From NTRP-based 3.0 to 3.5 by January 2014 (video diary)

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by TomT, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Did he hit 4 aces in a row? He was the guy who couldn't serve two months ago right?
     
  2. trader1499

    trader1499 New User

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    Hahaha. Yes! That's me. :)
     
  3. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    Hey tom looking good!

    Don't forget to recover to the middle after you hit your shots ... you are leaving quite a large area of the court open while you wait to see what your opponent does.

    Keep up the good work!
     
  4. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Correct about the guy, trader1499 at TTW. However, I think that it's 3 clear aces, and perhaps one service winner (there's one that I think I got a tiny bit of my racquet on). Also, those 4 serves weren't consecutive, if I recall correctly. I think there was a double fault, or whatever, between at least two of them. Nevertheless, I don't think that game went to deuce. So, the 4 serves in the vid won that game.

    trader1499's game has improved drastically in the last month and a half. Tomorrow evening we will, hopefully, finish our rain-postponed match. Video will follow. :)
     
  5. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks gmatheis. Yes, recover, anticipate, keep moving, etc. etc. :)
     
  6. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Can you explain what you've done in the last 2 months to improve your serve? I don't normally say things like this but, because you've improved So much, I can you your serve before was horrible! I'm complimenting you though.

    So take some time to explain what you've done to get the serve you have today? I'm curious if you put in a ton of hours serving. How did you learn?
     
  7. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I'm curious about this also. I know that trader has put in considerable practice time on his serve, because he told me so. Also, at some point I think he just decided to never again hit a pitty pat second serve. Not too long ago he was hitting some second serves that, some of which, were so slow that they would bounce and land inside the service box. :)

    His second serves are still too slow, however he's hitting them with a motion more similar to his first serve than before, and getting some topspin on them.
     
  8. trader1499

    trader1499 New User

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    Today was horrible. Tom played well. I threw my racquet more in two sets then in all my time playing this game. Frustrated and agitated I was with every part of my game. That being said....

    Corbind... I had one lesson. That did nothing for me. I watched a couple videos...

    Roddick 150 mph Serve Analysis - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLf_MJXzBVg

    Pro Tennis Lessons - Ultimate Serve - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtuCIAA-RB0

    And I was just studying a few pros serves...Andy Murray. I was trying to find the details of what is taking place in a serve. I watch myself on video and I still think it looks horrible. I basically put in a lot of time. I was injured for a little while with my shoulder when I learned that there was a "continental" grip. It tore my shoulder up right away. Anyhow. I haven't put in that much court time with matches and practicing groundstrokes lately, but I have been getting out to serve. I will usually practice serve for up to two hours. Now that my arm healed, I don't do it with any more pain so I have been trying to flatten out my serve.

    Today's match showed me if I really want to get good, I'm going to have to pick up my play, practice time and start working on sprints and explosiveness and just my overall work ethic.
     
  9. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Oh my, a lot going on here. Great you studied and that's really a great way to do it. Unfortunately the serve is so damn complex I think the written word is almost pointless in describing it.

    Still, are you saying that the Continental/"hammer" grip messed up your shoulder? Could you explain that one a bit?

    Whenever I hear of people messing up their shoulder I think of just two things. Must be serving with the right arm too close to the head or just too much serving in general. People with a frying pan grip just toss the ball straight up and whack it with their arm straight up to the sky. After a number of those it just hurts as that's not a natural angle for the arm/shoulder (at least in fast motion).

    Stand up and reach your arms out horizontal to the ground like an airplane or like you're nailed to the cross like Jesus. Notice no pain and the arms are 90 degrees from your body/head. When serving the LEFT shoulder should dip low while the RIGHT shoulder goes high (when the right arm is about to hit the ball). That left shoulder dip helps you reach up and also mitigates right shoulder problems. Eh, I suck at explaining it.

    Serving for even one hour is (in my opinion) just too much. Serving two hours is just murder. MLB and college pitchers day in and day out or they'd wreck their shoulders/arms, etc. Same with serving a ton. Granted you want to improve but you'll pay the price (pain).

    (I did learn what shoulder pain was back in March this year when I served soft balls to people 70 years old. I raised my arm straight up like you'd see a beginner (yet I'd still use the Continental grip). Surprisingly it hurt a lot to serve soft with the wrong motion but trying to NOT put spin on a soft serve is difficult).
     
