Hitting against the wall - please critique kindly!

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by RajS, Mar 21, 2014.

  1. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    Here are two videos of myself hitting against the wall, mainly forehands. I had to hit a bit high since it was cool this morning, and the ball wasn't bouncing too well. I normally hit on a little lower trajectory. I was also not hitting very hard.

    For your reference, I am rated USTA 3.5 but I have played and done reasonably (open to interpretation, I know!) against some higher rated guys.

    Also, the distance to the wall from where I was hitting is approximately the same as the distance between the baseline and the net.

    I really thought I was following all the tips I've read, but I have to admit it doesn't look like it, lol!

    http://youtu.be/a_IjQ7H0hfA

    http://youtu.be/mQttVdDlA0E
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You show good consistency and control.
    A longer backswing would add to power and ball speed.
    Your takeback is very mechanical, not neccesarily a bad thing, as one of the WTA pros of her time, AnkeHuber, had a forehand second only to SteffiGraf's.
     
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  3. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    Thanks, LeeD. I was surprised to see that my back swing was so straight (no loop) and so short. It feels so big when I am doing it!
     
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  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Short and direct gives good control.
    Long and loopy gives good power.
    In tennis, we need both, the more important depending on your needs.
     
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  5. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    LeeD, would you say this is a WTA type forehand? I don't mind at all - far from it - in fact, I would kill to have a genuine WTA forehand!

    I am going to be playing some doubles with some 3.5 and 4.0 guys tomorrow morning, and some singles Sunday morning with another player at about my level. I will try to get some actual play on video.

    Anyway, I just removed the restriction that critiques have to be kind. Just rip into it guys. I have the weekend ahead to recover, he he!
     
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  6. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

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    Not that bad for the first time seeing yourself on the wall. First, a quick tip about the wall: I like to hit on the double bounce (oh noez!!) because the timing of that is closer to a real match. Standing the same distance from the wall as the net means you're cutting your time in half. You're not hitting hard, so it's not a huge deal, but you may try to move back to give yourself a more realistic timing mechanism. Some like to hit on one bounce, though, because it makes them speed up their prep time. You can try both and see what works best for you.

    Second, as to the forehand. You're really not bad on the way back, but you don't turn your body into the forward swing. You can tell this by how little movement you get from your left arm during that swing, and you get away with hitting the ball late often because of it. My guess would be that you miss a lot of balls short into the opponent's court and you also run into trouble in matches where guys hit the ball with good pace.

    IMO, if you can focus on hitting the ball earlier and turning your shoulders more into the forward part of your forehand, you'll get better depth and topspin because of increased racquet head speed. And you'll quit leaving balls short that your opponent can pound.
     
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  7. F L O B B E R

    F L O B B E R Rookie

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    I agree with LeeD, you look to be very consistent which I would venture to say is why you have had success against "higher rated guys".

    I also thought the height on your shots was fine - most of those balls that are 4-5 feet over the net are going to result in nice deep shots.

    I think many of us get too enamored with hitting the hard "laser beam" shots that just clear the net, when the truth is those kind of shots don't land very deep in the court and are generally easier to deal with on the receiving end than a loopy ball that lands very close to the baseline.
     
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  8. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    @Velvet Ga el: You make very good points. I didn't feel hurried as I was hitting on the slower side, but with the exact same stroke that I use normally. Next time I practice against the wall, I will definitely try a double bounce. Only possible issue might be that the ball stays very low.

    Also great observation regarding the left hand! I totally missed that. I will try to turn more and see what happens. Normally though, I don't tend to hit short, except if I am running to the ball and can't set up, or if the pace is out of my league. I will keep this in mind when I play. Thanks for the critique!

    @FLOBBER: I do fixate on "laser beam" shots a la Federer, but I have to admit that very often they come back too fast for me to handle when I play higher rated players. I have been thinking about using more of heavier top-spun balls with higher trajectory. Will have to try it in match play. Thanks for the comment!
     
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  9. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    you strokes are good. I would work on letting the core rotation drive the forehand stroke and keep the take back small. You can hit it very hard with a small take back. Go to contact smooth and then think finish strong. You might want to keep the left hand on racket longer and use it for balance during the swing. You let the L arm/hand dangle a bit sometimes.

