Strategies and Tactics – What’s the Difference?

Over the years I have often connected sport with life. For example – my learnings as a professional athlete and how it translated to life as well as the many things I needed to unlearn and / or change. As the tennis circuit arrived in Australia for another year, I started reflecting some more and this time in regards to strategies and tactics and making changes within life.


What is a Strategy?

Am gathering at some stage in your life, you have heard the term strategy. However, what does it really mean when we looking at change? Simply a strategy is a plan of action that you design to help you achieve an overall aim or long-term goal (i.e. the how). In relation to sport, an athlete and coach would develop a strategy is to win the game or match.

Four Fundamental Change Strategies

When it comes to change strategies, Dr Rick Hanson refers to four fundamental change strategies within the change field. They are –

  1. Reducing the negative – reducing what is painful or harmful pain towards yourself or others,
  2. Grow the good – grow or cultivate what is helpful or joyful within yourself and others,
  3. Shift the relationship with your thoughts and feelings – for example you are befriending them or untangling from them and moving in to a more mindful or aware relationship with them, and
  4. Give yourself over to a bigger cause – for example giving yourself over to a mission bigger than yourself.

When making a change, we generally work with a range or these strategies 🙂


What Are Tactics?

Tactics are the individual steps, habits and actions that will move you towards your strategy. Interestingly enough, Dr Rick Hanson refers to tactics as a range of tools or modalities (for example – mindfulness and cognitive behaviour therapy).


Strategies and Tactics – What’s the Difference?

Simply, strategy is the bigger picture or plan, whereas tactics are the smaller actions. You may have already identified by reading the above, we require both strategy and tactics to change and they need to work together. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote –

“All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” (p.19).

Strategy and Tactics Working Together –

Three examples of strategy and tactics working together for change could be –

  1. As a Tennis Player –
    • Strategy: you decide with your coach that you want to use more technology to improve your serve.
    • Tactics: there are many examples of tactics that you could implement with your coach, including watching recordings of your serve under pressure and the patterns you use and / or requesting the specific data from your matches at tournaments.
  2. As a Small Business Owner –
    • Strategy: you and your team identify you want to increase relationships with your customers.
    • Tactics: some examples of tactics that you could do include calling customers and asking how they are going, calling them for their birthdays, writing thank you cards or asking them for feedforward from the services they purchased from you.
  3. As an Individual –
    • Strategy: you want to decrease unnecessary stress within your life.
    • Tactics: learn mindfulness and practise incorporating mindfulness daily in your life, identify different aspects of life where you are overcommitted or start asking for support to identify ways to manage stress better.


Over to You…

I hope that has given you some insight in to strategy and tactics and what the difference is. Do you think using a strategy and tactics within your personal and / or professional life would be useful? If so, how are you going to apply this information? Feel free to share any insights below.

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heart, why not join our Toolkit?


Reference –

Tzu, S. (2021). The Art of War. Karnataka, India: True Sign Publishing House.


  • AptBlogger

    Reply Reply January 29, 2023

    Thank you for posting an informative post.

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