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View Full Version : Set in ways and self taught - hopeless?


saltyzoo
09-22-2004, 01:04 PM
I'm a 3.0 player that has come in and out of the sport over the last 20 years. I've had no training at all and have a very unique style. I don't think my style is that far from the norm, but it's definitely just what feels right to me and nothing more. The problem is I basically haven't improved in 20 years.... I'm playing the same game (other than better consistency) than I did 20 years ago (with less energy) ;)

Will lessons do me any good at all considering that I've done things the way I have for so long?

PS> Very nice forum. I've enjoyed reading so far!

thehustler
09-22-2004, 01:12 PM
It depends. Do you want to get better or do you want to stay at the 3.0 level? Personally I'm at the 4.0 level after playing for little over a year and my goal is to be at the 5.0 level within a year or two. Best thing to do is set a goal for yourself and make sure you can reach your goal. I had a few private lessons and the rest is self taught, I'm sure I can improve on things and when I have the money I will take lessons again, but I figure I'm doing good for only playing for one year. If you want to get better you will. It all comes down to what do you want and how far are you willing to go. Good luck.

skuludo
09-22-2004, 03:14 PM
Whether you have a coach or not, each time you set foot on the court you need to have a purpose. Ask yourself how are you going to get to the next level? Do you need a better forehand, backhand, serve, volley, smash, topspin serve, etc? Then ask yourself what you arn't doing in your forehand or any other strokes. If you know what you lack in your strokes you can work on them. You do the exact same thing when you play a set as well.

Bungalo Bill
09-22-2004, 03:35 PM
It depends. Do you want to get better or do you want to stay at the 3.0 level? Personally I'm at the 4.0 level after playing for little over a year and my goal is to be at the 5.0 level within a year or two. Best thing to do is set a goal for yourself and make sure you can reach your goal. I had a few private lessons and the rest is self taught, I'm sure I can improve on things and when I have the money I will take lessons again, but I figure I'm doing good for only playing for one year. If you want to get better you will. It all comes down to what do you want and how far are you willing to go. Good luck.

4.0 level after only a year? Holy Cow! 5.0 level within a year or two? Either you have some relaxed standards where you are from or you might be the next Sampras!

Think you can be a 7.0 within two years? :)

Man, do I feel lousey. It toook me several years to reach the 5.0 mark. And another several years to get to college!

Bungalo Bill
09-22-2004, 03:38 PM
Saltyzoo,

You cant be in and out of the sport and expect to improve. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to start improving. A coach will help as well as the good books that are out there. But the bottom-line is you have to want to get better and be disiplined enough to be consistently executing your practice sessions, eating right, working out to stay in shape if you want to improve and reach your goals.

You just have to make up your mind what do you want to be in this sport.

thehustler
09-22-2004, 04:14 PM
BB,

I hope it's not some relaxed standards around here. I've hit with some guys who are 4.5 - 5.0 and they all say I can easily play at the 4.0 level. I just push myself a lot harder than other people do. I practice when I can, I watch tennis on tv and I come to this board to see what people say. I make sure to repeat something over and over until I get it right before I move on to something else. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm happy with where I am at now. I'd love to be 5.0 within a year or two, hopefully that can happen. 7.0 would be nice and if I had the money for a good coach and so on I'd probably go for it. I figure I've only got one shot at life and I'd rather go for it while I'm young, rather than regretting what could've been when I'm older. I actually don't think it's that hard to do what I've done. It just depends on how bad you want something and what you're willing to do. Now if I took some of that advice you gave, eating right, working out, etc, who knows where I could be.

Bungalo Bill
09-22-2004, 04:21 PM
BB,

I hope it's not some relaxed standards around here. I've hit with some guys who are 4.5 - 5.0 and they all say I can easily play at the 4.0 level. I just push myself a lot harder than other people do. I practice when I can, I watch tennis on tv and I come to this board to see what people say. I make sure to repeat something over and over until I get it right before I move on to something else. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm happy with where I am at now. I'd love to be 5.0 within a year or two, hopefully that can happen. 7.0 would be nice and if I had the money for a good coach and so on I'd probably go for it. I figure I've only got one shot at life and I'd rather go for it while I'm young, rather than regretting what could've been when I'm older. I actually don't think it's that hard to do what I've done. It just depends on how bad you want something and what you're willing to do. Now if I took some of that advice you gave, eating right, working out, etc, who knows where I could be.

I true 5.0 player is a very accomplished player. They possess all the strokes and can draw up a game plan to help them beat their opponent.

I have been to clubs where it seemed everyone was a 5.0 player. Even the women were calling themselves 5.0 players and that they were on the "womens" NTRP ratings. I didnt know there was such a thing. Is there?

Nevertheless these tireless and determined "dinkers" considered themselves 5.0 players only because they could keep the ball in the air, high in the air mind you but in the air. They never considered that they had poor positioning most of the time, lousey backhands, soft forehands, awkward volley positions and had little clue how to play doubles or run plays.

But they were 5.0. :)

Bungalo Bill
09-22-2004, 04:33 PM
BB,

I hope it's not some relaxed standards around here. I've hit with some guys who are 4.5 - 5.0 and they all say I can easily play at the 4.0 level. I just push myself a lot harder than other people do. I practice when I can, I watch tennis on tv and I come to this board to see what people say. I make sure to repeat something over and over until I get it right before I move on to something else. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm happy with where I am at now. I'd love to be 5.0 within a year or two, hopefully that can happen. 7.0 would be nice and if I had the money for a good coach and so on I'd probably go for it. I figure I've only got one shot at life and I'd rather go for it while I'm young, rather than regretting what could've been when I'm older. I actually don't think it's that hard to do what I've done. It just depends on how bad you want something and what you're willing to do. Now if I took some of that advice you gave, eating right, working out, etc, who knows where I could be.

Well right there tells me you might not be as good as you think. The term "practice when you can" strikes me as odd. For me, it took a lot of practice to reach a true 5.0 level. I got up at 5am, and started my non-racquet court drills, then did weights and/or other exercises. Went to school, then after school drilled for 2 hours, then played matches for another 2 hours. If I wasnt working out in the morning I was drilling with my doubles partner. It took quite a bit of time to become a true 5.0 player.

