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Cindysphinx
06-29-2009, 05:53 PM
I have two ladies with whom I practice fairly often. One is fine.

I am having problems with the other one. I need to figure out whether I should just throw in the towel.

Our session just now was typical. She struggles with her BH; I struggle with my FH. We decided to work on BHs first. To hit to her BH, I stood in the middle of the baseline and hit the ball to her BH. I would run to the next ball, wherever it landed, and hit it again deep to her BH. When she missed a shot, one of us fed another ball and we continued. I did not give her tips or advice or pointers, and I tried to get medium-paced balls to her BH as consistently as I could.

Then she wanted to hit some BHs DTL. I stood in my FH court and tried to hit balls DTL so she could hit her BH DTL. So far, so good.

Then it was time to work on my FH. I told her to hit to my FH, as I wanted to work on doing good footwork to get around the ball and set up properly and do a good shoulder turn. She stood way over in her FH corner and spanked balls hard crosscourt. Some I could reach and attempt to play; some I just let go.

This didn't seem to be working, so I asked her to stand in the middle of the baseline and rally FHs up the middle with me instead, hoping that this would get me more balls I could actually hit. I told her I wanted to try to do the footwork to get out of my own way and hit a high-quality FH straight back to her.

She said, "I don't think I can hit down the middle. I mean, I would never do that in a match; I hit to the corners. Both of us standing in the middle hitting to each other is unrealistic." I replied, "Well, when you play doubles, you'll need to know how to drive the ball up the middle, so maybe you can work on that?"

Privately, I was getting irritated by this point because I figure you should be able to hit a groundstroke from any point on the court to any point on the court. I thought it was bizarre to say you don't hit balls down the middle in singles as pros hit down the middle all the time.

I think what we have is a basic philosophical difference about practice. She thinks that practice should mimic match play, and if you would go for a winner in a match, you should go for a winner against your practice partner. If you hit *to* someone, you are training your brain to do only that and you won't be able to hit away from opponents in matches. I tend to think that once you have good technique (developed through controlled practice), you can put the ball wherever you want and can hit away from your opponent if you want.

The other issue I don't know how to deal with is the question of unsolicited advice. I dealt with the frequent pointers and tips by nodding and ignoring them, but I do have to say I found the cumulative effect of this annoying. Some of the stuff she says is just wrong, yet I don't want to spend time arguing.

For those of you with practice partners, to what extent do you coach each other in a hitting session? What's normal, do you think?

Nonentity
06-29-2009, 09:02 PM
Why ignore advice? They are just trying to help you... If it makes sense, you should consider trying it, and if you think it is wrong, you should debate it, as nodding your head at it will only encourage more bad advice. But of course if you are getting advice from a player who is less skilled than you in many ways, you should politely tell them not to give you any more tips.

raiden031
06-30-2009, 03:33 AM
What a piece of work. By your partner's logic, you might as well have been playing a match because hitting cooperatively is not realistic for a match situation, and therefore an ineffective way to practice.

bukaeast
06-30-2009, 05:22 AM
Practice partners that want to practice and not just play points are rare.
You are enough of a people person to know that people are more or less accomodating in working with others to accomplish something to greater and lesser degrees. This person has limits. Can you live with these tighter tolerances? By the next time you hit with her, have you "chilled out"? If you can find enough partners to fill your dance card, throw in the towel on this problem partner.


Otherwise, craft a series of drills that meet your needs. Try to get them to fit both of your philosophies. The classic is to have one of you hit only DTL and the other only CC. Sure, the most cooperative way is to stand on the cernter hashmark and hit to just the sides of it on your partner's side of the court. My partner likes to get more of a dramatic CC, plus we don't have quite the skill level to really place the balls. So we keep working on this and work both FH & BH shots in the same drill. But you know where the ball is supposed to go.

All this is to say that NORMAL is what you and your practice partner can agree on and actually do. Drills can be boring and many people do not have the discipline to work on them. They also can be taxing untill the skill level catches up with desired outcome of the strokes, then they get boring again.

