FYB's Singles Playbook

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by safc_number10, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Dags

    Dags Professional

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    I think this viewpoint will alienate a number of recreational players. If you're playing tournaments, and to a lesser extent league, then it's possibly true. However, if the biggest 'match' you play is with recreational hitting partners or a ladder match at your local club, then a winning at all costs attitude is less prevalent.

    It's important to remember that the reason we play is because we enjoy the game. Some people enjoy winning so much, that will be their focus. Others look elsewhere. Nowadays I measure success not on the scoreline, but on how well I feel I've played: and for me, that's about striking the ball cleanly, and moving well. I don't have that killer attitude any more. I'd far rather come off court feeling I've played well and losing, than having a stinker but grinding out a win.
     
    #51
  2. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Very true. People play tennis for all sorts of reasons - fun, exercise, to socialize, etc.

    What I'm really getting at is that you want to be a good competitor. Personally, I get the most enjoyment out of tennis knowing that I competed well, win or lose. Frankly, the result is somewhat secondary if I've done that.

    Obviously, it's nice to play well. But that doesn't always happen. Regardless, you can still compete well. And frankly, I don't want tennis to only be fun when I'm hitting well. I want it to be fun all the time.

    More generally, isn't the struggle part of the fun?
     
    #52
  3. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Personally, I can't stand FYB. Great as a case study on marketing (provided you're a marketing person and like that sort of thing) but its like eating at McDonalds - you put something in your mouth but you don't feel like you've eaten anything, and an hour later you want something more substantial. I can't see how anyone other than noobs would sign up to it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
    #53
  4. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Well, OK.

    I do not think you can ever win a match using "superior strategy" if your mechanics are poor.

    Maybe we have different definitions of terms like "strategy"?

    To me, strategy means selecting shots and patterns of play that are in some way to your advantage or your opponent's detriment. Maybe another way to look at it more generically is that strategy is finding ways to put your opponent under additional pressure or in awkward positions, thereby causing them to miss before you do.

    With that definition, fitness and mechanics are the whole enchilada. If you see that the best strategy to beat a particular lefty in singles is to serve wide in the deuce court and then redirect the next shot into the open court, that's great. If you lack a solid serve out wide and the ability to change direction or hit on the rise, that strategy simply is not available to you. If you paid money to study that strategy, I personally don't think you got anything for the money.

    I know there is not universal agreement on what I'm saying, and there was a time that I believed in studying strategy before my mechanics allowed me to execute it. I've kind of changed my mind.

    That said, I am not an expert, a teaching pro or even a high-level player. So hey. I might be wrong.
     
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  5. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    There's a difference between studying a strategy and learning how to think. In our case, we teach various strategies, but really what we're doing is teaching people how to think on the tennis court.

    I think an apt comparison is college. Could run you $40,000 per year even though the textbooks cost a few hundred bucks. Why the discrepancy? The textbooks are just information. College teaches you how to apply and use that information. How to think. That's the real value.

    I've sort of said my piece at this point. Strokes are extremely important. Thinking is extremely important. How a particular player wants to balance those two things is up to them.

    Actually... quick personal story just came to mind. In the past year I've literally become twice the doubles player I was before simply by working with Bob & Mike. Learning from them. Not because my shots got any better. They haven't. But the way I moved, anticipated, and worked with my partner did. So for me strategy has made a difference.
     
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  6. 0d1n

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    Hmmmm, I'm not into winning at all costs in social situations and I'm the "playing tournaments" type, BUT...winning is the only relevant improvement measurement in the end.
    Winning against guys who used to beat you...etc.
    With regards to your bolded statement...if you are striking the ball cleanly and moving well...you should win also...unless you are playing a vastly superior player in which case yes...just playing against him would be a priviledge.
    I somehow agree with the attitude that one should feel good about himself if playing well ... regardless of the result, but that only applies when playing superior players IMO.
    If I'm playing somebody at my level...and playing well...playing well...quite frankly should mean winning the match.
    Hitting a few clean winners, playing a few gorgeous points but making a ton of unforced errors or making some stupid tactical decisions and losing...does NOT mean playing well in my book.
     
