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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Andre Agassi on Focusing on Executing the Game Plan

Tennis is like a game of chess. Your opponent makes one move and you react and make your move. It is an ongoing battle of action and reaction. The ability to read your opponent and the situation is crucial to success. Those players that have great "IQ", "Smarts", "Court Awareness" are excellent at reading the situation and making good decisions.

Decision making, like many things in sport, is affected by a player's focus, stress, confidence, goals, game style to name a few things as well as by the opponent, momentum, score and so on. If a player can impose his or her game plan on an opponent chances are that he or she will win. However, if the opponent can dictate play chances are that you will lose.

I often see players come out with a very clear game plan only to lose it once they begun to struggle against their opponent. Maybe it is a panic response or a lack of focus and trust in the game plan. Likely it is all of the aforementioned reasons. Andre Agassi was known as a player who could impose his game on his opponent. He liked to stay in the middle of the court and work his opponent from side-to-side eventually wearing him down and/or hitting an outright winner. Agassi understood the importance of executing the game plan and how much joy a player can gain from being tested and still playing their game.

You have to have the mentality of executing your game when you don’t feel like there’s a lot of hope. I think the best feeling is when somebody pushes you to the limit and you dig down a little bit extra. By the same token, you also need a little luck. Sometimes they come together.
~ Andre Agassi
How can you stick to your game plan under pressure? When your opponent is controlling the play and you are feeling the weight of the pressure to hold serve? Trust is the answer. If you have prepared your self to play a certain game style, work a pattern of play and use them under pressure. Believe in them. They will help you get into a rhythm and begin to force your opponent to play your game. Encourage yourself to stick with the game plan and visualize it between points.

Players often stray from the game plan when they are feeling pressured and the plan does not work for a few points. Do not panic and rush between points. Take extra time, slow things down, and prepare yourself to play the next point with full focus, energy, and intensity. Take your cue from Rafa Nadal. When times get tough, compose yourself and prepare to play your game plan.

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