How Long to Get to a 5.0?

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

  1. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for posting the Zach vid Mike. Nice stuff to watch.

    It is readily appearent from the first stroke, the difference in explosive energy used by Zach and his opponent from < 5.0 level. Zach seems to use compact strokes, yet still is loose, and explosive with his movements, from his feet all the way up to his body.

    Mike - any possibility to get some footage of Vallis? I would love to see his game. I am considering contacting him for some lessons in the near future.

    Also- Are you planning to see some of the $15K Texas76ers event coming up in Mansfield soon? Do they charge to attend that tourney? Any good player that are a must see for us locals?
     
  2. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    I used to see Val all the time. I have not seen him recently. I do not have any video of him playing completive. I was going to tape him and Rose a while back but he hurt his knee and canceled. In the past the times I’ve seen him I did not have my camera gear with me. He plays with more types of spin than I have seen anywhere around this area. I hope to get some good footage of him soon. I believe he is playing in a team event at Arlington tennis center in Nov. I haven’t seen his hitting partner in a while either.
    Do you need his contact info?
     
  3. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Mike - I would love his contact info - you can PM/email me if you have it. I was wanting to get together with him and develop something like a long term program. I have found as I improve, the changes are smaller, and take a lot of work to ingrain into the game. :)

    Rumor has it, he has been seen teaching on some school courts or something, like Fossil Ridge maybe? He is definately around here somewhere.

    PS. He has to be hitting somewhere, because he keeps winning National tourneys!
     
  4. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    I will look it up and get it to you.
    In most cases he will come close to you if the schedule lines up. He moves around.
     
  5. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Thanks, Topaz. Glad it made sense! I love the analogy to pianos and typing as they are fundamentally the same concept: difficult to master at first, important to learn correctly if you hope to reach accomplished levels, (seen any fast typists using two fingers? not too many!), and similar in that many people resist the learning of using all the fingers.

    But, you can type and play the piano with two fingers, just as you can play tennis using rudementary and unsophisticated methods. In all cases, the student will not play the piano as it is designed or capable; the typist won't be able to reach significant speeds and the tennis player will stagnate at levels usually far below their potential!
     
  6. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    Info Sent
    Mike
     
  7. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Very much appreciated Mike! Check your inbox.
     
  8. sp00q

    sp00q Rookie

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    It seems you have a lot of spare time misterchris....
     
  9. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    Is it spare time, or a willingness to *make* time to reach a goal that he has set for himself...which is quite admirable. I believe he has already stated that he is not married and does not have children, so his ability to make that time may be easier than others...but for him to be criticized for this is silly.
     
  10. misterchris

    misterchris Rookie

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    Thanks for standing up for me; I have no idea why some random fool on the internet would be critical of my efforts. :confused: The limiting factor in finding time to practice is my body; I would practice and play every day if I was more resilient. I am able to practice 2 hours a day, 4-5 times a week. The point is that even with a full time job and kids, someone should be able to find time for practice if they are motivated.

    I was in a car accident many years ago and had a bad separated shoulder which healed over time, but does not have the greatest range of motion. I've been easing into the new motions being mindful of not tearing this joint, (which has happened in the past, usually as a result of heavy lifting) So far it has held up well and Ive been able to increase the range of motion, but after 3 straight days of hitting, the joint is tender. After a few days runnign on concrete my heels get sore, so ive been practicing on the synthetic surface.

    I have been playing exactly a month and I've improved alot. The pro likes my 1hbh. When I told one of the other instructors that I have a 1hbh, I could tell he was concerned about my ability to execute, but when I hit everything back I could tell he was impressed.

    Ive been working on crosscourt/line drills. The pro will have me hit crosscourt with (say) my backhand, and hit up the line when he sends a forehand shot. Then we play matches, work on movement and abilty to handle different types of shots. In my practive time, I keep working on groundstrokes with the machine. Its coming together but I'm aware that my footwork is a handicap were I to play myself 20 years younger. As an older guy I have discipline and ability to control agression/nerves that I wouldnt have had as a teen. But Im becoming aware why pros start to fade in their mid/late 20s.
     
  11. LuckyFrame

    LuckyFrame New User

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    i know you have a lot of doubters on this thread but I actually think you could do great things. I wouldn't set your goal to a 5.0 yet, i would keep it lower. Not so low that you are uninspired but realistic. Also, playing 3 hours every single day throughout the year is entirely unrealistic....k i just wanted to get those negatives out of the way.