For a person that is rising that fast you should be eating right and doing all the right things NOW! A coach would certainly speed things up but to grow that quick without a coach leads me to say again - you either have some very relaxed standards or you are truly the next Sampras. I would highly suggest you tape yourself and send it to Bolliterri Academy and see if they can take you in as their future star. You can complete your high school education at the academy and get loads of tennis in to become a professional tennis player (7.0).

Tennis and golf have been rated (I forget the source) two of the toughest sports to learn. And if it comes that easy to you - well, we might be seeing you on TV.

thehustler
09-22-2004, 04:59 PM
BB,

Well I practice when I can because my work takes up a lot of my time. There are some days where I can practice for several hours, and other days where I can only get an hour in. The weather over here has been good recently, but when it is the courts that have lights get full in a hurry. Usually I play a match or two a day and after a while I assess where I'm at and what I need and want to work on to get better. I then practice as often as I can working on exactly what I need to fix until I get it right. Then I use what I've learned in a match and see if it still needs improvement or if I'm happy with where I'm at for the moment.

Well I do eat 'right' per se, I mean I do eat some junk food once in a while, but I'm not to worried about everything. I have a high metabolism, and yes I know that will slow down one day and I am working on eating better. Once again I don't have relaxed standards, I've been told by far better players what level I'm at and I trust their opinion as I've seen what they can do on a court.

I may not have the best strokes as someone else, but the thing that separates me from most of my opponents is that I always have a plan for everything. I've read the ratings and 4.5 and above should have a gameplan for each opponent. I tend to scout each opponent as well as I can so I know exactly what to attack when we play. Most players around here don't seem to do that, and too many will tell me exactly what's weak about their play. I'd honestly love to travel around and play other players at my level to see if there are so called 'relaxed standards' out here, but I don't have the time or money to do so.

As far as tennis being a tough sport to learn I believe it. I grew up on basketball and that will always come first to me. But to me sports seem easy to learn. You just have to want to learn and have to know how far you want to go. Once you know how far you want to go you need to know what to do in order to get to that point. I know I need to work on several things a lot more to get to the 5.0 level and I will work on them in time as I continue to develop my game. Now if someone would gladly pay all my bills for a year or two I'll spend all day at the courts working on my game. But until then I'll practice when I can.

Bungalo Bill
09-22-2004, 05:18 PM
BB,

Well I practice when I can because my work takes up a lot of my time. There are some days where I can practice for several hours, and other days where I can only get an hour in. The weather over here has been good recently, but when it is the courts that have lights get full in a hurry. Usually I play a match or two a day and after a while I assess where I'm at and what I need and want to work on to get better. I then practice as often as I can working on exactly what I need to fix until I get it right. Then I use what I've learned in a match and see if it still needs improvement or if I'm happy with where I'm at for the moment.

Well I do eat 'right' per se, I mean I do eat some junk food once in a while, but I'm not to worried about everything. I have a high metabolism, and yes I know that will slow down one day and I am working on eating better. Once again I don't have relaxed standards, I've been told by far better players what level I'm at and I trust their opinion as I've seen what they can do on a court.

I may not have the best strokes as someone else, but the thing that separates me from most of my opponents is that I always have a plan for everything. I've read the ratings and 4.5 and above should have a gameplan for each opponent. I tend to scout each opponent as well as I can so I know exactly what to attack when we play. Most players around here don't seem to do that, and too many will tell me exactly what's weak about their play. I'd honestly love to travel around and play other players at my level to see if there are so called 'relaxed standards' out here, but I don't have the time or money to do so.

As far as tennis being a tough sport to learn I believe it. I grew up on basketball and that will always come first to me. But to me sports seem easy to learn. You just have to want to learn and have to know how far you want to go. Once you know how far you want to go you need to know what to do in order to get to that point. I know I need to work on several things a lot more to get to the 5.0 level and I will work on them in time as I continue to develop my game. Now if someone would gladly pay all my bills for a year or two I'll spend all day at the courts working on my game. But until then I'll practice when I can.

Well it sounds like you are very athletic and dedicated. I find that extremely respectable. At 5.0, you go to have the strokes and the game plan to go along with it.

I appreciate your determination, goal setting, game plan breakdowns, and enthusiasm, but when the rubber meets the road, your either truly a 4.0 player or your not. People can watch tennis, play for a couple of hours, have determination and will still not at the leve of play they "say" they are. I am not saying you aren't. In fact, I am starting to think you might be!

It is funny that you said, "well I do eat 'right' per se, I mean I do eat some junk food once in a while".

Right when I read that I just got through eating a Heath Toffee Chocolate bar and was pounding down a Kit Kat bar (white chocolate version)!

I am working out with a new workout program fromm my friend that was intense this morning. It was a leg workout and for some reason I got extremely hungry several hours later. Looking for something good around here, I couldnt find anything, but noticed those two candy bars (maybe three, but who is counting!). I will have to say sorry to the kids later. :twisted:

Anyway, I believe you, just keep working toward your goal. Being a working person, 7.0 may be a bit unrealistic. The highest I got was 6.0 and that took an intense amount of work and I wasn't really working a real job.

Now, since I dont play that much anymore, I have fallen back to about a 5.0 player 5.5 when I am in tennis shape. But I play for fun now, as my days of spending large amounts of energy trying to "get" good are behind me now.

I played a 4.0 player last night who had a very good forehand. I wanted to get a good workout so I hit 85% of my balls to his forehand and kept the ball close to him (he didnt have good movement) till after the fifth or so ball, then I tried to go to his weakness and or run him to open the court.

