Brad Gilbert's Winning Ugly - 6 reasons why to..

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Pro Staff Pete, Mar 30, 2008.

  1. Pro Staff Pete

    Pro Staff Pete Semi-Pro

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    To decide to receive instead of serving - after winning the toss.

    Can anyone recall them? (I'm not (yet) in the posession of the book).
     
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  2. BravoRed691

    BravoRed691 Semi-Pro

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    1) The first serve is no big threat: Club level serves are not like the pros...

    2) The Serve is the weakest earliest: esp when they aren't warmed up yet, nervous, isn't relaxed, isn't really a good server, etc.

    3) You get more time to warm up: serve is a complex movement; it's easier if you are warmed up

    4)The psychological effect: "confusing," and psyching out your opppnent. Why does he want me to serve first? Is my serve weak? Leads to over serving my your opponent.

    5) Losing the first game isn't losing: It's called you're still on serve!

    6) The quick break early break can be very important: exactly what it says...

    Hope this helps buddy...the book is a good read!

    Br
     
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  3. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    Wait, is Brad Gilbert's book called "Winning Ugly" because he uses cheap tactics, or just because he chose to have it that way, or some other reason?
     
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  4. TenniseaWilliams

    TenniseaWilliams Professional

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    Another interesting option when playing outside is to defer to your opponents in order to pick the side you start on. Remember that they have to elect to serve or receive before you make your choice.
     
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  5. i8myshirt

    i8myshirt Rookie

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    Not cheap tactics, smart tactics. He doesn't say "Call close balls out." Instead, he tells you to try to find the opponent's weaknesses, certain choices, etc.
     
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  6. [osu]ilovecows

    [osu]ilovecows Rookie

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    It's called winning ugly because Brad Gilbert never had the prettiest looking strokes or exceptional physical abilities. His best asset was his mind, being able to strategically win a match.
     
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  7. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Good recall, but IMO they don't apply well to doubles.
     
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  8. Bottle Rocket

    Bottle Rocket Hall of Fame

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    The one thing overlooked is that if you don't break in the first game, which is one of the big reasons to receieve first, is that you're now serving second in the set.

    When you're serving at 4-5 to stay in the set, choosing to serve second doesn't always seem like it was the best choice. I don't remember this being mentioned in the book.

    If you can hold serve reliably at the beginning of the set, I disagree with Gilbert. The returners game might be just as loose as your service game and getting off to a quick start can be extremely advantageous. Getting on the board quickly on your own serve can make you significantly more comfortable in your first return game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2008
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  9. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    I see. I've heard Brad mentioned as a pusher, but there's no such thing as a pro pusher. He must've just been a smart player then.
     
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  10. Solat

    Solat Professional

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    hallelujah!!!! what about the psychological advantage of being "two games ahead" when you do break? or the fact that it only takes 9 games to win a set instead of 10 (if only 1 break) or if you are playing in a points system where game difference counts a 6-3 set is a bonus compared to 6-4
     
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  11. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    Very True. This is one part of the book I felt was poorly handled. He doesn't discuss in any detail the pros/cons of serving first or second, primarily he advocates the pros of serving second.

    He should have made the decision more clear by providing players with questions that start with: How's your serve feeling in warm-up, are you feeling generally confident that you are ready to serve and hold as one expects to do so? What are today's conditions (sun, wind, etc)? Does your opponent appear to have a strong or weak serve that can be difficult or easy to break?

    I use those 3 criteria first before thinking about more reasons to serve second or first.
     
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  12. my_forehand

    my_forehand Professional

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    haha.HA!
    I was set on getting my hands on the book.



    I did. I was set on buying it.



    I didn't. When I first read the first few pages, I thought it was really worth it...

    I hear it's good; is it really worth 20 US?
     
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  13. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    Its a very good book for helping players prepare for a match and thinking about match play. Its a short easy read. You can sit in the library/book store with it for 15 minutes and determine if you want to buy it, another hour and you are done with the book. Take some notes while reading and you are done in an hour and 1/2.

    I've read several chapters in the book several times. Its a book that doesn't grow old.
     
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  14. Lindros13

    Lindros13 Semi-Pro

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    I thought the book was great. I think it had a good balance between specific items to help your game (specific strategies, how to prepare, having a plan, things to think about, etc. etc.) and good stories about pro tour matches to keep you very interested. I had a hard time putting the book down, and I rarely, if ever, read books.

    Buy it.
     
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  15. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    This is a very good book for a beginner/intermediate player because Gilbert shows you how to THINK about tennis, or about a tennis match particularly. There's so much stuff that never comes up in lessons or from watching the Tennis channel.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2008
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  16. FH2FH

    FH2FH Professional

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    I agree w/ Bottle Rocket and Solat. There's no reason to receive first unless you're incredibly nervous or feel very confident you can break. If they have a good serve, you'll be playing from behind the entire set, if not the match. If you serve first and hold, it's a greater advantage to force them to keep up.
     
