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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    That all makes perfect sense. I think I might have managed to do more in the second set, if my forehand hadn't collapsed (during rallies and on returns). I haven't had that happen in a long time. Grr.
     
  2. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    I'd have to pick back through this thread...

    ...to get a sense for your overall game and whatever suggestions I had, but let's look at your last match a couple of different ways:

    - Tennis is serial, time to learn from your last match and move on. You lost a match, end of story. Forget about the woulda coulda shouldas. You got beat by a baseline looper, you need to figure out what to do about that, but the next time around, you could get beat by a slice/dinker/pusher. We'll talk about that in the next topic which is...

    - ...it sounds like you're trying to become a "marginal 4.0." By that I mean you may be trying to figure out how to play just well enough to win 4.0 matches. That can work, but it can also be self-defeating. As in, this week, I got beat by a baseline looper...how do I fix that? Okay, maybe that'll work, I'll do that, only next, I play a slice/dink/pusher and lose...how do I fix that? Okay, got that wired. Next week, I play a guy who has garbage for groundstrokes, but moves like greased lightning and covers the net like a blanket...and wouldn't you know it? I lose again! Now what?

    It's an approach that's kind of like the little Dutch boy, with 10 fingers and thumbs, trying to patch a dike with an infinite number of holes. What I'd recommend is to stop playing matches, go back to the woodshed, and shore up all aspects of your game. Then get back into competition and see what happens. So what, specifically, should you be working on? My suggestion is to try to become an uber-4.0 by aiming for 4.5 skills, which are the following:

    "4.5
    You have developed your use of power and spin and can handle pace. You have sound footwork, can control depth of shots, and attempt to vary game plan according to your opponents. You can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve. You tend to overhit on difficult shots. Aggressive net play is common in doubles."


    Note especially what it says about the serve. Here's another thread where a guy served, played out the points, and wanted to know what we thought:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=401283

    He got a ration about how he needed to lose weight and his shorts didn't fit, but a couple of us said "You got game, bud." It'd be easy to say "Yeah, but all he did was hit serves and a few forehands." Guess what? That's all he needed and that's the idea. And if you notice, the guy returning is no slouch, he's got good movement, good strokes, but some of the serves he was facing were just plain unreturnable.

    JacK Kramer was an early advocate of the power game, which he called, oddly enough, percentage tennis. There's this notion that "pushing" is percentage tennis, which is only true if you let your opponent push you to death. You're a pusher? Fine, here's a service ace, push that.

    To an extent, the fewer balls you have to hit in a rally, the more likely you are to win the point...providing you control the point from the opening, on your serve or on your forcing return. I answer queries all the time in this forum where the situation goes something like "Okay...so I served, and it was a weak return, but my partner didn't jump on it, because she doesn't like to volley, and then I hit a forehand cross court, and they returned it back to me cross court, and then I lobbed over the net person and came to the net...but wouldn't you know it? The stinkers lobbed over me! So what should I do at this point?" And the short answer is "Don't let it get to that point. You're the server, put them in the hurt locker early and either hit an easy winner or force them into an error."

    When I watch 3.0/3.5 doubles, almost invariably the first two shots...the serve and return...are basically courtesy strokes. I plop a serve in, you plop a return back...to me, of course, because I know I'm never supposed to hit to the net person...and now you and I start playing singles on a doubles court while our partners go off to Owego until the point is over.

    Strong serves and returns can turn that scenario 180 degrees. I coach a 3.0/3.5 group in the summer, and at one of our sessions, after I was done having them work on whatever we needed to, everybody got back to playing doubles. There was one court that was a player short, so they asked me to fill on, which I often do at this point. Usually I'll just fluff in my serve and regturn, but they asked me to take the gloves off, for a change, and go full tilt. Not only did I not lose any points on my serve or return, the ball never even came back.

    I'm not telling you this to tell you how great I am, because I'm not, or how substandard my athletes are, because they're not. If you were to watch us all hitting groundstrokes, volleys, whatever, you wouldn't see all that much difference between their games and mine. When the serving and returning starts, though, it's like I'm in a separate universe from them.

