How Long to Get to a 5.0?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by misterchris, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    Ed, (TimTennis!), thank you for your post and comments. I agree with you that the 5.0 level is sort of that point that defines the really great players...those who could have made--or did make--a high level college team, were probably state ranked, (depending on the state!), or even gain a national ranking.

    In my experience, those who make it to the 4.5 levels are capable, usually, of making it all the way...meaning, 5.0 and above. The difference, of course, is dedication, desire, and competitive experience. This is because in order to get to a 4.5 level, you need the skills, technical methodology, footwork, and knowledge of the game, to reach this high level. Beyond this level is dependent on the elements I just mentioned.

    But, you have to agree that the VAST majority of those 95% of 3.0 and 3.5 level players are stuck there because of lacking these elements of using more advanced grips, strokes, footwork, etc.

    I've had too many average athletes become superior 4.5 and 5.0 level players. In California and Arizona, I had over 2000 boys and girls come out of my high school program, most reaching a 4.5 level within the four years most played for me. Some went on to play high level college play, some professional. This experience convinced me over the past 15 of my 30-plus years of teaching, that the vast majority of people ARE capable of reaching high levels of tennis.

    Yes, to make it to the 5.0 levels still require minimal skills, coordination, and athleticism that you and others have alluded to. But, I've see too many players who definately did NOT have the "gifted" levels of skills overcome such handicaps and achieve tennis greatness.

    The difference is two things in my opinion: Desire and proper teaching/learning.

    Without desire, great strokes are only a response. But, without learning how to hit with the right grips, strokes, and other elements, all the desire in the world will be limiting. Look at all the great athletes found on tennis courts who indeed are stuck at our proverbial 3.0 or 3.5 levels because they hit with such poor technique.

    I've seen college athletes, in the prime of their so-called athletic life; football, basketball, baseball players, etc., try tennis over and over without instruction. It is quite the calamity, to say the least!

    Anyway, I used to believe as many have said on this post: that players had to be gifted to reach high levels. Now, I believe--and have proven--that just the opposite is true; that players who have "typical" athleticism can reach high levels. I've really only had about 5 or 6 players not achieve levels I had hoped because of true limited athleticism. That is a very small number compared to the number I've been fortunate to work with.

    My thoughts, anyway!
     
    #51
  2. Tim Tennis

    Tim Tennis Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2004
    Messages:
    1,073
    Location:
    Charleston, TN
    You got that right. Unless you live in a small town with a limited tennis community. If you become a good 4.5 or 5.0 player you can't find anyone to play with. Yikes!

    Ed
     
    #52
  3. Tim Tennis

    Tim Tennis Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2004
    Messages:
    1,073
    Location:
    Charleston, TN
    David, as usual, so well said. You have been in the trenches, been there, done that, seen the results. Actually what you have said should be very encouraging to players on all levels who have the desire to improve. Thanks for the great response.

    Ed
    Tennis Geometrics
     
    #53
  4. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    6,404
    Location:
    The Great NW


    I can't agree more with your underlying message. I understand why you use words like "dedication", since you work with so many HS players, who have unlimited free time to dedicate to pasttimes like sports. What is going to limit folks in their 30's and beyond is what I would call "free time" but amounts to the same thing (until retirement).
     
    #54
  5. onehandbh

    onehandbh Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    3,093
    First of all, congrats on being so motivated. Your enthusiasm will help you
    toward your goals. IMO, in the beginning it is very important to get
    regular instruction from a GOOD teaching pro. Really do your research
    and find a good teaching pro. The problem I see is that beginners really
    can't tell if a teaching pro is good or not. They also have a hard time
    telling if a teaching pro's own technique is any good. They may APPEAR
    to be but actually not be. Once you find a good pro, you need to
    continually go to them b/c even if you feel like you've learned how to hit
    a FH,etc. after a few lessons and then go on and just drill on a ball
    machine, it is pretty likely that you haven't totally learned it or you will
    start to develop bad habit w/o the pro checking in on your technique.

    If you've played another sport like at a high level that required footwork
    (e.g. soccer) or good hand eye coordination (e.g. baseball) then you may progress faster. Simply being strong from the gym and having
    good endurance is much less important than coordination and footwork.
    For some reason these things, like learning a new language, are easier
    to learn when you are younger and harder the older you get.

