3.5 to 4.0 Action Plan?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by asked_answered, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Yes, I'll definitely work on serve and volley techniques, MNPlayer, so I can have them available when needed. Thanks!
     
    #51
  2. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    ^OK, this calls for a separate thread. I'll start one in the Instruction section. 'Cause I need some ways to liven up my drop feed practice!

    Cindy -- who could never in a million years hit six consecutive drop feeds into the alley without missing
     
    #52
  3. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    i am a 3.5 who wants to get better. i did not lose a 3.5 singles match this year and am just about the best 3.5 in my league (lost 1nce in the 10 pointer in dubs). at 4.0 i only played twice, 1 singles 1 double losing both times.

    my practiced partners r 1 guy who doesn't play usta and serves underhand but he would be 1 of the better 4.0's. i have only ever won 3 sets off him. 1 of the better 3.5, i used to beat him up but i put on 15-20 pounds since last year and he practiced a lot with this 4.5 women which improved his game. and the guy i play the most would be a tad above average 3.5 he mainly plays with me and not the other guys around town so i dont really know.

    in tournaments this summer i played a 4.5, won the first set in a tiebreaker, then lost the 2nd set 6-0 and lost the super tiebreaker in the third. i think i learned a lot from this match. 1 i served like **** most of the match but i payed like 30 bucks and drove 45 minutes to be in the tourney so i really wanted to win and i just battled him the first set. and i was mad happy i won i think my intensity went down a little the 2nd set. so i learned u really got to battle all the way threw these matches cuz u never know whats going to happen. in fact in my 4.0 match he was beating me down, i was playing that match more safer than i usually do, however i just started playing to safe when i am a power player and he beat pretty easily like 6-2 the first set. 2nd set i was a little more competitive but he was up 5-2 again, then we had these insane 40 shot rallies where we were just pushing. and i won that game so then he was serving and i got up 15-30 by pushing, but then i am like ok, now u got him hitting soft, u should go for some of these forehand and of course i hit them out and lost.

    last tournament i did i a 4.0 tourny with like 6 people in it, got to the finals where i face a d-3 player (Rochester u). we had a battle i got up early but he kept on battling me, he was. and i certainly played a pretty good match for me, no pushing, i was hitting solid forehands, moving him around. but i lost 1 long ralley just cuz he was in better shape than me which was annoying.

    so in review there is huge value in doing the tournaments and the leagues to improve your game. cuz its 1 thing to say ya i need a better 2nd serve or i need to lose 20 pounds. i need to develop a net game and stop mising frickon over heads. but to actually play the tournaments and see the truth first hand it hits home more. and actually u do see the value in not only improving your skills but just being a better competitor, u know not taking any points off, concentrator more on your serves.
     
    #53
  4. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Hey! I actually got the bump from 4.0 to 4.5 this year, so it's a bit different then your situation, but some tips that might help are...

    1) Get your serve into a weapon! You have some good reach, and you are a lefty! If you have a few solid serves that you can practice and hit without much bother, you can get tons of free points. Slices should be bread and butter for you! I know, even though I'm a righty, that my slice earns me more free points then it should, because I can pick it anywhere in the box on BOTH sides. Down the T with a slice on deuce for me is wicked, because once you get confidence in "picking the line", tons of points are won because of straight aces or shanks!

    2) Work on court positioning! The reason I got moved up to 4.5 wasn't only because my strokes were improving, it was also because I started working on playing "textbook" points. Ie: hit the corners and close for the net. draw out wide; close in on the net. Learning and practicing basic plays can make a huge difference. When you head into a point with goals on what you want to do, it's a lot more predictable then just reacting and running around like a chicken!

    3) How's your net game? Having a reliable volley can REALLY help push you up to the 4.0 ranks. My whole game is based off my Serve and volleys. My ground strokes are no slouch, but in comparison my volleys are what make my game much, much better.

    Good luck on moving up! I'm sure you can do it! :D

    -Fuji
     
    #54
  5. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the tips, Josofo, and good luck moving up to 4.0!
     