    So as I said above...and this is for all of us...definitely work on all aspects of your game, but put the serve and return at the head of the "to do" list...
     
  3. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thank you for your in-depth reply, skiracer55. First, I completely agree with you on the importance of the serve and return. I have been working a lot to improve my serve, and I want to work on my return. My first serve is a flat, strong serve, generally down the T but sometimes into the body, often with a touch of slice (as I’m a lefty). My second serve is a kick/slice hybrid hit with just as much power, if not speed, as my first serve, generally placed into the body. As I’ve just developed both of these serves, my percentages for landing them in the service box are lower than I’d prefer, but they’re both getting in often enough for use in a match. (I refuse to just bloop the serve in because I’ll never get better doing that.) My forehand return really needs help, though, and I’m trying without much success to find someone to drill returns with. (My backhand return is usually an effective slice, but I want to develop a standard one-handed backhand return, too.)

    Second, at the macro level, I have no interest in limiting myself to becoming a marginal 4.0. I want to be the best player I can be, and my instructor has told me that with work, I can play above the 4.0 level someday. (He says I have 4.5 footwork now.) He’s told me to stop worrying about winning matches and just work on the various aspects of my game. What's happened is that I'm not worried about winning so much as that I’ve allowed myself to expect to play at the best of my ability at all times, which is foolish, particularly when faced with a strong opponent like the one I played yesterday. So, I need to get over my match. I didn’t play well in the second set, and my opponent played very well. (He had a great, strong first serve, too, and got it in at least 80% of the time, throughout the match. Really impressive for a 3.5.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2011
  4. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Sounds good...

    ...you're on the right track, some additional thoughts:

    - Where you're going with your serve is a good thing. Heavy second serve to the body is definitely the bread and butter serve there. Down the T is fine, a body serve is always good. Note, however, that Kevin Anderson's coach has him always serve out wide on the first serve to open up the court. You have this in the ad court, now you need to develop it in the deuce court. There was a recent article in Tennis about Djokovich, where one of the attributes of his success this year was his ability to show variety on the serve. Andy Roddick serves as hard as he ever did, but it doesn't vary much, and everybody's figured out how to deal with it.

    The more important issue, however, is what are you doing after the serve? It sounds like your serve can be forcing, you need to follow up on it with the next shot to press your advantage and keep your opponent off balance...not let him get into a heavy topspin rhythm.

    - Yep, some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you. It's unrealistic to expect to play your best in matches, but there is a path to head more in that direction. There's the "10,000 hours" theory, which says you need that many hours to become an expert practicioner at whatever you're seeking. There's a flaw, however, which is that if you're practicing the wrong stuff, if you put in 10,000 hours doing it, all you'll be able to do is consistently shank a ball into the net, or whatever. The proper path is to figure out the right way to do it, and then do it a lot so that it becomes automatic. Whatever you do becomes a habit. If a well executed, forcing forehand becomes a habit, then that's what's likely to show up in a match.

    Note that your game is changing, however, so even if you have success on a stroke in practice, even most of the time, it'll take some time before it shows up, consistently, under pressure in matches.

    - Re your forehand return, there are two general theories of the return. First, there's the Andre Agassi approach, which is to take a short backswing but really try to rock the ball and put the other guy in the hurt locker right away. Good tactic for Andre because of his skills and his hand eye coordination, also good because his serve was pretty average, so he needed to put a lot of pressure on the server.

    Other theory is the Pete Sampras approach, which is just chip or block the return back most of the time and make the guy play. Sampras knew his service games were pretty much a gimme, and all he needed was one break a set, so he'd just block the ball back and wait for one game where he'd have a chance to hit a couple of aggressive returns and get the break.

    I don't have Sampras serve (who does?), but my serve is forcing enough that I go with a chip or block return most of the time. Even if you decide this isn't your approach, I think you need to learn to do it, because against a big server, sometimes a chip or block is all you can do to get the ball back and make the other guy play. How's your volley? Because if you have a good volley, making a chip or block return is a pretty easy elision. If you don't have a good volley...well, that's one more thing you need to get through the 4.0 barrier, right?
     
