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View Full Version : Which will better help my game in long term?


Columbus OH - Fairfax VA
03-12-2004, 11:55 AM
Play it safe or Aggressive?

I use to hit the ball with everything I got, cross courts, down the lines, sharp angles, even I have not master some of those shots yet. After reading many posts here and the book “Winning Ugly”, I have started to play it safe, more cross courts especially on BH side , less pace and always thinking return one more ball. By doing this I have started winning more often against my regular partners, however, I have noticed that the improvements on my strokes and techniques kind of slowed down. I feel if I do not hit those shots that I have not mastered very often, I will never learn how to hit them. To me winning is important, but improvement on my game is more important.

It will be nice that I can practice those shots when I am not playing “matches”, and play it safe in the matches. But all my partners do not like to practice strokes or do drills, so match playing is all I have besides working on my fitness and practicing serves on my own. I do not have access to ball machines and a good practice wall, believe me, I tried.

I am only a 3.5 to 4.0 (self rated) baseline player. Is it too early to play it safe? Should I just focus on strokes instead of winning? Should I treat my “matches” more like practices, by focusing on refining my strokes and do not worry about who is winning today. Thanks and sorry about this long questions. I feel that you have to “know” me in order to help me. Thanks!

vin
03-12-2004, 12:47 PM
I think it depends on your personality and how your game develops. However, I think every advanced player has a certain level of aggressiveness to their game.

If you're conservative and quick, maybe being a retriever and strictly obeying percentage tennis is your best bet, but you'll still need to be able to put away easy balls and hit passing shots.

On the other side, if you're a bit of a risk taker and have a big weapon, you may see better results by taking some chances.

I think match experience will lead you to the answer you're looking for. Just pay attention to why you're winning and losing and don't sissy out on opportunities you have to take control of the point. Percentage tennis is one thing, but wimping out and taking a half swing just to keep the ball in play is not going to get you far.

Just my opinion, I'm only a 3.5 (According to USTA play) myself.

Vin

jayserinos99
03-12-2004, 01:08 PM
You're in a tough position. IMO, you use practice to refine your strokes to the point of them being automatic and your matches to focus on strategy without worrying too much about your strokes. And Vin is correct, what's the point of blocking all your shots back if you don't improve? How about finding that happy medium of swinging out yet keeping the ball in play? Basically take a full swing but not trying to go mach 1 on each stroke (for ex. Fernando Gonzalez) because you can be agressive without having to swing out on each stroke.

I say this because I was in your shoes for a while. My big stroke is my forehand and I would take gigantic cuts at the ball whenever it came to that side. That is how I lost too since I would hit it out a lot. But what that gave me was confidence to swing out, but not swing harder. I know my forehand can give people fits since I hit it with huge topspin and depth so I just move them around while hitting about 70% of my power and wait for the short one to come so I can pounce on it.

(FYI: I'm a 4.0-4.5 player.)

ferreira
03-12-2004, 01:37 PM
As I understand it, aggressivenness means always going for the best possible shot, not going for the winner all the time. You can be a counterpuncher and be agressive. In this case it would mean trying to hit the best placed ball possible. For example, going for a deep crosscourt on a lob, and not just popping it up. Hewitt comes to mind.
Talking specifically about the easy groundstroke, then I would say it means hitting it hard, hitting it deep, not letting it float.
My personal opinion: be aggressive. Winning ugly has to be put in perspective. Gilbert was a very well trained player and really mastered his shots. Once you try to win ugly in the upper levels, you may have trouble.
I read a quote be a Brasilian female player that knew Guga from his very early days. She said that until the year he turned pro he couldn't exchange more than three or four shots. He was all about cracking it at every opportunity. Not necessarily the best example, but a real one nonetheless.

Camilio Pascual
03-12-2004, 02:16 PM
I live in Columbus and I'm interested in doing drills. So is my mixed doubles partner. There is a good practice wall at the Grandview courts. Look for the really tall apartment building in Grandview and they are between that building and the railroad tracks. If you see a black Jag XJ6, I'm there.

Columbus OH - Fairfax VA
03-12-2004, 02:53 PM
This board rocks!!!

Vin, you guessed it right, I think what I have started to do lately is “taking a half swing just to keep the ball in play”.

Camilio Pascual, you must notice my user name. I read your posts many times, I cannot believe that you live in Columbus. I used to live in Gahanna, but I have relocated to Fairfax VA, outside to DC. However, most of my friends are in Columbus, I fly back every other weekend to see them. I used to go to the tennis court around Lincoln High School right on Hamilton Road and I-270. They got 10 tennis courts and a nice practice wall. However, I am spending most of my time in Fairfax Virginia now. They have some really nice courts here, but the closest practice wall I find is like 45 minutes away. I am so missing the weekend indoor special at Wicker Tree and Olympic Indoors. $10 per person for 4 hours including pizza. That is haven. Go Buck… Too bad, our basketball team has a down year.

Everyone else, sorry for all those “hometown talk”. Please keep all the good information/thoughts/tips coming. I appreciate your help and time!

Columbus OH - Fairfax VA
03-12-2004, 02:58 PM
Camilio Pascual,

Maybe we can hit some balls next time when I am in town, but I am probably way out of your league. I said that I am only a 3.5 to 4.0 "self rated", so you probably need to subtract my rate by 0.5 to 1. LOL. Regards..

everyone else, sorry again.

