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RedWeb
08-20-2007, 02:57 PM
NOTE: Sorry about the length of the 1st 3-4 entries in this thread but I needed to set some background information.

I'm starting this thread to document my experiences with lessons. I'd like to get feedback about what I'm being taught during these lessons. Also hopefully sharing my experiences will help others and, if they choose to take lessons or are following a similar path that I am, assist in avoiding problems that I encounter.

Here's my background. I started playing tennis about 2 years ago at the age of 50. Prior to that time I never played organized tennis and only hit 3-4 times a year when the family would take the Wal-Mart rackets out to the local park and hit around for an hour or so. I'm a fairly good athlete having played basketball up through the small college level and all major sports in high school. I run 15-20 miles per week at a 7:30-8:30 min clip, do a little weight lifting (2x/week), and yoga (5-6x/week). For my age group on a fitness scale of 1-10 I'd give myself an 8-8.5. I'm 6'3" and 200 lbs (goal 190). I live in Texas.

A friend and I started playing "seriously" in Sept of 05 as all our children are now grown and we have more time and money on our hands. We'd practice 3-4x/week and eventually entered 3.0 tournaments late in the year. I naturally had what I consider to be a very good serve and a fairly consistent backhand. My forehand is inconsistent and often was nothing more than backspin squash shots to keep the ball in play. We did well in singles (tournament championships and semis) and both decided to self-rate to 3.5 at the beginning of 2006. I lost my first 10 2006 matches at 3.5 going to USTA tournaments 3-4 times a month, but was competitive because I could get to most balls and keep them in play and I had a big serve. I also played in non-USTA local leagues so, on average, its 4-5 days of tennis a week. By May, 2006 I was winning about 50% of my matches and had a good summer beating some highly ranked 3.5 players as I worked my way up to top 40 in the NTRP state rankings. Then in August I succumbed to Plantar Fasciitis (had ignored it for 4 months) and had to sit out rest of year while resting and undergoing rehab. NOTE: That's a whole other thread!...

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 02:58 PM
...In January 2007 I started playing again and have not reached the success level I had previously. I still play about the same amount of matches and am winning at about a 35% rate. I played Flex tennis high B this summer and finished with 5-3 record. However I'm not happy with the progress I'm making. I've got my PF under control with good orthodics but am starting to deal with tennis elbow. So recently I decided that I needed professional help to "relearn" the proper strokes and strategies of the game. I remain a below average doubles player largely because of my lack of experience. With that in mind I joined a local country club so I'd have ready access to courts and professional lessons/clinics. I'd also thought about joining a USTA team.

I joined a club back in July and spent the first month getting to know people and deciding whom the best pro would be for me. They have 4 to choose from. I decided on a young man, 28, who had played for a top 20 college program and, as a junior, had attended the Bolleterri Academy. He had played in challengers and two ATP events. He was the biggest of the instructors with a body type close to mine. During this time I also played in mixers and the club's men league and have been asked to join USTA team for the fall. The captain maintains that I've got what it takes to play the #1 or #2 singles line.

So with that background I approached my first lesson last week. Prior to the lesson I wrote down a few notes about my game and expectations: am willing to take steps backward to move forward later... inconsistent strokes... always feel on defensive... eastern forehand grip... one handed on both sides... 4.0 serve... good fitness... don't want to have social lessons (work my a** off)... lost my backhand during injury layoff (was my best ground stroke)... forehand is loopy low to high shot with front of arm facing opponent... inadequately follow through on all strokes... constantly fighting getting to close to the ball... know footwork is big problem... need more shoulder turn... had to start wearing glasses while playing a few months ago.

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 02:58 PM
As we walked to the court for the first time I told my instructor pretty much what I've noted above. We also discussed his fee structure and requirements. We agreed to begin with 10 lessons, as he gave me a significant discount for that commitment, trying to get 2 lessons in each week. He insisted that one lesson a week was not enough to start with. I should note that he had watched me hit during men's league so he had some idea of what I did.

We decided to begin with my forehand and things immediately started to be changed. I was actually shocked when he said he was fine with the eastern forehand grip as almost everyone I had talked to said that they were being encouraged to more toward a semi-western or western grip. Instead he said I had to stop choking the racket and move it up in my palm. Up to this point the I had always placed the racket so that the bottom 1/3" part that fans out was below what he said was the fatty part of my hand. He had me move the racket up until the actual bottom of the handle was a little above that fatty part. He said this should relax my grip and would be part of further changes that would reduce my mild tennis elbow problem (I'm wearing a below the elbow brace at this time). He also said this would be part of several other changes that would also take some stress off my wrist and shoulder.

Next we took up positions on either serve line and lightly hit balls back and forth so he could see my stroke better. He then came over to my side of the court and began showing me the framework of what should become my new forehand stroke. He said that at first we would over emphasis everything and relax the "rules" once I made progress. So at this point he said that I should attempt to keep a very straight arm and lock my wrist down (moving it backwards to lock it). This naturally closed the racket face. The next "big" thing he told me was that I needed to try and point the bottom of the racket at the ball during the backstroke. I play with a Prince O3 white (recently moved "up" from O3 Red) and he said "P"oint the "P" to the ball. He said that I needed to keep the racket low towards the ground remembering to keep the wrist locked and face closed.

As I swung forward I should not think about hitting up on the ball. Rather I should imagine that there are 3-4 balls in a row that I need to hit through them. He said that, for now, the closed face of the racket and the proper follow through would give all the topspin that was needed. I had told him that when I attempted to attack short balls during a match that I'd almost always hit them into the net or over the fence. He said that was probably overemphasizing trying to put spin on it with trying to hit up on the ball and that was not necessary at this point.

We talked about having a somewhat closed stance but not totally so. He also said that would be relaxed as progress was made. The main points were that he wanted me to keep the ball away from my body and take a full swing so that the racket ended up kinda resting in the palm of my left hand over my left shoulder. He really stressed keeping the racket away from my body the entire shot and trying to hit the ball the same way each time. During all this discussion period he would toss me balls and reemphasis what he had been telling me. Now it was time for same practice drills. The first was simple enough, he simply feed me balls from the other side of the net while I hit from the baseline. Nothing fancy, just trying to give me the idea of when I did the stroke properly and when I made mistakes.

By far my most common mistake was hitting the ball into the net caused because I over emphasized the brushing up on the ball instead of hitting through it. I also realized that I was going to have to get a lot quicker if I was going to do all the little things he required me to do (straighten arm, lock wrist back, point bottom of racket to ball, hit through 3 imaginery balls, follow through over shoulder, etc.). My mind was racing and my legs were trying to take baby steps so I could execute the proper shots. It was certainly a lot more difficult than just relatively standing there and adjusting to the ball by moving my arm and wrist in any old direction. I also had to work on my approaching balls as my tendency was to center my nose on the ball when I really needed the ball to be further to the right side of my body.

We then moved to multi-spot feeds, one in center of court, then one to right and back again. We repeated this many times and I realized that there would not be any need to tell him to work me harder. I really had to work to get into position so that my forehand could be executed relatively the same way every time. Then we moved to 2 balls in center and right then endless balls at extreme right corner until I got 13 shots into his court. This sometimes took 20-25 ball feeds. My tongue was hanging out after each one of these (this is 100 degree Texas weather we talking about).

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 03:18 PM
Lesson 2 was 3 days later. The lesson was on a Saturday and once again in the heat of the day. I like the heat so that is not a big deal to me. I'm a big believer in getting ready for a challenge by giving yourself a bigger one during practice. I already knew that we'd do more work on the forehand so after the same service line to service line warm up we went over lesson 1 material and started with drills again. We repeated the same ones done during lesson 1 only this time he added in feeding me a ball back to my left that force me in the other direction to practice an inside-out forehand shot. Once again within 15 minutes my tonque was hanging out.

