3.0 . . . Anyone?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Muppet, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    I'm a 3.0 player and I use relatively heavy racquets. I've been working on my serve, which I'm hitting pretty solid now. More recently, I have switched my ground stroke grips and I am hitting a really solid TS forhand. My backhand still needs another grip change.

    The problem I've noticed is that my power was already above 3.0 level with an eastern forhand and two handed backhand. My regular partner is at least 3.5 and he always beats me. I'm wondering if I continue to work on my strokes will it seperate me further from the 3.0 sector, and if perhaps I should slow down on technique improvement and spend more time playing other 3.0s? There isn't much of a tennis culture here in Boston, so most of the time I find myself grinding on skills, which is fun in itself, but maybe counter productive.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
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  2. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Improve as fast as you can. When you consistently beat your 3.5 friend 6-0, 6-0, then you can slow down the improvement.

    Working on skills is great, fun, and continue to do it.

    Also, play matches and use the skills under pressure.

    I wish I was completely satisfied.

    Good Luck!
     
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  3. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ditch the poly strings if you are a 3.0. You don't need them and it will be easier to learn with syn gut.

    Syn gut is the best string to get good at tennis with. It is cheap and honest.

    Keep playing the guy who beats you. I keep playing guys who beat me, and find that I can now beat them sometimes where in the beginning I would never win.
     
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  4. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    PP,

    Thanks for the reply. I agree with you that a 3.0 player shouldn't be using poly. But my strokes are more advanced than my level. I'm using more advanced strokes in a 3.0 game, when the ball isn't going right by me. I would be playing with other 3.0s if I thought they wouldn't be put off by the pace I hit with. So the poly strings are well matched for the strokes I'm learning.

    I really do appreciate your advice. Please bounce it back to me one more time, in light of what I just said. I am not heavily invested in poly at this time and I do like Dunlop S-gut as an optional way to go. I also have most of a reel of Spiral Flex that I could use.

    Thanks,
    Muppet
     
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  5. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    Thank you.
    In return for your advice, I will lay a speck of wisdom on you:

    A quick shortcut to satisfaction is goal modification (or self acceptance.)
     
    #5
  6. Wodz

    Wodz Rookie

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    I really do not understand what you are saying.. you are playing above your own level because your ground strokes are too fast?

    It sounds like you are a 3.0 trying to punish the ball but your footwork and timing are lagging behind. Can you clarify that for me mate? :)
     
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  7. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, what's happening is I'm trying to play above my level. I can't react to the ball fast enough or efficiently enough to utilize my 'cool new strokes'. I need to get better anticipation as well. But, I remain a 3.0 who hesitates setting up matches with 3.0 players who hit with 3.0 power. My buddy rates himself at 3.5, and I can usually only get about 2 games off him per set. And he does bring his best game.

    My game is 3.0, I do very well playing with other 3.0s. The ball moves nice and slow. I really don't want to tee people off by playing at that level with too much power. And I'm not skilled enough to dial down my game. I would be sporadic at best.
     
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Just hit your best normal shots and water will seek it's own level immediately.
     
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  9. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    Thanks, LeeD. I guess I should just play more and risk insulting some people while my level sorts itself out. Release it to the universe, as it were.
     
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  10. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I'm a 3.0 to 3.25 level competitor also. However, my hitting partners are generally 3.5+ to 4.0+, as most sub 3.5 players don't hit solid shots consistently enough for good hitting sessions.

    Why slow down on technique improvement? That doesn't make any sense to me. Practice with better players, grind on skills, join a league [*], and play matches at your competitive level. As you improve and win more matches, your rating will go up and you can compete in league play against ever higher rated players.

    My excuse ( :) ) for being a 3.0 competitor with 3.0 + strokes is that I'm typically twice as old as the people I play against, as well as being relatively inexperienced re total court time in my life. I've been sidelined for the past two weeks with a Crohn's disease flareup, but was improving before that, and I hope to continue to improve when I'm able to get back on the court again. I have no problem with bageling 3.0s and will continue to work toward being able to do that on a regular basis. :)

    ----------------

    [*] I'm a member of Tennis Fort Lauderdale (tennisftlauderdale.com) which is affiliated with Tennis League Network (TLN). TLN began in Boston about 8 years ago and is now in several dozen metro areas. Check out Tennis Boston (tennisnortheast.com).
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
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  11. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    If you are a 3.0, be the best 3.0. I don't think your strokes are that advanced or you would be rated higher. There is a lot more to a stroke then just being able to hit it when you get a perfect ball. You need to be able to hit off balance, on the run, backed up..etc to have advanced strokes. So just go out and play tennis and win matches. Don't worry about the other person's feelings and develop a winning mentality.
     
