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View Full Version : Footwork - the key to the next level in singles?


ohplease
03-01-2004, 07:00 PM
Consider this an open call for advice/tips.

Essentially, I'm hovering around the 4.0-4.5 level (I think). On my worse days, I'm a solid B, on my best a B+. I've gotten over the testosterone poisoning and have finally gotten patient enough to wait for openings and not try stupid stuff just because. Though, to be honest, most men at 4.0 and some at 4.5 (ie. the dumb ones) don't even require that much as they're typically too impatient and would rather "dictate."

Anyway, when ever I've played against better players (teaching pros and the occasional division I baseline basher), I've found it's not so much the case that their strokes are clearly superior to mine (assuming I've got time to setup, of course - and don't worry, I KNOW their strokes really are better). Rather, I find that I simply CAN'T HURT THEM. Shots that usually don't come back or typically result in weak replies are at the very least neutral, and if I'm in really deep doo doo - offensive (for example, the baseline basher's flick half-volley winners from the baseline - AUGGGHHHH!).

In other words, my game doesn't degrade gracefullly as I go up the ladder. I win easily and often - right up until I run into someone who can actually play defense. Then I get stomped.

So, the problem: most people I run into don't pressure my movement. Stand around, shuffle to anticipate, and most times they give me an error anyway. So I get even more lazy with my movement. And on and on.

In short, How do you practice moving better? Is the answer simply to focus on one's footwork even when you don't need to? Or should I search out players who'll punish me if I don't start paying attention?

Eric Matuszewski
03-01-2004, 07:30 PM
Search out players who will punish you if you slack, improve your mechanics and when your mechanics can't possibly get more efficient hire a trainer like Gill Reyes to turn you into a fighter.

If your movement is not pressured by your competition you will slack. I do it, you see touring pro's do it, everybody does it.

You probably absorb alot just by watching your opponents move. Get with some college guys or guys that have something to prove, he or she will hustle. Better yet play them for $$$$.
You gotta find that motivation to step it up, loosing $50 can light a fire under a person.

After you feel you've made improvement don't think your above the lower level players. Go back and play em all and see if you can force yourself to work just as hard as when you play a college guy.

That drive to not only win but to totally annhialate EVERY opponent is a big part of what makes a great player, so work on it.

Bungalo Bill
03-01-2004, 09:43 PM
Absolutely agree, you have to seek out better players. They will force you to play a more complete game of tennis.
When you play a better player or as you move up the ladder, where you are on the court and how you hit the ball will make all the difference in the world.

You have to know when the point is neutralized, defensive, or offensive and for how long. Most players moving up the ranks work on their offensive punch. They don't understand defense. Or how to play defense for maybe several balls in a row looking and waiting for their chance to TAKE control of the point.

Many players moving up the ranks do not realize that while they are looking to hit a winner, the opponent is hitting the shots or combinations he needs to take control of the point away from you. In other words, you are giving him what he is wanting thinking your making progress.

More and more effort is required in finding the "right" key to unlock a players game. Obviously, the better the player the tougher it is to figure out the right combinations of shots it takes to win a lot of points.

Good players do not play one point at a time. They know how to play the ball looking two, three, sometimes four shots down the road based on the shot THEY hit to their opponent. They know what tendencies the opponent has. They wait for one segment shots. They know what his weapons are and how to avoid or attack those weapons. The same is true for weaknesses.

When you play a better player or any player for that matter you have to know what shots are yours. Which ones do you own. Then devise a strategy for yourself to get hit those shots for point control or wrestling point control away and to you. If you just looking for an opening to hit a winner. That is a lot like playing fools chess. Trying to get the chess game over in three or four moves. A good chess player knows how to defend against fools chess and will cause your weak game plan to crumble.

You should feel a sense of accomplishment reaching this level of play. You need to learn what shot combinations are and how to use them against any type of player based on your ability. You now need to work on your mental and emotional makeup to play and keep playing at a higher level.

bcaz
03-01-2004, 10:15 PM
Thanks, B. Bill -- that is excellent counsel.

BC

(what did ya kill? ...)

Frank Silbermann
03-04-2004, 03:50 AM
There are many books about "how to beat tennis players who are better than you." They tell you how to play smart. You've obviously already learned this, and therefore you have been able to consistently beat tennis players who are a bit better than you.

Unfortunately, if the better player also plays smart, then he wins. To go up a level you're going to have to stop thinking about how to beat better players and start thinking about how to _be_ a better player yourself.

The teaching pros tell us that we should develop the following qualities in this order: (1) steadyness, (2) control and accuracy, (3) spin, and only then, (4) power.

It is clear that you have already developed (1), (2), and (3), so the next step is for you to learn to hit the ball really really hard. (If not now, when?)

So now is the time to start working on that cannonball serve, the Laver backhand, the untouchable forehand put-away.

As a bonus, this will make opponents more willing to lose to you. When people are being beaten by a smart player, they bear down and struggle (if they don't blow up). That's because they're ashamed to be beaten by someone who's not that good. But there's no shame in being beaten by someone who hits the ball really hard.

:wink:

Bungalo Bill
03-04-2004, 08:24 AM
Good to see you back in the board Frank.