What type of tennis tactics should you use when playing someone who is at a lower level than you? I often see players ‘play down’ to the level of their opponent. By doing this, they make the match very difficult for themselves and also increase the possibility of losing to the lesser player.
The first action is to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. No matter what level a player is, he or she will have favored shots. Is the forehand better than the backhand? Does he float his backhand slice?
Once, you find out your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, you need to plan out your tennis tactics. Obviously, you should know your own strengths and weaknesses. Plan to play to your strengths and to your opponent’s weaknesses.
Even if your opponent is a lesser player, you can’t have the mindset that he is an inferior player. For whatever reason, players regress when playing a lower quality player and end up playing to that level. Tactics go out the window, shots start losing velocity, and accuracy of shots drop.
You need to be aware of this and keep your mind focused on playing at your high ability. One way to do this is to think that your opponent is a higher-level opponent. Looking at your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, how would they play if they were a higher level player? They would have the same strengths and weaknesses, but their shots and tactics would be more developed and consistent. Your tactics, strokes, shot placement, and footwork need to be at the high level to be able to play this type of player.
Do not fall into the trap of playing down to the level of your opponent. You need to realize that this is a possibility, and to counter-act this your tennis tactics need to be well thought out. Your mindset should be solid enough to confidently follow through on your plans.