Tip of the Day - Getting Run Off the Table
Yuto Muramatsu (JPN) at the 2013 Junior World Championships
Getting Run Off the TableWhoops, you're down a game and this one's going badly, too. How do you stop the bleeding in time -- assuming this is an opponent you might expect to beat?
It's time for a quick, honest assessment. First, your opponent is doing something right. What is it, exactly? The hardest reason to accept is that your weaknesses are getting probed, but admit that to yourself if it's true. Second, chances are your game is off. Some important shot, or shots, aren't working. It's time for triage; give up for now on the super dooper sidespin loop (or whatever it is), and vow to fight on with the part of your game that actually functions.
Finally, you need a new strategy, and you need it now. What's it going to be? The best alternative usually combines consistency with a certain capitulation to your opponent's strengths. Consistency may seem obvious, but this really requires toning down your shots to where you literally are not missing any more. If that means no flashy serve and one, or no great pick hits or counter loops, so be it. Capitulation sounds bad, but it involves finding a way to accept what your opponent is doing so well, in return for reducing its impact and concluding the points on other terms.
For example: Is he looping your good pushes to death? Stop pushing and just roll the ball, while preparing to defend against the possibly weaker loops you'll get in return. Getting out-countered? Don't fight the quick-hands duel any more; instead, slow the game down with chops and soft, deep topspins. Trouble returning his serve to prevent an attack? Give up on that battle by providing him a consistent service return he can attack, but placed to control where his shots will come so you can better defend. Having a hard time attacking his short returns of your underspin serves? Just bypass the whole serve, push and loop sequence by serving simple topspins he can't push.
Sometimes you're just toast, and can't recover from a bad start. But sometimes you can rescue a losing effort by calming down, and recognizing the need for an honest reassessment and change of strategy.