September 4, 2023 - Tactical Confidence

I’ve seen coaches give tactical advice that wasn’t particularly helpful in itself. And yet, it often paid off with the player confidently executing the so-so tactics - and winning. Why? Because it's not always the tactics. Given confidently, these tactics, whether good or not, gives the player a plan, and that inspires confidence. And confidence means you are more likely to make your shots, which leads to confidence, which leads to making your shots, which leads to…

Yeah, it's circular reasoning - but you have to start somewhere. And that means developing confidence in any way you can - Confidence, Then Consistency!

You don't always need a coach to give you a tactical plan. With experience, you can come up with them yourself - and just as importantly, have confidence in your tactical plans, which leads to your making your shots, which leads to confidence, which leads to…

Yeah, I think you get it.

Many, many times in my coaching career I've thought of all sorts of ways that my player could win but realized that the key problem was the player wasn't confident in his shots. So, I'd tell him just one key thing he could do over and over. Alone, that one tactic probably wouldn't win the match, though it would make it closer. But by giving just one key thing, the player focused on that, and having that simple plan in mind led to the confidence needed to win. There's actually one go-to tactic that works wonders - just tell the unconfident player to go after the opponent's middle, relentlessly, over and Over and OVER. And in an amazing number of matches, that's all it takes. (This tactic works in most matches, but usually combined with one or two other key tactics. Normally the only time it doesn't work well is against an opponent who is effective at covering the middle with his forehand.)

The key takeaway? It's often better to have any tactical plan you are confident in then having a good one that you aren’t confident about.