How high can you go (NTRP/USTA) without ever having instructions?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by KK Partizan, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. KK Partizan

    KK Partizan New User

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    Hey all,

    As the thread title implies, I wanted to know what the highest *realistic* level you can reach is without ever taking tennis lessons or group instruction. Assuming you're a human backboard with limited ground strokes (except the occasional DTL blast that's very hit or miss) but a powerful serve, could you ever realistically go to ~5.0? Obviously, you'd play tennis for 2-3 hours a day throughout the summer, but never paying for winter courts. Obviously, your skill level would never reach that of a true 5.0, but by consistently grinding and outlasting opponents, would it work?
     
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  2. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    No. might be able to get to 4.0. 5.0 is out of the question.
     
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  3. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    4.0 is the barrier for most. After that guys have had t least some, if not extensive coaching.

    -Fuji
     
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  4. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    What type of training did the Williams sisters have? didn't they reach 7.0
     
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  5. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    You can become number onein the world. Case I'm point: Pancho Gonzalez
     
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  6. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    I know a 4.5 whose very proud of never having a lesson but he's paid pros to hit with.

    The key would be to play a lot and to train a lot.
     
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  7. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    4.0 is probably the best.
     
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  8. caugas

    caugas Semi-Pro

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    I agree with most/many above posters, 4.0 might be the top. Even 4.0 who have coaches may not get to 4.5.
     
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  9. tennisfreak

    tennisfreak Semi-Pro

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    I think you overestimate 4.0s.

    Someone who is naturally talented and works his butt off can definitely get to 5.0 without getting any instruction.

    Assuming he's got a video camera and unlimited youtube coaching.
     
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  10. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    4.0 would be tough not playing in the winter at all. I would find a racket ball court to hit in if you dont want to pay for indoor time.
     
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  11. Bendex

    Bendex Professional

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    There are some great coaches on Youtube. Probably better than any coach in your local town. If you are self motivated, you can go far.
     
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  12. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    I think if you can wrap your life around playing matches, like 5x a week you can scratch your way to 4.5. It's going to take over a decade.
     
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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You don't need instruction. You don't need video.
    What you DO need is a lot of practice, a desire to hit like better players, and the determination to analyse your game and figure out what is needed to change for the better.
    2-3 hours a day, 5 days a week, get's you to 4.0.
    Playing tennis for 7 months a year might not get you to solid 4.0.
    Put in some effort. Nothing worth achieving is easy and painless.
     
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  14. Chotobaka

    Chotobaka Hall of Fame

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    Here is a 5.0 who, despite coming from a tennis family, looks like he has never taken a conventional tennis lesson in his life. Or, as least, nothing stuck. Still an effective player and a ton of fun to watch.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgA5G9PkT4k

    With all due respect, Boonie...
     
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  15. Cobaine

    Cobaine Rookie

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    I have played guys in 4.5 tournaments that have never had any instruction of any type.

    They are total hack/pusher types, so I think that style of game is viable up to that level. The guys were in really good shape, and had been playing for 20+ years, and even though their games were neither aesthetically pleasing nor technically proficient, they understood very well the strategic part of the game and made the most of what they had.

    I can't recall ever playing someone in a 5.0 bracket that hadn't had some form of instruction (youtube or otherwise).

    So in my experience 4.5 is max.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
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  16. Cobaine

    Cobaine Rookie

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    I'm pretty sure Boone has had instruction of some sort over his career.
     
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  17. Chotobaka

    Chotobaka Hall of Fame

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    Tongue in cheek based of his offbeat style with virtual every shot in the book. The point is it is possible to play at a high level without textbook strokes.
     
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  18. Cobaine

    Cobaine Rookie

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    Haha. He definitely is unique. It's even better in person!
     
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  19. Chotobaka

    Chotobaka Hall of Fame

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    He brings the OHBH to a new level. :)
     
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  20. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    Borg said he self-taught tennis.
    His backhand came from ice hockey and forehand came from ping pong.
    People wanted him to change his strokes but he never did.

    So, it's possible to go higher than 4.0 but you've got to be extremely talented.
     
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  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Also, most players who try tennis don't have enough talent or athletic skills to even make a solid 4.5 level of play.
    Sure, some get to solid 4.5 in 3 years, without instruction, but most don't get near 4.0 in a lifetime of tennis.
     
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  22. Booger

    Booger Rookie

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    Why would you limit yourself to that style of play?
     
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  23. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Johnny Valentin, aka JohnnyBlaze. He plays the Q/Futures/Sat tour events when he get's a wildcard or there is an opening.
     
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  24. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Does watching technique videos and then assessing your own play by using video count as taking a lesson?

    Without decent form it is difficult to play above 4.5 unless you are an extraordinary athlete. On the other hand, you don't need to take lessons from a coach in person if you have the discipline to self-assess using video.
     
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  25. Tennis_Fever

    Tennis_Fever Rookie

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    WV, this is precisely what I am attempting to accomplish. Are you coming from a similar place, or have you received coaching/lessons in the past?
     