    Anyways, I can tell you from experience, if you are athletic and you play a lot, you will get good. My one friend and I started when we were 16 and we played all the time for 1.5 years. Now we are 17 and we have passed so many people that have been playing for a while.

    What really did it for me was the summer. Over the course of the entire summer (about 90 days) I played tennis on 83+ days(no exaggeration). I saw so many improvements. My serve went from trash(60-70mph) to 100mph.(I'm only 5'10") I even played a pretty competitive match with the #1 usta ranked guy in the area. My friend(the one i was talking about earlier) only lost to him 1-6 6-3 5-7 in a tournament. I also have another friend who's been playing as long as us and is on our level too.

    If you're wondering if I'm talented, the answer is no. I'm athletic from hockey and weight lifting.(speed,strength,desire to win, etc.) But I am not a quick tennis learner. The only reason im pretty good is because i play ALL THE TIME.

    The best advice I can give you is to take it in baby steps. Also, train your brain to not overthink. Right now everything might seem good because you're just practicing with a ball machine and everything has no meaning. When you start playing matches, you'll see that you'll have some days where you really want to quit because you'll just play so bad and be so embarrassed. Plus you haven't dealt with the classical fears like losing to someone worse than you, choking, or failing. Not saying this to intimidate you, but know what you're getting yourself into. There really is a lot involved in becoming a good tennis player.

    I do like that you are playing with pros and a ball machine; i think that will up your game significantly quicker than most people.
     
  12. heycal

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    You're not very bright, are you?

    Let's set aside the fact that many 5.0 players, not to mention some pros, suffer from tennis elbow. So you clearly know nothing about that condition or who can it effect.

    But more importanly, your whole argument seems to rest on the assumption that the guy is already a 5.0 player whose biggest concerns should be knees, back, etc. But he's not a 5.0 player yet. He is significantly below that level, and taking care to prevent TE is probably the smartest thing he is doing health-wise as he begins his quest -- not the "last thing he needs to worry about".

    Lameoid.
     
  13. heycal

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    Re something you posted about volleys in this thread:

    I thought I remember over a year ago you saying in some other thread that using an eastern grip for volleys was perfectly fine. Are you now saying one should really be using a continental grip instead?
     
  14. misterchris

    misterchris Rookie

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    LuckyFrame,

    Thanks, thats a great story. You seem very mature and bright for your age, I wish you great things.

    I agree that consecutive time playing is most important. I believe that practicing five days in a row will make you better than practicing once a week for five weeks.

    misterchris
     
  15. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Actually, that was Bill I believe who may have said that. I'm a firm believer that all beginners should build on their volley (and serve) using and learning the continental grip first. I've seen too many (thousands really!)who could not move out of the eastern grips.

    In my experience, those who use eastern grips, while a "stronger" feeling grip, sets the racquet up for too many negative positions: it takes the racquet back too far, it sets the angle of the racquet at nearly 90 degrees relative to the forearm, it forces the player to usualy swing to get the racquet square to the ball, it limits the ability to learn how to hit severe crosscourt angles, touch volleys and drop volleys, and it makes it very difficult to advanced to higher levels because it makes it hard to defend harder hit balls at you when at the net. (The eastern grips also makes it harder to get lower balls up over the net and limits the ability to hit with underspin to take pace off hard hit balls...and, such underspin ability allows you to hit with a firmer stroke without sending the ball into the fence.)

    So, in a nutshell, NO, I don't advocate learning or using the eastern grips to volley with and I never have! (I will agree that many skilled players make subtle adjustments from the continental foundation. It is just easier to do this than to try to learn the continental from an eastern foundation.)

    Capish?
     
  16. heycal

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    Are you sure?? I almost certain it was you who gave the okay to use Eastern grip on volleys. Had I known you felt this strongly about the issue, I might have tried changing to continental 18 months ago or whenever it was that I read that.

    btw, I'm about a 3.5, a 45 year old guy who originally took lessons in the 1970's and then didn't play much until the last three years. I do notice that higher level players usually do use a continental on forehand volleys, but to me that grip for a forehand volley seems extremely awkward.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2008
  17. CoachingMastery

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    Absolutely not. In fact, a number of years ago, BB and I got into a nifty little argument about this. If you have read either of my books, I 100% advocate the continental grip.

    Related to your level, typically a 3.5 level player, one who has been for a while, (I don't know if this is you or not!), was first taught, and subsequently could not transition to the continental grip...for the same reason you mentioned: if you first learn with an eastern forehand grip for forehand volleys it is exponentially more difficult to learn the continental because it becomes so foriegn after playing with the eastern.