  10. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Below are the second and third sets of my recent league match with trader1499 begun on July 27. He had won the first set and it was 1-1 and 30-15 with me serving when we had to stop due to rain.

    In the second and third sets trader's serve was not as consistently effective, and I found the range with my serve, and I was fortunate to emerge with a 1-6 6-2 6-1 victory.

    Second Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbwS8qE3Kho

    Third Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYWKRkpgStQ
     
  11. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    I practice serves at least once a week for almost 1 hour (about 2 buckets worth). I mostly concentrate on 2nd serves, toss, brushing, placement, etc. I don't try to go for crazy power so for me it's easy to swing at it for 1 hour.

    That and my arm is pretty loose and relaxed during the swing. I don't exactly arm the ball so that helps a lot.
     
  12. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Hi Dimcorner. Sounds like a good serve practice routine.

    For myself, my matches are serve practice. :) On no-match days, if it isn't raining, then I'll usually hit a few serves, but not 2 buckets worth.

    I agree that a loose and relaxed arm and grip during serving seems to be one of the keys to successful and painless serving.
     
  13. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    I'm lucky here because they let me on the court 45 minutes before the group lessons start so all I do is hit serve after serve. 1 bucket one way, pick up and hit back the other way and pick up. After that I go to the group lessons for 1 1/2 hour.

    During practice matches I get to courts about 30 minutes early and just go and hit serves as well.

    All this has helped me get pretty consistent on them and with a lot of variety. I can hit top spin, slice, flat and twist. I'm working now on trying to add more action to the ball consistently so I'm slowly increasing my swing speed.
     
  14. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Sounds like you're doing something right. I've never learned how to hit a topspin or twist serve. Sometimes my slice serves bounce the opposite way that they're curving, but I don't think that counts, and anyway I want the slice serves to keep going in the direction that they're curving. :)

    Thanks for your input. Post some vids if you've got them.
     
  15. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Below is a link to a video of the first 3 games of my match today. This vid is unique in that, per the request of my opponent, I didn't edit anything out like I usually do in order to make myself look better than I am.

    So, it's all there, every part of every point of the first three games ... the good, the bad, and the ugly. The only stuff edited out was non-playing stuff.

    In keeping with the self-indulgent, ego-driven motivation for and general theme of this thread check out the points beginning at 3:21, 4:02, 4:19, and 4:52 involving some of my best shots.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anzZJY3uvcA

    I'm editing the rest of the video of the match now. Probably will edit out as much of the bad and ugly stuff as I can in the next vids.
    By the way, my opponent, a 3.5 in www.tennisftlauderdale.com won this match 6-4 6-3.

    I've got league matches at 7 AM and 4 PM tomorrow so if I don't get the rest of the vid of this match posted tonight it's because I had to go to sleep. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
  16. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Below is a link to the first three games of my first match today. Played at 7 AM at glorious Riverside Park. As in the previous video, it's all the points of the first three games including double faults, etc. The only thing I edited out is the non-playing stuff. The video of the rest of this match (which was an 8-game pro set won by my opponent 8-2 who is a 4.0 in www.tennisftlauderdale.com ) will be a bit more edited, as will the vid of the rest of the previous match.

    Now I must get some rest, as I have a 4 PM league match, weather permitting. Then, the evening will be devoted to editing video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsAymorE38k

    By the way, in the third game I was up 40-love on service, had 5 game points, and still found a way to lose the game. Very frustrating.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  17. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Below is a link to the first three games of my second match today. Played at 3 PM at Riverside Park. As in the previous two videos, it's all the points of the first three games including double faults, bad shots, etc. The only thing I edited out is the non-playing stuff. As with the others, the video of the rest of this match (which was won by my opponent 6-4 6-1 who is a 3.5 in www.tennisftlauderdale.com ) will be more edited.

    We were both pretty tired entering into the match. My opponent had played golf all morning, and I had that other match (albeit only 10 games). We moved the start time up an hour because of the threat of rain, and that really screwed up my midday nap. I was basically ok for the first few games, and then I started feeling just really tired, and sweating bullets.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2ehvCln8Vc
     
  18. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Tom, here is a sheet of frames of your serve:

    [​IMG]
     
  19. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    @ newpball,

    Thanks for the frames newpball. Very cool of you to do that. I wonder if that serve went in? :)
     
  20. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    It went long.
     
