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View Full Version : sizing up your opponents during warm-ups


86golf
12-17-2009, 11:42 AM
I've come to the conclusion to not pay too much attention to groundstrokes during warm-ups. Too often guys that could barely sustain a medium paced rally during warm-ups somehow find their range and never miss once the game starts.
One thing I have noticed though during warm ups, guys that feed good overheads and hit overheads with medium pace right back to me when I'm feeding are the ones to watch out for. If my opponent is slamming overheads over the fence during warm ups, I start to lick my chops. These guys are typically slashers and can't get more than 3 balls back in play.

This is my experience (3.5 and 4.0 doubles) just curious if others have noticed this.

vandre
12-17-2009, 11:54 AM
+1

i don't pay a whole lot of attention to my opponent during warmups because it seems like one of those "widely known secrets" to start scouting during warmups. i know alot of the guys i play against pretty well and i know how they like to play going in, so i'm pretty well set gameplan-wise (i can think it, but can i pull it off is the $1 billion question!). i spend most of my time in warm-up trying to make good contact with the ball and let my opponent do the same. i will make really basic mental notes about their backhands (1h or 2h) and grips but i really don't go much beyond that for someone i haven't played before.

i didn't know we've played before. after reading what you wrote about slashers, we must have!!!!

USERNAME
12-17-2009, 11:56 AM
When I was playing in the lower lvls I noticed this and even now if I hit with a person below 5.0 they do the same much of the time. At the open lvl though warm ups are warm ups, not blasting the ball.

86golf
12-17-2009, 12:51 PM
When I was playing in the lower lvls I noticed this and even now if I hit with a person below 5.0 they do the same much of the time. At the open lvl though warm ups are warm ups, not blasting the ball.

Agreed, the 5.0's are very routine with their warm-ups. And there are some guys that just don't groundstroke well, but they figure out how to play doubles at a decent level.

Kostas
12-17-2009, 01:04 PM
I've shifted more towards that during warmup I'm trying to do just that: warm up.

I hit medium paced shots back to my opp. and volley and overhead right back to them (the best I can anyways - I'm a 3.5).

Warmups can be very misleading so I've taken to not put too much stock into what I see. I've destroyed people who "play good" during warmup and I've taken beatings from people who seemingly couldn't keep a rally going for nothin.

I can't stand it when they "practice" returning your warmup serves and expect you to shag them to give to them so they can serve. If I were marginally more confrontational I would tell them to **** off when they hit my first practice serve and they can get their own balls.

Cindysphinx
12-17-2009, 06:03 PM
In my last 7.5 combo match, we played a 4.0 lady who had been bumped to 4.5. Older. A bit heavy. During warm-up, she hit with the pace of a 3.0 woman. Serves were slow pushes. Groundstrokes were slow. Movement was slow. Everything was slow.

After warm-up, my partner said we should be able to take her, no problem. I told her no way, that this lady was saving it for the match.

Boy howdie, was she. Her shots during the match were textbook and had plenty of pace when pace was needed. Her serve speed was easily double the warm-up serves. She totally spanked us.

So the OP has a point!

darrinbaker00
12-17-2009, 06:45 PM
In my flex league matches, I've found the exact opposite to be true. I'll hit my groundstrokes up the middle and see which way my opponent goes to hit the ball back. If I see him favoring his forehand, I'll hit to his backhand during the match and watch him hit the ball all over the place.

smoothtennis
12-18-2009, 06:35 AM
I've shifted more towards that during warmup I'm trying to do just that: warm up.

I hit medium paced shots back to my opp. and volley and overhead right back to them (the best I can anyways - I'm a 3.5).

Warmups can be very misleading so I've taken to not put too much stock into what I see. I've destroyed people who "play good" during warmup and I've taken beatings from people who seemingly couldn't keep a rally going for nothin.

I can't stand it when they "practice" returning your warmup serves and expect you to shag them to give to them so they can serve. If I were marginally more confrontational I would tell them to **** off when they hit my first practice serve and they can get their own balls.

