February 12, 2024 - Learn From Your Easy Wins and Bad Losses

Players often learn from close matches, knowing that with just a little more, a close loss becomes a win, and a close win becomes a somewhat easier win. And this is good. However, many players don't learn from blowout matches - but they should.

You can learn from either end of a blowout match. If you won in a blowout, assuming the opponent was at least somewhat near your level, then that means you did something really well. What was it? Because whatever it was is something you can build on to the point that you can use it against stronger players.

If you are on the wrong side of a blowout match, regardless of the opponent's level you should learn from it. What did he do that dominated?

  • Did he have a serve you couldn't return consistently or effectively? Then find someone to do that serve to you so you can practice against it. Perhaps learn to do it yourself, so you'll both have that serve as a weapon, but will also better understand the serve and so better know how to return it.
  • Did he return your serves in a way that took away your game? Then figure if you need to develop better serves or a better follow-up of those serves (or both), and develop that aspect of your game.
  • Did he win the rallies easily? Then figure out what you need to do so you can rally more effectively. (Note that often the one who wins the rallies isn't necessarily the better rallier but simply gets the initiative at the start, and so dominates from the start of the rally.)
  • Did he hit winners seemingly at will? Then figure out why you are giving him so many shots to put away and fix the problem, while also figuring out how you can add what he did to your own game.

So, next time you win or lose a blowout, think about what happened and learn from it. That's a big part of your tuition to becoming a stronger player.