Are Tennis Players More Delusional About Their Abilities Than Other People?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    It happened again.

    I was watching a friend finish a doubles match, going down in a blizzard of UEs to a lower-rated team. Today, we talked about the match.

    Yes, you guessed it. Her own take on how well/poorly she was playing bore little resemblance to the truth as I saw it, and her take on what was wrong and how to fix it was way off the mark.

    Are tennis players unusual in this way?

    I was thinking back to my days of trying to learn piano as an adult. I stank. I knew I stank. I knew this because the pieces I could play were simpler, I made more mistakes, I had to play more slowly, and no one was moved to tears (for the right reasons, anyway).

    Why is it that the piano player knows she stinks but the tennis player does not?

    Is the issue that tennis players have NTRP rating to validate them? In other words, does NTRP allow people to deny the truth?

    See, I would think it would be much easier to deny the cold, hard truth of one's lack of talent in piano playing rather than tennis. There is no objective measure of what is good in piano; there is much subjectivity. In tennis, there are all sorts of objective measures -- chiefly the score.

    Yet Tennis Skillz Denial is a plague. How come?
     
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  2. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Tennis isn't the only sport that requires intense focus.It just boils down on pressure.

    If your friend was playing in a social match, I bet she wouldn't make UEs as much because nothing is at stake.

    She just have to learn to develop have a stronger mental fortitude and move on. :)
     
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  3. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    Sorry, Cindy. I don't see the two as analogous. In tennis, your opponent is actively seeking your downfall and it's easy to play the blame game: my opponent was in The Zone/got lucky, the sun was in my eyes, blah, blah, blah. Well, just about anything except, oh my...I guess it really was me.

    Pianos don't intentionally try to screw with you playing a concerto. And anyone who's remotely "musical" (at least enough to want to learn to play an instrument), will instantly know if they're "off" (pitch, tempo, etc.). For us tennis players, points/games/matches can be won (many times, I think) on our opponent's errors...so it's sometimes hard to know if I won because I played well, they played poorly or, more likely, some combination of the two.

    But to your particular friend's scenario, the biggest mistakes I'm seeing in closing out the match (be they mine or other) are outright nerves, deviating from The Game Plan that's worked and....a proclivity to go for too much when it's clearly not necessary.

    I've no delusions. At the end of every match, I'm gonna shake my opponent's hand, get back in my car and go home to the same house with the same amount of money in my wallet (albeit a bit less gas in the tank, literally and figuratively). I am a recreational hack, prone to errors in technique, strategy and overall execution. Better than some, worse than a whole lot more. However, I doubt I'll find too many others who'll have more fun at it than I will. :)
     
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  4. breezybee

    breezybee New User

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    Well one difference is that you probably weren't competing against anyone on the piano so you didn't exactly have any losses to explain.

    I prefer to tell people I suck at tennis. Then when I win it's a bonus! Seriously though, when someone asks me why I lost a match I usually state that the other player was better than me rather than list a bunch of excuses for the match but I do hear a lot of people rationalizing their loss.
     
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  5. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    This. The ability of opponents to make you look bad is not constant. And our own ability to win (vs. merely collect) points also depends on the opponent. So having any real sense of how you're doing is tough.
     
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  6. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    AQ, there is also another difference with piano v. tennis.

    In the study of a musical instrument, most people take instruction. You don't often see an adult pick up a cello and start dragging a bow across the strings. Usually, novice music students get some form of instruction.

    There is a common base of knowledge in music as well. You won't find pianists who disagree on what the key of F is.

    In tennis, there is a lot of bad do-it-yourself learning. By that I do not mean "failure to take lessons from a pro." I mean people who simply do not bother to learn basic things like the correct grip or footwork, whether on their own or with a pro.

    For example, one thing I observed in my friend's match was that they frequently missed or pushed softballs that should have been put-aways (remember, they were playing two lower-rated players). This is because they are used to blocking back volleys using the pace the opponent provides without transferring weight. Once the opponent was not giving pace, the failure to transfer meant volleys were missed or were sitters that could be lobbed or directed for easy winners.