LOL - when opponents return my serves during warm up, I just keep serving and after about 10 serves ask if they would like to warm up their serve.

jrod
12-18-2009, 06:42 AM
In many cases, you can do some basic assessment of a player during the warm-up like stroke technique, footwork (to a lesser extent), preferences, etc. However, it's a mistake to extrapolate and conclude you are in over your head or you will kick their butt based on what you've observed.

Nellie
12-18-2009, 07:28 AM
I don't know - I can tell after warm ups whether I am going to have an easy or tough match. I don't go for any pace in warm up, but I will junk some spin and location to see, for example, how the opponent handles short balls/volleys, etc. When the opponent is pretty effortless, I am in trouble.

jrod
12-18-2009, 07:32 AM
I don't know - I can tell after warm ups whether I am going to have an easy or tough match. I don't go for any pace in warm up, but I will junk some spin and location to see, for example, how the opponent handles short balls/volleys, etc. When the opponent is pretty effortless, I am in trouble.


It's pretty easy to identify good skill levels when they are on display...effortless is an apt description.

sphinx780
12-18-2009, 07:55 AM
I think it's always worthwhile to take note of an opponent's tendencies but to try and not extrapolate too much in the way of what this will mean for the match.

I've played guys that warm up effortlessly and can then pull the trigger during a match as well as guys that can't go for anything more than that seemingly effortless warm up once the match starts. The same initial look that led to two very different skill sets.

It's more of a thought process like this when I'm warming up: Well, he did this during warm up so we'll see if that's what he has or if the bar raises/drops once the match starts.

To me, it's no different than playing someone you have played before...you go in with a basic knowledge of what they can/ can't do but every day can be different for a players abilities. A few weeks back I played a team where the one player had killed us with his net game the prior match against him, this time he was a bit off with the volley's so we were able to attack what we assumed to be his strength going in, a complete 180 from our game plan.

86golf
12-18-2009, 09:42 AM
It's pretty easy to identify good skill levels when they are on display...effortless is an apt description.

I'm 90% certain that on more than one occasion during our local league play guys were sandbagging during warm-ups. To be frank, it kinda hacks me off because it doesn't give me a proper warm up when guys are just junk-balling during warm ups. Then we start the first set and I hit a second serve and the junk-ball opponent takes my net partner out with a 80 mph forehand. I know, just part of the game.

ChipNCharge
12-18-2009, 08:07 PM
In my last 7.5 combo match, we played a 4.0 lady who had been bumped to 4.5. Older. A bit heavy. During warm-up, she hit with the pace of a 3.0 woman. Serves were slow pushes. Groundstrokes were slow. Movement was slow. Everything was slow.

After warm-up, my partner said we should be able to take her, no problem. I told her no way, that this lady was saving it for the match.
Boy howdie, was she. Her shots during the match were textbook and had plenty of pace when pace was needed. Her serve speed was easily double the warm-up serves. She totally spanked us.

So the OP has a point!

What made you think she was actually a much better player than what she was showing during the warm-up?

MrCLEAN
12-19-2009, 05:40 PM
I look for the basics, RH or LH, footwork, mechanics, and even their agressiveness. I've seen guys that hide the fact that they can't hit overheads by hitting some kind of high forehand slice (always goes to my right). I hit balls down the middle to see what shot they prefer (generally FH), then I go middle of the ad court and see how much they want to protect the BH by seeing how far they're willing to run around to hit a FH (pretty telling in warmups). I try to see if they can hit all the targets off both sides (alot of times they can't due to their grips or whatever). And I've noticed that usually, if a player is teeing off in warmups and hitting winners, ect, that they probably can't do it in the match, under pressure (true about 95% of the time).

Basically besides warming myself up, I look for strengths and weaknesses of the other guy, and make note of any limitations they have, be it physical or technical.

Only once that I can recall did I watch a guy in warmups for his first round match and know he would win the tournament. And he did, lost only 5 games in I think 4 matches.

