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MOUKA
02-09-2010, 07:06 PM
I am a 4.0-4.5 player and play in a league. I am in my early 30's and in very good shape. My style of play is standard to hard-hitting. I do well when I play with someone who hits with pace. I guess you could say my style is similar to the way Baghdattis plays (watered down, of course).

My problem is that I tend to play DOWN to my opponent's ability. Specifically, I have been losing to older players (late 40s) who realize that I play well with pace, and they feed me these short, low-bouncing, soft shots.
I try rushing the net, I try to play their style, but I end up getting frustrated and making many silly mistakes.

I know I have the skill and ability to really overpower and outplay these opponents, but I end up beating myself.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Jonny S&V
02-09-2010, 07:12 PM
I am a 4.0-4.5 player and play in a league. I am in my early 30's and in very good shape. My style of play is standard to hard-hitting. I do well when I play with someone who hits with pace. I guess you could say my style is similar to the way Baghdattis plays (watered down, of course).

My problem is that I tend to play DOWN to my opponent's ability. Specifically, I have been losing to older players (late 40s) who realize that I play well with pace, and they feed me these short, low-bouncing, soft shots.
I try rushing the net, I try to play their style, but I end up getting frustrated and making many silly mistakes.

I know I have the skill and ability to really overpower and outplay these opponents, but I end up beating myself.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

I have this problem, and one thing that has been helping me a lot lately is telling myself three things (over and over again): Your strokes should be smooth, solid, and deep. I tend to over-hit my groundstrokes (a lot, hence why I try to S&V as much as possible), and I've gone back to my groundstrokes and have been focusing on those three things. Junk-ballers used to drive me nuts, and the only way I found that I could win was to junk them back. I still add a little junk here and there (dropper still my best shot), but having the ability to hit deep rally shots has really helped me out.

Hope this rambling bit of nonsense has helped any!

Geezer Guy
02-09-2010, 08:27 PM
A lot of guys can crush a ball from the baseline that's hit with pace. It's totally different to take a ball hit softer at mid-court and put it away. As a 4.0 to 4.5 player, that's a shot you really need in your bag. It's not that hard, but it does take practice. I'd suggest you find a local pro and work with him on that exact shot on both the forehand and backhand side. That soft mid-court ball is one you should either a winner or a forcing shot. Don't get into a dinking contest.

Ken Honecker
02-10-2010, 04:28 AM
I think in recreational sports it is very easy to find ones self "playing down" when facing lesser opponants. I've played on many softball and volleyball teams they slugged it out with the big boys and then struggled with the bottom feeders. It is all mental and some times it is hard to mantain that killer attitude when you feel you outclass the other players.

raiden031
02-10-2010, 05:05 AM
Sounds like you've gotten too comfortable being a baseliner. I think you need to spend more time working your approach and net game so that you are just as effective when you have to come forward to finish a point as you are when you can stay back. This is what I had to do as I started playing some of these middle-aged USTA hacks.

HitItHarder
02-10-2010, 05:36 AM
A lot of guys can crush a ball from the baseline that's hit with pace. It's totally different to take a ball hit softer at mid-court and put it away. As a 4.0 to 4.5 player, that's a shot you really need in your bag. It's not that hard, but it does take practice. I'd suggest you find a local pro and work with him on that exact shot on both the forehand and backhand side. That soft mid-court ball is one you should either a winner or a forcing shot. Don't get into a dinking contest.

This is good advice. You need to hit forcing shots on those shorties. Don't try to dink the dinker.

dunloppedover
02-10-2010, 06:09 AM
Just last night our head pro told me, in response to my comment that I prefer to play with pace,

"Pace covers a multitude of sins. When you can handle no pace, you will have reached enlightment."

dunloppedover
02-10-2010, 06:12 AM
<ack, no edit, "enlighENment">

dunloppedover
02-10-2010, 06:14 AM
<crap, seriously, "enlightenment">

<scurryingbacktolurkerland>

Cindysphinx
02-10-2010, 06:41 AM
<crap, seriously, "enlightenment">

<scurryingbacktolurkerland>

Ha! I admire your devotion to proper spelling. :)

Just so you know, the equivalent in the women's game is the women who lob you rather than give you something to bash.