I dunno. Do you think you can get out more than you need to put up with, unwanted advice, philosophical practice goal differences, and all?
That is something only you can answer. Who cares if it is NORMAL, is it acceptable?

Cindysphinx
06-30-2009, 05:50 AM
But see, what I don't know is whether *I* am being the piece of work. That's why I am wondering what the rest of you do with your practice partners.

I mean, is it reasonable to do the things I am suggesting? Is there any merit in her position that training your brain to hit to your opponent is harmful?

As for the unsolicited advice . . . I finally flipped out and did argue when we were learning BH slice. I had looked it up on Fuzzy Yellow Balls to make sure I remembered how to do it correctly (Continental grip, weight transfer, etc). We started hitting BH slices to each other, and she immediately told me I was doing it wrong. My problem, she said, was that I needed to open the racket face and carve under the ball.

I argued that such technique will cause you to pop the ball up rather than drive through it, and that I had looked it up on-line. She countered that my slice wasn't really a slice, but was a topspin or flat shot (although it was no such thing). I said that I would keep working on it, thank you very much, and kept doing it my way through gritted teeth.

Is this normal? I feel like if we both, as people who know nothing of teaching tennis, spend time arguing or discussing what mistakes each of us is making, we will hit a lot fewer tennis balls.

Contributing to this conflict is that I work with a pro and she does not. I have in the past asked my pro about some thing or other she swears I am doing wrong and he just rolls his eyes. Maybe I will just have to tell her before we start that I have specific things I will be working on at the request of my pro and to ignore it if I start doing something else wrong . . . .

Xisbum
06-30-2009, 06:35 AM
Another interesting discussion, Cindy. Since I frequently like to just hit with people as opposed to playing games and sets, I would add this:

When you're helping the other person work on a particular shot, tell them in advance that you will hit "most" of your shots to that area, but every now and then you will pop one the other way. That takes away the "always hitting to the same spot" argument, because the other person has to recover from each shot (i.e., move back to the center of the court) because he/she doesn't know where the next ball will be. To me, that's more realistic practice than hitting every ball to the same corner.

When it's your turn to work on a particular shot, tell your partner that you expect the same treatment - most shots to the weaker area, but always the option to smack one to the other side.

Should help both of you in movement, anticipation, etc., in addition to getting practice on your weaker side.

Naturally, this is worth about the customary 2 cents, I'd say. :-)

P.S. On the unsolicited advice, I usually listen for about a minute, then politely tell the other person that what works for them doesn't necessarily work for me. Tennis, after all, is still an individual sport, and who knows your ability and shortcomings better than you?

nytennisaddict
06-30-2009, 07:36 AM
Take all advice from your peers with a grain of salt (sometimes this is even applicable to some "teaching pros").... Analyze what was offered as advice later, and see if it makes sense to you, and if it fits in with your model of how the stroke should be hit, then keep it, otherwise discard. It's absolutely a waste of time to debate technique with someone - the funny thing is that both of you may even agree with the technique, but you're describing them it 2 different ways! If you really find it irritating to get unsolicitated advice, just say you're working on a different part of your game, and can only focus on one thing at a time, and you'll consider their advice at another time.

Sometimes when I'm playing with 3.5's, I'll switch to my non-dominant hand (eg. play left fh + lefty 1hbh : normally playing right fh + right 2hbh - helps me hit my 2hbh IMO)... and obviously I'm not as coordinated on that side, so I'll shank, miss, etc... and I'm amazed at how much (incorrect) unsolicitated advice I'll get from other 3.5's (bend your knees, follow through, etc... - good advice, but completely out of context)... if I encounter a particularly instructive persion I'll switch to my right hand for a shot (blast it to them), then thank them because their tip seemed to really work :P What's even funnier, is that they usually don't even notice I switched hands.

larry10s
06-30-2009, 07:48 AM
cindysphinx here is the easy answer. if you have to work this hard to make it work its not worth it or productive. find someone you can drill with and be cooperative towards each others goals. you should be able to hit any target. like in warm up .if you cant warm someone up because you cant control the ball you need more practice . hitting the ball "to" someone in a way that they can hit it back ON PURPOSE is what teaching pros do all day. you are learning to control the ball not hit the ball to someone . again as always my 2 cents.