Tyrus
12-19-2009, 05:51 PM
When i was at the O2 i got some video of Djokovic and Rafa warming up. I saw almost no lower body in the shots, and about 85-90% backhands. Slower paced, good form, sustainable rally.

I always try to warm up that way, develop rhythm, consistency and ensure i can do what i want with my shots. Naturally practicing just about every shot i can without being flashy. Same with serves, go for location if i can, get the spin tested.

Now what sucks is when i warm up real well, then i get maybe a bit overconfident and can't make those same shots i had in warmup.

Cindysphinx
12-20-2009, 05:40 AM
What made you think she was actually a much better player than what she was showing during the warm-up?

I had played her before.

But even if I had never laid eyes on her before, no one becomes a computer-rated 4.5 when they are over 50 unless they can play better than that warm-up.

Cindysphinx
12-20-2009, 05:44 AM
The serve seems to be the area where there is the greatest discrepancy between warm-up and play, in my experience.

I have had warm-ups where the opponent was killing the serve. And then when the match starts, they can't get a serve in the box.

I've also had matches where the opponent just spins the serve in. The minute the match starts, they start firing a machine gun.

I had one such guy as a mixed partner once. I knew he had a huge serve. But during the warm-up, he was spinning thise loopy serves that went 25 feet in the air and landed near the baseline. When the match started, he was hitting his usual unreturnable serves. I asked him about it, and he said the only thing he wants to achieve when warming up his serve his finding his timing for his topspin second serve.

Must be a good idea, because he sure could serve!!

jrod
12-20-2009, 06:02 AM
......
I've also had matches where the opponent just spins the serve in. The minute the match starts, they start firing a machine gun.

I had one such guy as a mixed partner once. I knew he had a huge serve. But during the warm-up, he was spinning thise loopy serves that went 25 feet in the air and landed near the baseline. When the match started, he was hitting his usual unreturnable serves. I asked him about it, and he said the only thing he wants to achieve when warming up his serve his finding his timing for his topspin second serve.

Must be a good idea, because he sure could serve!!

Good observation on the serve. The warm up isn't really adequate to allow one's serve to "warm up". So instead it's a good idea to find your range and loosen up the arm and shoulder. For the first few games I rely almost exclusively on my 2nd serve (kick/slice), and only start to integrate 1st serves once my confidence, range and body allow.

jpr
12-20-2009, 08:05 AM
i think the warmup is just the first impression. much like life, you can make incorrect assumptions from the first impression, but every now and again the book does look like its cover.

i try to pay attention to footwork and my opponents technical skill. you can generally determine which side they prefer and their relative comfort at the net vs baseline.

BTW when i warm up, i hold back a lot. i try to be loose, often cracking a joke. i dont care so much what the ball does, but i do try to get my legs and footwork going. on the serve, i only hit 2nd serves...simply trying to warmup and feel the motion. when i play against similar level competition, they are doing the same so no surprise for either of us. when i play mixed with my wife, the opponents are more often surprised that i play better than the warmup.

muddlehead
12-21-2009, 08:11 AM
match and subsequent evaluations start at point one. i show nothing in warm up. have to assume same of opponent(s). one thing in warm up does get my attention. when i'm practicing my serve, if my opponent stops practicing his to start returning mine, nyet. we commence to play the match at that point.

ALten1
12-26-2009, 08:59 PM
I remember when I first learned how to hit a top spin forehand. I would wear it out in the warmup before the match, because I knew once the match started I would start blocking/pushing the ball back.
To me warmups are kind of like poker --a lot of acting (strong when weak/weak when strong). I'm guilty of trying not to show too much but then again I don't have a lot to show.

kslick
12-29-2009, 02:49 PM
Forget about judging someone by warmups. I made this mistake once, the guy was hitting cleanly and had nice pace. Then the match began....junk ball central. This wasn't the same guy I was warming up with. I learned my lesson. If I've never played the person than I just play my game and make adjustments if need be.