One thing that helps with those short sitters is to take your hopper out and throw a ball up in the midcourt and practice spanking it. You have no pace and you can really get a feel for how you should approach those balls.

And don't forget to drop shot some of those balls. Why should you do all the running?

MOUKA
02-10-2010, 08:52 AM
Thanks for the advice. It is definately a mental hurdle rather than lack of skills or ability.
I think that having the mindset of preparing for the "dink" strategy from my opponent (even if it doesn't happen) and dealing with it, is the first and most important step in overcoming these types of players.

JavierLW
02-10-2010, 09:47 AM
I think that having the mindset of preparing for the "dink" strategy from my opponent (even if it doesn't happen) and dealing with it, is the first and most important step in overcoming these types of players.

That's probably the best advice there is for those types of things.

It's like anything, if you are ready for it and find out how to deal with it, you may see a lot less of it.

But if they are getting away with it over and over and over again, then Im not really sure you can label them a "weak" player, they just happen to be good at doing something that you cant deal with.

Ive seen a lot of higher level older men play and a lot of times they get labeled as "dinkers" or "pushers", but I think what happens is once they key into a weakness of yours they will just keep going for it.

It's also a trick to bring you to the net on their terms as well.

A pro once told me that if you can keep the ball deep and use topspin to get the ball above their shoulders or push them further back behind the baseline it becomes harder for them to hit those kinds of touch shots with any control.

That takes a bit of control on your part though, it's more like a good setup shot rather then going for a winner. (if it works you'll get an easier ball on the next shot for that, especially if it's shorter and you have a good angle)

sphinx780
02-11-2010, 07:28 AM
As long as the skills are there, sometimes you just need a game plan to mentally prepare yourself for the possibility of this player type being across the net from you.

What I used to do was try to finish the point on the one of those first short balls to avoid the dink mix and match game and watch my unforced errors reach hallowed numbers....there's gotta be some sort of idiots hall of fame I was reaching for. Ah, how I remember fondly my 'I'm a baseliner' days.

What I've found as a much better solution is to take that first ball and if it's high enough, roll a deep forcing shot, take net and use your setup to finish or run them ragged. If it's lower, slice a deep forcing shot and do the same thing. Just like power, touch can lose it's precision and effectiveness when you take out your opponents lungs.

Just another direction to look at this from, I still love a good bash fest with both wings but this is what ended up bringing my game forward when playing more and more of these guys at 4.5.

beernutz
02-11-2010, 08:48 AM
<crap, seriously, "enlightenment">

<scurryingbacktolurkerland>

Please don't scurry back to lurkerville--that was a nice comment you shared.

Ripper014
02-11-2010, 10:05 AM
Don't underestimate these old guys... they have probably been playing tennis a long time... and have earned a lot of tactical knowledge... They know for power players that if the shorten the court with something low, soft and short in the court it is hard for you to put the ball away.

Move forward hit a solid shot into a corner and make a good volley... the court should open up for you after that.

LeeD
02-11-2010, 10:19 AM
I can sympathize.
Yesterday played a guy who's in the finals of a age 65 grouping tourney. YES, 65. Naturally, he runs like a 45 year old, dinks short angles and short DTL's, and he admitted he played great, considering his final round is this coming Sunday.
Moved me 2' from each alley, his sharp CC's were shorter than service line but moderately hit with topspin both sides. I lost badly (at last by score), impatient, not warmed up, the whole basket of excuses.
So we played doubles afterwards. My partner a strong hitting 4.0, his partner a slicing 3.5-4. We win double breadsticks, my single's opponent not doing anything to hurt us in doubles.
I go and hit with my doubs partner afterwards, and he says I sucked and couldn't move whatsover. He's right, bad days can happen anytime, I just chose it yesterday.
It's nice to have a forgetful mind. Yesterday was a day to forget.

athiker
02-11-2010, 10:35 AM
I am a 4.0-4.5 player and play in a league. I am in my early 30's and in very good shape. My style of play is standard to hard-hitting. I do well when I play with someone who hits with pace. I guess you could say my style is similar to the way Baghdattis plays (watered down, of course).

