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View Full Version : Placement beats power: well, for me.


Oxford
04-07-2008, 12:25 AM
I am a 3.5 player and love to wail on balls from the baseline. Heck, who doesn't love the feeling of a heavy, top-spinning ball blasting from your strings?

My placement (side to side and front to back) was not as important to me as my whack-attack game. But I never really felt it was as effective as I thought it should be...:oops: And it wasn't

Ya see... even with my "missiles from hell" lotta guys and (ladies) could smack them back :shock: until one of us machoed into the net. Often me :cry:

So recently I have been focusing on better placement combined with simple strategies (Thank you "Winning Ugly") and power when necessary. And now I am winning WAAAYYY more points and watching opponents sucking air from running all over the place.

Funny how we see the pros firing rockets and we often want to hit like them and forget how important (and maybe moreso) simple angles and placement really are.

As balls are coming to me, I keep a slight glance on where my opponent is and is heading and select my best options. And it's often NOT a powershot.

Sure, basic stuff but I feel too often overlooked by too many players who live for a power game.

I have been trashed too many times by old, fat guys who were solid 4.5 tournament players in their prime. They would always hit these simple shots where I wasn't or make me run where I didn't want to go.

Now I get it.


OX

...slow learner but figuring it out ;)

35ft6
04-07-2008, 01:26 AM
Placement beats power for sure. Depth too.

Nellie
04-07-2008, 05:48 AM
I have never taken a beating except from guys who really paint the lines on serves. 80 mph serves (medium amateur pace) that can be consistently sent to either side lines, are almost unreturnable.

k_liu
04-07-2008, 06:01 AM
I hate to admitted but I've been beaten by old fat guys too. Now I give them a taste of their own medicine: place the ball with depth and move them from side to side to wear them out. I still go for the big shots every now and then.

Mr. Blond
04-07-2008, 06:04 AM
I always tell my students that if you hit the ball hard and flat to your opponent all they have to do is put a racquet on it and use your pace to get the ball back. Also, if you hit a fast paced shot, expect a fast paced shot to come back, so your foot work better be up to snuf.

placement on shots will always win out in recreational tennis.

The number one factor that wins matches is consistency in shots with placement second to that.

Power is somewhere down the list in like 3rd for 4th place.

zebano
04-07-2008, 06:10 AM
I'm 28 NTRP 3.5 and was beaten by a 65 year old guy last Friday (4-6; 2-6). I've never beaten him. To be fair, he still runs marathons, so he's not out of shape, but hes not fast. What he does do is place the ball where he wants and he makes very few unforced errors.

On the other hand, my backhand was not reliable at all. I couldn't even hit it topspin crosscourt which is usually automatic. When I sliced, it kept falling short and setting him up for short angles.

So strategies were simple. He hit to my backhand, I ran around them and tried to get to the net where I was very successful (a high point was that I missed no overheads, which are usually a weakness for me). He was also content to moonball my serves back deep when I started serve & volleying.

Placement is king.

WBF
04-07-2008, 06:20 AM
It's all statistics.

While hitting harder may slightly increase your chance of hitting a winner or forcing an error, the vast majority of the time the lower probability of you making this hard shot will negate any benefit. The best shots you can hit are the ones that put your opponent off balance, while minimizing your own risk. (Depends on the opponent and your own ability, but here are examples) Deep balls. High, kicking balls to their backhand. Mixing in short, low bouncing balls. Hitting reasonable angles, then behind the recovering opponent. None of these shots require extraordinary power, and most are quite safe.

You obviously don't want to neglect the power aspect of your game, but power should not be the focus. Focus on hitting the ball with as much control as possible, and as you progress as a player, you should find that you can slowly increase your power while maintaining consistency. Eventually, if you work hard enough, you should be able to master both, leading to the ability to hit *safe* powerful groundstrokes mixed in with the rest of your arsenal, leading to more variety, and more options when constructing points.

Of course, some people go the opposite road, and bash the ball at every opportunity that they get, and focus on control afterwards. I did this. Didn't help much in college, and now that I'm getting more experience at higher levels of the game, I'm starting to realize how silly it was.

Bungalo Bill
04-07-2008, 06:23 AM
I am a 3.5 player and love to wail on balls from the baseline. Heck, who doesn't love the feeling of a heavy, top-spinning ball blasting from your strings?

