Finding my strokes after 20 years. Stroke video inside

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Greg G, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Getting back into tennis after about 20 years of inactivity. I used to play almost daily as a junior, and won the occasional club tournament. Stopped playing from college onwards (maybe once a year casual hitting, with a few months semi serious play in 2001 while I was in Hawaii for half a year)...fast forward 20 years, and enrolling my son in a summer tennis camp has reignited my desire to play.

    Surprisingly, the groundstrokes are still there after all this time. The footwork...not so much, and the tennis brain needs a lot of work. Thinking too much in match play situations!

    Anyway, I did take video. Please feel free to comment and point out any areas of improvement. Still using my old Yonex RQ1500 long. This is after 2 weeks and ~ 6 hour long hitting sessions. "Smart targets" placed in opposite court.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMZCIVDZTx4
     
    #1
  2. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Looking pretty good out there and glad to see you using the "Smart Targets".
    On that Fh it looks like you are muscling the racket head out there a bit instead
    of pulling or dragging it more "up and across" and leaving it laid back longer.
    give that a try and see how it feels.
     
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  3. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks! The forehand side has been more of a problem for me, the backhand seems to have come back straight away. I find myself saying 'turn step hit' when hitting forehands, in contrast to the backhand where I don't think about it at all. I also find myself getting caught with a late contact on that side.

    Will work on leaving it laid back longer, and report back. :)
     
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  4. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Nice looking strokes. A wider, lower stance on both sides, and a consistent open stance on your forehand will help. Notice how sometimes your right foot kicks to the left on your forehand. You are, correctly, trying to transfer your weight from right to left, but, your stance doesn't allow it when it is either too high, narrow, not sufficiently open, or all of the above.

    I would also suggest that you employ more unit turn (back and forth), on both sides and less independent arm swing. You are swinging too much with your arm independent of upper body rotation. A lower, wider stance will help facilitate that as well.

    PS: This is an excellent short lesson on the modern forehand. He doesn't explain everything he's doing in such a short time, but, what he doesn't explain, he demonstrates very well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EMNtq393tvo
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
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  5. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    OP, this looks really good. You are a pretty flat hitter and I can tell that you really know how to hit. One thing I noticed is that you (properly) alter your swing tempo depending on the height of the ball. One a few of those low ones, you CRUSH them in order to get the height necessary to clear the net. Excellent job. Backhand is excellent also.

    Footwork is a little sloppy and slow, though. Sometimes you split step, sometimes not. Sometimes you walking step into the ball. Doesn't bother me too much... it happens when we get old and big. :)
     
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  6. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Very interesting, because I almost commented on how you kept the racket laid back better on the Bh in my first post.
    Also make sure you don't use your comfy Bh contact point for your Fh (i think
    the mind likes the symmetry and tries to do this) as it will make your Fh
    contact a bit too late and cramped.
     
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  7. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    The lack of symmetry in the groundstrokes is the major flaw in old school tennis instruction which presumes symmetry. The 2hb increases symmetry to a point. But, the bottom line is that if you set up on your forehand the way you do on your backhand you will be swinging from the back shoulder which impairs your angular momentum, follow through, finish, balance and recovery.
     
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  8. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, I think a big key is realizing how each stroke has it's own distinct contact point, and not just to use the same general area on each side.
     
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  9. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks!

    I know! I thought it wasn't too bad when I was on the court. I was surprised my footwork looked so bad on video :oops: Already incorporated agility ladder drills in my gym routine. It's slowly improving-- the first time out, I was almost flatfooted, lumbering around the court. :|

    @5263 and Limpinhitter:
    Thanks! I'll have to pay attention to the forehand contact point.

    Am still gathering serve videos, this is the stroke with the most rust. Kinetic chain is all messed up :p
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Good hitting, a hybrid between '80's more direct strokes and the more modern loopy stuff of today.
    You should fit right in at the top of 3.5 thru 4.0 level tennis. Only fitness and speed keeps you out of 4.5 today.
     
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  11. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    OK new video uploaded. I'm trying to keep a wider base and make contact with the forehand earlier. Getting mixed success- still getting caught late and I think I'm still muscling the ball at times. When I do go up and across the ball, I seem to be hitting at a lower trajectory over the net. Please do point out where I can improve, thanks! :)

    Added some video of me at the net as well. Camera ran out of battery just when I was gonna take serve video..but the overheads may give you a preview of my issues with the serve kinetic chain. :-?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShC7gjH49BA
     
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  12. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    One of the problems with giving advice is when the person who asked for it doesn't believe the advice is correct. Apparently, you didn't believe me the first time, because you haven't done anything I suggested. But, I'm a persistent fellow, so I'll try again.

    - Consistently set up with a wide, low, OPEN STANCE. Not a neutral stance, not a closed stance.
    - With the left hand on the throat of the racquet, right wrist laid back, and elbow IN and FORWARD (ie: against your body and in front of your pocket), turn your upper body until your chest is facing about 4:00 O'Clock from above. The racquet head should be straight up and the face of the racquet also pointing to about 4:00 O'Clock. Your stance is still wide, low and open, and your weight is primarily on your right foot with the toes of both feet facing the right fence.
    - At this point you have completed your turn and your arm hasn't moved.
    - Let go of the throat of the racquet with your left hand and begin rotating your right hip toward the target. The racquet head drops back. The hips pull the shoulders which pull the arm and racquet through the shot.
    - As you rotate, lead with your elbow and butt of the racquet (VERY IMPORTANT). Swing up and make contact at least 2 feet in front of your right foot.
    - Your weight begins to transfer from your right foot to your left foot, which is from right to left, not back to front, because you are still in a wide, low OPEN STANCE.
    - At contact your left elbow moves up and away initiating the WW finish.
    - As you continue turning, the racquet moves across the body and you turn until your chest is facing about 9:00 O'Clock and the racquet head is down near your left hip. Your feet have pivoted so that the toes of both feet are now facing the left side fence.

    Did you check out this lesson? You could do worse than to immitate this guy:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=EMNtq393tvo
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
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  13. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Sorry! I do believe you... I guess it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks! I did have the tips in my head, I guess my body vetoed them :shock: Do bear with me :)

    I do watch that video quite a bit. Will shadow stroke this first, away from the court. I think once I'm on the court, old instincts take over. :|
     
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  14. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    To be fair, you can't consciously think about all these changes at once. I would suggest two things to start:

    (1) wide, low, open stance every time,
    (2) keep your elbow in and forward from the very beginning of your takeback (keeps you from swinging indepenently with your arm), and lead with your elbow on the forward swing.

    If you focus on these changes, many of the other details will happen automatically.

    One more thing, keep your grip loose throughout your swing, including contact. A loose grip increases power and clean ball striking because firming the grip at contact (old school), slows the racquet head down and alters the path of the racquet head.
     
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  15. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Thanks for the step by step description. Just shadow stroking in my room, it does feel very different! Will give this a try next time out.
     
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  16. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Remember, swing with your body, not your arm.
     
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  17. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I've been thinking about the most effective way for you to get your forehand working. I'm going to amend the 2 steps above with the following three steps. I think this will work well for you. Don't expect it to feel natural right away. You are forging new neural connections, which isn't so easy past the age of 15.

    (1) Wide, low, open stance.
    (2) Keep elbow in and forward on backswing and forward swing up to contact, and at contact move elbow up and out.
    (3) Turn until your chest is facing (or past) the right side fence on the backswing, and facing the left side fence on the finish. That's a 180, or more, turn.

    Check out Djokovic's forehand - open stance, elbow, 180+ degrees of rotation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK2oOyqLSUQ
     
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  18. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    You're right, it does take a while to unlearn stuff you're so used to doing. It's easy to fall back into old habits. Anyway here's the video of my attempt at modernizing my forehand. Spent an hour working on it, and the first 10 minutes I was shanking it like crazy! You'll probably observe how unconfortable I am at the start. It did get better, as you (hopefully) will see in the video. I think I'm still using too much arm. And I think I need to be looser in general.

    What surprised me was how bloody painful the quadriceps on my right leg got after an hour! I suppose that's good right? I also noticed that if I got lazy with the pushoff from the right leg, i would tend to net the ball.

    When hit correctly though-- the ball had some action on it! Sometimes I stopped playing the point because I thought it was going out, only for the ball to dive down and hit the line! Looks promising. Again, do tell me what to focus on. Thanks!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqgjKu36gQY

    Here I am trying to use it in a set:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6aT_bGnjYI

    Now that this is turning into a forehand thread, should I start a separate thread for my serve? Something is wrong with how my right leg/hip comes through :oops:
     
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  19. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Better! You are turning better both ways. Keep it up. I also noticed that your takeback with your left hand on the throat has had the beneficial effect of flattening out your backswing a bit. It was too high before. That hurts your timing, especially on deep balls. Yes, a modern forehand is based on push off from the right leg to the left leg, which is right to left with an open stance, and, it generates more topspin so you have to aim higher to get the ball deep into the court. (Do lunges for leg strenght).

    Now, as you supsect, it seems that you still have a bit of a death grip on the racquet, especially at contact. You need to keep a LOOSE grip through the entire swing, including contact. Do not tighten up at contact. A loose grip increases power and clean ball striking because a tight grip slows racquet head speed and deviates your swing path causing mis-hits. A loose grip will also promote a more modern WW finish - with the hitting face of the racquet facing the target as your eblow moves up and out, until your chest turns past the target line, and then down to your left hip. I think your tight grip and arm is choking that off.

    So, now you've got 4 things to think about:
    - Open stance
    - turn at least 180 degrees from right fence to left fence.
    - elbow in and forward to contact, then up and out
    - loose and relaxed arm and grip.

    The feeling you get when you hit the ball with a leading elbow and a loose grip is going to be amazing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
    #19
  20. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Yeah I saw the Djokovic video after the hit. Now that is LOOSE! I think my torso is a bit tight too. At least I'm going in the right direction now.

    is the stance low enough? I find my legs on the follow through a bit weird- both straight sometimes. Can't be right..?

    My footwork still gets a bit confused on wide/short balls, but I suppose I'll adjust over time. Thanks! :D
     
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  21. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Flexibility is always a good thing, but, it's not critical to achieving a full turn. In order for your chest to face 9 o'clock on the finish, your hips have to lead the way and your stance has to be open. It also helps to think of your finish, (chest facing 9 o'clock and your racquet head down at you left hip), as your target, or your destination.

    To answer your question, check out this forehand lesson in which a good player with a very good traditional forehand learns to hit a modern forehand. There are a lot of good tips here, but, notice the low, open stance with the modern forehand.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiyoprgixTs&feature=related
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
    #21
  22. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Nice video! Will try to loosen it up. Once my sore right thigh allows it :)
     
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  23. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    FYI, I edited my post.
     
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  24. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, that death grip can cause a sore arm to go with your leg, according to some and it
    is an indication of you muscling the racket head around with the hand vs
    pulling it up and across to meet the ball.
    This will also let you hit more out from if the racket stays laid back a bit.
    But yes, that open stance and follow thru looked
    much better.
     
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  25. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    He's turning better too. His chest was past 12 noon, to about 1-2 o'clock. Still needs to get to 3.
     
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  26. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    OK my leg was still a bit sore, but since I took my son out for lessons, I borrowed his basket of balls and had a hit. I was concentrating on loosening up the arm and upper body rotation. Was surprised at the easyacces to power and spin, and I did get into quite a groove. I was also getting used to the new trajectory of the ball. Good net clearance, compared to my classic stroke where I would hit it much closer to the net.

    I still end up pretty high on the follow through though. I suppose while my arm is looser than before, its still not loose enough? :-?

    Sorry if the video is a bit long, wanted to show the groove I was in. :)

    http://youtu.be/65SA3F1m5UE
     
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  27. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Better still. Your technique got even better toward the end. Your stance got wider and lower, still need more. Your rotation is much better. It's not just a loose arm, you need a loose grip. You could also lead more with your elbow on the forward swing. When you do that, and then move your elbow up and out at contact, with a loose grip, that will promote a nice long WW finish down near your left hip and a ton of free power and spin. Some people refer to it as pronation (rotating the right arm counter-clockwise from the elbow and shoulder). Pronation occurs as you rotate your upper body. Look at the Djokovic and L&R videos again and watch carefully how they do it.
     
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  28. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Hmm. OK I think I have a good picture of it. I think I did it a few times off camera, while messing around near the net, trying to clear it with a lot of spin. Got a more WW type of finish.
     
    #28
  29. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Arm has a bit of soreness, I just attributed it to age :) But yes, I do need to quit muscling the ball. Loose grip, loose grip. Must remember it! Thanks!
     
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  30. Cheetah

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    looked a little better towards the end.

    do some research on extending and pulling the left arm across forward swing.

    try to break the 'catch the racquet with the left hand' habit. it's causing you to want to arm to the ball. and leaving your hand up there ready to catch the racquet isn't good for rotation in the modern swing.

    and take a look at how pro's today finish their strokes. your finish is loose and wiggly and still spinning and you never setting into an established finish position. a finish is an important part of the stroke.

    also, imo, your 'finish' is a little too high. a little lower would be better imo and would probably help w/ other things.

    after you get your racquet into an 'acceptable' finish position hold that position for about a half second or more. on each stroke. hold the finish. look at a pro finish. they all hold that position for couple of moments. holding the finish will help you program muscle memory for a correct swing path.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
    #30
  31. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Watching the video, I suspected that the left hand was preventing me from rotating fully, thanks for confirming it. I should be more planted/stable on the left leg when I finish?

    Is this a good video to model the forehand from? Cos if you told me to watch it all day, I just might :D

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS78isLP4Vk
     
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  32. Cheetah

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    yes that is a good video. i've watched it myself about 50 times. i like her swing. note where her finish is. lower. and she holds the finish for a shorter period of time than the guys do but she still holds it for a bit.
     