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  12. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    I know what you're saying from personal experience. Rest assured, until you develop the anticipation, movement, and strategy skills of a 3.5 you're not a 3.5. I strongly recommend the following:

    1. When playing other 3.0s focus on strategy, anticipation, and movement. These are the skills that provide higher level players with the time needed to hit well in their faster paced games. Study and apply the Wardlaw directionals...you'll be amazed at how helpful they are. Develop the discipline to follow these strategies so you don't bring bad shot selection habits into higher level games. 2.5/3.0 is trying to get the ball over the net. 3.5/4.0 you start thinking about your shot selection and developing the ability to actually do it.

    2. When playing with other 3.0s also focus on placement rather than power to support your goals in item 1. All thrust and no vector in 3.5/4.0 will make you an easy mark. You'll be a puppet in the hands of thinking players unless you can hit with power AND intelligent shot selection. When you can be the puppeteer at 3.0 you'll begin to make the transition to higher levels.

    3. When playing with higher level friends pay attention to the above to increase the time you have but also focus on "seeing the ball big". For example, I have some higher level friends that let me return serve when they practice serves. That's been VERY helpful in "slowing down the ball" for me even in fast paced exchanges. Playing 3.0s exclusively won't help you see the ball better. You MUST play with players who hit with pace to develop the timing need for your strokes. Item 1 above will give you a larger margin for error in timing. Another example: my wife has said hitting with me has been a tremendous help hitting with woman since they don't hit with nearly as much pace given her level. After hitting with me she said that she feels like she has all the time in the world in her matches.

    Again, I can't stress enough how important it is to study shot selection. Not only will it improve your time available it also improves your strokes, even at 3.0. Instead if feeling frantically rushed with sloppy strokes you'll find more time to prepare well and hit smoothly, with confidence. Focusing on strokes and even footwork without shot selection is a huge mistake imo since they're so intertwined.

    I know that tennis is traditionally taught starting purely with strokes but as a relative noob (two years this past fall) I strongly feel that's a HUGE mistake and wish I had been taught differently. It's like teaching folks how to play football or baseball with zero reference to the field and opponents. "Here's how you throw and catch a football. Now, go play football". "Here's how you hit a tennis ball, now go play tennis". Makes no sense.

    The thing is, deciding where to hit the ball isn't that hard and making the right choice, once taught, MAKES IT EASIER TO HIT THE BALL WELL! :D Making easier shots builds confidence and reduces frustration but teaching pros almost never address that with new players. And just as strokes can be introduced with varying levels of complexity so to can shot selection.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
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  13. tennisfan2k

    tennisfan2k Rookie

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    Tom, hope you get back to the court soon.

    I joined the same league as you and just had my first match, it was amazing. The only thing I am not sure is the players rating comparing to USTA rating, the league has players ranging from 3.0 to 4.5, don't know how they calculated that, and not sure if the ratings are accurate USTA ratings.

     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
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  14. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the tips Tom. I looked into Tennis Northeast about a year ago, but I found that I would need a car to be able to meet people for matches all around Greater Boston. I decided a couple of years ago not to keep up the expense of a car as I can get anywhere I need to go on public transportation. I guess Tennis Northeast is not a need for me. My budget is a lot more comfortable without carrying a car. When the outdoor season picks back up in May, I'll look for some more organized tennis to join.

    I hope your Crohn's gets better soon.
     
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  15. Muppet

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    Thanks Timothy. I'll definitely have to get a copy of Wardlaw Directionals. I'm glad you posted, as you really get where my game is at. Does Wardlaw cover movement as well as shot selection? I feel like I need to buy myself more time with anticipation and efficient movement. I'm also hoping that hitting a higher quality ball will force more weak replies, but I will only test that theory on more capable players.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful reply.
     
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  16. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    That's fantastic tennisfan2k! Man o man I'm chomping at the bit to get out there. Hopefully will be able to salvage the last half of the Winter Season.

