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Cypo
03-08-2004, 11:44 PM
For the last half a year or so, I've been really focused on improving a weakness, consistency at the baseline. I've spent hours and hours practicing steady baseline play, and yes I've got better, but I think I'm going about this the wrong way. Wouldn't it be better to learn ways to protect this weakness ? To develope a couple of shots and sequences that would put me on the offensive, let me come to net ? I'm starting to ge the feeling that I'm developing a game that just doesn't fit my character and that I could at most become proficient at, but never really good, and that I don't really enjoy playing.

Are there some weaknesses, like an inconsistent backhand, that can be corrected and can even become weapons, and other weakness, like (countering) a style of play, where it's better to learn escape routes ?

PhatAbbott
03-09-2004, 02:47 AM
Work on your backhand.

If its two handed practise getting low with your knees and get a good body turn. Imo to hit a good backhand is all about preparation.

I recommend getting a camera and recording your backhand. Then analyzing it against professional players who you think have the kind of BH that suits you best.

Also you can post the tape here and the resident pros will help you out :-)

Bungalo Bill
03-09-2004, 08:18 AM
In practice, you should be doing what your doing, improving your weakneses. PhatAbbott gave you some good advise about filming your backhand.

When it comes to competing, you are absolutley right. Every tennis player entering a match is coming to the match with their weaknesses and strengths. You should hit your balls in a way to exploit their weakness and protect yours. That is simply smart tennis.

jun
03-09-2004, 04:01 PM
I am also curious about this..

I think there is a fine line.

But I don't think your weakness can turn into a weapon. IMO, weapons are your natural shot, something that you have.

Weakness are something that doesn't come naturally ie Roddick's backhand.

Or it could simply be that it's just too late to develop that stroke ie Sampras's backhand.

Frank Silbermann
03-09-2004, 05:54 PM
Yes, a weakness can become a strength. Rod Laver's backhand was a weakness in his youth; he says that he learned to control topspin on that side "during his last few years as an amateur." During his last few years as an amateur he was winning Grand Slam titles, and up until then he couldn't control it?!?!?! Yet, he became famous for that shot.

Tony Roche had a weak backhand, but he worked on it until it became solid and reliable. In the process, he developed a backhand volley that was at that time one of the two best in the world.

Bjorn Borg started his career as a baseline retriever; his serve was merely to start the point. Sometime after his first Wimbledon, his first serve became a real weapon that enabled him to overtake Jimmy Connors on grass.

Ken Rosewall first became famous as a baseliner. When he became a pro and had to play on fast canvas courts he was forced to learn to serve and volley, and to chip-and-charge -- if only to prevent the opponent from rushing the net. In his last few years as a pro, both his forehand and backhand volleys were considered to be among the very best in the world.

Mahboob Khan
03-09-2004, 06:46 PM
I do not think that you can protect a weakness .. at least for a long time. Sooner your opponents will find out that one of your wings is weaker. They will pull you wide on your stronger side and then hit to your weaker side .. in this situation you will not be able to protect your weakness because of movement.

Continue working on your weaknesses e.g. ground strokes and also devote good time to your favorite style of play e.g. serve and volley?

I USED TO have a weaker backhand. I worked on it for years and now it is a reliable wing. Whilst I was working on my backhand, I was also working on my conditioning because I felt that 1-handed topspin BH needed more time and space to execute. Even today when I am out of shape because of coaching, I tend to hit more slices. When I am in good physical shape, I hit more with topspin and use slice only to tease my opponents. It is important that whilst you are working at a given technique, it is also important that you should have an overall general physical fitness, then tennis-specific fitness, then stroke-specific fitness. For example, to be able to play an aggressive baseline game you need to work at anaerobic lactic e.g. short sprints of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 seconds. To play an aggressive serve and volley game you ALSO need to work on anaerobic alactic such as kangaroo jumps, frog jumps, etc. Playing complementary sports such as football and basketball will also help.

Even today when I have to play few sets:

-- I will hit some forehands cross-court and down the line;

-- Some backhands cross-court and down the line;

-- Some volleys and smashes;

-- Some mixed shots;

-- Some practice serves;

-- Play points or sets;

I end up by hitting more backhands -- at least for 10 more minutes to further cement it and this gives me psychological satisfaction.

I will finish my work out by throwing medicine ball e.g. chest passes, overhead passes, forehand/backhand passes, etc.

No, you cannot protect a weakness. Try to remove it!

Cypo
03-09-2004, 10:00 PM
Well, trying to keep this post general, I think I made it too confusing. So, I'll try again.