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  7. nkbond

    nkbond Rookie

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    No reason for you to keep score then...
     
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  8. Dags

    Dags Professional

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    We're largely on the same page. The comment to which I was disagreeing was 'winning at all costs'. I can play well and lose to someone better than me, and come off the court feeling happy with my performance. If I lose to someone who I would generally beat, then chances are I haven't played well.

    Keeping score is a nice, accepted method of determining who should be serving and when you finish playing. I also wouldn't want to presume that whoever I'm playing doesn't want to win at all costs.
     
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  9. Essential Tennis

    Essential Tennis Rookie

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    I completely disagree. It helps a TON for three main reasons.....

    :smile:
     
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  10. Essential Tennis

    Essential Tennis Rookie

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    I remember that lesson very well, Topaz. Great to hear that it was so helpful to you :)
     
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  11. Essential Tennis

    Essential Tennis Rookie

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    [​IMG]
     
    #61
  12. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    People at our club often express surprise that I've been only playing a couple of years after hitting with me. I've had some private lessons and some team based coaching. But a lot of what I've learned came from sites like TT and FYB.

    The free FYB videos were extremely useful to me, especially the series comparing pro, mid-level, and noob forehands.

    But the newest FYB content hasn't been as useful. Like Essential Tennis I get the feeling these guys have taken marketing seminars from the likes of Jay Abraham ("Order now and you'll recieve these three secrets to a better serve toss FREE!). I imagine Will and Ian getting all pumped up by Tony Robins and rushing out to sign spamming deals with the Bryan Brothers and dreaming of tennis in Monaco with millions of dollars to spend.

    The nadir for FYB haa been the sit down interviews with...some guys I've never heard of discussing stuff in a yawn inducing manner. This is tennis. Wil's analysis of pro and noob video is VERY useful. It's actionable. Sitting at a club table doesn't show me much.

    The other annoying part of both FYB and ET is the looooong sales pitch in each recent video. "In a moment we're going to show you this amazing sercret to serving better. But first I'm going to spend 20 minutes explaining why I'm so wonderful."

    Even my kids found some recent ET videos hilarious when Ian kept promising some amazing secrets and then, after a HUGE sales pitch, told us something like "don't hit long" while doing yet more sales talk. We felt like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story". "Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine." Really? That was the secret?

    Wil's first efforts were best. High quality stuff that was interesting, actionable, and useful. He taught me how to play tennis. The later stuff looks like a class in how to alienate previously loyal viewers with schlock and sales pitches more worthy of the Home Shopping Network.

    But if Will and Ian send me just $100 via PayPal I'll show them my ten secrets to multi-level marketing success! And if they order by midnight tonight* I'll send them a DVD of me explaining the three secrets to success in love FREE!

    *unless of course they don't respond. Like Will and Ian at that point I'll extend the "deadline" five times in a desperate attempt to get SOME kind of sales action...that's one of the big fails for both guys...the number of times they have to spam extentions to some super secret special deal because nobody is biting...that's NOT a way to inspire confidence in prospective customers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
    #62
  13. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    I just want to say "thanks" to Wil, and I'm glad he reads these forums. His FYB youtube vids has helped my game immensely. It's really good stuff. I appreciate his dedication to the game, his dedication to rec hackers like myself so that we can utilize some of the tips and tricks that the pros use. We all know we can't play like the pros, but if you use a little of what they've learned, its better than just trying to "figure it out yourself".

    thanks Wil!
     
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  14. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Thanks anubis! True, we're not going to hit 130 MPH bombs for serves, but there's still a lot the pros do that we can emulate.
     
