If You Were the Coach - Strategy Quiz for Players

By Jorge Capestany, USPTA Master Professional & PTR International Master Professional

As coaches we often struggle to get our players to think and deploy strategies like we want them to. I have been doing a cool exercise that is helping some of my players. I recently listened to the great Dr. Jim Loehr and he was talking about the importance of journaling and writing things out. So I decided that I would create a quiz and challenge to my players and also have them write out the answers to various competitive situations. You can see the concept and quiz questions below. This is very useful and as a coach it will be very revealing about what how your students think on the court. It may be very surprising to you.

… You are a college coach and you are helping the following players while they play a match. The pressure is on and they are competing in a live match against an equally talented opponent. This is the type of match that your player could win or lose its a 50/50 chance of winning.

Player 1)
This player is a steady baseliner. He moves well and can outlast most opponents. However he has very poor front court skills and his overhead and volleys cannot be trusted. He loses only to players that can outlast him from the baseline. So far he has been unable to switch tactics and could not really bring his opponent to the net. What tactics could you devise to help this player?

Player 2) You have a player that plays solid for the baseline and very well from the front court. But this player was recently injured and is moving at about 50% of their normal ability and can not cover the court very effective today. They compete well and handle nerves pretty well. What tactics could you devise to help this player?

Player 3) This player really struggles with nerves when they compete and the scoreboard is turned on. They always seem to play better in practice than a match. They can win against much lesser players but always seem to find a way to lose against players of equal ability. When they compete they are generally in a state of high negative tension and not very relaxed. What tactics could you devise to help this player?

Player 4) You have a player that is very solid from the baseline, can play long points and over power people. He displays very poor finishing and front court skills. He rarely loses, but when they do, it is typically because their opponent can outlast him or outhit him from the baseline. He has a decent deployable slice option, but his drop shot is not reliable. What tactics could you devise to help this player?

Player 5) You have an all court player that is equally comfortable from the baseline or the front court. His serve often gets the “yips” and they double fault a lot under pressure.. He sometimes loses to players who hit predominantly to his forehand or simply hit winners a lot. This player does not generate much power from the baseline but has excellent hustle and defense. What tactics could you devise to help this player?

Player 6) You have a classic runner-pusher that wins by frustrating people. Today he is playing someone that is even more steady than he is and outlasting him from the baseline. Your player’s typical way of winning by frustrating his opponent is not working and he is playing against a player that is a better version of himself. Your player is starting to panic because he feels the match slipping away and he knows he do not have many other tactics that he can confidently deploy. What tactics could you devise to help this player?
Player 7) You have a player that is a classic over-hitter and hot head. She is accustomed to hitting a lot of winners, but often struggles to maintain her composure when she competes. This player is often highly agitated during a match and not very nice to play against. Today she is playing against an opponent that is very fast and getting a lot of her “winners” back. Your player is starting to get angry and lose it. What tactics could you devise to help this player?

I hope this helps you and your players and good luck on the courts.

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