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  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I come from a era BEFORE videos were availble to the poor. And I was poor.
    Instead of videos, watch the good players. See how fast and effortlessly they hit the ball, and compare to my own strokes.
    Look at strokes of my practice partners, D-2 singles and top high schoolers.
    Look at the strokes of hacks and pushers, and compare their shots with my own.
    Lost in 3rd round of 5 A/Open tourneys at the end of my 3rd year of tennis. Of course, lost in the first round in that many.
     
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  27. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    it can be done, but it's not easy. a good experienced coach can identify things that may take you months or years to discover on your own. also you may watching videos of a specific favorite player and trying to mimic his/her technique that may be very difficult to emulate correctly. you may be focusing on something that isn't a big problem with your stroke. a good coach will change key problems that are limiting the stroke and leave the ones that aren't alone. good coaches will tell you that everyone hits slightly differently because everyone's anatomy is different.

    those who have reached a high level of tennis with no professional coaching are few and far between. individuals like pancho gonzales are the exception and not the norm.
     
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  28. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    No, I had a few private lessons shortly after taking up the sport from a guy who had been a touring pro long ago. I did what he said and saw immediate benefits (for instance, I've always served with the continental grip and was shown the standard motion from the start). I've played on both school and club teams and have had group lessons in those situations.

    However, in the past decade, I've been coaching myself and have become a huge believer in the benefit of video. I've experimented on a lot of technique changes using video as a guide. If you don't have a coach, you need video to keep yourself honest.
     
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  29. taurussable

    taurussable Professional

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    is posting video in this forum and receiving instruction considered "having instruction"?
     
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  30. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    That's my situation. And still getting better - 5.0 isn't out of the realm.

    Or have good genetics (my grandfather pitched professionally - all sports came easy to me - just not big enough - and played too many instead of focusing on one).
     
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  31. caugas

    caugas Semi-Pro

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    I get ****ed when I hear that 4.5 players hacks pusher types are excelling without proper form and most likely instruction. makes me think what the hell am I doing wrong, but I've only been playing for 7 years so who knows right
     
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  32. caugas

    caugas Semi-Pro

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    Who's Borg? Sounds foreign
     
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  33. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    this guy here.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPDAh_LLqOQ

    1:18
    He shows you how he hits the ball and then says
    probably you shouldn't hit the ball like that :)

    his tips on volley are good though.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
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  34. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    They had a lot of training from the best coaches in the world for years.

    Pancho Segura, though, was just a kid in Peru who suffered from malnutrition (thus his small size and bowed legs from rickets) and loved hitting the ball against the wall. His two-handed forehand (no instruction) was one of the best shots ever in history. He became the #1 player in the world.
     
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  35. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    the pancho examples are few and far between. definitely the exception than the rule.
     
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  36. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    I've never had lessons. Started as a kid hitting the wall and playing in the garage while watching the US Open on TV. I would say I was around 4th grade at the start. Stopped playing in college when a girlfriend started to beat me (singles player on our Ivy team). I started playing again at 33 and have 7 years of 4.5 NorCal USTA Tennis in the computer. On good days (Not lately!) I can play lower 5.0.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
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  37. mtommer

    mtommer Hall of Fame

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    This is an assumption that you shouldn't be making; that without instruction your strokes must be limited.

    I can't speak for anyone else but myself, but I've never had any formal training whatsoever. I learned tennis by hitting against a wall over and over and over again, many hours a day, many days a week. I've never actually played a match that "mattered" but when I was a member of a tennis club I hit with the few who were beyond the 4.5 level and I could keep up and we hit very competitively. Even just this past month I was at the Nats and I could hit with the juniors there. When I played "points" I won some rounds and lost some. I was always competitive and normally had at least seven points when I lost (games were first to 10 or 11), not bad or great I guess, but competitive, at least I think so anyway *shrug*.

    When I'm on, I play very, very well. That may sound like a "duh" statement to make but there is a stark difference between me being on vs. not that coached players don't have. Yeah, they have off days to but the level isn't night and day (of course to them it is but they can also hold a ten or twenty ball rally, what they lose is more of that consistency for aggressive "go for the lines/winner" type of ball). When I'm not in sync my unforced errors rise dramatically and it's almost never because I'm "rushed" by my opponent (hence more of a forced error).

    This is when I miss not having the background fundamentals and the muscle memory from them being drilled into me at a young age. There really aren't any procedures, drills or memories that I can tap into to get myself back in sync and it's easy to get lost trying to "think" of why I may not be playing well and make it even worse. Compare that with baseball which I did have the coaching in, and, for example, I can correct for fielding or hitting form to get back "in sync".

    Where I've found I differ from the majority of rec players I've come across is the time I've put in to develop, and in this regard, it's noticeably higher by several hours a week. My overall shot timing to hit on a pace and spin level consistent with the afore mentioned experiences is that result of hitting again and again and again while making those wall shot targets smaller and smaller and smaller over the last few years. What I don't have a lot of is the innate sense of the court dimensions that one gets having grown up learning on the actual court. So when I am out of sync I have the tendency to hit long. Not by much but a half of foot out is still out.

