Watch Your Opponent
Marcin Bieniek explains how watching your opponent can help you predict your opponent's shot and limit their playing options.
A phrase used by many tennis coaches to their players is "Watch your opponent" but is it really beneficial if it is repeated many times? I think it is if the player knows why they are watching and what they are trying to observe.
Why should you watch your opponent?
Firstly, you can take some clues from your opponent's biomechanics. By observing the angle of the racket face, their footwork etc. you can predict your opponent's shot. By being able to predict the shot you can be one step ahead and is perhaps the most important reason why you should observe your opponent carefully.
Secondly, by observing your opponent it can help you determine the best shot to play and limit the return options your opponent can play. Watch your opponent and see which shots they can play for a particular game situation.
An example is when you play a slice approach shot to the opponent's body and they do not move then they are going to play a backhand slice and they have two possible options. First is a backhand sidespin slice down the line and the second option is a slice lob. So you can be really confident on covering the down the line shot.
Remember, the objective of observing is not just to see where the ball is going. Observe correctly and you can predict your opponent's shot and limit their playing options. Your own experience and skills along with knowledge about your opponent's style of playing are important factors and together with your observational skills will help you predict your opponent's play more accurately.
So, remember "Watch your opponent".
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About the Author
Marcin Bieniek is a tennis coach from Poland and a former professional player (Polish National Juniors Team). He is a certificated tennis coach by the Polish Tennis Coaching Association and the Professional Tennis Registry. Marcin has worked with many of the top 20 Polish Juniors and the top 150 players in the world. He has a coaching tennis forum at http://2beacoach.forums-free.com
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