catfish
12-30-2009, 04:06 AM
I've always thought that the warm up is to warm up your body, and it's a cooperative effort between both players. You hit back and forth to get loose and get the blood flowing. Players can get a general idea of how their opponent hits the ball, but you're not playing points here. No one should be hitting drop shots or blasting the balls as hard as they can in a warm up. I see a lot of men blast warm up serves as hard as they can. That seems like a one-way ticket to shoulder surgery. :confused:

Fedace
12-30-2009, 04:14 AM
I've come to the conclusion to not pay too much attention to groundstrokes during warm-ups. Too often guys that could barely sustain a medium paced rally during warm-ups somehow find their range and never miss once the game starts.
One thing I have noticed though during warm ups, guys that feed good overheads and hit overheads with medium pace right back to me when I'm feeding are the ones to watch out for. If my opponent is slamming overheads over the fence during warm ups, I start to lick my chops. These guys are typically slashers and can't get more than 3 balls back in play.

This is my experience (3.5 and 4.0 doubles) just curious if others have noticed this.

One of the MOST important things i do is read their service toss or motion. I say even at my high level, 70% of the guys give it away with the service toss.

Dave Mc
12-30-2009, 05:16 AM
Just another warm-up story: One time I played the #1 seed first round in a senior M40 match, and the guy brought about 6 family members out to watch, and he seemed a little cocky, and liked to hit hard. Normally I return all warm-up shots even when they're out just to keep the rally going. But for this guy, I decided to not return any of his warm-up shots that were out. I would just stop the ball, then start a new rally. Plus I made damn sure not to miss a single ball during warm-up, and simply stroke everything calmly right down the middle. Well, he kept hitting balls over the baseline, and I kept stopping the rally, and he seemed to get more and more annoyed and embarassed. I think this may have destroyed his confidence, because he played nervously during the match and lost to me in straights. It certainly wasn't my intention to rattle this guy during the warm-up in order to win the match. I was just instinctively reacting to his cockiness by being extra solid and strict.

Dave Mc
12-30-2009, 05:36 AM
Just another warm-up story: One time I was playing a guy in a M5.0 league at line #1 singles, and he refused to give me a decent warm-up. He chopped every groundstroke into an alley so I couldn't return it. Then he comes to net and slams every volley and overhead into the alleys so I couldn't return it. So I come up to net, and he chops every shot into the net or really high so I couldn't volley. So I ask for a few lobs, and he lobs everything very short and one inch from the net so I couldn't hit overheads. So we take serves, and he hits every serve into the alleys to make me have to run and reach and interrupt the next court to get balls back. Of course when we start playing, he hits all his heavy topspin groundstrokes that I never got a chance to see. I was so ****ed at this con-man and really determined to play extra solid, and managed to win in 3 close sets. We shake hands and sit down, and he says, "would you consider leaving your team to join my team next season"? I just laughed and said, "I don't think so", but what I wanted to say was, "you burned any chance of that happening during the warm-up you jerk"!

pc1
12-30-2009, 06:21 AM
This is not a warm up story but indirectly it is. When I first started playing tennis I starting hitting with a friend of mine (both of us were in high school) and he tried to hit every ball with ALL HIS MIGHT. So where he hit the ball well I was just a beginner like him and I couldn't return the ball. Most of the time he hit the ball out or often over the park's fences.

I kept telling him that we're trying to learn the basics and that I couldn't even warm up with him playing like that. He still continued to do his thing which was to belt the ball as hard as he could. He was a big guy 6'5" tall and he towered over me. Eventually after many weeks of playing him I gave up and started playing with others who were much better than me and also could allow me to rally with them.

About two years later I invited my friend to play again with me and while he continued his thing, I found I could easily handle his shots and belt them back even when he got it in. He could barely win a point. We later played hundreds of sets and I won every one 6-0 because while he could rally at that point he felt his only way of beating me was to go for the lines and all that did was allow me to defeat him much more easily. If he just tried to rally with me he probably would have won a number of sets and I'm sure I wouldn't have beaten him 6-0 all the time. I was tempted many times to tell him if he knew how to practice he would be a better player but knowing how he tended to gloat when he won I decided not to.