June 26, 2023 - See Things from Opponent's Point of View

One of the hardest things for players and coaches to do is see things from the opponent’s point of view. They think about what they want to do, and about tactically playing into specific weaknesses of the opponent. But they aren't really seeing things as the opponent sees it.

It's easy for an experienced coach or player to figure out what the opponent's strengths and weaknesses are, and then work out the tactics to play him. What's harder is to continuously see things from their point of view as the game progresses. Tactics aren't static; they change as the match continues. If a serve works once, that may have been because of surprise. Only if you can see it from the opponent's point of view can you better figure out if he'll be ready for it the next time. The same is true of other tactics. Did he block your spinny loop off the end because he was caught off guard by it, or because he's actually weak against it? Will he adjust? How often should you use that serve or spinny loop to maximize its effectiveness without letting the opponent get used to it? What exactly do you do that "scares" the opponent?

These are the questions that can only be answered if you see things from the opponent's point of view. So, for the tactically minded, it's an important habit to develop.

However, this can also be overdone. You don't want to get so wrapped up with seeing things from the opponent's point of view that you lose track of what you want and should be doing. Ideally, you should be forcing your game on the opponent, and trying to make him adjust to you more than you have to adjust to him. But it's a balancing act - and finding that balance only comes from being able to see it from both sides, and with experience, learning to apply both.

Or become a mind-reader. That makes things a lot easier!