Schedule a training visit to the prestigious Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD by clicking on the banner above

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coaches Q and A: Should I Scout My Upcoming Opponent at Tournaments?

In this month's installment of Coaches Q and A, Andy Brandi of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida answers this question:
At a tournament, should I scout my opponents or concentrate on playing my game?

This is a very important question. How many times when playing a tournament do you ask a friend if they know your opponent? If the answer is always, "I played them and won and you should not have any problems", you might go into the match overconfident and what happens--you lose!!

When I used to travel with professionals full time, I had a book with players and their tendencies. I would update it every four weeks to keep it up to speed. I would also have the player I was traveling with keep a book with their thoughts about each match and opponent. We would compare the opponents' favorite shots and their placement, serving tendencies, movement, fitness level, mental toughness and what we felt worked the last time they played.

By doing this, we could compare notes and make an accurate strategic plan. There were no guesses. We had a good plan to win the match!

Whenever you do not have the chance to scout your opponent, there are other options. During the match warm-up, see which side they like to take the ball when you hit down the middle. Offer volleys and overheads. See where they like to hit their serves.
Once the match starts, take the first two games to figure out your strategy. Keep in mind that you should make continuous adjustments to your strategy during the entire match.

But if you can, my preference is to scout opponents during a tournament. You do not have to watch the whole match. Watch two or three games and make notes on both players. This way you have a head start and a game plan.

By planning ahead, you give yourself the best chance to succeed. Best of luck.

Do you have a question for Andy or Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.