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Cindysphinx
05-15-2009, 09:20 AM
I have a singles practice partner, and we're looking for some more drills. Here's what we've been doing so far:

1. Bryan Brothers Volley Drill. We each start at the service line in the deuce court, at the far sideline. One of us feeds a volley crosscourt to the other and then moves toward the center of the court. The other person hits their volley with a bit less angle. The idea is that you each keep moving to your left until you have each reached the ad court sidelines, volleying all the way. Keep it going as many times sideline to sideline before someone misses.

2. Digging Out Low Volleys/Passing Shots. One at baseline, one at the T. Player at baseline tries to bounce the ball off of the other player's shoes. Player at T tries to dig out the low ball and volley it deep to the baseline.

3. Jolly's Drill. Play game to 7 points. Server gets one serve and loses point if she misses. If she makes the serve, the other player must hit a clean winner or force an error with the service return.

4. Crosscourt/DTL groundstrokes. One player hits every groundstroke crosscourt, the other hits everything down the line. Keep it in play as long as possible, practicing running groundstrokes.

5. S&V. Player serves and comes to net crosscourt. Returner follows return to net crosscourt. Hit the ball to the other person and keep closing the net until someone misses.

Anyone got some other 2-person drills for us?

burosky
05-15-2009, 09:57 AM
Play one set where the same person serves for the whole set. This is a drill that will help you focus on holding your serve. After the set, switch so the person who served the previous set only receives for the whole set. This will help you focus on breaking your opponent's serve.

bukaeast
05-15-2009, 10:56 AM
Here are three sets of drills I found useful to build a structured practice session:

five essential drills
http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_09_03.html

one hour work out
http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_97_2.html

Woodies warmup/drill
http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_99_01.html

This guy claims to be a little outside of the "norm" for tennis instruction because of his experience learning tennis as an adult. He is also a college coach and has put together practice sessions based on the need for efficiency and time managment. Seems pretty efficient to me, although I tend to base the various parts (individual drills) on the time to go through a bucket of balls rather than strictly time. But if I improved in technique and skill, I would need to revert to time as a determinate of how long to run any one drill.:)

Certainly a place to start.

skiracer55
05-15-2009, 11:49 AM
Here are three sets of drills I found useful to build a structured practice session:

five essential drills
http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_09_03.html

one hour work out
http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_97_2.html

Woodies warmup/drill
http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_99_01.html

This guy claims to be a little outside of the "norm" for tennis instruction because of his experience learning tennis as an adult. He is also a college coach and has put together practice sessions based on the need for efficiency and time managment. Seems pretty efficient to me, although I tend to base the various parts (individual drills) on the time to go through a bucket of balls rather than strictly time. But if I improved in technique and skill, I would need to revert to time as a determinate of how long to run any one drill.:)

Certainly a place to start.

...and you see them used a lot with college teams. My coaches were the Men's program coaches at CU in Boulder, and they ran me through a lot of these drills. I'm not gonna do it right now, but I'll write up a series of drills that are semi-conceptual, semi-stroke mechanics, semi-tactical that my coaches also used with me, starting with "Tennis is Not an Arm Sport...It's a Leg Sport" and "The Little Circle". Watch this space...

Venetian
05-15-2009, 12:15 PM
I have a singles practice partner, and we're looking for some more drills. Here's what we've been doing so far:

1. Bryan Brothers Volley Drill. We each start at the service line in the deuce court, at the far sideline. One of us feeds a volley crosscourt to the other and then moves toward the center of the court. The other person hits their volley with a bit less angle. The idea is that you each keep moving to your left until you have each reached the ad court sidelines, volleying all the way. Keep it going as many times sideline to sideline before someone misses.

2. Digging Out Low Volleys/Passing Shots. One at baseline, one at the T. Player at baseline tries to bounce the ball off of the other player's shoes. Player at T tries to dig out the low ball and volley it deep to the baseline.

3. Jolly's Drill. Play game to 7 points. Server gets one serve and loses point if she misses. If she makes the serve, the other player must hit a clean winner or force an error with the service return.

4. Crosscourt/DTL groundstrokes. One player hits every groundstroke crosscourt, the other hits everything down the line. Keep it in play as long as possible, practicing running groundstrokes.

5. S&V. Player serves and comes to net crosscourt. Returner follows return to net crosscourt. Hit the ball to the other person and keep closing the net until someone misses.

Anyone got some other 2-person drills for us?


Really, the Bryan Bros volley drill?

I saw that online and it looked pretty scary. :)

Cindysphinx
05-15-2009, 12:44 PM
Really, the Bryan Bros volley drill?

I saw that online and it looked pretty scary. :)

Well, I didn't say we were good at it or anything. :) We had a lot of bounces in there, which I assume is not good.

I liked it because it requires some actual aiming. Plus, it gave you a nice goal -- see if you can get all the way across and back again.

Nellie
05-15-2009, 05:16 PM
I have been doing a drill recently where you write down flash cards with some "weaknesses" such as:

1) no hard backhand (only floaters);
2) no hard forehand (only floaters);
3) no vollies
4) cannot leave the singles area
5) cannot hit to the service boxes (lose the point on short balls); or
6) cannot hit to one side

You can make more, according to your skill set.

You play a set, and before each game, you pick a card but do not show the opponent. The drill forces you to recognize an opponent's weakness to work on a strategy, as well as to deal with your own weaknesses. For example, if you cannot hit good backhands, you will run around to hit the forehand as much as possible.

(it is really fun to drop shot someone who cannot volley for a game)

Liv3 For It
05-15-2009, 05:31 PM
I have been doing a drill recently where you have a write down flash cards with some "weaknesses" such as:

1) no hard backhand (only floaters);
2) no hard forehand (only floaters);
3) no vollies
4) cannot leave the singles area
5) cannot hit to the service boxes (lose the point on short balls); or
6) cannot hit to one side

You can make more, according to your skill set.

You play a set, and before each game, you pick a card but do not show the opponent. The drill forces you to recognize an opponent's weakness to work on a strategy, as well as to deal with your own weaknesses. For example, if you cannot hit good backhands, you will run around to hit the forehand as much as possible.

(it is really fun to drop shot someone who cannot volley for a game)



hahahaha, anymore of these?

