Tactical efficiency

Four generations of Yale #1 players: Will Carlin, '86, Julian Illingworth, '04, John Musto, '91, and Derick Niederman, '76

Four generations of Yale captains and #1 players: Will Carlin, ’86, Julian Illingworth, ’04, John Musto, ’91, and Derick Niederman, ’76

One of the keys to performing well in a tournament is to not just win, but win efficiently. This does not mean to conserve energy, but rather to ensure that as much as possible of the energy you spend is productive.  When I played the World Masters last summer I wasted a tremendous amount of energy winning a brutal 5 game match in the round of 32.  When I got to my next match in the round of 16 against the 5th seed I was definitely not fresh, and my opponent had yet to drop a game. When I was younger I would often blame a bad draw for this situation. But now I give respect to the player who won efficiently and did not get bogged down in a match that they really should win in a straightforward fashion.

A player at the World Masters who epitomized winning efficiently was Willie Hosey who repeated as World 50+ Champion in Hong Kong. He cut apart his opponents by applying tremendous pressure, taking the ball early and using tremendous deception and redirects to keep his opponents completely off balance. After my experience and watching Willie, I decided to reach out to Willie to learn how to be more tactically efficient so that I could get further through a tournament without draining all of my energy.  In earlier posts I talked about my sessions with Willie, and this current tournament has been my first opportunity to attempt to put into practice what I have been working on.

My semifinal opponent today was Ronn McMahon, a feisty player who attacks well and has to be the fastest player over 45. Ronn also has the fascinating background of having played for the Canadian National basketball team and having competed against Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird at the 1994 Barcelona Olympics. So Ronn is quite an athlete.

I tried to take it up a notch from my morning match and took the ball early, drove the ball deep, and really looked to attack. Ronn got some of my very best shots back, and in one point made three amazing gets and went on to win the point.  But I knew I was dictating the play and making him work much, much harder than me.  So I stuck to my guns. 11-8, 11-9, 11-6. I am happy to make it to the finals where I get a rematch of last years finals against Steve Wren, a strong player from Quebec.

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