Change of direction

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by kevhen, May 6, 2004.

  1. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2004
    Messages:
    4,405
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I really struggle with change of direction shots, like taking a crosscourt return and hitting it up the line with my backhand for a winner. If the incoming ball is hit hard, I really struggle and will either end up late and wide or try aiming for the center of the court so I am not late and wide and end up hitting it to the center of the court instead of a foot or two from the sideline. Does everyone else struggle with this and should I only be changing directions and going for winners on easier, slower balls? Or do I just need to practice this more until it feels for natural? Also when I do hit the right shot, it doesn't seem to have enough pace to be a clean winner, so for the most part I try to avoid hitting to many change-of-direction balls but would like that ability. Most of the pro men seem to have this ability with pinpoint control but many of the pro women I have watched who try to change the direction of the ball seem to lose more points with errors than win with winners when they do this, except for the very top women players like Justine and Serena.
     
    #1
  2. VTL

    VTL Guest

    It's just one of those things that needs a lot of practice. Like many skills, you have to be persistant and just drill yourself to death, be aware of your movement, your timing, and video tape is great. Try some ball fed drills and set up targets to hit. You don't have to perfect hit the targets but just visual yourself hitting perfect shots and your body will adjust. Once you start excelling this this, move up to live ball drills, and of course if you're able to get to that level, you should have no problem having at least some success in matchs repeating the skills you've developed in practice. Work hard, man.
     
    #2
  3. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    11,885
    Q. If the incoming ball is hit hard, I really struggle and will either end up late and wide.

    A. You should not change directions of the ball on a hard shot, even if you see a black hole on the side of the court you want to change directions to. This is a low percentage shot that has the illusion that it is a high percentage shot. First off, you have to control the pace of the incoming ball (level of difficulty rises), you would be better off hitting to the longer part of the court (crosscourt) and waiting for a slower easier ball to control. Hit it back to where it came from. You are hitting late on the ball because the ball is angling away from you and your racquet is sort of shearing the ball because it is not "squared" on the ball even though from your view point you are going to hit it right on - it is the grand illusion.

    Q. Should I only be changing directions and going for winners on easier, slower balls? Or do I just need to practice this more until it feels for natural?

    A. Yes. That is when you change directions. A good rule of thumb is using the Wardlaw Directionals and build your game up from understanding of what they are and mean. You can change direction of the ball if it did not cross in front of you or is a short ball. This is good discipline and good fundamental knowledge of how to hit a tennis ball.

    Q. Also when I do hit the right shot, it doesn't seem to have enough pace to be a clean winner, so for the most part I try to avoid hitting to many change-of-direction balls but would like that ability.

    A. When you improperly decide to change directions of the ball, it takes a great amount of talent and timing to keep it in. Changing directions of the ball at the wrong time for your skill and strength level can mean you will lose games to lesser players or for that matter just lose! This is because you are not disciplined in the shot selection department.

    You should avoid too many change of direction ball exchanges as now you now know it produces errors. This is why learning to rally and learning to keep the ball in play is important stuff. You have to wait for the opportunity to change direction and take charge of the point. Wardlaw Directionals will really help you here.


    Q. Most of the pro men seem to have this ability with pinpoint control but many of the pro women I have watched who try to change the direction of the ball seem to lose more points with errors than win with winners when they do this, except for the very top women players like Justine and Serena.

    A. The pro men and pro women are at another level. They are stronger, quicker, and their skills are much more developed. They can take a low percentage shot for us and make it a higher percentage shot for them simply because they live and breath tennis. They also know when to change directions. This is called having good shot selection decisions.

    A ball that would be more difficult for us to change direction on is easier for them. However, they also have to abide by the same physical rules. I was watching a pro match and this pro was making a ton of unforced errors. He was simply trying to change the direction of the ball too much (and at the wrong time - he was forcing the ball) and got in all sorts of trouble. He was also too stubborn to change his tactics and lost quickly. Learn Wardlaws Directionals and you will suddenly discover another level of tennis.
     
    #3
  4. orange223

    orange223 New User

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Messages:
    53
    BB,

    Where can I get a copy of Wardlaw's Directionals or where is it printed?

    Tks.
     
    #4
  5. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    977
    I know it is in Chuck Kriese's Coaching Tennis for one.
     
