Doomed to being just a 3.5 NTRP player?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by soyizgood, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    Tanner is 8 years older than McEnroe and was in the Top 20 in the early 70's and Top 10 in the mid-70's.
     
  2. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    soyizgood... something for your consideration...

    I read a book from Vic Braden a couple of years back titled Mental Tennis and a good chunk of it addresses this state of mind that you're stuck in. The author has been a presence in tennis for decades and he's also a liscenced psychologist, so he understands a lot of the mechanisms in our heads that can help us or hurt us. The good news is that his writing is really entertaining - if our sport had comedians, he'd be one of them.

    One of the most valuable things that I learned from Vic's book is that our expectations can often be out of touch with reality. Even if we possess plenty of potential for improvement, much of that can go unrealized when we're stuck in a state of constant disappointment. As simple as it may sound, it can take some serious work to realign our expectations and stay focused on where we're going instead of where we believe we've been for too long.

    Two of my tennis pals have borrowed this book and they've been just as positive about it as I have - so far I've read it twice, might have another go this summer, and I'm also looking to get one or two of Braden's other works. If you have the time, I hope this can get you in a better direction.
     
  3. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    I understand how you feel. In college I felt this way. I had been a strong baseball player and took up tennis too late to be very good. But, it was very frustrating being a mediocre college player. So, after college I quit tennis!! Didn't pick up a racquet for many many years and only because a very pretty English lass asked me to play tennis with her. I was awful! Still!!! :)

    But, here's the lesson about all of this: WE ARE ALL AWFUL HERE. Well, 99% of us are just HAVING FUN. You simply need the following attitude:

    1. Accept that thankfully, you have two legs, two arms, two legs, and no serious illnesses. (You could have been shot up or died in 'Nam like a lot of my Marine buddies.)

    2. Every loss is a learning experience.

    3. Accept that you may not get any better. It's possible that you have reached the point at which improvement is not possible. This happens to everyone. Imagine being #50 in the world? You and Nadal would walk into an airport and he'd be mobbed but no one would know who you are, probably. In some ways, you are better off being ranked 1,480,349,322nd in the world. :)

    If you can't play with a carefree attitude, do something else. Life is too short to get aggravated over the little yellow ball.

    But, I'll bet you CAN play with joi de vivre, IF you learn to love yourself regardless of your mistakes.

    Peace and happiness-
    Robert
     
  4. Mountain Ghost

    Mountain Ghost Semi-Pro

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    Hope . . .

    Soyizgood . . . you need to get some balance in your life and the way you look at things. Your observations are obscenely lopsided!

    When you “lose,” you go into great detail about what you did wrong and how bad you are, and you gloss over what you did right and how good you are. For example, in a match where you might have lost 6-3, 6-3, the truth is you would probably have hit more shots IN the court than out. It’s just that you give “point” (easily quantifiable) shots SUCH a high premium in your self evaluation that you become literally blind to anything you might have done well.

    It is time for you to come back to center. Your homework is to give EQUAL TIME to the “good” and the “bad” in your documentation of every on-court event. For every 50 words you come up with to describe the “bad” (even if just in your mind), you must come up with 50 words describing the “good.” The actual “value” of the “good” is not important, just the general “polarity” and the equal time you give to focusing on it.

    There is NO HOPE unless you can learn to give it an observational fighting chance.

    You have a lot of writing to do!

    MG
     
  5. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    I dont think anyone is doomed at the 3.5 level but with limited practice time and lack of access to professional help its not that easy to improve.

    That being said I have seen people go from a weak 3.5 to a decent 4.0. That was done with 4x a week play + 8 or so weekend camps (with professional instruction and filming) so its possible.

    I think its the 4.5 and 5.0 levels that seem unattainable for the player that didn't learn in his childhood. I don't know a single 5.0 player who didn't play as a child..

    Though I am sure a talented athlete (World class boxer, NFL cornerback, NBA PG) could do it..
     
  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Excellent assessment of reality.
    Only full grown +30 to achieve 5.5 is maybe JohnLucas, who was an all American tennis player in college, quit for 10 years to play NBA basketball, and needed TWO full years of work, coaching, and practice to crack the top 50 in tennis.
     
  7. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Top 50 what? Lucas had an 0-3 record on the ATP in 1979. Maybe he made top 50 for his age group - you still need some kind of evidence before using him to make any kind of point.

    In fact, according to USTA guidelines, since he was a division 1 player on a top 75 program, even after his 14 year NBA career (not 10), he was already a 5.5 player by definition.
     
  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, fitter fatter...
    14, 10, makes little difference in the long run, eh?
    Point we're making is that it's really hard to get to 5.0 levels without childhood coached tennis experience.... especially if you're starting out as an adult.
    I met John in '77, still a Warrior, talking about tennis again. Long hard work road to get to tennis's elite levels.
    Sure, he was not great, but few great players make it into the pro levels. Team tennis, he was average, but successful, depending on your idea of "success".
    There were no "5.5"'s in those years, so maybe John was a low ranked A player in his college years. Pro, A, B, were the ratings.
    Touche' for you in knowing about him thos. For me, it was a long time ago in another life in another dream...
     