  21. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  22. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Last edited: Aug 5, 2013
  23. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  24. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  25. LakeSnake

    LakeSnake Semi-Pro

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    The way you started that first set, I thought you were going to smoke him! Did you feel those moonballs were giving you problems?
     
  26. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    That's the goal, but I'm not there yet. :) I make too many stupid, avoidable errors. I'm impatient, lazy, AND not in optimal condition. Very bad combo. :)

    Well, the one that I completely missed apparently did. :) (It would have helped a lot if I had actually been focused on following the ball all the way into my racquet before I swung at it. :) Maybe then I would have moved my feet close enough to actually hit it.) In general though they're not really a problem as far as how to hit them, but they are a problem insofar as expending the necessary energy, and staying focused enough, to hit them back effectively.

    I'm not worried though. I expect that everything will improve as I continue to log court time at my current rate. Problem is that I've only got about 4 months left to get to 3.5 this year. I'm thinking now that it might take me a bit longer than that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
  27. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    I noticed that after serves and most hits you just stand racquet down and watch instead of moving. When movement is an issue for people in badminton I tell them to just do a 1/4 squat/bounce right as the opponent impacts the ball that way you can change directions quickly.

    I'm on a quest to get to 3.5 as well! I started playing August 2012 so we'll see how it goes by Dec.
     
  28. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the suggestion Dimcorner. I definitely need to do something to counteract my post-shot laziness.

    In effect, that's about when I started also. Unless you want to count the year or so that I played back in 75/76.

    Best of luck to ya. Post some vids if possible. Where are you?
     
  29. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

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    Have you watched any Youtube videos about court positioning? Seems like you are frequently out of position in the last few videos, and then it makes it harder to hit a good shot back.

    Recovering to the "proper" position may be able to preserve some energy. :):)

    If you haven't, I liked this simple and short series:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKLZ9aOj2Ew

    If you have, and there are many, then just take this post as a repetitive friendly reminder.

    Keep it up!
     
  30. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    I used to live by Plantation, FL for a while but I'm now in Columbia, SC.
    I'll see if I can post some vids of practice matches/match play. Admittedly most of my points come off my serves so my ground game is "meh" at best.
     
  31. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks RogueFLIP. I watched the series you linked to, as well as some others, and subscribed to the channel. I probably do some of that stuff intuitively, but not consistently. It helps to have it organized and presented in that way.
     
  32. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I play matches in Plantation from time to time. Looking forward to vids.
     
  33. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    My opponents canceled matches yesterday and today. So, I just practiced a bit. Here's a couple of serves from yesterday:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wn5riZX-sYQ

    Next match is scheduled for Tuesday evening.
     
  34. wy2sl0

    wy2sl0 Hall of Fame

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    I am guessing you can't regularly serve like that in match play? Because those have way more pace than the average 3.5 serve. Interesting to see, keep it up. :)
     
  35. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Those are pretty much the way I serve in matches. Most of my matchplay serves are as fast or faster than that. Both first and second serves. However, I'm increasingly using a slice serve that has less pace but is more effective.

    And yes, my serve has more pace than the average 3.5 serve (or 3.75 or 4.0 for that matter)... at least in my limited experience so far. However, what the most effective 3.5 + servers can do that I can't yet do is hit topspin and twist serves.

    I played a guy (trader1499 at TTW) this evening in a practice match whose first serve has more pace than mine. He's a 2.5 in our league ( www.tennisftlauderdale.com ) . But he's rapidly improving, and will likely be rated at least 3.0 and more likely 3.25 when we're done with the playoffs for this Summer Season league.

    I'll post some video of today's practice match with trader1499 later tonight.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  36. trader1499

    trader1499 New User

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    I don't think my serve is faster. I can barely return yours still. It was good to watch my videos of today because I still see myself not doing all the things I was trying to learn i the serve. My elbow is not even getting close to the degree in the video and I think I have been foot faulting now that I see this but I will have to film from another angle to see if my back foot is going too far forward. My follow through still sucks. And I need a ton of work on the ground strokes. I think I was hitting my backhand well against paul because he doesnt hit all those low balls. So far youre the only one and they give me problems. Plus I am too slow to react often and am not in the right spot. Very frustrating, but I will work harder of course. I seriously need alot more time returning hard serves.

