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View Full Version : How Come Tennis Players Don't Have Mirrors?


Cindysphinx
05-03-2009, 10:36 PM
I had a conversation with a lady who is a teammate and doubles partner today. It went kind of like this.

This lady (I'll call her Linda) had arranged a practice foursome, and Linda partnered with Angela. Angela is also someone I partner with frequently, so I know her game also. As Linda is driving home, she called and we talked about many things.

One of these things was how Angela had played. Angela has poor volleys. Very poor. The things that are wrong with Angela's volleys are her footwork, grip, weight transfer, wrist position, backswing, shoulder turn . . . you get the idea. Ah well, so Angela has these deficiencies, but heck, we all stink at something when it comes to tennis or we'd be pros, right?

What struck me about the conversation was that Linda came right out and told Angela that Angela needed to work on her volleys. That Angela needed to spend her lesson time shoring up her BH volleys etc. This is all true, although it was mighty bold of Linda to come right out and say it.

But the weird thing is that Linda can't volley either. Not a lick. Linda's volleys have all the same technical deficiencies as Angela's. Linda spends most of her own practice and lesson time working on her already good serve and her groundstrokes. Yet Linda is lecturing Angela on the importance of working on her volleys. So Linda can see that volleys matter in doubles, that poor volley technique yields poor volleys, that it is very frustrating when your doubles partner is helpless at net. But Linda can't look in the mirror and see herself, even a little bit.

I guess I am in something of a philosophical mood today, 'cause I've been thinking about this conversation all night. What is it that causes players to be exquisitely sensitive to the deficiencies in another player's game yet have no idea that they have the very same deficiencies? It's almost like we lack the ability to look at the game of someone else and say, "Ugh. She's doing horribly with that type of shot. Maybe I am just as bad, since I get the same result when I do it." Nope, we can't seem to see farther than "Oh man, she's awful at that shot."

How common is this, and what causes it, do you suppose? I mean, we all get pretty regular feedback about our tennis. If you are playing a match and you are losing most of your points because of your BH, this cannot escape your attention. Or can it? Is it possible that players honestly do not know which shots are the ones costing them points? If they do know, then what is it that causes them not to move heaven and earth to improve that aspect of their game?

Maybe it is just my idiosyncratic experience with tennis, but it really does seem to me that players are loathe to do the things at which they are least successful. Even though working on that one thing is perhaps the easiest path to success.

Is there any truth in all of that?

maverick66
05-03-2009, 10:49 PM
If you watch a tennis match it is very easy to see what is going on in the match if you know your tennis. I can watch a match and tell you exactly what there doing and what there strategy is and what adjustments should be made. At the same time when i was in a match i would fall into playing the same way right through the entire match. Even if it was failing i would continue to play a certain way.

So my point is its easier to see fault in others than to think we have faults of our own. I have met a good amount of people that do what you just described. When i played tournies all you would hear was other players bad mouthing other peoples strokes when they just got killed in the first round.

Cindysphinx
05-03-2009, 11:06 PM
Yeah, I get that. But in the heat of the match, I can understand how a player might not be able to analyze what exactly is going on.

Plus, it takes guts to adjust. We all come out playing our "A" game, the game that we think is going to make us win. When we start losing, it is awfully hard to have faith in your "B" game. After all, if "B" were better than "A", then "B" would be "A" in the first place, right?

larry10s
05-04-2009, 04:29 AM
first concept denial. inability to face reality about yourself. that is why video taping yourself playing is invaluable for self improvement. the camera doesnt lie yet it still takes awhile to accept you really look like that!!. second is transference. you take what you dont like and transfer it to someone else.

larry10s
05-04-2009, 04:38 AM
Yeah, I get that. But in the heat of the match, I can understand how a player might not be able to analyze what exactly is going on.