  9. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    What they said...

    ...let me add a few thoughts of my own:

    - I am not a real fan of NTRP, because, among other things, it tends to be self-limiting. The OP is not happy with being "just" a 3.5, so the answer is...become a 4.0? When I was growing up, there was no NTRP, just senior and junior tournaments. I played in everything I could, because I figured that that was the only way to become the best player I could be.

    - In that vein, as Ken Kesey used to say, stop going through the same door. Break out of the NTRP thing and go play an age group event or, better yet, a Men's Open event. I'm 60, have played since the Stone Age, and am probably a 5.0 or better. I don't play any NTRP just down in age groups (Men's 50, Men's 45) and Men's Open. I haven't won a whole lot of matches lately, but I've played some great tennis, and it just keeps getting better. If you want to know how good you can be, and where your game really is, and what you really need to work on, play some matches, like Men's Open, where you have to rise to a much higher level than you're accustomed to. It's a great learning experience...and a great tennis experience.
     
  10. vinouspleasure

    vinouspleasure Rookie

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    I played a year in college, hurt my back, couldn't run at all for two years and was too busy having fun to come back my senior year. After college, I moved to nyc where I didn't play for 15 years...basically 20 years without tennis.

    After we moved to the burbs I started to play again and it was a terribly humbling experience. I was frustrated but eventually just relaxed about it. The idea was to have fun, not join the tour, and as long as it was fun, why not accept the fact that I wasn't consistent enough to beat dinkers and pushers? So while I applaud OPs drive to improve, I say relax and enjoy yourself on the court. Your results will certainly improve and you'll have a better attitude on the court.

    As a side note, my game has come back to a 4.0 level and if we go to a tennis camp (my wife has taken up the sport with a vengeance), I can compete with 4.5s after about a day and half of drills. Its kinda nice to know the game is still in there...

    From my perspective, one of the biggest differentiators between 3.5 and 4.0 is the second serve. IMO, its pretty hard to win at 4.0 and above without a decent kick serve.
     
  11. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    the secret to become a better player is to practice every day with good players.

    if you have already done this and the other guy still beat you, then he is just a better player.

    personally, i would rather play against a better player and lose than play against an inferior player and win.
     
  12. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    i havent read through all this thread but you should probably put things into perspective.. how were you hitting a year or 2 ago compared to now? Has your technique improved? serve? movement?

    Looking at the bigger picture, im sure youve had incremental improvements over time, its nothing to get down about if things arent working right now.. overall you are probably quite a few steps ahead from where you were

    I thought about this recently when i had a few bad sessions, i figured despite this, overall everything still has improved, so try and take away some positives from where you are at vs. where you were
     
  13. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    That's not exactly a "secret" - why do you think pros can get upwards of $100 an hour just to hit with people.. <g>
     
  14. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    yeah but the OP's goal is to beat 3.5 players and move on to the 4.0 level.
    You don't need a $100 an hour coach to realize this goal.
     
  15. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    That certainly helps but the real secret is to learn good technique from the getgo. Bad habits and poor technique is what probably keeps the majority of players from being a advanced player.
     
  16. Thud and blunder

    Thud and blunder Semi-Pro

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    I haven't read the whole thread but a couple of comments:

    1) 'doomed' to be a 3.5...is that a fate worse than death? NTRP is just an approximate way of allowing people to find opponents who'll give them a competitive match, its not a badge of honour. You don't get more money, women, power etc by getting bumped up to 4.0. Doomed to find players on your level? Doesn't sound so terrible.

    2) OK, but there is the burning desire to improve; Fair enough. But this can be a vastly inhibiting factor on the court. You become too goal-orientated, and not enough process-orientated. 'I have to win this match' rather than 'let me put this ball into the corner three quarter pace heavy topsin'. That kind of thinking really holds you back. This is something most players have gone through at some stage, I would guess. Its only by playing a lot that you stop fixating on any given result, as any one match just becomes part of a continuum. When you've got over that hump, you give yourself breathing room to play your game and improve.
     
  17. dickbarney

    dickbarney New User

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    I recommend lessons from a good pro

    You need to improve your skill level to get out of 3.5. Most people can only refine their current skill level with practice. Most people can go from 3.5 to 3.75 with practice.

    I got out of 3.5 with lessons from several pros. You need to find a pro that can help you. There are a lot of pros that "teach tennis" but don't help you improve. You may need to try several pros before you find a good one that fits you.

    I was a 3.5 at 30 and I play 4.0 to 4.5 at 60+ years so there is hope but it can take dedication replace unlearn bad habits with new skills.
     
  18. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    For regular people its hard to know what really good technique is without a pro and its even harder to know about your own bad habits.. Thats why people end up paying pros alot of money..