Then he introduced the attacking forehand shot on shorter balls. In my mind this has always been a weakness of mine as I have a hard time being consistent with this shot. I admire those that can come in on this shot and put the "hammer" down on those top spin put away shots. In the past if they are high enough I could often slice the ball aggresively back to put pressure on my opponent or go a an outright winner. But when I came over the top of the ball more often than not it would end up in the net. Once again he said that I should not think about putting top spin on the ball simply hit through the ball with the proper follow through would do the trick. On the backswing he said I should bring the rack up higher but still emphasized the straight arm, locked wrist and closed racket face. So basically its the same stroke as the normal groundstroke only executed higher in the air. I really struggled with this especially when he introduced drills where I'd hit some shots from the baseline and then he'd give me a short one to attack. A lot of the problem is simply my approach to the ball. Its like I'm having to learn that all over again. Plus I'm not exactly ballet material at 6'3" and 200 lbs. This is pretty much all we worked on during our 1 hr and15 mins on the court. By then I had probably sweated off 5 lbs or so.

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 03:32 PM
Too much to read holy crapppp.

I know but I felt I had to give details to make it worthwhile. Now that the groundwork is set each entry will be a lot shorter. I'm not demanding that anyone read it.

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 03:33 PM
The next evening, Sunday, I took my ball machine to the courts. I have a tennis tutor player pro model so its pretty nice. I worked for about 2 hours on nothing but my new forehand sitting up various spots to hit and changing the feed rate and speed of the machine so I can practice on different shots. I have to say that my arm can definitely feel the difference with this new stroke. I was simply trying to get use to the new shot and had some good success as I've always found hitting against a ball machine to be fairly easy.

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 03:42 PM
That Monday evening I had my first match since I started lessons. I play in local non-USTA league that has average-better 3.5 players in it. I promised myself that I'd use this league as a testing place and not be concerned about results and revert back to my old style of play just to win. The week before was the 1st round and I won fairly easily. This time around that was not the case and I'd have to say that a lot of it was due to the fact that I was getting use to new forehand. #1 I was feeling very rushed on every shot. I had to back up on service return because I wanted to try and hit full return and not squash type block back. Also had problems with new "higher" grip and making transition from forehand to backhand as I've not practiced the new grip with backhand at all. I was hitting the ball deeper and harder than with my "old" forehand, that is when I was keeping it on the court. For some reason my service game was not very good either. I got crushed 6-2, 6-2. I lost track of unforced errors. Mucho practice and humility in front of me for a while. But a few shots felt fantastic!

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 03:44 PM
geez, why don't you start ur own blog site. Don't do it here

Send me a bill for the disk space usage. If this helps one person out there then what does it hurt. I've really been helped by many people here and trying to return the favor. Like I told the other guy you don't have to read it.

SFrazeur
08-20-2007, 03:44 PM
RedWeb, ignore them and please continue.

-SF

habib
08-20-2007, 03:56 PM
I, for one, appreciate the background information, since it gives us a much better idea of where you're coming from and answers almost any questions one could ask. It helps that your command of the English language is better than 98% of the people here (which isn't surprising considering 98% of those people are 13) and your prose makes for relaxed and descriptive reading.

Certainly, it's better than the more prevalent two liner that we're all too familiar with:

"Hey guyz i have SW forehand and two-hander how do i improve??!??!?
Plzz help!!!!!???"

Just out of curiosity, though - where do you live?

enwar3
08-20-2007, 04:05 PM
I find this useful as well. Keep it up! I wish I had time/money to take lessons...

Supernatural_Serve
08-20-2007, 04:40 PM
You are getting standard lessons with fundamental approaches. This is good.

Sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone, break your game and shots down, and rebuild them. This is good too, even if it means playing worse (temporarily). Some people can take it, some can't. Those that can, get better. Those that can't are stuck indefinately.

Good for you that you are willing to rebuild your game especially at your age. Most tennis players are very locked into their game by that age and have been for decades.

One thing your coach should emphasize is concentration and relaxation.

Most of what he is teaching is something you feel.

He should encourage you to feel what you are doing versus thinking about it. Overthinking makes people stiff, stops their feet from moving, and causes akwardness.

Strive to feel what he's encouraging you to do so that it becomes locked into your muscle memory.

It takes hitting a few balls on a regular basis, but its well worth it. You want to be on auto pilot with new footwork, strokes, etc. and you can't get there if you overanalyze it. You have to relax, concentrate, and feel it.

tangoll
08-20-2007, 06:30 PM
RedWeb: Thanks for taking the time and effort to put your thoughts in writing. I read thru your posts and though I hadn't taken the time to read it in detail, I think I got most of what you are saying and trying to accomplish.

I'm in a somewhat similar environ as you -- I'm 66 years old, have played tennis seriously for about 35 years, still playing local club tournaments in Hong Kong (sometimes I have to play 11 - 15 year old kids in singles tournaments), had attended camps/resorts like Newcombe, Saddlebrook, Killington, Rancho Bernardo, and had lessons with probably over 25 different individual coaches (outside of the camps/resorts).

I can't tell or advise what will or will not work for you, but here is what I feel from the coaching that I've had:

1. There's no one correct way to play tennis or to hit a stroke properly. Each coach has his/her own theory about what is correct or the right way, such as: should elbow be tucked into body or away from body on racquet takeback, how locked or relaxed should elbow/wrist be on forehand or backhand takeback, should one punch through a volley or cut it, how much brushing up the ball on topspin, etc. So the question is, can the coach adjust his theory/coaching technique to what you are able to accomplish, or should you try to follow his teaching concept? If you and coach don't mesh, then you need to break it off with this coach, and find another one. There should be no hard feelings from either side.

2. Outside of each coaching hour, there should be at least one, preferably two hours of practice on your own trying out and practicing what had been taught. One also has to continue playing competitive matches, either social or even better, tournaments (which I see you are doing). For me, I really didn't start improving until after I started playing tournaments, and I would take coaching to prepare specific things I wanted to work on when facing a tournament 2 - 3 weeks away. Even when playing just social tennis, I would mentally play the match as if it were a tournament match and play with that mindset.

3. You need to balance your time and lessons on things that you don't do well. For each lesson, I would warm up with the strokes that I did well -- forehand, slice backhand, volleys, but then I would be sure to spend time on my weak points -- overhead smash, forehand approach on short ball, return of serve, movement and preparation. Now, not much fears me whether at the net or on the baseline, except I still have difficulty backpedalling for a high lob, and a not punishing enough second serve. But building up a game that I think maximizes my potential and what I'm capable of has taken many years, several coaches, many hours of lessons and playing time, and countless errors on court.

So keep it up, you have the right attitude for wanting to improve, and good luck. Tennis is a great game and will keep you healthy for years. I'm 6 feet and also 200 lbs in weight, but the weight doesn't seem to come off. Tennis does keep the weight at that level though.

