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Head Games
Every game has a feel to it right from the first serve. One thing is certain. Opportunities abound to influence the outcome. And sometimes they come from places you didn't think to look. Here are a few thoughts to help move the game in your direction:
  • Own the net. The team that controls the real estate at the net wins. Period. The receiving team already has the advantage (service asymmetry) and should win 60-70% of contested points. Some consider missing the return of serve to be the worst error you can make.
  • Go slow to go fast. Change the tempo, change the game. If you can slow down the pace of a point you can begin taking control of a game.
  • Reactions, not reflexes. A “knee-jerk reaction” isn’t a reaction at all. It’s a reflex. Reflexes are involuntary responses to external stimuli. Reactions are voluntary responses. You can learn to react with intent.
  • Be disruptive. If your opponent doesn’t change their game they are vulnerable. The same applies to your game. Never let your opponent get comfortable. Hit the "right" shot most of the time, but throw in a "wrong" shot often enough to keep them guessing. You can be consistent without being predictable.
  • Create doubt. Every point played involves the basic observe-plan-execute cycle. Get inside your opponent’s head with a movement, position, or shot that forces them to rethink their plan before they can execute. This is called the ability to gain and lose energy faster than your opponent.