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  15. Essential Tennis

    Essential Tennis Rookie

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    Just three quick thoughts on this, Timothy:

    1. If any of the specific sales or marketing methods that I've used really turn you off then I apologize (truly), but please realize that those materials only make up a very, very small percentage of what I do at Essential Tennis. We're in the 9th month of 2012 and I've run three different course promotions so far, with the whole rest of the year spent on free instructional content that I release on a regular basis. You'll find literally hundreds of hours of instruction with zero pitch to buy anything on my site. In fact, there's nothing for sale on my web site at all, the promotions are completely separate and only take up a few weeks per calendar year.

    If you don't like the promotions or how they're run then I'm sorry, but please realize that they're only a small percentage of what I actually do when it comes to tennis instruction. Nobody is making you watch those few videos per year :)

    2. I've never extended any sales deadline more than once in the history of my business, and it has never been without actual repeated requests from players that missed said deadline. Period. The most recent time I extended an offer over 500 students had already signed up.....it certainly wasn't due to lack of action, and you know what? People thanked me for giving another chance.

    3. Lastly, Essential Tennis has helped tens of thousands of tennis players improve their tennis at absolutely zero cost to them, nor any obligation to buy anything. I've never turned down a refund request in the history of my business for any reason, and I even give away my paid stuff on a regular basis. If all of that isn't good enough for you then I'm sorry, I'll keep trying my best :)
     
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  16. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Glad it's helped!

    I obviously don't agree with how you're characterizing our sales process, but what is true is that both Ian and I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to run a successful online business. In our case, it took us three years to make a dime. Both Adam (FYB's tech guru) and I were working various part-time jobs while we tried to figure the business end of FYB out. We were close to shutting down the website on a number of occasions.

    We originally tried the ad-supported thing. Didn't work. Our videos have been viewed over forty million times on Youtube but that hasn't translated into any meaningful ad revenue. What does work is an Internet version of the free sample model. Walk into the supermarket, eat a piece of cheese on a stick, buy the whole wheel if you like it. The model is great for us because we still get to provide a lot of value for free while actually making a living.

    Not sure which interviews you're referring to... but I can't agree if these are the ones -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvV4lk__hVE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_9rJdzhxdQ

    First interview is with Sam Sumyk. He coaches Victoria Azarenka. Second is with Sven Groeneveld. He's part of Adidas Tennis with Daren Cahill and Gil Reyes (Agassi's fitness trainer) and has coached a number of Grand Slam champs. In short, the best coaches in the world.

    Perhaps my interview style, which is admittedly unpolished, is yawn-inducing. I'm cool with that. Constructive criticism is a big help to me as I continually try to improve what I'm doing. But I don't agree that these types of interviews don't add much to the tennis community.

    One of the things that's perhaps less obvious is that the content we produce is very much driven by what people want to see. I'm basically having one big conversation with the community. For example, people wanted to hear from the pros. So I pursued a project with the Bryan Bros, interviews with coaches, etc. We've got some other stuff in the works in this department. I went out and licensed match footage (approx. $34,000 worth - coming soon) because you wanted to see the pros constructing points, and not just my breakdowns on the dry-erase board.

    (Regarding the Bryan Bros course, the starting point was a survey I sent out to the community. I got 2,000+ responses, went through every one of them, and aggregated the most common questions into the course material.)

    So perhaps some of our more recent content hasn't been as helpful to you, but it's what the majority of the people I've been interacting with want to see.

    Anyway, I hope that gives you some additional insights into our operation. Let me know what you think.

    - Will
     
    #66
  17. Jay_The_Nomad

    Jay_The_Nomad Professional

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    .........deleted
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
    #67
  18. Roforot

    Roforot Professional

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    Will and Ian, just a suggestion, but perhaps you could also put a link or information about setting up private lessons. I'm not sure where either of you are located, but if I'm in town, I'd sure like to set up a session.
     
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  19. safc_number10

    safc_number10 New User

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    Try to guess where I am located.
     
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  20. Roforot

    Roforot Professional

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    Wait a minute, did you post this........... from my house!
     
    #70
  21. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Ian and Will,

    Just popping in to say that I do not find the marketing offensive or bothersome. I mean, ya gotta eat.

    I don't see how anyone who is soaking up *free content* is in a position to complain that they may have to listen to some marketing. Sheez.
     
