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View Full Version : McNamee - Successful stroke overhauls by former pros


gpt
06-11-2009, 04:11 AM
In 1979 Paul McNamee took six months of the tour to develop a 2 handed backhand because his one hander was really just a defensive slice. Apart from the subsequent success he had in doubles, his singles ranking lifted significantly. He also beat the second seeded J Mac in 4 tie breaker sets at the French open the following year.

Did any other former pros make such a radical change for the better during their career?

pc1
06-11-2009, 05:52 PM
In 1979 Paul McNamee took six months of the tour to develop a 2 handed backhand because his one hander was really just a defensive slice. Apart from the subsequent success he had in doubles, his singles ranking lifted significantly. He also beat the second seeded J Mac in 4 tie breaker sets at the French open the following year.

Did any other former pros make such a radical change for the better during their career?

Tilden changed his backhand in his late twenties so he could drive it better and it was perhaps the major factor in him becoming number one and virtually unbeatable.

Stan Smith had to learn a topspin backhand in his early twenties and he used it to become number one.

I don't know if this counts but Pete Sampras had a two handed backhand when he was a junior player and his coach convinced him and his family to switch to a one handed backhand and we all know the result.

I always wondered what would have happened if he stayed with the two hander. Sampras was a very athletic player and I wonder if perhaps he wouldn't been very successful anyway.

Don Budge switched from a Western grip on his forehand to an Eastern grip and became number one.

Pancho Gonzalez changed his backhand grip during groundstroke exchanges against Lew Hoad and with his new Eastern grip he was better able to pass Hoad crosscourt. Gonzalez was around thirty at the time.

nfor304
06-11-2009, 06:30 PM
Apparently Agassi had a 1 handed backhand as a junior untill he went to train at Bolleteri's

BTURNER
06-11-2009, 06:42 PM
So far every one of these examples deals with the backhand groundstroke. How about forehand or service overhauls?

nfor304
06-11-2009, 07:01 PM
Nadal has changed his service stance from when he first turned pro. Also Chela used to use an abbreviated serve and now does the full backswing. There were a few Argentinians who played with the abbreviated serve, Chela, Puerta and Zabaleta, and I think Zabaleta is the only one still using it, though im not sure if he is retired

Uthree
06-12-2009, 01:22 AM
For those who follow the veterens, Pat Cashes serve. One of the best volleyers ever, now he serves so fast he doesn't need the volleys.

theagassiman
06-12-2009, 01:41 AM
For those who follow the veterens, Pat Cashes serve. One of the best volleyers ever, now he serves so fast he doesn't need the volleys.

Lol.
Can I see him serve?

gpt
06-12-2009, 01:46 AM
Thanks for the examples pc1. I didn't know of any of those.


For those who follow the veterens, Pat Cashes serve. One of the best volleyers ever, now he serves so fast he doesn't need the volleys.

Post Wimbledon 87 win I remember Cash changed his serve after a long lay off (due to a stomach injury i think).
Lower ball toss and a much quicker swing with more emphasis on accelerated racquet head to develop power to lessen the strain on his abs. I remember Jimmy Arias changed his backhand grip considerably and changed from a loopy backfoot topspinner to a more driving shot.

But neither of these are dramatic changes like McNamees

Uthree
06-12-2009, 02:48 AM
Lol.
Can I see him serve?

I recorded his exhibition with Wilander at the Aussie open: Nothing I can post as yet.
gpt's description is close to the mark. The same sort of rythym as Goran's (different set up of course)

35ft6
06-12-2009, 03:51 PM
I don't know if this counts but Pete Sampras had a two handed backhand when he was a junior player and his coach convinced him and his family to switch to a one handed backhand and we all know the result.Has there ever been a great serve and volleyer with a two-handed backhand? His switch to a one-hander was symptomatic of a complete overhaul in how he would approach the game in order to some day win Wimbledon. They must have realized that strictly from a ground game standpoint, the one hander wasn't going to be as strong, but in terms of developing a more attacking game, it was a necessary and positive change.

Wilander was hitting nothing but slice backhands for a while. But that's really not a radical change.

gpt
06-12-2009, 04:12 PM
Great point about Sampras Mr 35ft6.
I saw Wilander play at to AO in 88 and was surprised to see him hitting so many slice backhands. Thats was after watching him on tv since the 82 FO hitting over it. I wonder if that was a devlopment designed to succeed at Wimbledon?

Rob_C
06-12-2009, 04:30 PM
Fernando Meligeni switched to a 1HBH from a 2HBH the year he reached the French Open semis, I think it was '99.

rod99
06-12-2009, 05:46 PM
Apparently Agassi had a 1 handed backhand as a junior untill he went to train at Bolleteri's

uh, no. not true.

Xuxa Kuerten
06-12-2009, 08:04 PM
Fernando Meligeni switched to a 1HBH from a 2HBH the year he reached the French Open semis, I think it was '99.

Fino changed his backhand in 1995, when he was 24. He'd been number 1 when playing juniors (1989, 1990), but ever since he became a pro, he didnever reach good results. After switching his backhand, he won 3 tournaments, 1996 olympics semifinals, 1999 Roland Garros semifinals and #25 in rankings.

Uthree
06-14-2009, 02:45 AM
Chang shortened his service action with minor success I think.

makinao
06-14-2009, 03:46 AM
For Wimbledon, Borg adjusted his service toss so that it is was more in front of him. He then went on a 5-year championship spree.

urban
06-14-2009, 04:15 AM
I once read, that Cliff Drysdale learnt to play a topspin forehand only as a senior. Maybe it was his glove, what prevented him from doing it earlier.