    Why is that so hard for the person hitting the bad volleys to see? I mean, if I play a match and my lower-rated opponents are hitting winners off of my finishing shots, I would know I was doing something very wrong.
     
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  7. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I do notice the many players have a selective memory (remembering the winner while reforgetting the 20 something unforced errors hit while trying to make that winner).
     
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  8. tennismonkey

    tennismonkey Semi-Pro

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    AQ + breezybee = 2 players who just get it and have the right attitude. this is like finding a unicorn and the loch ness monster in the same place. i am buying a lottery ticket tonight.
     
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  9. AtomicForehand

    AtomicForehand Hall of Fame

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    Cindy, a lot of people have poor technique when playing instruments (or especially singing!) as well.

    You can play a very mediocre, low-level concert of easy pieces with bad technique just like you can play a crappy 3.0 match.

    There are lots of parallels between tennis and music, actually. :)
     
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  10. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Piano players are not (usually) directly competing against someone else
     
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  11. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    I think a lot of people are delusional about their abilities in general.
     
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  12. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I have a better backhand than Federer
     
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  13. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    But I would honestly want to get better than have fun. Sure you can have the best of both worlds, but not in all locations. :neutral:

    If I wanted to have fun, I'd just hang out with friends... But I'm at the courts for a reason.. :mad:

    I don't know, maybe if some of you people would be in my shoes you would understand. So, it's hard to explain from posting on a tennis forum.
     
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  14. Clive Walker

    Clive Walker Rookie

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    I have a feeling that Tennis can draw some similarities with Golf here- even the average 20 handicapper, can play a hole or two at pro standard, -The drive is long, down the middle of the fairway, the approach lands on the green, and the putt just happens to drop. He then walks to the next tee, feeling like a million dollars only to shank his next tee shot and end up with a 9.

    To bring this analogy in line with tennis- your average club player can hit a big serve into either corner, and follow it in with a perfect low volley to the back of the court, followed by a perfect overhead winner. he then serves 2 doubles, and hits the back fence with an easy forehand putaway.

    When talking about the match in the bar afterwards, he recalls the perfect point wistfully, and points out the UE in frustration- why can't he produce his best all of the time?

    It's not so much about being delusional about their abilities, but unrealistic in their ability to produce their best tennis time and time again.

    The highest standard of tennis I have seen (outside of the pros) was not about huge hitting, or massive serves, but about doing everything very, very solidly. -
     
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  15. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    My piano definitely intentionally plays the wrong notes when I try to play it.
     
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  16. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    For me, I so enjoy the feel of a well-struck ball in the sweetspot that it's easy to disregard the shanked junk.
     
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  17. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    Ahahahaha, I don't know, I minored in piano, and I'm pretty sure a piano or two, not to mention my clarinet (my major) totally had it in for me some days!


    Unfortunately, a lot of those singers with bad technique get paid millions of dollars to do that...*cry*.

    Hopefully, someone playing 'easier' pieces that require less background/study get the same enjoyment out of playing as the person playing the 3.0 match with crappy technique. At the end of the day, that's pretty much all that matters.
     
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  18. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    We also have a tendency to to remember that screaming DTL winner much more clearly than the 10 attempts to go DTL that hit the net. It is definitely eye-opening to have a friend keep some basic stats during your match like 1st serve %, 2nd serve %, UE, winners.
     
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  19. corners

    corners Legend

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    Pretty much everyone is delusional to some degree about pretty much everything.
     
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  20. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    Actually this is one of the reasons I quit playing doubles, I realized I was always blaming my partner rather than admitting that I was at least half of the problem. Playing singles I have no one to blame but myself for poor play.
     
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  21. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    I think most of us need to be somewhat delusional about our games or we would quit playing all together! There are definitely times when I think that I should quit cause I was soooo bad, but then I have a good match and I think, maybe I still can improve!!! That is probably very delusional!

    Anyway, the player I played last weekend week singles in a tournament is a perfect example. She self rated at 3.5; played up to 4.0 and was at best a 3.0 player. I beat her 0 and 0 and felt kind of sad doing it.