    You also need to get competitive experience. As in playing tournaments and
    matches. 5.0's usually have a lot of competitive experience. There are so
    many different types of players and shots, etc that you haven not gone
    up against that 5.0's have.

    Physical strength, endurance, and speed are important for sure though.
    Really focus on seeing the ball as early as you can and being able to
    predict which direction it is going, with how much spin, what kind of spin,
    ball trajectory, and the depth with which it will land. As soon as you
    know some this, *START* moving immediately to where you think the
    ball is going. The higher the tennis level, the sooner the players can
    predict where the ball is going and begin to move sooner.
     
    #55
  6. misterchris

    misterchris Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    Messages:
    119
    Thanks for you advice, it confirms what I have thought. The Pro I am taking lessons from is the director at the tennis club and I can tell he has lots of teaching experience. He costs a bit more but the extra $$ each lesson is worth it. Everything he has taugh me so far meshes with what I see on the internet and techniques pros are using. He has really been pushing me and even though he has been teaching for 20 years is youthful enough that I have confidence in his own ability to still play at a high level. I'm also signed up for group lessons. The idea is to take periodic lessons with the pro so he can correct my technique, take group lessons to learn and meet people to play with, and keep practicing on my own.

    People always say it comes down to natural talent, but my experience is that hard work is more important than talent most of the time. Its great to have both, but in most things you can make up the gap by working harder.

    I cant speak for my own talent. I still believe that I will be very good at this, but as much because I am commited to working at it than the fact that I (belive) Im quick on my feet, have good balance, and quick reaction speed. It really doesnt matter if I dont have these, as long as I believe I have them I will work hard and morph into a respectable player.


     
    #56
  7. onehandbh

    onehandbh Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    3,093
    you should make a video diary (of your shots, etc.) and put them on
    youtube. yeah, don't worry about natural talent, etc. it's out of your
    control unless you develop a time machine.
     
    #57
  8. x5150

    x5150 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Messages:
    177
    Location:
    Southern California
    You are a runner and weight lifter. No previous sports listed.

    You have beginner hand eye coordination.

    You probably have good legs, so less likely to get shin splints, knee problems.
    You are as you stated about 20 lbs overweight to play tennis but that won't really matter till u get up to 4.5 level. Might get neck and back problems though.

    0 match experience.

    If you do have a private coach once or twice a week then,

    You can get up to 3.5 level maybe 4.0 groundstrokes only though in 6 months.

    To develop the rest of your game, serves, volleys, strategy, mental toughness and get to 4.5, about 5-7 years. 5.0, 10+ years or never.


    No private coaching. A player will basically never get above 4.5.
     
    #58
  9. TennisProdigy

    TennisProdigy Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    582
    I believe that if you have the time to practice 3 hours a day, you can become a 5.0 in 2 - 3 years depending on your desire and athletic ability.

    Iv'e been playing a year and a half and have just am now a 4.5 By the time I hit the 2.5 year mark, I hope to be a 5.0 and definitely don't plan to stop there.
     
    #59
  10. FedererISBetter

    FedererISBetter Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Messages:
    316
    Location:
    Va
    Why limit yourself to 5.0? It's not a godly level lol... i know some 4.5 national players (technically a 5.0) who ranges from 30-late 40s... however its mostly doubles for them... especially the 40s. But anywayz, work as hard as you can to become a better player in each practice and do it with a purpose... then who knows, you may even surprise yourself.
     
    #60
  11. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Messages:
    9,164
    Location:
    Caught in No Man's Land
    I have to agree here. But as Drak said, keep striving to improve. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a solid 4.0.
     
    #61
  12. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    2,545
    Location:
    Arizona
    I think it's safe to say this; if you get to be forty and you're still not a 5.0, it's probably never going to happen. :(
    But tennis can still be fun. :)
     
    #62
  13. Kick_It

    Kick_It Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    442
    I can relate to OP's goals and attempted something similar over past few years though I have a different background. A few additions from my experience:

    1) Invest in fitness; you need to prevent injuries, as well as develop in tennis specific ways. I lost at least 18 months during prime tournament seasons over 3 of the past 4 years to a list of injuries about 1/2 a page long that I now just printout every time I see a new doctor/PT/masseuse, etc.