My problem is that I tend to play DOWN to my opponent's ability. Specifically, I have been losing to older players (late 40s) who realize that I play well with pace, and they feed me these short, low-bouncing, soft shots. I try rushing the net, I try to play their style, but I end up getting frustrated and making many silly mistakes.

I know I have the skill and ability to really overpower and outplay these opponents, but I end up beating myself.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Is it the low pace or the low bouncing that gives you trouble? Forgetting counter-dinking for a minute, if you try to take these and hit with pace are you hitting long b/c you are forced to hit up?...as well as the fact that since its a shorter ball, you have less court to bring the ball back down and in?

If it is very low you may be forced to slice as mentioned, but instead of counter-dinking try to make sure you still get depth on the ball by hitting through it. Do you have a slice backhand you use much?

On the FH side its usually easier to pick it up and roll it over w/ spin than it is on the BH side, but you might have to up the spin and decrease the pace to keep it from going long due to the shorter court and b/c you are having to hit up on the ball. Obviously the corners give you the most space and cross court gives you the lowest net. Try throwing in a FH slice as well, just keep it deep unless you are going for a dropshot or angled winner.

That's my "any advice...appreciated" 2c from a 3.5 to a 4.5. :)

alb1
02-11-2010, 11:24 AM
[QUOTE=MOUKA;4386290

I know I have the skill and ability to really overpower and outplay these opponents, but I end up beating myself.
.[/QUOTE]


Basically you need to keep the heat on and try to dictate the points. You've got two opportunities to take control of the point while serving. Big serve or big first shot after my return of serve. You need to hit deep penetrating returns of my serves. You need to come to the net on your terms to pick off floaters. Work on two shots for the low midcourt balls, a deep down the line approach and a drop shot. This is the best chance you have cause if I get you to start playing at my pace and I start dictating the points it's all over.

MOUKA
02-11-2010, 01:06 PM
Is it the low pace or the low bouncing that gives you trouble? Forgetting counter-dinking for a minute, if you try to take these and hit with pace are you hitting long b/c you are forced to hit up?...as well as the fact that since its a shorter ball, you have less court to bring the ball back down and in?

If it is very low you may be forced to slice as mentioned, but instead of counter-dinking try to make sure you still get depth on the ball by hitting through it. Do you have a slice backhand you use much?

On the FH side its usually easier to pick it up and roll it over w/ spin than it is on the BH side, but you might have to up the spin and decrease the pace to keep it from going long due to the shorter court and b/c you are having to hit up on the ball. Obviously the corners give you the most space and cross court gives you the lowest net. Try throwing in a FH slice as well, just keep it deep unless you are going for a dropshot or angled winner.

That's my "any advice...appreciated" 2c from a 3.5 to a 4.5. :)

It is both, low pace AND low bouncing, and I am really forced to hit up.

I give him credit because, as previous posters noted, when one of these older veterans recognizes even a minor error or weakness, they just keep going after it. What made this particular player even more frustrated is that he hit soft, low bouncing balls with angles. By the time I return the ball, I am at the net but out of position (either wide right or wide left).

After self-analysis, I think the best thing I can do (which is also part of my hitting style) is to hit deep flat shots that bounce a little lower than a topspin shot. I think it would be more difficult for him to pull off those angles and soft shots that he was making if I pin him back a bit and make him really bend his knees and scoop down on each stroke.

I really hope I face this guy again in the playoffs. I will definately bring the pain.

sphinx780
02-12-2010, 06:45 AM
I really hope I face this guy again in the playoffs. I will definately bring the pain.

