There are a lot of ways to scout your opponent before a match.
Some players look at their opponent’s fitness level:
- Does it look like they’ll be able to cover the court quickly?
- Might they become winded in a long rally?
Other players look at their opponent’s equipment:
- Opponents who are sponsored may have a lot of tournament experience.
- Old or inexpensive equipment might indicate that an opponent has relatively little experience on the court.
Still other players look at their opponent’s footwork.
- Does it look like they’ll get into position to set their feet properly?
- Might trying to jam them put them at a disadvantage?
One of the tips that I’ve gotten from Cliff is to look at my opponent’s grip. Why? Because an improper grip leads to inconsistencies and misses that I can use to my advantage. Here’s how Cliff explains it.
Now, is it difficult to spot an improper grip? Cliff can spot one from a mile away – but for me, it is difficult. Part of my battle at first was just knowing what what I was looking for…which meant that I had to know what a proper grip was.
To find the proper forehand grip:
- face the side wall
- hold your palm so that it’s parallel to the front wall
- hold your racquet so that your strings are parallel to the front wall
- press your racquet into your hand
Here’s Cliff demonstrating a proper (right-handed) forehand grip.
To find the proper backhand grip:
- face the side wall
- hold your palm so that it’s face down, parallel to the floor
- hold the racquet so that your strings are parallel to the front wall
- press the racquet into your hand
Here’s Cliff demonstrating a proper (right-handed) backhand grip.
Now, even though I still have trouble spotting an improper grip on my opponent, I can say with certainty that my game has definitely improved after changing to a proper grip. Skips and fly balls are less frequent, and I’m hitting with more power and less effort. So even if, like me, you have trouble spotting your opponent’s grip, you can still adjust your own grip for more power and consistency.