    She kept saying that she was sorry that she was playing so poorly when she just could not hit a groundstroke that would stay in the court and then when we were done, she stated that she was really used to playing against players who hit a lot harder than I do so that she was at a disadvantage. In warmup, I fed her balls and every ground stroke went out by about 2-5 feet.
     
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  22. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ^^^ She was indirectly insulting you and calling you a pusher
     
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  23. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    If I hear one more player say they lost because the opponent hit with too little pace I will pull my hair out in clumps.
     
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  24. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    DUH! Of course, she was! But, we did not hit a lot of balls at all; she was lucky to get a return in the court for me to hit back - who needs to hit the ball as hard as you can in that situation?
     
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  25. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    Start pullin', my friend.

    I can't believe how many times I've heard that from my (shhhh) 4.0 partners. Funny....I rarely (dare I say "never") hear it from my 3.5 (or lower!) partners.
     
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  26. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    You'll also never hear this from a 5.0+ player and a lot less from 4.5 players than 4.0s
     
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  27. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Because you eat noobs for breakfast.

    :lol:
     
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  28. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    It's funny that the majority of these instances occur from "lower ranked players".

    :roll:
     
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  29. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

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    Well, tennis is an individual sport, so there is a matter of ego involved. If I lost in football or basketball, my team lost. But if I lose in tennis, it is on me and there is no other explanation except that my opponent beat me. I have seen people stink up the court and then try to convince everyone (and themselves apparently) just how well their opponent played that day. LOL. I don't think ALL tennis players are delusional in this way---but I have seen the same thing in golfers on many occasions. Instead of simply saying they played badly, they blame the course conditions, the temperature, the wind, the cloud formations that afternoon---anything to keep from admitting they stunk up the links. Admittedly, it can sometimes be difficult to determine exactly what percentage of your loss was due to your poor play and what was due to your opponent's good play, but even then, unless you are making a crapload of unforced errors, it is likely your opponent's good play that is causing you to play poorly---so again there is no hiding place from the truth. Another factor I am convinced plays into this is that lots of tennis players watch the pros play on television or in person and they are convinced that it must be a relatively simple thing to play the same way when THEY take the court. They don't spend hours and hours each day working on their strokes and they don't get themselves exceptionally fit, but they still except to hit winners all over the place when they have a match. Since they don't, it is easier on the ego to assume it must be some other factor. Truth is, Cindy, you touch on a very good point---the majority of tennis players aren't as good as they tell themselves they are, and an equally small percentage can evaluate their game with a critical eye and draw valid and helpful conclusions. Club players aren't pros, and when they try to mimic what they see the pros do, it ALWAYS falls unbelievably short of what they THINK they should be able to do. Most weekend tennis players are just like most weekend warriors in any sport---they do little in the way of preparation, and then when they fail to live up to some unrealistic standard, they assume it was due to something betond their power to control. LOL.
     
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  30. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

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    And then again, there is also the likely possibility that this is simply a tennis example of what most human beings do all the time in all areas of life---tell ourselves we are better than we are, prettier than we are, not really THAT overweight, not really THAT old, not THAT bald, not THAT out of shape, etc. Most human beings rationalize because it is easier on the ego than admitting the truth and doing something about it. Sad but true.
     
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  31. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    I think people generally think they are better than they are in reality. I see it at work more than I do in tennis. It's human nature.

    Everyone has the know it all person at work. As soon as they show off their know it all greatness and walk away, you think to yourself, "what a d-bag".
     
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  32. mhj202

    mhj202 Rookie

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    Have you ever watched the early rounds of American Idol? Delusion and denial are not limited to tennis. Some folks are less self aware than others- true in tennis, true in golf, true in American Idol, true in piano, true in music, true in everything ...
     
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  33. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    More delusional than "other people".

    Don't think so. Tennis players are those "other people" who just happen to be playing tennis.

    Other people are delusional about many things- their job, their religon, their marriage, their kids, their political party, football teams, dieting, appearance, weddings, intelligence, parents, clothing, fast-foods, cars-- on and on--

    So, why should they be less delusional when it comes to a sport that they may associate strongly with their own self image?

    Is a tennis player more delusional than (for example) a student of Zen- or just delusional in different ways?
     