NoBadMojo
08-20-2007, 07:05 PM
Here's my take based upon what I've read (i havent read it all so correct me if i'm repeating something he said). I've given a few thousand lessons over the years to players of all levels.
-You arent mentioning him teaching you footwork or use of your lower body much at all that I can see, and tennis <like most sports> is played from the feet up. Not being there i cant comment on your hitting into the net, but that often is caused more by doing something funky with your lower body (like becoming straight legged too soon). he seems to be overly concentrated on your swing rather than getting your body into the right position to make a good swing....often if you can get people doing that stuff right, the swing can almost take care of itself and there are several ways to get it done swingwise provided you can get the racquethead in the right place at the right time
-Did he not tell you anything about the roll of your off hand on the forehand?
-I would never schedule someone for two lessons a week unless that was something they specifically asked me about. I dont know how often you play, but i'm assuming not every day. So one lesson a week..one drill session with a good partner a week to help ingrain the lesson, and then your normal competitive play is about what most people can handle. two lessons a week is too much to process i think. I like to leave my lessons with some drills they can do after the lesson to help them muscle memory their new stroke. next lesson is a review of what we did the week before and then on to something new. trying to incorporate big changes on the fly and during matches can be counter productive and lead to lots of frustration
-eatern forehand coupled with a neutral stance on the FH is fine. i dont like the term closed stance because that's really not what you would wish for on the forehand...square/neutral if what you want and as you get your forehand better you can always gradually get your grip a bit stronger and your stance more open if you wish to put the effort into it
ok..enough for now..hope this helps, and good luck to you

OrangeOne
08-20-2007, 07:27 PM
RedWeb: Kudos to you for posting this thread. It's good to see the negative BS posts have been deleted, as you oh-so-correctly say, you're not forcing people to read this.

As habib said, you write in good, relaxed style, and it's an interesting read. I'm a coach, but I only really coach beginners and kids, so I'll be stopping by this thread to see what the experienced hands say to you, and to see what your coach is saying to you too. Guys like NBM and BB and JR all have loads of coaching experience, and it's good to see NBM already stopping by and giving great advice.

I have a similar thread going as I teach myself a 2HBH, and I've not been afraid to tell a full story there, and have received some great advice from the very experienced coaches there too. I've viewed part of my writings in my thread as a diary, great to track progress later, and great to just get down what I'm thinking as I'm learning. As I say, my thoughts have already elicited some great advice from others.

Good luck as you tackle this challenge, and keep writing as much as you feel you need to.

smoothtennis
08-20-2007, 08:41 PM
This is a nice and informative read. Always good to get another's up close perspective. This looked a lot more interesting than the two hundred threads entitled:

How to handle high balls with 1HBH? Please Help!
How would you rate this guy?
Got beat today by pusher
Got beat today by girl
How to go from 3.0 to 4.0 in four days! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

OrangeOne
08-20-2007, 08:49 PM
How to handle high balls with 1HBH? Please Help!
How would you rate this guy?
Got beat today by pusher
Got beat today by girl
How to go from 3.0 to 4.0 in four days! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

In order:

a. You can't, Fed can't so neither can anyone.
b. He's a 2.5 to 3.0, with a 3.423 forehand, and he needs more knee bend on the serve, and a better trophy position
c. Well, you must be not as good as you think. Learn to hit winners.
d. Well you are now no better than a girl, and the WTA sucks.
e. Buy a new racquet with more power & more control & dress like your favourite pro in next season's gear.

There, now none of those threads ever need to be posted again, and great threads like this one can prosper :grin:

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 09:19 PM
I'm excited about the forum feedback I've already received. I plan on continuing with this thread for several months as my lessons continue. First I'd like to get the thread caught up to the current time, then I'll address some of the points/questions from other posters. The Wednesday after my first post-lessons match my friend/doubles partner and I went out for an easy hitting session. He was impressed with the changes I was trying to make and said that my forehand definitely had more sting now. We have spent many, many hours on the courts and he knows my forehand very well. He immediately picked up on how I was trying to avoid the "U"-shaped forehand stroke. We spent a lot of time trying to get me more comfortable switching from the new forehand grip to a backhand stroke as that was my biggest problem during the Monday match.

Two days later I played in a USTA tournament. My first round match was against a player my age and about my skill level. Once again I felt very rushed the whole match. As usual I was much "stiffer" overall then when I'm just hitting and that did not help. I got better as the match went on but lost 3 and 3. My doubles partner, who watched the last 4 games of the match, said that he thought I was going back to my old stroke most of the time and that was disappointing. I promised myself to do better during my next match.

The next match turned out to be fairly easy against a player who was a weaker 3.5. He hit with less pace so that gave me more time to think about all the things I needed to do. Once again I my committment level to sticking to the new stroke was high and I only hit 2-3 squash forehands during the whole match which I won 6-2 and 6-3.

The afternoon match was against a seeded player who hit a hard shot and was very aggressive. He was the typical player that my ole get the ball over the net style would often frustrate and I could beat. The first set was a disaster as my poor serving combined with numerous UEs set the stage for a 1-6 scoreline. My forehand came and went but it feel pretty good. The second set scoreline was a different story as I started stroking the ball much better and hit several excellent winners. I ended up losing 5-7 but was happy. I think a lot of my problems are tied to the bottom half of my body and not preparing for shots properly and this gets worse as I tire. Strangely enough, the shots that I need to rundown and not think about seem to be some of the best. This match was the end of the tournament for me. I rested on Sunday and did some honey-dos.

This evening I had my second league match. It was against an opponent I had beaten in the previous league fairly easily so I could get a reading on how I was doing. Once again I started poorly and lost the first set 2-6. Very frustrating. I was still committed to taking a full stroke (for me) on service returns and that was costing me. Plus he played better than our previous match. As I was sitting down between sets I decided to focus on a couple of things. First I'd prepare my racket by turning my shoulders instead of just pulling my arm back and, secondly, I'd concentrate on watching the ball all the way into the racket. I have a very bad habit of facing the net squarely and looking across to my opponent. I believe that causes my stroke to be pulled into my body and to the left as I bring my racket hand across my body instead of hitting through the ball away from my body. This paid immediate dividends. I won the second set 6-1. I was also serving much better so that helped.

The third set was even better as I was more relaxed and my opponent seemed to be getting tired and he was starting to swat at the ball while not maintaining a solid stance. I won the set 6-0.

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 09:33 PM
Just out of curiosity, though - where do you live?

I live in the Dallas area. Thanks for the kind words regarding my writing.

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 09:35 PM
I find this useful as well. Keep it up! I wish I had time/money to take lessons...

Yes, I'm very blessed that I have the time and money to take a series of lessons. I don't like doing anything at a level that I feel can be better. That is why I gave up on golf so many years ago.

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 09:42 PM
You are getting standard lessons with fundamental approaches. This is good. Sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone, break your game and shots down, and rebuild them. This is good too, even if it means playing worse (temporarily). Some people can take it, some can't. Those that can, get better. Those that can't are stuck indefinately.

I'm DEFINITELY out of my comfort zone. I'm having to rethink things as fundamental as how I approach the ball. I've also quickly realized that my footwork and reflexes must improve. I know some of that will come with more experience but I plan on adding more jump roping to my daily workout regime.


One thing your coach should emphasize is concentration and relaxation. Most of what he is teaching is something you feel. He should encourage you to feel what you are doing versus thinking about it. Overthinking makes people stiff, stops their feet from moving, and causes akwardness. Strive to feel what he's encouraging you to do so that it becomes locked into your muscle memory.

We really have not gotten into a lot of mental stuff yet. I guess that will come later. He did say that the pure "mechanics" will become less important over time. I agree with the overthinking part but at this time its pretty much what I have to do.

It takes hitting a few balls on a regular basis, but its well worth it. You want to be on auto pilot with new footwork, strokes, etc. and you can't get there if you overanalyze it. You have to relax, concentrate, and feel it.

Good advice. I figure that will only come after 1000's of hit balls and many hours of court time.

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 09:54 PM
I'm in a somewhat similar environ as you -- I'm 66 years old, have played tennis seriously for about 35 years, still playing local club tournaments in Hong Kong (sometimes I have to play 11 - 15 year old kids in singles tournaments), had attended camps/resorts like Newcombe, Saddlebrook, Killington, Rancho Bernardo, and had lessons with probably over 25 different individual coaches (outside of the camps/resorts).