  5. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for your additional thoughts, skiracer55. I definitely want to learn to vary my serve placement. I love the idea of going down the T, wide, or into the body whenever I like. :)

    That's an excellent point about expectations during a technique/tactics/strategy transition. I need to be more forgiving of improper execution of pretty much all of the elements of my game for a while.

    I'm certainly trying to make my practice correct practice. As you said, what's the point of 10,000 hours of shanking forehands?

    As for returns, I'll admit that Agassi's style of return is what really interests me, but, that's going to take a ton of work to learn. The "block or chip" style favored by Sampras is probably a better choice for me to learn now, as you suggested.

    So, again, thanks! (I'm feeling a lot better about my future tennis play than I did yesterday or even earlier today.)

    Oh, and my volley isn't all that, but it's improving, in large thanks to my instructor.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2011
  6. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Sounds like a plan..


    ...go forth and make it happen and keep us posted. One additional thought (I always have one additional thought...) which is to make sure you're totally happy with your racket and string setup and you know why it works. The corollary to that is that if you're happy with what you have, try some other stuff just to see how your game feels with a different stick.

    Maybe there's something that can help you progress to the next level. When I was working with the CU Boulder coaches, they had me change a lot of stuff, including going from a Conti forehand to a loop SW forehand. For a couple of summers, I used a 112 sq. inch head racket with lots of power because I wanted every opportunity I could get to get the ball somewhere near the sweet spot and do what it was supposed to on the court...so try some different rackets and see what it does for your game!
     
  7. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I will, thanks!

    As for trying new racquets, strings, strokes, etc., I'm always open to changing things up. I actually just switched from a Babolat Pure Drive Roddick GT Plus to a ProKennex Kinetic Pro 7G mid plus because of chronic tennis elbow. (The strings are Wilson NXT 16 at 58 lbs.) I like how I hit with the ProKennex (other than yesterday), and it doesn't hurt my elbow.
     
  8. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I'm playing at Line 1 doubles against one of the toughest teams in the league this weekend. I haven't played a league doubles match since last season, but my strongest doubles players are hurt or unavailable. This will be interesting....
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  9. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Serve and volley...

    ...chip and charge. But most of all, talk with your partner before the match so you both have a vague idea what you'll do as a team (as opposed to two singles players who temporarily occupy the same court)...
     
  10. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Excellent advice. Thanks!
     
  11. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I played my Line 1 doubles match today, and my partner and I lost 6-7( 6-8 ), 2-6. My second kick serve gave them fits (only four double faults!), and my partner played the best I've seen him play. But they were too good. (One is 6-1 in doubles this season--with all but one of those matches at Line 1--and the other is a 4.0 who was dropped to a 3.5 early season rating.) I felt a little lost playing on a doubles court, but I had fun.

    Things I took away from the match: 1) I like doubles more than I thought; 2) I really need to work on my forehand return and develop a non-slicing backhand return; 3) I need to aim my volleys a little farther away from the opposing guy at net; and 4) my chip and charge attempts are weakened by number 3. (I didn't even try to serve and volley.) Lots to improve, as always!
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2011
  12. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Good stuff...

    ...that's a good result, and you figured out what worked and what needs improvement. Keep plugging away, you're on an ascending curve now...
     
  13. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks! That's an encouraging thought. :)
     
  14. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I just found out that an eighteen-year old I played at a tournament this summer who I managed to win three games from in the second set later played in an open tournament where he won his first match against someone with no record before taking four games from a player with a 14-5 open record. Too funny.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  15. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I played my last match of the season today, after one of my players had to bow out a few hours beforehand. Rather than rearrange the lineup for no real purpose, I just played in the open spot at Line 3 doubles with one of my 3.0 players. We played against another 3.5/3.0 team and lost 3-6, 6-3, 0-1 (7-10). My partner did a good job, and I played pretty well. My serve was really strong and got us a lot of free or easy points. I got to work on my forehand by receiving on the ad side. (My partner is a lefty, too, who prefers receiving on the deuce side.) Surprisingly, other than a few glitches and some overhitting, my forehand worked, even on the return. But our opponents just played better than we did. We all had fun, though, which was the most important aspect of the match.