It was fun, he held his own very well. We mostly we played 21.

degreefanlindi
09-22-2004, 05:24 PM
I think you CAN change your playing habits if you really try and that's something you strive for. There isn't any reason why athletes should be set in a standard way of playing. After all, coaching is all about improving, right? So sometimes, with the right coach, you may be able to hone your skills, concentrate on new things or even change a major aspect of your game to make it work in a different way. So do not give up and keep trying new things until something works.

thehustler
09-22-2004, 05:37 PM
BB,

Thanks. My main thing right now that I'm working on is keeping my head still. Since I've been working on that my strokes are cleaner, I hit with more power and I can put the ball anywhere I want. I figure once I get that down cold I'll refine my strokes however I can. I'm now adding a 1hbh, which has been tricky but I'm getting used to it.

My biggest weapon is my speed. I can get to about any ball that is hit, and if you don't place it right I'm going to get it back and do something with it. I find that when I do this I demoralize so many people that I can just have my way with them. I don't expect to be a 7.0, as I'm too old to get there, I'm only 26, but in sports that's not a good time to be a rookie.

The hardest thing for me around here is to find someone who is a challenge. Too often I find players who are '3.5-4.0' and I just find something about them and exploit it. I'm not trying to brag, but it is hard to find people around here who are really good. A lot of players that I see are ones who buy pre-strung rackets and just hopelessly swing at the ball or are just major pushers who are just no fun to play against. Occasionally I find a good player, but I never get to play them often enough and it just sucks.

I do know what you mean though by people thinking they're something they're not. I once belonged to a club here and a lot of the guys were '4.0'. I thought to myself well if you're 4.0 and I beat you with ease then what am I? This was when I was still starting to figure out my game. I think there it was more for social status than anything which is why I left that place.

I will keep working towards my goal. I'd love to be a coach one day if I so desire, but more just work with mentality, how to stay in a game when you're down, how to demoralize your opponent and so on. The stuff nobody ever talks about or thinks about.

I like your story at the end. I try to do that to my opponents. Get them going one way and wham throw a curve ball and throw them out of their comfort zone. I try to explain this to my friends but they don't seem to understand or don't want to learn. I guess I'll have to refer them to this board for your advice so they can learn something.

Bungalo Bill
09-22-2004, 05:45 PM
The mental game is all about strategic matchups going into the game, changing them and recognizing when to change them in the middle of the game, and analyzing the stats after the game.

Execution is a whole different story that involves, footwork, footspeed, balance, stamina, conditioning, confidence, determination, technique, risk, playing defensively and or offensively.

The USPTA is always looking for dedicated and talented coaches, you might want to give them a call sometime.

You will get it.

saltyzoo
09-22-2004, 05:58 PM
Saltyzoo,

You cant be in and out of the sport and expect to improve. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to start improving. A coach will help as well as the good books that are out there. But the bottom-line is you have to want to get better and be disiplined enough to be consistently executing your practice sessions, eating right, working out to stay in shape if you want to improve and reach your goals.

You just have to make up your mind what do you want to be in this sport.

I realize that. When I say in and out I mean that I've periodically taken a year or two off. I've played once a week at least half those 20 years.

Don't confuse my post for complaining that I haven't improved. I realize why I haven't. I'm just wondering if coaching is really going to make any difference now that I'm so set in my ways. I totally understand that getting out there and playing is the most important part.

Illegal_edge
09-22-2004, 06:02 PM
I think I am in the same boat as thehustler. I did pick a racquet until two years ago but I am at a 4.5 level rated NTPR. Although on my scale I am a 20.5. J/K. I play everyday and have the privilege of using an indoor court in the winter.

Trey
09-22-2004, 06:26 PM
to the orginal poster you can definitely improve even after 20 years with lessons if you want to.

lessons help me tremendously because it is very difficult to see what you are doing wrong unless someobody who knows what they are doing points it out to you. Of course you have to practice what you learn or else you won't progress.

My biggest problem is time and money. I can only play twice a week because of my job and family. If I use one time for lessons and the other for playing a match I have no time to practice :x

saltyzoo
09-22-2004, 06:28 PM
I also have time constraint issues, but more than that I'm having trouble finding people to practice with regularly.

Kaptain Karl
09-22-2004, 06:29 PM
saltyzoo - A few lessons with a seasoned pro might help. (Really; I mean a pro who is (say) late-30’s or older. The younger pros tend to try to make every student’s strokes just like every other’s.)

An experienced teaching pro will be able to identify if the “critical components” of your unorthodox style will “serve you” or not. He/she will be able to make recommendations of how to fix those elements which need fixing ... and leave alone those elements which may not really be hurting your game.

- KK

saltyzoo
09-22-2004, 06:31 PM
saltyzoo - A few lessons with a seasoned pro might help. (Really; I mean a pro who is (say) late-30’s or older. The younger pros tend to try to make every student’s strokes just like every other’s.)

An experienced teaching pro will be able to identify if the “critical components” of your unorthodox style will “serve you” or not. He/she will be able to make recommendations of how to fix those elements which need fixing ... and leave alone those elements which may not really be hurting your game.

- KK

Good points. Thanks!

perfmode
09-22-2004, 06:42 PM
BB,

Thanks. My main thing right now that I'm working on is keeping my head still. Since I've been working on that my strokes are cleaner, I hit with more power and I can put the ball anywhere I want. I figure once I get that down cold I'll refine my strokes however I can. I'm now adding a 1hbh, which has been tricky but I'm getting used to it.

My biggest weapon is my speed. I can get to about any ball that is hit, and if you don't place it right I'm going to get it back and do something with it. I find that when I do this I demoralize so many people that I can just have my way with them. I don't expect to be a 7.0, as I'm too old to get there, I'm only 26, but in sports that's not a good time to be a rookie.

The hardest thing for me around here is to find someone who is a challenge. Too often I find players who are '3.5-4.0' and I just find something about them and exploit it. I'm not trying to brag, but it is hard to find people around here who are really good. A lot of players that I see are ones who buy pre-strung rackets and just hopelessly swing at the ball or are just major pushers who are just no fun to play against. Occasionally I find a good player, but I never get to play them often enough and it just sucks.

I do know what you mean though by people thinking they're something they're not. I once belonged to a club here and a lot of the guys were '4.0'. I thought to myself well if you're 4.0 and I beat you with ease then what am I? This was when I was still starting to figure out my game. I think there it was more for social status than anything which is why I left that place.

I will keep working towards my goal. I'd love to be a coach one day if I so desire, but more just work with mentality, how to stay in a game when you're down, how to demoralize your opponent and so on. The stuff nobody ever talks about or thinks about.

I like your story at the end. I try to do that to my opponents. Get them going one way and wham throw a curve ball and throw them out of their comfort zone. I try to explain this to my friends but they don't seem to understand or don't want to learn. I guess I'll have to refer them to this board for your advice so they can learn something.

Do you play in open or 5.0 leagues or do people just tell you that you are a 5.0? Are you self rated or have you actually played tournaments?

A 5.0 player should be able to beat a solid 4.0 player @ love and the 4.0 player shouldn't get more than 1 point per game.

splink779
09-22-2004, 06:44 PM
Improvment is very possible when self-taught. I became obsessed with tennis about 2 months ago and had never played before then. I watched a lot of pro tennis and payed attention, and now I am a 4.0 player. It's jsut knowing what to do, and then doing it.

Trey
09-22-2004, 07:52 PM
Improvment is very possible when self-taught. I became obsessed with tennis about 2 months ago and had never played before then. I watched a lot of pro tennis and payed attention, and now I am a 4.0 player. It's jsut knowing what to do, and then doing it.

No offense, but I have never met anybody who could make it from complete beginner to a 4.0 in TWO months!

Chanchai
09-22-2004, 08:26 PM
Commenting on the discussion between BB and theHustler.

I do think that in much of Oregon (at least in both Corvallis and Portland), the "considered" level of play is a bit inflated. Not to poke a hole in your boat hustler, I have no idea what level you really are at and you could be right. But after travelling a bit, I feel that in tennis heavy areas like California (I mean really heavy, because I'll admit that areas like Beaverton are heavy in themselves), the standard is a bit different and in a sense, more accurate with expectations. Our 4.0 level players, in my mind, look like 3.5s out of Southern California.

I guess the system is also fairly dynamic.

I consider myself a 3.5 while a lot of the 4.0 and 4.5 opponents have said I have the game of a 4.5 but lack the consistency (and footwork) so I'm knocking on the door of a 4.0, and yet they also like to imply that I could be a 5.0 myself very soon if I was fitter. I've only been playing two years, but I know I have my work cut out for me just to be able to play stronger opponents.

Hard to tell flattery from impression sometimes. But I'll admit it's pleasant if there's a shocked impression. But the goal is not to be complacently happy, it's to improve (and be happy) :) And enjoy of course!

That said... at least on the standards around here. There is a lot of mix between 3.5 and 4.0 here. There are a lot of supposedly 4.0 level players playing in the 3.5s because either they feel that they really are 3.5 or because they have better odds in the 3.5 brackets. There are a lot of players who are 3.5 level that play in the 4.0 either to improve or because it's a good boost to their ego. The 3.5-4.0 level is a funny area in my experience, but that's where I'm at... 3.5 anyways.

But at the same time... in the end... it's like something others have said (I think BB as well). If you can compete consistently with the advanced players, win some and lose some, despite your technique (even if it's lousy)--you belong up there.

But in all honesty... I guess I have a vision of how I want my game to grow, and I work towards that. The ratings aren't really a goal of mine, but I'll be happy with each step forward I make, but I'm certainly not chasing 4.5 or 5.0 or whatever. I'm just trying to improve as best I can and the rating (in theory) should tell me how I'm putting it together in serious match play.

With all respect to adequate pushers or awkward looking strokes that are at the 4.5 level. I respect where they are and I consider their game legit. But I just don't want to walk down that specific direction in game, so I'll go by my own ideas. Even if my ratings progress is a bit slower than it could be. But that's me, and maybe simply just my pride :)

-Chanchai

PS Hustler, simply for fun and hitting around. I'd love to hit the ball around sometime whenever I'm in town. If you're interested, please email me or contact me. No egos, just fun hitting and chatting :) We can also enjoy our improvements. Yours in one year, my improvements in two years.

Camilio Pascual
09-23-2004, 05:00 AM
Saltyzoo - BB gave you some good advice. I see you have time constraints. My advice is this:
1. Decide if you can set aside 3X a week for at least an hour to tennis for 3 months. If you can't, quit tennis and try another hobby or pursuit you have time for.
2. Okay, you can! Get into good physical shape. Then, get a coach over 30 and take about a dozen 1 hour lessons. Play and/or practice at least twice a week during this period of time. This is very critical to do during the time you are being coached. You will ingrain what you are being taught and if you are doing some things wrong the coach can correct them early. After this time, assess how you have improved and if you think it is worth it to you. Then go out there and hustle people to play with. Your coach may have other students you can play. Join a league or a club. And try to play twice a week to maintain your abilities. Down the road, hire a coach every now and them to "tweak" your game or to spot bad habits. Good luck to you.

saltyzoo
09-23-2004, 05:25 AM
Man, you guys are hard core. I'm not going to quit playing tennis just because I haven't improved and I'm not going to quit just because I can't play more than once or twice a week either.

I play tennis for the exercise and the enjoyment of the game not so I can say I reached x.0 in y years. I couldn't care less what level I'm at as long as I'm having fun and staying fit.

I'm not expressing frustration. I'm just wondering if it's a waste of time to get coaching since I'm so set in my patterns.

My biggest concern is that I'll make my game worse trying to do something different and "thinking" too much about what I'm doing.

I think the advice on getting an older coach that won't try to start over with me is a good idea.

kevhen
09-23-2004, 06:50 AM
Sounds like you are at my level. I can't find players to beat me either as I am like 32-5 against 3.5-4.0 level players this year. The 4.5s and 5.0s are off teaching tennis at the clubs and don't have time for casual matches. I am also in very good shape and get to most every ball, but could lose another 10-15 pounds if I was really serious. At 34, my only goals now are to get a 4.5 rating within 2-3 years and maybe start playing 35s and get ranked in the top 10 in the state in my age division.

Good luck to the Hustler and come play me sometime.

SunDog
09-23-2004, 06:50 AM
Greg,

I think that it comes down to a choice of getting better OR remaining set in your ways. It is tough to have both - eating your cake and having it too, so to speak.