Wow, what a resume! I plan on attending a camp in the next year. It will probably be Newk's as I've heard a lot of good things about it and its in Texas.

1. There's no one correct way to play tennis or to hit a stroke properly. Each coach has his/her own theory about what is correct or the right way, such as: should elbow be tucked into body or away from body on racquet takeback, how locked or relaxed should elbow/wrist be on forehand or backhand takeback, should one punch through a volley or cut it, how much brushing up the ball on topspin, etc. So the question is, can the coach adjust his theory/coaching technique to what you are able to accomplish, or should you try to follow his teaching concept? If you and coach don't mesh, then you need to break it off with this coach, and find another one. There should be no hard feelings from either side.

I agree with the no one correct way but my thinking was that if I hit the ball 10 different ways then I can never become very consistent. I don't have enough experience to judge whether my coach's way is best for me but its got to be better than what I was doing. Additionally watching matches I notice many things that the pros are doing that he recommends (locking wrist, pointing racket bottom at ball, etc.)

2. Outside of each coaching hour, there should be at least one, preferably two hours of practice on your own trying out and practicing what had been taught. One also has to continueplaying competitive matches, either social or even better, tournaments (which I see you are doing). For me, I really didn't start improving until after I started playing tournaments, and I would take coaching to prepare specificthings I wanted to work on when facing a tournament 2 - 3 weeks away. Even when playing just social tennis, I would mentally play the match as if it were a tournament match and play with that mindset.

My ratio lesson to practice time ratio will be very high. I'll practice on average 8-10 hours a week. I'll continue to play 2-3 tournaments a month. I'll be doing Flextennis again starting at end of September. Plus I'll be on a USTA team for the first time.

3. You need to balance your time and lessons on things that you don't do well. For each lesson, I would warm up with the strokes that I did well -- forehand, slice backhand, volleys, but then I would be sure to spend time on my weak points -- overhead smash, forehand approach on short ball, return of serve, movement and preparation. Now, not much fears me whether at the net or on the baseline, except I still have difficulty backpedalling for a high lob, and a not punishing enough second serve. But building up a game that I think maximizes my potential and what I'm capable of has taken many years, several coaches, many hours of lessons and playing time, and countless errors on court.

I like that idea of warming up before my lesson. I'll be doing that for sure. So far he works me so hard that I'm wasted after the lesson.

RedWeb
08-20-2007, 10:05 PM
You arent mentioning him teaching you footwork or use of your lower body much at all that I can see, and tennis <like most sports> is played from the feet up. Not being there i cant comment on your hitting into the net, but that often is caused more by doing something funky with your lower body (like becoming straight legged too soon). he seems to be overly concentrated on your swing rather than getting your body into the right position to make a good swing....often if you can get people doing that stuff right, the swing can almost take care of itself and there are several ways to get it done swingwise provided you can get the racquethead in the right place at the right time

He said the drills we are doing would help with footwork. We have not spent a lot of time talking about it through the first two lessons. I definitely think its an issue. We did talk about my changing my approach to the ball to get it into the hitting zone. This has been very difficult for me. I do tend to stand up tall and that is probably one reason I developed the loopy long armed eastern grip forehand. My opponents have commented about how I'm able to get to low balls that are seemingly out of reach. I think it is because my old stroke tended to be very low (because I am tall), I have every long arms and it was very comfortable to hit low balls the way I swung. Now I'm finding that I need to bend my knees much more.

Did he not tell you anything about the roll of your off hand on the forehand?

A little. He said I should balance with my left hand. While we were talking about fundamentals of forehand he had me hold my left hand up and said that my racket follow through should make the racket throat end up in my left hand. He did not say anything about using my left hand to help take the racket back.

I would never schedule someone for two lessons a week unless that was something they specifically asked me about. I dont know how often you play, but i'm assuming not every day. So one lesson a week..one drill session with a good partner a week to help ingrain the lesson, and then your normal competitive play is about what most people can handle. two lessons a week is too much to process i think. I like to leave my lessons with some drills they can do after the lesson to help them muscle memory their new stroke. next lesson is a review of what we did the week before and then on to something new. trying to incorporate big changes on the fly and during matches can be counter productive and lead to lots of frustration

He seemed pretty set on the two lesson a week schedule. He said that was what he did with all the juniors he was working with. My business and playing schedule will probably make that end up at about 1.5 lessons per week. I'm pretty dedicated to this tennis stuff and have the ability to dedicate time to it (see prior posts for my schedule).

eastern forehand coupled with a neutral stance on the FH is fine. i dont like the term closed stance because that's really not what you would wish for on the forehand...square/neutral if what you want and as you get your forehand better you can always gradually get your grip a bit stronger and your stance more open if you wish to put the effort into it

My coach said as I progress that my grip would just gradually drift toward more of a semi-western and that my stance would open up more. I think one of my big problems as been my square stance toward the net.

burosky
08-21-2007, 09:37 AM
He seemed pretty set on the two lesson a week schedule. He said that was what he did with all the juniors he was working with.

Excellent post RedWeb. I agree. This is more worthwhile than majority of the posts here. I did read through the whole post. The one statement that jumped right at me was the quote above. This statement seems to be consistent with the way he was teaching you. Granted, there is nothing wrong with what he has taught you so far but I think he needs to take into consideration the person he is teaching. It appears this coach is one of those who use a cookie-cutter approach to teaching. To some degree this approach works but I believe the most effective approach is the one that is tailored for the student. This is the reason why someone posted here saying there is more than one way to execute a stroke.

I'll be keeping an eye on this thread. I'm curios about how your lessons progress. Please continue posting.

fruko
08-25-2007, 10:39 AM
I like your topic. Thanks for sharing.
I am also in Dallas.
Would you mind recommend me good teaching pro?

RedWeb
08-31-2007, 05:55 PM
Ok, I've had to travel for 10 days on business and have not had a chance to pick up a tennis racket during that time. Ugh! Gained about 6 lbs and has been the worst period fitness wise since my foot injury. I go for my third lesson this weekend. I'll post the results of that. Need to get back to it for upcoming USTA season.

I don't know enough about the Dallas tennis community to recommend a teaching pro. I'd ask at one of the local shops and/or clubs.

RedWeb
09-04-2007, 04:39 AM
It was another hot and humid weekend when I got on the court for my third lesson. I made the mistake of working out for 2 hours before and my coach was especially cruel by deciding that we should work on the transition between forehand and backhand.

In all fairness to him I stated that I felt that was one of main problems during match play along with the following: much to rushed during play, getting way to close to ball 50% of the time, not rotating my shoulders and not hitting through the ball. Ever since my lessons began I promised myself I would fight the tendency to push or slice the ball. This makes play much more difficult since its much harder to get your body in the proper position than it is to simply move your arm any which way.

I've played 3-4 matches since the lessons began and its been pretty much the same thing -- periods of being totally pitiful followed by a game or two of hitting (for me) out of this world. That is always encouraging. I'm definitely losing points quickly that earlier in my "career" I could keep in. For example, I'm trying to full swings on service returns most of the time and it costs me a lot of points.

As usual we start out at the service line and simply hit groundstrokes back and forth. For some reason I totally suck at this and hit a lot of balls into the net. My coach encourages me to hit through the ball rather than over it. I feel like I most put more spin on it to keep the ball on the court. Once again he reminds me that the closed racket face will do the work if I simply stroke through the ball.