    On the BH, you sometimes take the racket back with the head low. Try prepping with the racket head up at 45 degree angle above hands. Keep the hands in front of your chest during prep. Basically, just turn to the side, set your grips with the racket head up. Then find the ball and swing from there. I find I get more topspin when I start with the head up and more power with the shorter prep.

    By the way, that might be the best wall in the history of tennis. Very cool wall.
     
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  10. nootles

    nootles New User

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    There is very little upper body rotation on your forehands. You would get more power if you rotated your upper body as you swung. Try using the left elbow to pull your upper body open as you strike the ball.
     
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  11. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    WOW COOL WALL! Awesome idea. Would it have been so much harder to paint Ivan Lendl and Steffi Graf? (my two favorite male and female players -))

    Looks good so far. Try pointing the butt of the racquet at the ball more.

    good luck
     
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  12. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    @TennisCJC: Yes, you said the words that were eluding me: "core rotation"! I will definitely concentrate on that. I get fairly good pace when I do try to hit hard, so if I add core rotation, things should be more optimal for my forehand.

    For my backhand, you are right. My buddies say that my backhand is my more consistent stroke usually. I think the reason is I don't try to go for winners on my backhand. I use my two hander and slice more defensively, and try to set up a forehand shot, which is why I make less errors on the BH.

    Thanks for your comments!

    @nootles: Yes, I believe my lack of rotation is very noticeable! :) I am going to make my left hand a little more active to try and fix that. Thanks!

    @crash1929: Going by your name, I guess you work in finance - there, I put all I learned from Sherlock Holmes to use! I hear ya - I think if I fix my core rotation, the racket will point more towards the ball. But I am not trying to do it consciously at this point.

    To all: Indeed, it is a very cool wall, and I love it. I think the two stylish left handers are Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe, both a source of great inspiration for me. I love the Campbell community center and all that goes with it, and most of all, the tennis courts!
     
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  13. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Raj: you look nowhere near the 57 years or whatever you claimed. I would have guessed in the 30s and would never have believed you are a grandfather. And you don't seem out of shape as you modestly claimed.
     
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  14. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    And a 2 handed BH? Most guys your (claimed) age are old farts with 1 handers.
     
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  15. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    @Suresh: I will be 58 this May, and I claimed I was trim for my age!

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=8186884&postcount=17

    But I do have back issues, left knee was already busted when I started tennis, and of late, the balls of my feet are bothering me... life catches up one way or another. And I have to wear a cap to keep the sun off my widening bald spot! :)

    I used to have a one hander, but some ten or so years ago I spent the better part of a wet day hitting one handed backhands with a bad racket and a moist ball. I destroyed my right hand, and had to convert to a two hander when I recovered, lol! Luckily, it came to me somewhat easily, and I am able to hit slices fine now.

    But anyway, I take your observation as a compliment - thanks Suresh!
     
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  16. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    After I viewed my video a few times and tried to change a few things - the take back, rotation, trying to point the but of the racket at the ball - my stroke broke down. I could not hit a decent forehand for most of today because my timing totally failed, although I did whack a few good ones in between. :(

    I think the culprits may be an inflexible back and a wrist that doesn't lay back too much. If I try to lay my wrist back, the most it will go back is about 90° - I think it got too stiff over the years, lol. Trying to do more things with the left hand did not make things easier, either.

    I will do more work before I even think about posting any more videos. I am thinking I will just concentrate on the back swing for starters.
     
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  17. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    Correction: I can lay my wrist back around 70°, not 90° as I mis-typed above. Sorry, my post count is too small to make edits, it seems.
     
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  18. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    Part of the culprit is that you are hitting against a wall.

    I think hitting against a wall is great for some things, but it can be really tough to try to make mechanical/form adjustments when hitting against a wall. A wall doesn't allow you to slow your rhythm down enough. You end up having to chase after balls that are rolling on the ground after rebound.

    You really should be doing this with a ball machine or with a hitting partner.
     
