February 1, 2016 - Holding Back Against a Weaker Player

A common problem when facing a weaker player is literally go into the match with the tactical plan of not playing your best. Rather than play your normal attacking shots, you play soft, hoping not to risk the more difficult shots that make you the better player. It's often a mistake. 

This doesn't mean you should be ripping shots left and right against a player where you could win without taking such risks. But if you are used to mostly attacking at a certain range of speeds off a given shot, and hold back on this to play "safe," you're more likely to both miss the shot while giving the opponent an easier shot to respond to. Holding back usually means you take conscious control of a shot to soften the shot for "safety," which means you are throwing away much of the muscle memory you've trained so hard to develop. Result? You play soft and erratic, and the opponent has shots to tee off against while not facing your best shots, the very ones that made you the better player. That is risky play. 

So it's usually best to just play your game against a weaker player, focusing on the type of tactics that will allow you to play your best game without playing overly safe or risky. By doing so from the start, you spread the "risk" over the entire match, and guess what? While individually some of these aggressive shots might be "risky," the risk goes away if spread out over an entire match. If you would normally loop a given ball rather hard, then do so, and let the muscle memory guide you.