Best way to get the most out of playing a weaker player

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by GameSetBeer, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. GameSetBeer

    GameSetBeer New User

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    I have a good friend I play due to the social aspect. I thought he'd be better after 2 years of playing, but I have improved a lot more than he has in that time.

    I want to keep playing due to the social aspect. He says he wants me keep playing hard, but I am giving him bagels all of the time.

    Anyone else come up against this and what did you do to get the most out of your match?
     
    #1
  2. skandy

    skandy Rookie

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    I used to do that a lot some years ago (some of my friends were about 3-3.5, and I was 4.5). "Playing hard" will not be beneficial for either of you, but once you both agree to consider it a practice, I have few suggestions:
    • One of the most important things is to always hit nice, steady, relatively deep, well-paced shots to his stronger wing. Otherwise the points will likely be quite short. Actually people usually like it since hitting such shots back makes them appear a much better player.
    • Work on your fitness and footwork, try to be in the best position possible for a shot as early as possible.
    • Run around the ball all the time, no matter if it's coming to your backhand or forehand. Alternatively, try to hit only backhands (if you want to work on them) or only forehands.
    • Learn to play left-handed (I learned it after I broke my right arm, so now I can hit with some of my friends left-handed, and the form is even somewhat decent). Can't serve at all, though :)
     
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  3. eelhc

    eelhc Hall of Fame

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    Here's what I do when paired up against a much weaker opponent in socials. Time to...
    • Practice that 2nd serve... admit it... you never practice serves.
    • Take portions of the court away from yourself. For example: Hit past the service line on your opponent's backhand side only... 3/4 of the court off limits. Or do not hit in the middle of the court, etc, etc...
    • Alternate spins.. one topspin, one underspin, etc, etc...
    Also... one of the things I do when I play with my kids is never to hit winners, but allow them to beat themselves.
     
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  4. MathGeek

    MathGeek Professional

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    My left handed forehand really improved against some weaker players who I played mostly for the social aspects.
     
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  5. dgold44

    dgold44 Legend

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    My god ..can't you just dump a game???
    In today's America ...there are no winners or losers ...you big , mean bully !!!
     
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  6. GameSetBeer

    GameSetBeer New User

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    You're either first or you're last. ;)

    These are really good. Thanks.

    I like the left handed thing. I actually had a really weak backhand before and resorted to using my left hand. Now if I'm in a pinch I'll use it and it usually results in a point because it stuns the other player. It's not a bad idea to try now.

    I actually use my second serve on him quite a bit and It's something I use all the time on even weaker opponents. If someone is not going to be able to return my serve, I'll serve up second serves all day and it is a good way to practice it.

    I also practice hitting my first serve on a second serve. Sometimes you need to do this in a tighter match to mix it up. I also try high risk winners every once in a while.
     
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  7. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    my 0.02
    *hit tontheir strong side only
    *hit your weaker shots when you can (i.e. run around fh)
    *do NOT play lefty (unless you can hit at say the 4.0 level that way),... from a social aspect, people will be insulted
    *run down every ball (including balls that are out, even way out)
    *a win for you is how many balls you can hit in the same spot without making them move much
     
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  8. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Go for a "golden match"--don't let him get ONE SINGLE POINT! Try to see how fast you can beat him, check the time you start and end--this will give you goals--he said he's game for it--hope you get that raise, RE listing or marry his daughter, or nail his wifee--g'luck--I'm rooten' for ya'--good question.
     
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  9. eelhc

    eelhc Hall of Fame

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    I lost a set to a weaker, soft and high spin shot pushing player last week in a social. The previous week I had bageled the guy. But last week, I trying to hit every shot to the corner of the service box (ether side), off the court to open up the other side for a clean winner. Hit a lot of shots out and ended up losing 6-4 but had a lot of fun.
     