That's what I like to hear!:twisted:

dunloppedover
02-12-2010, 08:06 AM
Please don't scurry back to lurkerville--that was a nice comment you shared.

Thanks! I check in on you people nearly every day so maybe I'll get lucky and have something applicable to say again.

: - )

<proofreadingbeforepostingthistime>

jejunumforehand
02-12-2010, 08:28 AM
when they hit a short ball try to loop it into the corner and follow it into the net to finish the point

alb1
02-12-2010, 09:29 AM
when they hit a short ball try to loop it into the corner and follow it into the net to finish the point

His problem is that these are not accidental short balls. These are planned short balls that are hit short and angled with the idea of bringing him in close into the net to isolate him in a small area of the court. Against a good counterpuncher that can move a slow looper is not going to be the answer because he will lob it over his head or hit a crosscourt passing shot into the open court. He needs to drop it either really short or hit it a really deep approach with some pace down the line.

jejunumforehand
02-15-2010, 12:38 PM
i didn't mean a slow looper i meant add some topspin and hit a moderate paced ball so the opponent cannot hit an offensive shot

MrCLEAN
02-15-2010, 03:04 PM
I know I have the skill and ability to really overpower and outplay these opponents, but I end up beating myself.


Don't know about this statement. If you could do it, you would be.

If you're good enough to dictate the point w/ your power, do it. But if you find that they're not giving you anything in your strike zone, and that you're missing too much while going for your big shots, then in reality, THEY'RE dictating the point because they're making you do what you don't want to do. If you find you're off that day, and can't bring it off less than optimal balls, then do what everyone has said, take some off, keep it in play, and unfortunately, play their game until you can gain control of the point and dictate the terms to them. Patience is a virtue w/ these guys, if you can keep from beating yourself, you'll get a good ball to crank on in fairly short order.

Sakkijarvi
02-16-2010, 04:02 PM
I'm 47 and have the number of a younger player at our club that is 34 and beats up on a lot of guys with big serves and big hitting. I thrive on returning so he doesn't get me with the hard, flat big pace serve he has and it doesn't intimidate me like it does some others. When he hits an ace, no biggie.

He is a typical baseline basher, two-handed backhand. He wants to be fed pace, and depth is actually to his liking. He loves lining up that two-handed backhand for down the line winners. He's young so he prolly looks at me as an old guy and assumes he's 'playing down' just because of our relative ages.

Anywho, I hit this guy looping topspin forehands to his backhand and it tortures him because he ends up taking it high. Then I mix in short angled stuff, the occasional dropshot (usually when he is pinned back behind the baseline and hits crosscourt, I drop it to the deuce side and watch him come careening in...then lop him back to the ad corner). I'm a counter-puncher and can hit so when he is up at the net, I'll just as soon pass him.

I cover the court well, so speed is not an issue with me. The guy is a good athlete and a good player but doesn't match up well with me and I think he plays poorly because of his mental approach now. When I first joined the club he had my number. Now, just the opposite. I'm pretty done with the guy as a challenge.

tennis tom
02-17-2010, 09:16 AM
Learn to hit an approach shot. Then learn to hit a volley.

Delano
02-17-2010, 10:19 AM
I am a 4.0-4.5 player and play in a league. I am in my early 30's and in very good shape. My style of play is standard to hard-hitting. I do well when I play with someone who hits with pace. I guess you could say my style is similar to the way Baghdattis plays (watered down, of course).

My problem is that I tend to play DOWN to my opponent's ability. Specifically, I have been losing to older players (late 40s) who realize that I play well with pace, and they feed me these short, low-bouncing, soft shots.
I try rushing the net, I try to play their style, but I end up getting frustrated and making many silly mistakes.

I know I have the skill and ability to really overpower and outplay these opponents, but I end up beating myself.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.