J011yroger
05-15-2009, 06:33 PM
Play one set where the same person serves for the whole set. This is a drill that will help you focus on holding your serve. After the set, switch so the person who served the previous set only receives for the whole set. This will help you focus on breaking your opponent's serve.


What did you arm do to you to deserve such a fate?

J

Cindysphinx
05-15-2009, 06:37 PM
I have been doing a drill recently where you have a write down flash cards with some "weaknesses" such as:

1) no hard backhand (only floaters);
2) no hard forehand (only floaters);
3) no vollies
4) cannot leave the singles area
5) cannot hit to the service boxes (lose the point on short balls); or
6) cannot hit to one side

You can make more, according to your skill set.

You play a set, and before each game, you pick a card but do not show the opponent. The drill forces you to recognize an opponent's weakness to work on a strategy, as well as to deal with your own weaknesses. For example, if you cannot hit good backhands, you will run around to hit the forehand as much as possible.

(it is really fun to drop shot someone who cannot volley for a game)

Just so I understand . . .

I draw the card that says "No vollies." That means I have to pretend that I have no volleys, meaning I will intentionally hit them into the net, I will avoid going to net, I will intentionally push them right back to my oppponent . . . stuff like that, right?

Dang, that sound like a fun one too!

It would be neat to figure out something similar for doubles . . . .

maverick66
05-15-2009, 06:38 PM
What did you arm do to you to deserve such a fate?

J

I did it when i was playing. Your arm felt like jello after wards. Especially if the set was closer. it shouldnt be but sometimes it happens.

I like the one serve idea. it forces you the server to really make your serve count under pressure.

another drill we used to do was if any ball landed inside the service box you lost the point. It forces you to keep a solid deep ball. your consistency and depth are extremely important.

dincuss
05-15-2009, 06:59 PM
3. Jolly's Drill. Play game to 7 points. Server gets one serve and loses point if she misses. If she makes the serve, the other player must hit a clean winner or force an error with the service return.


Its a good drill, but i dont like the second part. Winners are good, but focusing on them is never something someone should rely on in a match.

J011yroger
05-15-2009, 07:00 PM
another drill we used to do was if any ball landed inside the service box you lost the point. It forces you to keep a solid deep ball. your consistency and depth are extremely important.

Or play that you MUST attack, and come in behind any ball that lands in the service box.

Lets you practice attacking, and learning quality approaches, because you see what you get passed off of and what you get a look at.

J

dincuss
05-15-2009, 07:02 PM
Another good volley drill is:
Where you play in one of the service boxes with a partner. Then one person will feed (alternating) into the other box then approach the net. At the net the other player must focus on pegging the other player, and vise versa.

dincuss
05-15-2009, 07:06 PM
Or a good groundstroke one, that depends on rally length:
Both players start at the baseline. Then one can only hit cc while the other only dth. This will make both run and have to keep pace at the same time.

maverick66
05-15-2009, 07:09 PM
Or play that you MUST attack, and come in behind any ball that lands in the service box.

Lets you practice attacking, and learning quality approaches, because you see what you get passed off of and what you get a look at.

J

The only problem i see with that is you end up having 1 shot points. Not so great for training. i get what your saying in its good to have an attacking game and this would force you to do it but at a lower level people are gonna hit 1 ball then slap the next to the fence.

J011yroger
05-15-2009, 07:13 PM
The only problem i see with that is you end up having 1 shot points. Not so great for training. i get what your saying in its good to have an attacking game and this would force you to do it but at a lower level people are gonna hit 1 ball then slap the next to the fence.

Ya gotta learn sometime right?

J

maverick66
05-15-2009, 07:16 PM
I agree you gotta learn to attack but you also cant just have people ripping balls in practice just to attack. Maybe if you changed it up to if a ball lands in the service box you have to attack and go to the net the drill will work. This will teach people to reckonize the short ball and how to attack it. Plus people will learn why its really bad to leave shots short.

J011yroger
05-15-2009, 07:17 PM
Another good volley drill is:
Where you play in one of the service boxes with a partner. Then one person will feed (alternating) into the other box then approach the net. At the net the other player must focus on pegging the other player, and vise versa.

I like both players on the T, and you just try to volley through the other guy, more of a dubs drill though.

J

J011yroger
05-15-2009, 07:18 PM
Maybe if you changed it up to if a ball lands in the service box you have to attack and go to the net the drill will work.

Did I not say "Attack and come in behind"?

J

maverick66
05-15-2009, 07:19 PM
i misread. my bad. thats what i get for watching MMA and typing at the same time.

J011yroger
05-15-2009, 07:24 PM
i misread. my bad. thats what i get for watching MMA and typing at the same time.

No worries. You are still cool in my book, no matter what Cindy says about you.

J

maverick66
05-15-2009, 07:27 PM
No worries. You are still cool in my book, no matter what Cindy says about you.

J

I was unaware she talked badly about me.


Another good drill to do is one person camps in one corner and moves the other person. This allows one person to learn to control a point and another learns to scramble but keep the ball under control. We used to do this and you wouldnt switch until the running person made 20 balls straight. Tough drill but a great one.

J011yroger
05-15-2009, 07:33 PM
I was unaware she talked badly about me.


Another good drill to do is one person camps in one corner and moves the other person. This allows one person to learn to control a point and another learns to scramble but keep the ball under control. We used to do this and you wouldnt switch until the running person made 20 balls straight. Tough drill but a great one.

I like that one, and I like the one where player A is at the center hash, and player B is in the ad court doubles alley.

Player A must hit all backhands deep and crosscourt, player B's objective is to try to break down player A's backhand with his ISO FH.

J

Redflea
05-15-2009, 09:38 PM
I have been doing a drill recently where you have a write down flash cards with some "weaknesses" such as:

1) no hard backhand (only floaters);
2) no hard forehand (only floaters);
3) no vollies
4) cannot leave the singles area
5) cannot hit to the service boxes (lose the point on short balls); or
6) cannot hit to one side

You can make more, according to your skill set.

You play a set, and before each game, you pick a card but do not show the opponent. The drill forces you to recognize an opponent's weakness to work on a strategy, as well as to deal with your own weaknesses. For example, if you cannot hit good backhands, you will run around to hit the forehand as much as possible.

(it is really fun to drop shot someone who cannot volley for a game)

Very creative - love how it focuses on strategy/thinking during the match. Going to try that w/my son.