    Good playing today Tom. It's always fun... Except at my place last time when I couldnt settle down my frustration. :)
     
  37. Baxter

    Baxter Professional

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    It's better looking than the average 3.5 serve, but lots of 3.5ers can reliably hit an ugly pancake harder than that.
     
  38. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I think your fastest serves are a bit faster than mine. Anyway, they're faster than any other opponent I've played from tennisftlauderdale.com since returning to tennis in 2012. On the other hand, there are a few of the Hardy Park regulars who aren't in any organized programs who have much faster serves than either of us. I'd guess that there are a few guys in the Broward Tennis League who have pretty big serves.

    I'm running a little behind on editing the video of our practice match. Will probably have it posted by late this afternoon. I've got a bunch of errands to run, etc.

    Good match trader, especially that first set where you breadsticked me. You had a very high percentage of first serves in, and moving it around really well, and I was having a tough time getting my timing right on them. Second serve looking much better also. Your inside out forehand returns were smokin'!

    But, as you note, plenty of things that need lots of work ... for both of us.
     
  39. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, we have a few regulars at my home courts who can really punish the ball. One of them played D1 tennis a few years ago (but his serve isn't an ugly pancake serve). But in this current Summer Season league of tennisftlauderdale.com I think trader1499 and I have the hardest serves.

    Next season, the Fall Season league, several of the better players that have previously played in Tennis Fort Lauderdale will be signing up again, and a few of them can hit bombs when they want to, although they rarely do.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  40. trader1499

    trader1499 New User

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    Yeah, it was a good day yesterday. Glad we did it. I'm playing Paul again on Thursday. I'm giving him my Nadal racquet to demo because he might buy it. I will then buy another Roddick pure drive! :D

    I got mine restrung not long ago but the strings are frayed a lot already. This didn't happen the first time I bought it before I got it restrung.. Perhaps it's the added power I play with now. I don't know. I decided it is the racquet for me for sure now. It's just a matter of my technique now. I seriously want to practice against your serve more. I need to develop the reflexes and skill to hit that shot back better and feel more comfortable. Maybe I can build some contraption to put my ball machine in to simulate that serve. Hahah Actually no...that would be more heavy stuff to lug around! Hahah
     
  41. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    Just tuned in tom.

    My 2 cents is that you should get some pockets. Put the ball in them when you serve and when you are waiting for the ball keep your left pointer finger on the strings, not on the bridge of the racket.

    This seems like a small thing but that little finger lets your body know where the strings are. This is huge info for your body to have and well its not much of a change at all.

    Also your serve in a way is a victim of its success. Since it is a harder serve than most at that level I think it has gotten you some free points. So you have just got in the bad habit of stopping after you hit the serve....because it often doesnt come back or sails long, etc.

    One way I can think of correcting this is to serve against the wall and hit the ball after it comes back. Hit your down the t serve and then hit it back. Even if you suck at this, it should be enough to get your body to know that the serve is not the end but the beginning and you need to prepare and move after you hit that serve. Or have a partner at the net in the ad court feed you balls after you serve to the deuce court, etc.

    This is also good because as you get to higher levels that serve WILL come back....
     
  42. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the helpful suggestions Shroud. Actually, though I do get lots of free points on service winners (though not many aces) most of my opponents hit most of my serves back and in the court most of the time (I think), but with lower level opponents they're often extremely weak returns that should put me in command of the point, but my lazy prep gets me in trouble so I lose LOTS of points that, with proper movement, I should win easily.

    I'm not sure what pointing at the strings after a serve will do though.

    RE pointing, I've tried sort of pointing at the ball with my left hand on forehands, or at least having my left hand out in front as a sort of guide or whatever, and it seems to help with consistency. But it's not a habit yet. So, sometimes I forget to do it.
     
  43. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Is that Roddick a Babolat racquet? What strings are you using, and at what tension?

    I'm up for practice, drills or matchplay, anytime. I need lots of work on returning your first serves also. We can alternate locations. Next time it's my turn to come out your way.

    I had two more cancellations and reschedules. Tonight's match is moved to Sunday morning, and tomorrow's match is moved to Friday evening.

