Start By Asking a Few Questions

Published in the Paddle Palace Catalog, July 2008


To help a player of any level to play better games and improve their performance there are a few important questions to ask. How do I want to play my game? How do I score points? How do I lose points? How will I be able to play better next time? Did I play technically correct? And there are many more questions.

If I can answer some of these questions there is a good chance I will improve my level of play. We don’t want playing well to be a coincidence. To be able to perform well day after day we must be aware of what we are doing. Through asking yourself questions and gaining a higher awareness, it is then possible to design effective practice targets for improving your game.

One way to help players and coaches to set up what and how they should practice is to envision a match as a pie chart divided into different pieces. In the center of the pie chart is the individual player. Every player will interpret the slices in a different way according to level and style.


What we do when we practice is to take out a couple of pieces from the pie and focus on them, meaning we train them intensely. When we are done training we put them back into the pie again, resulting in a stronger overall game.

Player Graph


We divide the pie into sixteen slices consisting of elements needed for a good game. Depending on a player’s level and style of play, there are a different number of slices used in a game. There are four cornerstones: Service, Return of Service, First ball after Service, and First ball after Receive. If each of these elements are performed well, there is a good chance that we will win a lot of matches.

Of course we need good basic technique such as topspin, footwork, backhand spin, etc. Once we start to develop good solid strokes, a big part of the training evolves into focusing on the cornerstones.

If we take a good look into how we practice, I am sure that a lot of time is used, or wasted, on drills that don’t focus on actual in-game situations. The match pie might be a helpful tool to be able to train in a more efficient and match simulating manner.

I will come back and get into the details of the pie in future articles.