    So with the fall season done, I'll be working on pretty much all aspects of my game, until the spring season starts.
     
  16. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    Interesting thread! I am a 3.5 as well, playing primarily doubles. About 6 months ago, I went to my pro and asked him what I needed to do to get to 4.5 (why not aim high). He said I needed to improve my stroke mechanics until they were excellent--and hence bulletproof under pressure. And this meant all my strokes, including the ones I seldom used, such as volley and overhead.

    He also said I needed to learn how to play doubles if I was going to beat anybody good. Now that is taking some work.

    So I went to work. I would take some lessons, then head to the ball machine to work what I was taught. It is not an easy process, but it is paying big dividends. I don't know if I am going to get bumped up, but I'm now invited to play on our better 4.0 teams, and I am competing successfully at the "open" level in my club. People are congratulating me on how quickly I have improved, but it doesn't seem quick and has taken a lot of work. And my strokes still suck.

    The thing I find hard to work on is returns. It is a challenge to find someone with a really good serve to practice with, so I typically take a lesson and have my pro rip serves at me. That helps, but if I don't do it often I seem to lose my timing, so that needs work too.

    I guess in hind sight, everything needs work all the time, so the keys are to have goals in mind, keep track of what you're doing and practice deliberately.

    Good luck and great thread!
     
  17. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    There has been a lot of great advice posted here, Maui19, which I really appreciate.

    It sounds like you're doing an excellent job of implementing your plan to reach your 4.5 goal. (And, yes, finding a way to practice returns is really tough.) Good luck! :)
     
  18. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Good stuff...

    ...you're planning your improvement and working your plan. What you need to pull it together is one or two like-minded practice partners. I have a pretty big serve and so does my steady practice partner. Our routine is to warm up short court, go back to the baseline and get it going full length, get into some groundstroke rally exchanges, then work on the volley by hitting volleys where we're both at the service line (I highly recommend this for quickness, if for nothing else). Then for about an hour, we just serve, return, and play out the points...no score. I'll serve for a half hour or so, then it's his turn. So find somebody who's willing to do this kind of practice routine, and go to it.

    Doubles tactics, here's some thoughts on that subject, posts 4 and 5:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=338284&highlight=most+important+player
     
  19. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    The spring USTA season begins this weekend for my 3.5 league, and I'm playing Line 1 singles for my team. During the between-seasons break, I've worked on my serve, my groundstrokes, and my volleys (although not as often as I'd like due to my job), and my instructor has told me that I've improved since last season. I've also been playing practice matches against a 4.0 player once a week who hits really fast, spinning serves and who rallies with a lot of pace and places the ball really well. My own pace has picked up a ton, as a result, and I've been working to dictate points and hit winners off my forehand. I'm also learning to hit aggressive returns. (I've been sort of forced to, as I can't effectively block back his first serves to my forehand.) Our match scores have been really lopsided in his favor, but we've had some excellent games.

    I seem to have made the transition from counter-puncher to aggressive baseliner in the last couple of months. I'm hoping that I can bring that aggressive baselining power to my 3.5 match this weekend and make it work. And, of course, I'm hoping that this aggressive style of play will eventually translate into me playing above the 3.5 level.
     
  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Just remember... you're playing 3.5 level tennis, or 4.0.
    A low CC slice is fine for a return of serve except off a really wide serve to your backhand, then you lob DTL or go for a low slice right at the netman.
    A topspin backhand would take you 2 years to learn and implement in tight doubles matches.
    Ad court returners can slice from the middle position as long as the netman can't putaway his backhand poach volley.
     
