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 beneficial if it is repeated many times? I think it is if the player knows why they are watching and what they are observing.
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 predicting the shot, you can be one step ahead, and this is perhaps the most crucial reason you should observe your opponent.
Secondly, observing your opponent 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 will play a backhand slice, and they have two possible options. The first is a backhand sidespin slice down the line, and the second is a slice lob. So you can be confident in 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 experience and knowledge about your opponent's playing style are essential 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.