My best game is to force weak shots I can come in on and to finish the point at net. If someone hits me deep top spin shots, they pin me back and I will loose more than 50 % trading deep top spin shots with them. I've spent a lot of time improving this, I can maintain the rally for 3 to 4 shots, but it dawned on me that a better answer is to learn the forehand drive ( it's a natural shot for me, but it needs work). I'm hoping that with a shot like like the drive, I can take control of the point again and not have to play these deep topspin rallys. It seems logical to me, but I'd like to know if I'm missing something. Or if there is another answer besides the drive.

My backhand is actually my stronger side, BTW. And it wasn't always. Maybe there was a latent talent there, but a lot of wall time went into it too :-)

jayserinos99
03-09-2004, 11:44 PM
I'm just curious, but how tall are you Cypo? It seems that shorter people (myself included) have a harder time dealing with heavy topspin unless they are very proficient hitting on the rise.

Cypo
03-09-2004, 11:52 PM
5' 9" (176cm)

I forgot to say I play on clay - (minor detail there (!))

jayserinos99
03-10-2004, 12:17 AM
Yeah, that's a minor detail there ahhaahahahah!

Verbal_Kint
03-10-2004, 03:17 AM
Of course you can protect a weakness, look what Sampras did later in his career. Look how Agassi protects his bad volleying, how Rafter would protect his inability to outhit players from the baseline. For me, I protect my weaknesses (not a great mover, not the most consistent guy in the world) by utilizing my strengths (forcing points, dictating play, serve (and volley) and touch).

So, a great volley can compensate a not so great approach. A great forehand can compensate a lesser backhand and a great return can help if one doesn't have the best serve.

Marnix

Edit: Of course this does not mean you should not strive for a 'complete' game.

Phil
03-10-2004, 04:06 PM
Of course you can protect a weakness, look what Sampras did later in his career. Look how Agassi protects his bad volleying, how Rafter would protect his inability to outhit players from the baseline. For me, I protect my weaknesses (not a great mover, not the most consistent guy in the world) by utilizing my strengths (forcing points, dictating play, serve (and volley) and touch).

So, a great volley can compensate a not so great approach. A great forehand can compensate a lesser backhand and a great return can help if one doesn't have the best serve.

Marnix


You can only protect a weakness if your opponent is less skillful. A good player will exploit your weaknesses, regardless of how great your other shots are, and eventually destroy you. We're talking CLUB players here, not Sampras and Rafter (who, I believe, COULD hit with baseliners, at least for a few shots until he found an opportunity to come to the net). Agassi's lousy volleying cannot really be considered a weakness since, as a baseliner, he didn't serve and volley anyway-he wasn't "protecting" anything-it just wasn't his style of play. If a serve and volley player has a poor volley, then that WOULD be a weakness.

If your movement is poor-possbily the GREATEST weakness you can have-I can't see how you can "dictate" play, unless you're playing people 2 levels below you. I have to go with Mahboob's advice. Best way to protect a weakness is to get rid of it.

Bungalo Bill
03-10-2004, 10:33 PM
Phil,

Whenever you post I am always looking for you to say the world is about to end. But you never do! LOL.

Seriously folks, you have got to be kidding me! Maybe your misinterpreting the term protect for the word avoid. If you have a weak backhand you will no doubt have a ball hit to it by your opponent. But why would you go into a match saying "I'm a dummy, so I am going to just hit balls back knowing there is nothing I can do to prevent someone hitting a backhand shot to me all the time"?

Also, Phil, here is where your wrong. At all levels there is an element of control and placement of the ball. Just talk to your local pusher. He can set you straight. :)

you definetly want to hit your balls in such a way to play to your strengths and reduce exposure to your weakness. If you have a great net game, and a weak backhand, COME TO NET!!!

If you have a weak backhand and the ball is hit to you, hit it back in play, go for the high percentage shot, dont go for too much and try and get your opponent to hit the ball to your strength so you have a better chance to take control of the point. My point is while your developing your weakness in practice, you can stil go into a match with intelligence.

How do you think Ashe beat Conners in Wmbledon? Sure Conners hit to Ashe's weakness but Ashe just played a very safe ball until he had a good chance to hit to conners weakness. But what did Conners do? He tried to do too much with the ball with his weakness.

Phil
03-10-2004, 11:37 PM
Agree with much of what you said, BB, but the person that I responded to cited his own game as an example of protecting a weakness, which, according to him, is movement (and consistancy); I don't know about you, but I think those are the two most important elements of the game-that is, if you want to be successful. It's just not possible to "protect" those GLARING weaknesses.