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  10. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Professional

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    I am in exactly the same situation. When I stopped leagues I found a guy who was about the same level (maybe even a bit better) and him and I have hit the last almost two years, at least a few times a week. during that time I've tightened up my game, but he isn't of that same mindset and is generally about the same. I mentioned to him last month I needed to start playing more people to get a better breadth of experience and I can see he was a bit bummed (the, "we should start seeing other people...it's not you, it's me" speech). I really do enjoy hitting with him, but having had the opportunity often lately to hit with better, and a few much better players, I found just those sessions have raised my diligence in playing immensely. The added competition and level of play is like crack, and I want more.

    Anyway, what I do when hitting with him is work on consistency drills and put away shots. If he is having issues with consistency I pull out cones and tell him "I" need to work on better shot placement. for matches I focus on a technique, like S&V which I don't normally do. Or I might work on point construction and finishing at the net often. Really it is a great opportunity to find things to work on.

    Last week we had two ladies want to play mixed doubles. Not a huge challenge in level of play, but I had a great time working on anticipation of shots to improve court position. Many times in fast paced matches you don't get time to think, so the slower pace worked well for that.
     
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  11. Booger

    Booger Hall of Fame

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    Same boat. Worse, his one and only practice goal is to see how many winners he can blast by me. He will intentionally feed a ball that I have to go chase, then follow it up by going for a winner to the opposite corner. Over and over. When we play sets, he's going to hit the first neutral ball for a winner (15%) or 4 feet out (85%).
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
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  12. jonestim

    jonestim Hall of Fame

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    I played with a guy like that for too long. I was new to the club, didn't know many people yet and our availability was similar. It was horrible for my tennis because I knew if I put the ball back over the net anywhere three times I would win the point. I didn't work on strategy, depth, placement.... I just had to dink the ball back to him. He could often get two over, but the third had to be an attempted winner. I usually beat him 6-1/6-2 if we played sets. I would often suggest we do cooperative drills - trying to see if we could get 20 balls in and deep. It took a while, but he could do it. He could keep the ball in if he wanted to, but he seldom did.
     
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  13. kevrol

    kevrol Professional

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    I usually force myself to play out of position a little bit.
     
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  14. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Professional

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    I wonder if my guy has a brother that you hit with, cuz that is the same too.
     
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  15. OnTheLine

    OnTheLine Semi-Pro

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    There are lots of things that you can do against a weaker opponent ....
    Don't you have a few things you are working on? Things you normally wouldn't put in a match?
    S&V on every point?
    A new serve that you are working on?
    Full stroke on all ROS, never allowing yourself to block a good serve back?
    Be evil and work on the perfect drop shot?
     
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  16. Booger

    Booger Hall of Fame

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    We should really get these guys together
     
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  17. skandy

    skandy Rookie

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    Somewhat similar thing happened to me about 5 years ago. I was practicing serves and an older dude asked me to hit with him. We started hitting and it quickly became apparent that there was probably a 1.5 level gap between us, he was about 3.0, had limited mobility and could not handle spin or pace, but was ok handling medium-paced clean shots to him, with decent directional control. So he was trying to hit corners, hit nasty slices etc, while I was happily doing cardio retrieving them and hitting them back very nicely to his forehand (he was standing inside the court since I was hitting short balls, so it was actually a good workout). He then wanted to play a set. Even at that moment, the thought that he does not understand what I am doing never occurred to me, as I thought it was that obvious.

    We proceeded to play a set, where I kept playing the same way, not even trying to win the points, just hitting super nice short balls to his forehand. The only winners I hit were when I was on a dead run and could not control ball speed/placement. It was actually fun, as I was getting the cardio workout I wanted and the guy clearly enjoyed himself. The set turned into an epic battle, I never changed the way I played, and happily "lost" 5:7. After the handshake and my sincere congratulations, the dude, in a patronizing manner, patted my back and said that we should play again, as his game was just a bit better. I agreed with him. Recalling this match always makes me smile :)
     
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  18. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I play with a bunch of much weaker players on a regular basis. The only one way I know to get the most out of playing without artificiality (ie playing with off-hand, etc) is to give them advance points, games, bigger court or limiting my number of shots.