  21. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for the tips, LeeD! I play singles most of the time in my league matches, but I've noticed that during my occasional doubles matches my slice backhand return is easily poachable, even when I hit it low and with some pace. So, I've been working on hitting a one-handed backhand drive return. It's not as reliable as my slice return, but it's getting there.
     
  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Consider the options....
    Your opposing netman is looking to poach.
    You go DTL lob.
    You hit a middle low lob (that clears netman), forcing the two players BOTH to cover the shot.
    You hit straight at the netman's hip pocket.
    You hit a deep CC lob.
    Consider some of those.
     
  23. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I will definitely consider them, LeeD. In the past, when dealing with a poaching net man, I've hit down-the-line lobs, middle low lobs, and, unintentionally, straight at the net man's waist. I've rarely tried deep cross-court lob returns except by accident.
     
  24. lgbalfa

    lgbalfa Professional

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    my problem is that i hit like a 4.0 but i play like a 3.5.

    nothing wrong with my strokes.

    my consistency, unforced errors and mental aspect are hindering me from winning matches that i should.

    hopefully in time i can overcome those things.
     
  25. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    We all have those days.
    Only cure is to get the first serve IN, hit 2 balls before going for a winner, and never get lazy hitting those first two balls.
     
  26. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

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    Psh. When I'm dealing with an overly aggressive poacher I'll take a huge cut at the ball at his chest. Doesn't always work, but it sure helps keep them honest!
     
  27. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    10 char mispost.
     
  28. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I played my first league match of the season today at Line 1 singles and ran into a superior 3.5 who also plays on 4.0 teams. He had a great first serve and an almost-as-strong second serve that I just didn’t handle well at all. I tried to hit it back with a reasonable swing, but I really needed to block it back. As I haven’t learned how to do that with any consistency, I got killed by his serve. On my serve, which was so-so for first and second serves, he managed to hit a lot of them back just over the net to spin away to the side, before I could reach the ball, or, when he hit deeper returns, he was so quick (quicker than I am, which I don’t see often) that he moved into great position at the net to put away my next shot. His game forced me to hit approach shots and volleys for the entire match, and neither shot is a strength of mine. A pro at my club did me a huge favor yesterday and hit with me to get me ready for today, but neither of us anticipated an opponent like the one I played. I never had a chance to establish any kind of rhythm, and my opponent crushed me 6-0, 6-1.

    On a positive note, I managed to keep my temper in check over the many errors that my opponent’s excellent game caused me to make, and I kept myself focused on each point played, rather than the score. (This is the sort of match, even when I’m totally outclassed, as I was today, that can cause me to completely lose my focus and my temper.)

    I’ve made some progress in smoothing out my baseline groundstrokes, but I didn’t get a chance to use them much at all today. I clearly need to work on 1) blocking back powerful serves, 2) improving my approach shots, and 3) volleying more crisply and with better placement.

    Despite how lousy this kind of match makes me feel, I’m going to keep working on my game. That’s all I can do.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  29. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Given that I'm clearly not playing at a near-4.0 level now, I'm going to stop posting match updates here. I've received lots of great advice on implementing a 3.5 to 4.0 action plan, and now I just need to spend time working on the action plan.

    Thanks very much to everyone who contributed to this thread!
     
  30. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    Well thank you for making this thread! I have enjoyed reading it, in part because I am in your position (3.5 trying to get to 4.0). I admire your efforts and wish you the best as you git after your goals. Good luck!
     
  31. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks, Maui19! I'm glad you've enjoyed the thread, and best of luck reaching 4.0!
     
  32. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Just a quick note: My instructor took me aside on Monday before my weekly practice match with my 4.0 opponent and gave me a thirty second demonstration on blocking back returns. I walked into my match determined to block every serve back, and, to my shock, it worked. I actually won the practice match 6-2, 3-6, 11-9. That's the first time I've ever won a set, let alone a match, against my 4.0 opponent, mostly because of my return of serve. (And, of course, because my opponent was having an off night, and I was hitting the best I've ever hit.) I'm now a true convert of the block-back return of serve. :)
     
  33. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    The real trick is when you work out how to put a bit of english on your blocks. Just enough so that setting up to hit them back requires a bit of effort. Then you move the block around until you figure out where they don't want it and voila you can make people work for their service games.

