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Alternate Defense and Offense Practices

How many times do you get on the practice court and follow a set routine? If you're like most players, you come on the court and follow the same regimen over and over again starting with warm-up, cross-courts, side to side, volleys, serves and maybe some points. This is not, however, how most matches are played. Very few times, especially at the highest level of the game, do you get to play in your comfort zone 100% of the time. In some points you get to dictate, in other points you get to be the rabbit. 

In order to improve your chances of success, practice alternating offensive plays with defensive drills. For example, try mixing up aggressive pattern plays with "defensive" side-to-sides. Alternatively, you can practice hitting 4 hard serves, followed by the advance-retreat, the "cross" drill or some other form of covering the net. The point is to practice becoming ready for anything and not get stuck in a pattern of playing or pattern of thinking. As a player it's important to do the right thing, at the right time. Sometimes that means to defend; other times, that means to dictate. But it's difficult to transition back-and-forth among these variants if your practices are too rigid or mechanical. Learn that defense and offense are really two sides of the same coin. When you are being an aggressor in one aspect, be mindful that you have to defend another part of the court. When you are defending, look for ways to turn the tables on your opponent. 


Of course, in some stages of development, it is important to practice certain plays/patterns repeatedly until the player masters them. However, once the player figures out the drill, it may be advisable to either tweak the drill a little bit to add a new dimension or to mix things up combining defensive drills with aggressive plays in order to open up the player's way of thinking so that she can be ready for anything that the opponent might throw in her way. Flow like water and you will overcome even the most difficult obstacles. 

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