Have you ever played an opponent and thought, “I've played her before and I know there's something I should remember about her game but I just don't know what it is.” And then sometime during the match, when she's hit her 18th short, wide, slice return that you just can't get to, it dawns on you: “Oh yeah! She likes to hit that short, wide, slice return that I just can't get to!” But by this time the damage has been done.
This USED to happen to me a lot until I started my little “Players Cheat Sheet.” This is a list I keep by a player's first name (since I often don't know their last name) where I put a few little notes that I can look over next time I meet up with them.
So, for example, I played Julie from Fancy Pants Club yesterday (names changed to protect someone I beat) and here is my little note for her:
- Julie – Fancy Pants – leftie, hard 1st serve low w/spin, returns short & wide to deuce server a lot, net girl needs to back up and take every other return, tires easily, doesn't like to move
And that's it for Julie. Now, next time I or anyone on my team comes up against her, I'll remember I wrote a little note about her, I'll figure out her first name , I'll look it up and hopefully I'll put a stop to that short, wide return before she gets too far with it.
Now, I don't keep notes like this on everyone – just on people who I think may be regular opponents or who do something so well that I don't want to forget about it. I also keep notes on people I partner with so I know how they like to play, what they do well and how I should plan on playing with them. I keep all of this info on my Blackberry just because I know I'll always have that with me. You could just as easily keep a little notepad or even just a piece of paper in your tennis bag for your own Players Cheat Sheet.
Does this seem a little overboard? I don't think so. I put a lot of time and money into my tennis and so its worth it to me to make these notes every once in a while after a match. And next time I see Julie, I won't say, “What was it about her?” I'll tell my partner “Just run her around and be ready for her short, wide return.” Ensuring yet another victory over the Fancy Pants club!
PS – I keep another kind of Cheat Sheet on my Blackberry – more on that next time!
© Kim Selzman 2010
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