We then transition to baseline drills in which I'm feed numerous balls at various points. This goes on until my tongue is hanging out. During this time his main points of emphasis are getting down for the ball, getting away from the ball and following through the ball. I think I'll be hearing that for many lessons to come. I'm starting to get the impression that my coach is not going to get too technical with me and show me the same things over and over again.

We then start to work on my one-handed backhand shots and, for the first time, he sees what I've got in that department. That does not last long and he wheels the ball cart over by me and says its time to breakdown my backhand stroke. He begins positively by stating that my body rotation to the ball is better than my forehand but that I open up my shoulder way to much on the stroke. As a point of emphasis he says to try and keep my chest parallel with the left touchline. He is simply bouncing balls in my hitting zone as I practice. He is also emphasising that I must hit the ball much earlier (in front of me) and that I, once again, need to have faith in the closed racket head and allow the follow through to keep the ball on the court.

One interesting point he makes is that I should not worry or focus on a fuller follow through with the backhand as he feels that will cause me to drive balls into the net or long. As always I have more success when I don't have to move around to much but after he moves back to the other side of the net things go downline as I'm once again challenged by properly reading the ball to insure I'm not to close and its far enough in front of me. He grinds me into the ground over the period of the next 20 minutes or so and then we call it a day. I'm exhausted and realizing that I need to continue to build upon my fitness.

RedWeb
09-04-2007, 05:10 AM
I had lesson #4 on Labor Day.

The evening before a friend of mine, of about equal talent, and I hit for a couple of hours playing a 2 out of 3 set match (which I won). We also play a fun game that we invented call "winners". Basically you play to 10 "big" points. Each rally begins with one person hitting a simple ground stroke to the other to start the point. You can then get points several different ways. If you win a normal point you get 1 "little" point. You have to get 4 "little" points in a row to get a "big" point. Once the opponent gets a "little" point you lose yours and have to start over.

You can get 1 "big" point directly by hitting a winner. A winner is defined as any shot that your opponent cannot get to before a second bounce. You can get 2 "big" points directly by hitting a winner that bounces twice before the opponent puts his racket on it, but the second bounce must hit past the baseline. With these rules it really pays off to try to get your racket on every ball no matter how impossible keeping the ball in play maybe. Its a lot of fun and sometimes you'll bust your butt just to get your racket on the ball to avoid the double bounce. It also encourages you to be aggressive and try and setup a winning double bouncer that lands behind the baseline.

Anyway, back to my lesson. Nothing different the first 15 minutes. Warmup at the service line then move back to the baseline for some more. We then go over the principles of the proper backhand again. I state that I often feel I have limited power on the backhand and he states that is probably caused by letting the ball get to far behind me and trying to brush up on it too much. He once again moves to my side of the court and feeds me ball after ball. I definitely sense improvement as I start to think and perform more of a direct hit through the ball. Once again he reminds me to keep my chest facing the side of the court.

I ask if my grip is ok. I pretty much use an eastern backhand grip. He says that is fine. Once again, as was the case with my forehand, he does not seem to be too concerned about how I'm holding the racket. I guess if I was totally wacky with my grip he would of noticed it and said something. We then return to the same drill, him feeding me balls at various locations on the forehand and backhand sides at a pace slightly faster than match play. I do ok but am wishing that I could be more accurate in ball placement. At this point I'm pretty much send it down the line or send it cross court. I read once that during practice Nadal was upset with his racket tension because he could not hit balls consistently within 6" of his target. Man, wouldn't that be nice.

The new USTA fall team season is almost here and I'm looking forward to seeing how my "new game" matches up against the competition. I need to get several matches in before the first team event as I'm starting to feel a little rusty in the match department. My next scheduled singles match is next Monday in the public parks league so that should help. I'm also going to try and get a couple of matches in against various hitting partners very soon. I should have my next lesson later this week. I'll keep reporting on my progress.

SFrazeur
09-04-2007, 06:43 AM
Thanks for continuing to share.

-SF

Puma
09-04-2007, 07:50 AM
Redweb,

Thanks for the posts, I have enjoyed them.

I have a couple of comments. Not that I am a good player, but, anyway...

I really respect your hard work. I live in Texas as well and it is hot as H*** during the day here. It takes dedication to do tennis in the middle of the day.

I can sense from your posts that you are a person who is dedicated to a cause and is willing to put in the work to achieve. Thats great! I am the same way. However, with me, one big weakness I have is that once I have put in the work and worked hard I expect results. One thing Tennis has taught me is that success takes time. It takes a lot of time. And this has been the biggest lesson I have learned. And for the most part, strokes don't win matches. I have been beaten by the worst strokes seen anywhere. The guy (3.5) who can cover the court and keep it in play is the guy who wins. And usually the guy who loses is the one who beat himself.

Take you time and enjoy the work. And whilst your out there in the Texas heat, remember there aren't many guys your age who can do what you are doing. Congrats on that....

Puma

RedWeb
09-04-2007, 10:32 AM
Puma,

I enjoyed reading your post and agree totally with your points.

I'm lucky in that I tolerate the heat fairly well. I've only suffered heat stroke once (refereeing soccer) and that certainly is not something I want to experience again. It took two liters of saline solution from the emergency room to get rid of the muscle cramps throughout my body.

Regarding tennis strokes, when I started playing I think a lot of my limited success was based upon the fact that I could get a lot of balls back into play no matter the fashion. While I'm not quick I am big, have a long reach and have good endurance. I won many a match against bigger hitters who were less consistent. But I was not happy with that as I knew that could only get me so far. Many opponents would comment on my unusual strokes mechanics and offer advice along the lines of "if you want to improve you need to do such and such".

It made sense to me that I would have to learn to hit the ball in a consistent manner to have a framework to build on. While I tried to do that on my own for a while I was less than pleased with the results. Reading books helped a little but I'm a visual learner so I figured lessons were the way to go. So far so good. I know I have a long way to go. But I'm starting to feel like I have a common set of criteria that I can judge my strokes against and too build a game around.

It will be a real challenge when I play the first upcoming USTA team match as to whether I keep with new, and probably less consistent, strokes as opposed to going back to "pushing" the ball around. I'll want to work on my game but not at the expense of a team point. Until then I'll keep working on the new strokes.

jgn1013
09-04-2007, 11:22 AM
I think we need videos of your new stroke. by the way I've also enjoyed reading your lessons.

burosky
09-05-2007, 02:03 PM
RedWeb, if there were more people here who are like you there would be fewer posts about quick fixes to their strokes/games. I just want to congratulate you on your great attitude towards learning this game we share. You may never hit the pro tour (like me and a huge majority of the posters here) but I have no doubt you will achieve your goals of playing at a higher level.

I know it is a tough decision to make whether to put a premium on winning for your league team or sticking with the strokes you are learning during a match. I would suggest putting a premium on sticking with the strokes though. Perhaps it would help to let your captain know in advance that this is your intention although this doesn't mean you will give less than 100% effort in winning the match. With this info it will be up to him if he still want to put you in the line up. It is important that you apply what you have learned in a match situation. This is when things click for some players. You could be one of them. Stay patient with those strokes. Learn to trust it as well. Keep in mind that as long as you execute them correctly, the results are secondary.

Good luck with your league and keep at it with your quest to improve your game. You will get there before you know it.

haozou
09-06-2007, 01:37 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience. I am currently in the same process. I have played for 2 years, and now I'm willing to sacrifice my game in the short term in order to improve in the long run by building some solid fundamentals. I have taken two classes so far, mainly focusing on forehand. My coach asked me to change from continental grip to semi-western and to start to play topspin. I used to stand straignt without bending my knees and in parallel to the net. Now I realize that I need to turn my trunk with a shoulder turn and stand on the sideway of the ball. But the timing is always off. I am not sure if my turn is early enough. In addition, I can generate some spins, but the power is not enough as the ball usually lands inside the service line. I don't know what causes that. Maybe I am not hitting low to high, or maybe my arm is not straight during swing and hitting. Can you or someone share some of your experience?

