Another episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast is out! This week's episode is called “How to Stop Losing to Weaker Tennis Opponents” and, in it, I give you some great tips for dealing with, and hopefully overcoming, this pesky problem. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the gray media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link: tennisfixation.com/itunes.
Below is an edited version of the transcript for this episode that you can read through for notes or to get more information.
If you paid any attention at all to the opening of this episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast, then you caught the title – How to Stop Losing to Weaker Tennis Opponents. And if you just recently took up tennis or you’ve only been playing tennis for a very short while, you may be thinking that was a mistake. Because there shouldn’t be any problem beating weaker opponents, right? Surely, we only have to worry about losing to players who are better than us, right?
Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but trying to overcome weaker opponents can be just as hard, and a whole lot more irritating, than playing stronger opponents. In fact, I often play long, tedious and sometimes unsuccessful tennis against opponents that I THINK I should beat. Opponents that I’m younger than. Opponents that I’m more fit than. Opponents that I’ve played longer than. Opponents that I’m wearing less medical devices than.
And this scenario holds true for any tennis player out there who has played more than a few matches. Again and again, you can find players at every level, including the pros, who lose to players who are definitely weaker.
The problem is beating these weaker players should not be as much work as we’re all making it. There are ways to deal with this situation.
So, to help you and me out, here are a few tips I’ve come up with to make our tennis lives easier when we come up against “weaker” tennis opponents.
1. Never underestimate your opponent.
Another way to say this is – don’t be fooled by appearances. Or how about this? Don’t judge a book by its cover. However you say it, in tennis, looks are often deceiving. That out-of-shape opponent across the net is invariably the master of placement. Or lobbing. Or bullet serving. So don’t judge. Always be ready to play a good game of tennis, no matter who shows up on the other side.
2. Be prepared for inconsistency.
Maybe the hardest thing about playing a weaker opponent is that it often seems like they just don’t have a plan. You really don’t know what is going to happen next because there is often very little if any logic to their shots. You can’t come up with your own plan to respond to this type of opponent because you can’t figure out what their plan is at all. Do they even have a plan? It can seem like they don’t. And it is well known that mis-hits and frame shots can produce all kinds of winners. So be on your toes and ready for just about anything to come back across the net.
3. Don’t be fooled by the lucky shot.
I’m sure we’ve all been in the situation where our opponent hits some weird shot that turns out to be an unexpected winner. That lucky shot that they never intended but just happened to go their way. What often happens with weaker opponents is that hit a lot of lucky shots. And before you know it, you’ve lost the match because of a long series of lucky shots. Well, don’t get into the trap of thinking that your opponent is just playing one lucky shot after another. Some players just have really unorthodox shots that may come off as lucky to you but are repeated over and over throughout a match. Believing that some weird, recurring shot is just “lucky” and will soon come to a stop can lull you into letting up and ultimately losing the match. So pay attention, don’t assume these shots are just “lucky,” and play every single point in the match.
4. Be patient.
You may like points that are quick, with short rallies and someone hitting a definite winner. You may enjoy playing someone who hits hard, line drives right at you. You may prefer a fast game where you have to run every shot down and don’t have time to think. Well, with a weaker opponent, none of those things happen. You need to learn patience. You need to learn how to wait before trying for the winning shot. Since all kinds of things may be coming back at you, it may take a few more exchanges to get the right shot that allows you to put the ball away. Don’t rush the point. Wait for your opportunity.
5. Be prepared to work hard.
Even with a weaker opponent, especially with a weaker opponent, you have to do your job. And that means you may have to chase a lot of balls down. It can feel like you’re doing all of the work while your opponent is just happily getting the ball back and not doing much at all. But keep up the work and adopt the strategy of winning the match one point at a time.
6. Just relax.
Finally, calm down. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Tennis is a game after all and getting stressed about it will only lead to you tightening up and playing badly. So loosen up and realize that it may take you a little while to beat the weaker opponent, but ultimately, you can and you will!
So those are my tips to help you stop losing to weaker opponents. Put them into practice and then let me know what your results are. You can do that by adding your comment below.
And I hope you'll subscribe to the Tennis Quick Tips podcast. It's really easy to do:
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