January 29, 2018 - Playing the Crafty Veteran

Suppose you have your opponent outgunned - you simply are the better player, shot for shot. And yet, somehow he's rated about the same as you. How is this possible and how do you beat him?

Most likely he's a lot more experienced than you are, and almost by definition, he knows exactly what he does to play at your level, even with a weaker game. But that takes experience. So how to you beat the Crafty Veteran? Here are five tips.

  1. Don't let the Crafty Veteran do what he wants to do. Figure out what it is as early as possible, then do whatever you can to make sure he can't do it. If he likes to give you loaded pushes, perhaps serve topspin. (Or learn to spin those heavy pushes consistently.) If he likes to give you slow, spinny forehand loops, put the ball to his wide backhand. (Or learn how to counter-attack them.) If he wants to block you out of position, stay in position. 
  2. Take your time and pick your shots. If you play too aggressively or try to force your shots, the Crafty Veteran will know when you are going to attack and will be able to choose what shots you get to attack. Instead, attack softer than usual until you have an easy put-away, and focusing on consistency and placement, since his goal is to make you inconsistent. 
  3. Be flexible with your tactics. If you start winning, the Crafty Veteran will likely change tactics, and you have to as well. 
  4. Stay focused. If you outplay the Crafty Veteran most of the time, but have one bad streak now and then, that's all he needs to win. If you win 60% of the points, but lose focus one time and lose three in a row, instead of leading 9-6, it's 9-all. 
  5. Dominate with your game. If you have the better game, and follow the tips above, then you should be able to tactically force your game on the Crafty Veteran. Ultimately, this is the most important part, but you have to do the items above in order to do this. If you truly have the better game, you have winning tactical options, so figure them out. 

Finally, if you do lose to a Crafty Veteran, don't get angry; get even. You may have the better game, and yet somehow he won. Give him credit for finding a way to win, but make sure you know how he won, and make sure it doesn't happen again.