    #55
  6. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the tips, Fuji! I definitely need to plan and implement some basic plays and strategies, improve my volleys, and work on more varied serve placement. And congratulations on moving from 4.0 to 4.5!
     
    #56
  7. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Thanks a lot! :)

    I think that's what starts separating 3.5-4.5 is how you plan your game. I know that in all honestly, I'm probably not going to get a lot of winners from the baseline. I have hard hitting strokes, but rarely do I hit "through" players. My whole game is based on getting to the net and finishing it there! I am always working on new plays and strategies to just make it to the net, and to survive the trek there!

    I have one practice partner that I practice with around 10-15 hours a week, which is a huge help! He loves to practice his passing shots and normal strokes, and I LOVE to practice half volleys and volleys!

    Placement is huge too! Great placement with minimal power can really solidify your game!! :)

    -Fuji
    -Fuji
     
    #57
  8. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    +1

    I am a big guy and have absolutely no problem hitting the snot out of the ball. At 3.5 (4 years ago) many of my opponents could not handle my pace (especially the serve) even when I gave them plenty of hitting errors.

    However, the biggest improvement in my game has come from realizing that hitting at 85% with control is far superior to hitting at 99% with more errors.

    Currently I get far fewer aces and clean winners than I used to. However what I get instead is well constructed points that put my opponents in weak / defensive positions.

    I am now at the top of 4.0 and may be bumped to 4.5 in November. I attribute this improvement to roughly 40 lessons over the past 5 years where I learned ground stroke and volley techniques that emphasized consistency.
     
    #58
  9. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Exactly! I'm hitting with around 60% pace with excellent placement, and I still am acing more then 10 times a match on average. I win probably close to 60-70% of my service points from just getting poor replies! :)

    I haven't taken many lessons in my life time, but I do hit with much better players which really increases how much better I play. I consistently hit and train with 5.0+ players, which works on my game quite a bit!

    -Fuji
     
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  10. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks, Dizzlmcwizzl! I'm trying to find a balance between strong shots and consistent, well-placed ones. I'm really looking forward to the day when I find it.

    And good luck with the potential bump to 4.5!
     
    #60
  11. yonexpurestorm

    yonexpurestorm Rookie

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    im a 4.5 trying to compete at the open level. i play in a lot of tournamnets and do well at 4.5. open i still havent had a win. i went on craigslist and made a post looking for hitting partners that have the same dedication as me and want to improve. i found a few guys and we meet up a few times a week. we dont play sets. we focus on certain shots and drill them(for me its my bh). we run drill where i have to hit bh's constantly. i can tell it is helping. drilling a shot constantly will help you to get that muscle memory rotation for youre weaker shots. i can tell you first hand that my bh during rallies is pretty decent, but when its match time and i have to run and set my feet much more quickly, you will really need that automatic muscle memory to hit good shots.

    overall i would say play as much as possible. lately ive been playing 5-6 times a week. but most importantly you need to find dedicated hitting partners and drill specific shots to the point where during match play it comes naturally.
     
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  12. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    Yup. Even at 4.5, players are used to a lot of free points on serve and don't back up as well as they should. Get the ball back in and in a lot of cases they will hit a second shot that puts you in a nearly neutral rally.

    5.0s are much better at pressing home the serve advantage, and it's one of the key reasons I'm struggling to move up.
     
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  13. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the tips, Yonexpurestorm! I just found a newly minted 4.0 to hit with, and I'll work on my weak shots (and other areas, of course) with him. Good luck with your open competition goal!
     
    #63
  14. Jim A

    Jim A Professional

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    if you want to get from 3.5 to 4.0 you will need some good league wins over quality opponents while avoiding the "bad loss"

    My league results had been limited, but good this year. I beat a high ranked 3.5 and when we faced off again, lost a tough 3 setter that the computer will still show in my favor.

    Had a decent run in a doubles tournament earlier in the year and have the State Open coming up to boot.

    Unfortunately for me, I have a loss from tonight that is going to kill me. I got worked and quasi-pushed to the tune of 1 and 0 in a playoff round. Just couldn't get it working tonight and was given very few free points.

