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View Full Version : Sizing up an opponent


Cypo
03-17-2004, 05:00 AM
When you're playing someone and you only have the ten minute warm up to get used to them, are there certain shots you hit or certain tell tale signs you look for to give yourself an initial game plan ?

jayserinos99
03-17-2004, 09:14 AM
I look for balance and footwork. I usually hit a couple of shots away from them intentionally to see if they can move and hit on the run well.

Camilio Pascual
03-17-2004, 10:51 AM
I look at his shots and size him up as most people do. More importantly, I try and determine if the guy has strict ideas about things, is a control freak, or is part way there. This is very important to me. If I find a control freak type, I'll break out either my topspin-lobs-as-groundstrokes-game or a more conventional pusher game.

Bungalo Bill
03-17-2004, 04:21 PM
Very hard to tell how a person moves from a 10 minute warm-up. Lots of things can be unexpected to him or her. The person may not be limber enough and is warming up his body before they start stressing it with movement. I think you can get something out of it but not a lot.

Here are some things you should see no matter what. If you hit a shot to his backhand side that isnt too wide but allows him to rally back, what foot does he step first with to hit the ball. A good player will always step out with the foot closest to the ball. If they dont and they cross over - this will tell you there may be a balance issue on the backhand side. So take note.

Watch to see if they bend their knees to hit the ball, if not, you know what to do in the beginning! Keep the ball low.

A big area and probably the must know area, is to watch the grips they use. If everything else is difficult to see you can definitely begin your match by attacking their grips. Of course, you got to have the shots and the knowledge on what are the weaknesses and strengths of a grip.

Obviously, watch their strokes and see if you can see hitches in a stroke or wristiness. If they are a wristy player - I would right away give them a dose different ball speeds, etc.

Check out their conditioning. YOu can tell if someone is prepared to run. They look confident bouncing on their toes. You can also tell if someone is out of shape and is heavy or flat footed. If they are, run 'em.

Make them wish they didnt eat that donut before playing you.

AAAA
03-17-2004, 04:55 PM
Cypo a word of caution. When warming up I will sometimes purposely hit shots with poor movement and technique or pretend one wing is much weaker than it really is.

Stitch626
03-17-2004, 09:13 PM
BB, I have noticed what you have said about stepping towards the ball with the closest foot to the ball a lot, but I still dont understand exactly what you mean.

Bungalo Bill
03-17-2004, 09:24 PM
Always practice taking the first step with the foot closest to the ball. This is good footwork. You can initiate a crossover step after this first step.

I knew of a player that was slow as molasses. It wa pathetic. He would be the last one in running sprints and any length of distance. He was also the slowest doing drills. It was pretty bad.

But when it came to tennis and playing, he was gifted at moveing the right foot first towards the ball which saved him extra steps which he couldnt afford to lose. It seemed he was gliding on the court - effortless movement. His secret? He mastered the first step to the ball.

If a ball is hit to your bakchand side and your right handed, step out with your left foot first. Everyone can do this effectively and without thinking on the forehand side because the lead foot is your strong side. But what happens with recreational players is they have never gone through disciplined drills. So, since they havent trained properly there dominant side (right side) will lead on the backhand. This is very normal. You have to teach your brain/body to use the weaker side first.

If a ball is hit to your forehand step out with your right foot. If it is to your backhand, step out with your left foot. Then perform your necessary steps to line up the ball. Your body and your footwork will be in better position to hit the ball with good balance and the least amount of steps improving court coverage.

A good drill is to have someone or a ball machine feed balls to you. Hop on one leg (the leg that is not suppose to move and then step out with the leg that is up and hit your shot.

So if your practicing backhands, hop on your right foot and as the ball is hit to your backhand, step towards the 45 degree angle with your left foot. Perform your adjusting steps and hit.

Cypo
03-18-2004, 01:25 AM
Thanks all, BB your answer was very much what I was looking for, and AAAA, your very right about being careful with this initial evaluation, but it's often all I have :( ( and all they have :wink: )

BB - as far as grips go what I have learned is to keep the ball low against western FH and THBH and hit high against eastern FH and OHBH, and to stretch out two handed backhands with short angled slices. What else can you use ?

Camilio Pascual
03-18-2004, 04:35 AM
BB- Some good advice, but doggone it you are making me have to think again! I reset and load weight on my left foot to allow me to pivot and take a strong crossover step to my BH. Is this what you are talking about? Or are you talking about a much less wide ball where the initial step can be a shuffle step more for positioning than running it down?