I have been playing actively since about 2001 when I was a verified 3.0. Each season, I always play at my rated level and one level above. At the end of last year I finally got bumped to 3.5. This year I won all my 3.5 matches (except for one at the state tourney) and a decent amount of my 4.0 matches.

My 3.5 team has won the city championship in Knoxville for the last 7 years running (predating my time with them) and has won 9 of the last 12 city titles. That team is full of a bunch of guys that for the most part have very unconventional strokes that they are "set in their ways" about. The majority of them do not have the least bit interest in developing their game by adopting more conventional strokes. Those fellows will be 3.5 forever. They will be successful 3.5s - but that is it.

My goal is 4.0 before I am 40 (I turn 39 in November). I would not begin to think that I could rise to 4.0 by using the same lame backhand technique that I used when I was verified as a 3.0. Even though this year my backhand was very effective on the 3.5 front - it was suspect in 4.0 land. So I went to a pro and he is now in the process of rebuilding my backhand. And even though it sucks right at this particular momemt in history - I know that if I work hard at it, I will be a better player in the long run with the proper technique.

My advice is to throw off the shackles of the comfort zone and get unset in your ways if you truely want to improve. Who cares if you go through a brief period where you are struggling? If you make an honest attempt at one aspect at a time, and you get to the point where you think that you are never going to get it, nothing will be stopping you from going back to your old strokes.

I think that any coach that does not demand that you make an attempt at proper technique (assuming you are physically able to perform said technique) is just interested in liberating you from your money.

Good luck.

saltyzoo
09-23-2004, 06:59 AM
Greg,

I think that it comes down to a choice of getting better OR remaining set in your ways. It is tough to have both - eating your cake and having it too, so to speak.

I have been playing actively since about 2001 when I was a verified 3.0.

Good points SunDog.

But, I don't think you have any idea how ingrained a style can be after using it for 20 years. A 3 year old bad habit is a LOT easier to break than a 20 year bad habit. ;)

I guess if I can find somebody that will help me work on one thing at a time it shouldn't hurt that badly.

SunDog
09-23-2004, 07:03 AM
That is the spirit! Let us know how you fare.

Rickson
09-23-2004, 07:04 AM
Improvment is very possible when self-taught. I became obsessed with tennis about 2 months ago and had never played before then. I watched a lot of pro tennis and payed attention, and now I am a 4.0 player. It's jsut knowing what to do, and then doing it.
I bet you're very good for a beginner, but I'd also bet you're not a 4.0 yet.

kevhen
09-23-2004, 07:26 AM
3.0 or 3.5 but not 4.0 out of the gate! Sorry Charlie.

splink779
09-23-2004, 08:20 AM
I know it sounds like a buch of hot air, but I promise I am 4.0. I don't really care if you believe me because the people I play do.

Rickson
09-23-2004, 08:34 AM
I know it sounds like a buch of hot air, but I promise I am 4.0. I don't really care if you believe me because the people I play do.
I played a guy who was a league playing 4.0 player and had been playing for12 years. I beat him, but I still don't think I'm a 4.0 and I had only 9 months of experience at the time. Go to a professional and let him evaluate you, you'll find your true rating that way.

splink779
09-23-2004, 09:03 AM
So then what do you, the people on the board, consider to be qualifications for a 4.0 player? I'm using the NTRP guide.

SunDog
09-23-2004, 09:13 AM
The NTRP guide is a nice starting place. Bottom line is that you are what you play (and compete well at). Keep in mind that the computer ratings (for what they are worth) flow down from the USTA national championships. So for the purposes of discussion, if you play organized tennis vs computer rated 4.0 folks and you compete well against them - then you are likely a 4.0 player. If you get blown out or trounce them then move down or up. If you are not competing in tournaments or leagues with other computer rated players then your rating is moot because it cannot be validated.

Bungalo Bill
09-23-2004, 09:50 AM
Saltyzoo,

You cant be in and out of the sport and expect to improve. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to start improving. A coach will help as well as the good books that are out there. But the bottom-line is you have to want to get better and be disiplined enough to be consistently executing your practice sessions, eating right, working out to stay in shape if you want to improve and reach your goals.

You just have to make up your mind what do you want to be in this sport.

I realize that. When I say in and out I mean that I've periodically taken a year or two off. I've played once a week at least half those 20 years.

Don't confuse my post for complaining that I haven't improved. I realize why I haven't. I'm just wondering if coaching is really going to make any difference now that I'm so set in my ways. I totally understand that getting out there and playing is the most important part.

Well for most people coaching is about an hour a week unless you can afford more time with a coach. After that hour is over it still boils down to you. You can get some great advice, fix some hitches, and realize things that became habit but isnt helping you improve.

If you work hard after your coaching you will improve. If you work hard and setup practices to cover the things you're learning after you were coached - you will improve.

It is really up to you. I didnt think you were complaining and I thought you were very honest about your assessment of yourself. That is a good starting point. However, you can still improve on your own if you have a video camera and some good information to help you evaluate yourself with.

At first, I had to improve without coaching. Once I got to college level play, I had a "coach". This really helped me improve at a faster rate because I was a self-studier in tennis. So you can do it without a coach, you just have to learn how to be your own coach. Not many people can do that and be objective at the same time.

Rickson
09-23-2004, 09:53 AM
So then what do you, the people on the board, consider to be qualifications for a 4.0 player? I'm using the NTRP guide.
Don't worry too much about the number. Play a bunch of different people and see how well you do. Playing the same circle of friends will hold you back and you won't find your true rating that way.

Bungalo Bill
09-23-2004, 09:55 AM
BB,

Thanks. My main thing right now that I'm working on is keeping my head still. Since I've been working on that my strokes are cleaner, I hit with more power and I can put the ball anywhere I want. I figure once I get that down cold I'll refine my strokes however I can. I'm now adding a 1hbh, which has been tricky but I'm getting used to it.