RedWeb
09-07-2007, 06:25 AM
I know it is a tough decision to make whether to put a premium on winning for your league team or sticking with the strokes you are learning during a match. I would suggest putting a premium on sticking with the strokes though...


I've played about 5 singles matches (2 "real" club league, 3 practice) since I started lessons. Each time I've gotten better but always seem to slip into periods of higher occurances of UEs. One particularily weaker area is my service return which I'm attempting to accomplish with a fairly full stroke in an effort to get as much practice/experience as possible. I plan on using my "new" strokes in all future matches (club league, USTA team, tournaments) and not look back. I may however have to revert back to blocking returns in some situations dependent upon how strong my opponent's serve is.

Even using my new strokes I'm as good or better than any other player on my USTA team so I doubt that my "journey" would effect the decision of what position I'll play. More than likely I'll be the #1 or #2 singles player. Due to my lack of playing experience we do have players who play a superior doubles game to me. Most of the guys are older, like me, and prefer playing doubles over singles anyway. I'm the opposite and find singles to be much more enjoyable.



Thanks for sharing your experience. I am currently in the same process...


Your welcome. Its always good to find others who are experiencing the same things as yourself. Makes the road a little less lonely. I've gained a lot from these boards and am attempting a little payback.


...I have played for 2 years, and now I'm willing to sacrifice my game in the short term in order to improve in the long run by building some solid fundamentals. I have taken two classes so far, mainly focusing on forehand. My coach asked me to change from continental grip to semi-western and to start to play topspin....


Luckily I'm not dealing with a grip change (yet) as I already used an eastern grip that drifted a little toward semi-western. I can see why you'd have to make the switch from a continental grip however. Thats just a little bit to much to the left (counter clock wise).


...I used to stand straight without bending my knees and in parallel to the net. Now I realize that I need to turn my trunk with a shoulder turn and stand on the sideway of the ball. But the timing is always off. I am not sure if my turn is early enough...


This is also a BIG challenge for me. I'm taller and older so bending the knees is harder to do. I'm in fairly good shape but I'm finding that playing tennis "properly" is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I can go out and run 3 miles in 21-22 minutes but attempting to properly hit 30 balls in a row feed from my coach is a lot tougher for me. I currently fighting a sore right calf, slight tennis elbow, a sore right shoulder and the new problem of blistering in the fatty part of my right hand. The last problem is being caused by having raised the butt of the racket higher in my palm. Tennis is very tough physically when done correctly. I'm having to reevaluate my entire workout routine and diet in an attempt to stay healthy and continue to progress with my game.


...In addition, I can generate some spins, but the power is not enough as the ball usually lands inside the service line. I don't know what causes that. Maybe I am not hitting low to high, or maybe my arm is not straight during swing and hitting. Can you or someone share some of your experience?...


I'll defer to more experienced players regarding advice for getting more power from your shots. I don't have that problem but, as stated, I'm a big guy. My problem is consistency and accuracy, so that is where I'm focusing. My guess is that most people will tell you those are more important than power (at least initially). Learn to hit the ball properly and the power will come. Yesterday I went out with my ball machine and hit 400-500 simple forehands just trying to get the ball to land near one of the same two targets over and over again. I'm just trying to build muscle and nerve memory.

RedWeb
09-07-2007, 06:31 AM
...I used to stand straignt without bending my knees and in parallel to the net. Now I realize that I need to turn my trunk with a shoulder turn and stand on the sideway of the ball. But the timing is always off. I am not sure if my turn is early enough...

While practicing over emphasis everything... shoulder turn, feet movement, follow through. If possible after you have practiced at your normal pace pick it up a bit and challenge yourself (turn up the speed on ball machine, have your partner feed balls faster, etc.). Then when you go back to normal pace it will seem slower and you'll be more relaxed. But don't lose that over emphasis.

haozou
09-07-2007, 09:26 AM
Thanks a lot for your reply. As you said, it feels better that I am not doing this alone. I tend to over emphasize things, and my wife always makes fun of it. I guess I will stick to that and keep practising and thinking. I have a coaching session today. So I will share more later.

PED
09-07-2007, 10:03 AM
This is a great thread. It's amazing the progress you can make if you put your mind to it. In the end, it all comes down to hard work in tennis and in life. I find the ball machine a great use for two reasons: extreme repetition of strokes and with the more advanced models you can run yourself to death. We have similar weather here in nc and those 100 degree days this summer were tough. I usually set the machine on random feed with the shots ranging all over the baseline, so that you MUST work to get in position for the shot.

We've got a place down in SC and when we go down for a week I always book time with the pro i use down there. We generally play every day and have moved from doing lessons to him simply beating the crap out of me, but the progress one makes from playing with someone better is worth every penny. I run a lot with my wife as well but as you mentioned it's a totally different effort than you one you make in tennis. The biggest difference I've found is footwork: the key is getting into position to make the shot! Please keep up your feedback it's really interesting

RedWeb
09-09-2007, 07:18 PM
I was hitting on my own (machine) over the weekend and my teaching pro happened to drop by the club. We had missed a lesson a day earlier due to a schedule mixup so we took the opportunity to make it up. Prior to this lesson I had practiced service for about an hour and hit 3 buckets of balls through the machine.

This lesson we focused on the backhand almost exclusively. My problems continue to center around getting to close to the ball, pulling the racket across my body and not getting down on the stroke.

Once again we went over the same basics as before. However after about 15 minutes of simple backhand practice we went to 10 side-to-side shots from the baseline then a short approach shot then 10 volleys followed by a final overshot smash. This was very challenging and totally wore me out.

I'm beginning to feel like we're spending a lot of time doing physically challenging drills but not covering the fundamentals or "secrets" of good stroke production. Am I crazy to feel this way? I certainly don't feel like my strokes are butter (closer to sour cream). Maybe he's just trying to drill the bad habits out of me.

On another note I've gotten to know another "old guy" who has been playing since he was about 10 and is trying to get back into playing shape. He admires my conditioning and offered to do drills with me and offer pointers. We hit today and I learned a couple of tips. One regarding footwork was not to cross my legs while moving from side to side on the baseline. The other was not leading with my elbow on backhand volleys. I look forward to more drill time with this seasoned veteran.

burosky
09-10-2007, 02:26 PM
On another note I've gotten to know another "old guy" who has been playing since he was about 10 and is trying to get back into playing shape. He admires my conditioning and offered to do drills with me and offer pointers. We hit today and I learned a couple of tips. One regarding footwork was not to cross my legs while moving from side to side on the baseline. The other was not leading with my elbow on backhand volleys. I look forward to more drill time with this seasoned veteran.

Just be a little cautious about taking tips from different people. I'm sure they all mean well. It is just that sometimes it may contradict what your teaching pro is trying to teach you. The guy you are talking about may have a ton of experience but depending on how "old" he is, he might have "old school" techniques. This could easily get you confused with what he is saying versus what your teaching pro says.

RedWeb
09-10-2007, 02:43 PM
... be a little cautious about taking tips from different people. The guy you are talking about may have a ton of experience but depending on how "old" he is, he might have "old school" techniques. This could easily get you confused with what he is saying versus what your teaching pro says...

Good cautionary advice. I'll keep that in mind.

Should I be concerned about more time spent drilling than discussing the finer points of stroke production?

