Match Day – Game On!

SHAHEED ALAM – People have compared a tennis match to a game of chess while running a marathon. An intense match-up could take around 2 hours to complete, with strategy and tactics vital in getting that win over your opponent. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that you head into every match with a good game plan in mind. Most importantly, decide on a game plan that has previously worked for you – one that you’re confident and comfortable with. In today’s article, I will be sharing 3 ways on how to have a good game plan. Take note that this is just a base for you to build on because the entire game plan can only be decided by you, and only you, because no one knows your game better than yourself

Playing To Your Strengths

Rafael Nadal using his Forehand to dictate the point

It is very important to understand your strengths. Understanding your strengths means having the ability to know what gives you the best chance of winning the point.  For example, if playing a hard and fast forehand is your strength, you would want to hit the first ball after your serve (assuming you’re serving). Rafael Nadal averages about 85% of the time he hits a forehand after his serve. Hence, if this is how you want to approach your game, you would want to plan beforehand on how you are going to use the forehand, especially on the first shot after your serve, to start dictating the points.

Defending Your Weakness

Just like how everyone has a weakest subject in school, everyone has a weakness in tennis too. Even the very best, like Roger Federer or Nadal. However, it is how efficiently they defend their weakness that makes them so good. For example, Roger Federer has been known for having a weak backhand against Nadal’s heavy forehand spins but over the years, he has changed his game plan to better defend his weakness. From playing slices to taking a step back, or even stepping into the court and taking it early (the best tactic in my opinion), Federer has changed up his style of playing to have the best chances against Nadal. Therefore, as important as it is to level up your weaker areas, it is almost impossible to escape from it during a match when you go head-to-head with an opponent of matching standards. Therefore, it is much more important to try and defend your weakness to the best of your abilities.

Roger Federer putting the slice to good use

Studying Your Opponent

This may be the toughest to do but if done well, you will (almost definitely) gain an edge over your opponent. For amateur matches, it may be difficult to study your opponent as most of the time you will be playing against someone you’ve never met before. But wherever possible, try to search him/her up. You can also ask your peers if they have seen how your opponent play. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of studying your opponent prior to the match so when you go into the match, you will be fully prepared on what to do. Dig out his/her strengths and weakness and use it to your advantage.

Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail so always go in every match with a game plan that will give you the best chance of winning the match. Don’t be shy to DM me on Instagram @shaheedalam_ if you have any question, I’ll be more than happy to answer! Till next time, continue to #hititlikeshaheed!

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE – JUNE 29: Shaheed Alam of Singapore celebrates winning his mens singles play-off match against Hesam Esmail Yazdi of Iran during day four of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group III at OCBC Arena on June 29, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images for Singapore Sports Hub)

Shaheed Alam is a ONEathlete and Ambassador for Asics (Tennis) and Babalot. He is also supported by Grip String Sports and Pro’s Pro. The tennis prodigy had his first match at the age of 5, and progressed to the Singapore Sports School, before becoming the first male Singaporean to win the ITF Junior Singles Title.

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