Just about everyone at the club level has a weakness, or two, but against a superior player, they will NOT be able to protect that weakness for too long, regardless of how much they play their strengths. The odds do not favor such a player. What is WRONG with working to ELIMINATE a weakness? By that, I don't mean turning a weakness into a strength-something that's probably impossible for most players-but by improving enough that you aren't losing matches through that weakness. If you're content to just run around your poor backhand for the rest of your tennis playing life, fine, but that's not the mindset that I would recommend.

That's just a fact, a reality of the game. You either STRENGTHEN or eliminate your weakness, or it will be your liablility for as long as you play the game-yes, you can compensate, but not always, not against players who can exploit weaknesses. Most of the time, that weakness, whatever it is, will be the cause of losing matches.

nyu
03-11-2004, 12:14 AM
I'm gonna take the middle ground in this argument. Though it is very important to practice those weaknesses and make them more consistent strokes in the long run, there are ways to hide them at the club level as well during a match.

I hit a very solid forehand, and my favorite shot is inside out, so I tend to stay on the far left side of the court and run around my backhands to hit my favorite, most consistent shot. If I have to hit a backhand, I play a deep medium paced ball, ripping it every once in a while to keep my opponent honest. Do I get opponents who pester my backhand often? Yes. Do they tend to beat me often? no. I think what a player has to do is offset those weaknesses with another angle to compliment their games. I developed a solid slice to compliment my run around forehand style, so when my opponents pester my backhand, I change it up and slice down the line and come in. If my opponent can drive the ball consistently down the line against my inside out forehand and I can't run it down, then that player is a little bit out of my league right now, and I have to try to adapt.

I guess the whole point of this is that yes, you need to work on that backhand for those players that will exploit your weakness with success(which is hard to do if you have a solid game with your style), but work on strategies that will cover up those weaknesses.

nyu
03-11-2004, 12:16 AM
Also Cypo, if you feel uncomfortable with a certain style during a match, ie. long topspin rallies from the baseline, then practice those drives you spoke of often and make them your style, and you will be able to fall back on the consistent baseline game if the driving style doesn't work.

Verbal_Kint
03-11-2004, 03:52 AM
Phil, first of all, did you also read the last part of my post? About striving for a complete game?

Also, I'm not the most consistent player at the moment because I don't play too often. Not the greatest mover does not mean that I'm slow, but I'm a big guy and I don't want to run from left to right all the time.. Getting balls is not that big a problem though. You ask how I can dictate play? I take a big cut at the return, or slice/block it deep. After that, I'll attack at the first opportunity. On my serve, lots of service volley. I don't make a lot of unforced errors playing this way (I don't go for the lines or winners, I want to get to net and get a not too difficult volley), but I don't allow my opponent to get a lot of rythm and don't let them play their game.

And Agassis volleys ARE a weakness, which he AVOIDS by not going to net. Isn't that avoiding a weakness? Because he volleys like crap, he has to hit a winner instead of an approach. Just like I attack ASAP to avoid long baseline rallies.

I adapt my game to my weaknesses and strengths, and I think pros do the same.

Marnix

AAAA
03-11-2004, 05:56 AM
Cypo, You can always hit a deep lob from your bh side and also against those high topspin shots. Many amatuers aren't really fit enough to sustain an all out attacking game for the whole match so some will change their shots if they see you lobbing and using minimal energy to return their attacking shots.

Bungalo Bill
03-11-2004, 07:26 AM
Agree with much of what you said, BB, but the person that I responded to cited his own game as an example of protecting a weakness, which, according to him, is movement (and consistancy); I don't know about you, but I think those are the two most important elements of the game-that is, if you want to be successful. It's just not possible to "protect" those GLARING weaknesses.

Just about everyone at the club level has a weakness, or two, but against a superior player, they will NOT be able to protect that weakness for too long, regardless of how much they play their strengths. The odds do not favor such a player. What is WRONG with working to ELIMINATE a weakness? By that, I don't mean turning a weakness into a strength-something that's probably impossible for most players-but by improving enough that you aren't losing matches through that weakness. If you're content to just run around your poor backhand for the rest of your tennis playing life, fine, but that's not the mindset that I would recommend.

That's just a fact, a reality of the game. You either STRENGTHEN or eliminate your weakness, or it will be your liablility for as long as you play the game-yes, you can compensate, but not always, not against players who can exploit weaknesses. Most of the time, that weakness, whatever it is, will be the cause of losing matches.