    2) I've seen something like your goal actually happen (or darned close to it); it is possible though IMO extremely rare. A good friend and occasional doubles partner is a great athlete who started playing tennis after college; he was a sprinter @ a D1 college. In his initial year of 45s - he is currently in the USTA top 100 national standings for 35 singles. Speed/agility helps in tennis IMO more so than endurance.

    3) Technique is just one facet of the game. IMO that is your initial challenge. Don't discount mental aspects or court coverage aspects either. The people who do well in singles in age division (30+) tennis - consistently perform well under pressure technically, mentally, and court coverage wise - simultaneously. You might get lucky and draw someone who can't cover the court well but is strong mentally. They may have a great forehand and possibly a great serve. Your ability to win against such an opponent boils down to your ability to outperform them on all three aspects before they do to you.

    4) Tennis is results based. Play as many competitive matches as you can. Don't worry about numbers/ratings. Focus on results and improvement. Simply put, you are (currently) as good as the people who you've beaten in (recent) matches that count like leagues and/or tourneys.

    5) There is no way to predict how long it will take - if ever. While you are single now, who knows what the future has 5 years down the road. Don't let this goal preclude you from other goals you may have in other parts of your life.

    Have fun and good luck!
     
    #63
  14. oiler90

    oiler90 Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    Findlay, Ohio
    10 years - If your parents are named Robert and Lynette. :) I noticed you didnt mention "matchplay experience" in your recipe. Interesting. I find that after teaching tennis for 20 years, that matchplay is perhaps the most important ingredient to becoming a "player".
     
    #64
  15. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    5,997
    I would agree that match play is important, but I think it means nothing if you don't have the strokes and mindset to play matches productively. The guys who remain at 3.5 for 10+ years are often ones who play 100+ matches a year. They just play matches with the same crap strokes and become very good at beating people who are either still developing their game or others similar to themselves.
     
    #65
  16. pushing_wins

    pushing_wins Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 12, 2006
    Messages:
    2,794
    how are u going to find good players to hit with when u are 3.5?
     
    #66
  17. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Messages:
    3,451
    Wrong.

    I took up tennis seriously at age 42, and tennis elbow caused me much more trouble than my knees, back, wrist, shoulder, etc. combined.
     
    #67
  18. shwetty[tennis]balls

    shwetty[tennis]balls Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Messages:
    326
    You must not be the most physical player then, do you slice and drop a lot? The typical 5.0 player will have these other problems that you don't seem to be having. If this guy wants to get to 5.0 level, I don't care who you are, if you ever get there, it won't be without knee, back, shoulder and wrist problems if you take the game seriously and get as physical as you need to be (speaking of one who starts in his 40's and most who ever get to the 5.0 level).
     
    #68
  19. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Messages:
    3,451
    What are you yammering on about? The guy said he took care to watch out for tennis elbow as he began his quest to become good at tennis. You said that that was the last thing he needed to worry about. I said au contraire, when I took up tennis, tennis elbow caused me more problems than anything else.

    Everything else you've written here is irrelevant.
     
    #69
  20. samster

    samster Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Messages:
    5,017
    tennis/golfer's elbow blows. i hate it. i have a case of golfer's elbow right now and i haven't played for 2 weeks now.
     
    #70
  21. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Messages:
    3,451
    Yes, it's awful. I missed about five months of playing with my good arm because ot TE/GE issues.
     
    #71
  22. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,412
    Excellent post as usual from Dave.
     
    #72
  23. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Messages:
    43,472
    The majority of tennis players will play for many decades but never get past the 3.5 level. The really good ones with good athletic ability or natural talent may get to 4.0 after about 5-10 years. The great majority of people will never reach the 5.0 level regardless of how long they play.
     
    #73
  24. skierpaul

    skierpaul Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2008
    Messages:
    186
    Location:
    Steamboat, CO
    Oh yea!

    Hey Mr.Chris.

    You'll do well, just stay with it, you're on the right track! I started playing tennis in March, took 5 weeks off in April for back surgery, yet have since worked up to a solid 4.0 now. I play in a 4.5 league and can hold my own ( although I question whether or not its a true "4.5" league.). I have noticed that the more I improve, the advances get incrementally smaller, so 5.0 will be quite an accomplishment, I can tell right now.

