6 tips on playing a wily veteran

14th May 2020

In the next instalment of tactics to use against different styles of play, we will look at how to try and combat the wily veteran. This player will have had a lot of experience over the years and know the game well. Likely they will be technically and tactically quite sound and if you offer them anything loose the ball is likely to be put away with aplomb. Alongside this, they are likely to have a wide range of shots and varying tactics. Often, they will also have the odd few unorthodox shots in their toolbox also. All these factors added together make this player a formidable opponent. This blog will lay out some of the tactics you could employ.


High Pace

It would be safe to assume the wily veteran would be a slightly older demographic and would likely not be the fastest to get around the court. Because of this trying to keep the pace towards the higher end would be recommended. Because the player may not be able to get into the correct body positions quickly enough, rushing them and getting the ball in play quickly will mean they may not be able to be in the best body shapes to execute their deadly and accurate shots. This will really help task away one of their main super strengths.



You would hope that your fitness levels may be higher than your opponent’s so it would be massively encouraged to use this asset. Extending the rallies and adding a good physical edge to proceedings should play into your hands. If you are able to use the first game especially to get the rallies long and extended this can set down a great benchmark for the rest of the match. Maybe look to play majority of length early on with a lot of varying heights and paces to the back of the court and then the odd few short balls. Being mean and extended the rallies in this fashion sets down a great benchmark and tells your opponent he is in for a hard battle.



As discussed, the wily veteran is likely to be a really good shot player with a lot of solid technique behind them. If you are leaving the ball loose the game will be over very quickly so you need to be sure to have high accuracy levels. They are not interested in running and having long extended rallies so anything that is on offer will likely be dispatched. Being more disciplined by hitting straight lines will be recommended as if you are opening be court up too much or taking the ball in short too early this will be playing right into their hands and they will be presented with more opportunities to use their good skills and technique to make your life a misery.


Move the ball to all 4 corners

Linked a little to the fitness idea mentioned, getting the ball moving to all 4 corners will keep your opponent continually on the move and really start to test them. You may favour this tactic slightly more against this style of opponent even if it means you open the court up a little too much at times. It may be a risk worth taking as when done effectively over time their energy levels can be sapped. Linked closely to this is your variation of play. Being able to add some subtle variations is such as a hold will really pay dividends as stopping and starting your opponent and not allowing them to stay in a flow will take so much out of them physically.


Push up high

Taking up a high T position will be highly recommended in these types of matches. Your opponent is likely to win the majority of their shots in the front of the court so being mindful and preparing for this is wise. Also, by pushing up high on the T, and being alert and ready, will increase the pace of the game also. When pushing up high on the T make sure you get your timing correct and pushing up high and then freezing and become stationary will hurt you. Being able to be alert with your racket up and ready to engage your split-step will be essential to be effective here.


Scramble effectively 

Knowing that your opponent will be going for their shots and taking it short often, you need to get your running shoes on and scramble effectively. You need to be prepared to be moving fast and getting into some deep lunges. Often if you are able to scramble back their attacking shots that they have taken short and counter them with a drop this wins a lot of points. Alongside a good counter drop, being able to lob well and reset the rally when in tough positions is essential. They will be looking to feed off their first good shot and look to dispatch you in the follow-up shot. Resetting with effective lifts frustrates them massively.


In summary, being able to employ some or all of these tactics will put you in some great positions to get the wins over these wily veterans. They are a frustrating bunch to play and bring a lot of quality and accuracy to the court. You may only need to use one or two of these tactics as trying to do them all at once could make you confused and dilute your own game too much.


Jesse Engelbrecht


Check out this series where David Pearson shows what to expect when playing different styles fo player and how to negate their play.

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