These are obvious old ones and simple favorites, but just in case any newbies are reading this:

- Mini-tennis (play points w/anything beyond the service box out). Besides being really fun, allows you to work on angles, touch, agility, etc. Make sure you're well warmed up first, it's very quick and very fun.

- Playing to 21 w/out any serves - start each point by hitting a ground stroke; after opponent returns the shot the point starts. Forces people who rely on their serve to win points w/out that advantage.

And this can be useful if you play w/someone who isn't quite at your level:

- Points Back (that's what my friend started calling it) - When ever a break of serve occurs, the person who gets broken gets 1 point at the start of each game. So if I get broken, the next game when my buddy serves, he starts his serve at Love-15. If he holds, I start my serve at 15-Love. Two breaks, I get two points. Not really a drill, but keeps the sets close/more interesting for both players, and forces the leader to really concentrate and play from tough positions (e.g., Love-15, Love-30, etc.) to win the set.

Cindysphinx
05-16-2009, 06:48 AM
Its a good drill, but i dont like the second part. Winners are good, but focusing on them is never something someone should rely on in a match.

I think this part is important, for my level anyway.

At my level, there are a lot of women getting by with a miserable, push second serve. They get away with it because no one attacks them. Me, I consider my service return a weakness, so these players are thrilled to play me because I won't punish their second serve. 'Cause I don't know how.

Plus, this drill will help increase the pressure your opponent will feel and may break down her return.

Without the drill's requirement that you go for winners or forcing errors, I'd just be returning deep and solid, like I usually try to do.

Cindysphinx
05-16-2009, 08:59 AM
Here's the Bryan Brothers Volley drill.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9qQbRitBRE

We only made it across twice. And, erm, it didn't look quite that effortless. We were working pretty darn hard.

nickynu
05-16-2009, 03:19 PM
Rallying down the middle - counting the number of strokes throughout the rally, the person who makes the unforced error gets nothing for the rally the one who did not hit the error gets the number of strokes as his total and it is first to pass 101

Ie both players hit 7 shots in a rally but on the next shot player A misses into the net. Thats a total of 14 shots ... so player B gets 14points towards his 101 and then you keep repeating until 1 player has a cumulative total of 101 or more.

Tennis Truth
05-16-2009, 04:25 PM
"No volleys" means that you are not allowed to hit a volley, as opposed to pretending that you are much worse at volleys than you actually are.

nickynu
05-17-2009, 03:03 AM
First to 11 tramlines drill

Rally in one set of tramlines dtl - one player has to hit forhands & can only hit B/h if has to to keep rally going and this does not score a point if done - and the other has to hit backhands ETC

. Each ball a player lands in the tramlines earns him a point. Nothing if they miss the trams. If your opponent nets the ball this earns you a point too. First to 11 points.

Then start a new game but switch round so youare playing Fh if you played Bh last time etc.

oldhacker
05-17-2009, 04:53 AM
Hi Cindy - imho structured drills with a practice partner who is willing to do them are invaluable to improving your tennis. Just hitting can be pretty aimless and often ends up in silly attempts to hit winners rather than practice technique. A couple I do are:

1. Target baseline hitting - place a target (cone or tin of balls) each end of the court in middle and about 6 feet in from the baseline. Then rally up and down the middle with your partner with the objective being to hit the target and acore points for doing so. You can move the targets to make it a cross court drill as well.

2. Footwork practice - place a marker (can of balls will do) around the centre baseline hash at each end of the court. Hit cross court and between each hit you have to recover to the centre around the marker. Hit at a pace which enables you to do this and really concentrate on correct footwork.

3. Volley practice - volleyer stands just behind the T, partner on the baseline in the middle. Volleyer has to hit all volleys back to partner from around the service line deep enough to keep their partner hitting from behind the baseline.

4. Slice backhand approach practice - start a baseline rally with a plan that after , say, 3 shots player A will give player B a shortish ball on the backhand side for them to approach off. Player A then has to hit a DTL backhand slice which hts the back fence on one bounce. This is harder than it sounds but great practice at really driving your slice deep. If you don't want to start with a rally player A can just feed it.

I have a singles practice partner, and we're looking for some more drills. Here's what we've been doing so far:

1. Bryan Brothers Volley Drill. We each start at the service line in the deuce court, at the far sideline. One of us feeds a volley crosscourt to the other and then moves toward the center of the court. The other person hits their volley with a bit less angle. The idea is that you each keep moving to your left until you have each reached the ad court sidelines, volleying all the way. Keep it going as many times sideline to sideline before someone misses.

2. Digging Out Low Volleys/Passing Shots. One at baseline, one at the T. Player at baseline tries to bounce the ball off of the other player's shoes. Player at T tries to dig out the low ball and volley it deep to the baseline.

3. Jolly's Drill. Play game to 7 points. Server gets one serve and loses point if she misses. If she makes the serve, the other player must hit a clean winner or force an error with the service return.

4. Crosscourt/DTL groundstrokes. One player hits every groundstroke crosscourt, the other hits everything down the line. Keep it in play as long as possible, practicing running groundstrokes.

5. S&V. Player serves and comes to net crosscourt. Returner follows return to net crosscourt. Hit the ball to the other person and keep closing the net until someone misses.

Anyone got some other 2-person drills for us?

J011yroger
05-17-2009, 07:55 AM
^^^ I suggest using flat poly markers instead of something you could step on and get hurt.

J

dincuss
05-17-2009, 04:28 PM
I think this part is important, for my level anyway.

At my level, there are a lot of women getting by with a miserable, push second serve. They get away with it because no one attacks them. Me, I consider my service return a weakness, so these players are thrilled to play me because I won't punish their second serve. 'Cause I don't know how.

Plus, this drill will help increase the pressure your opponent will feel and may break down her return.

Without the drill's requirement that you go for winners or forcing errors, I'd just be returning deep and solid, like I usually try to do.

Yah I understand I was just trying to say that someone shouldnt get carried away trying to go for winners on ever shot, and then resulting in unforced errors.