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  17. ramseszerg

    ramseszerg Professional

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    As much as I like Brad's insight in this book, #1, 5, and 6 are contradictory. He says that who is serving is not important at the club level, maybe not even in the WTA, because we "hold" ~50 percent of the time. Which means #5 and 6 are meaningless.
     
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  18. Bottle Rocket

    Bottle Rocket Hall of Fame

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    And while we're at it, there is another issue (one of the biggest for me) I forgot about in my first post.

    When people break serve, they tend to have a let down. The most common time to break serve is right after you've been broken. Also, the most common time to get broken is usually right after you've broken your opponent. This is all due to mental let downs as well as a natural reaction to fight back, depending on which one of these situations you're in.

    If you do choose to receive in the first game and you break, you may have a little let down in your next service game as you got too comfortable too quickly. Your opponent is going to be fired up and this combination often leads to him breaking right back. Even at the pro lovel, a two breaks of serve in the first games of a set is fairly common.

    This is worse at the beginning of a set, because if you don't hold in your first service game, you may not get over it. The significance of this depends on your overal confidence and skill level, but I think it is important either way. If you're playing at a level where you're "supposed" to hold serve, this can often destroy your confidence. It will also improve the moral of your opponent.

    I've lost a whole bunch of tournament sets where I broke my opponent in the first game, but then got broken right back. Hopefully you all haven't fallen into that same type of pattern... :rolleyes:
     
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  19. BravoRed691

    BravoRed691 Semi-Pro

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    Contradictory to what? To each other?

    1 and 6 if anything sounds like it's along the same lines: You should let them serve first cause you can break them first.

    but just incase you don't get that early break well...it is only the first game and it's still on serve (#5).

    And wouldn't 50 percent be the average...it wouldn't be true in any given match.

    Still i wouldn't want to return first as i have more trust in my serve than my own return game. like the others have said, up one break 2-0 is much more comforting than being up the same one break but only 1-0 (a break isn't a break until you've held)

    Br
     
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  20. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    I would always serve first. My serve is much better than my return game. Simply warm up enough and be ready to play when you play.

    -Robert
     
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  21. ledor

    ledor Professional

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    I love the book, though i haven't bought it. I just sit down at Barnes and Noble and reskim the sections I need to remind myself of. it's like 6 or 9 USD.
     
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  22. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Just get it at the library. I enjoyed it. I may re-read it before the spring season starts.
     
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  23. Carlito

    Carlito Semi-Pro

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    I partially argee with the idea that it might be easier to break a guy, early before he gets into a rythem, but personally I will always serve first if given the opportunity. Mostly because I am very confident in my serve. But I do admit that you have a better chance breaking me early than you would late in a set.

    But look at it this way. If you serve first and hold serve, and break the guy early, then both of you continue to hold serve; by the 8th game you will be up 5-2. But if you return first and break serve early and both continue to hold serve you will only be up 4-3.

    Basically if you are up one break, by going first you are at 5-2 in opposed to being up 4-3 if you don't serve first.

    When this happens we tell ourselves its only one break, but most people won't blow a 5-2 lead and their opponent knows it. If it were only 4-3 you opponent will feel like they have a better chance.
     
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  24. JHBKLYN

    JHBKLYN Rookie

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    Another way to look at it is if you have a good serve and served first but get broken but you get back on serve, after 3 games, you'll only be down 1-2. But if you receive first and get broken and is on serve, after 3 games, you will be down 0-3.

    Your strategy should be called Winning Pretty or Carlito's Way! :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2008
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  25. Lindros13

    Lindros13 Semi-Pro

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    I like your description, Carlito. Well done. For the most part, I have to agree that "most people won't blow a 5-2 lead and their opponent knows it". However, I think it is better stated that "most people won't blow a 5-2 lead and MOST of their opponents know it." (since not all players think this way)

    Example: The other night, after winning the first set, I lost my rhythm and actually fell behind a whopping 5-0. I then held serve to make it 5-1; broke him to make it 5-2; held serve to make it 5-3; and then actually had 2 or 3 break points in that next game (but couldn’t convert them). So in this example which just happened to me the other night, it held true that I didn't win the 2nd set, but I came awfully close to breaking back "on serve", and then my momentum coupled with his frustration probably would have led me to win the set. Down 5-0, I knew that I could still make the set competitive and possibly still win the set, but I think there are many players that just can't handle that scenario and "throw in the towel" prematurely. So again, I'd say: "most people won't blow a 5-2 lead and MOST of their opponents know it."

    And the same thing applies to your comment: "If it were only 4-3 your opponent will feel like they have a better chance than if it were 5-2."