    I honestly think juniors have it a lot easier learning how to return, the serve speed ramps up as they age up so they only have to improve their returns incrementely.
     
  34. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I'll definitely continue working on my block return technique and placement. I'm quite sure the guy who destroyed me on Sunday would still have won the match easily, but a block return would have at least made him work a little harder for it.

    That's an interesting thought on junior development and blocking serves. If true, I would think it would apply to all aspects of their games, depending on how early the juniors started playing.
     
  35. yonexpurestorm

    yonexpurestorm Rookie

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    when you mention blocking the serve back do you mean switching to a conti grip and kind of slice blocking the return. or are you talking about still using your normal topspin grip, but just not taking a cut at the ball and blocking it back with a half swing type manuever. i found blocking it back with topspin really works well, but is not as easy as the chip block return. which one i do depends on the serve i have to return, but it would be good to get your thought and what your instructor told you to do.
     
  36. subban

    subban Rookie

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    I would'nt use conti grip unless you want to block all your returns. though it did work for Sampras. I usually just use my semi western grip and block the serve back.
     
  37. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    My instructor taught me an abbreviated driving swing style of blocking with a normal grip (Eastern forehand and backhand), which I'd never done right before my last match. I already knew how to chip block, at least off my backhand, and I found the abbreviated block swing was much more effective than chipping.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  38. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    This I doubt.
    Makes little difference if your slow return is barely topspun or barely underspun. A heavy slice return is more effective than a barely topspun return, almost every time.
     
  39. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I was only talking about the relative effectiveness of my returns. :)
     
  40. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Deleted for pointlessness.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  41. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    were those matches at 3.5 or 4.0 ?
     
  42. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    They were 3.5 matches, gmatheis.
     
  43. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I tried something different last night, so I thought I'd share it here.

    My baseline game has become an inconsistent mess, as I'm trying to groove both a forehand and backhand stroke, so I decided to see what I could do with a 100% serve and volley during my weekly practice match against a 4.0 guy at my club.

    It was great practice and a damned good workout. I lost 0-6, 3-6, largely due to my opponent's excellent serving and his very good passing return shots. (He can really set up and hit my second kick serve back better than anyone I’ve played, so I probably wouldn’t have rushed the net on my second serves, if I hadn’t committed to doing so for the entire match.) I didn’t help my cause by struggling to hit back his hard, dipping serve returns. Once I got to volley range, though, I did okay. My main problem was hitting too many volleys right up the middle of his court. I did hit some to the corners, but they were few and far between. My returns went from lousy to almost acceptable by the second set. (His spin really messes with my ability to hit back a proper return, even when I’m just blocking it back.) I won my three games in the second set because my first serve caught fire and caused him to mis-hit several returns or get the serves back weakly. (I hit one serve so fast and hard down the T to the ad court that my arm went a little numb.)

    So, my take on last night's experience is this: my serve is strong and consistent enough now to serve and volley, but I won’t be ready to do it on a regular basis until I learn to hit dipping returns better and until I learn to volley to the corners under pressure. I think what I’ll do is use it in my matches at certain points for the practice and to throw off my opponents. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to hit stable forehands and backhands from the baseline, get to the net when I can, and just accept the fact that I'm going to a lose a lot more matches until my whole game gels.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  44. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    I don't think you're ready for S&V. When I'm really putting the beating on a lesser opponent, I tend to see them to start doing this and they really have no idea how to do it, nor the power on serve to allow them to do it effectively.

    You'd be better off really working on your footwork. The #1 thing I see at the 3.5 to low 4.0 level is poor positioning on shots. You should put yourself in position to hit every shot as balanced as you can. Think active feet. Watch Djokovic's feet sometime when he plays to get an idea.