RedWeb
09-11-2007, 11:26 AM
I had the strangest match last night. After three weeks away from competition because of Labor Day Holidays and business travel I was back for my normal Monday evening singles league. During the warmup I was judging my opponent's strokes and was thinking it would be a fairly easy outting because, to put it mildly, he had the weirdest strokes I'd ever seen. It was like playing a water bug that used a genshu knife as a racket. He held the racket about 1/2 way up the handle. His backhand was always a wicked undercut thing that caused the ball to barely go over the net and when it hit the ground buzz around like a mosquito. His forehand went from the same backslice as the backhand or a top spin lob that hit at the service line and bounced above my 6'3" head while I was at the baseline. His serve came at me like a lefty's would but he served right handed. His service action was too hold the racket with his palm facing up then cut over the ball from the outside from right to left as opposed to a traditional serve.

So here I am trying to work on my new ground strokes and I'm finding I have no familar target or pace to deal with. Aaauuugghhhh!! Talk about frustrating!! Every shot he took had tremendous spin on it and he almost never hit it past the service line except on those crazy top-spin lobs. Too make matters worse my opponent was very animated and did not sit down the whole match. He never talked to me except for introductions and after the match, however, he repeated the score, twice, every time I called it out. If I said "30-15" he'd say "yes, 30-15, 30-15, yes". He also said "YES!" every time something positive happened for him, even if it was a sloppy error on my part on an easy shot. Too make matters worse there were at least 3 out calls that I'm positive were good.

So by the time I tried to regain my senses I had lost the first set 1-6. Although he always wanted to immediately change sides I decided I would take a break put a towel over my head and think about what I'd have to get back in the match. I'd continue to take a rest on all changeovers the rest of the match as well. So what was my plan? First, I'd have to let go of my anger. I was mad that I thought I got robbed on some calls. I was upset that this guy wasn't giving me any "normal" shots to hit. I was mad that he repeated the score all the time. I was mad that he said "YES!" when I shanked off shots. I was angry that I couldn't seem to do anything with my strokes, besides hit into the net or against the back fence. I knew that he could not consistently pass me at the net so I decided to keep the ball deep and try and come in at all possible times. Rather than try to hit angled winners, which I hit of ton into the net in the 1st set, I would volley back deep right at his feet so he had no angle for his slices and limited time to react. I would also hit a less aggressive spinning 1st serve and follow it in rather than go for flatter winners.

With this in mind I changed to a dry shirt and started battling for the second set. It was close on his service games but I was holding my own fairly easy. I relaxed a little and that helped give me a higher toss and more consistent placement. It came down to 5-4 and I broke him to win it 6-4. Now that I was back on even ground I felt better especially since I had decided to not get into the push, slice and dice game with him.

Playing conservatively at the net continued to pay off during the third set as my unforced errors had almost all disappeared. He'd win a few points lobbing over me on shots that I could of probably put away, but the truth was that his shots had so much action on them that I would of missed some of those winner attempts. Hitting right back at him gave me some level of safety yet let me stay the aggressor. I ended up winning the 3rd set 6-2. During the final game I hit two nice down the line forehand winners that I felt really good about.

After the match he immediately told me that he was happy that he had done so well against me as he thought I was the player to beat in this league. He also apologized for some of his strange mannerisms and actions. He explained that he had a mild form of dyslexia that he had to battle during physical activities. Man, was I glad I had not gone off on him during the match about some calls and his behavior (I didn't mention several of the other strange things he did.) He ended up being a super nice guy! He told me about his young son who had some of the same challenges as he did. I will try to remember this match as a sign that holding your anger and focusing on hitting the ball and playing your best as a sportsman is what should be done.

burosky
09-11-2007, 01:51 PM
Bravo! This is soooooooo text book. Amazing how keeping your head does wonders for your game and your soul! I hope all those people who have trouble playing with similar opponents can read this. They can certainly use this as a recipe for handling those kinds of opponents.

Your "stick-to-itiveness" is starting to pay off. You are now "officially" on your way to playing higher level tennis. Congratulations on a great win and thank you for sharing the experience.

jgn1013
09-12-2007, 05:01 AM
great read, I also had a similar match like yourself however the out come was not so good. I played a guy in my kswiss finals, felt very good about the match. The 1st set i won 6-2 but loss the 2nd 4-6. the reason was he just started blocking everything back, not making any errors relying on me to be the aggressive player from the base line.

I notice this during the 2nd set so I decide I would play his game but did not really have a strategy for putting away shots. I hit it back without pace but could not keep my patience and ended up giving away a couple of games. After taking a 5 minute break for the last set I told myself to be patient but did not follow my plan. I came out swinging, try to hit winners off his short balls ended up with tons of UE because I was already out of rhythm. What i should have done was hit deep shots and come to the net, which I'm not very comfortable doing but it would have been better then trying to kill the balls. I ended up losing the last set 0-6.

I know i am a better player with better strokes than that guy but to his credit he played a different style than most so if I want to be better i need to adjust.

predrag
09-12-2007, 07:09 AM
[snip]
-I would never schedule someone for two lessons a week unless that was something they specifically asked me about.
[snip]


I don't agree here.
I noticed a huge difference when I was having lessons more often with my students.
Learning curve was much steeper.
Some of them were high school players who actually had practices during that time.
Still, correct instruction, more often made a difference.

Regards, Predrag

RedWeb
09-13-2007, 08:37 AM
... I know i am a better player with better strokes than that guy but to his credit he played a different style than most so if I want to be better i need to adjust...

jgn1013, based upon your positive attitude and the learning experience you just had my guess is that next time you'll have success against someone who is not feeding you "normal" balls.

RedWeb
09-13-2007, 08:40 AM
I don't agree here.
I noticed a huge difference when I was having lessons more often with my students.
Learning curve was much steeper.
Some of them were high school players who actually had practices during that time.
Still, correct instruction, more often made a difference.

Regards, Predrag

Predrag, NoBadMojo, I'm still on the fence on the issue of lesson frequency. As I predicted scheduling two lessons a week has actually ended at about 3 lessons every two weeks. My business schedule and unexpected mixups (on both our parts) have caused some holes in the schedule. If I had to choose between one or two lessons a week at this point I'd probably lean toward two. Of course for me the financial implications of that decision are not the deciding factor that it might be for others (but don't tell my wife I'm taking two a week!).

RedWeb
09-13-2007, 10:33 AM
This lesson my coach introduced a new term - "contour the ball". For some reason this phrase struck a cord with me and allowed a clearer mental picture of what the racket should do during ball contact. My mental intrepetation was an image of the racket wrapping or encircling the ball. This seemed to allow me to get more action over the ball and keep it down more consistently. We spent the majority of our hitting time working the forehand and constantly going over the implications of this new term. He also talked about hitting the ball earlier and out in front slightly more than I had in the past.

About 1/2 way through the lesson we took a break and I told him about my experience in the Monday night match when I was facing Mr. Slice and Dice. I complained that it was a common problem for me having to deal with shots that were not "normal" or where I had to generate my own pace. My coach decided that we would rally the rest of the lesson and use that opportunity to access why I was having problems. He would return normal shots to me but also throw "junk" my way to see how I dealt with it.

Several interesting observations came out of this work. First, I'm not very good at reading the ball's path. This practice was at night and I definitely have more issues with perceiving ball depth at night. Second, I'm consistently overrunning balls and then trying move away from them once I discover I've come to close. Third, I tend, to certain degree, to lapse into my old swing patterns the longer a slow ball rally continues. Some suggestions to address the problems mentioned included: thinking about recovering faster directly after I hit my shot instead of watching the results of my swing; moving a couple of steps closer into the court; focusing on keeping the appropriate distance from the ball; slowing myself down when it is not necessary to sprint to a point for a successful return; concentrating on proper swing technique no matter what my opponents ball is doing.

