Strategy: Fourth Foundation: You

Your Strengths

Most players don’t know what having a strength means. You may have a great forehand, but, if as soon as your opponent approaches the net you hit the bottom of the net, your forehand is not a strength. If you can serve 120 mph, but at 5-5, 30-40, you usually double fault, your serve is not a strength. So, first and foremost, a strength is determined by its reliability under pressure.

A strength is also determined by its adaptability and creativity. You may be able to overpower most opponent’s with your serve, but what happens when you come up against a great returner who is able to neutralize your big serve? Now you need to consider better placement, depth, spin and height. The adaptability of your serve is, what is important, not how strong or fast it is. Many players don’t understand this and they will keep going for the 120 mph serve and get broken by a great returner.

The same thing applies to your forehand. Some days it won’t be as reliable as others. A crosswind may disturb you,or your timing may be off one day. Again, adaptability is key. If your forehand is truly a strength, you should be able to adapt to the situation. For example you could adapt your game and play more up the center of the court.

A strength is also determined by its creativity. Top players get very creative with their strengths. They will open the court with angles, dip the ball down at the approaching opponent’s feet, or maybe flick a topspin lob. This creativity is almost always related to an “educated wrist”. The “Adapt or Die” drill is a great way to work on this creativity. Stay inside the baseline and have your partner hit all kinds of balls at you – high, low, fast, slow. Don’t back up at all. Adapt to what’s being thrown at you. Practice it often enough and this practice becomes permanent.

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