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  34. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Human beings have a tremendous ability for self-delusion. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-Il, and the like all deluded themselves into thinking they were doing things for the greater good of either mankind or their country. American school kids think they are excellent at math, when really they are quite poor.
    Tennis players are the same on a smaller scale. Think of what havoc they could wreak, however, if they could pass a law to have the government jail or kill all pushers. (and many of you know in your heart that sometimes you wish you could have such a law).
     
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  35. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Nadal's reaction:

    [​IMG]
     
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  36. Gemini

    Gemini Hall of Fame

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    I'd say no. I've met many a schoolyard/playground basketball player that was just as delusional.
     
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  37. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    It'll be easier if you break your post into sections instead of typing one large paragraph. :)
     
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  38. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    I have been playing tennis for quite a while and truly believe that this sport picks up some of the strangest people that don't play well with others. In other team sports, this type of behavior is just not accepted.

    In terms of delusion, I think the worst subset is between the 4.0 and low 4.5 level in tennis. This is the level where people can have good rally's sometimes when their opponent hits it hard at shoulder level with moderate topspin (not too much of course). Even with this most guys miss before the 7th ball. I believe this is where the distaste for pushers comes into play, as well as the sand baggers. They are looking for the just right opponent. Someone they can bang the ball with and be close or win.

    I have improved recently to the point where I am beating people at this level easily, and have been quite unhappy with the behavior. Its funny when someone who loses 6-0,6-0 attributes it to a bad day. Sadly there are other much less pleasant ways people have dealt with loss.
     
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  39. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    [​IMG]
     
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  40. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    I'm not delusional - I always think I suck even when I bagel my opponent;<)
     
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  41. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I wouldn't put the second example in the same paragraph as the first.

    And I dont think it is true.
     
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  42. Praetorian

    Praetorian Professional

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    I agree. Today's school kids know they suck at match in comparison to the world. They just feel they are entitled to be better than anyone else in the world, because they are American.
     
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  43. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    JR

    I bet you didn't read all of that either. Not many people here would and are not going to read it because it's an inconvenience.
     
    #43
  44. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    +1. Hackers will wait until the group ahead is 275 off the tee, then roll one 43 yds.

    And they buy the top of the line sticks every yr, as if that's going to be the Rosetta Stone. Their swing still looks like they're having a seizure...
     
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  45. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Here's a study, there are others also. The students are deluded.
    http://fmwww.bc.edu/repec/nasug2003/shen.pdf

    However, when one examines this relationship between countries (country as the unit of analysis), the opposite relationship occurs, i.e. countries with higher student self–evaluations usually performed poorly on the TIMSS tests, and vice versa. Similarly, countries with a high proportion of students perceiving the subjects as being easy performed poorly on the TIMSS tests, and vice versa.
     
    #45
  46. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Reading through this thread, it seems the 4.0 level is the danger zone for delusions.
     
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  47. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    I sometimes play with a guy who has been "working hard" on his second serve. Claims it has got such good kick that the ball will hit the back fence before bouncing twice.

    In reality it's a high arc powder puff. I know cuz when we play sets I have to stand way into no-mans-land to receive the ball before it dies in the service box...
     
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  48. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Hah, that reminds me of a thread we had here a few weeks ago... wherein it was revealed that all the 3.5s and 4.0s here on TT have a kick 2nd, and moreover that it kicks to shoulder height or more, and moreover that it is reliable enough to be their go-to 2nd serve in a pressure situation, and moreover that the server has complete directional control over it and so can reliably target opponent's backhand... :shock:

    But of course we are talking about TT 3.5s and 4.0s, which have been conclusively proven to be at least 5.0s+ out in the wild. :)
     
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  49. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    Oh that's a really big Truth!

    I'm a 4.0W. I'm not delusional. I just lost a "practice" set to a 3.5M just a few days removed from The Flu. It wasn't even close. He indulged me.

    Overall, though, maybe on the mens side...but certainly not the womens. I know few of my peers who think they're All That.
     
    #49
  50. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    Video... then review... always an eye opener.

    Worth doing once a month for a reality check.
     
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