Often you will find yourself playing in an open play environment. In this context you may be exposed to a large variety of skill levels. I have seen this range from people who are playing for the first time all the way up to the best players in the country with everything in between.
As such, you may not get that perfectly matched game. What to do? Play up or play down?
Playing down is just playing with people who are of a lower skill level than you are. This can be used as a warm up, if you are having a “bad day” on the more advanced courts or are just simple tired and/or not feeling like high challenging yourself at the time. This is also a good time to help raise the skills levels of those around you. You may also have a friend or family member who is just starting. This is a great way to get him or her involved. Feel free to give pointers to the beginning players. If you don’t overdo it they usually appreciate any tips you might be able to give them. The main thing here is to not play full strength and just have fun. After all if this game was not about fun, no one at any level would play it in the first place. If you are playing down and you wipe your opponents out it is best to terminate this game. No need to be rude here, just say “Oh I need to get some water.” Or “I am going to check out another game” or some such. You can then go and seek out a game that is a more appropriate level.
Now that you have some time under your belt it might be time to play up. A good way to do this might be to go on to a challenge court. Playing on a challenge court really is a great way to see where your skills stack up compared to the other players at any given facility.
As your skill levels increase you might be invited in to some higher-level games. Unless you are not feeling well or are otherwise not up to it, by all means do it! This is a great way to up your skill levels. After all if you are trying to up your skill level. There is no other way other than to play others whom are at least even with you or ideally just slightly better than you. If you get wiped out don’t worry about it and just go back to the lower level game until you are ready to move up. If you win then congratulations, you are on your way to increasing your skill levels! Never take anything personally. After all this is the ultimate skills-based game.
Coming soon an interview with a coach and a 10-year veteran player on this and other related subjects.