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A-B-C Strategy

When playing a match, it is important to understand that things will not always go your way. As a matter of fact, it is your opponent's primary goal to try to throw you off your game. Therefore, prepare for the unexpected. The best players have figured out that a match is not a constant marathon. It contains peaks and valleys and it's important for the player to identify the particular situation at any given point in order to shift tactics accordingly. 

I refer to this concept as the A-B-C strategy. When things go your way - you're feeling well, seeing the ball well, moving well, hitting crisp shots, etc. - that's when you should press. This is your "A" game. When things are just slightly off - you're not playing poorly but maybe the first serve percentage isn't high enough, there could be a minor/temporary hitch in your stroke that you can't figure out, maybe you're not reacting to your opponent's spins and power all that well - you ratchet back your game a little bit. This is your "B" game. On the other hand, when things are simply not going your way at all - it seems like you're missing everything, you don't feel like you have a good feel for the shots, etc. - you fall back and try to find some consistency. This is where you try not to miss and, in turn, try not to beat yourself. I call this the "C" strategy.

Too often, juniors tend to step on the court and expect everything to GO THEIR WAY RIGHT AWAY. Then, when it doesn't work out, they throw their hands (sometimes literally, other times figuratively) up in the air because they have no fall-back position. Tennis is a fluid game and, as a player, I'm going to do everything possible to make sure that you get as few chances to unload on your weapons as possible and that you are going to hit shots from uncomfortable positions. I'm going to try to make it a very long day at the office. Don't give up! You must learn how to shift between points when things are going your way and the ones where they are not. Like a race car driver never starts his vehicle in 6th gear (or doesn't race in 1st gear), you too must learn to cycle among your gears. When you feel good; you press. When you don't feel like you're making the shots, you hold back a little bit, find some rhythm and then start pressing again. 

As you can better and better you will develop a better feel for when things are going your way and when things are not. Sometimes, you'll be able to shift between A-B-C DURING the point itself. That's when you know that you're getting close to mastering the game. 


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