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Learn From History

To paraphrase the philosopher Santayana, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it with all its mistakes, its agonies, its false turns. It is amazing to see sometimes, however, the multitude of players who fail to learn from their past matches (or matches played in the past by other players). One of the best training tools is the video-camera. Unfortunately, a lot of parents seem to tape their kids' matches for scrap-booking purpose rather than using is as a teaching aid. In terms of learning, you can learn a lot more by watching yourself play and hit the ball than staring blankly at some chart containing raw numbers. 

Are you really going to learn from a matrix showing unforced errors?! Think about it. Do those number tell you WHERE the ball was when you missed it? Will the chart tell you HOW the opponent's shot came (fast, high, spin, angle)? Will the chart tell you WHEN you made the error (important point or regular play)? Will the chart tell you the LENGTH of the point before you missed it (maybe there's nothing wrong with the stroke or the play but you were simply exhausted)? The answer is NO. However, you will be in a better position to dissect your match by watching a tape of it. You can fast forward or rewind to your heart's content and analyze all the aspects of the match. How you missed; how you hit a winner; what was going through your mind; what you were trying to accomplish; your opponent's likes/dislikes; favorable patterns or plays; problem areas; etc. 

A good way to study your matches is by placing a videocamera on top of the fence (center) so that you can view the whole court. When watching it, place a small piece of scotch tape on the TV screen right around the service line "T". Try to follow the ball in comparison to this tape (i.e. the middle of the court). How many times did you hit it away from the middle? How many times did you go for winners when the previous ball was in the middle of the court? How many times did you fail to go for an offensive shot when you had the open court? Where is you opponent standing in comparison to your shots? Try to refine or synthesize some patterns (both positives and negatives) and seek to improve upon them in practice. You will notice that if you have something to compare your shots to, certain "plays" or patterns will be readily apparent. You will be in a better position to anticipate them in the future if you learn from the past. 


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