    Most of the really good players learned at a very young age and had pro guidance. Those two factors seem to be the main indicators for high levels of play. Interestingly enough I don't feel that exceptional levels of athleticism really start to kick in until the pro level..

    That being said we are not doomed to 3.5. Thats a much lower level then really cuts people off. Most people I think could play well above that.. So we pretty much agree.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  19. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    Finding a pro that can help you is a real challenge. I agree with this wholeheartedly. There are lots of reasons why..

    1) Most pros don't seem that committed to helping players succeed who are not going to be able to "do anything" with their career. Teaching adults is a way to make money - not really what they do.

    2) Many pros are able to play at high levels but are unable to properly diagnose mistakes that people make and take the steps to correct them.

    3) Many pros seem unwilling to work the students really hard on the court. They believe being "nice" and "supportive" will earn them more repeat business. And they may well be right..

    4) High cost. As with anything the best pros seem to cost the most money - bargains can be found (some high level college player with a flair for teaching that just got in the business..) But its hard.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  20. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Let's take another look at this...

    ...by looking at the description of a 3.5, a 4.0, and a 4.5 player:

    3.5
    You have achieved improved stroke dependability with directional control on moderate shots, but need to develop depth and variety. You exhibit more aggressive net play, have improved court coverage and are developing teamwork in doubles.

    4.0
    You have dependable strokes, including directional control and depth on both forehand and backhand sides on moderate-paced shots. You can use lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys with some success and occasionally force errors when serving. Rallies may be lost due to impatience. Teamwork in doubles is evident.

    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.

    So, to a certain extent, it's not rocket science. For a 3.5, you have decent ground strokes but need more depth and control, and lo and behold, when you get those things wired, those are, in fact, the characteristics of ground strokes at the 4.0 level. So drilling down a bit more, what, specifically do you need to do to get more depth and control on your ground strokes? Again, not rocket science. You need a consistent, effective swing path, and in addition to that, you need good footwork, antiicipation, and preparation to put you in position to use your newly found consistent, effective swing path.

    If you're talking about today's open stance Western or semi-Western forehand, sure, there are variations, but the basics of the stroke are pretty well known. You can read about it in a book or watch videos of same. There's tons of instructional video out there. Then you can go video yourself and see what you're doing and adjust accordingly. I think a good coach is a great thing to have, but it's not the only path to tennis improvement. And the path, as I show above, is pretty well defined, so figure out where you are on the NTRP scale, see what you have to do to get to the next level (with an eye on the levels above that...who said you had to go one level at a time?), and go to it.

    There is an obvious caveat, however, which is that you can have the strokes of a 4.5 but lose to a 3.0 if you don't know how to play a match, which is different from playing an individual point or game. On the other hand, you're probably not going to win consistently at the 4.5 level, for instance, if you don't have the characteristics...the strokes and strategies of a 4.5. So it takes both, but you can look at the characteristics as the pre requisites for competing effectively at whatever level...
     
  21. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    Well, in college, he'd come off the basketball court right onto the tennis court without so much as a two or three week training session. Sure, he hit a few balls during the year, but he was SO talented athletically that he really never gave himself a chance at tennis in college or the pros. Darn shame too as he could move like a JEDI KNIGHT. He didn't have much power in his game, but he returned everything, sort of like Brad Gilbert, but with a bit more grace and style. (Sorry, Brad, if you're 'listening', as I'm one of your fans too.) And then, there were the drugs, and sort of reminscent of a pre-Len Bias era. (another great one gone)

    -Robert
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Wow, nice to see you knew him too...
    He also collaborated with HenryHines on that movement book, both talking to lots of athletes from different sports on movements, first step, ready position, fitness, diet, sleep, recovery, and all dat jazz....
    I was actually surprised when Hine's book came out, I wasn't mentioned in the credits. That's life, then I die.
     
  23. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    If your going by the ridiculous self rating system sure it sounds easy to soar past 3.5. When I started playing I thought I was a 4.5!

    In reality a 4.0 is going to be better then MOST tennis players who play regularly. Thats a good deal tougher for the older player with limited time to achieve.

    Can a teenager who plays on his HS tennis team soar well beyond that - sure. But for recreational players its a big jump. You don't see alot of entirely self taught players win in 4.0 leagues.


    You need to play some league tennis - there is no way someone with 4.5 strokes would lose to 3.0. They could know NOTHING about strategy and blow that guy off the court.

    4.5 strokes are REALLY good. Sure they might look like garbage on video because all you watch are pros (on video) but IRL a 4.5 could hit right back to a 3.0 and win every time.
     
  24. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    True - that!!!!

    I play among a fairly mixed group of players ranging from 3.0-open players. Most in our group are 3.5 - I am also a 3.5.

    With most 3.0 players, all you have to do is keep the ball in play with decent depth and spin and they will cough up the errors.