Swissv2
05-17-2009, 04:48 PM
+5/-5 Service Game Drill

Choose if you are a -/+.
Points start at 0
Players serve for 2 consecutive points (normal service on deuce and ad side)
Winner gets a point towards their +/- direction.
After 2 points, service goes to 2nd player.
First to gather points to either +5/-5 wins.Game example (if you haven't played +5/-5 before. If you have, please disregard this example)

Cindy choses the + points, practice partner chooses the - points
Cindy to serve
Makes serve for 1st point, and hits follow up winner: +1
Makes serve for 2nd point, but hits ball out: 0
Partner to serve

Double faults: +1
Aces: 0
Cindy to serve

Aces: +1
Aces again: +2
Partner to serve

Makes serve, hits winner: +1
Makes serve, hits another winner: 0
Cindy to serve

Makes serve, but partner hits winner: -1
Double faults: -2
Partner to serve

Makes serve, but Cindy hits winner: -1
Makes serve, but hits out: 0**Continue till you reach either +5/-5**

Hopefully that long description makes sense.
This drill gives you great practice for serves and returns.

oldhacker
05-18-2009, 06:22 AM
Speaking as the person who suggested using ball tins as markers I second Jolly's suggestion. It is no fun turning your ankle after treading on a tin of balls.

^^^ I suggest using flat poly markers instead of something you could step on and get hurt.

J

Bud
05-18-2009, 06:36 AM
Here are three sets of drills I found useful to build a structured practice session:

five essential drills
http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_09_03.html

one hour work out
http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_97_2.html

Woodies warmup/drill
http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_99_01.html

This guy claims to be a little outside of the "norm" for tennis instruction because of his experience learning tennis as an adult. He is also a college coach and has put together practice sessions based on the need for efficiency and time managment. Seems pretty efficient to me, although I tend to base the various parts (individual drills) on the time to go through a bucket of balls rather than strictly time. But if I improved in technique and skill, I would need to revert to time as a determinate of how long to run any one drill.:)

Certainly a place to start.

Thanks for the links :)

skiracer55
05-18-2009, 08:46 AM
...and you see them used a lot with college teams. My coaches were the Men's program coaches at CU in Boulder, and they ran me through a lot of these drills. I'm not gonna do it right now, but I'll write up a series of drills that are semi-conceptual, semi-stroke mechanics, semi-tactical that my coaches also used with me, starting with "Tennis is Not an Arm Sport...It's a Leg Sport" and "The Little Circle". Watch this space...

Part 1, which is called "Catching and Throwing." It's kind of a misconception to say that we hit tennis balls. I was warming up with one of my practice partners one day, and we were trying to hit easily and loosely, with the emphasis on feeling the ball onto the center of the racket face and stroking through the ball to direct it back over the net as powerfully and accurately as possible. "Huh," my partner said "It's like we're catching the ball on our rackets and throwing it back."

Made sense to me, and I think it's the key to what you often hear called "clean" strokes. That is, strokes where the contact is crisp and in the middle, the ball has a ringing sound off the stringbed, and most importantly, it goes consistently and accurately where and how you want it. So what are the keys to "catching and throwing" the ball? Well, hand/eye coordination, obviously, but also footwork. Before the hand and the eye can do their thing, the feet have to move you to a spot where you can line up cleanly on the incoming ball and do what you want to it, as opposed to having to hack it back over the net because your preparation is late.

Just to talk about footwork for a moment, it's related to but not the same thing as foot speed. Is foot speed important? You betcha, especially as you go up the NTRP point scale. At the highest level, WTA and ATP, the players are almost sprinting from shot to shot, even on clay, because players at this level can hit with incredible pace, direction, spin, and variety, shot after shot. So pure foot speed is important, and there are lots of drills you can do that will develop your fast twitch muscles.

Footwork, more generally, is what you have to do to get yourself lined up to hit the shot you want, as opposed to an out-of-position shot you have to take, which isn't optimal. What you are essentially trying to do with good footwork is get yourself to a spot that allows you to hit the ball in what Stan Smith called your ideal hitting zone. Let's say that generally we want to hit your forehand out in front (whatever that means to you), at about waist level, and far enough out from your body so you can get enough leverage on your swing, which helps to produce power and direction. That's a general rule, however. Some people actually like low balls, others thrive on high balls, some people hit the ball relatively far back and are comfortable with this because it may give them greater topspin (this is something Amanda Coetzer did late in her career).

So the message is, before you start tuning up your footwork, figure out where your ideal hitting zone is on all your shots. This'll great help your footwork, because now you have a really specific objective "Move my feet to get them to that spot, because that's where I can contact the ball in my ideal hitting zone." As opposed to something really general like "Gotta move my feet", which might get you to somewhere quickly, but not necessarily to the spot where you lock into your ideal hitting zone.

Once you've got all that wired, I strongly advise you to, as someone said, try to improve your tennis by temporarily leaving your racket in the bag, and get some footwork drill books or videos and try out some of this stuff. My coaches wanted me to spend 15 minutes a day, minimum, on pure footwork, and it made a huge difference.

We talked earlier about how the keys to "catching and throwing" were good footwork and hand/eye coordination. Here are two footwork slash hand/eye coordination drills that my coaches used to make me do at least twice a week. They're done without rackets, and each requires a feeder and the player who's going to catch and throw the ball.

Drill 1: Throwing and catching player is at the net, in the center, back to the net facing the service T. Feeder is at the service T with a basket of balls. Feeder throws a ball, bouncing it off the court, just like a ground stroke, to the player at net. Player at net catches the ball...with either hand, although it's quicker if you can do it with your throwing hand...and throws it back to the feeder, and, if you had to move off your home position, return to the center of the net, ready for the next ball. Do this for 10 balls, then stop and recover. Sound easy? Try it and see. Part of the deal is that this is a fairly rapid-fire drill. As soon as the player at net returns to home position, the feeder bounces the next ball. To start with, to get the feel of the drill, the feeder should bounce the ball more or less at the net player. As you get more adept, start moving the ball around. What you find is that even if the feeder bounces the ball "at" the net player, it's almost impossible to bounce to exactly the same spot every time. Hence, the net player has to use both good footwork to move to the "ideal contact zone"...that is, the best place to catch the ball...and it takes a lot more hand/eye coordination than you would think to catch the ball and throw it back to the feeder. So, "catching and throwing", while you're on the move...a tennis basic skill.

Once you have that one going, repeat the drill, only don't bounce the ball. Throw it so that the net player has to catch it in the air, just like a volley. You can start moving the ball around on this one, and it's A-OK to throw in a high looper...in essence, a lob...anywhere in the sequence.