!Tym
06-14-2009, 09:07 AM
Fino changed his backhand in 1995, when he was 24. He'd been number 1 when playing juniors (1989, 1990), but ever since he became a pro, he didnever reach good results. After switching his backhand, he won 3 tournaments, 1996 olympics semifinals, 1999 Roland Garros semifinals and #25 in rankings.

Melligeni was known to be talented, but from what I remember, it was said that he came from a family of great wealth and that people thought that this prevented him from reaching his potential early on. That because his family was wealthy, he didn't have the same hunger in his stomach, the same work ethic, that others did. Any truth to this?

Also, Melligeni's "one-hander" to me looked an awful lot like a two-hander. If ever you had a notion of what a two-hander switching to a one-hander would look like, this would be it. It honestly didn't really look like a true, pure one-hander to me; but rather almst like a hybrid one/two-hander similar to Berasategui's, Borg's, and Yhouzny (now he hits it more traditional, I can only guess because of aesthetics since there was nothing wrong with it before).

joe sch
06-14-2009, 11:37 AM
Laver, probably the GOAT, had a more old school slice/flat backhand until early in his pro career where he was one of the first players to developed a big topspin BH weapon. This addition to his game helped him to win Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969. I always wondered why Rosewall never developed such a topspin BH weapon but he was still a GOAT contender with his incredible slice BH.

Gaucho Behrend
07-25-2009, 08:22 AM
Gilbert Schaller remodelled his forehand at the end of 1994 and he got improved results.

35ft6
07-25-2009, 02:13 PM
Alex Kim said when he changed his eastern forehand to a semi-western, he instantly improved. This was right before he dominated the NCAA's for a couple of years. I actually experienced the same thing. There was really no transition period, I just instantly improved when I moved to a semi western.

gpt
02-28-2010, 04:56 PM
So far every one of these examples deals with the backhand groundstroke. How about forehand or service overhauls?

I read in an old tennis magazine last week that Kevin Curren played a two handed forehand in the juniors and his early pro years. His game apparently improved significantly after changing to a more conventional forehand.

Datacipher
02-28-2010, 10:15 PM
I read in an old tennis magazine last week that Kevin Curren played a two handed forehand in the juniors and his early pro years. His game apparently improved significantly after changing to a more conventional forehand.

That is interesting because Curren also revamped his serve in college to the extremely low ball toss action (probably the lowest and earliest strike of all time).

Datacipher
02-28-2010, 10:19 PM
Has there ever been a great serve and volleyer with a two-handed backhand? His switch to a one-hander was symptomatic of a complete overhaul in how he would approach the game in order to some day win Wimbledon. They must have realized that strictly from a ground game standpoint, the one hander wasn't going to be as strong, but in terms of developing a more attacking game, it was a necessary and positive change.

Wilander was hitting nothing but slice backhands for a while. But that's really not a radical change.

It's well known that is why Sampras changed. This has been publicized since 1990. In fact, the notion that a 2 handed backhand player cannot be a SV'er has been around since the 2 hander.

Having said that, I believe the notion to be false, and we have seen some excellent 2 handed SV players, and certainly excellent net players. The idea that strategically a 2 hander is disadvantaged is false in my opinion. If there is any validity to the premise, I think it would be a biologically based reason.

AndrewD
02-28-2010, 10:38 PM
Laver, probably the GOAT, had a more old school slice/flat backhand until early in his pro career where he was one of the first players to developed a big topspin BH weapon. This addition to his game helped him to win Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969.

That's not true at all. Laver developed that big topspin backhand as a junior. That was thanks to his original coach, Charlie Hollis, who was a huge advocate of topspin as an aggressive shot off both wings and insisted that Laver learned how to hit it. In turn, Laver was very heavily influenced by Lew Hoad who hit topspin off both sides.

What Laver developed, as he got older, was the physical strength to control hitting such aggressive spin off the backhand side continually. It's one thing to hit it occasionally but it takes a lot of wrist strength and physical strength to hit it repeatedly with a wooden racquet and while using a Continental grip. That's why Hoad was such a freak - he was able to do it well enough from the age of 18 to be one of the world's best.

raging
02-28-2010, 11:33 PM
That's not true at all. Laver developed that big topspin backhand as a junior. That was thanks to his original coach, Charlie Hollis, who was a huge advocate of topspin as an aggressive shot off both wings and insisted that Laver learned how to hit it. In turn, Laver was very heavily influenced by Lew Hoad who hit topspin off both sides.

What Laver developed, as he got older, was the physical strength to control hitting such aggressive spin off the backhand side continually. It's one thing to hit it occasionally but it takes a lot of wrist strength and physical strength to hit it repeatedly with a wooden racquet and while using a Continental grip. That's why Hoad was such a freak - he was able to do it well enough from the age of 18 to be one of the world's best.

Nice info AndrewD. Charlie had all his guys doing the fishing line with the weight on the end , broomstick roll-up, roll-down technique. My coach had us doing it too but all I got was sore wrists!(wrong biometrics, bodytype).
Hoadie and Laver built their arms like steel cables!
Even in 1983 ,when I last saw him, his right arm was bigger than his right.
Ditto for Laver with his left!

When Macca went away for 6 months to Hopman's that was unheard of.
Normally the end of your career...it kickstarted his!