    So the point to the OP is that you can conceivably go as far as you are physically able to go so long as you are willing to put in the work and dedication required. There is no doubt that there are gaps in my game but if I could get dedicated time to work on them, I also know I would very quickly close those gaps. I don't believe for one second that I am somehow "special" and if I can get where I am today, gaps and all, anyone can and reach or exceed past my level, although a lot more court time would be a good idea to be sure.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
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  38. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    That'd be another thread... "How low can ttw instruction take me (NTRP) if I start listening as a 5.0?"

    I think it'd be all but impossible to get beyond a 4.5 without good feedback; either in-person or via self-analysis of video. And it'd take some exceptional athleticism to get to 4.5.
     
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  39. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    Tennis ain't rocket science. You can be self taught to a very high level. You can reach 7.0 or even #1 in the world if you start early and absolutely love playing tennis.

    The key is you have to absolutely love the game at a very early age (8-10 yrs) like Pete, Courier etc.. these guys would go by themselves and hit the wall etc. without their parents having to push them..

    Some basic instruction as a kid from your parent is needed.. No need for professional lessons or camps etc..
     
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  40. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Except all the people you mentioned had tons of pro coaching. Tennis is a skill sport. Like golf, baseeball pitcher... etc. So you need coaching to reach highest levels like an atp pro.
     
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  41. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You can make it to 4.5, or D-2 top singles, and then you need coaching, training, drilling, and conditioning.
     
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  42. Mac33

    Mac33 Rookie

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    Seriously,never read so much crap in all my life.

    If the talent is there you will reach your potential or very close to it without any coaching,provided you put in enough practice.

    You think a Federer or Djokovic would only have ot to a 5.0 level had they not had coaching?

    Ian Woosnam got to be world number one in golf without any coaching!

    I took up tennis late in my late 30's,now in my 40's and still never had a lesson.

    Not sure what my ranking would be in American rating system but from the videos posted of 4.5's believe I'm at least there!
     
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  43. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yes, and you just peaked!
    After 4.5, you cannot find any players to hit with, in order to get better.
    You need that appointment black book, and therein lies the rub. There are fewer and fewer practice partners, and you will find a lot of them useless for helping your game.
    So, you resort to hitting partners, and if you find some, keep them. Often, you don't find anyone good enough to hit with, and there starts the coaching thing.
     
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  44. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    The question of how good you can become without "lessons" is dependent on a couple factors:

    1. Are you able to decipher strokes, grips, and footwork associated with skilled play, recognize the patterns, the technique foundations, and the gross swing elements?

    2. Can you emulate the desired motions you know will lead you to skilled play? Do you have the body kinesthetic and control that you are indeed emulating the RIGHT desired motions?

    3. Are you able to practice, drill, and compete to the degree in which you can master said strokes, grips and footwork?

    4. Do you have ample athleticism that is necessary to create the hand-eye coordination, the balance, rhythm, and swing timing to make consistent contact in the ideal contact zone?

    From my experience, there is so much information today available to people who want to teach themselves. However, the problem comes when players think they are doing one thing but in reality are not doing what they think they are doing. This is where a good video camera can help. But a quality teaching pro can point out nuances and flaws in real time.

    But, given all four of these concepts, a player, in theory, can reach very high levels of tennis.
     
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  45. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    I know a 4.5 that is self taught, has very good hand-eye coordination, is athletic, and played other sports.

    He's a low level 4.5 though and I doubt he could ever become a 5.0
     
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  46. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    this should be a separate thread but given youtube- are lessons still necessary?Is everything covered on youtube? What can a pro teach you that is not on youtube? We each can film ourselves now with our iphones and then compare vs. lessons on youtube and pro footage. We can take screen shots of ourselves and compare them to screen shots of pros while swinging. So that addresses the feedback back issue. We can post all this info on this website and get feedback....
     
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  47. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    Great post. I'm sure our resident coaches of various 'methods' won't agree.

    Again, if given enough athletic talent, the sky is the limit for creating all the strokes. Then the mental kicks in - can that person handle the pressure of individual competition (if coming from team sports)? Figure out opponent's games on the fly and come up with and execute a winning strategy.
     
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  48. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    Another way I've begun to think about this is- Are there any 5.0's I know that did NOT have lessons as kids? (This would include a sample size of about 20 in San Francisco/Bay Area, 10 in Manhattan, and 2 in Arizona where I am currently...

    I know of only 2 who have done it and gotten a 5.0 USTA computer ranking. Both under resourced Hispanic kids. One got a 5.0 national doubles team and another played usta 5.0 doubles in the Monterey County. I'm sure these guys picked up some info as adults -but pre high school I certain they had no private coaching.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
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  49. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    True. However, the immediate feedback from a quality pro is immeasurable. Also, there is a lot of "Misinformation" out there on the Internet that might be followed. Some quality information may also be misinterpreted. Some concepts can be lost by the time the player takes the idea out to the court. (Unless, of course, they have a computer or smart phone with them and it can be easily and clearly seen on the court!)
     
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  50. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    Most of the age 50+ women on my 7.0 mixed triple combo team never went to school for tennis or hygiene. But they're passionate about the league and the after tennis party with Coronas and pigs in blanket mini appetizers.
     
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