    If you run across anyone with 4.5 strokes, and they played a 3.0, even if the 4.5 played the ball right to the 3.0. The 3.0 would not be able to keep that ball in play for very long, if they weren't overwhelmed by the massive spin and pace.
     
  25. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

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    GuyCinch,

    I respectfully disagree that finding a pro is the problem here. Any self-respecting pro can help someone at the 3.5 level, if that person is willing to change things to improve. Granted, some are better than others and finding someone who meets your personality traits is important: i.e. do you want someone riding you or do you want someone who is more low key. I would recommend someone who rides you and will challenge you every time when you revert to old habits. Most can’t handle that though.

    Soy,

    I also agree that playing with those better than you will definitely help your progress. But you are wasting your time playing with anyone 4.5 or above even if they tone it way down. You just can’t handle it IMHO yet. Find the good 4.0s to play with. They will be more willing to play with you and you can help each other work on things.

    Believing you can improve is important. Based on a lot of the self-talk we are seeing, if you don’t believe that you have no chance to make it. Think positively and be optimistic. Anyone can improve to at least 4.0. But it takes effort. Enjoy the journey, keep reaching higher and never give up. You don’t have to settle at any level if you will do what it takes to move up. There’s the rub. Most won’t do it no matter what. Don’t be that guy.

    Good tennis

    TM
     
  26. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    Oh its not problem if cost is no object...:p
     
  27. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

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    GuyClinch,

    Not all pros are super expensive. The more junior pros will run you anywhere to 35-50 an hour. You need the advice of someone because you don’t know what you don’t know and that is what is hurting you. It will cost a few bucks but you don’t have to take many lessons to learn the basics, with an occasional lesson to keep you on track.

    Your only other option is finding a good HS or college player who will help you for less, or maybe even nothing. But I would see a pro first to put you on the right track and then use any means to improve from there. Because if you listen to anyone else, you are taking a big chance that they know what they are doing and don’t have some bad habits that may suit them but not necessarily you. Again, at this stage you don’t know enough to discern the difference. I hope you wouldn’t let a couple of hundred bucks keep you from meeting your goals.

    But for every person like Raiden031 who mostly taught himself to improve his skills with books and study as mentioned in this thread, there will be 5000 people who can’t do it without help (conservatively). People like that are an anomaly (in a good way Raiden). Sorry but that is the truth. Make your choice on which way is best for you and do the best you can.

    Good tennis

    TM
     
  28. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    I think you're missing the point...

    ...and, in addition, you're judging the whole thing by what happens in the arena of NTRP leagues. NTRP leagues are not all of tennis, but a lot of people have made the mistake of thinking that's the way the world works! What I'm trying to say is, if you want to improve, think of it in terms of becoming the best player you can be, and if you're still into the NTRP thing, then your rating will take care of itself. I'm getting this feeling that people who are terminally hung up on NTRP are looking at a way to hang a label on themselves on paper. You don't play tennis on paper, you play it on the court.

    Everybody is built differently, but to me, it's a very limited goal to say "I want to have somebody rate me as a 4.5." Okay, fine...then what? There have been tons of people who made it to the top of the world in tennis who were incredible physical specimens...and then there are those who also made it to the top of the world who, by any reasonable definition, were pencil-neck geeks. Rod Laver is something like 5' 7", 150 pounds soaking wet. Ken "Muscles" Rosewall is something like 5' 6", 135 pounds. Yet each of them won Grand Slams, etc., by believing that their good old fashioned work ethic would get them there. I'm really tired of this discussion that says "I'm going to be a 3.5 for the rest of my life...what a tragedy." You don't like being a 3.5 any more? Fine, then do something about it, where the accent is on you. It doesn't hurt to enlist the aid of a good coach, a support team, whatever...but let's just remember that tennis is an individual sport, and if you want to be good, the only thing holding you back is you...and the only thing that will help you go forward...is you.
     
  29. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    This is basically nonsensical. Of course I judge the whole thing by what happens in the leagues and tournaments. The way NTRP ratings are determined is via league and tournament play. So for someone concerned with moving up a half point ranking with regards to NTRP that is what you should be concerned with. <g>

    At the very least someone who claims to be a 4.0 ranking should be able to beat 3.5 league ranked players consistently - even if this is done on an informal basis.


    Umm its not how the world works but its kinda how the NTRP rankings work. What's next your going to tell us the NASCAR points standing isn't about racing cars in NASCAR? Perhaps the MLB standings aren't REALLY about teams playing in the MLB?

    Actually your rating is determined independently of what your thinking about yourself. <g> Think good or bad thoughts and you could move up and down the rankings. It depends on how you play - or for informal means how you do against your buddies who DO play in the leagues.

    That's kinda the point of NTRP. You get this handy little label that tells you how good you are. It's established by comparing your results in playing various players to those players results of all his opponents and so on and so forth. Ideally by just playing a few matches you can compete with everyone in the leagues and tournaments - in a roundabout way. It's pretty smart - but not perfect of course.