    I have my 9 year old daugher hitting exceptional volleys as demonstrated on a series I did for TennisOne last year...establishing the continental grip obviously early with her as I do all my students. There is no question in my experience this is the BEST grip to learn as a beginner...and, it is never too late to decide to learn it as an adult.
     
  18. heycal

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    Maybe I'll try it and see how it feels. The better guys I know who use the continental on forehand volleys learned around the same time I did, so either they were taught this way from the beginning, or made the switch at some point later on as they got more serious and better at the game. (While I was off playing soccer and baseball.)

    Any pros use eastern grip for forehand volleys, now or in past decades?
     
  19. CoachingMastery

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    There have been a few who would migrate a little towards the eastern grips, and today, you will see a few pros, especially on the forehand volley, migrate towards an eastern forehand grip. But not many, and not like that which we see the typical recreational using eastern grips would!

    I can't name a pro off hand that has specifically used an eastern grip for the volley. The best volley players in the game in the past twenty years almost all used continental. However, there may be someone that I'm not aware of or I have not seen enough footage to make the case that EVERY top volley player did.

    Some players can make an eastern grip behave like a contiental grip, but the position of the wrist to create this is awkward.

    Take it from me: the VAST majority of players who first learn tennis using eastern grips don't develop a solid or advanced net game. In fact, a large number tend to do the ol windshield wiper volley move, (hitting a forehand and then turning the racquet over to hit a backhand with the same side of the strings like they were wiping a window in front of them!) While it is usualy hard to retrain yourself, understand that it should be a priority if you really want your net game to reach its potential.

    While some might advocate the eastern grips, I've seen too many fail miserably at learning to volley with these grips. Yet, I've almost never anyone fail when learning the continental. It might take a little longer to get comfortable or familiar with the continental, but it is worth it! (Plus, with the right drills and tools, you can master it faster!)
     
  20. heycal

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    Any theory why when I took a lesson last month, and spent a few minutes working on volleys, the instructor didn't say "hey, what's with that lousy forehand volley grip? Try using a continental".

    I will consider checking out the continental for volleys. But when I take inventory of my many tennis deficiencies, forehand volley doesn't rank very high.
     
  21. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Like you, that pro may have seen that your forehand volley wasn't the weakness that other parts of your game possess.

    However, it has been my experience to witness the number of pros who avoid teaching it because it is a frustration to the student. If they frustrate the student, they won't take lessons. (At least that is what many think!)

    Unless the pro has the teaching tools, drills, and EDUCATION that can really teach the grip and associated stroke correctly, students will simply say, "hey, this feels terrible. Isn't there some other way to hit this shot?"

    However, just like a piano teacher teaching a student to play with all their fingers, it should be understood that such a process will eventually allow the piano student to play more prolific and enjoyable songs. Playing the piano with just their two index fingers is far less frustrating...but, limiting.

    Make sense?
     
  22. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Mention this to me thursday night, I will give you the crash course when it is your turn to be my dubs partner.

    J
     
  23. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    Thankfully, I was taught back in high school to always use a continental grip for volleying -
     
  24. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Is this match actually happening?
     
  25. TennisTrainee

    TennisTrainee New User

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    The only thing I can say is always have goals. Always be working on something, even if it's just more topspin or more pace, and not a new technique.

    Too many (read: all but a few) of the people on my school's tennis team feel that if they "just learn how to drop shot" they will be able to beat all sorts of opponents. In reality, they should learn the drop shot, but also keep improving ALL their other strokes.

    Lastly, never forget footwork, and learning a perfect toss right now will really speed up how fast you learn the different serves.
     
  26. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    I am good for thur, if everyone else is then yes, if not then I will play with one of my buds and go to the gym.

    J
     
  27. mawashi

    mawashi Hall of Fame

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    misterchris,

    I too am in the same boat as yourself, being in my mid 30s & have dreams of being a 5.0 player someday. Being of slim Asian built I have even more obstacles in my way than most of you guys.

    Be very careful with tennis related injuries as within just 3 months of returning to the game after a >10 year hiatus I picked up tennis elbow.

    Go as hard as you can but get your technique right the first otherwise this is going to be a very painful journey and most likely you'll never reach the 5.0 mark due to injuries.

    Cheers,

    mawashi
     
  28. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Didn't you hear? Tennis elbow is apparently the last thing he needs to worry about.
     
  29. teppeiahn1

    teppeiahn1 Rookie

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    If you are going to dream, dream big.
     
  30. JakeHCoker

    JakeHCoker Rookie

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    really depends on the player doesn't it?
     