My biggest weapon is my speed. I can get to about any ball that is hit, and if you don't place it right I'm going to get it back and do something with it. I find that when I do this I demoralize so many people that I can just have my way with them. I don't expect to be a 7.0, as I'm too old to get there, I'm only 26, but in sports that's not a good time to be a rookie.

The hardest thing for me around here is to find someone who is a challenge. Too often I find players who are '3.5-4.0' and I just find something about them and exploit it. I'm not trying to brag, but it is hard to find people around here who are really good. A lot of players that I see are ones who buy pre-strung rackets and just hopelessly swing at the ball or are just major pushers who are just no fun to play against. Occasionally I find a good player, but I never get to play them often enough and it just sucks.

I do know what you mean though by people thinking they're something they're not. I once belonged to a club here and a lot of the guys were '4.0'. I thought to myself well if you're 4.0 and I beat you with ease then what am I? This was when I was still starting to figure out my game. I think there it was more for social status than anything which is why I left that place.

I will keep working towards my goal. I'd love to be a coach one day if I so desire, but more just work with mentality, how to stay in a game when you're down, how to demoralize your opponent and so on. The stuff nobody ever talks about or thinks about.

I like your story at the end. I try to do that to my opponents. Get them going one way and wham throw a curve ball and throw them out of their comfort zone. I try to explain this to my friends but they don't seem to understand or don't want to learn. I guess I'll have to refer them to this board for your advice so they can learn something.

Do you play in open or 5.0 leagues or do people just tell you that you are a 5.0? Are you self rated or have you actually played tournaments?

A 5.0 player should be able to beat a solid 4.0 player @ love and the 4.0 player shouldn't get more than 1 point per game.

If your talking to me I just threw a coin up in the air to see if it was heads or tails. If it was tails I was a 5.0 player. If it was heads, I wasnt a 5.0 player and could be anywhere from a 2.0 to a 3.5 player.

The next thing I did was watched the pros. If I could imitate a forehand stroke in my living room I was a 5.0 player. If I accidently hit a lamp or knocked down something with my swing I was anywhere from a 2.0 to a 3.5 player.

Camilio Pascual
09-23-2004, 10:17 AM
Saltyzoo - You'd be wasting your money on a coach, a good one is going to try to get you to change your ways. You are right, a lot of us are hard core and a lot of our advice probably does not pertain to your case. Just hitting the ball around with your friends and enjoying it beats the heck out of sitting on your couch, so enjoy it and don't worry about improving a lot. Improving in tennis is an enormous investment of time and sometimes money, too.

splink779
09-23-2004, 12:21 PM
I've been playing a lot of different people lately, thats exactly why I think of myself as a 4. I actually don't play that often with my friends anymore because they don't like me beating them.

vin
09-23-2004, 12:52 PM
Saltyzoo, or should I say gregt,

How's you're reef doing? :wink:

Cool to see you're a tennis player too.

saltyzoo
09-23-2004, 12:56 PM
Saltyzoo, or should I say gregt,

How's you're reef doing? :wink:

Cool to see you're a tennis player too.

Hey there vin. Tank is well. What's your id on the reef boards?

vin
09-23-2004, 01:05 PM
vmiller on reefcentral and rdo. I bought one of the monster UV DIY kits from you just over a year ago. Just emailed you about it a few weeks ago too.

saltyzoo
09-23-2004, 01:07 PM
vmiller on reefcentral and rdo. I bought one of the monster UV DIY kits from you just over a year ago. Just emailed you about it a few weeks ago too.

I thought it was you, but wasn't sure. You did get my response, right?

vin
09-23-2004, 01:15 PM
Yes. Just to be safe I think I am going to paint it when I change the bulb, which will be soon. Do you know anywhere to get the replacement bulbs for cheaper than $110?

I bet you didn't think you'd be talking about reefing on a tennis board. :D

saltyzoo
09-23-2004, 01:59 PM
I can get the bulb for you cheaper than that.

ferreira
09-23-2004, 03:34 PM
4.0 level after only a year? Holy Cow! 5.0 level within a year or two? Either you have some relaxed standards where you are from or you might be the next Sampras!

I'm relieved to know that there are other mortals on the board!
It may not apply to all, but doesn't it take an average amateur adult, with considerable dedication, between 7 to 10 years to reach a solid 5.0?

ferreira
09-23-2004, 03:49 PM
A 5.0 player should be able to beat a solid 4.0 player @ love and the 4.0 player shouldn't get more than 1 point per game.
Perfmode, is that really more or less the norm?
I'd be happy to know if it is so, because I've managed to average about 1.5 games per set , against my 5.0 partner. But double bagles do show quite frequently.

ferreira
09-23-2004, 03:55 PM
So then what do you, the people on the board, consider to be qualifications for a 4.0 player? I'm using the NTRP guide.
Folks,
do take a look at this section of the ITF website. It gives very detailed explanation for each of 10 levels. There is a section that relates to ratings used in other countries, among which NTRP (USA).
www.internationaltennisnumber.com

saltyzoo
09-23-2004, 05:05 PM
Thanks everyone for your input. I'm planning on getting some coaching and seeing where it goes.

In the meanwhile my first league match in almost two years was tonight. And I won 6-3 6-2. :D

Trey
09-23-2004, 05:37 PM
I know it sounds like a buch of hot air, but I promise I am 4.0. I don't really care if you believe me because the people I play do.

Go enter a 4.0 level tourney and see how you do. You will get a better idea that way. I really don't care what level you are but in my experience players tend to overate themselves especially early on in their tennis careers. I use to think I was pretty good in high school because I could rip forehand winners and ace people on my serve. The only problem was my unforced errors were 5x my winners :lol:

There is one guy at work who told me he was self taught 4.5 level player. I told him I just got rated a 3.5-4.0 by a tennis pro. So before he played me he said he would go easy on me. He was pretty surprised that I beat him 6-0, 6-3. I would of double bageled him but I decided to work on some of my weaker shots the second set. I found out later he rated himself based on a self rating after reading the rating system not actually playing any tourneys or leagues.

saltyzoo
09-24-2004, 02:57 AM
I'm using the NTRP guide.