    #71
  22. The Dampener

    The Dampener Professional

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    It's simple.

    We posters have a very human need to show all of our fellow posters that we know what's what. Just like when we get on the tennis court.

    (When I type "we," I'm speaking generally, of course.)

    Whether we like what they do or not, Will and Ian are both successful. Which means they're helping a lot of people. Not every tennis player spends an inordinate amount of time on a message board combing through every detail of the sport (which is a shame, 'cuz I like most of those people). They just want to get better at tennis. To them, FYB and ET provide instruction that either they a) don't have access to, or b) can't afford. To those people, guys like Ian and Will are a godsend.

    So we can burn a lot of calories criticizing what they offer. But it seems a little disingenuous. Especially, since we've probably watched their videos—not to mention the videos from Brent and Jeff and Jim and Mauro and, and, and—for free.

    In the end, if they don't provide value, they won't be here. That's kinda how the world works.

    Now...can somebody kindly help me down from this lofty soapbox?...
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
    #72
  23. Wuppy

    Wuppy Professional

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    *There are no plays or "patterns" in rec tennis!* I've said this before and I'll say it again. Just like there's no strategy in pee-wee football other than "hang onto the ball and run that-a-way!" and no strategy in kids' soccer other than "don't touch it with your hands and try not to get kicked in the nuts!"

    Adult rec tennis is about as advanced as kids sports. Get yourself in shape, work on your form, and hit endless balls. You do that and you'll move up to 4.0 without ever playing anyone. Simply because, at 3.5 and below, the guy who makes the fewer unforced errors will ALWAYS win.

    I totally agree. If you can't even begin to carry out a strategy, then worrying about what strategies to employ is completely worthless.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
    #73
  24. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    I don't know about that. The guys I play dubs with use strategies and plays all the time. Last night at practice, one of my teams spent 2-1/2 hours working on running plays off different formations. It is an extremely effective way to turn a match in your favor.

    There will always be a place for improving your technique and conditioning, but there is also a huge place for strategy.
     
    #74
  25. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Doubles has dramatically more strategy. I wouldn't make fun of someone for paying money for videos on doubles strategy. But singles strategy at 4.0 and lower? Ridiculous.
     
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  26. Avles

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    Of course there are patterns.

    A pretty common sight in rec tennis is a player with an okay forehand and a weak backhand. Is it not a "pattern" to hit to that player's backhand?

    Then there are the players with a suspect net game. Is it okay to notice that they don't like being at the net, hit short slices to those guys to bring them forward and then try to lob/pass them? Or is that just being too big for one's rec-level britches?

    I'll give you an example from my own lame-o rec-level experience. Not that long ago I played a tall guy with iffy mobility but good volleys and decent overheads. I noticed that over and over again he would hit to my backhand and charge the net-- he would stand practically right on the net. Passing him was going to be a problem given his positioning and reach, so I went to the lob. But too many of my lobs went long or were easy prey for overheads, and he won.

    Knowing we'd be playing again, I practiced my backhand lobs on my own. The next time we played it was the same thing-- hit to my backhand and charge the net. But this time my lobs were placed well enough to win the majority of those points. He kept coming to the net, I kept lobbing, and I won.

    So, not exactly high-level strategy. Certainly not high-level play. But was that not a pattern? Was that not a tactical choice?

    Maybe so, and of course execution matters more than anything. No argument there. But sometimes it's possible to make choices which help minimize your UE's and maximize your opponent's. Call it strategy, tactics, whatever you want. The point is that it actually can help to engage your brain at times, even at lower levels.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
    #76
  27. PushyPushster

    PushyPushster Rookie

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    Ian -

    I've listened to a lot of your podcasts and wanted to give you a big Thumbs Up for the free, and interesting, advice. It hasn't made me a better player - since I'm way too lazy to practice - but hopefully some form of Tennis Osmosis will eventually take place, leading to radical personal improvement without any actual effort on my part.

    If that doesn't pan out, I'd like a refund. Thank you.
     