My placement (side to side and front to back) was not as important to me as my whack-attack game. But I never really felt it was as effective as I thought it should be...:oops: And it wasn't

Ya see... even with my "missiles from hell" lotta guys and (ladies) could smack them back :shock: until one of use machoed into the net. Often me :cry:

So recently I have been focusing on better placement combined with simple strategies (Thank you "Winning Ugly") and power when necessary. And now I am winning WAAAYYY more points and watching opponents sucking air from running all over the place.

Funny how we see the pros firing rockets and we often want to hit like them and forget how important (and maybe moreso) simple angles and placement really are.

As balls are coming to me, I keep a slight glance on where my opponent is and is heading and select my best options. And it's often NOT a powershot.

Sure, basic stuff but I feel too often overlooked by too many players who live for a power game.

I have been trashed too many times by old, fat guys who were solid 4.5 tournament players in their prime. They would always hit these simple shots where I wasn't or make me run where I didn't want to go.

Now I get it.


OX

...slow learner but figuring it out ;)

Go for:

1. Consistency

2. Placement

3. Depth

4. Power

Loco4Tennis
04-07-2008, 06:29 AM
i seriouly beleive control over power is like a right-of-passage to the higher ntrp rating levels, 3.5 and above,
thats arround when you start to realise how to beat a pusher, waiting when you can use your power, and rather use more placement to get into a possition to do so

TennisProdigy
04-07-2008, 06:56 AM
Placement and power plus consistency and good depth is a right-of-passage into the even higher ntrp levels, 4.5 and up.

If you're worried about the margin thing, learn to hit with topspin!

A.Davidson
04-07-2008, 07:17 AM
Placement beats power for sure. Depth too.

The first thing I do after the basics (watch the ball, etc.) when losing is to make sure that I am GETTING THE BALL DEEP!

Too many players (pros, too!) today let the ball bounce at or before the service line, which is just not a great position to be in.

WBF
04-07-2008, 07:22 AM
The first thing I do after the basics (watch the ball, etc.) when losing is to make sure that I am GETTING THE BALL DEEP!

Too many players (pros, too!) today let the ball bounce at or before the service line, which is just not a great position to be in.

I think BB covers this pretty well. Consistency and placement should take precedence over depth. Hitting deep balls is certainly important, but there will be times when attempting to do so will result in a lower percentage shot, or where hitting a short, but well placed ball would be more effective.

Oxford
04-07-2008, 07:55 AM
Thanks for the replies :)

I do still use power but not as much as before.

I've now learned to first study the tendencies and weaknesses of my opponent and test them out. And then build points around them...which often means waiting and creating opportunities, playing defensively and keeping the ball deep. Patience is key for me now. Often i will just win points by keeping the ball in play and letting them hit it out or into the net. DOHT!!!:shock:

I guess this is the maturation process in moving to the next level. I do have a nice strong topspin FH and BH and a bunch of other shots are showing up (lobs, slices, drop shots) but the one-dimensional, power-monkey-on-crack game is gone.

ox

jb193
04-07-2008, 07:59 AM
The thing about control and placement is that a lot of people (myself included) think they have mastered this before they have. I always used to think I hit deep shots with control generally speaking whenever I wanted to. I then started playing an advanced player regularly who revealed through match play that my depth on my backhand side was not what I had thought and he ate me alive with his version of depth and placement (along with solid pace). That was a hard lesson, but a great one.......

Bungalo Bill
04-07-2008, 08:14 AM
The thing about control and placement is that a lot of people (myself included) think they have mastered this before they have...

Amen to that. Fundamentals in strokes also includes fundamentals in how you hit and think of hitting the ball.

Supernatural_Serve
04-07-2008, 09:29 AM
I think BB covers this pretty well. Consistency and placement should take precedence over depth. Hitting deep balls is certainly important, but there will be times when attempting to do so will result in a lower percentage shot, or where hitting a short, but well placed ball would be more effective.An argument can readily be made that 3.5s fundamental focus should be hitting with consistency with primary focus on the ability to hit a ball deep.

I am not disagreeing with your point about many 3.5 or any match situations requiring a well placed short ball being superior to a deep ball, but in my opinion the ability to hit short well placed balls is secondary to the ability to hit with consistency and depth for 3.5s and it shows in match scores.