    I am saying basically its not so easy for most people to move up the rankings because it means that you have to be capable of beating most players. The rankings are relative.

    The real results are rather depressing as people have indicated. Most people (though not all) get stuck around a 3.5 level. They play year after year perhaps thinking they have improved but in reality they wouldn't beat a larger percentage of the people who play tennis regularly in a match..

    Most players would likely do best with consistent help from a pro or at least superior players. I have my doubts whether a large amount of the population can improve greatly via book reading or video watching. I get better results from a pro. Though perhaps very talented or young individuals don't need such help. And I haven't yet read all the books or seen all the videos to aid a tennis player..

    Pete
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  30. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    This kinda depends on where you live I think.. Anyway i don't really disagree with anything you wrote.
     
  31. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    maybe the OP should lower his goal to become the best 3.5 NTRP player first before aiming for the 4.0 level.

    There are many 3.5 players out there and to become the best of among them is not easy either.
     
  32. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Okay, last time through this...

    as follows:

    - NTRP definitely isn't all of tennis, and it really isn't all that accurate an indicator of how well you play or whom you can beat. In Colorado, they did away with 5.5 leagues and tournaments a few years ago...and as a result, all the former 5.5s slid down to 5.0, and all the 5.0s slid down to 4.5, and so forth.

    And what about 5.5 and above? Is Federer a 6.9999? Is Nadal a 7.0? I'm sure those guys never think in those terms. One of my suggestions to the OP was "Stop playing NTRP. Go play some age group tournaments and see how that works. You won't have to fixate on whether you're a 3.5 or not, just on beating the guy on the other side of the net, which is kind of the point of tennis."

    - NTRP doesn't look like a whole lot of fun to me, these days. It was originally a noble experiment by the USTA back in the 1970s, when tennis participation was waning, and the idea was to provide a fun but competitive tennis experience where people could play matches against other players with similar skills.

    A nice idea, maybe, but perhaps unrealistic. On a daily basis, tour players struggle through the Futures and Challenger levels to get to the ATP, where they often get destroyed in the first round. You see lopsided tennis matches, double bagels and the like, at all levels of tennis, including the upper echelons. The news these days, on the USTA web site, in regards to NTRP is all about "dynamic NTRP" and "How you can be dynamically disqualified", which is happening because players are sandbagging their true abilities because...winning is everything, right?

    Losing a tennis match is no fun, but it's a game, for Pete's sake. If you win your next 4.0 league match, you're probably not going to get a wild card into Wimbledon, but if you lose it, they probably aren't going to take you out and shoot you, either.

    - Finally, all I was saying about improvement was, regardless of whether you measure yourself by the NTRP scale or by whatever measure, if you want to get better, get going! Tennis is not really a team sport, regardless of what the NTRP would have you think, and it's really up to you whether you get better or not. A good coach is a great help. I've been lucky enough to have, as my coaches over the last 4 years, two former Men's Assistant at Colorado University Boulder, the Head Men's Coach at CU, and the #2 player at CU. They've done a lot for me, and it cost a few bucks, but they didn't wave a magic wand over me and presto, my serve got 20 mph faster. I had to put in a lot of sweat, under their guidance, to make that happen. But I was already a 4.5/5.0 player when they got ahold of me, and getting to that level was just me figuring it out on my own, and working to be a better athlete and competitor.

    Yep, it's true...lots of people get stuck at the 3.5 level. It's usually because they got wired in some bad stroke habits, poor court movement, and poor strategy on the way to 3.5. If you look at the NTRP level descriptions, it kind of implies that there is a steady continuum up through the levels. Not really, from what I've seen. Most 3.5 players are serving with a Western forehand grip, swinging at volleys, and pushing groundstrokes up the middle of the court. It's pretty easy to get to the 3.5 level with any collection of strokes. The problem is that if you get there with a bunch of fundamental problems, you have to unwire everything you have going on, and then rewire it with things that work. Not fun, but it can be done...as long as you are willing to put in the miles...
     
  33. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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  34. ramseszerg

    ramseszerg Professional

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    CoachingMastery: What exactly do you mean by stroke patterns? Thanks.
     
  35. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Stroke patterns are those swing patterns combined with footwork patterns that produce specific shots in specific situations. For example, a player may be pulled out wide. A 3.0 player will run, hit the ball off the wrong foot, hit the ball flat, and be only able to produce a lob at best. A 5.0 player will hit balanced, time the right footwork, and have a swing path that can produce any number of shots; ie: topspin lob, sharp crosscourt topspin, down the line winner.

    Same thing for volleys where some players only can hit the ball "back" while more advanced players can take a difficult shot and hit a drop volley, angle volley, volley lob, dice a cutting return volley low crosscourt or down the line, or any number of other options.

    Stroke patterns are based on proper grips, swing patterns, footwork, balance, and experience.
     