My coach assured me that there would come a day dinky shots and weak slices would be meat on my table. That would come with practice, a more consistent stroke and confidence. He told me that I should really work on developing a stroke that I was 100% confident in and that would allow me to rally "all day" without worry. He said that I should expect a comfort level during which time I could hit 100 shots back and forth with no problem. Once that was in place then I could be taught how to produce the "winner" shot.

burosky
09-13-2007, 12:01 PM
All excellent observations. Just a couple of things I want to share. You can run, scramble, what ever you want to call it, towards the ball as fast as you can but as you get closer, you want to slow down and take small adjustment steps so when you get to the ball your feet are already in position to hit. You can easily spot this footwork while watching high level matches. They may start with long strides but as they get close to the ball the strides become increasingly and noticeably shorter. This will also give you the proper balance which will allow you to recover quicker.

The other thing I want to share is a way to look at those dinky shots. For some reason, dinky shots trigger something in a lot of players that make them feel like they have to hit a winner or a put away off of those balls. For me, I don't focus on whether I hit a winner or put away. I focus only on hitting the appropriate shot. If it results in a winner or put away, that is just a by-product of hitting the appropriate shot. A volley hit with exteme angle that draws ooohs and aaahs gets you the same 1 point as when you hit a routine volley that either results in a forced or unforced error. The same can be said for hitting a mid-court sitter.

Your coach is right. You need to develop a dependable stroke first before learning a "winner" stroke. You need a dependable stroke to be able to construct points. If you don't construct points, the degree of difficulty for hitting a winner is quite high. This is why for some, dinky shots forces a lot of unforced errors.

SFrazeur
09-13-2007, 02:12 PM
I don't agree here.
I noticed a huge difference when I was having lessons more often with my students.
Learning curve was much steeper.
Some of them were high school players who actually had practices during that time.
Still, correct instruction, more often made a difference.

Regards, Predrag

Quite. One size fits mosts, does not fit some. Everyone learns a bit differently. The times and length people take lessons should be played with (tested) when possible.
The difference in teaching some people in the morning compared to the evening hours can be astonishing, and visa versa.

-SF

Cindysphinx
09-13-2007, 07:42 PM
I'm beginning to feel like we're spending a lot of time doing physically challenging drills but not covering the fundamentals or "secrets" of good stroke production. Am I crazy to feel this way? I certainly don't feel like my strokes are butter (closer to sour cream). Maybe he's just trying to drill the bad habits out of me.



First, this thread is amazing! Consider me another fan, RedWeb.

I haven't made it all the way to the end, but I've read your account of your lessons. Some things are the same as my lessons, some things are different (I'm just a student taking lessons, not an instructor like many here). I did want to react to the quoted bit above, because if I don't do it now, I'll forget!

One difference I notice between your pro and mine is that mine doesn't run me around or feed balls to different places on the court until I am hitting the stroke correctly. From your account, your pro has given you a great lot to think about on your forehand. You're changing a lot of things about that stroke. I don't think you need the extra challenge of positioning yourself correctly for the stroke and running side-to-side until you've shown you can hit it with some consistency, doing each of the things you're supposed to be doing on each shot.

On the whole, it sounds like you're moving *very* quickly here. You haven't mastered the forehand and grooved it, yet you're already hitting the forehand from different places on the court, working on backhand, switching from forehand to backhand, and I think I heard something about volleys in there too. That is a ton of stuff to be breaking down and re-learning all at once.

It might pay dividends to slow everything down and really own that forehand before you start hitting running forehands, and then turn your attention to the backhand.

Then again, maybe I'm a slow learner, as I've had weekly lessons since May and we are *still* trying to tweak some things on the forehand to coax out more power. It's tons better, but I'm still not generating enough power with my legs and tend to be too "arm-y."

Anyway, my suggestion is to think to yourself about whether *you* want to slow things down. Go back to the forehand, and work that sucker until it is a thing of beauty. Learn the footwork of running around it. Get comfortable with it as a service return, inside-out, sharply angled, and also as a topspin approach shot. Once it is starting to feel automatic -- once you aren't telling yourself to finish over your shoulder -- then get after that backhand. You might decide that slowing down isn't the right thing for you, but it is something to consider.

Just my 2 cents. Now, back to reading your fascinating account!

Cindy -- whose blog of her own lessons would read "Lesson 40: Oh, man. I still suck."

RedWeb
11-12-2007, 11:44 AM
Cindy,

As you suggested I have slowed it down for several reasons. I've now completed lessons 11-20. To read my thoughts about that experience see the link below.

To read part 2 click here. (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=166448)

Tennismastery
11-12-2007, 01:26 PM
Regarding the concept of lesson frequency, it is not only very individual, but studies have shown that those who take fewer lessons but "Think" about tennis consistently during the days off improved better than those who took more lessons but seldom thought about tennis inbetween.

Obviously, today we have so many resources that we can "think" about tennis inbetween...with all the web sites dedicated to tennis instruction, a player can create a visual understanding of what they want to be doing on the court far more than when I was growing up in the early 70's playing the game.

Regarding the concept of 'contouring' the ball...I'm all for any analogy/phrase that helps players master certain hitting concepts. However, the discription that Redweb used in his perception of "wrapping" the ball might create a perception of 'rolling' or 'covering' the ball which is not what you want to do in creating topspin or even slice (as in 'dishing' the ball). Yet, if it gets you to feel the ball in hitting a correct topspin stroke, then heck...it worked! For you!

I prefer to use the phrase "keep the plane the same" in discussing topspin, slice or even flat strokes, (which are not usually as desirable!). Anytime we rotate the racquet face within the hitting zone, we decrease the relability of the stroke and our ability to aim is diminished.

One of the reasons some 'hackers' can be so effective is that even within their hacking-styled shots, they keep the plane the same and are able to control such shots to the point that they can place the ball well on command and even benefit from the crazy spin that some of these unconventional shots have.

Just a few points to ponder!

spiritboy3
11-12-2007, 01:44 PM
where do u live in dallas??

RedWeb
11-12-2007, 03:50 PM
Just a few points to ponder!

Dave, first of all love your book. Have read it from cover to cover. It now has an honored place in the master bathroom along with Winning Ugly and Vision Tennis.

I agree with all your points. I think using "contour" was one of my pro's ways of getting me to hit less up on the ball and kept the racket head closed.

For a period (and it still continues off and on) keeping the plane the same was difficult for me and my game suffered (UEs shot up) as I began to make significant changes to develop a framework/style that I could progress with. Now things are starting to come together somewhat.

RedWeb
11-12-2007, 03:51 PM
where do u live in dallas??

North Dallas Area.

Tennismastery
11-13-2007, 05:26 AM
Dave, first of all love your book. Have read it from cover to cover. It now has an honored place in the master bathroom along with Winning Ugly and Vision Tennis.

I agree with all your points. I think using "contour" was one of my pro's ways of getting me to hit less up on the ball and kept the racket head closed.

For a period (and it still continues off and on) keeping the plane the same was difficult for me and my game suffered (UEs shot up) as I began to make significant changes to develop a framework/style that I could progress with. Now things are starting to come together somewhat.

ReWeb, thank you for your comments about my book! It is endearing to know that it has been of some help! (Especially knowing it is kept in your master bathroom!)

I understand about using phrases that may or may not be ideal...but find a way to help the student along. As long as the student understands the concept or desired stroke pattern and is not developing bad habits, anything goes!

Best wishes on continued improvement and progression towards better play!