All these things are important of course, but for me a person's level and ability dictates primacy of focus until a person reaches a level where they are all givens.

tzinc
04-07-2008, 09:59 AM
This is obvious but if you hit the ball short make sure your opponent cannot get to that ball (they will burn you) otherwise hit deep.

bank5
04-07-2008, 10:05 AM
I definitely agree with Oxford and the general consensus. I started playing at the 3.5 level a couple of years ago and realized that consistency is key! In a 3.5 match there are FAR more unforced errors than winners, so if you're more consistent than your opponent, you'll win the vast majority of your matches. Once you move up to the 4.0s you can work more on power or a "weapon".

I used to get annoyed playing 3.5 players who would swing for the fences almost every time. They would often say the same thing "my game is really off today" but I would always think the same thing "tennis is a lot more fun when you don't double fault 10 times a match and when points last longer than 3 shots"

Bungalo Bill
04-07-2008, 10:08 AM
An argument can readily be made that 3.5s fundamental focus should be hitting with consistency with primary focus on the ability to hit a ball deep.

I am not disagreeing with your point about many 3.5 or any match situations requiring a well placed short ball being superior to a deep ball, but in my opinion the ability to hit short well placed balls is secondary to the ability to hit with consistency and depth for 3.5s and it shows in match scores.

All these things are important of course, but for me a person's level and ability dictates primacy of focus until a person reaches a level where they are all givens.

I think we are all agreeing on the same thing but saying it in different ways.

Clearly, consistency is most important of all the elements of hitting a ball.

With the ball coming towards us we can have varying degrees of spin, trajectory, pace, and depth which makes consistency the most important aspect in the development of our games. Place our temperments, style of play, our acceptance of risk, and it is easy to see how consistency is thee #1 thing to develop at every level.

Even though I put Placement next and depth after that, they are really very much tied together. Obviously, they can be separated or one could include depth in the placement category because to much depth can pose risk to a players consistency.

Power on the other hand does not mean what we normally think it means. The blasting of the ball. I think we need some intelligence in this word. Power to me means the controlled use of power to add velocity to the ball to help us do more with the point we are in. However, IMO, power is easily the most abused and should take a support role and not the lead role to the other three elements of hitting a tennis ball.

H. Ju
04-07-2008, 10:14 AM
i seriouly beleive control over power is like a right-of-passage to the higher ntrp rating levels, 3.5 and above,
thats arround when you start to realise how to beat a pusher, waiting when you can use your power, and rather use more placement to get into a possition to do so

I agree, agree, and agree.

Supernatural_Serve
04-07-2008, 11:14 AM
Power on the other hand does not mean what we normally think it means. The blasting of the ball. I think we need some intelligence in this word. Power to me means the controlled use of power to add velocity to the ball to help us do more with the point we are in. However, IMO, power is easily the most abused and should take a support role and not the lead role to the other three elements of hitting a tennis ball.That's an excellent definition of power. Especially the concept of achieving something in the point with the right power at the right time. I have a couple of views of my own power issues and I relate them to gears in a vehicle transmission.

Defensive power - 1st Gear(<60%): use as little power as possible to stay in the point and hopefully hit the ball deep. I'm in a bad spot with the ball that's given to me, anything but defensive or blocking power will probably result in an error. Useful against big serves too.

Groove power - 2nd Gear (60-80%): the power used at 4.0 to hit 40 balls, (3.5 20 balls?) in a row nice and deep or near a target anywhere on the court.

Its neither offensive or defensive. Its high consistency, depth, and placement gear.

This is the power people should be using, but don't often enough.

Pushers get it though. They live in this gear whether they push the ball or not.

A fine gear to be in to watch opponent's errors mount.

Offensive power - 3rd Gear (80-90%): the power used to threaten the opponent. A weapon has been engaged. Elements of consistency and placement risk emerge. I am trying to do something meaningful in the point through the use of power and put my opponent on the defensive while I go offensive. Generally, safe when used on the right ball at the right time.

Way too many 3.5 points are lost when misusing this gear but an essential gear at 4.0, and essential across a wide range of balls at 4.5 and up.

Winner power - 4th Gear (90-95%): the power needed to end the point on the right ball. Using this more than sparingly isn't smart tennis at 3.5 or 4.0. Best used when the ball is comfortably attackable, balance, footwork, and timing challenges are minimal.