Interesting. According to those "guidelines" I am a 4.0 or even better player. However, in reality I barely hold my own in a 3.0 league.

Kaptain Karl
09-24-2004, 02:28 PM
Yeah. The NTRP Guidelines are “useful” but only real matches against other competitors will reveal the truth.

IMO, there’s at least a whole point in “match toughness” alone. On paper you may look 4.5, but in the real “heat of the battle” you may find you choke, clutch or push too much when it really counts. Your 4.5 could really only be a 3.5....

- KK

Bungalo Bill
09-24-2004, 02:32 PM
Yeah. The NTRP Guidelines are “useful” but only real matches against other competitors will reveal the truth.

IMO, there’s at least a whole point in “match toughness” alone. On paper you may look 4.5, but in the real “heat of the battle” you may find you choke, clutch or push too much when it really counts. Your 4.5 could really only be a 3.5....

- KK

Yeah and vice versa. Those pushers that have 3.5 strokes take the trophey at 4.5!

Aoya
09-26-2004, 06:33 AM
I think those ITF descriptions are a bit vague <__<...

papa
09-26-2004, 07:54 AM
BB wrote:

"Yeah and vice versa. Those pushers that have 3.5 strokes take the trophey at 4.5!"

Lot of truth to that.

saltyzoo
10-16-2004, 10:18 AM
Ok, so I finally had a chance to take my first lesson. It went exactly how I didn't want it to go. He insisted I change my grip which is going to completely mess with my game.

But, I didn't argue with him. I figure it might actually be a lot of the reason I'm not progressing. We'll see how it goes....

Bungalo Bill
10-16-2004, 11:58 AM
Ok, so I finally had a chance to take my first lesson. It went exactly how I didn't want it to go. He insisted I change my grip which is going to completely mess with my game.

But, I didn't argue with him. I figure it might actually be a lot of the reason I'm not progressing. We'll see how it goes....

I am really sorry to hear you did not have a good outing with the pro you hired. I would question this emphasis on the change of grip even as a teachign pro so soon.

I hate that about my profession and hobby. some coaches just cant get it through their heads that people are different then they are and need to learn strokes that are right for them instead of "right" for the pro game or "right" according to the way they learned.

I really hope you sit down with yourself and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the grips in tennis. This will help you determine whether the coach has a point.

Can you tell us what you are used to and what he is changing you to and why?

perfmode
10-16-2004, 12:14 PM
A 5.0 player should be able to beat a solid 4.0 player @ love and the 4.0 player shouldn't get more than 1 point per game.
Perfmode, is that really more or less the norm?
I'd be happy to know if it is so, because I've managed to average about 1.5 games per set , against my 5.0 partner. But double bagles do show quite frequently.

If he double bagels you regularly, you could be lower than 4.0. If you were a 1.0, you'd still get double bagelled so getting 1 game per set isn't much of an accomplishment. You are probably a 3.5 but you won't know until you compete in tournies.

saltyzoo
10-16-2004, 12:34 PM
Ok, so I finally had a chance to take my first lesson. It went exactly how I didn't want it to go. He insisted I change my grip which is going to completely mess with my game.

But, I didn't argue with him. I figure it might actually be a lot of the reason I'm not progressing. We'll see how it goes....

I am really sorry to hear you did not have a good outing with the pro you hired. I would question this emphasis on the change of grip even as a teachign pro so soon.

I hate that about my profession and hobby. some coaches just cant get it through their heads that people are different then they are and need to learn strokes that are right for them instead of "right" for the pro game or "right" according to the way they learned.

I really hope you sit down with yourself and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the grips in tennis. This will help you determine whether the coach has a point.

Can you tell us what you are used to and what he is changing you to and why?

My grip(s) were clearly not right. When I manage to get the racquet ready (I still have to "think" about the grip when I change) in time I do see a benefit.

He reviewed my game before dealing with the grip. Basically he said that my biggest problem was consistency and that my bad grip was the culprit.

Bungalo Bill
10-16-2004, 12:56 PM
Ok, so I finally had a chance to take my first lesson. It went exactly how I didn't want it to go. He insisted I change my grip which is going to completely mess with my game.

But, I didn't argue with him. I figure it might actually be a lot of the reason I'm not progressing. We'll see how it goes....

I am really sorry to hear you did not have a good outing with the pro you hired. I would question this emphasis on the change of grip even as a teachign pro so soon.

I hate that about my profession and hobby. some coaches just cant get it through their heads that people are different then they are and need to learn strokes that are right for them instead of "right" for the pro game or "right" according to the way they learned.

I really hope you sit down with yourself and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the grips in tennis. This will help you determine whether the coach has a point.

Can you tell us what you are used to and what he is changing you to and why?

My grip(s) were clearly not right. When I manage to get the racquet ready (I still have to "think" about the grip when I change) in time I do see a benefit.

He reviewed my game before dealing with the grip. Basically he said that my biggest problem was consistency and that my bad grip was the culprit.

Well a lot of us have consistency problems even in the right grip! :)

What grip was the culprit?

saltyzoo
10-16-2004, 12:59 PM
I was off on pretty much all of them except my serve. Probably not cooincidentally my serve is the best part of my game. ;) I was most off on my backhand - which (you guessed it) is the most inconsistent part of my game. :lol:

Bungalo Bill
10-16-2004, 01:03 PM
I was off on pretty much all of them except my serve. Probably not cooincidentally my serve is the best part of my game. ;) I was most off on my backhand - which (you guessed it) is the most inconsistent part of my game. :lol:

You still have not said what grip you were in.

Let me list them for you:

Continental
Eastern backhand
Eastern forehand
SemiWestern
Western

saltyzoo
10-16-2004, 01:07 PM
You still have not said what grip you were in.

That's because I have no idea. I just did what "felt right".

He set me up with western. If I remember correctly he said I was pretty much using a volley grip for everything.

Bungalo Bill
10-16-2004, 02:06 PM
You still have not said what grip you were in.

That's because I have no idea. I just did what "felt right".

He set me up with western. If I remember correctly he said I was pretty much using a volley grip for everything.