    I finally got the video edited. I post it in another post. The last couple of games are missing. I've got to remember to get an 8 or 16 GB memory card. Also, the new AA RayOvac alkaline Ultra Pro batteries suck. The best ones so far for video have been the Sunbeam alkaline for high drain devices. Better than Duracell or anything else I've tried. Unfortunately the Sony Cybershot cam that I'm using only uses disposable batteries. I've got an older Nikon Coolpix 7900 that cost about $350 back in 2005, and uses a rechargable lithium ion battery, but have to get a charger and spare battery for it.
     
  44. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Below are videos of yesterday's practice match with trader1499, which he won 6-1 3-6 3-2 (retired). We began playing a 10-game pro set, then decided to extend it to best 2 out of 3 sets, then the decreasing light became a factor and it was decided that whoever was ahead when it got too dark to play would be the winner. I brightened up the third set video in Windows Movie Maker 2.6.

    Warmup
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDRvdR-ENJg
    First Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPdQta0rskA
    Second Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG60b_RnTwE
    Third Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9je6Lzenkc
     
  45. trader1499

    trader1499 New User

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    Yes that's a Babolat. Haha You see me everytime with my Babolat gear. :p I use Addiction strings and weight is 55lbs.

    It is annoying to have cancellations. I thought I was playing on Thursday but it's actually saturday the 24th. It might be only you and I in the playoffs at this rate. I hope we get to play for trophy. I have many big foosball trophies, but none for tennis. lol.

    My camera got most of the footage. I think I had video taking up space from my previous recordings though. I have one video that is the last two games of the first set where I hit those two cross court winners on your serve and then when i didn't miss a first serve to close it out. That was the perfect video for posting for my friends. lol.
     
  46. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    Hi Tom,

    My apologies. The 2 werent really related. The first part about touching the strings was a general comment of something that I think would improve things. Right now you are holding the ball with your left hand. Ditch the ball and when you are waiting have your finger RESTING and TOUCHING the strings, not pointing at them. So when the opponent is about to hit a ball back at you and you are in the ready position, make sure your finger is touching the strings. It helps you know where the strings are and to keep track of the stringbed better.

    Its not the pointing, its the touching of the strings.

    So when you are waiting to return serve, or after you hit a shot and recover to the ready position.

    Here is a pict or 2 look closely at the racket and you will see the finger on the strings:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  47. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I have a different take on those pictures. Those two guys are doing something that EVERYONE needs to do just before the opponent is about to hit the ball.

    Look at their KNEES (and wide stance)! If you're flat-footed / knees straight you've just lost a full step in trying to get any ball they hit back. That step is more important than people realize...
     
  48. PRO STAFF

    PRO STAFF Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2013
    Messages:
    13
    Forgive me for saying, but it seems you want advice.

    You hit then totally drop your guard, not anticipation. Look at your feet, you hit and your feet are in the same position, you are not ready for any return.

    To improve you need to hit and try to anticipate or force where your opponent is going to hit and be ready. You won't move up until you do that.

    Just my opinion.
     
  49. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

    Joined:
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    Totally agree. There are a lot of things to be improved upon, like keeping the racquet UP and infront of the body, not down to the left, etc.

    I was starting easy :) But as you and others have observed, a ready position would be a great start with all that it entails.
     
  50. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

    Joined:
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    Ok Shroud, I have a practice match tomorrow, so it will be a good time to start doing certain things that you and corbind, and PRO STAFF, and others have suggested.

    In the ready position:
    hold racquet up and in front
    hold racquet handle near strings, touching strings with left index finger
    bent knees, wide stance, on balls of feet, moving legs and feet, itching to go wherever necessary (asap) to hit a good shot back

    After serving:
    Anticipate where return will be hit and move in that direction.

    After hitting any shot:
    Move to the optimal spot spot in the middle of the opponent's return triangle.

    Ok, these are things I should be able to do right now. I'll be videoing the practice match as usual, so we'll see to what extent I'm able to incorporate your much appreciated suggestions into my game.

    I have league matches coming up on Friday evening and Sunday morning, and Saturday morning also if I can set one up. My focus is going to be on incorporating these anticipation, movement, and prep improvements into my game. I've already qualified for the B Division playoffs, so no pressure to win any matches until the playoffs start. Should be able to concentrate on the things mentioned.

    Is there anything I'm forgetting or leaving out that goes with the above?
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013

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