Sometimes ones in matches where one doesn't even need to use this gear at all. Yet, plenty of 3.5s won't even consider not using it.

Idiot power - 5th Gear (95-110%): the power used to hit a ball off the back fence/curtain. Use this when I really hate myself or having a mental fit on the court.

Oxford
04-07-2008, 11:18 AM
"tennis is a lot more fun when you don't double fault 10 times a match and when points last longer than 3 shots"

HEY...have you been spying on my games for the last 6 months????:shock:

LOL

ox

Bungalo Bill
04-07-2008, 11:21 AM
That's an excellent definition of power. Especially the concept of achieving something in the point with the right power at the right time. I have a couple of views of my own power issues and I relate them to gears in a vehicle transmission.

Defensive power - 1st Gear(<60%): use as little power as possible to stay in the point and hopefully hit the ball deep. I'm in a bad spot with the ball that's given to me, anything but defensive or blocking power will probably result in an error. Useful against big serves too.

Groove power - 2nd Gear (60-80%): the power used at 4.0 to hit 40 balls, (3.5 20 balls?) in a row nice and deep or near a target anywhere on the court.

Its neither offensive or defensive. Its high consistency, depth, and placement gear.

This is the power people should be using, but don't often enough.

Pushers get it though. They live in this gear whether they push the ball or not.

A fine gear to be in to watch opponent's errors mount.

Offensive power - 3rd Gear (80-90%): the power used to threaten the opponent. A weapon has been engaged. Elements of consistency and placement risk emerge. I am trying to do something meaningful in the point through the use of power and put my opponent on the defensive while I go offensive. Generally, safe when used on the right ball at the right time.

Way too many 3.5 points are lost when misusing this gear but an essential gear at 4.0, and essential across a wide range of balls at 4.5 and up.

Winner power - 4th Gear (90-95%): the power needed to end the point on the right ball. Using this more than sparingly isn't smart tennis at 3.5 or 4.0. Best used when the ball is comfortably attackable, balance, footwork, and timing challenges are minimal.

Sometimes ones in matches where one doesn't even need to use this gear at all. Yet, plenty of 3.5s won't even consider not using it.

Idiot power - 5th Gear (95-110%): the power used to hit a ball off the back fence/curtain. Use this when I really hate myself or having a mental fit on the court.

That is excellent! If I ever write a book on "what a tennis player needs to know" or produce an interactive DVD on it, I would like to use this. Someday, I am going to gather all my tips here and put it into an easy to understand book or other medium for the complete tennis player. It will be no nonsense straight talk.

smoothtennis
04-07-2008, 11:49 AM
SuperNatural Serve - I agree, excellent description of the use of 'power'.

I am a reformed '95% ball basher'! It was hard to change - but after denting the back fence about 500 times, you do realize you don't own that.

I like to say, If you can't keep it in the court - IT 'AINT POWER!

Supernatural_Serve
04-07-2008, 12:17 PM
SuperNatural Serve - I agree, excellent description of the use of 'power'.

I am a reformed '95% ball basher'! It was hard to change - but after denting the back fence about 500 times, you do realize you don't own that.

I like to say, If you can't keep it in the court - IT 'AINT POWER!Almost all of us are reformed ball bashers and we all "fall off the wagon" from time to time because to be a tennis player is by definition to be someone who misuses power on the court. The big racquet, the bright ball, the testosterone, its inevitable.

The smart players

1. get reformed but usually after losing repeatedly to people they believe suck, after bouts of anger and frustration, and coming to recognize that unique yet seemingly widespread tennis phenomenon - remembering the 2 amazing winners hit in the match and none of the 2 dozen errors during a 3 3 loss),

2. stick to the consistency, controlled power program, and

3. keep their falls off the wagon to a minimum.

Supernatural_Serve
04-07-2008, 12:35 PM
That is excellent! If I ever write a book on "what a tennis player needs to know" or produce an interactive DVD on it, I would like to use this.Thanks. Good luck producing what might be called the reduction to essential thoughts in tennis. Gilbert's book is a good example of a reduction book. Dense with useful information.

Anyone learning the essential thoughts on power, how to use it, and not misuse it, would be a HUGE asset for anyone to internalize. It took me at least 15 years of playing to "get it" about power. That's a lot of opportunity missed and unnecessary frustration.