Most tournament players believe that if they play well, they should win. To beat good opponents takes more than just playing well however. You have to plan the work and work the plan. A game plan is a set of strategic guidelines to exploit your strengths and your opponent’s weaknesses. A good plan should also minimize your weaknesses and your opponent’s strengths.
Keep the plan basic: Strengths, weaknesses, patterns and favorite shots under pressure. For example, if you know your backhand is weak, your plan should be to run around it as much as possible. If your opponent’s backhand is weak, your plan will be to run them wide to the forehand, thereby opening their weaker backhand side.
Changing your Plan
You have to know when to change your game plan. The ability to change your plan to suit the opponent and situation may be the most important quality of a good tennis player. When you are losing, the first thing you have to determine is: am I just playing lousy or is my opponent playing well? Change your plan before the set is over. If you are down 4-1, it’s time to change. Don’t wait till it’s 6-1, 2-0, then it’s too late to stop Momentum. You should change the plan when you’re in a losing pattern. For example, if you’ve been broken twice, find a way to upset the momentum.
Percentages vs Priorities
If percentage tennis suggests you approach down the line to the backhand, and the opponent’s backhand pass is a weapon, is it percentage tennis? Where and when you hit a shot is determined more by priorities than percentages. Your overall game plan is driven by priorities and should change with every opponent. What may be a high priority shot against one player, is suicide against another.
Priorities determine that you go to your opponent’s weaknesses. If they don’t have a weakness you can exploit, then you go to the percentages.
Your own strengths can be your priority. Forget your opponent if your strength is stronger than his strength. You don’t have to worry about percentages at all.