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  19. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    Thanks for the suggestion, mightyrick. That's exactly what I have decided to do.

    I have a friend who used to play at the 5.0 level (now 4.5 due to age), who I hit with once in a while for practice. If he hits to me, I can usually hit them back decently, FH or BH - that's why he doesn't mind practicing with me. And he's good enough that he can take my mishits and short balls and return them back nicely to my power zone. In a match, it is usually 6-0 or at best a 6-1 trouncing for me, lol.

    I will be hitting with him later this week, and he's promised to work with me. I will post a video for more critique when I sense there is a real improvement in my form.
     
    #19
  20. Vladimir

    Vladimir New User

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    paradigm change

    Dear RajS,

    In your quest for a better stroke, let me suggest to you a simple paradigm change.
    A different understanding of the striking motion — its “construction” and what makes it work.

    This is the mental image of this “construction”:

    Your core/torso is the handle of a whip —your legs/hips control its movement.
    Your arm with the racquet is the rest of the whip —which is under full control of the "handle".

    Your arm with the racquet is propelled into the swing not by the muscles of your shoulder but by the thrust of your torso as a whole (you can call a “core rotation” if you like, because rotational component is a major part of it).

    The torso thrust is created by legs pushing off the ground. It is not just your weight transfer from back leg to the front. It is an aggressive move, it is a “burst”, it is a “yank”. This thrust has to be developed.

    Let your arm’s swing be the product of your torso’s thrust only. Allow your arm to freewheel.

    Your movements will automatically become cohesive and your swing will feel effortless.

    Here is the video that shows this “paradigm change” and the resulting transformation of the stroke:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uk-iiV2cjV0


    And this is an example of how the “best of us” put it into practice:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZNxAe4SGSk
     
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  21. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    @Vladimir: Thanks for your input!

    I fully agree with your description of what a stroke should be. I am now working on a freer back swing where I raise the racket much higher than I was doing in the video. Today, my timing was much better. I am using a lot more body, and the pace and spin are higher. I still have some timing issues, mainly hitting too early, exactly the opposite of what I thought would happen! I think I have to take a checkpoint at the bounce, or something like that, so every stroke has some invariant parameter that makes it consistent. So, it's a work in progress at this point.
     
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  22. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    Posting this just for the record, to track future progress: view of my forehand from the side, hitting against the wall. I should have posted this in the OP, but I don't have editing privileges yet (not enough posts). Again, not hitting too hard, so I have time to play the ball.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSFZKCrXFr0
     
    #22
  23. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I don't see any flaws in your strokes.

    Please post a video of playing against a human.
     
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  24. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    @Suresh: Thanks, that's very encouraging! But I started the process of changing my back swing anyway, to make it back swing higher. I was shocked to see that it is pancake flat now!

    I will be posting real play videos first chance I get. We are in the middle of some much needed rain here, so things are a bit delayed. Hopefully I will be able to this weekend.
     
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  25. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    It turned out that the courts were dry this morning, and I got to practice with my buddy who's a much higher level player than me. We did FH to FH CC, FH to BH DTL, and BH to BH CC drills, and played a set. Needless to say, he beat me 6-2 quite easily (I had to serve like a maniac to get those two games, lol), but we had a great session. I forgot my tripod, unfortunately, so I didn't get anything on video - something to do next week.

    My buddy's comments were pretty identical to those offered in this thread, so thanks again, everyone. The main takeaway points were:

    1. I do much better with my flatter back swing than a high one. I learned to track the ball that way (hazards of learning tennis without a good coach!) and changing it will be very painful. As long as I pointed the racket back at the end of the back swing (which I was mostly doing anyway), I was getting decent power. I decided it wasn't worth changing to gain a few MPH on the forehand, lol.

    2. Core rotation and left arm action did make a difference for generating easy power. I will try to take the racket back with both hands (for rotation), and catch it with my left hand at the finish (for left arm action).

    3. I was asked to leave my backhand alone for now, since it was firing well and working more consistently than my forehand, with adequate power.

