Heavy Topspin is Overrated.

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by KenC, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. ace_pace

    ace_pace Rookie

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    Look, tennis is more than just topspin. But everyone who has played tennis before should know that topspin has massive benefits. Crudely summarising it, it gives you more consistency.

    Do not try and tie 'topspin' with player quality. They are totally irrelevant. In a tennis match, the better player wins. Even though their technique is different or even incorrect, it doesn't matter much. Topspin vs Flat, Serve and volleyer vs Baseliner DOESNT MATTER. The better player is the player who can get the right points at the right time. It doesnt matter what they did to get those points. Tennis is one of the few sports where you can still lose even though you have more points than the other player.

    If you cant see the benefit of killer topspin just look at the ATP.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
    #51
  2. Thud and blunder

    Thud and blunder Semi-Pro

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    'Too much x is bad'...

    Sure, that's what 'too much' means; that amount which is excessive.

    Why are we even discussing this tautology?
     
    #52
  3. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You really are on the right track with this and I agree with your intended point.
    I just think you underlying premise is flawed with what I underlined above.
    There is NO reason to believe "heavy Topspin" just means loop the heck out of the
    ball. Very good players can hit some very major TS without this big loop you
    seem to assume. Maybe without the loopy effect, you don't recognize it.
    I see this from several other on here as well, but if you look at what JY shared
    from BG's work...it shows how some pretty mighty TS can be hit without going
    so much below the ball before contact, so the player can really drive the heavy
    TS.

    IS this TS as heavy as your loopy version? Most of can't say cause there is
    little way to measure on a rec basis, but I'd say it lends it'self to a heavier
    ball and overall effect, with the TS being extremely effective in keeping it in
    play. I expect that many using this version of a hard/heavy TS can get more
    spin than many you see hitting the loopy version.
    Make sense?
    For those who wonder why this is being discussed...well it is a subtle, but
    important concept to grasp in moving up a level, so I'd say pretty important.

    This is probably the best thing I've gotten from JY and TP.net in years! Excellent
    stuff imo and way better than the flip aspect that was more highlighted in the
    work, but also related to that flip to an extent. Yes, I knew how to do this by
    feel, but seeing it and understanding it better helped me to teach it and use it
    better for my players.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
    #53
  4. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    Makes perfect sense to me. No one doubts the benefits of topspin here. I personally love the stuff as it keeps my balls in.

    It doesn't change the fact that I see players whose whole overall strategy seems to be to kill their opponent with topspin. Use the full western grip and put all the effort into generating max spin even if that means not hitting with great pace. It's as if they are saying "I'm going to beat you with topspin. You are not going to be able to handle my topspin."

    So let me just make a crucial point here. No one at the middle competitive levels (4.0 to 5.5) hits a ball like Nadal or Federer with both great pace and great spin. Some can hit with great pace, others with great topspin, but both? I have yet to see it at recreational levels and even the middle competitive levels. I see people who can hit a pretty hard flat ball or one with a typical amount of topspin, let's arbitrarily say up to 1000rpms, and moving at maybe 85mph. I also have seen people who can hit a ball that maybe has 3000rpms, but is travelling at a rather slow speed, maybe more like 50mph. I have never seen a non-pro hit an 85mph >3000rpm FH.

    This 5.5 I mentioned hit with enormous spin but couldn't do it with great pace. Of course, there is a reason he is 5.5, but I don't think it is because of his FH. It just didn't so much damage to his opponent. And I see this over and over again in matchups between hard hitters and spin hitters. The spin hitter better have other weapons because better players will handle their spinny FHs.
     
    #54
  5. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

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    Someone speaks the truth
     
    #55
  6. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    When Goldilocks took lessons from her 1st coach, she said "Oh, that's too much topspin".

    When Goldilocks went on to her 2nd coach, she said "Oh, that's not enough topspin"

    Then Goldilocks went to her 3rd coach, and said "Oh, that topspin is just right" and everyone lived happily ever after.
     
    #56
  7. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I think most juniors have too limited a game depending primarily on baseline bashing but it works. Poly strings also push the game in this direction.