So there it is, Tennis is not an arm sport, it's a leg sport...and a hand/eye coordination sport, Part 1. Try it, you'll like it...

ksqwqb
05-18-2009, 11:37 AM
Hey skiracer, this is great stuff, will try these and would love to hear some more, thanks

Cindysphinx
05-18-2009, 11:43 AM
I have taken many, many lessons and drills. Not once has any of the pros put the group (or me, if a private lesson) through footwork drills. In fact, I don't think I've ever done anything in a clinic or lesson in which I did not have a racket in my hand.

Why is that, do you suppose? Can footwork be improved without footwork drills of the type skiracer describes?

Cindy -- who worries that she will fall and break a hip if she tries to get too fancy with her feet :)

maverick66
05-18-2009, 11:53 AM
I never liked doing drills without a racket in my hand. You will move different when you have a racket then not having one so I always did my on court drills with a racket.

skiracer55
05-18-2009, 12:11 PM
I have taken many, many lessons and drills. Not once has any of the pros put the group (or me, if a private lesson) through footwork drills. In fact, I don't think I've ever done anything in a clinic or lesson in which I did not have a racket in my hand.

Why is that, do you suppose? Can footwork be improved without footwork drills of the type skiracer describes?

Cindy -- who worries that she will fall and break a hip if she tries to get too fancy with her feet :)

...you can improve your footwork, this is just one approach. I know it seems bizzarre to be working on footwork without a racket, but give it a try. Remember, in these drills I'm talking about, you are working on two things, first footwork, and then hand/eye coordination.

But again, this is just one approach, and it's maybe the simplest way to start thinking about footwork. One of my hitting partners strongly advised me to get ahold of Pat Etcheberry's books or videos on footwork, because his stuff is supposed to be the inside track. I haven't done it yet, but I plan to.

The other big thing you can do is watch the footwork when you watch the top players, either on TV, or in person. The specifics of "advanced" footwork are incredibly intricate. As I've said a few times, I was fortunate enough to have as coaches the Men's Coaches at the CU Boulder program. One of my coaches was then Men's Assistant Dave Hodge, a former #2 at Baylor who went on to play the ATP for two years. He then went on to be Men's Assistant at Stanford, and he is now one of the National Team coaches for Tennis Australia. A phenomenal player, a gifted athlete, and a great coach. The last time I saw him was two summers ago at Stanford for two days of clinics. He did a demo of Roger Federer's footwork, where he uses an open stance forehand and doesn't cross over with the left foot to come back to center...just pushes off the right foot. It sounds easy, until you try to do it fast. Dave had it wired...he could zip along from one side of the baseline to the other while talking about what he was doing. We were astonished, until he explained...and this is a gifted athlete and a great tennis player, mind you, that when he was growing up in the Aussie system, they did constant footwork drills so that their footwork was, eventually, automatically "spot on", as they say Down Under. That's a long way of getting to what he said to us next, which was "If you want to aspire to good footwork, it helps to watch good footwork. The next time you watch a WTA or ATP match, take some time out from the usual, which is watching what they do with their rackets, and just watch what they do with their feet."

Last year, at the US Open, the TV coverage showed a fascinating sequence of Jankovic's footwork on a single, long point, where the technology was advanced enough to be able to leave a trail of colored "muddy footprints", as Mary Carillo called them, as after images of every step Jankovic made during the point. Most amazing thing I've ever seen, and it absolutely convinced me that "Tennis is not an arm sport, it's a leg sport..."

Next, "Tennis is not" Part 2, where I talk about using your legs, not your arms, to power the stroke...

35ft6
05-18-2009, 06:33 PM
I really enjoy putting targets on the ground and hitting cross court. It's pretty astounding how much more consistent you become with a red piece of plastic on the ground to aim for.

Other favorite, although the fun kind of wears out quickly, is one person is at the service line, he feeds a ball to the guy on the baseline, and the first groundstroke has to be right at the person at net but after that, point is live. So the net guy can hit a winner off first shot. Once the baseliner wins 5 points, switch spots. If you're in good form, the net guy has a huge advantage, should win like 75% or so of the points. But if you're rusty, it's just plain ugly. Volleys and passing shots just flying everywhere, or the net guy missing 4 or 5 volleys in a roll and you switching in under a minute.

J011yroger
05-18-2009, 07:22 PM
I really enjoy putting targets on the ground and hitting cross court. It's pretty astounding how much more consistent you become with a red piece of plastic on the ground to aim for.

Especially for practicing serve. . . It is amazing how easy this game can be without someone on the other side of the net trying to beat you. . .

J

J011yroger
05-18-2009, 07:27 PM
Cindy, last night in practice we played points and I kept the idea of the offensive returning drill in mind.

When you are returning, the instant the serve is struck, I kind of see Red Light/Yellow Light/Green Light.

Red Light is an emergency lunge, hack, flip, whatever it takes to get the ball back over the net, try not to get aced.

Yellow Light is a ball you can reach, usually one step, and can hit in front of you, block/punch/loop back deep and try to start the point on neutral or at a slight advantage.

Green Light, is one you see well, or that is weak, and you can put a swing on. That is the one where you try to win the point outright, or start at a large advantage.

Here is the vid from last night if you are bored enough to watch. I am the tall stupid looking guy in black.

http://vimeo.com/4717668

J

Cindysphinx
05-19-2009, 04:06 AM
Cindy, last night in practice we played points and I kept the idea of the offensive returning drill in mind.

When you are returning, the instant the serve is struck, I kind of see Red Light/Yellow Light/Green Light.

Red Light is an emergency lunge, hack, flip, whatever it takes to get the ball back over the net, try not to get aced.

Yellow Light is a ball you can reach, usually one step, and can hit in front of you, block/punch/loop back deep and try to start the point on neutral or at a slight advantage.

Green Light, is one you see well, or that is weak, and you can put a swing on. That is the one where you try to win the point outright, or start at a large advantage.

Here is the vid from last night if you are bored enough to watch. I am the tall stupid looking guy in black.

http://vimeo.com/4717668

J


What fun!

I did watch the video, and I enjoyed it very much. So thank you! I also like your "light" system for dealing with serves. Although for me a high percentage of serves feel like red lights.

Some quick remarks on your video, and a question.

First, stick with the Darth Vadar all-black look. We've talked about this before, but I'll again note that all-black is quite fierce and Dead Sexy. :)

Second, I hadn't seen your FH before, and now I understand what you've said about how you developed it and whatnot. Suffice it to say I would pay cold hard cash for that FH. Maybe I could get a deal if I also purchased your slice BH?