    #5
  6. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    11,885
    Yes, the basic knowledge is in that book. It has some examples. Pressure Tennis is the main book. Keep one thing in mind when you read the book, it leaves no room for your own creativity. This is something that you will have to incorporate as you evolve. Dont be afraid to go against the book on your instincts. But if you fail to execute you will know why and what your limitations are.

    Wardlaws directionals are about High Percentage Tennis. Nothing more then that. Learn them, know them, incorporate your style, be creative out on the court, and know why your hitting a certain shot.
     
    #6
  7. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2004
    Messages:
    4,405
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Yes, I have read his book. He coaches at the University 5 minutes from where I live. I do avoid changing direction most of the time, but ocassionally I like to think I have that backhand up-the-line winner in my reportiore since sometimes I do have it (but the percentages are still too low most of the time). With more practice it may come since I mostly just rally straight away or crosscourt in practice and need to get back to the dictator drill where the dictator changes direction on every ball while the chaser runs from side to side hitting everything back to the dictactor. Of course I am a master at being the chaser but struggle as dictator and haven't practiced that drill in maybe a year.
     
    #7
  8. jun

    jun Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    548
    It really is a tough shot and high risk shot. Going down the line gives you much smaller margin of error. Higher net, and if the shot iisn't precise, then it's pretty much middle of the court. AND THEN you put yourself in more volnuerable position for his/her crosscourt shot.


    Another option is hitting with a lot more topspin, NOT TO ATTACK, but to change the pace of rally. You are going crosscourt to crosscourt. If the other guy has too much power, or not a great mover, it's not a bad idea to LOOP the ball down the line. Notice, you are not going for the line.
     
    #8
  9. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2004
    Messages:
    4,405
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I do have a good up-the-line shot if my opponent hits down-the-line at me. I can also redirect these crosscourt a bit easier than the other change of direction shot.

    So redirecting a hard crosscourt shot back up the line is the lowest percentage shot in tennis? Or is it the flat serve out wide? Dropshot? Half volley? Topspin Lob? Tweener (shot between the legs)?
     
    #9
  10. jun

    jun Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    548
    Returning down the line to up the line isn't that hard, because you don't have to change anything. You are better off hitting it crosscourt for a few reasons.

    I would say down the line off a strong shot is one of the lowest percentage shot. You do have to take some risks at the right moments. And the percentage depends on what kind of shots that your opponent just hit.

    Going down the line IS a low percentage shot. But if you are in side the baseline, hitting the approach off a weak shot, then it's not as low percentage. In fact, if you go crosscourt, it's a worse shot.
     
    #10
  11. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    11,885
    Wardlaws Directionals are about simple physics - that is all it is.

    When a ball is coming from a crosscourt direction and it is crossing in front of you to your forehand (righty) on the duece court, if you swung the racquet for a down-the-line shot and positioned the racquet parallel to the baseline with the face of the racquet facing straight towards your down-the-line shot (as if you were hitting towards the target), the ball will glance or shear off your strings towards the duece sidelines (or out) if you did nothing else.

    So if the ball is coming in from a crosscourt direction crossing in front of yoru body in the duece side of the court, the logical answer or the high percentage shot is to meet the ball on the angle it is coming in on. So to meet the ball straight, the racquet face will be facing more towards the crosscourt side, to meet the ball dead on.

    This naturally means that there will be a higher percentage of chance that you will meet and hit the ball cleanly going crosscourt then down-the-line. If you did nothing else.

    Plus as Jun said, you are hitting over the high part of the net and I might add to the shorter part of the court. Also, you have to be careful when you DONT attack down-the-line and topspin it over, it allows more time for your opponent to get to the ball and hit it crosscourt which increases your chances of being out of position and on the defense.

    So what seemed like an offensive situation, turns on you and actually places you in a vunerable position.

    Keep in mind, as you get better you will be able to handle balls that used to be difficult to handle down-the-line at a previous level. You just have to know your limitations. Wardlaws directionals are excellent in teaching what the ball will most likely do on a certain shot off your strings and why your hititng it back to a certain part of the court depending on the ball YOU get.

    Wardlaws Directionals applies to service returns, volleys, groundstrokes almost all shots to some degree or another.
     
    #11

Share This Page