    #77
  28. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    As we say in kendo, "Never let your bogu (armor) speak louder than your kendo".

    :)

    I just find some of the sales pitch to be "gilding the liy".
     
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  29. Essential Tennis

    Essential Tennis Rookie

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    Glad you've enjoyed them! Thanks for listening :)
     
    #79
  30. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    I agree with wuppy. Yes, we sometimes hit winners. Yes, we sometimes construct points. But the far greater majority of the time, we're just hitting the ball waiting for our opponent to screw up... when you're level 3.0 that is.
     
    #80
  31. maleyoyo

    maleyoyo Rookie

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    Do you play competitive singles in a 4.0 men’s league? If not, it’s safe to say that you don’t know what you are talking about.
     
    #81
  32. theblueark

    theblueark New User

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    So say out of 10 points, I win 9 through waiting for my opponent to screw up. And that 1 point out of 10, I win through using a strategy I formulated for a particular opponent.

    I'd take that 1 point, why not.
     
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  33. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    how do you break 10-12 point loss in a row during a match ?

    Sometimes, you hit this bad patch and lose like 10-12 points in a row. What is the best way to break out of that patch ? What have you guys tried that worked ? and what is your mental approach ?
     
    #83
  34. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    I do. I guess to me there is a difference between strategy and tactics. To me S&V is a tactic. Its a tactic to serve everything to the backhand. Its a tactic to keep the ball low. These are simply about shot selection and then it is simply about execution. But to me the tactic selection is entirely dependent on the shots you possess and the shots your opponent possesses. Watching the strategy that the pros use couldn't be more irrelevant.

    For a Pro they can work on kicking a serve down the middle to the backhand and then covering the angles that the returner has. But thats a Pro with a world class kick serve. Serving to a guy with a world class backhand with world class topspin. The server has a world class overhead and world class volleys. That couldn't be any more irrelevant to what a 4.0 needs to expect when he puts his kick serve down the middle to a rec players backhand.

    I compare that to doubles where I think there is exponentially more strategy. There you can talk about lobbing the net player to get into a switched formation. Then having your net player plan to poach across since the next ball almost always goes back up the line or is a lob. Singles to me is about just having a simple plan and executing it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
    #84
  35. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    The singles players can correct me if I'm wrong, but something Spot said rang true with me.

    In doubles, it is much more possible to use positioning tactics/strategy to your advantage than in singles.

    By that I mean the mere fact of positioning correctly in doubles will win you points (in the form of errors and enhanced court coverage). In singles, positioning correctly will not do that much for you.

    I would say that the way most rec players use positioning in singles to win points is through learning to take the net when your opponent is in trouble. That's not a singles strategy, however, as it is equally applicable in doubles.

    So I guess I'd say that I agree with Spot, pretty much.
     
    #85
  36. theblueark

    theblueark New User

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    How much learning strategy will help you depends on how far behind in your knowledge you are.

    I guess everyone has a different definition of "strategy". For me, "strategy" is anything that isn't "technique".

    I bought these courses to pick up here and there certain ideas that occasionally win me points. As you say, most of the points are won through consistency. Even then, consistency can be manipulated by having superior strategy.

    Say I have both the moonball and the slice in my arsenal. And I figured out that this guy I'm playing loves to take giant swings when he sees the moonballs but unfortunately hits all of them long. My "strategy" would then be to moonball the whole match. This increases my opponent's inconsistency.

    Seems pretty obvious? Maybe to someone experienced. But I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people out there who have never taken the time to think of something so simple on their own. Tennis Ninja and Singles Domination both teach the students to think and observe more and find the weakness to exploit.

    Singles Playbook doesn't though, which is maybe why Ian didn't call it a "strategy" course. He pitches it as a course to learn "plays". Which in my own experience after going through the course, found as not so useful. But who knows, maybe some of his students tried out one of the "plays" and found that it comes so naturally and works so perfectly for him.
     
    #86
  37. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    It would be fun to have a thread to see what "plays" people at various levels believe they can execute well enough to win points.