Plus, it takes guts to adjust. We all come out playing our "A" game, the game that we think is going to make us win. When we start losing, it is awfully hard to have faith in your "B" game. After all, if "B" were better than "A", then "B" would be "A" in the first place, right?a game and b game can be more about strategy/tactics . for example you think you have a great forehand return of serve. your opponent serves and volleys and take your "great" forehand return ov serve and easily hits forcing first volleies. plan b might be take your great forehand and lob over the net player. even tho when your forehand return is working you get a weak reply back (plan A) you have to realize its not working and go to plan b. another example. you start at 1 up 1back .your partner has a weak serve and you are eating the ball. you resort to 2 back. during a match you figure out one player is stronger than the other. even if its the "wrong" shot you pick on the weaker player rather than getting beat by the stronger player by hitting the ball in their direction even if its the "right" shot

larry10s
05-04-2009, 04:42 AM
i played a guy in singles. after the match he made a comment he "liked" my forehand. good pace fell into his stike zone and he loved hitting it.(btw he had alot of forehand winners). next time we played he minly saw loopers to his forehand or slices and i won the match. i wish i could take credit for figuring that out myself but i cant but i had to use the tools i have to change to plan b since plan a (my hard hit forehand) wasnt working.

seleswannabe
05-04-2009, 05:01 AM
Cindy, I've noticed what you've mention too and I think it's part human nature/part female catty-ness. Sadly I think many people build self-esteem by pointing out the faults of others....this goes for all parts of life, not just tennis of course. I know you are captain of a team as well and I'm sure you continually get an earful like I do about others deficiencies. I feel like people are always looking for me to agree with them so as to validate their opinions somehow. Obviously, I'm no idiot....I don't fall into that trap. I learned that in 7th grade. :)

jrod
05-04-2009, 05:29 AM
Fortunately, it's not a trait reserved just for us tennis players. There is a song written by Lefty Frizzel entitled "I never go around mirrors" that more or less sums up why. Human nature is such that we often chose to protect ourselves from the painful truth rather than face it...

BounceHitBounceHit
05-04-2009, 06:35 AM
Developmentally, at the 3.5 level you are probably better off to work primarily on your strengths and have a 'background' or 'long-term' plan to slowly shore up deficiencies.

As for the inability to see one's self clearly.....................if ONLY it were confined to the tennis court!! ;)

Best,

CC

raiden031
05-04-2009, 06:40 AM
Developmentally, at the 3.5 level you are probably better off to work primarily on your strengths and have a 'background' or 'long-term' plan to slowly shore up deficiencies.

As for the inability to see one's self clearly.....................if ONLY it were confined to the tennis court!! ;)

Best,

CC

Can you elaborate on this?

raiden031
05-04-2009, 06:44 AM
a game and b game can be more about strategy/tactics . for example you think you have a great forehand return of serve. your opponent serves and volleys and take your "great" forehand return ov serve and easily hits forcing first volleies. plan b might be take your great forehand and lob over the net player. even tho when your forehand return is working you get a weak reply back (plan A) you have to realize its not working and go to plan b. another example. you start at 1 up 1back .your partner has a weak serve and you are eating the ball. you resort to 2 back. during a match you figure out one player is stronger than the other. even if its the "wrong" shot you pick on the weaker player rather than getting beat by the stronger player by hitting the ball in their direction even if its the "right" shot

What if you are bad at lobbing? If the only thing you do well is your plan A forehand, then it is likely that your plan B will likely fail as well, except for the possibility that it simply throws off your opponent enough for you to win.

sureshs
05-04-2009, 07:29 AM
I thought this thread would be about doubles players using a mirror in their dress to see what their partner is doing without turning their head back, but I guess not.

sureshs
05-04-2009, 07:33 AM
What is it that causes players to be exquisitely sensitive to the deficiencies in another player's game yet have no idea that they have the very same deficiencies?

That is why video analysis is recommended

FloridaAG
05-04-2009, 07:40 AM
Unfortunately - not limited to tennis courts. Many people have the ability to be critical of others while totally unable to view themselves critically.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 07:40 AM
Craig, I too would like to hear why you think it is better to work on strengths than weaknesses. (Paraphrasing, I know, so correct me if that's not what you are saying).