I've been in your shoes, and I will be again, in plenty of matches. Tennis can be frustrating that way, more so than other sports. Imagine if most sprinters focused on running fast, but a small percentage instead managed to win by somehow inducing their opponents to run slow. While I want to win, I've had a great time losing to good players who outclass me with brilliant tennis. I don't enjoy losing to someone who beats me by getting me to beat myself.

That said, it's a great rite of passage, and at 4.0, you're probably in the midst of it. Everyone on this board will tell you, you may feel you beat yourself, but the pusher did beat you, fair and square. You got to learn to beat this type of player to *truly* advance to the 4.5 level.

There are ways to avoid the battle. Some people just play recreationally, and refuse to play against the pusher. I don't really blame them, if that's the way they want to go. But ultimately, these people don't really develop their games fully.

Other people try to leapfrog the pusher by playing far up. Because almost all 4.5 or higher players *can* handle the pusher, you rarely meet pushers at this level. So a player with good pace and strokes might just try to play 4.5, and find that they actually have competitive matches at this level, with the occasional win.

Lastly, some people just play doubles, because a pusher's weapons are greatly minimized when you have a partner perched at the net.

But you know, all these avoidance techniques deprive you of a rite of passage as a tennis player, which is learning to take control of points and win them. What are your tools? Maybe it's a big serve and forehand. Maybe it's excellent placement and point building. Maybe it's a good serve and volley came. Maybe it's extremely aggressive ground strokes and an ability to attack the short ball. There are a lot of combinations of the above that can work, they key is to be able to win a point against someone who is only there to not lose it, and whose main strategy is to find a way to undermine you, physically and psychologically. It takes a lot of confidence and execution. I think that when you're come through this and can execute a plan at will, you've achieved your rite of passage and are a real player.

By the way, I do respect pushers, and I'm not one of those people who says "I'm better, I just beat myself." But pushers are, in fact, the enemy. Technically, it's possible to be a pusher and a gracious player in every other regard, but I haven't ever met one. A player whose main goal is psychological warfare almost always goes outside the game with time delays, bathroom breaks, questioning calls near the line, and so forth. Once you go to the dark side and say "I'm not going to play well, I'm just going to get this guy to play badly," well, all I can say is "“pushing is the path to the dark side. pushing leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." It's a slippery stroke when you start chopping your ground strokes back, that's all I'm saying.

And no, I don't mean you're going to the dark side when you notice someone has a bad backhand and you start denying pace, of course you shouldn't help your opponent play great tennis. I'm talking about the dude whose strategy in tennis is about dragging his opponent down, "one who (plays) with his tongue on fire, gargles in the rat race choir, bent out of shape from society's pliers, cares not to come up any higher, but rather get you down in the hole that he's in."

MOUKA
02-18-2010, 07:23 AM
I've been in your shoes, and I will be again, in plenty of matches. Tennis can be frustrating that way, more so than other sports. Imagine if most sprinters focused on running fast, but a small percentage instead managed to win by somehow inducing their opponents to run slow. While I want to win, I've had a great time losing to good players who outclass me with brilliant tennis. I don't enjoy losing to someone who beats me by getting me to beat myself.

That said, it's a great rite of passage, and at 4.0, you're probably in the midst of it. Everyone on this board will tell you, you may feel you beat yourself, but the pusher did beat you, fair and square. You got to learn to beat this type of player to *truly* advance to the 4.5 level.

There are ways to avoid the battle. Some people just play recreationally, and refuse to play against the pusher. I don't really blame them, if that's the way they want to go. But ultimately, these people don't really develop their games fully.

Other people try to leapfrog the pusher by playing far up. Because almost all 4.5 or higher players *can* handle the pusher, you rarely meet pushers at this level. So a player with good pace and strokes might just try to play 4.5, and find that they actually have competitive matches at this level, with the occasional win.

Lastly, some people just play doubles, because a pusher's weapons are greatly minimized when you have a partner perched at the net.

