?:_____________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

MATCH RECORD VS THIS PLAYER: (Include date, surface, score)

1.______________________________________________________________

2.______________________________________________________________

3.______________________________________________________________

4.______________________________________________________________

5.______________________________________________________________

6.______________________________________________________________

7.______________________________________________________________

8.______________________________________________________________

9.______________________________________________________________

10.______________________________________________________________

11.______________________________________________________________

12.______________________________________________________________

13.______________________________________________________________

14.______________________________________________________________

15.______________________________________________________________

16.______________________________________________________________

17.______________________________________________________________

18.______________________________________________________________

19.______________________________________________________________

20.______________________________________________________________

MY BEST STRATEGIES: (Don’t forget to mention surface conditions and playing conditions in strategic plans)________________________________

________________________________________________________________

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THINGS THAT I MUST NOT DO AGAINST THIS PLAYER:________________

________________________________________________________________

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As you can see, I have designed the form to allow for updated information. Where needed, I have attempted to provide additional space. Over time, you will make additions and amendments to each player profile.

If you had this kind of current information readily available about each player you faced, how better would you be able to compete? If you review your player book regularly, you can see what areas in your game need to be improved.

Including specific information about the effects of spins, wind, sun, pace and ball height will help you understand what works and doesn’t work…and why! New insights will come to you as you scout and compete against each player in your book. If nothing else, you will discover what not to do against a particular player. This in itself is incredibly useful information.

From a regular review of this "Player Book," you should be better able to craft directions and goals for yourself and your game. To help you in this regard, I refer you to one of my previous articles, Goal Tending, which is available at http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_99_11.html.

Anytime you can take the mystery out of the game of tennis, you are more likely to win. I am sure that if you adopt the "Player Book" approach to your tennis game, that in no time, you will become a tennis overdog!!!

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Turbo Tennis Archives:
1996 - 2002 | 2003 - 2014


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This column is copyrighted by Ron Waite, all rights reserved. Questions and comments about these columns can be directed to Ron by using this form.

Ron Waite is a certified USPTR tennis instructor who took up the game of tennis at the age of 39. Frustrated with conventional tennis methods of instruction and the confusing data available on how to learn the game, Ron has sought to sift fact from fiction. In his seven years of tennis, Ron has received USTA sectional ranking four years, has successfully coached several NCAA Division III men's and women's tennis teams to post season competition, and has competed in USTA National singles tournaments. Ron has trained at a number of tennis academies and with many of the game's leading instructors.

In addition to his full-time work as a professor at Albertus Magnus College, Ron photographs ATP tour events for a variety of organizations and publications. The name of his column, TurboTennis, stems from his methods to decrease the amount of time it takes to learn and master the game of tennis.


 

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