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  33. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Today's new video:

    Shadowing the stroke-- is this what I'm aiming for?

    http://youtu.be/_KZQpSDiHQg

    Some light hitting. Sorry for the lazy footwork-- Wimbledon finished at 2 am here, had only 4 hours sleep! Still groggy. Excuses excuses right? Anyway. I tend to drift back into old habits, but I think I'm a bit looser now. My left hand keeps wanting to catch the racquet, which stops the rotation. Have to consciously not catch it. When I am hitting looser, I do notice easier access to spin and power. Maybe I should Botox my arm :)

    http://youtu.be/J-e9gfl278Y

    Regarding the open stance--how far forward should the left foot be? Couple of feet? In my attempt to keep it open, I think I end up with feet parallel to the baseline. I suppose the left foot should be a bit forward.

    Thanks for all the advice guys! I do feel it becoming more reliable, and do appreciate the help :)
     
    #33
  34. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    #34
  35. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    When you shadow your swing, you should include all of the elements of your technique including your wide, low stance and weight transfer from right to left.

    Looking much better. You are using much more angular (rotational) momentum now. How does it feel? You still need a consistent wider, lower stance with weight on your right leg when you set up to hit. Your finish is still a bit old school. You should have more of a WW finish that comes across after contact and down to your left hip. I suspect you still grip the racquet too tight at contact.

    To answer your question, your feet can be anywhere from parallel to the baseline to about 45 degrees from the baseline. More than that begins to hinder your rotation. The exception is when you are running laterally to the right. Then you may find it easier to hit with your left foot leading laterally to the right at contact, and then your momentum causes you to step across and stop and plant with your right foot to recover back to your position on the court.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012
    #35
  36. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    The balls leave the racquet with a lot more spin than I'm used to generating. And with a lot less effort! Just have to keep pluggin away till it becomes second nature I guess. If I don't think about it, the classic elements creep back in.
     
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  37. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think it was our own Aimr75 who said that it takes 5,000 repititions to learn a new stroke. You've come a long way in a short time. Keep up the good work.
     
    #37
  38. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    5000! Then I have to learn to use it in match play. But yes, I am looking forward to learning this- I can see the potential! It allows me to play more angles..am starting to see the court differently.
     
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  39. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    You're learning fast. It took me much longer to make the transition. Perhaps taking 20 years off is helping you more than hurting you. Hahaha!
     
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  40. Cheetah

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    looks a little better. good job.

    try to use less arm. keep the head still. work on the footwork at the end. that little skippy hop full body turn and cross over step to the left after the swing is going to cause you problems if you play a point. what if the next ball comes wide to the right? point over.
     
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  41. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Working on a wider, lower base and a looser arm. Thigh wrapped. Fingers taped. I'm starting to look like the walking wounded out there :oops:

    http://youtu.be/62VZZReF0M0

    Side view:

    http://youtu.be/vrRJ3y0VsL4

    I think it's looking better. It's starting to feel more natural, and I find the classi stuff creeping in less and less.
     
    #41
  42. Cheetah

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    meet the ball more out in front of the body.
     
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  43. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Will work on the contact point, thanks! Got a touch of golfer's elbow after today's hit :(
     
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  44. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Remember when I recommended that the contact point should be at least 2 feet in front of your right foot. In your most recent video, it's not even 1 foot out front.

    Remember when I also said that a loose grip increases power and clean ball striking. It also cures tennis elbow. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
    #44
  45. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    I'm tryin! It was pretty loose today :)

    I think I now know what a dead poly feels like.
     
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  46. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Op I think you are clearly a solid player. Nice vids. I liked your classic strokes a lot. Very consistent and solid.
     
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  47. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    BTW, your swing path continues to improve. I don't know how you feel about your ball flight/shot making, but, your stroke is starting to look pretty darn good. Keep up the good work.
     
    #47
  48. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Yeah I saw it in the video- will make an effort to make earlier contact! Ball flight is very nice, the topspin does really allow me to hit out. And I do notice it bothers the guy I'm hitting with, more than the flatter shots. I used to not for a side, but now I kind of like running around the backhand since this new forehand has opened up a lot more options.

    I dunno about approach shots though- perhaps these are better flattened out?

    Gotta ice up and have the racquets restrung. Speaking of which- for this heavy practice, should i go with a comfort string instead of poly?

    Thanks again guys!
     
    #48
  49. Swissv2

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    Poly is very hard on the arms when you are trying to change your stroke. I know this well ;)

    Contact point further out in front = hitting the ball just a touch earlier (you look like you hit late)
     
    #49
  50. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    He can't hit out front because he does not drag the racket with a laid back position.
    He can't have a loose grip because he uses his hand to muscle the racket head
    around.
    Makes it hard for him to use your good advice.
     
    #50

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