In singles, there are three main styles or patterns of play. They are:
Here most of the shots played are smashes, fast drop shots and net shots, attacking lobs, more low services than high services, quick low pushes/flicks to the backcourt from the net, and fast running on the court.
2. The deceptive stroke play
Here you have more high services to the baseline than low services, the lobs are more angled and deep, the drop shots are deceptively played and they drop nearer the net.
The net shots are sharper and more deceptive but they are not played as fast as the attacking pattern of play.
The defence of players who play this style is better and more reliable.
The push shots to the back are more angled and deceptive.
This pattern of play requires less smashes and the movements of deceptive players are smoother and steadier, with better courtcraft.
3. The defensive cum straightforward style
Here most of the shots are plain and simple as opposed to being deceptive.
Most of the services are high and deep on to the backcourt, the net shots are not trickly but simple, and very few cross-court net shots are played.
The drop shots are sharp but not as fast as the attacking pattern of play.
In this playing style, the main purpose is to wear the opponent down by playing consistently simple effective shots, making very few mistakes.
Nearly all top players play a combination of two patterns of play with one style dominating.
To make it clearer for you, below are examples of styles of play of some international players.
Zhao Jianhua combined effectively the attacking style with deceptive stroke play. Foo Kok Keong and Ardy Wiranata played a straight forward style.
They sometimes resort to fast attacking style. Rudy Hartono was a fast attacking player. P. Gopichand is mainly a deceptive stroke player who sometimes uses the attacking style of play. Susi Susanti played the defensive and straightforward style to a very high standard.
Aspiring young singles players have a great tendency to emulate the playing style of champions.
I am sure some of our young players in the BAM back-up squad or state teams would be trying to “copy” the playing style of Roslin Hashim or some of the champions I have just mentioned.
Nowadays what is in fashion and what many players like to play is the fast attacking style with lots of jumping smashes and attacking lobs.
It is normal for young players to want to follow or copy their champions or go with the trend.
My advice to these young potentials is that when you do that, always remember champions are also individuals and if you want to be a champion, you must believe and have confidence in your individuality.
Ask yourself the following questions:
* Do I have the temperament to play this style of play (the style I am following)?
* Am I the impatient aggressive type who take risks a temperament more suited to the attacking style?
* Or am I the the hard-working and patient type who enjoy long rallies to put an opponent away temperament more suited to the defensive style?
* Or am I the patient player who loves playing a quality game and gets a lot of satisfaction in controlling the opponent a temperament more suited to the deceptive stroke player?
A second set of questions you should ask yourself:
* Do I have the physical attributes to play this style?
* Does the strength to execute continuous sharp and very powerful smashes comes easily to me?
* Am I physically too short to play a fast attacking game, giving me little time to cover the court well as compared to a tall player whose reflexes are just as fast as mine?
* I have lots of physical and mental stamina, how should I make use of it effectively?
The third set of questions to ask yourself:
* Do I have the shot making capabilities to follow this style of play?
* Are my shots mostly straightforward, consistent and deep or are they deceptive?
* What are my most potent strokes the smash, the defence, the lob, etc?
Do not just follow or copy the trend. It is important for you to discover your self and your style of play.
And when you follow the champion you admire, you will not be blind and also be in a better position to build on the strength of his style of play.
Only then can you develop it to its highest possible level to challenge other styles of play.
- Aik Huang