    But, for levels below 5.0; my opinion is a moderate topspin game with a fair amount of variety is the best option. Moderate to me, means you should have enough topspin to spank it hard CC have it go about 3 feet over the net and it will still land 3 feet or more inside the court.

    I played a 4.0 player recently who went for loads on spin on all his shots. He was an example of too much. His grip was extreme - almost full W. His stroke was so steep that he could not handle differences in pace and spin - basically, he was fairly inconsistent because he brushed too much and variety would throw off his timing. Also, if he did not time it just right, lots of his shots fell a little short. My opinion is this guy would be a better tennis player if he flattened his stroke pattern a bit.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
    #57
  8. In D Zone

    In D Zone Hall of Fame

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    Topspin vs Flat (slight spin) - which one is better?

    Answer: Either one, keep the ball in play low error % and able to control your shots wins.

    How about a 'Pusher' vs Topspiner or Flat?

    Answer: Why do Pushers can beat a striker ??? Same answer as above - low error % and control their shots with moon balls.


    Other factors to consider...

    Playing outdoor on a windy day? Who has the upper hand?
    Playing against the wind - I'd say the topspinner
    Playing to the wind - flat player

    Playing on Clay?
    favor : Topspinner

    Playing Indoor? 50/50

    Knows how apply both skills? Priceless

    The rest is all MENTAL and Attitude!
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
    #58
  9. gatorbait01

    gatorbait01 Rookie

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    On a similar note. Do you guys feel it takes more energy to hit massive topspin?

    I swing basically as hard as I can and transfer the added energy into spin to keep the ball in play. Better players handle my spin fine, but I find myself worn out in long matches much sooner than my opponents. At first I thought it was a fitness thing. Now I'm wondering if I'm "wasting" too much energy trying to hit the "heaviest" ball I can. This could be a bad idea. Not sure.

    Thoughts?
     
    #59
  10. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    BINGO! Someone else has seen what I am pointing out. There are those who go way to extremes with topspin because they think they can win with extreme topspin.
     
    #60
  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    It's not topspin vs slice, or topspin vs less topspin.
    It's all about where you hit the ball with the strokes you use.
    There was a time they thought slice gave the best placements.
    There was a time they thought topspin was only wild and a waste of energy.
    There was a time they figured out topspin can be tamed with practice and bigger rackets.
    There was a time they figured the grips to use with heavy topspin.
    There is a time they figured the grips for heavy topspin aren't nearly idea for volleying.
    But all this time, through all the different idealogy, we knew good placement beats hitting up the middle.
     
    #61
  12. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    How much damage does your heavy ball really do to your opponents? Obviously generating those heavy balls is doing damage to yourself, so is the tradeoff worth it? If not, you are helping your opponent wear you down and beat you.
     
    #62
  13. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    So we all agree, TS as a one dimensional strategy is not good, and worse if it is
    to the detriment of other important aspects of your stroke.
    I'm thinking since everyone has agreed to this quite easily and their is really no
    debate... it is likely not that prevalent.

    To your other point that no one is hitting like Fed and Nadal...maybe some
    truth to that, but they are not playing against Fed and Nadal either, which is
    likely far more relevant. Hitting a shot with a combo of spin and pace
    is actually easier to do at a level that will hurt the opponent at the rec level, not
    harder, because the pro level defense is so much better.
     
    #63
  14. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    It is if it works (and often it does).

    Good top shots that hit deep in the court and pin your opponent behind the baseline work great IMO. Depth is important. So is weight of shot.

    Nobody I've ever faced is doing much damage from deep in the court. Much of my gameplan is hoping and goading my opponent into pulling the trigger from back there.
     
    #64
  15. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yes. Look at Nadal's muscles.

    You are swinging up against gravity rather fast.
     
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  16. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Well there you go. If you get depth and have wt of shot...it's not just TS now
    is it? You are adding other helpful aspects to help the TS be more effective,
    right?

    I do like that part of your game plan though!
     
    #66
  17. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    This is the critical point - if the person using topspin is hitting a heavy ball that is deep, then the opponent is being pushed back, cannot be agressive and when directed to the backhand particularly will generate frequent errors - if they are landing at the service line, then the spin is relatively useless and the person will get hammered by a decent player.
     