  36. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I agree with most of what you said in your post. What I don't agree with is that you say people shouldn't care about NTRP. The problem with playing age group tournaments is that a 3.5 player will get destroyed over and over and over and over and rarely play competitive matches, because 3.5 players in general are more likely to play NTRP tournaments, not age division tournaments because they know better.

    For a 3.5 player to actually start seeing measurable improvement in these tournaments, they would probably have to reach 4.5-5.0, which might never happen. So they will say they spent the last 10 years losing in the first round of every tournament and accomplished nothing. NTRP provides shorter milestones that show progress. And of course there are the leagues, that have alot of advantages over tournaments. Progress can be measured as follows: year 1 - lose all matches at 3.5, year 2 - go .500 in 3.5 matches, year 3 - win most matches, bumped to 4.0. There's progress right there.
     
  37. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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  38. Oldracquet27

    Oldracquet27 Rookie

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    It depends the type of person you are: are you content with hitting on the weekends for fun and some exercise? or are you competitive, athletic and in love with the game of tennis?? if you belongs to the second category, then the answer is yes , you will do anything possible to improve and keep competing and having fun at higher levels, it is an excellent way to forget a little about stress and problems when you have another thing to focus on, and noooooot , you don't need to loose your relationships or get out of money if you organize yourself, we are talking about normal people here not pot heads.....
     
  39. Oldracquet27

    Oldracquet27 Rookie

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    hahahahaha , loved this...... i like the first part better, it was hard but trust me that is what he needs to hear, so he realizes what he needs to do!!
     
  40. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Ba/B/Brian-Battistone.aspx

    This guy hits forehands off both wings, and does a jump serve... yet he's been ranked as high as #152 in doubles and #953 in singles. Not exactly Roger Federer, but he's no 3.5 either.
     
  41. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    I think you can improve in limited time - if you plan it out carefully. If you say play 3-4hrs a week with friends and take a weekly lesson (private).. Plus perhaps go to a few tennis weekends.. You might be able to make it to 4.0. Mix in some off-court training as well and study the game..

    FWIW the weekly lesson IMHO is the most important thing because MANY people play a TON without getting much better. If you don't get lessons from a pro your very likely to get locked into bad patterns without realizing it.

    I'd say each level gets harder and harder. I think 4.0-4.5 is the natural max for most healthy reasonably fit people.. All the 5.0s I know played while young and in college and such.. And don't get me wrong 4.5 is a very good player. Such a player can beat most HS varsity players and beat most club players.

    I think the "hacker" limit is around 3.5. That is to say for the average guy who only takes beginner lessons and then just plays (even ALOT) your going to get stuck at 3.5. hence the thread title.. You have to compromise between being Nadal and being respectable.. Some of these guys imagine they are 4.0s but in reality if they played in a league they would quickly discover they are just better 3.5s.

    I think tennis is actually less practice intensive then golf. I saw one pro saying that once guys really learn how to play tennis at the 4.0 level or better you can maintain that with a fairly small amount of weekly play.

    Pete
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2009
  42. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    I'm still doomed. :(

    I won my 3.5 match 6.1 6.4, but lost 6.3 6.1 in my 4.0 match.

    The damn serve let me down big time. I really thought I had improved that serve, but I can't even count the number of DFs I had in both matches. At least in the 3.5 match I had 4 aces.

    Looking at the 3.5 match, I was able to dictate pace, hit winners off both wings, finished pretty well at the net, and won the majority of the 30-30 and deuce points. I threw my racquet in disgust when I made 3 straight double faults. My opponent was a pesky 3.5 player, but he's old enough to be my dad. So I won, but I'm not sure it was because of my play or because of his age. Maybe a combination of both.

    In the 4.0 match, my serve completely fell apart to where I was broken the last 5 games I served. I couldn't hit winners as the opponent was content to counter punch/ push. I lost a lot of deuce and 30-40 40-30 points. In the end I had my head down, I was cursing myself out, and felt like scum. I was hitting the ball harder than he was, and he even felt this match could have gone 3 sets if not for some bad breaks I had. He said the score didn't reflect the way this match was. Still, I just want to punch a wall right now. Granted my opponent had won this event in the 4.0 before, but I just felt I could have made this more competitive and failed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  43. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Hall of Fame

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    If you're not using the proper mechanics or there are fundamental issues with your strokes, practicing will only improve those flawed techniques and it will decrease your chances of being able to change your technique for the better. So I'd strongly suggest you take some lessons.

    If you take lessons from a good instructor and he or she tells you that your strokes are sound, then it may be some natural limitations with your body and/or brain: eye-hand, reflexes, coordination, visual-spacial acuity, eyesight, natural speed and quickness, etc. It's possible one or some of these may be a immovable limitation for you and that's why you can't move up to 4.0s

    But I'd be willing to bet it's, at least in part, a technique issue or issues that you can correct. Good luck.
     