    I take group lessons 3-4 days a week from 2 excellent coaches (who give constant feedback). Make sure that you shop around, you can blow wads of money taking many lessons from mediocre coaches and gain little, or learn an immense amount in a relatively short amount of time from a great coach. In a group setting, you sometimes have to go the extra step of inquiry. You don't always get the answers you need, if you dont ask. I'll also take a 1 hour private every 3 weeks to refine a certain aspect of my game. Of course play time is key too, against the widest variety of opponents that you can find. Play: LOTS.

    Keep a journal. Its usually a lack of refined skill thats holding back your game, not a lack of information. I have a backlog of feedback that I'm trying to digest, and thats not necessarily an easy thing. Don't let good information (that you paid for!) get lost. Write it down, and reference it often.

    fyi.. I'm 34, but I do have a pretty high level multisport background, so the mental part and knowing HOW to train, is relatively easy. Keep training hard, because there's no luck in tennis, only physics.

    - Paul
     
    #74
  25. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    While this may be descriptive of the majority of recreational players, it is far from the truth when such players are taught correctly. Of the thousands I've taught, the vast majority reached 4.5 levels or above. Most had average athleticism, some more than others; the difference is in the way students are taught or in the way they started learning.

    Unfortunately, because the vast majority of players are either taught wrong, (or, more likely, tried to teach themselves), or they didn't interpret the teaching correctly, (in otherwords, didn't like how it felt using new or unfamiliar techniques...thus reverting to more rudementary methods usually associated with mediocre play), the vast majority of players stagnate at very low levels; levels far below their potential.

    Yes, it always helps to have "natural" talent and athleticism. However, many of the best players I've taught or have seen among great players, possessed only average or above average talent. The majority of skilled players were taught the right methods, worked hard to master those methods, and then practiced and played as much as they could using those methods.

    So, let's quit perpetuating this myth that skilled players are only those who have a natural propensity to do so. It should be encouraging that most people can indeed reach advanced levels of competitive tennis. But, remember that if you are using unskilled techniques, it won't matter how long you play or how hard you work; you will seldom reach your potential nor levels deemed advanced if you only use mediocre methodology.

    Thirty-five years teaching has proven this in three states. I believe it is universal!
     
    #75
  26. shintan17

    shintan17 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Messages:
    776
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Chirs, just believe in yourself and work your butt off. As long as love for the game is there, sky is the limit.

    Good luck, man.

    I personally think average athletes will never get to 5.0 especially if you begin to learn the game in 30's , but there are always exceptions!! You could easily be one of them!!
     
    #76
  27. shwetty[tennis]balls

    shwetty[tennis]balls Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Messages:
    326
    I'm just questioning your advice. If tennis elbow is all you worry about than then everything I've written not only is relevant, but proves my point. I have never met, played, heard of anyone at a 5.0 level with "tennis elbow." Why, because it's a problem that is spotted and remedied well before one makes it to the 5.0 level. 5.0 level of tennis is so much more physical , and therefore back, knee, wrist, shoulder problems are the more dangerous and popular problems players face. If the guy wants to play 5.0 tennis elbow indeed is the last thing he'll have to worry about, and it goes double for him because of his age.
    What am I yammering about? The fact that you have tennis elbow and make no mention about other, more prevalent injuries one that plays at higher level might have, leads me to believe that you aren't, nor ever have, nor ever will achieve 5.0 level, and so your argument that he should be worried about tennis elbow (which is almost always a sign of poor technique) speaks of your inept and ill-placed "advice." That's what all the yammering is about, lameoids who don't know enough to offer the right advice to the right people.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
    #77
  28. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,783
    ^^^Interesting, I know not one, but two players of 5.0 caliber who were both recently affected by tennis elbow. For one of them, it is certainly the first thing that he has been worried about, as it has sidelined him for the past month. For the other, it was a sign of a stiff racquet, not poor technique. Guess they are just a bunch of lameoids? One of those lameoids is winning senior ITF tournaments, btw.
     
    #78
  29. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    6,404
    Location:
    The Great NW

    I agree completely with the bolded statement. The roadblock to the >97% of players who never get to 5.0 is not a lack of skill, it is a lack of will. While you are correct that having optimal instruction will lead to optimal strokes and that having optimal strokes will lead to optimal stroke production. This naturally makes winning easier. But it is also a myth that not having optimal strokes makes it impossible to advance all the way up the progression to #1 in the world, let alone 5.0.

    Of course every single player you personally interact with has, by definition, some of the very best tennis stroke instruction available and you rightly chart their progress and success using your instruction. However, even a cursory review of the stroke styles of Pros over the last couple of decades will reveal strokes of every imaginable variety. Naturally, there is a variety of stroke that is so rudimentary, so ineffective that noone can advance beyond 3.5 with that stroke type, I'm not speaking of that sort of thing. Or to put it another way, it's not like every 5.0 uses the single effective techique that allows a player to get to that level.
     
    #79
  30. Mick

    Mick Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2006
    Messages:
    8,363
    I share the same view because even if you manage to reach a 5.0 level, there are still plenty of players who can beat you (those who are 5.0 or higher). So just have fun.
     
    #80
  31. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    As anyone who has read my two books, I have stated this so many times:

    Players will evolve advanced stroke patterns to meet natural personality and perception. Teach 1000 players the exact same stroke pattern and no two will end up with the exact same pattern...BUT, if players learn mediocre/rudementary methods to play the game, they will seldom, if ever, develop, evolve, or transition to more advanced methods naturally nor automatically...more likely if it occurs it is with great frustration and failure.

    While there are indeed clear differences in professional strokes, there are also clear simularities between nearly every single player.

    These differences and simularities are FAR from that which we see on the recreational/club level courts around the world.
     
    #81
  32. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    6,404
    Location:
    The Great NW

    Based on your post, I believe we are describing the same reality in different terms. They say the world is divided into "lumpers" and "splitters". When I look at 100 Pro's strokes I split them into 100 clear differences in their technique. You see a number of similarities they all share (probably based on your dealing with numerous players over the years).
     
    #82
  33. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    True, but I also can and do identify the differences. However, I attribute these differences differently than others might: Most all top players were taught the same or similar foundations. The differences, many of which can easily be identifialbe with individual pros, come from the evolution FROM these similar foundations, not from a specifically different foundation.

    There are, of course, exceptions. However, from my experience, the exceptions are exactly that.

    I hear some people tell me about some really good player who uses very different strokes or form. I answer this with two questions:

    1. how good are such players really when you stack them up against truly skilled players from more competitive regions? (Most of these examples that I'm told about are from some rural, non-competitive part of the world!)

    2. How good COULD such players have become if they were indeed taught more effective, effiecent and prolific form? If they are so good using some strange or unconventional method, then certainly they would be exceptional using more sound, effective and progressively advanced methods.

    The bottom line: players who are taught simpleton/rudementary methods seldom reach their potential, and certainly seldom reach skilled levels of play. Players taught more advanced methods, or work within this style of play will be MORE LIKELY to reach highly skilled levels of play.
     
    #83
  34. misterchris

    misterchris Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    Messages:
    119

    Can you give us an example of a simpleton/rudimentary method and it's advanced (proper) counterpart?
     
    #84
  35. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    There are dozens: Using eastern grips on volleys versus continental grip; facing the net on the volley using a pushing/bunting stroke versus turning sideways and hitting the ball at your side;

    Serves: using an eastern forehand "waiter's grip" and standing facing the net and swinging in a linear trajectory towards the target versus using a continental grip and swinging across the ball.

    Groundstrokes: hitting flat versus learning to hit with topspin. Facing the net to bunt, push, or dink balls in versus learning to stroke the ball with a smooth, longer swing path.

    Strategies: stay back and dink balls to get them in; learn to hit specific shots for specific situations and learning to have different shots or weapons.

    I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
     
    #85
  36. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Messages:
    43,472
    Yes, I was referring to most recreational players and not junior players who train at tennis academies or the like.
     
    #86
  37. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    984
    Are we talking about a "club", "resort", or K-Swiss singles 5.0 or a real tournament / league tested 5.0. I think there is a big difference. I played a lot growing up, took 10 years off, and was able to go from 3.5 to 4.5 in 4 years. That was before kids. I doubt I'll ever get to 5.0. A 5.0 is something really special. From what I see, it's not nearly 5% of players. Maybe half that or less.

    I really admire how determined you are. It sounds like you have a plan. However, I must warn you--to get to that level, you need both athletic talent and strategy / court sense. The two don't always go together. Most of the 5.0s I know played serious junior tennis. If you do get there, it will take several years. You need to join a local league, play tournaments, etc. You can take lessons and hit on a ball machine all your life and not get to 4.5. You need a group of friends to play and learn from. Good luck, and keep us posted.
     