    #67
  18. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    And if I can't get weight of shot, I'll settle for depth.

    It all gets easier as the opponent gets more physically and mentally tired as the match goes on. They make more routine errors. Get far more impatient, etc.
     
    #68
  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Without weight of shot, you need not only depth, but you need good side to side PLACMENT.
    See JonnnyMc. He needs to move his opponent's alley to alley, because while he has depth, he has no weight of shot. At his level, we're talking.
     
    #69
  20. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    well making that conclusion based on one match is very flawed.

    it is not so much about the spin but about the level of play. no style is inherently superior (although some styles like the pure pusher will hit a ceiling).

    if the flat hitter won he did so because he was the better player not because of his flatter strokes.

    a 4.0 flat spinner beats the 3.5 flat hitter and the 4.0 spinner will be easily beaten by a 4.5 flat hitter and so on.
    fabrice sontoro plays an akward style but will double bagle any "modern hitting" 5.5 player (but lose to the modern playing top guys from today).

    this is entirely about the level of play. you are fooling yourself that this player won because his style was superior.

    however I agree that you need a good mix from pace and spin. too much spin and the strokes will lack penetration. and too little spin and your strokes will will lack consistency and weight (can be blocked back more easily). everyone needs to find happy medium were he can hit hard and with spin.
     
    #70
  21. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    Hey 5263, could you post a pointer to where JY has shared BG's work? It sounds really interesting. Thanks!

    Edit: Forgot to say, you don't have to if it was a private communication, of course!
     
    #71
  22. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    It was on here, and maybe in one of the posts that got deleted unfortunately.
    He gave a link that showed for a time how there was a racket flip right around
    the forward part of the swing after the tk back that gave a pre-stretch (someone
    pls provide the acronym- ssc??)
    It also talked of not getting far below the ball prior to contact and slightly closing
    the racket face for a hard driving TS.
    Things you are likely doing instinctively, but helps to be more aware...at least in
    my case:)
    I'll look around, but expect the link to the work is now dead or closed regarding
    the fee look.
     
    #72
  23. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    Did you happen to notice the middle paragraph? Here it is again:

    "I've been noticing a lot of these matchups lately. It seems those who hit with more pace and just enough topspin to keep the ball in are doing more damage than those who try to hit massive topspin. Apparently, all the effort going into hitting massive topspin is robbing them of needed pace."

    Now, the match I highlighted is just illustrative of a trend I am starting to see as I play and follow more 5.0+ equivalent tournaments. When I played and followed the 4.0+ equivalent tournaments I didn't notice this trend.

    Why would I use that particular match to illustrate a point? Well, at least for those with good reading comprehension, on paper an 18yo 5.5 should beat a 14yo 5.0 right? Understanding that one is a 5.5 means he is a damn good tennis player. So, why did a 5.5 18yo lose to a 5.0 14yo? Well, to make an Internet topic and not a Doctoral Thesis, I had to narrow down to the obvious differences between the two. The BIG difference is that one seemed to be a Nadal clone and the other seemed to be a Del Potro clone. One had an overall game strategy to disrupt the opponent with massive topspin and the other had a game strategy of hit the ball really hard. In this particular match the hit the ball really hard strategy prevailed, and I see this happening a lot against the 'hit with massive topspin type' Nadal clones.

    Now the central theme is not topspin vs flat, it is about where we decide to dedicate our effort and strategy. Trust me, there are a lot of Nadal clones out there trying to implement his strategy and failing. They seem to be able to generate a whole lot of impressive spin with their western FHs, but they are not achieving the pace that Nadal gets. And their spin seems to be easily handled by decent players. OTOH there are a lot of Djokovic clones out there that are starting to generate a lot of impressive pace with just the necessary amount of spin. At the 5.0+ level the typical Djokovic clone is prevailing over the typical Nadal clone. And this is here in Italy where almost all tournaments are played on clay.

    And just to be perfectly clear, yes Djokovic clones sometimes use a lot of topspin, even heavy topspin when necessary. It still isn't the same as the insane topspin that the Nadal clones are trying to use on every shot.

    What is the purpose of this thread? There are a lot of people out there that are way too enamored with topspin and, because of the success of Nadal with his really heavy/insane topspin, have decided to use topspin as a weapon and base their entire strategies around topspin. I mean come on, every other day someone asks what the spinniest racquet is on the racquets subforum, and when he goes out and gets his spin monster racquet he then goes to the string subforum and asks whats the spinniest string. This is taking topspin way too seriously. My point is to put topspin in proper perspective and see it as just a necessary ingredient to help accomplish better strategies. Topspin by itself doesn't win matches. Kill them with insane topspin only seems to work for Nadal on clay.
     
    #73
  24. Thud and blunder

    Thud and blunder Semi-Pro

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    I'm sympathetic to your point, but the most parsimonious explanation for the result is that your ratings are wrong...very plausible when we are dealing with improving players.
     
    #74
  25. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    I agreee that you should not sacrifice all penetration for spin. even nadal can hit the ball extremely hard. no pro just hits soft all spin floaters.

    but on the other side the flat and hard slapper is really rare in the pros. DP and berdych are a little bit like this but most other guys hit with extreme spin AND pace. federer uses extreme topspin only second to nadal but that doesn't mean he has no penetration.
     
    #75
  26. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    Guys, I'm not talking about pros.

    This concerns the masses here who typically play at the recreational and lower competitive levels. There are no Federers and Nadals here.

    Since everyone here seems to be focused on what the pros do and not what typical players are capable of, maybe I could get to the same point by asking:
    If you wanted to start playing competitive level tennis, would you rather model your style of play and strategy after Nadal or would you rather model your style and strategy after Federer?
     
    #76
  27. Thud and blunder

    Thud and blunder Semi-Pro

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    Seen a few 4.0 Nadals; never seen a 4.0 Fed :wink:
     
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  28. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Don't you think either one would be fine, as they are both excellent.
    I think Nadal's is more attainable and common as a jr style with how his serve is
    slower, but works to get a Fh and he attacks the Bh most often of the other
    player, along with his strong tendency for BL play dominated by his own Fh.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
    #78
  29. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    The masses and lower level rec. players I see are exactly the ones who would benefit from more topspin.
     
    #79
  30. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    I find I am simply _unable_ to apply heavy topspin against someone who hits hard.

    If he hits heavy topspin then I have to take it well on the rise, which means my ball will be rolling backwards as often as forwards.

    If he hits it hard and flat, then I cannot time time the shot if my racket is moving perpendicular to his balls flight. So light topspin is all I can manage.

    If my opponent hits soft to medium pace shots (so I can take them after they start to drop without retreating way behind the baseline), then I can load up on the topspin.
     
    #80
  31. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    That's where RHS is your best friend, you simply overpower the incoming ball.
     
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  32. firepanda

    firepanda Professional

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    There are far, far too many Nadal wannabes at amateur level. Myself included, to an extent. The more topspin, the better, is how I see it. However, you can't compromise pace and depth or your balls are easy putaways.
     
    #82
  33. Metalica

    Metalica New User

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    Ironically, Andy Murray is one of the best player on tour at placing shots and mixing things up...
     
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  34. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

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    This may have already been mentioned somewhere, but topspin and pace obviously go best together. However, it is not a bad strategy at all to primarily hit softer loopier rally shots (even at moderately high levels of play).

    If your opponent can handle these shots easily something else obviously must be done, but most people will not crush these shots consistently and these can set you up for short shots that you can step into.

    It is also a misconception that players with western grips hit with less pace. Western grips are great for hitting shots at 80-90% speed and power with more consistently. Players with this grip (although it is possible with all grips) can really throw their body through the ball and keep it in with more of a line drive topspin, as well as loopier topspin. It may be a bit harder to crush shots at 100% and hit outright winners, but many players would rather stay on the safer side. Not everyone (especially not rec players and young juniors) can crush shots like del potro.
     
    #84
  35. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    ^^ I agree with GoaLaSSo
     
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  36. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Your post is worth repeating, even if it was mentioned before. well said.
     
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  37. HEADfamilydynasty

    HEADfamilydynasty Rookie

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    You need to meet my friend.:lol:
     
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  38. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, the definition of a "rally ball" IS a softer hit, safe replicable loopy topspin nowadaze, isn't it?
    The result of a hard hit, win or lose groundie is exactly that, with more loses than wins.
     