    A lot of guys at the 3.5 level hit a shot and then just stand there waiting for the next shot to come right to them instead of moving around. Think of hitting the perfect shot -notice how the ball was right at the level that enabled you to hit a great shot?

    Just my .02.
     
  45. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I agree with you that I'm not ready for S&V. Last night demonstrated that. :) As for footwork, I actually tend to move too much between shots, usually by running too soon to a point in anticipation of the next shot. In addition, I'm already moving to recover before my shots are finished, which is terrible for my stroke consistency at this stage in my game. My instructor has told me many times, "Calm down!"

    I really need to film my matches. You'd get a good laugh from all of the wasted running back and forth I do. :)
     
  46. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Good to see you have active feet. Now one thing you can do is learn to more efficient in your court coverage and start to predict where the ball is going to go based on your opponents tendencies.

    Last night I played really well against a fellow 4.5 and a lot of it was due to my understanding of his tendencies. I have played him a few times so that helped. If he held his racket a certain way on the BH, I knew a drop shot was coming and was already moving forward when he hit it. If I hit a shot to his BH, I knew it was most likely coming cross court.

    Really understanding where the ball is going to be allows you to be more efficient. Good to see you're moving your feet already.
     
  47. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks, jdubbs! I'm definitely trying to learn how to properly gauge where my opponents' shots are going to go; I'm just not there yet. The 4.0 I played last night hits with me almost every week, so I've started to figure out his shot selection patterns. However, his shots were very different last night because my serve and volleying forced him to adjust where he hit. I just couldn't figure out often enough where those new shots were going to go. :)
     
  48. ted619

    ted619 New User

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    Most people lose because they are inconsistent and make a ton of errors. IMHO. You need to be consistent in order to start even thinking about strategy.

    The other thing that helped my game more than anything was a jump rope.
     
  49. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Well, I've been working on my consistency. The problem is that I'm trying to groove new forms of almost every one of my shots. I finally had to give up on about three of them during matchplay, as it was just too much to worry about. So, I've focused on serving and forehands in my last two matches and hit with my other older strokes (a good slice backhand and a subpar approach shot and volley). As a result, I lost 6-2, 4-6, 7-10 at line 2 singles to a guy who hasn't lost a match since last spring and 5-7, 3-6 at line 2 doubles against two solid players, in contrast to getting killed in my first three matches (two singles, one doubles) of the season. I'll keep practicing the new strokes, of course, but I'm not going to use them in match play until they're ready for prime time.

    Jumping rope is an excellent fitness/footwork idea. (I've actually been considering doing it.)

    Thanks for the thoughts/tips!
     
  50. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    I don't have the 3.5 to 4.0 action plan answer it seems, but the self-rated "3.0" I played last night seems to have the answer and should patent it. He beat a 4.0 last week 2 & 0. :confused:

    He was up 6-3, 3-2 with him serving until I came back with 4 straight games to even the match 3-6, 6-3. He goes up 2-0, and now his Ad him serving. Not so fast. Break, then hold. 2-2 now. At 4-4 I break then hold to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Complete and utter failure of the USTA Self-Rate system.

    Until the USTA admits and corrects the failure of their "Self-Rating" system, guys like this "3.0" will continue to self-rate two NTRP levels below their actual level, then they are bumped from two levels below their accurate NTRP to one level below. e.g. Really a 4.0 self rates at 3.0, then gets bumped to 3.5. 4.5s self-rate at 3.5, then get bumped to 4.0. Why doesn't the USTA admit this happens? Sorry wrong thread.

    The guy I played last night will be bumped to 3.5 and play there for at least one year before being bumped to 4.0, all the while beating 4.0 players in singles matches best two out of three sets. We were talking about mixed doubles and he commented "I won't play unless it is 8.0 minimum" :shock: So here is a "3.0" who will not play mixed doubles unless he is playing in an 8.0 league. He told me he was having trouble finding a 4.5 or 5.0 woman to play with him. I asked what do you think she is going to say when you tell her you are a "3.0"? No reply at all.
     

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