    Re the comparison of TLN ratings to USTA ratings. Hard to tell, since I've never played USTA. I feel sure that some of the TLN people would be rated a half point lower or so in the USTA. Some others (like me) I think would be about the same, and still others maybe a little higher. Anyway, the TLN ratings seem to be relatively accurate for the TLN leagues they're associated with.

    If you win a majority of your matches this season (against similarly or higher rated opponents), then your rating will undoubtedly be increased, whereas with USTA my understanding is that this might not happen re your results in a two month period.

    I see you played Tanaka and that the match was fairly competitive. Fantastic! From the score it looks like you were getting stronger as the match progressed. There's some vid of my latest match with him on my YouTube channel, 388mg.
    (If you want any scouting tips, email me.)
    Best wishes. Hope you make the playoffs and are a contender for the Winter Season championship.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
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  17. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Muppet. Isn't the bus service good enough there to get you around to the various courts? Tennis Fort Lauderdale - Boca Raton covers a pretty spread out area also. Since I'm the oldest guy in the league I make them come to my home court which is right down the street from my house. :) Once in a while I'll travel, but not too often. I guess you can't get away with that, eh?

    Too bad, I think you'd enjoy it. The founder and chief league administrator is in your area. One of the coolest things about it is that they have an open, year-end tournament at Crandon Park in Miami every Nov.

    Best of luck in finding a league this spring.

    By the way, I apologize for the off topic sidebar to tennisfan2k, but he's in my area, and now in my league. We'll probably play our first match at courts that are between his home courts and mine, about 20 miles from my house.

    One other thing. When I mentioned that I have no problem bageling 3.0s that doesn't mean that I normally bagel 3.0s (I don't) but rather that I don't care if it hurts their feelings or whatever. I get bageled more than I bagel. It's part of the game to use bad losses for motivation to improve.
     
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  18. tennisfan2k

    tennisfan2k Rookie

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    Thanks. My goal is first to secure the playoff spot, then challenge the 4.0+ guys. You have been progressing steadily, based on your match scores. Hope you will be back soon.

     
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  19. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    This morning I signed up for a 3.0 to 3.5 clinic at some indoor courts, the next town over. It will last 8 weeks, 1 session per week. I've been hovering at 3.0 for a long time. Maybe by the end of the summer I'll be a solid 3.5; that would be nice.
     
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  20. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    Poly is good for players who can't keep the ball in play. Soft, powerful syn gut strings strung at the low end of a tension range is a recipe for a 3.0 to hit the ball long quite often. Instead, if they used a stiff string, low powered poly, with greater access to spin, it will be much easier for them to keep the ball in play.

    IMO, the one and only goal in tennis is to keep the ball in play. If you can't hit it within the lines of the court, you can't win. It doesn't matter if you hit with a ton of TS, or if you have 65 mph groundies if they don't land within the court.
     
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  21. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    Is that really the way to improve though? If you need to use poly string to keep the ball in play, to me that suggests that there are problems with your swing. Might be better to address those problems than to rely on a string that will counteract them, if your goal is to progress and not just to win at your current level.

    I can understand strong players choosing a poly string so that they can hit more aggressively and keep the ball in play, but 3.0s? Just seems like strange logic to me.
     
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  22. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    This sheds light on how my game has been. I would always use a long, smooth (measured) stroke using multis. I've been trying to incorporate poly strings into my game without great results, until recently. I'm learning the unit turn and a modified eastern grip, from eastern, on the forhand side. I've started getting results from a much faster stroke using a poly/multi hybrid. I'm also switching to a ohbh, but that will take longer before I see progress.
     
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  23. Hi I'm Ray

    Hi I'm Ray Hall of Fame

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    Muppet,

    You need to place the ball where you want to and when you want, to do some damage. Look for the smart targets thread somewhere on the first or second page of the tips section. Those are really good spots to practice for. And of course you need to stay consistent to avoid beating yourself.

    If you don't have a coach, try to practice repetitions, basic movement & footwork, watching the ball, and hitting targets, by yourself as if you did have one.