Racer41c
06-30-2009, 07:49 AM
1 out of 2 isn't a bad %. The gf was a 5.0- A player. We had this same conversation one day and she basicly said that she had to leave a 100 partners behind because they couldn't arrive at the same objective. For the partners she did, they were a dominate force for several years.

When I watched her practice "groundies" as she likes to say, they could work on several things in their 50-60 ball exchanges, moving around on the court, working bh-fh then bh-bh then fh-bh then fh-fh.

For some reason, she never wanted to practice with me... :-(

heroix
06-30-2009, 08:05 AM
I don't think practicing is that complicated?

Find someone that's relaxing and calm. Go out and hit.
I personally like to hit with a friend whose rather quiet on the court. We get along real well, talk off court, but when it's on the court. It's quiet, and we hit and enjoy ourselves. If we do talk on court, it's not always tennis related. Sometimes we just try to take the pressure off of each other.

I think practice itself has an evolving pattern. I usually find myself hitting short court, back up hit the baseline, do some serves maybe. Then just hit from the baseline. If you see your partner is struggling with a shot, hit them that shot or ask them if they'd like.

Usually I ask people to hit to my backhand side as much as they want, cause that's where I struggle. Sometimes I'll ask, "Hey give me a short ball every once and a while, so I can practice my approach." Or somewhere along those lines.

Sometimes I'll play a "Practice Practice Match." Which I call a match, where you play a long as a normal match... and where someone makes a play where they need work on. You hold the match and work on it. For instance...

It's 3 all, 0-30. I hit 3 serves in a row, and ace. My partner asks, "Hey can we hold off for a second, and can I practice trying to return that serve?" Or somewhere along those lines...

Practicing isn't complicated.
It should be a time where you can get together with another person, and work on your game with each other. If it's just warming up, and hitting, or working on different shots.

If your partner is constantly trying to give you advice. Dump them. I will sometimes give advice if I KNOW it's right, or maybe a small pointer. I'm just a 3.5 player- so I don't have all the knowledge in the book. Sometimes I'll ask my partner for advice.
If he gives bad advice, hell, I'll ignore it... or try to expand off of it.

Don't try to overcomplicate practice. Just go out there, hit, and enjoy yourself. It's a YOU time. Once you start stressing out during practice or argue with your partner, you're not Practicing and concentrating on your game (which is what you're out there to do ESPECIALLY during practicing). Don't waste your time arguing, tell your partner to shut up and just play. It's your time to warm up and figure out your game, and make the changes necessary.

Spokewench
06-30-2009, 08:52 AM
I take my different practice partners for what they are and don't get too focused on what "I have to do". I can work on all my shots all the time; since none of them are perfect! So, I practice with one lady who is way better than I am and will return anything. She likes to just hit, i.e. any place on the court and hits with nice pace. With her, I just enjoy the hitting experience and getting the nice pace practice.

With another of my practice partners, who hits a much slower topspin ball with not too much power; we practice placement and different types of drills. We might practice serve and volley for a while, hitting cross court only; we might hit cross court only, etc., etc. This woman is very analytical and really likes to work on things; so she is always talking about what she did right or wrong in a shot. Sometimes, this drives me a bit batty because I like to keep up playing instead of talking; but we always have a nice hitting session.

So, I guess my answer is that I'm flexible with my different practice partners and try to get something out of the session. Each one is very different, but they have something to offer for my practice sessions. I do not have anyone I hit with that gives me a lot of advice and I would probably not listen to them much if they did.

spoke

skiracer55
06-30-2009, 09:15 AM
But see, what I don't know is whether *I* am being the piece of work. That's why I am wondering what the rest of you do with your practice partners.