    One of my favorite "plays" is the topspin moonball, preferably over someone's BH, as an approach shot. For instance.
     
    #87
  38. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    ^ Cool idea^

    Me: Former good player. Still decent in his 40s. My favorite "plays":
    1. an ace either to the T or out wide.
    2. Wide serve then open court volley.
    3. Slice my Bh short to the other guy's BH. Whip the next shot to the open court.
    4. High-kicking topper up above his BH shoulder. Take the floater out of the air with a swing volley. The sneak is what the academy coaches call it these days.
    4 b. Or just approach down the line and volley short cross court.
    5. Earn the right to approach, but dropshot instead. Then lob. Then when they spank a tweener right at me, I drop volley it. I love this. This ought to be number 1. Not sure why I listed it as number 5. Probably because it does not happen very often.
    6. Go in, get lobbed. Crack an overhead smash to the open court. He gets it back. I hit another overhead.
    7. Go in. Get lobbed. Go back and his a Bucharest Backfire into his feet. Pas him on the next shot.
    8. He is at net, thinking I will pass. I hit a one-handed BH topspin lob instead.
    9. Tall opponent with good wingspan. I have trouble passing him so I either dip or go right at him, with designs on a 2 shot pass.
    10. Hit deep down the middle a lot and bore the other guy while limiting his options. Kidding. This is my least favorite play. I fear this has become a huge part of tennis, though.
     
    #88
  39. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Edited / bolded your comment because Singles Playbook is an FYB product. Not Ian / Essential Tennis.

    So I've refined the "play" concept a lot in the last year. Interested to hear what ya'll think about what I've come up with. There are three components -

    1. Factors
    2. The Pressure Stack
    3. The Death Grip

    "Factors" are both the things you're trying to hurt your opponent with and the things you have to manage or handle during a point. The six main Factors we've identified are -

    1. Consistency
    2. Power... both more power and less power (because taking power away can be very effective... think a pusher)
    3. Strike Zone. Low, medium, and high.
    4. Trajectory
    5. Time
    6. Hitting while moving, both horizontally and vertically

    To restate, you use one or several of these to hurt your opponent. But you also have to be aware of your ability to handle them. Because you'll be better at some than others.

    OK... so a play starts with the Pressure Stack. Think of the sequence of shots you hit during a play as a way to gradually ramp up the pressure on your opponent. You know what Factors you want to hurt your opponent with... each shot twists the knife a little bit more.

    At a certain point you're going to get to the Death Grip. This is where you've applied so much pressure during the Pressure Stack that you should be in the driver's seat... you should win the point most of the time. In the Death Grip, you've probably got a short ball of some sort and your opponent is out of position.

    Now...

    Here's where many players run into trouble. During the Pressure Stack, which takes place around the baseline typically, you have more control over the Factors you have to manage. Take strike zone... you can control your strike zone to a large degree at the baseline. Most players like to hit around waist high.

    But when you transition to the Death Grip that changes. Now you might be dealing with high balls. You might not be so good at those. So then you end up in the classic situation where you've got your opponent right where you want them but you let them off the hook. Think of all the Factors in this context. The trajectory of the ball is probably different, you have less time to operate because you're moving forward into the court, and you're probably moving while hitting.

    So it's weird... during the Pressure Stack you have more control over HOW you hit the ball. You have more control over the Factors you have to manage... you can hit the ball at your favorite height, trajectory, etc. But during the Death Grip, even though you now have a clear advantage over your opponent, you've lost some control because you're essentially forced to hit the ball "a certain way," and you have much less control of the Factors you have to manage at that point.

    Again, that leads to a ton of frustration for many recreational players.

    So to go back to the whole plays / strategy discussion, I personally think the way you think about the game really matters. I suspect something as simple as the realization of why you struggle in the Death Grip phase is very valuable, because it gives you clarity and the confidence to make the right adjustments and improve.