    4. To really do better in matches, it looks like I need to become quicker and a little more explosive. I have to work on anticipation, and a quick first step. I am reasonably fit and can run well in a straight line, but that alone won't cut it in tennis! I have to set up quicker, so I will be out of position less often - and my buddy got me out of position so often it was ridiculous! But that's what higher level players do, I guess. I don't get out of position this frequently against 3.5 players.

    I have set up to play with my buddy again next week, and will try and remember to record it on video. Thanks again, all!
     
    #25
  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Anything worth changing, doesn't come easy. It would take most players longer than a month to change from AnkeHuber's' forehand to Steffi's, in technique and style only.
    Up to you if it's worth the change.
    If you can change in one day, it's not worth the effort.
     
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  27. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    @LeeD: Well, I haven't closed out that option yet. I might still try to change, but it is too depressing to crank out error after error on easy balls due to timing errors. But I agree with you, nothing good comes easy!

    While making the suggested modifications (rotation, left arm, work on quickness), I am going to start deconstructing my serve. That is going to be a tougher nut to crack for sure, lol.
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Hey, just realized, you are in Campbell.
    Some other posters on here are from just N of SanJose.
    SystemAnomoly teaches in SanMateo.
    Geeapone is from DalyCity.
    I"m in SanPablo, like Richmond Ca., so easy hour drive in no traffic.
    I'm always trying to recruit fellow TW'er's to hit. Most don't reply.
    My car situation is bad, so I can only play in Berkeley.
     
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  29. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    @LeeD: I definitely want to come to San Pablo Park and hit with you guys there. It will have to be on a weekend (not this one, though), since I have my hands full at work. I will check with you before I start the drive. I will get my camera, too! :)
     
    #29
  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    For sure, but weekends, I usually show up for ONE set of doubles, then disappear.
    But sometime in May, my g/f is heading for some conference, so I can actually play longer than one quick set.
    I"m retired, have been for 3 years, so weekend tennis, to fight for a court, is not my game.
    But, you can show at SanPabloPark courts and expect to find pickup 4.0 level doubles, and rotate right in. Unfortunately, most of the guys ARE 4.0, and the girl's ARE 4.0, but that makes them like weak 3.5 guys.
     
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  31. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    @LeeD: Sounds good, man. I will try to make this happen!
     
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  32. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    Just posting a video of some very casual/cooperative hitting with a young friend. He's a very good player (USTA 4.5) and can run me (3.5) ragged if he wants to, but in this video he's playing with an injured index finger and a bad blister in his right hand, and not in his best form. My shots look like they are going out, but they all made it in except for a couple.

    I apologize for the bad angle of the camera for the first few minutes. Although you can't see me, you can see the ball, so I left it in. The video itself is only about 5 mins and 30 secs. I don't know why youtube thinks it's over seven minutes.

    I can already see that my split stepping needs a lot of work. The timing is way off. I'm glad I made this video, so I have a fixable issue to work on, lol.

    Comments are welcome, of course!

    http://youtu.be/ycyWnEOWKzY
     
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  33. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    You know, this advice is good, however I used to read it a lot and it never made sense, only recently it makes sense now, I guess something clicked and it really really transforms the shot and your understanding of the importance of using your whole body for a shot and not just the shoulder or even just the upper body.

    Like lots of good advice, it certainly is true, but in my experience we need an epiphany moment when it clicks and we go "oohhhhhh, NOW I see"

     
    #33
  34. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    Nice hitting Raj, just a comment from me. From the side on view of the wall, in your coil position, it appeared something was a little amiss. It may be that it appears you also lean back at the waist a little, rather than just rotate about your hip.

    What do you think?
     
    #34
  35. RajS

    RajS Rookie

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    @ProgressoR: I agree, Vladimir's comments and example videos are very good indeed, and I read it a few times to internalize. I wish I could make an instant change, but I am resigned to it taking some time. Old dogs can be taught new tricks, but it doesn't appear to be a quick task, unfortunately!

    You are right, I do not rotate much at all. I am working on it. Specifically, I am trying to get into the habit of holding the racket with both hands on the take back, thus forcing some rotation, and catching it with the off arm in the follow through, thus forcing the left arm not to dangle limply.

    Thanks for the comments.
     
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