    #87
  38. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    I'm not talking about junior players who train at academies; I'm talking about players who want to reach 5.0 levels...most can. And they don't need to necessarily train for five hours, five days a week. With the right desire and instruction, players can achieve 5.0 level play in time.

    However, players who learn with the wrong instruction, no matter how much desire they have, probably won't make the 5.0 level.

    Ever.
     
    #88
  39. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,783
    How does one of these aspiring players know if they are receiving the 'right' instruction or not?
     
    #89
  40. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    The problem is that players can perceive some kind of success through simple attrition of doing someing enough times...even if it is poor technique. Thus, even with teaching pros, you can get one who teaches some parts correctly or within a foundation that will get you to your potential...yet, teach another part that is so wrong, but feels comfy and natural, so you don't fight the instruction if you don't know anything to counter the instruction.

    Here is the answer to your question: Ask yourself this question to your instructor: "Will I have to change at some point if I hope to achieve higher levels of skill?"

    If the answer is yes, then I would question the teaching method or technique being taught.

    As mentioned, in my 35 years teaching, it is clear that those who fail to play at levels that their potential would suggest, it is because they learned (or self-taught themselves) methods that don't allow for continued improvement or effectiveness of shots.

    This can be defined as simple as this:

    A. Hitting more effective shots more consistently
    B. Defending more effective shots hit by opponents more effectively and consistently.

    Most methods of hitting a ball over the net, don't account for improvement in effectiveness. The way players learn is to simply learn a method that gets the ball high enough and hard enough to get over the net, but not so hard that it goes out. This method is generally hitting the ball fairly flat. Any spin is seldom done by intention.

    Good teaching includes teaching a "repeatable, reliable swing path" that includes some amount of significant spin. (This should include hitting slices as well as topspin.) Optimal grips, footwork patterns and swing paths allow for this. There are less optimal techniques that can get a player to hit balls over the net and even rally early on. However, the analogy I use is playing the piano: it takes a LOT longer to learn and train to use all your fingers. It is much easier to learn to pluck notes with just your index fingers and even play rudementary songs in just one lesson or attempt. However, no piano teaching in the world would teach a lesson of playing the piano with just your two index fingers. Yet, there are many tennis books and even teaching pros who teach tennis in such ways as to simply get players hitting balls over the net, avoiding the similar challenging techniques like a piano player having to learn to use all their fingers.

    Like others have said, some students will only take lessons from someone that teaches simple methods that are manageable or seem familiar.

    There are few sports or skills that don't include some challenging aspect that the student must work dilligently on to overcome and master. Avoiding those things, such as proper grips, strokes and swing paths, just because they are uncomfortable or unfamiliar, is NOT how one becomes a more advanced player.
     
    #90
  41. misterchris

    misterchris Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    Messages:
    119
    Coaching Mastery,
    I agree with what you are saying. I have been taking provate lessons and recently took a group lesson.

    The private lessons are very focused and make sure I understand each technique and execute properly.

    In the group lesson, much material was glossed over and I know in the case of the volley, there was some incorrect instruction.

    If a player plays recreationally and takes occasional bad lessons, he will never get anywhere.

    I believe if a person practices 4-5 days a week and gets good private instruction he will make progress. I think the reason we rarely see huge advances in adults is that most do not have time to dedicate.
     
    #91
  42. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2004
    Messages:
    1,626
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by misterchris [​IMG]
    Can you give us an example of a simpleton/rudimentary method and it's advanced (proper) counterpart?

    Dave, You mention simpleton/rudimentary techniques mostly found with lower level club players. Have you ever seen Zack Fleishman who is a world class player? Where would you place his fundamentals and technique?


    Here are a few photo's, and video of him about the same:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Thanks
    Mike
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
    #92
  43. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,783
    CoachingMastery...thank you for such a well-thought out answer! And, as a music teacher, the piano analogy really hits home.
     
    #93
  44. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    Mike,

    I don't see the video of Zack. However, just looking at his forehand, (nearly a full western grip) and solid unit turn, (good use of his non-dominant arm), from this shot he looks like a solid player.