Ahhh, I think we are not reading each others threads. I think we are agreeing Phil, PHEW! That was a close one! lol

Here is my first sentence on my first thread regarding this post

"In practice, you should be doing what your doing, improving your weakneses."

Thanks Phil, still waiting for that announcment. ;)

Bungalo Bill
03-11-2004, 07:36 AM
Phil, first of all, did you also read the last part of my post? About striving for a complete game?

Also, I'm not the most consistent player at the moment because I don't play too often. Not the greatest mover does not mean that I'm slow, but I'm a big guy and I don't want to run from left to right all the time.. Getting balls is not that big a problem though. You ask how I can dictate play? I take a big cut at the return, or slice/block it deep. After that, I'll attack at the first opportunity. On my serve, lots of service volley. I don't make a lot of unforced errors playing this way (I don't go for the lines or winners, I want to get to net and get a not too difficult volley), but I don't allow my opponent to get a lot of rythm and don't let them play their game.

And Agassis volleys ARE a weakness, which he AVOIDS by not going to net. Isn't that avoiding a weakness? Because he volleys like crap, he has to hit a winner instead of an approach. Just like I attack ASAP to avoid long baseline rallies.

I adapt my game to my weaknesses and strengths, and I think pros do the same.

Marnix

Verbal,

I really think this thing about Agassi's avoidance to volleys is a bit misleading but has to do more wth his style of play. Your right that Agassi at the net fending off passing shot after passing shot would be a bit awkward for him. But Agassi doesnt want to come to net because his strategy is completely different.

Agassi likes to go after the fitness of a player which means lengthening the points rather then shortening them. As good of a return of server Agassi is, I am sure if he changed his strategy, you would see his "weakness" improve very fast. We are talking about very talented players here.

Also, Agassi doesnt have the best serve to charge the net on, so by him playing a long baseline rally - fits his game. It has been a long time since I have seen Agassi miss a volley. If he has it was on a very difficult shot.

I also believe this is why you employ your strategy to attack - too shorten the point, rather then lengthing it.

I think you would be a very good East/West runner if there whre some beers available for you though on each side of the court - I think you just need a little motivation. ;)

Verbal_Kint
03-11-2004, 08:21 AM
I agree with you on those things. It's just a question wether you model your game after your strengths or improve your weaknesses to fit a certain game.

Marnix

kevhen
03-11-2004, 09:23 AM
What about the dropshot-lob combo (or dropshot-pass combo)? I would use that more if I were a woman playing another woman since most women hate to come to net. I do it anyway when playing women but it doesn't help me develop as much to use for when playing against other men who are stronger at net, so I usually charge the net against good women players so I can work on my approach and vollies to help me improve more against the guys at and above my level.

jun
03-11-2004, 09:43 AM
I think Yones Elaynaui is a GREAT example of protecting weakness. His backhand is absolute weakness which he chooses to slice all the time. His slice isn't like Pat Rafter or Sampras. It's not a knifing slice. It floats deep, and isn't easy to attack. It gives him time to set up his forehand and get in position.

I have seen Agassi to hit a shot that took a opponent completely off the court, only to let him back in the points by staying at the baseline. I agree that his game plan is to make the other guy work hard, but against someone who can go from defense to offense in a click, it seems dangerous (vs Safin in Aussie Open).


With all these being said, I think it's the best to work on your weakness so that you can keep yourself in neutral position. Don't try to do too much with it. Play it safe. And make it good enough to take opportunities when the situation presents them.

Cypo
03-11-2004, 10:12 PM
I agree with you on those things. It's just a question wether you model your game after your strengths or improve your weaknesses to fit a certain game.

Marnix

That's what I was trying to get at by generalizing in the initial post (but Marnix, you said it much better). I think there are weaknesses and weaknesses. I think I'm better off getting out of long deep baseline rallys instead of trying to play them. I don't miss the first or second ball of such a rally (remember, clay), but after that it's touch and go. The time I've spent learning this style is certainly not wasted, but I think I've taken it as far as I can for my level. It's not my game and I will never play it happily.

Cypo
03-11-2004, 10:24 PM
Verbal,
I really think this thing about Agassi's avoidance to volleys is a bit misleading but has to do more wth his style of play. Your right that Agassi at the net fending off passing shot after passing shot would be a bit awkward for him. But Agassi doesnt want to come to net because his strategy is completely different.

This is another way of putting it (also more clearly than I did). I guess where people are very clear about their style, this issue is also clear.

Phil
03-11-2004, 11:55 PM
Thanks Phil, still waiting for that announcment.

You're losing me there, BB. What are you talking about?