    Say, for one competitive old man, I'd give him my full double court, 3 games ahead and every game starts with him up 30-0. It really forces me to play virtually perfect games. Major footwork/speed for large court coverage, consistency without throwing away a point here and there.

    This is such a great field leveling device that our head to head is 3-4 in my favor. I can't take our match lightly, can't play on my sub-optimal day if I don't want to lose (and pay for lunch).
     
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  19. GameSetBeer

    GameSetBeer New User

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    Just remembered that Jimmy Connors did this:

     
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  20. GameSetBeer

    GameSetBeer New User

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    I agree. Playing someone with more pace and at an even level is just more fun. Especially when you see them upping their game as you up yours over time. I'm always trying something new or finding ways to improve. If someone else isn't, then the matches get kind of sad and boring. Though sometimes he'll get very lucky and other times I get to practice certain shots I wouldn't normally get to.

    I actually played a pusher I would always lose to, though the games were always close. I hadn't played him in a while (upped my game a ton during that time) and beat him really badly and then never heard from him again. He was swearing the whole time and couldn't believe he lost. I thought we were just having fun, but apparently he took it too seriously.

    I do really feel though, if you can beat a pusher or someone with no pace at all, that your game is at another level.

    My friend who I'm now way ahead of, actually helped me with parts of my game by sending me some youtube videos a while back. Though to this day he has not mastered those videos after 1.5 years. I'll still keep playing him, but only because he is a good friend, though it's getting annoying because I can tell he has no desire to get better.

    Thanks for all of the ideas
     
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  21. MrRandom247

    MrRandom247 Semi-Pro

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    Used to do this a lot:
    Unforced error reduction.
    Do not give away any free points.
    Heavy 2nd serves as first serves.
    Get every shot in with 2/3 margin.
    It's actually a lot of fun.
     
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  22. blip

    blip Rookie

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    All great ideas so far. Play for fun, practice new shots, shots you hate alot. Also, don't play sets. Just help him get better. If he has no desire to, then I would hit with him once a month until he either gets better or decides not to.

    Another idea is to play with him in dubs instead of against him.
     
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  23. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    thanks for that video of Jimbo playing Martina right handed. It shows you what would happen if the best athlete in history--serena--would play against Roger--left handed--or, the world's 500th man, while he is smoking a cigarette--or medical marijuana.
     
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  24. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    When playing an opponent who is vastly inferior, make it more challenging by playing them while in a potato sack :


     
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  25. eelhc

    eelhc Hall of Fame

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    In social/casual tennis, the suggestion of any sort of a handicapping mechanism can make you look like a total D-Bag... "I'm so much better than you so you get the doubles alley, you get 30-0 to start the game, etc...". Play in a manner that allows you to have fun without making the other person look bad. Make it fun for both parties. I could spot some people 40-0 every game and still bagel/breadstick them. I mean what's the sense of giving an 80 old cancer survivor the alleys then hitting drop shots on her? Yes... and I've actually played an 80 year old cancer survivor. None of these people are stupid... they know that you're taking a bit off your game to make it fun for them as well... You don't have to make them look bad.

    [​IMG]
     
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  26. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    so i used to think this, in belgium (france, etc,...) they do a handicapping system.

    ie 4.5ntrp == B+4/6,... which means something like, "against a 5.0 i get 4 free points every 6 games" (not sure exactly on the rules)

    http://www.brookfieldtennis.com/about-us/tennis-handicaps-overview.174.html

    http://www.castlebartennis.ie/docs/ITF_International_Tennis_Number_Manual.pdf

    that said, it only works with folks within 1-2 levels (ie scores of no more a deficit of 6-2, 6-2),... so, i prefer doing what you said, feeding the weaker opponent, balls into their strengths.
     