  44. kiteboard

    kiteboard Hall of Fame

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    Check out tennisplayer.net. Practice to targets. Be ready to hit the ball before it bounces. Split step each shot. See my thread on how to improve your ntrp rating by .5 in one month. Don't feel angry anymore. Just feel calmness and relaxation. Swing freely. Don't feel fear.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  45. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    Based on my ranting, the common denominator in the past year has been my serve. I sometimes toss high, then toss low which messes with my timing. I can hit 4 different types of 1st serves, but they land at a low % rate when I go aggressive on it. The 2nd serve is a complete mess. I was able to hit kick serves in at a much higher rate before I played today. It got so bad though I ended up slice serving the 2nd just to get them in. I don't want to puffball or dink the 2nd serve, but looking back I probably would have been okay if I did so because neither guy attacked my 2nd serves when they did go in. I can hit moderate paced 2nd serves in practice all day long, but couldn't do it today.

    The backhand was on the mark in the 3.5 match. I only made a few bonehead errors and many more winners with it, including on match point. I made more errors with it in the 4.0 match, but it didn't cost me nearly as much as the serve. Out of frustration I hit errors with it, but the backhand held up in rallies in general.

    The forehand in the 3.5 match was good for rallies, applying topspin as well as the occasional aggressive flat shot. I stayed in my element and didn't go for much with it so I could finish things off with the backhand or my volleying. In the 4.0 match I tried to use it as an approach shot and several times it hit the net or went wide. Got a few winners with it and it held up in those numerous long rallies. So I can confirm the forehand has improved somewhat.
     
  46. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Aw. Sorry, mate.

    If it's any consolation, I can't beat 4.0 players either. :)
     
  47. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

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    Soy,

    A couple suggestions. It sounds to me like you are emphasizing the wrong things in your matches. Let me explain. First, the serve. A consistent toss and more importantly, confidence in your ability to hit it is key to a good serve. The second serve is the most important serve you have. You said you were able to hit it before (when it didn’t matter) but in the match you could not. This tells us your technique is not as refined as you think and/or you are trying to over hit it (a common theme I will get too IMHO) in a match. Hitting 4 serves is worthless if you don’t have any control over any of them or can’t hit them when you need it them. A common theme is your 1st serve % goes way down when you get aggressive. Translated, that means you over hit your first serve too often, especially under pressure, which then places too much pressure on your second serve (which you just can’t handle, YET).

    My advice here is master a good kick serve that you can place WELL. Do not hit any thing else until you never miss it. You also need to be able to direct it to either the FH, the BH and the body (as with all serves but we will get to those). Remember, no 3.5 and almost all 4.0s cannot hurt a decent kick serve directed to there weaker stroke. I will repeat that. No 3.5 and very few 4.0s will hurt a decent kick serve to their weaker stoke. It is a myth you need to hit big flat serves to win, especially at 3.5 and 4.0. Over hitting the serve is doing more harm than good for you now. I don’t care how hard it is if it never goes in. You admitted as much in your first paragraph when you said even a dink would be ok in your 3.5 match. After mastering the kick serve, add the slice and then work on the flat one. You will be surprised how effective your kick will be and not the liability you think it will be now as you're reading this. Trust me or test it for one or two matches. You will like the results after you gain some confidence in it. Take a lesson if need be to make sure you are hitting it right.


    Next general tactics. You have your priorities out of wack IMHO. In the 3.5 match, you mention how many winners you hit. That is the first indication you are a classic over hitter who thinks winning matches is all about hitting winners. It is not, especially at 3.5. All you need at 3.5 is consistent, solid shots to the right places, not blazing winners. This is the time to develop some shot patterns that will serve you well in higher level play. The general lack of pace will allow you time to set yourself up. Consistency wins at 3.5 (and most levels to at least 4.5), not blazing winners.

    Now the 4.0 match. Mental toughness is key. You should never be making errors out of frustration. Keep you head and let the other guy break this rule, to his/her detriment. Those shot patterns I mentioned above will serve you well here. But don’t over hit. Remember, consistency and depth win matches, not a blazing winner and 5 errors trying to repeat it. I assume my theme is sinking in by now. Are you paying attention in the match or just worrying about what you are doing? Did you notice what their weaker stroke was, what tendencies they had under pressure, what shots they prefer, they’re serving patterns (i.e. do they serve to your weaker stroke consistenty, amazingly many do not), their fitness level and so on? I hope so because you need to pay attention to everything and use it against them to win. If they are smart, they are paying attention and doing this to you.

    This isn’t meant as a criticism. Master your serve and play smart. Learn and use your favorite patterns. Play solid and consistent tennis and you will like your results. Just some things to keep in mind that I think will help you. This is a journey and not a sprint. It takes time. Best of luck.

    TM
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  48. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    The odd thing was in the 3.5 match I was actually rather disciplined. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I was reckless off either wing. I knew from the warm-ups this guy was likely to wait for me to make mistakes or give him balls to do volleys. Knowing that, I moved him side-to-side, pinned him behind the baseline, and made it a point to get to the net. When the opponent was out of position and I was setup, I went for it with my groundstrokes and got a decent number of winners. That was probably the most patient I have ever played in a match.