    When that gets put into the computer it will kill my DNTRP. I guess that's ok since I've pretty much just played on match days this year with my injuries but still was a nice carrot in front of me for the year. Now it will just be time to shut it down for 45-60 days after State Open and get healthy/fit and start anew in the winter with some serious instruction and match play.
     
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  15. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    I think most of all you have to be honest with yourself. You know your weaknesses better than anyone else. Make it a goal to improve them and improve consistency (no cheap points) and you will find yourself at 4.0 sooner or later.

    Also, a decent to good 2nd serve is the basis for making this kind of jump. If your 2nd serve is weak, pay it a lot of attention.
     
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  16. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the ratings tip, Jim! Although my focus is on improving my skill level, I do want that to eventually translate that to obtaining a 4.0 rating. Right now, I can guestimate that my dynamic rating is on the low end of the 3.5 scale, so my goal for the coming season is to play well, win or lose, against league opponents with higher dynamic ratings.

    Sorry to hear about your playoff match. I hope you get your dynamic rating back up to where you want it next season!
     
    #66
  17. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the tips, Govnor! I'm working on everything that needs improvement, which, of course, is everything. :)
     
    #67
  18. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    Good luck! I"m some what in the same boat as you. I'd call myself an unofficial 4.0. I just don't get the chance to play enough to really improve, but I know which areas I will focus, if and when I get the time.
     
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  19. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks, Govnor! I hope you get the time you need to make the official transition to 4.0.
     
    #69
  20. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    Will know in November I think (going to an open testing). I'm not a club member or anything, so I'm just not sure.
     
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  21. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    is there a way to figure out ur exact league ranking. cuz this year i went 5-1 at 3.5 only losing at 1 dubs vs 1 of the better teams. and won all 5 of my singles matches, and went 0-2 at 4.0 but played a 7-5 set in dubs had a weaker 4.0 as my partner and lost in single 3 and 2 but looked at early start rankings and i am still a 3.5.
     
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  22. SweetH2O

    SweetH2O Rookie

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    Early start ratings give you a good idea on whether you will be bumped up or not, but it is still possible that it will change in November when official ratings come out. You just have to wait until then to be sure. There is no way to know your exact dynamic rating.
     
    #72
  23. Sakkijarvi

    Sakkijarvi Semi-Pro

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    Post video of yourself here we can analyze. If you are an athlete, not injured, this journey is viable and a matter of time and reps as long as there isn't a mental game deficit and you are coachable. Even if you coach you.

    You also have to be willing to go for it. A lot of the guys I see mired in the level that begins with a '3' cannot release their need to win (or save face) and wouldn't rip a shot if you held a gun to their heads. They talk the talk, want to move up. They spend inordinate amounts of money on tennis lessons, clinics, hitting with this pro and that pro. But come money time ... wimpout.

    So if you are an athlete, have a set of balls, then you'll get there if you have a plan and put in the reps. I enjoyed this journey after a layoff of about 20 years ... now kick around the people the USTA rates as 4.0 players on a regular basis.

    The preceding posts have plenty of good tips along the lines of an approach. I started from scratch and left all of my old game behind.
     
    #73
  24. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the tips, Sakkijarvi! I'm working on plays where I hit solid, moderate shots and then try for a strong shot at an opportune time for a winner (or at worst a weak reply). At this point, about 40% of the shots I attempt to rip fly into the fence or smack into the next.

    And, yes, I need to video a match. Although I couldn't arrange a video recording today, I played my first league match of the season. I'll try and record the next one.
     
    #74
  25. DeShaun

    DeShaun Banned

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    Are you saying that you became much better only after you started releasing your inner beast, or some innate drive to crush opponents, hitting as many shots as you can like they were insubordinates in need of a pimp-slapping? Cuz this is what it sounds like you're saying.
     
    #75
  26. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    There is a guy I play with that is technically as good as me, if not better. He is in good shape too. But I beat him every time because he simply does not construct points well. He lets rip way to early in a point and gives me so many free points through errors.

    I tell him, you have got to control that inner need to go for the big winner, it is holding you back. But he just can't seem to. So, my advice is to be careful about "releasing the beast", be smart about it, otherwise it will set you back, not put you where you want to be.
     
