(This is today’s bit of advice from the book Safety Toolbox.)
Every opponent you face has strengths and weaknesses. A safety plan identifies your opponent, what he can do and can’t plus details that can come in useful during a competition.
This includes a detailed opponent analysis. It includes known details about the player. It describes his psychological profile of emotional reactions and responses. These are important elements to keep in mind when you are assembling a safety plan:
- Personality – define with as much detail as possible. Enthusiastic, friendly, reserved, courteous, aggressive, angry, quiet, quirky, etc.
- Skill level – A, B, C or APA 4, 5, 6, 7. If these are unfamiliar, use yourself as a guide – i.e., better with banks, worse with long shots, etc.
- Playing style – define how he plays in casual games and competitive matches. Identify how he plays routines and patterns.
- Practicing/playing time – on a weekly basis, find out how much time he spends playing and how much time he spends with serious practice.
- Patience level – identify how much opportunity denial must occur before he reacts emotionally. Some players react quickly, others need several games.
- Knowledge level – how many years he has played. Only a few years of playing time indicates he won’t know some of the pocketing and positioning short-cuts. If thirty or forty years, he could turn tough situations to his advantage.
- Sharking ability – verify his sportsmanship. Most serious players do not shark. A dilettante would depend on juvenile sharking tricks. A subtle player uses more sophisticated gamesmanship. Embarrassments can be a great way to stop this.
- Problem handling – if he expresses negative emotions about anything, you can craft traps that enhance his reactions. If not, additional probing may be necessary.
Unknown details will have placeholders that initially define working estimates that are used until more concrete details are available. Over time a profile is developed that includes everything known (or guessed) about a player.