Practice Good Judgement

When I was 14, I played in the quarterfinals against the top seed in a 16’s international event in Florida. I was shorter, thinner, and weaker than my opponent. I won the first set 6-2. I surprised myself. But I earned that set because I controlled most of the points by mixing my shots between low, high, soft, and angles. My opponent never found his rhythm in the first set, and he had trouble making clean contact. Unfortunately, I felt overjoyed and lost sight of my game plan. I began hitting hard. My shots continued to feel good, but my opponent suddenly began winning more points. He started controlling the majority of the points and thus won the following two sets 6-2, 6-2. I won the first set because I was actively thinking of my shot selection. The following two sets, I didn't make smart decisions.

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The champions control their contact point and their shot selection. Both require an active mind. You need to be fully aware of what you’re doing and practice good judgment for each shot. While it’s important to embrace your game style, don’t be too attached to it. Your game needs to be flexible enough where you can play aggressively from inside the baseline one day and stand back and take pace off your shots on a different day. This will depend on what your opponent likes and dislikes. Your main goal when you play points is to find your opponent’s weaknesses and exploit them. When your opponent is attacking, your goal is to make sure you avoid hitting to where they can hurt you. A high and deep ball along the baseline or a very low slice is effective at neutralizing your opponent’s offensive game. But always observe your adversary carefully to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Control during point play is not easy to obtain. Practice good judgment whenever you're hitting. So, here is the best exercise to develop an active approach to controlling your points: vary your shots as much as possible (make sure to do this without compromising your contact point or technique). You can vary your shots by hitting with different spins, hitting the ball on the rise or waiting longer, changing the height of your shots, and moving the ball around the court more. Varying your shots forces you to actively think about where and how you will place the ball. That translates into actively controlling your shot selection and practicing variation makes your game more versatile. If you combine working on your contact point and varying your shots, you will be ahead of most players.