    On his backhand, he looks a little strange with the choked up grip on his right hand, and his left hand almost on the throat...which could be because of a situational position on the court and shot selection caused, or he uses an unconventional grip position.

    Without really seeing anyone's full stroke sequence, I would be unable to make an accurate description whether someone is closer to what I would call conventional advanced foundation or if they are within a more unique advanced foundation...or if they are simply using strange form that may work in some cases and against some levels of players or might not work against more advanced players.

    Maybe not the answer you were looking for?
     
    #94
  45. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2004
    Messages:
    1,626
    From what I remember, he is self taught and played for UCLA
    Okay, I will bite. I will see if I can post a good vid of him playing.
    Na, his bh is like that, serve motion the works. But he gets through the hitting zone. Just think Lee Trevino in golf. I will work getting a video up. I guess I’m alluding to the unconventional self taught items you referred to. After you see the video, I would like to know if this limits his potential from reaching the top 100 or so?
    Thanks
    Mike




     
    #95
  46. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2004
    Messages:
    1,626
    http://www.vimeo.com/1868871
    Just my opinion, but I think he had made some adjustments by time this video was made.
     
    #96
  47. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Messages:
    13,916
    Zack still has some elements found in other pro strokes. Sure how he gets there is abit weird, but it's not completely different.
     
    #97
  48. quest01

    quest01 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
    Messages:
    4,616
    Some people can reach the 5.0 level fairly quickly while others many never reach this level in a lifetime. I only wish I was a 5.0.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
    #98
  49. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Messages:
    13,916

    5.0 is only achievable by constant match play along with professional level help. Yes it can be reached quickly, but it's hard and you have to have talent.
     
    #99
  50. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    One more point: there are many (myself included) who were self taught...however, here is the caveate:

    I looked at professional level strokes, (at the time, the early 1970's strokes!), and was able to mimic that which I saw very well...also, every tournament I played in, I would go watch the "A" division players play. (5.0 level by today's NTRP), and see what strokes were abundant there.

    The problem with most people who try to teach themselves is that they either are not able to distinguish specific stroke patterns, grips or footwork patterns associated with such high level play, OR, they see it but can't emulate it because they don't have accute physical understandings of what their body is doing.

    I'm a 5.0 fifty year old player who does not play with all the elements of TODAY'S modern game. Yet I do teach ALL the elements of the modern and advanced game. I have a one-handed backhand but teach most students two. However, I have an exceptional volley, serve and overhead because in reality, those shots have not changed in terms of what was considered great form thirty years ago and what we consider today great form. (There are exceptions: we never hit a swinging topspin volley thirty years ago...yet, I teach the shot today!) But many pros today teach eastern grips on the volley and forehand grip on the serve with the indication that this is just a "beginning stage" with emphasis that "at some point" the student will need to change to more advanced grips and strokes. Unfortunately, this is perpetuated even in the 117 books I own on tennis! The problem of course, lies in the fact that it isn't "just a grip change" or the like. To learn to serve with a continental grip after first learning with an eastern forehand grip, the player must not only become accustom to the continental grip, (difficult in and of itself for most!), but the swing path changes, the stance and body position changes, and the action on the ball changes. So, again, it is not just a grip change!

    A player like Zack that Mike brought up (and thank you for the pics!), is a good example of a player like Fabrice Santoro or Marion Bartoli: these players use unconventional stroke patterns from the normal sense of the word...however, even within these unconventional patterns, you can easily identify what I call "advanced foundation" elements that are common among all pros and skilled players. These include "keeping the plane the same", creating a repeatable swing path, not opening up too early, brushing the ball with significant spin, etc.

    Ironically, these are the very elements that separate skilled from unskilled: the typical 3.0 player rolls the racquet, hits flat, bunting-like shots, open up on the stroke and push the ball, not hitting with a reliable swing path, etc.

    So, the bottom line for anyone, even as good as Zack is: could he have been an even better player had he learned more conventional shots? Maybe, maybe not. It is like asking if Sampras would have been as good if he had kept playing with his two-handed backhand. No one will know those answers.

    But, as a pro who has taught for three decades and has seen the results of various teaching mantras, I know for a fact that the vast majority of players who are taught the right methods instead of playing with what feels comfortable or familiar, will far surpass the alternative!

    Hope this is helpful to all!
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008

Share This Page