Me, I think at the 3.5 level it's all about working on weaknesses. I am taking my little 6.5 team up to 7.5 in the fall. I love Angela to death, but she will not be invited onto the new team. Why? 'Cause ya gotta be able to volley at least some before you're ready for 7.5.

Could Angela turn her current 3.5-ish groundstrokes into huge weapons to neutralize her 2.5 volleys? Theoretically, yes. But the 2.5 volley improvement is the Low Hanging Fruit.

SelesWannaBe:

Cindy, I've noticed what you've mention too and I think it's part human nature/part female catty-ness. Sadly I think many people build self-esteem by pointing out the faults of others....this goes for all parts of life, not just tennis of course. I know you are captain of a team as well and I'm sure you continually get an earful like I do about others deficiencies. I feel like people are always looking for me to agree with them so as to validate their opinions somehow. Obviously, I'm no idiot....I don't fall into that trap. I learned that in 7th grade.

Yes, I hear what you're saying. As captain, players do complain about other players.

But it tends to be people complaining about something they do well and their partner does poorly, you know? The complaining player who does the skill well cannot even understand how anyone else can't get the hang of it. So the quick-footed player tells me she doesn't like playing with a slow player, for instance. Or the player with a big serve can't stand playing with the player with the whiffle ball serve.

This whole incident was different because the thing being complained about is something the complainer couldn't do either. So it would be like me complaining that someone misses their groundstrokes, when that is my weakest shot.

That said, I have noticed that slow-footed players seem hugely intolerant of being put with other slow-footed players. Two women with weak serves will play together, two women with weak volleys will play together, but two women who are slow will bend my ear the minute the match is over.

sureshs
05-04-2009, 07:44 AM
Unfortunately - not limited to tennis courts. Many people have the ability to be critical of others while totally unable to view themselves critically.

And you know what? Such people are also happy and get ahead in life. Whatever the situation, they convince themselves they are right and if, in a rare rare case they are wrong, it is because of the circumstances. No self doubt whatsoever.

cak
05-04-2009, 07:59 AM
That said, I have noticed that slow-footed players seem hugely intolerant of being put with other slow-footed players. Two women with weak serves will play together, two women with weak volleys will play together, but two women who are slow will bend my ear the minute the match is over.

I noticed that too. Maybe it's because the slow-footed players don't think there is anything they can do about it?

I'm perceived to be fairly quick on the court. Often the slow-footed players bend the captain's ear to get me as their partner. It really doesn't work well, mostly because my social/practice matches tend to be with people who cover their share. So when the ball goes whipping by within a foot of them I'm standing there flat footed and gaping. Okay, maybe not flat footed, more likely heading to cover the part of the court of the expected return of their expected shot. See, I'm not all that fast, just think ahead a bit.

So when the slow-footed folks phased out of my tennis schedule, I'm afraid I didn't go out of my way to schedule back into their games, and I'm really out of practice playing with them. Upside is recent captains seem to get that.

Funny story, a few years ago my favorite social country club league partner was this lovely lady who was 70 something years old. It was apparent at one time she was a 4.0, or maybe even a 4.5, but now was a 2.5 player. I would poach on her spiny serves and run down anything they could possibly lob over her 6 foot height. We never lost. I got injured, and had to put her out there with another 70 something year old player, against two thirty year olds. As I'm standing there on the viewing deck I realize I had spent the last 2 years running for this lovely lady, when she could cover the entire court all by herself. They spanked those thirty somethings.

FloridaAG
05-04-2009, 08:00 AM
And you know what? Such people are also happy and get ahead in life. Whatever the situation, they convince themselves they are right and if, in a rare rare case they are wrong, it is because of the circumstances. No self doubt whatsoever.