Well I hope it is not a Full Western. Hopefully a semiwestern. If you were using the volley grip for everything it probably was the Continental.

saltyzoo
10-16-2004, 02:08 PM
I think it is the semi-western. What's the difference?

Bungalo Bill
10-16-2004, 02:12 PM
It wont be such a drastic change and it is a versatile grip that takes advantage of the strengths of the western and the eastern. It is a good grip.

saltyzoo
10-16-2004, 02:32 PM
No, I mean what's the difference between western and semi-western. I could probably tell you which if I knew the difference.

Trey
10-16-2004, 03:27 PM
If you are using a continental grip (volley grip) you are at a distinct disadvantage IMO. It is very difficult to hit topspin with on your forehand because the typical low to high motion will send the ball into the fence unless you are hitting very soft. Changing your grip is really key I think if you want to improve. I am actually surprised your coach didn't tell you to go eastern because western is is such an extreme change from a continental grip. For an explanation of the grips for your forehand go here.:

http://tennis.about.com/library/weekly/aa040600.htm

vin
10-16-2004, 05:38 PM
Hey Greg, how's it going?

I think a good book for you would be the Bollettieri Tennis Handbook. It may have some information you're not ready for or don't care to know, but it will give you a good explanation of each grip along with it's pros and cons. You may also learn some other helpful things that you didn't even know to look for.

Based on being a reef keeper, and to the extent of which that you are, I know that you are good at researching and understanding complexity. If you're willing to put in some extra time, some reading and research can go a long way, especially in conjuntion with taking lessons.

If you're interested in more resources, send me an email.

Good luck with your new grip! You can practice changing grips at home and it will carry over to the court.

vin
10-16-2004, 06:02 PM
Hey Greg,

Another thing to consider ...

If it really is the continental grip you're using, it CAN work well for you as a forehand grip. Many, if not most, of the 4.5 players in my area hit a continental forehand. Some of the 3.5 and 4.0 players do also, and boy can they smack the ball. I wouldn't say that inconsistency is more of a problem for them than anyone else either.

In my opinion, I think the semi western is definitely a better grip, but considering that you've been using the continental for 20 years (I think that's what you said earlier), you are obviously quite comfortable with it. It may be easier for you to develop a forehand weapon with what you're already comfortable with.

Here are some disadvantages:
difficult to hit topspin
difficult to hit high balls

Some advantages
same or similar grip to volleys, serve, and slice backhand
you're already used to it
easy to hit low balls

If you're really looking to play a lot of tennis and want to reconstruct your forehand with the most modern concepts, then go for it and work on a semi western forehand. You'll find people who say stick to what you're comfortable with and others who will resist any grip but the semi western. What it comes down to is that you have to understand all the pros and cons as Bungallo Bill said and decide for yourself.

troytennisbum
10-17-2004, 09:21 PM
Greg,
Ditch the Continental for forehand topspin. Adopt either a eastern or semi-western (as Bung.Bill suggested above) grip. True you may be hitting more errors in the
near future, but rest assure, your game will improve later. If you were in fact using a continental for this stroke, I fully agree with your coach for wanting you to get rid of it.

But also keep in mind your continental grip will come in handy for volleys and forehand slices.

Thanatos
10-18-2004, 11:22 AM
saltyzoo...I have the same problem. My time is limited with kids and a family, so I try ot make the most of it when I'm on the court. I read up on the fundamentals and take notes. I bring the notes on the the court and review them with my hitting partner to determine what I need to work on for that particular today.
It's like doing my homework on the court. Here's a small sample. Once I accomplish the tasks successfully, then I will check it off the list. It has worked wonders for me in being more aware of the game. In addition, if I start to develop bad habits, then I would review my notes and see where I went wrong and make the neccessary correction.

--------------------------------------------------
-Practice placement of kick serve
Practice flat serve.
Don't serve the ball..whip it!

-Ball toss should be low (2 ft) from your palm.
Pivot your front foot to bend it and drag your right foot to stay
balanced.

-RETRUN OF SERVE: Goal is to break your opponent's serve!
Use abbreviated strokes and reduce the backswing.
Stay low and keep your knees bent.
Hop on your toes and move in on your opponnent's toss.
Use 3 options for returning serves.
Always return the ball cross-court (high%).

-HIT BOUNCE HIT: Early racquet preparation

saltyzoo
12-13-2004, 04:04 PM
Ok, it's been a couple months. Sorry I haven't checked in, but I've been busy playing tennis and running. ;)

Well, I'm very happy I went to a coach. I've been taking 1/2 hour lessons once a week and playing one to three matches a week.

I'm still losing a lot, but my game is much better and it's more fun. I've got a lot more weapons in my bag now and once I get past all the "newness" I'll start winning. I'm winning a lot of games and a few sets, and going to tiebreakers, so it's not as bad as it sounds.

Thanks all for the encouragement. :D

Trey
12-13-2004, 04:57 PM
Hey it's great you are having fun. Everybody can learn new stuff. I had been sticking to my Eastern forehand with a classical closed stance because that is how I was taught as a kid. It is consistent but not very much of a weapon. I am playing better players lately with SW and Western grips with huge amount of topspin.

I have been learning Semiwestern FH and more of an open stance and is has been great. I can of wondered why I took so long to change. 8)

saltyzoo
01-22-2005, 06:30 AM
Well things are still going well and I've started to win. I haven't lost a match since mid-december. :D

Ash_Smith
01-22-2005, 09:41 AM
saltyzoo - A few lessons with a seasoned pro might help. (Really; I mean a pro who is (say) late-30’s or older. The younger pros tend to try to make every student’s strokes just like every other’s.)
- KK


As a younger Pro I take exception to that statement (although I cannot speak for all). I teach many players , some 3 times older than myself and some half as old. I have no intention of turning them into clones of each other. A good coach will help you develop what you have and make the most of it, be that tactically, technically, physically or mentally. That doesn't require a total re-build of the strokes, many self taught players, or players who come back from a long break from the games have the fundamentals, but just need tweaking - that doesn't mean turning the strokes into clones of the coach. I have enough trouble with my game let alone trying to get somebody else to play it!!