    #88
  39. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Not for me.
    I teach the rally shot as the biggest, strongest rip at the ball. Very aggressive
    with power and spin, but too far back & too much power to worry with being too
    close to the lines. Depend on power, spin, hop, and consistency to earn short
    attackable returns.
     
    #89
  40. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You can only teach young, fit players who are trying to make it in tennis.
    Old farts can't hit every ball hard.
    And you will kill the rotator cuff in most of your students in a short time.
    I"d back off that statement about "ripping" every rallyball as hard as you can swing, but aim to a safer spot idea. That is really blind tennis.
    Even in young, fit, athletic kids, some rip like Courier, but other's message and feel like Gilbert, Rios, and Mecir.
    Don't make the mistake of insisting every player has the same mentality or physical determination to just rip the ball every time.
    I know the idea of simply swing hard and getting it in sounds romantic and a reachable goal, but it really is a fantasy for most players.
    This coming from an old fart with rotator cuff problems on both shoulders and no ability to run.
     
    #90
  41. t135

    t135 Semi-Pro

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    Dang man, how many slams you won? Sounds like you got it all figured out. Impressive.
     
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  42. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I'm going to be 50 in a couple of days and I take a pretty serious rip at rally balls for exactly the reason that 5263 says. I'm hitting hard, lots of pace and spin, hitting to areas but not intentionally going for lines, usually cross court, and just trying to get get my opponent to cough up something I can attack. Being able to take that big cut but maintain a reasonable level of consistency has been my mission for the last couple of years. It's been slowly getting there. I can definitely look back a year and see the improvement. I'm fortunate to have a couple of guys that I play with who can really push me.

    Everything still works. I haven't injured myself yet.
     
    #92
  43. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Blanket statements do very little without qualification describing the surrounding situation and conditions. But this is a forum so often statements will be make without context. I'm still reading...
     
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  44. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You might want to read my post again. I never said hit every ball hard; or even every rally ball hard.
    I said I teach the rally ball as the biggest rip, meaning the biggest shot in the bag, like
    hitting the big bertha driver. Pointing out you hit it harder than most other shots.
    Of course you don't get the postion and set up to rip every one of
    them, but when you do, give it the good rip you can. I didn't say go beyond you physical
    ability and hurt yourself, but yet, with good modern technique, I don't see any reason you
    can't take a good rip. If it is hurting you, then you are doing it wrong or already have an injury problem.
    Good modern technique didn't likely cause it.
    You are reading a lot into things that were never said or intended.
     
    #94
  45. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

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    Ripping a ball does not mean you are muscling the ball. I "rip" the ball best when my arm and shoulder are relaxed and I am able to load up and throw my body through it. The reason why a lot of pros look like they aren't even trying is because they really aren't trying to swing that hard. They are trying to swing with perfect fluidity.

    With proper weight transfer and the whole shabang it should not be so damaging to "rip" the ball. It may be more difficult if you are not very limber, but I don't see how it would hurt younger players with good flexibility.

    For instance, one of the shots I feel like I put the least energy into is my first serve. I just relax and allow my jump, twist, and limp arm to explode through (live or whatever else you wanna call it). It really surprised me when I first began doing this because I could hit the ball a bit harder than usual and it seems a lot easier.
     
    #95
  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Please, if you can, if you desire, post a vid of your first servde.
     
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  47. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

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    Why? I'm not claiming to serve like Raonic or anything. I am saying what ends up working best for me is relaxing my arm and swinging smarter rather than harder...

    No need to go on the attack
     
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  48. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    "please, if you can, if you desire".... that's a pretty strong attack, I'd say, wouldn't you?
     
    #98
  49. GoaLaSSo

    GoaLaSSo Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Messages:
    732
    Location:
    On the pitch
    No, it is a passive aggressive attack. I'm still not quite sure what I said for you to wanna single me out, unless you just really just wanna see how pretty or ugly my serve is for the fun of it.
     
    #99
  50. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,247
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    How can your serve be ugly if you hit it relaxed, and hit goes good?
     

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