Bungalo Bill
03-12-2004, 04:55 PM
You have to play the "right shot" at the right time. You should be able to play both defensively and offensively. Winning Ugly is a great book for discipline. But I guarantee if you had a sitter and you came in and played it safe - I think Gilbert would cringe.

If I was your coach I would consider that an error. Maybe not an unforced error - but a mental and tactical error indeed!

What Gilbert is talking about in his book is defending when you should be defending and taking charge when you should be taking charge. Not trying to hit it as hard as you can for winners on every shot in the point. Sometimes you will only be playing defense against a better player - it is knowing HOW to play defense and WHEN to play offense.

If you have a sitter the "right shot" is putting it away for a winner. If you error, then that is completely different! you can work on putting away short balls during practice. Dont be afraid to hit hard when you should be, just keep your body in control.

Audiodude
03-12-2004, 07:12 PM
This board rocks!!!

Vin, you guessed it right, I think what I have started to do lately is “taking a half swing just to keep the ball in play”.

Camilio Pascual, you must notice my user name. I read your posts many times, I cannot believe that you live in Columbus. I used to live in Gahanna, but I have relocated to Fairfax VA, outside to DC. However, most of my friends are in Columbus, I fly back every other weekend to see them. I used to go to the tennis court around Lincoln High School right on Hamilton Road and I-270. They got 10 tennis courts and a nice practice wall. However, I am spending most of my time in Fairfax Virginia now. They have some really nice courts here, but the closest practice wall I find is like 45 minutes away. I am so missing the weekend indoor special at Wicker Tree and Olympic Indoors. $10 per person for 4 hours including pizza. That is haven. Go Buck… Too bad, our basketball team has a down year.

Everyone else, sorry for all those “hometown talk”. Please keep all the good information/thoughts/tips coming. I appreciate your help and time!

Where in Fairfax do you live? I'm sure I know of a practice wall closer to you than 45 minutes. Heck, you'd be in Gaithersburg by then!

Camilio Pascual
03-15-2004, 04:28 AM
Fairfax-Columbus - Sorry for not posting sooner, I don't read this on the weekends. I'd love to hit some balls. We are probably somewhat equal in ability, after 3 operations I am now a 3.5. I will be doing the party at Olympic Indoor in a week with my mixed dubs partner. We'll be sure to hook up in a month or so when the weather gets better.

Columbus OH - Fairfax VA
03-15-2004, 07:49 AM
Bill,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your reply is right on like rest of your posts that I have seen on this board.

I will try to mix playing it safe and hitting winners on easy shots.

I think what happened to me is that shift from one extreme to another. I used to like hitting the balls with everything (not a lot) I got as often as I can. Lately I start to play safe on everything even on sitters, since I noticed that I make same amount of mistakes or even more mistake on slow moving short balls than fastballs. On slow short balls, I feel I have “too much” time, and over hit a lot. I never practiced putting away short balls, which I think is a big problem.

Thanks for your help.

Columbus OH - Fairfax VA
03-15-2004, 07:50 AM
Audiodude,
I am new to the area. I work in Fairlakes, and live in Ashburn. Is there a practice wall around any of those two spots? Thanks a lot.

Columbus OH - Fairfax VA
03-15-2004, 07:55 AM
Camilio Pascual,

I cannot wait for better weather. Let's hit some balls. I usually do not get online during weekend either. LOL.

Audiodude
03-15-2004, 10:43 AM
Audiodude,
I am new to the area. I work in Fairlakes, and live in Ashburn. Is there a practice wall around any of those two spots? Thanks a lot.

There's a practice wall about 5 minutes from Fair Lakes. Take the Fairfax County Parkway south to Popes Head Road. Take a right on Popes Head. Go to the second street, I believe it's Quiet Brook. Make a right on Quiet Brook. The courts and the wall are about a half mile down on the right.

I'm not familiar with Ashburn.


Mike

Columbus OH - Fairfax VA
03-15-2004, 11:09 AM
Audiodude,

Thanks for the info. I will check it out. Is it lighted?

Audiodude
03-15-2004, 11:21 AM
Not sure about lights. I normally play indoor at night.


Mike

Columbus OH - Fairfax VA
03-15-2004, 11:32 AM
Luck you. I will check out the court tomorrow. Even there is no light, I should be able to hit some balls after work, when the day is longer. Mike, do you know any indoor specials in this area like mixed double or something, without club membership. Thanks for your help.

Audiodude
03-15-2004, 04:10 PM
I'm not sure about lights. I usually play indoors at night.

kevhen
03-16-2004, 02:15 PM
I have always tried to win at whatever level I was playing at. Initially I was a pusher just blocking back my hard hitting friend's shots. But it was a winning strategy. As I played tougher opponents, I started adding even more consistency and started placing the ball better but still did not hit the ball that hard usually unless I needed to in order to win. Now as a 4.0 rated player I can hit all different paces and vary the spin too and still be very consistent and have a much smoother stroke that is very good at finishing points. But to get to 4.5 now I will need to start hitting harder and go to net more. I believe in starting slow from the ground up and building a base you can fall back too. Tennis is about getting balls in play and hitting one more than your opponent, not in hitting homerun after homerun. Only when you are a pro can you start hitting homerun after homerun. Just swing for singles and doubles now until you have mastered that. Good luck, winning is the key to good tennis, not just how hard you hit your shots. Otherwise maybe you should go out for baseball instead of tennis if you enjoy swinging hard all the time.

Audiodude
03-16-2004, 05:04 PM
Columbus,

Send me your e mail address and I'll send you some info on what I think is the best deal going in the area.

Mike