    This is one of the most powerful shots you can hit at the recreational level. Works up to 5.0+ actually. I use it frequently. The "play" would include the sequence of shots (Pressure Stack) you hit to set up that opportunity and transition to the Death Grip.

    Also, thanks for your earlier comments Cindy.

    - W
     
    #89
  40. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Will, if you're still around . . .

    I think your explanation of Power Stack and Death Grip etc. is very good. It explains very clearly why it is so hard for rec players at or around my level (3.5/4.0) can struggle so much to finish points on our own terms. The reason is because finishing a point often *isn't* on our own terms. So yes, it leads to much frustration.

    The question I have is this: Now what?

    I mean, we have diagnosed the problem beautifully. We have figured out that the mid-level rec player will struggle when they do not control the variables in the Death Grip.

    In what way will strategy/tactics help the rec player who has made it to the Death Grip stage?

    My answer would be "stroke mechanics/execution." By that I mean if you are weak with high balls close to the net, all the tactics/strategy in the world will not save you. You just have to learn to deal with those balls.

    Is there another strategy-based answer that I am missing?
     
    #90
  41. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    Will, how do you prevent people from picking on your backhand all the time ? other than the obvious like run around it and hit a inside out forehand or serve and volley.

    I used to serve and volley and attack the net all the time in singles and this really hid my weak backhand, but now i am older, i can't serve and volley effectively anymore all the time since i am slower and footwork isn't as good.
    also it has become much harder to run around the backhand since i am older too.

    Is there a way still to prevent my opponents from picking on your backhand all the time ?
     
    #91
  42. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Hi Cindy,

    So a couple things. First, yes you're right that strokes / execution are very important here. But I want to highlight that an understanding of strategy and what's important (the Factors) gives you direction as you try to improve your technique. A large part of the frustration for most recreational players when they blow it in the Death Grip is that they don't understand why. They don't know what they're doing wrong, and it leads to passive play (hanging out at the baseline when you should move forward).

    More simply, a strategic foundation leads to more rapid improvement of your strokes, because you're working on stuff that matters.

    Second, from a shorter-term "strategic or tactical fix" perspective, yes, you can adjust and have more immediate success in the Death Grip. For example, most recreational players think, "short ball, time to hit hard." But maybe they can't rip balls that are high in their strike zones.

    So let's come back to the Factors at our disposal - C, P, SZ, Tr, Ti, M. Instead of upping the power, let's take some off the ball. Let's also tap into our opponent's low strike zone, and get them hitting while moving. Ideally, we can hit a short low slice to our opponent's backhand so they have to run forward and dig it off their shoelaces. Most recreational players are awful at this. But going at the forehand works well if that part of the court is exposed.

    The resulting shot will probably be some high floaty ball that we are now in position to volley to the open court. If you can slice or "slice / block" the ball you'll be able to pull this tactic off.

    Thinking a few chess moves ahead, what if our opponent starts to anticipate this and move forward when he hits short? Well, then you can block / slice it deep either right at him so it bounces right at his feet as he's closing (not easy to handle), or you can go into the open court so now he has to stop and back up to get it. No easy either. Or you can just hit a mediocre topspin / flat approach shot, but because your opponent is now forward in the court it becomes MUCH more effective thanks to his poor positioning.

    Anyway, that's just one example. Again, strokes are extremely important, but I think zeroing in on them and blocking everything else out leads to you ignoring the many tools at your disposal, regardless of your level.

    Let me know what you think,

    Will
     
    #92
  43. maleyoyo

    maleyoyo Rookie

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    Good points. I’m not sure what you mean with ‘simple plan’ but as players become strong 4.0s borderline 4.5s they have enough control of their strokes and the ball to use different strategies. They become to develop playing styles as well.

    To me strategy is an idea how to beat a certain player and tactics are ways to do it. Players ask one another all the times on how to beat Mr. X…There are about 6 different playing styles along with many attributes with every player, so there are countless different strategies. For examples: A good baseliner and notorious slow-starter, excellent baseliner with weak net game, player with good lateral and lousy vertical movements, a fearsome FH with short temper…just to name a few. Each player requires a specific plan to play against plus your opponent has his own plan to counter your plans too.

    If your goal is to improve your game, then watching the pros with similar game to yours over time is beneficial. That way you can specifically tailor a plan to improve your weaknesses and best utilize your strengths during a match and in the future.

    I’d never dream of a FH like Fed, but I can learn to position like him. And yes how far my opponent and I stand from the baseline or from the middle during a rally in a given situation makes a huge difference for me in singles. By watching Fed , I’ve been trying to develop BH slice DTL and BH drop shot and very glad that I did.
     
    #93
  44. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Hey,

    So I would think of the question this way - is your opponent hitting the ball at your backhand on his terms or yours? If he is dictating play that's not good. But if you're running a play on him and a mediocre shot goes at your backhand that's no problem.

    I'm a lefty, so typically I avoid situations where a righty can hit cross court at my backhand for an extended period of time. I'm going to lose most of those points. But there are all sorts of situations where I'm more than happy to hit a backhand (even if it's to my opponent's forehand) because it's in the context of the play I'm running. I have a very specific plan, and the cross court backhand is part of that plan.

    If you read my last few posts you'll see that I talk about "Factors." I'd identify exactly which ones you're weak at on your backhand, and which ones you're OK or even good at. Remember, you can combine them. For example, maybe you handle strike zone (SZ) high OK, but not when you combine it with hitting while moving (M).

    I'd also consider what shots you hit to your opponent that allows him to pick on your backhand. Maybe he likes strike zone medium with some pace (P)... don't give him that. If you're observant, pretty soon you'll be able to anticipate what's coming and have a sense of who has the upper hand in the point.

    Hope that helps!

    Will
     
    #94
  45. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    WOW, you are a Genius. You should be coaching pros like Murray or Berdych. and i mean it.

    You are so right about what is troubling me. i have little problem with midzone or lowzone backhand. problem is high ball or on the run. On the run backhand is the most problem. YOu are also right on make my opponent hit shots that is not comfortable to him. I didn't think of that. when guys find out my backhand is weak, they hit big topspin forehands high to my backhand and keep doing it til i miss. i try to go up the line but it is low % and i often miss it. not sure how to change up this pattern so i can make him miss first ?
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
    #95
  46. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Thanks! Happy to help. So that pattern is going to be a loser for you. I would work to stay out of it in the first place. If you look at Federer, he has the same problem you do against Nadal. Big topspin forehands at his backhand. Going up the line is low percentage so Federer has to pick his spots carefully, and it's more about limiting the damage (i.e. not losing the point every time he gets into this exchange) than it is about finding a way to turn it to his advantage. Because he can't.

    So the trick for both you and Federer is the same. Avoid that scenario as much as possible. And when it does happen, manage it as best as possible.
     
    #96
  47. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    real question is how do you stay out of that situation ? beg your opponent not to do that to you ?
     
    #97
  48. theblueark

    theblueark New User

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    Oops, both of you have short first names haha. I was picturing you in my mind when I typed that but I somehow typed his name.

    I think the idea is to spend a bit of effort taking note what kind of shots you give your opponent that give him the chance to hit that shot to you.

    Maybe whenever you break directionals and hit a forehand down the line, he hits that shot and you lose 70% of the time, with the other 30% of the time you hit an awesome untouchable winner. Maybe if you stuck with only hitting forehands cross court, no matter what, you win 60% of the time. In that case you can consider never breaking directionals against him, even if you have an awesome down the line forehand and love those winners.
     
    #98
  49. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    I think Will has a good way of breaking out of that pattern. because he said he also loses most of the points when he goes crosscourt pattern with his backhand to his opponent's forehand.
     
    #99
  50. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    If my opponent is dictating play, then yes. But if I'm in control of the point I don't mind going at my opponent's forehand. For example, often I'll do it to move him over to his forehand side, which exposes his backhand. Then I can hit a high trajectory shot to his backhand, forcing him to hit a ball high in his strike zone while on the move. Classic Nadal play.
     

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