Third, do know of any site where you can upload video and then play it back in slow motion? I don't think this is possible with YouTube or the site on which your videos are displayed.

Swissv2
05-19-2009, 07:53 AM
Third, do know of any site where you can upload video and then play it back in slow motion? I don't think this is possible with YouTube or the site on which your videos are displayed.

Tip: download the video from his Vimeo page, then you can play it slow motion on your Windows Media Player.

smoothtennis
05-19-2009, 07:56 AM
Cindy, last night in practice we played points and I kept the idea of the offensive returning drill in mind.

When you are returning, the instant the serve is struck, I kind of see Red Light/Yellow Light/Green Light.

Red Light is an emergency lunge, hack, flip, whatever it takes to get the ball back over the net, try not to get aced.

Yellow Light is a ball you can reach, usually one step, and can hit in front of you, block/punch/loop back deep and try to start the point on neutral or at a slight advantage.

Green Light, is one you see well, or that is weak, and you can put a swing on. That is the one where you try to win the point outright, or start at a large advantage.

Here is the vid from last night if you are bored enough to watch. I am the tall stupid looking guy in black.

http://vimeo.com/4717668

J

Good stuff Jo11y.

I know you got some flak from that last 'slice' vid you showed - not that you had asked, LOL, but you know what I mean. So I just wanted to say to be fair, on the second point of this vid, your slice looked much nicer form wise and is likely the one you use most often anyways.

That second point - struck me funny. I have seen that so many times play out just as that point did, with the short stab volley, and the guy in yellow comes up to put it away, and then net's it. That drives me crazy because I have done that myself so many times!

Personally, I think we hold, hold, then rush the stroke on those type of misses.

Anyways, nice vids once again. Always fun to watch.

EDIT - Hey Jo11y - Look at that short approach slice at 124-126 seconds. That is like THE perfect time one might use that cross-behind step we were discussing a few days ago. Not critisizing you at all, you executed well there. But some folks were asking when one might use it, and that is a great example of a place that it helps keep the body sideways and cleaner footwork. Nice approach btw...

skiracer55
05-19-2009, 08:12 AM
Hey skiracer, this is great stuff, will try these and would love to hear some more, thanks

...note that there are a bunch of different but equally good sub-threads going on, one of which Jollyroger and others have been talking about, which is putting targets on the court. Drills with targets are definitely a good thing. Here's my safety tip: use little plastic cones, which you can get at most sporting goods stores. They are also more visible than ball cans and other stuff.

Now, back to footwork/catching and throwing. Let me just finish up Part 1 of "Catching and Throwing" with some further thoughts on what Cindysphinx said yesterday, which was:

"I have taken many, many lessons and drills. Not once has any of the pros put the group (or me, if a private lesson) through footwork drills. In fact, I don't think I've ever done anything in a clinic or lesson in which I did not have a racket in my hand.

Why is that, do you suppose? Can footwork be improved without footwork drills of the type skiracer describes?

Cindy -- who worries that she will fall and break a hip if she tries to get too fancy with her feet "

All good points, and my answers are:

- First, footwork drills without a racket are definitely outside of the box, for most players. If they don't work for you, then don't do 'em and don't worry about it. When I ran through the "catching and throwing" drills I described, it was, initially, a valuable diagnostic--an "awareness tool" for me. I *thought* my footwork and hand/eye coordination were pretty spiffy, and the initial run through the drills told me otherwise. More than anything, I'd advise giving these drills a try in the same spirit: If you can run through them perfectly, your footwork and hand/eye coordination are probably pretty good. If you struggle a little with these drills, at least initially, as a lot of people do...even if you never do these drills again, it tends to make you aware of your footwork and it tends to make you aware of what your ideal hitting zone actually is. And awareness of what is vs. what is ideal is usually the first step to improving anything.

- Second, yep, getting too fancy with your feet could cause injuries. Without invoking the Polyanna Principle too heavily, I'd suggest looking at it the opposite way. That is, good footwork not only helps produce better positioning for your shots (which tends to produce better shots...), it also, just because you're more aware of your footwork, tends to produce safer movement patterns. To move well to get to a shot, you've also got to move efficiently and in a biomechanically sound manner, so I'd submit that you're less likely to turn an ankle or dump yourself on your hip. I'd also say that if you're trying to improve your footwork, you're trying to find the best tennis athlete within yourself. You're not trying to move like Federer, or Caroline Wozniacki, which isn't impossible, but it could tend to make any of us redline our movement patterns, which could, in turn, lead to injury.

- Lastly, a closing thought on the whole concept of good footwork as the prime mover (joke, ha ha) to get you in a space where you can hit the ball in your ideal hitting zone. The good news is that it's a great concept, in theory. The bad news is, that there will be a bunch of times when you don't arrive at a spot on the court where you can hit in your ideal hitting zone. What now?

Well, the first thing is, don't panic and don't get down on yourself. Remember, your opponent has a vote, and he or she is going to try to use pace, spin, placement, and depth to force you out of your ideal hitting zone. So, the moral is, being out of your ideal hitting zone just happens, despite your best efforts. Essentially, when you are not in position to hit in your ideal hitting zone, you are, by definition, on the defense. And the standard rule of thumb is "Never try to hit an offensive shot from a defensive position." Never is maybe a little too restrictive. If I'm down a set, 3-5, and 5-40, and my opponent comes into net, I'm scrambling, and the only shot that will win the point outright is a forehand winner down the line...well, that's probably what I'm going to go for.

The problem with my tennis was that when I was on defense, I always went for the Hero Move regardless of the situation. Sam Winterbotham, who was Head Men's Coach at CU, got me out of that habit three summers ago. The way he did it was simple. We would do a point construction drill, he would run me wide to the forehand and hang out in the center of the baseline to see what I would do next. The first time he did it, I went for a huge forehand winner down the line...and made it. "Nice shot", he said, and went back and did it again. I fanned that ball into the back fence. He did it about 10 more times, and I only hit one more ball in the court...and it wasn't a winner. After the drill, he just smiled and said "Got it?"

