March 14, 2016 - Outlining the Book on Your Game

In a Tip of the Week called The Book on Your Game, I wrote, "If you can't write a book on your game, either you don't know your game or you don't have a game." It's as simple as that.

You don't need to actually write that book, but you should outline it. This will force you think about the various aspects of your game - your strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between, as well as where you want to go with your game. It'll get you to actually thinking about the things you should be thinking about if you want to improve. So let's put together an outline of such an outline. Note that we're not interested in inventorying and analyzing every stroke; what's important are what techniques you actually use. Your assignment, should you choose to accept, is to complete this outline for your game.

  1. General
  • What is your style of play in one sentence? (It can be a long one.)
    • Example - the author's: All-out forehand attacker, both looping and smashing (but first loop sometimes too soft), with strong serve & attack, good receive, a steady but too passive backhand, and steady, all-around defense - blocking, fishing, lobbing, and sometimes even chopping.
  • Strengths
    • What's the strongest part of your game?
    • How do you get it into play?
    • How are you turning this strength into something can dominate even against stronger players?
  • Weaknesses
    • What's the weakest part of your game?
    • How do cover for it?
    • What are you doing to improve this weakness?

2. Strokes

  • Forehand attack
    • Against push
    • Against block
    • Against loop (counterloop or smash)
  • Forehand defense or counter-attack
  • Backhand attack
    • Against push
    • Against block
    • Against loop (counterloop or smash)
  • Backhand defense or counter-attack
  • Pushing
    • Long
    • Short

3. Footwork

  • Close to table
  • Off table
  • In and out during rally
  • Covering middle
  • Short to forehand and back
  • Recovery
  • General positioning
  • Ready position

4. Serve

  • Serves that set up your attack
  • Trick serves (important but not to be overused)
  • Variety of motions
  • Variety of spins
  • Fast, deep serves
  • Variety of depths and depth control
  • Low to net

5. Receive

  • Forehand against long serves
  • Backhand against long serves
  • Forehand against short serves
    • Short push
    • Long push
    • Flip
    • Variation
  • Backhand against short serves
    • Short push
    • Long push
    • Flip
    • Variation

6. Physical

  • General fitness
  • Foot speed
  • Strength
  • Endurance

7. Mental

  • Clear-minded and focused
    • At start of match
    • When behind
    • When ahead
    • At end of close games
  • Know how to recover from loss of focus
  • Know when to call time-outs to recover focus

8. Tactical

  • Understand what serves set up your game
  • Understand what receives set up your game
  • Understand what type of rallies you want to get into
  • Know how to get your strengths into play
  • Know how to cover for your weaknesses
  • Good at scouting opponents in advance
  • Good at analyzing opponents during a match
  • Consistently able to find two or three simple tactics that allow you to win
  • Understand what you need to develop in your game to increase your tactical arsenal