Stitch626
03-18-2004, 06:36 AM
Thanks a lot BB I'll try to practice that once spring break is over.

Bungalo Bill
03-18-2004, 12:33 PM
Thanks all, BB your answer was very much what I was looking for, and AAAA, your very right about being careful with this initial evaluation, but it's often all I have :( ( and all they have :wink: )

BB - as far as grips go what I have learned is to keep the ball low against western FH and THBH and hit high against eastern FH and OHBH, and to stretch out two handed backhands with short angled slices. What else can you use ?

Keep in mind, when hitting balls that are leisurely or just for rally's you may hit a high ball to someone's onehanded backhand and they may handle it well. That is not what I mean by attacking the grips. Although you can certainly start out that way.

It is the timing of the attack and how much pressure the person is under to get it back. For example, if I hit a ball wide to your forehand side, knowing your going to have to get their quick, I will step in a little and take the ball you give me sooner and chip it low at an angle to about mid court going crosscourt. If you have a twohanded backhand, this might be a tough shot and I will soon see how you handle it. I simply have increased my chances to win the point on an error.

Bungalo Bill
03-18-2004, 12:46 PM
BB- Some good advice, but doggone it you are making me have to think again! I reset and load weight on my left foot to allow me to pivot and take a strong crossover step to my BH. Is this what you are talking about? Or are you talking about a much less wide ball where the initial step can be a shuffle step more for positioning than running it down?

Nope, 8)

Step with your foot closest to the ball first then perform the rest of your steps to time your hit. You can crossover after your first step but it wont be so dramatic causing you to get in trouble on occasion.

It sounds like you have a onehanded backhand? Do you perform the same step sequence for your service return? Do you ever find yourself hitting late? Or cant seem to make clean contact?

The reason you take the first step with your dominant leg on the backhand side is because it is natural. It is normal. It feels right. Your mind has accepted this foot/leg to be the dominant force in movement throughout your life.

Tennis is performed on both sides of your body. Forehands are strong because the dominant side is governing the balance and movement. It is natural. It is powerful and it is coordinated.

Backhands use the weaker underdeveloped side of the body. Coordination lacks on this side. It is not as strong. Often it can be spotted in movement drills that it the foot/leg sort of lags or is dragged along in movement. Your body/mind knows this so it wants to help out and allow the stronger side to compensate for its weakness. Very normal stuff. That is why it is easier to move with your dominant leg and crossover first for the backhand side.

But if you can step out with the foot closest to the ball for the forehand side and it is strong, why not the backhand side?

Always perform your first step towards the ball with the foot closest to the ball. You will have much better court coverage, better vision, you wont close your hips as much, you wont need to have a huge backswing to compensate for most of your movement going sideways vs. forward into the ball.

You will get more power, control, and have a lot more fun with less effort.

VTL
03-18-2004, 12:55 PM
Is it just me, or do pro basketball players have much faster feet than pro tennis players?

jayserinos99
03-18-2004, 01:28 PM
BB, good point about players not looking their sharpest in regards to footwork in warmup time. But the point about stepping out with the foot closest to the ball is to get a stable base right? So I'm left-handed and I try to hit a ball on my forehand side, I step out with my left foot first?

Bungalo Bill
03-18-2004, 04:12 PM
BB, good point about players not looking their sharpest in regards to footwork in warmup time. But the point about stepping out with the foot closest to the ball is to get a stable base right? So I'm left-handed and I try to hit a ball on my forehand side, I step out with my left foot first?

Jayserinos99,

It really helps everything. Your court coverage, your adjusting footwork. Your balance on impact. Helps you to not be too turned sideways. All of the above.

Next time you out on the court. Try it. Step out with your non-dominant leg. You will find it a bit awkward. To strengthen that backhand you need to strengthen that side. Get coordinated on that side. At the very least, your overall movement and coordination will improve.

Try it when your rallying with a partner - tell me it is not difficult. But yet it is easier on the forehand side. :)

C_Urala
03-18-2004, 08:37 PM
to me it's really not a problem to make a first step with the leg closest to the ball. My problem is to make this step not big. I tend to lunge and to stretch on this step and this kill all balance.

So, a little addition to the rule:

Make the first step with the leg closest to the ball but do not make this step big..

joebedford
03-27-2004, 02:39 PM
Forget all that--just show up for the match with six identical racquets in your bag, wrapped in plastic. Your opponent may just run away. :wink: