Good LORD, this game is a brutal beast to learn!

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by jakemcclain32, May 31, 2012.

  1. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    I figured I'd tell you guys a little story of how tough it's been to progress in this game.

    I'll admit it, I was incredibly and totally unprepared for how difficult a move from 3.0 to 3.5 was. All those years, I played matches, win or lose, the same exact way, and you saw that on that video I took. No footwork, tap the ball over, no grip, no anything. All I did all those years was chase the ball over and over, and people made mistakes. It wore people out, but once I played people that had a real grip on the game, I was screwed.

    I had to learn the game.

    I'm learning now, but boy it's been an insanely and mind-blowingly slow progression. I've played I'd say 60-70 matches in that time, I would guess, and MAYBE won 10, if that. First 8-9 matches in the 3.5 area, I got maybe two games total. Ate more bagels than a New Yorker. First win was a 3.5/4.0 woman, and that was three sets.

    But you know something...I've stopped getting really really pissed and started paying attention to what I'm doing wrong in my matches. Play my buddy Christoph all the time, and I'll have days he triple bagels me, and other days I'll get a few games. Couple times I've lost in a tiebreak. Still never beaten him, but I'm not paying attention to that. I'm just noticing a few things.

    1. It's amazing how many stars have to align just right to get the perfect shot. Racket head in right spot, footwork in right position, everything. Running passing shots are so tough because you can overrun the ball and not get a good shot off, and you hit it wide or out.

    2. I love the slice...hooked on the slice backhand. Problem is that I get too reliant on it and try to do slice dropshots too often, which kills my momentum when I'm starting to get on a roll and I miss. Still looks sweet when they go over though.

    3. I equate learning how to serve like learning how to putt. The single most frustrating game maker or game breaker you'll ever get. It's taken me a year to FINALLY position the ball and not just hit the ball over, and I still win more games on break points than I do my own serve.

    4. A funny thing happens on some of my backhands. I'll be changing the grip to prepare for it, and once in a while(not too often) I'll be stuck between grips, like the racket head won't move any farther and I'll shank it. Doesn't happen often, but I'm wondering if that's a me problem or grip problem.

    I'll tell you guys something. This whole thing has been the best thing for me. I assure you that my stories weren't made up, but I did something I shouldn't have done...I lived in the past, and I was never playing to any big level. Being humiliated motivated me to really learn this game, even when I had to leave here for a while.

    It'll take a while longer, but I'll get the hang of all this. It just feels good to play a real game for once.

    By the way, I HOPE to find someone to record a hitting session sometime for you guys to critique. I thought I'd be able to do it sooner, but probably for the best that I didn't till now.
     
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  2. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    If you can afford it get a good coach and stick with him for ten or fifteen years, why re-invent the wheel. Your problem will be to find a good coach--ask around. Can't diagnose what's wrong with your BH over the internet, video may help, most likely it's your grip but there's a whole chain of coordination that goes into hitting a correct stroke, it starts with the take-back. Watch Federer and do what he does. If you practice the wrong thing you'll just get good at doing the wrong thing. Find a good coach and stick with him. Good luck.
     
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  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Everything you mentioned is encountered by EVERY player within his first two years. EVERY player.
    Brutal? Try racing motocross. 40 250 novices lined up for a gated start, first turn is wide enough for TWO bikes side by side. In my first 50 250 novice starts, I got involved in crashes in at least 20 of them. THAT is brutal.
     
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  4. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    After the first 10 LeeD got smart and started wearing a helmet !
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    No, after the first 10, I figured out I can come in top 5 (for advancement points) by starting dead last AFTER the first turn.
    Of course, adrenaline forced me to go for it every start, and anything in the top 3 was fine. It's the 4th thru 20th that crashes and breaks brake levers and handlebars.
     
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  6. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    LeeD which sport did you NOT play?
     
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  7. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    Probably not the Scripps Spelling Bee, right?

    Oh, that's not a sport? ESPN could've fooled me.
     
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  8. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Congrats on your dedication. The main thing I see at the lower levels is improper technique and footwork.
    If you have a good base of technique, everything else will eventually fall into place as you'll be hitting the ball correctly.

    I came back playing 4.0 after 10 years without touching a racket, and really struggled for a while. Couldn't hit a 2nd serve to save my life, threw in 15-20 double faults per match. But kept at it, and kept taking lessons, working on weaknesses. I progressed to 4.5 and have an average to good record at this level.

    I changed grips and stuck with it, stayed in good shape, and watched a lot of pros to get a better idea of how to play. Next up is 5.0, and I'd like to compete at that level, but it's going to be really hard. But I want to set my goals high.

    Keep at it!
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    No soccer, no lacross, no gymnastics, no cheerleading.
     
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  10. goober

    goober Legend

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    Your biggest problem is that you have played 18-20 years of tennis with bad technique. It is really hard to unlearn these habits as you are finding out. You can eventually reach 3.5-4.0 tennis by just playing a lot and becoming more consistent even with bad technique. That's what a lot of adult recreational players do.

    Well at least you have gone from denial to acceptance and you are past the " your game knows no limits and taking games off Donald Young" phase
     
    #10
  11. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    Appreciate it Goober,

    In the midst of all that brouhaha, I might not have been clear enough on the "no limits" thing, so I'll explain.

    My personality, as a whole, is REALLY competitive, and even more so for my own improvements and accomplishments(meaning if I'm playing pickup basketball, i'm more likely to lift teammates spirits and cuss myself for mistakes). It has served me well, and yet brought about humiliation on myself, which was all my fault. The good thing is that I have had enough success to laugh and learn at the humiliation, and the horrible match and overrating myself is no different.

    Simply put, no limits on my game does not mean the US Open or something crazy like that. It means as long as my body is able, and my mind is able, then keep trying to move up. If 4.0 is where I am, and I blow a knee and have to back off, then that would be meant to be. But if I am 46 and still able to bust my ass for great results, then why limit myself? That is what I meant. I'm so competitive that I want to go as far as I am able. Difference now is that I have a huge idea how much of a challenge I have in front of me, but I have never feared challenge, so I'm ready.

    Far as DY goes, chalk it up to someone who won way too often against lesser competition with the butt ugliest style ever, and overrating myself without having experience hitting against high competition. This past year, I've taken enough beatings from higher competition to laugh at that idea.
     
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  12. Wuppy

    Wuppy Professional

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    One word: footwork
     
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  13. Rjtennis

    Rjtennis Hall of Fame

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    Way to retool your game to be able to grow! You will be very happy you did it.
     
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  14. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    you're gonna need to learn a flat or topspin backhand (something driving with depth), whether it be one or two handed to advance, IMO. 3.0-3.5 level = pick on the BH.

    (I'm still a 43YO 2 hander, but finally learning a one, trying anyhow). It can only help as the movement and reach dwindles abit as the laps around the sun increase in number.
     
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  15. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Or downhill ski racing...

    ...push the line at 70 mph, pull it off, you win. Otherwise, eat it big time and end up in the fence...
     
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  16. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    I've always done one handers(or something resembling them, haha). My two handers look like I am holding a baseball bat backwards.

    I do finally have a competent backhand, but again, footwork comes into play. I can hit a beauty down the line to make it 40-0, and then net three more in a row, including an open court.

    The frustrations haven't been losing with bagels. That happens. The frustrations are when I am close to winning and blow it. Against Christoph, I've had a 4-0 lead once and two tiebreaks I lost. All frustrating because I couldn't sustain that level of play. Just going to take time I guess.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    If it was easy, they'd call it kiteboarding.
    And if it was easy, you'd quit doing it after one year.
     
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  18. Jonahan

    Jonahan Rookie

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    Perhaps the issue to which you refer isn't just about technique or sustainability of any level of play, but also about the mental aspects of the game. I just finished a somewhat dated, yet still very relevant book, "The Inner Game of Tennis," written by Timothy Gallwey. I don't see it available on TW, but it is certainly available on any online or brick and mortar bookstore.

    If you've never read it, I can't recommend it highly enough. If you have read it, maybe now would be a good time to read it again.
     
    #18
  19. Tammo

    Tammo Banned

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    Just hitting against the wall would help you a lot. Try to get everything on one bounce.
     
    #19
  20. t135

    t135 Semi-Pro

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    Well said!

    .........
     
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  21. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    In other words...go back to basics, haha.

    That's actually how I started with the WRONG techniques. Three hours at a time on a garage door as a kid. Maybe it's best to go back to that with the right ones now.
     
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  22. MrCLEAN

    MrCLEAN Rookie

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    #22
  23. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    It's interesting to see you are still playing, I haven't seen you post in such a long time!

    We probably post in different areas, but good luck with your game. I've actually dropped back down to 4.0 this year due to back and arm injuries which is unfortunate, so do your best to stay injury free! It sucks having a bunk back!

    -Fuji
     
    #23
  24. CaldwellYSR

    CaldwellYSR Rookie

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    I'm having the same problem with the backhand. I've been playing for 3 months or so now and I can find myself just slicing all my backhands. It's the only way I can find to even get the ball over. I think it's a grip problem because if I never switch my grip... don't really know how.
     
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  25. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Yes it's your grip, put your thumb behind the large flat for support and you'll be able to hit the BH with top-spin. Work your grip down to the bottom of your racket to where it's supported by your palm--now hit a million balls.
     
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  26. CaldwellYSR

    CaldwellYSR Rookie

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    Interesting... I'll try that out when my new racquets come in (I broke my $8 wal mart racquet a couple days ago)
     
    #26
  27. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    Thanks man. I've been posting in the players' area. Didn't post here for a LONG time so I could train my body, and my game. Wanted to learn the game from scratch again.

    I'm making a SLOW progression in all this. Today, I actually used angles on my shots regularly for the very first time, and I was controlling a few points, which is something I do not do very often. My serve is still in a learning phase, but at least I'm out of the tap it over deal.
     
    #27
  28. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    Got some good news to report.

    I got my weight down to 198 pounds, which is down from 207. Three more pounds from my goal.
     
    #28
  29. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    Starting today, or tomorrow(depending on the time my person has to record me), I am going to start finally recording my strokes to be critiqued. Definitely better than risking it in a match while I work on this leg/hip problem.

    I definitely appreciate all your guys' help. This has definitely been more of a challenge than I anticipated, but I have really enjoyed it.
     
    #29
  30. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Why do you need a person to record you? Can't you just set up a tripod?
     
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  31. ian2

    ian2 Semi-Pro

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    Shooting on a phone camera at a crazy angle, through the fence AND the windbreaker, with "the person's" hands shaking violently while "the person" is chatting with other "persons" (the one on court as well as mysterious off-camera "persons")... it all lends a certain artistic value to the endeavor. Can't be done with a tripod, man.

    But seriously: I remember Jake's previous footage (can one ever forget?), and curious to see his progress.
     
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  32. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    This is what you need for shooting your matches.
    http://www.mytennistools.com/


    For your hip/leg injury, read anyone of Dr. John E. Sarno's books on pain. He's a rehab doctor at NYU.

    G'luck
     
    #32

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