Finding my court sense after 20 years (practice set)

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Greg G, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Ugh. Played a practice set today, after forehand practice, and what stroke breaks down? The forehand :mad:

    Was actually doing relatively well for the first 5 games, then a whole bunch of UE came up. Started with me getting pi$$ed off at my serving, which affected the rest of my game. I need to get fitter (am already a lot better than 2 months ago). But I kinda went away mentally, and that kinda burns more. :-|

    I need to get more height on the rally balls, I am not getting enough time to recover.

    Anyway, constructive criticism always welcome.

    http://youtu.be/OsktX42zCH8
     
    #1
  2. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    You guys both look like decent players. Assuming you are the one in blue, your game is similar to how I feel about mine. Many of your problems are based on footwork. Part of this is fitness related as you mention. Part of this is because you often pause for a moment and watch your shot before you start to recover. This snowballs into being a little out of position for many shots. Before you know it, you aren't keeping the rally going long enough to win and feel like you are giving up easy points.

    This is even worse when you play someone that makes you run. I noticed that the guy in red was hitting a lot of good angles. When I really concentrate on footwork I tend to play much better (duh..). I have a hard time keeping this up as I don't play nearly as much as I would like.
     
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  3. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Hey Greg, as you know, practice sets are just as important as drills. There were 2 things I could see from that view that I can comment on.

    First, the quality of your shot preparation needs work. You seemed late on almost every shot, especially forehands. You were running into contact even when it shouldn't have been necessary because your preparation was late. On most shots, there's no reason that you can't be loaded up and ready to swing before the ball gets there. I don't recall seeing that once. Shot preparation is the missing element in the overall quality of your play.

    I like this video (taken by our own Aimr75), because it's a close up, court level, view of what world class shot preparation looks like:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6p5ZdGR4hU

    Second, in the heat of battle, you reverted to that big loop on your forehand takeback. As you know, I would prefer to see you take your hand straight back (preferably at ball height), with the racquet head straight up at your head height. I think that will improve both your power, spin and clean ball striking.

    But, even with the big loop, if your shot preparation is there, you'll still get much more consistent quality shotmaking.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
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  4. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    You looked fine, not sure what you are getting at, I mean yea you have to work out the rust, I came back after along time with much rust, but it's like riding a bike, you don't forget. If it's been that long you are probably trying to adapt to a new racquet, moving, well it's just rust.
     
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  5. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    yeeesh. 2-6 again! Loads of UE from the forehand. The prep on the backhand is much better, need to really work on the forehand preparation. Sometimes I don't think I even get turned!

    Watching the video, I think I was the one on the losing end of 'Smart Targets' :???:

    Had both racquets restrung after this, I think 2 month old Tour Bite is most likely dead. Anyway, i need a fresh start mentally too :)

    http://youtu.be/ReDP-S8jQ8E
     
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  6. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I thought you looked a little better in this vid. Not as many off balance forehands. Still hitting forehands on the run when you could be set up better before the swing. I also think that you pull the trigger too soon on many points - coming to net from too far back. You need to be more patient (have more shot tolerance), and work the point longer to draw a short ball to attack. That way, you are either going for winners in the open court (if you get a high sitter), or you can make a more effective approach shot from closer in (for lower balls you have to take below the net).

    FYI, it's 6-2, not 2-6. The winner's score always goes first.

    As for string, I have found that Luxilon Adrenaline has great shelf life. It's slightly softer than Lux ALU Power, not quite as much spin. But, the feel is much more comfortable and, again, lasts longer before going dead.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2012
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  7. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    The above is correct, but the alternative if you want to be aggressive is to be aggressive earlier and force the issue. Right now, you are not aggressive on your shots from the baseline, but then attack from a weak position. If you committed to being aggressive, you must hit more forcing groundstrokes to elicit the weak reply and then attack. These are not shots to win the point, but shots to get your opponent in a more defensive position - and then to attack and win the point. If you are coming back to tennis, I have a feeling that you used to have more aggressive groundies to set up your attack and are attacking at the time you used to do it, but not from the position you used to do it.
     
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  8. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    nice car though
     
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  9. tvu

    tvu New User

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    It looks you are doing fine - if you are just coming back - You just need a bit of time to regain your footwork.

    Maybe you give us a different angle on the video and zoom in a bit that would help.

    I don't know how you two play - with the ballboy walking/moving in between points; that is just too much of a distraction.
     
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  10. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    You need to fix that takeback so that you can get more spin. You don't hit any wide angles and opponent was owning the middle making you run back and forth.

    Didn't see any inside out fh's either :mad:

    You go inside/in a little too much and when you do that you tend to not recover. you stay in the same area where you made contact. U need an i/o.

    Your toss needs to be a good 6" minimum more out in front on first serve.

    You need to step inside the baseline more. When you hit a good shot you should be expecting a weaker reply and be waiting inside the baseline or at least on the baseline. You seem to only move back and forth parallel to baseline and only step in on a very short ball. You should be more dynamic. Move in, move back, move at an angle, move sideways, move up, move up more, move at an angle etc. The whole purpose of the rally is to get a weak reply. You have to be looking for a weak reply every shot, then hurt them and then be ready to hurt them more. Your opponent is doing this. He's expecting a weak reply and waiting for it you can tell.

    You need to change your running fh / wide fh shot a bit. On those shots you have to prepare the racquet higher and focus on hitting off the right leg. Watch any pro on a running fh. Racquet prep is very high. You need to use gravity for pace because you can't do a unit turn on those. You just run through the shot with regular prep. This produces a weak shot and carries you outside the court leaving you out of position and then you need extra steps to recover.

    Your strokes look good though. (except running fh) :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2012
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  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Good stuff above.
     
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  12. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks guys! The comments are spot on. I kept repeating myself to stop playing like a junior boy and have more patience during the point. There was one unrecorded set a month ago where I got to 5-2 then court time ran out >.<. That day, both groundies were on, I was getting more width instead of depth on them, and controlling the middle. Consequently, I wasnt hitting so many shots on the run. Hmmm perhaps he has adjusted a bit by going for more depth on rally balls and angles on short balls recently...

    NLBwell- great insight there. I am playing my old game, the body is not delivering.

    Working in the gym to improve the footwork/fitness. Although much better than 3 months ago, I still get too winded after a long point. After holding serve, I like had a streak of 3 UE to give away the next game!

    Will see if I can do better today. Fresh string will give me a mental boost ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2012
    #12
  13. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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  14. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Moving the doubles movement topic here.

     
    #14
  15. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Hey LeeD,
    you coming over here?
    Nobody was trying to be mean, but just trying to stay more on topic.
    Nice of Greg to point us this way.
     
    #15
  16. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Of course, all the elements of tennis go hand in hand, but threads need to stay
    on topic where they can.

    How is backing up into no-man's land a safer position?
    The name is for a reason, right? Worst area on the court.
     
    #16
  17. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    We're talking about the point where I got forced back by a lob over the backhand right? I was trying to get back to the baseline but didn't quite make it. But in general, I do need to move further forward after the first volley.

    And Lee, my partner was a solid player. Just less mobile due to age. Maybe thats why he prefers the service line area. First time we played together. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
    #17
  18. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I was not sure which was you, but one guy started backing up on the first shot,
    and continued a few steps back with each pass of the ball.
     
    #18
  19. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    I'm in the solid blue rafa shirt and white shorts :)
     
    #19
  20. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    i'm not a coach or anything, but it looks like you stop between strokes, i.e. you don't split step, or get ready for the shot as your opponent is hitting the ball.
     
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  21. bhallic24

    bhallic24 Guest

    where'd you get the ball boy? Did you rent him or make him yourself?
     
    #21
  22. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    #22
  23. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Playing a tournament after 20 years ;)

    Joined the local club tournament, B1 classification (somewhere between 3.5 and 4.0 I guess). Just wanted to see how I would respond to pressure situations. My first match was tonight, and as fate would have it, I was up against a pusher type player. My first thought during the warmup was "this should be easy"...and you'd think after all this time on the TT boards I'd know better! :oops:

    Anyway, I soon discovered that the stroke that broke down was my serve! I did win eventually 6-2 6-3, but 4 of those games were practically gift wrapped by me with double faults. Video shows my toss went backwards...probably reverted due to nerves.

    Strategy wise, I was lucky he didn't have much of a serve, so I could start off with an aggressive return. But pushers are sneaky how they work your mind, eh? I started with controlled aggression, then suddenly started going for dumb winners before building the point. At least I maintained the presence of mind to reel myself back in. It was quite an effort to maintain calmness despite mounting unforced errors due to fatigue and nerves. I suppressed thoughts like:

    "I can't believe I missed that shot"
    "I should have had that game already"
    "What the hell is wrong with this serve?"

    and my personal favorite...
    "I will never live down a loss to this guy at Talk Tennis" haha :)

    Plus I noticed my feet started to slow, playing to his pace, which contributed to the increased error rate.

    Video (me in white shirt/navy shorts)

    video loading
    http://youtu.be/t_aFtsb20kk

    Anyway, I'm happy to have won, but not that pleased at the level of play I displayed. Ah, I suppose I should expect some mental rust. Need to get the serve up and running (again) before the next match. Toss toss toss :mad:
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
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  24. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    http://youtu.be/MXjGLDIKojU

    (I'm in white shorts here)

    Second match of the tournament was against a junior. More aggressive and consistent than my opponent in the first match. And had pretty good wheels, could run down most of my shots. I started out quite well, trying to be consistent with controlled aggression. Got out to a 4-1 lead, then started going for too much. Going for too much, too soon...and with no reason to! He levelled it 4-4, but I managed to get my head sorted and close out the first set 6-4.

    Then, despite telling myself not to let up, I lost my serve to start the second set! Luckily the opponent did the same. I started mixing up the pace, and got the win 6-4, 6-2.

    Forehand was nice and loose, backhand slice got a bit too floaty at times. Need to move my feet.

    My serve is still MIA! First serve % was something like 30% in the first set, so I just ended up spinning it in to start the point. Luckily the opponent's serve was attackable, so I had quite a few breaks of serve. My return game was good today. Still, I will need my serve to improve soon. I can't keep depending on service breaks. Sooner or later, I'm gonna run into a guy with a better serve...

    Still, it's quite interesting to work on my match toughness. Lots of stray thoughts to block out, but I mostly kept my head straight by telling myself to focus on the process.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2013
    #24
  25. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    3rd match today in my bracket (round robin). Won 6-3, 6-2. Forgot to put a memory card in the camera :(

    Anyway all the talk about the pat rafter serve must have inspired me today. Had a nice top/ slice serve and a few kickers. Wasn't at my best physically today- early on I was feeling a twinge in my left quadriceps, so movement was s bit impaired. Did a good job of hiding it from the opponent though. Just played a steady game, moving him around and not going for too much. Just cross court topspin rally balls, working on shot tolerance and building the point.

    Almost got into trouble a few gsmes frim the end, when the thigh threatened to go into full blown cramps. Was able to gut it out and hide it from the opponent. So...yay me :)
     
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  26. sunof tennis

    sunof tennis Professional

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    Nice playing. But for all that is holy, I never want to see your partner (the left hander) serve again. All I can say is that it was painful.
     
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  27. TomT

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    Enjoyed the vids Greg. I liked the doubles vid the most, because of the video perspective. Can you do your singles the same way, from behind and centered?

    You looked especially good in the doubles vid. Pretty high level of play I would guess. Mojo is definitely there. Singles looked good too, lots of good shots, but the video perspective is just too far away.
     
    #27
  28. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks Tom! Still trying to figure out the best place to place the camera on that court.
     
    #28
  29. PrestigeDave45

    PrestigeDave45 Rookie

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    Hi Greg,
    Watched your videos there. From my perspective you're doing real good for a guy just a few months back after a 20 year lay off.
    I'm in pretty much the same position, hence my interest. Your progress has definately surpassed mine. You get better video on video.
    Just wishing you the best of luck with it.
    Take care
     
    #29
  30. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Hey Dave,

    Thanks for the kind words. Did you end up going with the coaching lessons? I ask because just last week, I met up with my old coach from ~30 years ago...the guy who taught me to play. Of course I grabbed the opportunity to ask him to fix my serve... Took him less than 5 minutes to make some corrections to my serve (wasn't projecting my hitting shoulder out and up, and keeping my weight back). Things which have been suggested/corrected here on my serve thread, but sometimes it really does take an on court lesson to drive the point home.

    He was kind enough not to say "WTF happened to your serve?" :)
    [​IMG]

    Greg
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
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  31. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Some very good playing the and way to poach that middle!
    Can't believe they didn't test you DTL more though, lol.
     
    #31
  32. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Haha! Was I leaving it too open? I am trying to be more active at the net, instead of being too preoccupied guarding the DTL. Seems to be working well for me, I get burned maybe once or twice a set, but I cause much more trouble at the middle. Same with the lob, I try to close in more and not worry too much about the lob, I just (try to) read the play as it develops.

    More doubles:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lODHJULo9O0
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
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  33. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    hey...you were looking all star with it!
    I'm just saying I would have been testing you way more than they seemed to, :)
     
    #33
  34. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Gotcha. Which reminds me, I need to work on that ;)

    Have you seen the singles matches? Trying to hit the smart targets...
     
    #34
  35. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Well there went my 3 match winning streak. Lost pretty badly today. 6-2, 6-3. Every game was a dogfight, but I kept coming up short. Could not buy a forehand today. Everything went consistently 1 foot long, which drove me crazy. Why I was targeting the lines, I have no idea...

    I will avoid calling the opponent a P_____, because he won fair and square and exposed the weaknesses in my game. I played his game and did not impose myself on the court early on, and by the time I woke up, it was too late. Maybe the 2 week break between matches worked against me, because I was thinking about the match the whole week, putting imaginary pressure on myself.

    If you're the superstitious type, I discovered before the match that the maid had washed my tournament shoes which I had worn for the first 3 matches. They were sparkly clean when she brought them out :shock: Anyway, I didn't pay any mind to it, my wife just reminded me after I got home :)

    I guess he was a master at the mental game too, because he pi$$ed me off during the warmup. He was going for winners on every feed, and not even trying to rally. I tried to shrug it off, maybe it didn't work.

    Look at this warmup!
    http://youtu.be/yJmRlxNu8Nk

    Here's the footage, aka the good, the bad, and the ugly. I made a whole bunch more unforced errors which I edited out. He had pretty good wheels, good lobs...and apparently that's all it takes :mad:

    I couldn't get in a groove until the second set. That's on me. The whole match was mentally fatiguing, and it showed in the end. I was playing so bad that I wanted to chalk it up as one of those days, but still, I feel that he contributed to it, which annoys the hell out of me. I didn't make him play enough balls.

    I'd appreciate it if you guys chimed in, I need to figure this out. Or at least have someone to commiserate with...

    http://youtu.be/PyWzmW2FFXA
     
    #35
  36. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

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    Two things (with the caveat I didn't watch all of the video). First, come to the net more. He hit a couple of low percentage lobs and it looks like you got scared. Also, work on your split step; although you do stop and split your feet, you still land with a very stiff and upright stance. This is one of the reasons you had difficulty going back or changing directions, and it's also a cause of some of your errors on your volleys. Flex those knees and get into an athletic posture.

    Second, you never really made him move off the baseline by testing him short. It's clear that he just wants to be a rabbit that is attached to the baseline; drop shot him, play short angles that require him to move up, etc. The few times he did come up by accident, you passed him or forced him to look uncomfortable up there. His soft *** serve is a perfect opportunity to hit a drop shot down the line or a short angle CC. Move him instead of letting him move you.
     
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  37. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    My adjustment was to treat the 2nd serve return as an approach shot, which worked out better, but at that point I wasn't executing well anymore.

    The other tactic which did work well was drawing him to the net. In this case should I have tried drawing him to the net like 80% of the time?

    Looking back, my mental state was strange, hard to describe. Strangely enough, I was the one feeling rushed and not executing my patterns.
     