    Try this, practice by yourself, get on the court and position yourself as though you are going to drop feed yourself a backhand, toss the ball up just high enough to give yourself some time to run around and hit a forehand instead. Hit it to one of the smart targets with good pace. Sounds easy but I'd bet a lot of people 4.0 & under would have a hard time getting say 7-8 out of 10. There's a lot going on, you're moving a lot with your feet repositioning yourself and making small adjustments to set up for the right contact point, you're watching the ball closely and setting up your stroke to generate your own power off a paceless ball that is traveling more vertically than horizontally, then you're trying to consistently hit a target. That is a lot to coordinate. Do this for both targets, from the middle and sides of the court, for both high and low balls. Repeat for your backhand side. Work on one shot consecutively (one target and one ball height).
    Doesn't sound cool? Maybe paying someone $50/hr to toss balls to you does? Of course you would be getting an extra pair of eyes and corrections with a coach, but its still good practice for all of the points above. You also get to make the bulk of your mistakes in practice so you won't during a game, and its good run-around forehand practice too. I'm pretty sure most ppl won't try this because it sounds too simplistic, but if they can't consistently do well on a simple excerice like this they aren't breaking into the better ranks anytime soon. You can think of it as a self-test & prove it to yourself if it sounds too easy. Practice this 1-1.5 hours once a week and I'm sure you'll be breaking out of the 3.5's.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
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  24. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the reply Ray. I'm only willing to part with the price of the clinic because I hope to meet up with some regular tennis partners.

    It ocurred to me what's missing in my tennis. Ten+ years ago I used to grind against a wall, hitting on one bounce and challenging myself to hit more and more balls before I would miss. This gave me quick feet and reaction time. Unfortunately, I can't find a decent wall to hit against anywhere near my house.

    This goes back to the lack of a tennis culture in Boston. I've received cursory comments at times when I've used a ball machine at a club, or hit against a wall, or even practiced my serve. People around here see tennis as a social activity rather than a sport. Even within the tennis community it's often considered a 'social sport'. It's pretty weak. Gives me a mind to pull up stakes and move to FL or CA. I might just do that if my family didn't need me here.
     
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  25. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Yes, move to southeast FL Muppet. :) I absolutely guarantee that you'll be glad you did.

    I basically agree with Avles statements re strings. I've been using a 105sq.in. racquet (Babolat Y105) with syn gut strings at 54 lbs, and it's easy to hit long with that setup. I had to learn to be much less lazy in my stroking in order to keep the ball in. But now I think I'm ready to move to a smaller head racquet, say 95, strung a little tighter -- not going with poly yet though. I don't think poly is necessary at sub 4.0 levels.

    Then again, if you're getting good results due to the poly, then it's hard to argue against that.

    Come to think of it, I experimented with a friend's poly-strung Babolat (Pure Drive I think it was) racquet and it did seem to be quite easy to keep the ball in on high-bouncing balls to both fh and bh ... balls that I tend to hit out with my racquet-string setup unless I'm super careful to hit it just right. With the poly setup there seemed to be much more margin for error. It felt a LOT different than my setup ... in a good way.

    So, maybe I should get a poly setup to work with and see what happens.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
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  26. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    They say to decrease by 10% below your full multi setup, but i'd drop down two lb. lower than that. For 55 lb. multi I'd say 47 lb. poly. I'm hybriding Cyber Flash 1.25 / Hexy Fiber 16 at 48/53 in a Dunlop MuscleWeave 95.
     
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  27. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the info Muppet. Keep us posted on your progress. Vids if possible.
     
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  28. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    I can keep you posted, but I have no camera or smartphone for shooting video. Maybe the instructor for my clinic can judge what level I'm at.
     
    #28
  29. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Exactly. If you can't hit the ball in with topspin using syngut, the poly is pointless. The whole point of poly is for players with developed topspin to be able to hit harder and keep the ball in. Almost every player started with syn gu, and anyone who can't keep the ball in play with syngut has no reason to use poly.
     
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  30. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    PP

    I fit into this description of a player who can benefit from poly, except that I'm a 3.0. I leapt up to poly level when I shifted from an eastern grip to a modified eastern on the forhand. I'm also implementing a unit turn that makes me swing alot faster after I release the racquet with the off hand. Next I need to add opening the hips.

    I used to use multis, but I wouldn't trust them with the new stroke. I don't think syn guts would work as well either. My serve is better than it has ever been. My backhand still needs some work, as I'm attempting to switch to a one-hander. I know, too many changes at once.