I mean, is it reasonable to do the things I am suggesting? Is there any merit in her position that training your brain to hit to your opponent is harmful?

As for the unsolicited advice . . . I finally flipped out and did argue when we were learning BH slice. I had looked it up on Fuzzy Yellow Balls to make sure I remembered how to do it correctly (Continental grip, weight transfer, etc). We started hitting BH slices to each other, and she immediately told me I was doing it wrong. My problem, she said, was that I needed to open the racket face and carve under the ball.

I argued that such technique will cause you to pop the ball up rather than drive through it, and that I had looked it up on-line. She countered that my slice wasn't really a slice, but was a topspin or flat shot (although it was no such thing). I said that I would keep working on it, thank you very much, and kept doing it my way through gritted teeth.

Is this normal? I feel like if we both, as people who know nothing of teaching tennis, spend time arguing or discussing what mistakes each of us is making, we will hit a lot fewer tennis balls.

Contributing to this conflict is that I work with a pro and she does not. I have in the past asked my pro about some thing or other she swears I am doing wrong and he just rolls his eyes. Maybe I will just have to tell her before we start that I have specific things I will be working on at the request of my pro and to ignore it if I start doing something else wrong . . . .

...re the backhand slice, and probably a whole bunch of other things, she doesn't know what she's talking about, and you do. Hitting with her is not fun or productive for you, and life is too short, so cut her to the taxi squad...

UnforcedError
06-30-2009, 09:20 AM
Drop her as a practice partner.

Everyone should be able to hit down the middle, if you can't hit down the middle you won't be able to hit the corners either. Also if both players are trying to smack winners it is called playing points. If one player is trying to smack winners it is just irritating.

I liked Develitos thread about his comeback, he is a very good player and the goal is to try and hit 100 ball rallies, sounds like a good idea. So good players generally try to maintain long rallies because they know being consistent wins, not so good players try to smack winners.

sureshs
06-30-2009, 09:23 AM
The first couple of strokes in a practice rally should be down the middle - the feed and the return. Then players should gradually increase the pace and spin and start moving their opponents sideways. But drop shots are not polite.

Xisbum
06-30-2009, 10:11 AM
But drop shots are not polite.

Drat!!!!!! ;-)

charliefedererer
06-30-2009, 10:35 AM
She's not going to change. You can either decide that the type of practice you get with her is a good complement to the practice you get with your other hitting partner or you can drop her.
I have one person who I hit with who is like this, but decided he provides variety to the other guys I hit with, as his agressiveness in practice helps prepare for match conditions.

cghipp
06-30-2009, 10:49 AM
Dump her. She's the only one getting anything out of the practices.

Swissv2
06-30-2009, 10:55 AM
Practice is meant to work on "Control & Consistency" (hereafter referred to as C&C) therefore, she should be able to control that ball going DTL.

You are correct in stating she should be able to hit down the middle. From your description, you are working on specific things like BH and FH ~ an even bigger reason for your "partner" to work on C&C.

If you were doing a practice match, then hit winners when opportunity arises, but not when you are practicing your ground strokes!

Kostas
06-30-2009, 12:14 PM
Practice is meant to work on "Control & Consistency" (hereafter referred to as C&C) therefore, she should be able to control that ball going DTL.

You are correct in stating she should be able to hit down the middle. From your description, you are working on specific things like BH and FH ~ an even bigger reason for your "partner" to work on C&C.

If you were doing a practice match, then hit winners when opportunity arises, but not when you are practicing your ground strokes!

You could have saved yourself 8 characters by just typing "Control & Consistency" the 2nd time instead of including a definition for the abbreviation followed only by a single use of that abbreviation. :):)

BounceHitBounceHit
06-30-2009, 02:47 PM
When players go out for 'practice' there are many different potential goals. At the 3.5 level (and honestly well beyond) CONSISTENCY (ie ball crosses net and enters opponent's court) is the first goal, followed by depth, placement, spin, and LASTLY power. Each of these skills can be practiced differently, and true enough there IS merit in honing your 'weapons' by hitting out sometimes.