    #37
  38. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

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    You were blasting those returns pretty good. Remember, although you want to hit an approach shot with pace, depth is more important. If you're trying to hit it hard and making errors, focus more on early preparation and getting the ball deep but safely inside the lines. I don't face too many guys these days with second serves that slow, but when I do, I almost always set up way inside the baseline to make preparation easier and will vary the deep approach, short angle CC, and drop shot DTL. To me, it looked like you started a bit too deep and then adopted a rush-and-attack approach game all the time. Start closer, get your feet underneath you, and vary the depth and angle of the return.


    I don't know about 80% of the time, but I would have made him prove that he can beat you coming to the net. From what I saw, he couldn't execute up there and actually retreated a couple of times when he should have closed the net. You weren't winning the baseline exchanges, as the score shows, but without charting it, I thought it was clear you won a strong majority of the points when you did draw him up.

    Your last paragraph perfectly explains what it's like to play a pusher's game. Because they're not going for anything and making you do all the work, you feel extra pressure to produce. And when you do, it generally leads to bigger shots than necessary and the resulting UEs as well. Your job playing a pusher is to make him uncomfortable, either by getting to the net and forcing him to pass/lob you or by drawing him off the baseline with angles and drop shots/slices.

    Live and learn. You've got a solid game from the videos you posted here and I suspect you'll handle him easily the next time you play.
     
    #38
  39. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks man. I'm gonna work on the transition game- approach shots and volleys. Plug the leaks! Especially the one in the head :)
     
    #39
  40. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Hi Greg. Watched your WTFWarmup, and all I can say is,
    ....._
    _ _|_|_ _
    \_ ('o')_/ WTF!?
    ....\~/

    :confused::)
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
    #40
  41. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Haha. I kept feeding it to his forehand just to see if it was a mistake. Obviously not..
     
    #41
  42. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    You hit most of the balls right back up the middle with the same depth and same pace. You didn't work him wide or up and back. Didn't draw him to the net enough. Didn't make him uncomfortable.
    Not enough split steps.
     
    #42
  43. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    I know. Was pretty tight, and it showed in my footwork and forehand. I'd love to say it was an off night, but I know that's a cop-out. Will work on it.
     
    #43
  44. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    hard to be sure how points ended, but looked like you missed too many long
    for my taste...and these were mostly when you had set the table to go with
    a nice rip. Now maybe your strings are a bit loose and tramping big swings, but
    also maybe..your target needs to be shorter for more margin.
    Remember...depth is not important when attacking an opening...that is
    all about pace and the line of the shot. Pace does not have to be as big either
    if the shot line is outstanding.
    You did seem to have to ease up quite a bit when looking to work him wider.
    I'd like to see you keep the pace crisper or more zippy...even when hitting for
    width.
    WHat do you think?
     
    #44
  45. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    oh yea... that too. too many missed long. how come you didn't realize that?
    don't worry. i have a camera now so you'll be able to see my rec strokes too soon.
     
    #45
  46. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    I know. If you look at the previous match videos, I was playing more angles and had more margin. Well I did switch from full poly to gut/poly, but I had already had a few days to adjust for it. Though at one point I did switch back to my full poly stick to see if it would help dial down the errors...which it did not.

    The guy was pretty fast laterally, I guess this is why I started going for more on the approach. Or as it happened, too much.

    As the match went on and I got tighter, I found the angles hard to find. I guess I was gripping the handle too tight, and generating less spin.

    I think I'll try charting this match, just to see how awful I was. Should give me incentive to work harder.
     
    #46
  47. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    suggestion for charting-
    mark down in 2 main categories on how points ended
    Baseline winner/Fe/Ue
    Mid ct winner/Fe/Ue

    you can do serve, rtn and net stats too, but I just put them as notes at
    bottom unless I'm looking at one of them in particular.
    Mainly I normally am checking if the ending is on BL or mid ct....and
    if they are winner, did my player force the error, or make a Ue.
     
    #47
  48. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Messages:
    1,008
    My mind realized it, my body refused to obey :?
     
    #48
  49. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,447
    I would chart your vid, but can't tell when you made or missed many times
     
    #49
  50. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Messages:
    1,008
    Thanks, but I didn't upload the entire match. Will post results of my charting. Do you have a sample? Or maybe some app/program would be easier? :)
     
    #50

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