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  27. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    With my low success rate at ripping shots, Govnor, I am definitely careful about when I try them. :)
     
    #77
  28. bharat

    bharat Rookie

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    any off court tips?
    i am struggling to get any better than 3.5 and consistently get beaten by pushers
    i have started on strengthening my legs so I have more power in my serve and also groundys
    any workout regiment that you guys folow/suggest?
     
    #78
  29. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    Beating legit pushers is usually a matter of one thing - patience. The last couple of pushers I played probably threw up when they got home. They must have run 10 x the distance I did, because I worked them left to right, every single point. It may take a while, but their pushing will start to get weaker and weaker as the match goes on.
     
    #79
  30. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I still need to record one of my matches, but I do have this video of me doing some service practice last month:

    The first half is shot at distance; the second half shows my service motion.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2011
    #80
  31. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    You look pretty tall in your video so your serve should be a weapon. I would work on getting more follow through and leg action to generate some additional serving speed.

    One of the things I've seen playing up at 4.0 this fall is there are some pretty darn good servers at this level. I faced a guy Monday in a doubles match, I'll call him George because that's his name, who was hitting blazing fast serves. The rest of his game was somewhat inconsistent as he liked to hit his groundstrokes about as hard as he could but that serve was the biggest I've ever faced including a lot of 4.5s and a few good college players I've hit socially with.
     
    #81
  32. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the tips, Beernutz! I do want to make my serve as much of a weapon as possible. (I'm 6'1" tall.) I serve harder in matches, particularly on the first serve, but I have to be a little cautious with practice, as my elbow begins to hurt when I serve a bunch of hard serves. (I'm probably using too much arm with my harder serves.) I'll work on follow-through and using my legs more.
     
    #82
  33. roman40

    roman40 Rookie

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    In my opinion, 4.0 is not about hitting winners, it's still about preventing your opponents from coming to the net and avoiding unforced errors.

    Coach is helpful at any level, at least biweekly, especially if you're serious about improving. Besides that, here is a few simple pointers, in order of importance:

    1) Practice, practice, practice. Remember, playing a match/set is not good practice, unless you can play without worrying about winning (most people can't do that). The best drill is a baseline rally (with a person, not machine), either cross court (fh to fh) or half court (fh to bh), where the goal is to keep the ball deep (past the service line), try to hit at least 10 in a row (20 should be your goal). Another good drill is (2-3)baseline, then short ball, then volley, this really helps to improve footwork.

    2) Keep the ball deep, and if possible, to opponent's weaker side. It doesn't have to be a great shot, just deep. It will force errors from your opponent and will give you short balls, which is a big advantage.

    3) Work on improving 1st serve percentage, because 4.0 player rarely attack first serve, even if it's fairly weak. That will also help with second serve.

    4) Learn to take advantage of short balls, and don't be afraid to move to the net, don't go back to the baseline after coming close the service line to hit a short ball. That's very important at this level, because you'll get A LOT of them, either because of error or on purpose. Lot's of pushers like to give you a short ball, then hit a passing shot or a lob. There is a simple strategy for short balls, if it's to your back hand, then slice deep to opponents weaker side. If it's to your forehand, hit deep down the line. Follow to the net along the path of the ball for a volley. If your opponent likes to lob stay closer to the service line (to hit an overhead), otherwise closer to the net.

    5) Keep moving and applying pressure on your opponent, never stop moving during the point. Never assume you've won/lost the point, or that the ball is out. Always anticipate a return, and get ready to finish the point.

    Good luck!
     
    #83
  34. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Great post.
     
    #84
  35. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thank you for the tips, Roman40! I have a hitting partner (a new 4.0), but he isn't interested in doing anything but playing sets. So, I'm trying to implement a lot of the advice of the other responders in this thread (and will do the same for your advice) during my practice matches with him. (And, yes, it's hard not focus on trying to make the score look better, rather than just work on aspects of my game. But I'm trying!)

    I'm also trying to find a coach. That would be really, really useful.
     
    #85
  36. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Find another partner..in fact find as many of them as you can. You need at least one person who's willing to just hit for an hour every now and then...it can still be competitive, like playing points, but all the stop and start of match play is not the best practice.
     