I agree with that - do you think that is a positive or negative? I view it as a negative personally and frankly think that is the reason much is wrong (and has always been wrong) in the world, but that is just me.

thehustler
05-04-2009, 08:31 AM
It's all about the ego with "Linda". It doesn't sound like it, but it is. I'm going to go into more detail in a thread in Tips/Instruction after a while here about the ego. Hopefully that will explain a lot of things to a lot of people.

Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 09:15 AM
I noticed that too. Maybe it's because the slow-footed players don't think there is anything they can do about it?



I am also considered quick (hey, you run down one lob and that is all it takes to earn the label "quick" around here). I honestly do not think the slow-footed players have any idea how much they are asking us "quick" players to do.

I was playing with a slow player recently. I was following my returns to net, and I was coming in on serves or my second shot. And we were losing. These points fell into a predictable pattern. I would hit a deep crosscourt shot and come in. Opponent, unsure of her ability to hit a pass, threw up a lob over my partner. It mattered not how deep or shallow this lob was. My partner at net sauntered over to my side, and I was expected to put on the brakes, reverse direction, and go run down that lob. Of course, no matter how hard I ran, I was always hitting from an awkward position and throwing up a nasty-looking defensive shot.

Finally, I said to my partner, "OK, when we pressure them at net, they are throwing up lobs. Be ready to hit your overhead once I put this next return in play, 'cause we know with 100% certainty that a lob is coming." My partner looked at me and said, "OK, if it goes over my head, you'll get it because I won't be able to reach it."

:smacks forehead:

I think she had *no* idea how exhausting it is to try to cover 75% of a doubles court by yourself. I felt like the family dog: "Go get it Fido! Fetch, girl. Fetch!"

Cindy -- thinking she ought to at least be entitled to a tasty biscuit

larry10s
05-04-2009, 09:27 AM
cindy first treat yourself to a tasty bicuit. you deserve it . second when in that situation have the net player stand farther back. they are a tree so probably not poaching so all you want them to do is cover the lob.. when you get to 4.0 players you should not have as much problems

OrangePower
05-04-2009, 12:20 PM
Developmentally, at the 3.5 level you are probably better off to work primarily on your strengths and have a 'background' or 'long-term' plan to slowly shore up deficiencies.

Can you elaborate on this?

Craig, I too would like to hear why you think it is better to work on strengths than weaknesses. (Paraphrasing, I know, so correct me if that's not what you are saying).

My take on this:

In the short term, working on weaknesses is not going to yield results fast enough to make an impact, while honing strengths can have more immediate benefits.

Part of the reason is that usually a weakness manifests not just in the weakness itself (e.g., poor volleying technique), but also in the player's subsequent style of play, which has evolved to work around the weakness (e.g., avoiding coming to the net in singles play). So in addition to addressing the root issue (e.g., improving the volley), the player also needs to adapt parts of his/her entire game (e.g., learn when and how to approach the net effectively, and incorporate that into playing style).

Of course you can't just go on ignoring weaknesses, but as Craig said, that should be more of a long-term plan.

sureshs
05-04-2009, 12:32 PM
I agree with that - do you think that is a positive or negative? I view it as a negative personally and frankly think that is the reason much is wrong (and has always been wrong) in the world, but that is just me.

As long as it is limited to small everyday happenings, it is OK I suppose. But when it happens to leaders in important positions, it is disastrous for everyone. I think it is a difference between "healthy self esteem" and "delusion." But it is most often the case that leaders are egoistic people who believe they are right. Only such people seem to be able to persuade others. A person who always sees all sides of a problem is not able to convince others. It is more of a failing of the followers, who should be more discerning.

rasajadad
05-04-2009, 01:32 PM
Craig, I too would like to hear why you think it is better to work on strengths than weaknesses. (Paraphrasing, I know, so correct me if that's not what you are saying).

Me, I think at the 3.5 level it's all about working on weaknesses. I am taking my little 6.5 team up to 7.5 in the fall. I love Angela to death, but she will not be invited onto the new team. Why? 'Cause ya gotta be able to volley at least some before you're ready for 7.5.

