Originally Posted by slowfox
At the rec level, who wins? The soft baller with good placement or the go-for-broke big hitter?
Depends on he level and what style of play you mean by big hitters. Generally the soft baller will win at lower levels (3.5 and lower), as the aggressive player will miss too often. However the big hitter will often progress to higher levels quicker, as their serve and groundstrokes tend to develop quicker.
From my experience, the most successful players at mid rec levels and above (4.0+) tend to be counterpunchers and grinders. As these are the players who hit hard enough to stay in the point, but don't lose the point by going for broke on silly shots all the time.
Trying to blast the ball for a winner early in the rally only really becomes a viable tactic around 5.0 or higher, as until this point the consistency doesn't exist when hitting with pace. At lower levels you tend to only see players blasting winners early in the rally if there is a big skill difference between the players.
In reality you want finesse and power to progress. A softballer on the ATP tour will hit with more pace than a 5.0 big hitter, and the most powerful players on tour will hit with much narrow margins from much worse positions than a recreational softballer. Players like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic can hit huge forehand winners and they can also hit thread the needle passing shots at full stretch, so both combined is clearly much better than either by itself.