PHASE 1: What is your primary strategy? Understand which side (forehand and/or backhand) you will build with and which side you will manage. The side you build with will likely be your stronger and more powerful side. The side you manage needs to be very consistent and not lose you points. Why is it important to know this? Because this will help you determine what your primary strategy is for a match. Of the four primary strategies:
1.) Move opponent: most of us will not use this as our primary strategy as it is low percentage because it requires changing direction of the ball frequently. This will be, however, a good secondary strategy.
2.) Attack the net: this might be your primary strategy if you feel you need to manage both your forehand and your backhand but will likely be used as a secondary strategy.
3.) Isolate a side: if your forehand is the side you will build with then your primary strategy will be isolate the deuce side (written as if the player is right handed). The reason is that by hitting to the deuce side, your opponent will likely play cross court and you can build with a forehand cross court rally. If your backhand is the side you will build with then your primary strategy will be isolate the ad side for the same reasoning listed above.
4.) Build cross court: always a good option but this is the best option if you feel you are completely equal on both sides.
Start the match with your primary strategy. If this proves unsuccessful then transition to a secondary strategy. You might also consider what side your opponent builds with and manages as well. For example, if you and your opponent are both individuals who builds with their forehand and isolates the deuce side and you are losing the forehand cross court rallies — you might try isolating the ad side. Even though your backhand is not your strength — it might be better then your opponents which is all you need to get the job done.
PHASE 2: Approach or Attacking shots. The goal of a point (or rally) is to earn a short ball that you can attack. Once you earn a short ball, you need to know which side (forehand or backhand) your opponent is stronger at playing defense with. Be careful, the answer might not always be obvious. For example, most players build with their forehand since that is their stronger side but defend or pass better with their backhand. The reason is that the forehand is the more powerful side so they are able to earn free points from that side whereas the backhand has two hands (usually) and a more compact swing. Two hands provides extra support to handle powerful shots and the compact swing is perfect for defending. So if you are a player who builds with their forehand to the deuce side and you earn a short ball — you might be tempted to hit the ball to the ad or backhand side but this might not be the best course of action. Quickly determine which side your opponent prefers to defend with and now you have your primary strategy of isolating the deuce side and where you will hit your approach shots once you earn them. It is important to note that the side players prefer to defend with is frequently the side they prefer to return with so it is good to serve to the opposite side as well.
PHASE 3: Supplemental weapons. Once you know your primary strategy, it is important to start building supplemental weapons. What does that mean? If your primary strategy is to Isolate the Deuce Side and you prefer to do this by Building Cross Court with your forehand then you will need to work on your backhand down the line. Why is that? Your opponent will likely notice that your cross court forehand is your strength. They might counter by going down the line with their forehand. By having the ability to go back down the line with your backhand you may be able to get them to go back cross court to your forehand which is your strength. A supplemental weapon is any particular shot that helps you set up your favorite or primary plays (strategies & tactics). I have listed an example above but other common examples are backhand slice and inside out or in forehands. It is super important to work on these skills in practice to incorporate them into your matches.