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  27. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Like most things in life, it's all about how you go about it, ie your attitude or mannerism. If you are a doucebag you'll be a doucebag with the nicest thing you do!!!

    You're very limited in your creativity and self esteem if you think rec tennis is such a big deal that people's honor or pride has to be put on the line for. The tennis I and my friends know is fun and negotiable and we mind our own objective and fun, which how it should be since no one knows other's get-offs. The only thing we have in common and agreed on is that we compete well in tennis action.

    The notion that the better player (voluntarily) taking a bit off their game to make it fun for his worse opponent can not be more patronizing, stupid and anti-competition for me. I would rather 'rally" only with such a better player but there's only so much "rally" I want to do.
     
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  28. GameSetBeer

    GameSetBeer New User

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    My friend is a bit of a dbag. I don't think he'd mind.

    He doesn't have much pace on his ball, so you have to be conscious of not overhitting at times. Playing him has helped me to work on getting winners on weak second serves (all of his serves are weak) and be more patient with balls with no pace.

    I find it easier to beat a weaker player with a bit more pace.
     
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  29. GameSetBeer

    GameSetBeer New User

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  30. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Professional

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    To be clear, I play with about every level of player because:
    • I like people much more than competition
    • With newer, less experienced players I can help teach them and give them the same opportunity to play up that I want
    • With (usually) slower pace and erratic shots I get to work on things I don't get to when at level or above
    • Again, I just love meeting players and talking shop (tennis)
     
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  31. Ruark

    Ruark New User

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    Hold a book in your non-racquet hand and read it while you're playing.
     
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  32. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Hall of Fame

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    And the book in question should be *How to get the most out of playing a weaker player".
     
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  33. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Professional

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    This thread ruined me and that was all I was thinking about today while I was helping a few of our 3.5 women improve some doubles skills. We played a mixed match and it was fun. My challenge was to keep volleys close to players and keep points going to give them opportunities to put away balls. Very social and everyone did well. I finished with volley drills with them at the net and having them take pace and close the net.
     
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  34. MrRandom247

    MrRandom247 Semi-Pro

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    Play with a squash racket,
    or Wilson Pro Staff 85
    or Wilson T2000
    or any wood racket
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
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  35. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Professional

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    Love when people infer it is just women who can't handle ATP serves. FFS.

    45 Aces in an ATP v. ATP?






    Greatest returner? Sure.



    GOAT? Wait, 27 aces in a match against FED? Weird.
     
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  36. RobS

    RobS New User

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    I've been on both side of this scenario as I'm sure most players have, whether they realized it or not. If you enjoy spending time with the guy, as I assume you do since he's a good friend, just use it as an opportunity to work on your shots that you need to practice. Use all of the shot that you might not feel totally comfortable using against a player that is a level higher than you at present.
     
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  37. beltsman

    beltsman Hall of Fame

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    You gotta send a message every couple of points reminding them who's in charge.
     
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  38. GameSetBeer

    GameSetBeer New User

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    Of course Isner is going to ace a lot of men as well. No arguing that. Both men and women's tennis are both worth watching.

    Didn't mean for this to turn into a who's better, but I find that when playing some women or even men of lower skill levels, I turn to a second serve to make it more competitive.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017 at 1:30 AM
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  39. LGQ7

    LGQ7 Rookie

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    Play opposite handed.
     
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  40. eelhc

    eelhc Hall of Fame

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    2 can play that game:

     
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  41. Bigfoot Fault

    Bigfoot Fault New User

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    I don't see the point of playing actual sets if you routinely are dishing out 6-0 scores.

    I do see why you'd still want to play with your buddy. So why are you playing sets? Just hit around and rally with him? That would help him improve much better than you crushing him, and it will help you to practice your consistency.

    It's so odd to me that so many players don't understand you don't have to just play sets.
     
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