    As for the 4.0 match, I knew this guy was a grinder. I can hang with grinders, but I don't want to be lured into playing their game. I can move around the court fairly well, but I don't want to get into 30 stroke rallies all day. He had a good serve, but for the most part I returned those in. I forced some shots when I attempted to drag him in to the net or make him run wide. He didn't blow me off the court but a combination of his experience, my mental fragility, and my damn serve played against me.

    For a few months now I've been making an effort to 'play within my means'. I might fool around and try some crazy shots when practicing with hitting partners and friends, but I really have made an effort to play a bit more conservative even if I consider it a bit boring. I didn't even practice volleys in the either match warm-up, but most of my volleys got the job done. Didn't practice smashes but got all of my overheads except for one today.

    That said, I have been obsessed with hitting hard serves recently. I made the mistake of thinking I could do the same in either match. The 3.5 match I got away with it as points that I got the first serve in I generally won and I was able to break his serve consistently. I tried to shrug it off as perhaps a fluke match, but the same problem carried over on the 4.0 match. As much as it bruises my ego, I may just take something off the first serves ala Azarenka just so I don't deal with 2nd serves as much. Likely I'll take a few extra seconds to prepare for the 2nd serve. It's possible I hurried a certain aspect of my delivery without even realizing it.

    Oh well, I have a 3.5 match tomorrow morning to prepare for.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  49. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

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    Soy,

    Again, I believe you are putting the cart before the horse (my opinion only). Adjusting your game to minimize your weaknesses (your serve) until you have put the time in to shore up that part of your game helps you much more in the long run than blasting serves inconsistently. In a match your job is to get the most use out of your tools as you can. You work on your serve when you practice and when it is ready, you move that into a match. You shouldn’t consider taking something off your serve to get a high percentage of serves in when your serve is a bit shaky as an ego hit. You should consider that smart tennis until you get a very consistent serve (especially the second). You definitely should be taking something off the first to make sure you get a high percentage in, until your second is no longer a liability. As you work on your serve and your second serve becomes more reliable and consistent, it greatly frees up your first serve and will pretty much automatically boost your first serve percentage when you have that confidence in the second.

    I see tons of 3.5 guys trying to kill the first serve and when they miss it, they hit a pancake bunny in for the second serve. Then they wonder why they always struggle to hold serve. Sure, every so often they are on and get first serves in. But it can’t (and doesn’t) last for more than a few games a match. Instead of just hitting the bombs when they practice (assuming they do), they should be spending their time working on a solid second serve. One last serve tip is to make sure you have a routine you follow every serve. EVERY SERVE. For example, I bounce the ball 3 times for a first serve and 1 for a second serve. ALWAYS.

    Only you know if you are playing within yourself as that is all that really matters at the end of the day. So don’t take me trying to read between the lines and making some generalizations about your game as overly critical. Only you know what you are doing out there. One final question though. Why would you not hit any volleys or overheads in a warm up? That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Not to mention, some overheads are a good way to ease into warming up your serve. The only logical reason I can come up with is you don’t like to hit overheads and that is something you need to get over (if that is the case). And if you are being aggressive with the short balls (think controlled aggression) as you should be, you are going to be hitting some volleys sooner or later. I can’t understand why you would want your first volleys to be when playing instead of warming up.

    It is unfortunate that you consider conservative boring because winning (no, I don’t mean pushing) is certainly enjoyable (to me). Don’t misunderstand what I mean here. Being conservative means giving yourself some margin for error on your more aggressive shots and also not hitting it as hard as you can. With control and timing you can generate all the pace you need. It means not being very aggressive from the wrong spot on the court or on the run. It means not over hitting the return consistently. And so on. The sooner you learn to hit the right shot at the right time, you will have made a giant leap in your game.

    You are still thinking like a 3.5 player IMHO. When I am hitting every shot, I only hit it as hard as necessary, never harder. Why? Hitting a shot harder than needed just causes more errors and mistakes which cost you way more matches than the few additional winners you will get (but it does stroke your ego). Put the ego on the back burner and you will like your results. I hit a ball as hard as I can less than 5% of the time. In fact, returns are probably hit the hardest on average even though they have the shortest swing. It just isn’t needed in the vast majority of shots, as you will learn as you gain more experience.

    Keep working on your game and you will reach your goals.

    TM
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  50. martini1

    martini1 Hall of Fame

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    First of all I don't think your 0-5 record is that bad. That's just 5 players and only 5 matches.

    Do u have a coach? Aside from your techniques may be it is also your game. At 4.0 I suppose most would have pro level coach or even former pro players coaching. It makes a lot of difference. If you are serious about going to 4.0 and up it takes some serious coaching I suppose.

    I am not 4.0 and I don't know how to get there with my level of playing as well.

     

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