    So what I did was switch to a poly hybrid and I'm catching up with my technique, rather than plateau on syn gut and eventually switch to poly. Thanks for your contributions.

    Muppet
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
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  31. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    You never really plateau on syn gut. If you are not using your hips in your stroke, then your technique is not proper, and you are arming the ball. Worst thing you can do with poly.
     
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  32. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    Thanks, I can see what you mean by arming the ball. I'll ask about that when I take the clinic.
     
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  33. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    Is it the usual in a group clinic for the instructor to just run drills and feed balls? I was expecting some help with my technique. And he has a pretty snide demeanor. I can't even get any of my money back either. I guess all I can do is show up for the lessons and hope for the best.
     
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  34. Dave M

    Dave M Hall of Fame

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    A group session i'd expect to have some drills probably some matches maybe depending on the level of the group some technical stuff to work on.
    You're looking for private instruction by the sound of it Muppet.
     
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  35. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    The clinic is for eight sessions and is for 3.0 and 3.5 players. The pace is faster than I expected. You may be right that I would benefit more from private lessons. But then I would probably be missing the drills. :???:
     
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  36. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    Last night's session was much better. The pro was giving us pointers during the drills and he actually gave us water breaks this time. They are letting me try the next level down for a session so I can see if it's more suited to me. After that I can choose.

    I found last night that I can perform much better playing points much better than in drills.
     
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  37. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

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    Does he beat you, or do you beat yourself with errors??
    Be honest, that way we can help you.
     
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  38. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    Muppet,

    You sound like a guy I know who wants to be good at golf but he thinks he can just buy high priced clubs to take away all his blunders. If youre a 3.0, thinking that you can use a poly string and that will instantly make you a quality player is kidding yourself.
     
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  39. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    Keep developing your better strokes, but work on your weaknesses as well.

    it doesn't matter how pretty or strong your strokes are when you get a perfectly set up ball with pace*; unless you can hit-back the loopy pace-less backspin shots that your 3.0 comrades deliver to you consistently you will have no hope against the low biting slice or the high kicking topspin that you will see at the higher levels.

    * it always feels good to hit a proper stroke off of a decently paced ball; but in tennis you have to be able to adjust to other shots.
     
    #39
  40. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    He beats me by ending the points quickly and his backhand slice confounds me. He claims to be a 3.5, but I'd guess he's a 4.0 with his easy strokes and developed court sense. He started playing when he was five and we're in our fourties. I'm basically slamming my head against a wall with him, but until I develop a list of partners he's what I've got.
     
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  41. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    Nope, I've still got my blunders. In fact with the poly hybrid I'm hitting with more spin than I need. It seems I have one gear for my forhand and that's all-out. I read about the unit turn here, releasing my off hand at the time the ball bounces and starting my stroke at that time. It works great, but I've got to learn to release my off hand sooner and take a bit slower stroke. Then I'll have to learn to vary the stroke for different situations. Plenty left to learn.

    The poly stays. I wasn't expecting it to fix my game, or raise my level. I think you read alot into what I've written. I'm even having success with hitting pretty sharp slices, fh slices, and volleys.
     
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  42. Muppet

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    I agree. While I've been hitting a forhand with a ton of spin and good pace, I realize that I will have to make it more versatile. I've got a driving ts forehand that lands just beyond the service line and makes a very low hop. I'm hoping to begin my stroke a little sooner, make a bit slower stroke, and relax a bit. I'll have to make adjustments as I go and hopefully wind up with a comfortable, versatile forhand that will serve me well in the future.
     
    #42
  43. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2011
    Messages:
    2,829
    Location:
    Boston
    I can see how reading something here can place a picture of a stereotype in someone's head. I think I'm still a 3.0 because I don't have a good variety of players at or around my level at my disposal. Around here, most people are satisfied to play once a week. I think it's just a matter of getting more playing hours in this year.

    As for "arming the ball", while I agree that this could be problematic for a 3.0 starting on poly string, I don't suffer much from that technique flaw. I rotate my torso, but I haven't learned to open my hips, but I can visualize how it's done properly. This is something I'll have to pay attention to, as I do use my arm a little too much for the kind of stroke I'm trying to hit. Thanks for that tip Power Player.
     
    #43

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