I did, and it changed my tennis. We then sat down and talked about what I should do in this situation, and his explanation went something like this. "You're in a defensive position, but I'm not pressing you by coming in, because I know you can hit a heavy forehand, and I might get passed. I'm better off staying on the baseline and anticipating your next shot. If you go for the impossible winner, whether you make that particular shot or not, I know I've just won the match. If, on the other hand, you try to find the middle of the baseline with a safe shot, pass the problem back to me, and run like hell to get back in position...well, then I know I've got a match on my hands."

So that's the bottom line: Always try to anticipate what your opponent is going to do, move so that you try to get in position to hit an offensive shot...but it you can't get into that position, play defense, hustle back into a neutral position on the court, give your opponent one more chance to miss a ball, and then try to retake the offense.

The final thought in this discussion is that playing a combination of offensive and defensive tennis requires flexibility in your mindset and variety in your strokes. My base forehand is a semi-Western open-stance shot that I hit hard but with a lot of top so that I can get lots of clearance over the net but know that it won't sail over the baseline. It's my standard "rally ball" on the forehand. But I can flatten it out, which is the right answer against a lot of net rushers, and is a good weapon against baseliners who love top but hate flat, hard hit balls. And there are other uses for the flat ball, obviously. I can also hit with less pace but a lot of top...for example, a short forehand cross-court where my opponent is hanging out in the backhand side of the baseline, hoping for an inside out forehand.

The other forehand I use is just a simple block, hit with a Continental grip, and it's a lot like my forehand volley. When might I use this shot? Well, when I'm run way wide to my forehand, I'm struggling to get to the ball, and I want to put a safe, defensive shot back deep to the middle of the court so I can stay in the point! So what if my standard forehand is semi-Western topspin ball? As Peter Burwash once noted, "Tennis is a series of controlled emergencies", and if the emergency is that I'm a dog at the end of my rope struggling just to get a racket on a forehand...sure, I can hit a blocked Continental forehand, if that's what it takes. And so can you...try it, you'll like it....

Swissv2
05-19-2009, 08:30 AM
So that's the bottom line: Always try to anticipate what your opponent is going to do, move so that you try to get in position to hit an offensive shot...but it you can't get into that position, play defense, hustle back into a neutral position on the court, give your opponent one more chance to miss a ball, and then try to retake the offense.


Great post. (I am not going to quote your entire novel ;) ) Being in the right position helps quite a bit, but we are all learning it at our levels. What is amazing to me is the ability of pro players to seem to be everywhere at all times when i watch them. Then I realize how quick they are due to their footwork.

skiracer55
05-19-2009, 08:49 AM
Great post. (I am not going to quote your entire novel ;) ) Being in the right position helps quite a bit, but we are all learning it at our levels. What is amazing to me is the ability of pro players to seem to be everywhere at all times when i watch them. Then I realize how quick they are due to their footwork.

...I'm trying to make it as succinct as possible, but sometimes it takes a few more words. The pro players are amazing, and my belief is that just watching them helps all of us to maximize what we're doing at our levels, as you say. Watch this space, for "Tennis is not" Part 2.

skiracer55
05-19-2009, 09:17 AM
In Part 1, we were working on efficient footwork as a means to get to a spot on the court where you can hit through your ideal hitting zone. As I suggested, footwork drills can improve your footwork, but they can also bring an awareness of what good footwork is and what it brings to the court. I believe this awareness alone will help you to find yourself in the spot where you can use your ideal hitting zone more often than not. So what's next?

Well, basically taking your footwork up a notch to produce more power when you hit an offensive shot through your ideal hitting zone. Anybody here want more power? At and above the NTRP 4.0 level, lots of things improve...consistency, spin, placement, and so forth. But I believe that from the 4.0 level up, you have to have the ability to put pace on the ball. A hard hit ball takes time away from your opponent and can produce errors or setup shots that you can easily put away on the next ball. As the fighter pilots say, "Speed is life." I'm talking here about groundstrokes, and if you've noticed, the pros can hit groundstrokes in the excess of 100 mph, and they are not all guys, either. The Williams sisters, particularly Serena, can hit groundstrokes incredibly hard. How do they do it?

Well, by two things:

(1) Using the kinetic chain, which is the windup of the whole body (a lot of this happens in the torso) and the subsequent uncoiling of the chain.

(2) A powerful stride off the back foot onto the front foot through the ideal hitting zone.

The basic level of movement on the tennis court is:

(1) Using good footwork, move to the "ideal hitting zone" spot on the court.

(2) Stop.

(3) Hit the shot.

(4) Starting running again to recover.

What you see the top players doing is running to the "ideal" spot, slowing down slightly to set up (but not stopping), then uncoiling the kinetic chain and striding from back foot to front foot through the stroke itself. I watched one of the former CU players do this in the final of a Men's Open tournament last year. He was setting up behind his ideal hitting zone, then making a huge stride, almost a running broad jump, off his back foot through the stroke and ending up on his front foot while the kinetic chain unwound.

Sound radical? You bet it is, and it's not for everyone, but I think all players ought to at least try to get the sensation of what it's like. To do that, first go get yourself a Frisbee. You can do this anywhere, but I think it's more meaningful if you do it on a tennis court, on the baseline.

The Frisbee drill for the forehand is simple: just take the Frisbee and wing it like a discus thrower would. I think, as athletes, track and field stars are among the best, and I love watching discus or javelin throwers. So rather than having me waste your time talking about what a good discus throw looks like, just tune into any of the many track and field meets currently being televised and check out the discus throwers. You'll immediately see what I'm talking about, which is that they gather themselves at the far side of the circle, wind up the kinetic chain, get some revolutions going to get the kinetic chain unwinding, and finish by springing across the circle from the back foot to the front foot to release the discus.

When you're doing your forehand Frisbee discus, you don't have to do the actual 360 degree revolutions...but if the spirit moves you, go ahead! This is an experiment in the kinetic chain slash angular momentum coupled with a leap, or spring from the back foot to the front foot...so my advice is, don't hold back!

The Frisbee drill for the backhand is really simple. Most of us wing a Frisbee using essentially a backhand stroke, so just fire off a bunch of throws like this. If you don't know how to throw a Frisbee, your kids will show you. When I hit a really heavy topspin backhand, the stroke itself and the accompanying unwinding of the kinetic chain and the accompanying stride forward feels just like I'm throwing a Frisbee.