    Similarly, I'd say: "If it were only 4-3 most opponents will feel like they have a better chance than if it were 5-2." Players who are relatively comfortable holding serve, especially those that can maintain focus in pressure situations, realize that this is only one break of serve. So while I agree with both of your well-stated comments, I simply like to insert in the word "most".

    By the way, I've been electing to receive for the last few months (after reading Gilbert's book), but from this discussion, I'm not so sure I will continue to do this. I'm really up the air right now. I think someone mentioned that when faced with this service decision, they consider how well they have warmed up and how well they were placing the ball. I like this suggestion a lot. But I'd like to couple this suggestion with either Gilbert or Carlito but I'm not sure which!!!
     
    #25
  26. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I always choose to receive because past results have shown I'm most likely to get broke in my first service game than any other.
     
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  27. hyogen

    hyogen Hall of Fame

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    i agree with brad's advice although i've never taken it. I will start today!

    getting down 0-2 in the match sucks...the rest of the match FEELS like you're really coming from behind.

    if you make them serve, you can be aggressive and try to break them...THEN use your confident serve with your warmed up arm to hold and put the pressure back on them immediately.

    Makes sense to me :)
     
    #27
  28. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    This is one of those feelings you have to avoid since you have a lot of games left to get back on serve. Same goes for being up 3-1. Looks like you are doing better than you actually are.

    I try to see the score in a set as follows and it cuts some of those over reactions we have to the game score:

    As expected:

    on Serve - whether folks are holding or not. Momentum may or may not be an issue.


    Tricky - Momentum is critical:

    Down a break (with or without momentum) - anything can happen fast (back on Serve, down 2)
    Up a break (with or without momentum) - anything can happen fast (back on Serve, up 2)

    Momentum, confidence, focus are all really critical since this scenario happens a lot in tennis whether its early or late in the set.


    Set is a Lock

    down 2 breaks - Very little chance I'll come back
    up 2 breaks - Very little chance I'll lose set
     
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  29. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Some of you are really missing the point here.

    He didn't say everyone should choose to return first,
    but just suggested that serving 1st is not the slam dunk
    decision that some think it is. For those who don't like serving
    in that first game, He is listing 6 good reasons that you don't
    have to choose to serve first if you don't like it.
    (and they are not contradictory)

    If you love to lead off with your big booming serve and know
    you will now be front running for the set, by all means,
    DO That stud.
    :)
     
    #29
  30. Solat

    Solat Professional

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    but if you serve 2nd its still your first service game, surely its better to be broken in the first game of the set so you have more games left to break back?
     
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  31. ramseszerg

    ramseszerg Professional

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    1 and 5 are contradictory to each other, and 1 and 6 are contradictory to each other. In #1, Brad made it a point that who is serving does not matter. He talked about how the greatest servers hold a high percentage of the time, how he holds less, the WTA players hold even less, like 50%, and for the club player... who is serving is irrelevant. That's what Brad said in #1. Now if that is true, which it would be if your serve is that of a recreation/weekend warrior, then #5 which says even if you lose your return game you are still on serve, is meaningless. Because you are not any more likely to win the next game which is your service game than if you were returning, you're not on serve, you're one game down. And #6 says the quick "break" is important.. again, because he argues that for the club player who is serving doesn't influence who has the upper hand in a game, the concepts of holds and breaks that apply to pro tennis are meaningless.
     
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  32. ramseszerg

    ramseszerg Professional

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    Now I'm not saying that what he said holds no truth and that even club players with weak serves should choose to serve first. What I am saying is that Brad didn't give 6 solid reasons. He could have given 4 solid ones, but he overargued and gave 6 with loopholes.
     
    #32
  33. kairosntx

    kairosntx Professional

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    $5 w/ free shipping on amazon.
     
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  34. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    Agreed. I like to get that first game under my belt early on in the match and the best way that I know to do that is to go to my strongest shot-the serve.
     
    #34
  35. Pro Staff Pete

    Pro Staff Pete Semi-Pro

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    Some nice discussions here, good to see. I like 5263's point that he's only giving 6 reasons for people who don't like to start serving. If you're confident and can rely on a good serve, go for it!

    Gilbert is right that club level players don't have the big serve to hold most of their service games. For me it's just a matter of confidence. Even though there are days that my serve is just completely off, I still trust on it and don't want to be running behind. It gives me confidence that when I'm just holding my serve, the opponent will start feeling more and more pressure holding his serve aswell (unless you're playing the Karlo lol). The game at the score of 4-3 in my advantage is a crucial one. Break it, hold serve and the set is yours. Of course... this sounds easier than anything, but it has happened to me quite often.

    It all comes down to your personal preference(s). Some players like to keep the initiative, others prefer making strong comebacks when they are behind.
     
    #35

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