The ability and willingness to vary your game style can be a highly effective tactic, if correctly implemented. Changing your game style throughout a match, at pivotal points, can stop your opponent from finding a comfortable rhythm, as well as limiting their anticipation skills. Surprising your opponents with unexpected shots can win you some quick, easy free points. Below are some examples of tactics and ideas for varying your game style to keep your opponent guessing:
- Serve and Volley. By moving into the net, you can take advantage of easy returns, and at the same time force your opponent to rush their return and attempt to pass you, subsequently making a mistake. This tactic could be used perhaps on a break point down or game point up.
- Varying the pace of the ball. For those of you who like to clobber the ball on every shot, you’d be surprised how effective a simple slow ball can be, especially when your opponent least expects one – an easy way to win a free point as well as irritate your opponent and perhaps get into their head or under their skin a little.
- Mix up the spins. Different players react differently to various shots. Sometimes a nicely hit slice can be just as effective as a deep looping topspin or vice versa. Flat balls tend to be easier for an opponent to read and feed off.
- Vary the height of the ball. Another good variation is the high floating ball. Next time in a rally, perhaps on a big point, try hitting at different heights. This will take your opponent out of their comfort zone; and of course, using height can also be a safer bet. High balls are also very frustrating balls to deal with as well as being very difficult to attack. Height to a single-handed backhand opponent could be very effective. I mean if Federer struggles against Nadal with these shots, hopefully your opponents will too.
These are just a few simple points and notes that touch lightly on the Law of 8 Opposites. Try and look at your opponent next time you play a match and figure out which shots they like and don’t like. You can use the following 8 opposites as a starting point:
- Low balls
- High balls
- Short balls
- Deep balls
- Fast balls
- Slow balls
- Wide balls
- Tight balls
Lastly, varying your game style can also be more fun. You might just develop another shot you never knew existed in your arsenal of weapons.