HOWEVER, watch just about any 3.5 (or 4.0) match you like and you will quickly find that the match is typically LOST (ie not won) by virtue of unforced errors. I've hit with lots and lots of players who could just CRUSH the ball for two or three, sometimes even four or five shots, but they were not consistent enough to maintain the rally beyond that point, made an error, and ultimately lost badly. ;) Your partner has not yet figured this out. She wants to practice her 'big' shot, but the thing is it probably is not 'big enough' to be an asset just yet. If it were, she would be a 5.0. :)

This is a long winded way of saying you may have stumbled on the type of practice partner who will likely NEVER advance beyond the 3.5 level for the very reasons you don't like to practice 'with' her ('with' is used loosely here, based on your description). ;)

I KNOW you want to continue to improve. Find a new partner.

BHBH

Edit: I base this recommendation on having hit and drilled/played/practiced extensively with top DI amateurs, nationally ranked players in 'our' (45's) age group, as well as former ATP and WTA players. I have listened VERY carefully to what they've told me!

BounceHitBounceHit
06-30-2009, 02:52 PM
One other thing.............................lots of people have a terrible time accurately assesssing their own level of play. Most badly OVER-rate themselves and as a result fall into 'coaching' others on matters they themselves have yet to master. Don't let it bug you, but don't listen either. ;) Offer a polite 'I think I'll stick with the advice my pro is giving me' and move on. Or, stop hitting with them. :) BHBH

julian
06-30-2009, 06:25 PM
But see, what I don't know is whether *I* am being the piece of work. That's why I am wondering what the rest of you do with your practice partners.

I mean, is it reasonable to do the things I am suggesting? Is there any merit in her position that training your brain to hit to your opponent is harmful?

As for the unsolicited advice . . . I finally flipped out and did argue when we were learning BH slice. I had looked it up on Fuzzy Yellow Balls to make sure I remembered how to do it correctly (Continental grip, weight transfer, etc). We started hitting BH slices to each other, and she immediately told me I was doing it wrong. My problem, she said, was that I needed to open the racket face and carve under the ball.

I argued that such technique will cause you to pop the ball up rather than drive through it, and that I had looked it up on-line. She countered that my slice wasn't really a slice, but was a topspin or flat shot (although it was no such thing). I said that I would keep working on it, thank you very much, and kept doing it my way through gritted teeth.

Is this normal? I feel like if we both, as people who know nothing of teaching tennis, spend time arguing or discussing what mistakes each of us is making, we will hit a lot fewer tennis balls.

Contributing to this conflict is that I work with a pro and she does not. I have in the past asked my pro about some thing or other she swears I am doing wrong and he just rolls his eyes. Maybe I will just have to tell her before we start that I have specific things I will be working on at the request of my pro and to ignore it if I start doing something else wrong . . . .

Cindy,
there are two kind of slice:
first - movement up - down
second- movement up-down-up

There is a chance that yours of the second type ( called sometimes
a slice drive)
I hope it helps a bit
julian

nickynu
07-01-2009, 05:29 AM
Cindy this is what I think would be good to focuss her.

Say to her (for instance) we are going to rally cross court and ONLY if one of us drops it short (IE Service line) can the other come in and we will play out the point. This is practice with a purpose and is much more effective as you both get a bit of what you want.

coloskier
07-02-2009, 11:47 AM
I have two different practice partners as well. One is a 4.0 player who pushes the ball with underspin, the other is a 5.0 like me who rips the ball with heavy topspin. The 4.0 player loves to play matches, so I get some match experience, the 5.0 player just wants to work on his strokes, so we rally most of the time, with one caveat. We have agreed that if one of us "accidentally" hits a shot that pulls us from the center, that the other player can now hit for a winner. So, it can be competitive, but still get some good rallying practice in.

Cindysphinx
07-02-2009, 01:49 PM
My friend called and wanted to practice. I just didn't want to, so I declined. I mean, if you're still annoyed by something a day or two later, maybe it is best to just give it a rest for a while.