Could Angela turn her current 3.5-ish groundstrokes into huge weapons to neutralize her 2.5 volleys? Theoretically, yes. But the 2.5 volley improvement is the Low Hanging Fruit.

SelesWannaBe:


Yes, I hear what you're saying. As captain, players do complain about other players.

But it tends to be people complaining about something they do well and their partner does poorly, you know? The complaining player who does the skill well cannot even understand how anyone else can't get the hang of it. So the quick-footed player tells me she doesn't like playing with a slow player, for instance. Or the player with a big serve can't stand playing with the player with the whiffle ball serve.

This whole incident was different because the thing being complained about is something the complainer couldn't do either. So it would be like me complaining that someone misses their groundstrokes, when that is my weakest shot.

That said, I have noticed that slow-footed players seem hugely intolerant of being put with other slow-footed players. Two women with weak serves will play together, two women with weak volleys will play together, but two women who are slow will bend my ear the minute the match is over.

Cindy,
I agree with you. No matter how good of a forehand she develops, if she can't volley, she can't win doubles points for your team.

spiderman123
05-04-2009, 02:36 PM
I had a conversation with a lady who is a teammate and doubles partner today. It went kind of like this.

This lady (I'll call her Linda) had arranged a practice foursome, and Linda partnered with Angela. Angela is also someone I partner with frequently, so I know her game also. As Linda is driving home, she called and we talked about many things.

One of these things was how Angela had played. Angela has poor volleys. Very poor. The things that are wrong with Angela's volleys are her footwork, grip, weight transfer, wrist position, backswing, shoulder turn . . . you get the idea. Ah well, so Angela has these deficiencies, but heck, we all stink at something when it comes to tennis or we'd be pros, right?

What struck me about the conversation was that Linda came right out and told Angela that Angela needed to work on her volleys. That Angela needed to spend her lesson time shoring up her BH volleys etc. This is all true, although it was mighty bold of Linda to come right out and say it.

But the weird thing is that Linda can't volley either. Not a lick. Linda's volleys have all the same technical deficiencies as Angela's.

And somewhere on some other forum, another girl Gina is writing a longer post about this post and explains Cindy's post and ends it with "But the weird thing is Cindy can't volley either."

STN107
05-04-2009, 03:31 PM
Don't you think she is probably reading this? And thinking the same thing?

Cindysphinx
05-04-2009, 07:00 PM
And somewhere on some other forum, another girl Gina is writing a longer post about this post and explains Cindy's post and ends it with "But the weird thing is Cindy can't volley either."

:snort:

Yes, that thought did cross my mind! :)

pmacino
05-04-2009, 09:34 PM
That is why video analysis is recommended

100% agree, video doesn't lie. As a developing player I record everything...matches, team practice, personal practice with coach, etc...I'd rather know what I need to fix, than live in a fantasy.

I find the information that I see in the video absolutely gold. I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself doing something that I visualized completely differently. I've also found I play differently in matches vs. practice.

I'll go back and review past footage to check for progression as well.

As for your situation, I think it's been pretty much covered by the other comments...everybody has baggage and motives, we just act out on it differently.

FWIW, on my team, we offer constructive feedback to each other and are pretty blunt with no drama. Our team has people who went to USTA nationals last year, got ratings bumped, and we will most likely be heading back to the playoffs again this year (barring disaster). We respect each other and know that we are helping each other to meet our goals/aspirations.

My wife's team seems to have the critical aspect, but there tends to be more drama and know-it-alls.

Patrick_St
05-04-2009, 09:56 PM
It seems you have a very drama-filled life Cindy.

nhat8121
05-04-2009, 11:08 PM
So every time I tell someone to work on their backhand or whatever, I have to follow it with "me too, I'm terrible at that?"

maverick66
05-04-2009, 11:24 PM
no, theres a difference between giving advice and being petty.

also i hate when bad players would tell good ones what they should be doing.