    #86
  37. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I'll look for an additional person to hit with, Dman72. Thanks!
     
    #87
  38. roman40

    roman40 Rookie

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    Yeah, lots of players don't like to do drills. However, some enjoy it after they try it. I would also suggest to look for more partners, since variety of practice partners and playing styles will better prepare you for league matches. That said, I am sure you guys warm up before playing sets, so try to incorporate drills into the warm up, even 30min of drills is better than nothing.
     
    #88
  39. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I will do that, Roman40, and I'll also try adding drills to warm-ups for my league team (or at least on the court I'm warming up on). Thanks!
     
    #89
  40. tennis4josh

    tennis4josh Rookie

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    Lot of good suggestions in this thread. The best way to move up in USTA ratings is to play up. Try to find a 4.0 team to play on. Even if you don't get too may matches, just practicing with those guys will help you. An ideal team would be full of 3.5 rated players so that there is no pressure to win and everyone gets to play. Play 7.5 combo league. The level of play in 7.5 is pretty much same as regular 4.0 doubles.

    Good Luck
    -Josh
     
    #90
  41. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the suggestions, Tennis4josh! I'll look into future league play options. (I do think I need to improve my playing ability first, though. I don't want to waste my opponents' time with completely lopsided matches.)
     
    #91
  42. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    I'm no instructor, but you do look like you could really benefit from a bigger knee bend + explosion upward on that serve. Like was mentioned, you appear to be somewhat tall, so making that serve a weapon seems doable and will make things easier for you, but it can only be so much of a weapon if you aren't using your legs to help you on the serve. But I would maybe wait to really try to make that change until you find a coach.

    I bring it up because it is actually something I am working on at the moment myself (with a coach, and then on my own too). The timing is different to get used to, but I believe it will pay off in the long run once I get it down.
     
    #92
  43. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks, DCdoorknob! I've actually fiddled with bending my knees more, even leaping up to the ball, in the past but only a little. I'll see if I can get some professional input on that.
     
    #93
  44. Coach Carter

    Coach Carter Rookie

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    without reading too much more here, I would just focus on winning where you are now. not so much on looking ahead. i think many times you get tied up with that and cost yourself success in the present.
     
    #94
  45. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the tip, Coach Carter! I'm not really looking ahead, so much as trying to improve my play now, which I hope will lead to wins at 3.5 this season and to 4.0 level play in the future. :)
     
    #95
  46. yonexpurestorm

    yonexpurestorm Rookie

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    try posting on craigslist looking for practice partners. i kind of ran out of ppl to play and posted an ad on craigslist and said i didnt want to play sets, just wanted to drill and work on shots. combined with my other hitting partners i have more hitting sessions than i have time. i now hit like 6 times a week. but i can really see the improvement in my weaker shots. at least 2-3 times a week ill go hit and will not play any sets or point games. just rally and drill. this actually is a much better workout and you realize how much walking around you do during sets. but i still have guys that only wanna play sets, and i use those to practice my new shots i drilled on. i dont care if i lose. then when i play a tournament i have the confidence to go for better shots, but if its not working i play to win. i have sort of created a system for myself to improve my game. i am finding the jump from 4.5 to 5.0 and then to open tournaments is really hard, but if you put in the work its possibl.e
     
    #96
  47. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the suggestion, Yonexpurestorm, and I hope your work results in many open tournament wins!
     
    #97
  48. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    nice serve.
     
    #98
  49. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks, Josofo! I'm working on it. :)
     
    #99
  50. nickarnold2000

    nickarnold2000 Hall of Fame

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    Some great advice here! I went from being a strong 4.0 to a 5.0(in my 40s_I'm 47 now) because I focused on improving and not winning. Also, I found a good core of great players who really forced me to get better racket skills(better serves, better returning, how to upon up the court) but also to physically improve my footwork and court speed.
    I know guys who can play well when the ball is being hit right to them but if they're forced to move - it's a different story.
    The use of poly strings has increased the ball pace a lot too so footwork to me is huge, IMO.
     

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