But you know, all these avoidance techniques deprive you of a rite of passage as a tennis player, which is learning to take control of points and win them. What are your tools? Maybe it's a big serve and forehand. Maybe it's excellent placement and point building. Maybe it's a good serve and volley came. Maybe it's extremely aggressive ground strokes and an ability to attack the short ball. There are a lot of combinations of the above that can work, they key is to be able to win a point against someone who is only there to not lose it, and whose main strategy is to find a way to undermine you, physically and psychologically. It takes a lot of confidence and execution. I think that when you're come through this and can execute a plan at will, you've achieved your rite of passage and are a real player.

By the way, I do respect pushers, and I'm not one of those people who says "I'm better, I just beat myself." But pushers are, in fact, the enemy. Technically, it's possible to be a pusher and a gracious player in every other regard, but I haven't ever met one. A player whose main goal is psychological warfare almost always goes outside the game with time delays, bathroom breaks, questioning calls near the line, and so forth. Once you go to the dark side and say "I'm not going to play well, I'm just going to get this guy to play badly," well, all I can say is "“pushing is the path to the dark side. pushing leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." It's a slippery stroke when you start chopping your ground strokes back, that's all I'm saying.

And no, I don't mean you're going to the dark side when you notice someone has a bad backhand and you start denying pace, of course you shouldn't help your opponent play great tennis. I'm talking about the dude whose strategy in tennis is about dragging his opponent down, "one who (plays) with his tongue on fire, gargles in the rat race choir, bent out of shape from society's pliers, cares not to come up any higher, but rather get you down in the hole that he's in."


Wow, what an analytical and insightfull look at my conundrum.
While I appreciate your thoughts and outlook, I think my strategy (as other posters have stated) is to up my shot-making, intensity, and impose my game and skill on this type of player. I think I just need to be more determined and focused to make the proper shots (deep, low-bouncing balls with pace, good volleys, big serves, etc.) to overpower the weaker player.

It's not that I look down on "the pusher", I just like to play fun, all around, hard-hitting tennis with big baseline rallies and opportunistic volleying- win or lose. And if my opponent chooses to hit soft, low-bouncing angled dinks or lobs, and only cares about winning, no matter how boring or methodical the match is, I will just have to impose my game and teach him a lesson that he cannot play this type of tennis against me.

dunloppedover
02-18-2010, 07:50 AM
Wow, what an analytical and insightfull look at my conundrum...And if my opponent chooses to hit soft, low-bouncing angled dinks or lobs, and only cares about winning, no matter how boring or methodical the match is, I will just have to impose my game and teach him a lesson that he cannot play this type of tennis against me.

He can play any sort of tennis he likes against you. Delano's insightful look had good suggestions about how you could choose to play your game against him.

(Thanks, Delano, I got a lot out of it.)

tennis tom
02-18-2010, 09:42 AM
I think I just need to be more determined and focused to make the proper shots (deep, low-bouncing balls with pace, good volleys, big serves, etc.) to overpower the weaker player.


Yes, that is correct. Hit the approach shot deep and down the line, with slice so it bounces low forcing your opponent to hit up, then you can angle your volley off for a winner.

A softly hit ball is more difficult to return because it's trajectory is constantly changing versus a hard hit ball which keeps a more constant trajectory.

With a soft-ball, you have to watch the ball more carefully and supply all the pace which requires good stroke technique versus just blocking back a ball coming at you with pace.

If you hit a big serve, you are more likely to force your opponent to miss-hit his return or frame it causing a short return with weird spin--not an easy shot to hit an approach or volley off of.

Practice hitting an approach shot off of any short return by your opponent; that is a ball that lands inside the service line. This is easier said than done, now hit a million practice balls. There is no such thing as an "easy shot" in tennis!

I will now return to watching Edberg play Becker on my DVR, two great serve and volleyers.

iankogan
02-18-2010, 10:30 AM
I've been in your shoes...

Great post Delano! Not sure I buy your 'dark side' theory, but an excellent post nevertheless.