BounceHitBounceHit
05-05-2009, 09:35 AM
Can you elaborate on this?

Craig, I too would like to hear why you think it is better to work on strengths than weaknesses. (Paraphrasing, I know, so correct me if that's not what you are saying).

Me, I think at the 3.5 level it's all about working on weaknesses. I am taking my little 6.5 team up to 7.5 in the fall. I love Angela to death, but she will not be invited onto the new team. Why? 'Cause ya gotta be able to volley at least some before you're ready for 7.5.

Could Angela turn her current 3.5-ish groundstrokes into huge weapons to neutralize her 2.5 volleys? Theoretically, yes. But the 2.5 volley improvement is the Low Hanging Fruit.

If your immediate goal is to become a better competitive tennis player and to win more matches, it will serve you better to work PRIMARILY on your strengths. Particularly, the approach should be to examine your game with as great objectivity as is possible given the human condition, figure out what you do well (aka how you 'win points') and set about 'thinking through' in ADVANCE of the match how you will go about 'deploying' said weapons in an actual competitive situation. This does NOT mean you don't work to bolster weaknesses. You do, but it is a SECONDARY goal, one you recognize will typically take a long time to accomplish.

I play tennis on a regular basis w/ 6.0 level females who play DI tennis on a top 10 team. They are all proficient volleyers, but most could still improve significantly. Learning to volley well is TOUGH and will take YEARS to perfect. In the meantime many, many matches can be won by learning how to 'use what you already got'!!! ;)

For a great reference, check out the Nick Saviano book 'Maximum Tennis'.

Best,

CC

MNPlayer
05-05-2009, 09:56 AM
If your immediate goal is to become a better competitive tennis player and to win more matches, it will serve you better to work PRIMARILY on your strengths. Particularly, the approach should be to examine your game with as great objectivity as is possible given the human condition, figure out what you do well (aka how you 'win points') and set about 'thinking through' in ADVANCE of the match how you will go about 'deploying' said weapons in an actual competitive situation. This does NOT mean you don't work to bolster weaknesses. You do, but it is a SECONDARY goal, one you recognize will typically take a long time to accomplish.

I play tennis on a regular basis w/ 6.0 level females who play DI tennis on a top 10 team. They are all proficient volleyers, but most could still improve significantly. Learning to volley well is TOUGH and will take YEARS to perfect. In the meantime many, many matches can be won by learning how to 'use what you already got'!!! ;)

For a great reference, check out the Nick Saviano book 'Maximum Tennis'.

Best,

CC

There might be a difference in the marginal return on learning to volley *well* and learning to volley at all. In doubles at Cindy's level you probably do not have to volley well, just have the basic skill. I used to play with a guy who could not volley at all and whenever he ended up at net, it was a disaster. At our level, none of us were super-duper volleyers but generally that was ok. In 3.0-3.5 womens I can't imagine there are a lot of shoe-string stretch volleys needed to win a match but a nice clean block from above the level of the net must be pretty handy.

rich s
05-05-2009, 01:15 PM
a closed mouth gathers no feet.

BounceHitBounceHit
05-05-2009, 05:40 PM
There might be a difference in the marginal return on learning to volley *well* and learning to volley at all. In doubles at Cindy's level you probably do not have to volley well, just have the basic skill. I used to play with a guy who could not volley at all and whenever he ended up at net, it was a disaster. At our level, none of us were super-duper volleyers but generally that was ok. In 3.0-3.5 womens I can't imagine there are a lot of shoe-string stretch volleys needed to win a match but a nice clean block from above the level of the net must be pretty handy.

Fair enough. But remember, even GREAT volleyers get passed if they fail to hit a good enough approach, or choose the wrong balls to attack! What I am saying is that these things are INTERDEPENDENT. If (for example) Cindy's friend has a good forehand, she can use it to SET UP way easy volleys. No one skill exists in isolation. :) CC