Try it, you'll like it...

maverick66
05-19-2009, 10:06 AM
First, stick with the Darth Vadar all-black look. We've talked about this before, but I'll again note that all-black is quite fierce and Dead Sexy. :)

I often think this when i see j011ys videos. the all black makes him a sexy beast.:)

skiracer55
05-19-2009, 10:18 AM
Great post. (I am not going to quote your entire novel ;) ) Being in the right position helps quite a bit, but we are all learning it at our levels. What is amazing to me is the ability of pro players to seem to be everywhere at all times when i watch them. Then I realize how quick they are due to their footwork.

...at the risk of TMI (Too Much Information). The top players move really well and they also anticipate really well. Anticipating your opponent's next move is something we can all do better, and it, combined with improved footwork, can help put us in an ideal hitting position more often. Andy Murray is winning a lot of matches lately, and a lot of that is because he's very court savvy. He knows how to use the full court, and he also knows what his opponent is likely to come up with in a given situation and, more importantly, how to best counter it. Murray has an uncanny ability to anticipate the next shot and do something good with his reply.

So how can you better anticipate your opponent's next move? Well, basically in three ways:

(1) First, there's usually a standard move to make in a given situation. For example, you get a short ball on the forehand, the Aussies used to say "Always approach down the line," so you do and follow it in to the net, cheating toward your right so you close off the passing shot down the line. Yep, a cross court pass might beat you, but it's a lot harder than hitting a pass down the line. So, and this is especially true of net play, if you make the standard move to the percentage spot, most of the time, you probably won't have to move far, if at all, to get to the next ball.

(2) Second, every player has patterns and favorite shots, especially under pressure. If you're playing somebody you already know, you already know what they like and do not like to do. If you're playing somebody new, use the warmup and the first few games of the match to figure out their tendencies. For example, Player A, for whatever reason, almost always goes cross-court on a backhand pass. So when I come in on a forehand down the line, I'll shade toward the down-the-line pass, but not too far, and I'll be ready to jump to my left to anticipate and intercept the cross court pass. Player B has great, heavy topsin balls on both sides...but they always go cross court, Player B doesn't like to change direction in a rally and go down the line. So unless I change the direction in a ground stroke rally, I can cheat toward the coming-back-crosscourt side of the baseline.

(3) Third, and this is the most advanced method, you can start the point and try to construct it so that you almost know where the ball is coming back in reply to each of your shots. For example, I have a good slice serve out wide, and I've been setting my opponent up with a lot of heavy serves down the middle in the deuce court. At 30-30, I serve wide to the forehand, come in behind the serve and following it so I cheat toward the left side of the net where I look for the backhand volley which I angle crosscourt and follow it, cutting off the weak down the line reply, which I angle into the open court for a winner, point over.

John Newcombe used to call this "preacting," and the idea is that you take control of the point from the git-go and your opponent has to fall into a pattern of choreographed responses. When tennis commentators talk about players "shortening the point", it's usually not by trying to hit a bunch of impossible winners. It's by using this "can opener" approach, where you start the rally with a forcing stroke, and then tighten the screws so that within a few strokes, you've got the easy winner in hand. We talked earlier about offensive and defensive tennis. All this "preacting" example really says is "If possible, start on the offensive, don't give it up, and make your opponent gopher up an easy ball or an error in as few shots as possible."

The corollary to this is "If you have to, go on defense, but try to neutralize with the next shot, then get back on the offense ASAP." Murray, Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer are currently, in my opinion, the most accomplished ATP players in terms of being able to start a point in the driver's seat, switch to defense for a ball or two when needed, then back to offense so quickly that you hardly know they're doing it. Same for Caroline Wozniacki and Jankovic on the women's side, and Dinara Safina is getting better at it all the time.

You have strengths, I have strengths, everybody has strengths, at whatever level. Try to figure out what your strengths are, how these strengths make your opponent do things he or she doesn't want to do, and try a little preacting of your own...

split-step
05-19-2009, 12:30 PM
4. Crosscourt/DTL groundstrokes. One player hits every groundstroke crosscourt, the other hits everything down the line. Keep it in play as long as possible, practicing running groundstrokes.

This drill is tiiiiiring.

J011yroger
05-20-2009, 03:24 AM
What fun!

I did watch the video, and I enjoyed it very much. So thank you! I also like your "light" system for dealing with serves. Although for me a high percentage of serves feel like red lights.

Some quick remarks on your video, and a question.

First, stick with the Darth Vadar all-black look. We've talked about this before, but I'll again note that all-black is quite fierce and Dead Sexy. :)

Second, I hadn't seen your FH before, and now I understand what you've said about how you developed it and whatnot. Suffice it to say I would pay cold hard cash for that FH. Maybe I could get a deal if I also purchased your slice BH?

Third, do know of any site where you can upload video and then play it back in slow motion? I don't think this is possible with YouTube or the site on which your videos are displayed.

The light system is great, you just need to return a bazillion balls to get the hang of it.

Actually my FH sucks, the fact that I can hit the crap out of the ball with it just kind of covers that up. Goal for this summer is to get it fixed. It is coming around.

For slow motion, the best thing is if I film in high speed 210fps, but it doesn't come out well indoors, so I will do some filming outside.

The high speed is awesome, and looks like this short clip http://vimeo.com/3568081

J

J011yroger
05-20-2009, 03:27 AM
Good stuff Jo11y.

I know you got some flak from that last 'slice' vid you showed - not that you had asked, LOL, but you know what I mean. So I just wanted to say to be fair, on the second point of this vid, your slice looked much nicer form wise and is likely the one you use most often anyways.

That second point - struck me funny. I have seen that so many times play out just as that point did, with the short stab volley, and the guy in yellow comes up to put it away, and then net's it. That drives me crazy because I have done that myself so many times!

Personally, I think we hold, hold, then rush the stroke on those type of misses.

Anyways, nice vids once again. Always fun to watch.

EDIT - Hey Jo11y - Look at that short approach slice at 124-126 seconds. That is like THE perfect time one might use that cross-behind step we were discussing a few days ago. Not critisizing you at all, you executed well there. But some folks were asking when one might use it, and that is a great example of a place that it helps keep the body sideways and cleaner footwork. Nice approach btw...

Ya, I don't do that cross behind step, ever. It is something that I would have to practice against the wall or such before I employed it in a real match.

As far as hitting those easy passes into the net, I can do that every bit as well as my buddy, but the magic of video editing comes to my rescue.


J