  31. mawashi

    mawashi Hall of Fame

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    What are you talking about, I using my injuries as an example. TE is just an example MY EXAMPLE of being mindful of injuries.

    Didn't u have TE issues too?

    mawashi
     
  32. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I was being sarcastic, and making fun of that bozo swhettyballs for saying tennis elbow should be a non-issue for the OP.
     
  33. mawashi

    mawashi Hall of Fame

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    Dude don't use my post to snort at someone else, that's not cool.

    If that poster is giving crap info it will eventually show up, bs can only be covered for so long.

    Cheers,

    mawashi
     
  34. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Don't be a tool.

    Get lost, Mawussi. You've already worn out your welcome in this thread.
     
  35. mawashi

    mawashi Hall of Fame

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    You interrupt my comment, call me a tool when I asked you not to, wow I wouldn't have guess that you are a 42 and older cus you are as immature as some of the tykes about.

    nuff said.

    mawashi
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  36. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    I didn't "interrupt" your "comment". You showed up and posted something in a thread I was already in. I made a comment that harkened back to our earlier discussion to underscore that TE is indeed a real issue for the OP or other older players, and you started to whimper and whine for some reason, and then turned on me.

    I'll be 46 years old in a week -- and I still say you're a tool. Any other questions?
     
  37. smoothtennis

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    Wow - this thread has suddenly degenerated. C'mon guys.
     
  38. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Interesting thread...

    ...let me just comment on a couple of things:

    - If you really believe you're capable of 5.0, and that's your sole aim, maybe you're aiming too low. You know what they say in the Air Force: "Aim High." Good advice, I think. I have a lot of problems with NTRP. If you go to the adult tournaments forum, there's a heavy emphasis on winning...forget about what level you are, just make sure you sandbag your true abilities so my team can win the districts, or whatever. I love college team tennis, but at base, folks, tennis is an individual sport. If your goal, IMHO, isn't to be the best you can be, then aiming for 5.0 as the pinnacle ain't gonna get you there.

    In my case, I am now 60, and have played tennis for the last 50 years...that's an ugly thought, ain't it? In my late 20s and 30s, I played the circuit in Colorado, which then didn't have any NTRP, and not that many age group events, either. It was all basically open tennis, and when I got to the quarters of the Intermountain Championships one year, it wasn't a big surprise...I figured that's what I'd worked for, and next year I'd do even better. Except that I got burned out on tournmanent tennis and got into road biking.

    Fast forward a few years to 2004. At a weekend clinic, I ran into Dave Hodge, then CU Boulder Men's Assistant Coach, who started coaching me and some of the other...ahem...Chronologically Challenged guys who are my hitting partners. And I got back into playing tournaments. My strokes and strategy are in the 5.0 range, but I played then, as I do now, down in age groups by 10 to 15 years and often in Men's Open events. How do I do? Most of the time, I lose. As a sidelight, I still love road biking, and because of that and the fact that I have a full time job, unlike a lot of my competition, I choose not to play a ton of tournaments (and I don't play at all in the winter, because then I'm a Masters Alpine ski racer)...so I'm probably not as match tough as I ought to be. This approach used to drive my coaches crazy. They wanted me to play more tournaments at a lower level so I could win more and avoid getting discouraged. Guess what? I'm not discouraged...I just figure it's going to take a little longer.

    Probably not the brightest approach, one would think except (a) I'm Swedish, and stubborn (b) I'm convinced I can win at the levels at which I am competing and (c) I'm getting closer all the time. Challenging myself, even ridiculously so, is a lot more fun to me than trying to arrange all the cards so I win matches. It's like somebody said about Bode Miller, the ski racer: "Sometimes he can seem like the most clueless optimist about what he can do...until he actually does it." That's my philosophy, and I'm not telling you to follow it...but it is a data point, especially if you've ever wondered if there is life after 5.0.

    - What Dave Smith, and others, have said, however, about the process and the difficulty of getting to a 5.0 level are, however, right on the money. I'm not at all criticizing the original poster, who has a lot of desire and belief and seems to want to take the journey to find out if he is, in fact, a 5.0. But I've seen a bunch of other folks essentially ask another question, which shows how far we are into Instant Gratification in this starched and fragrant era of the American experience. Which is "How do I get to be a 5.0?" Or, worse yet, "How soon before I'm a 5.0?" The honest answer is, "Maybe you won't...all you can do is line up the required elements...making yourself better as an athlete, learning the strokes and strategies you'll need from a decent coach, finding good hitting partners and training consistently and conscientiously, playing tournaments...and believe and struggle, and maybe it'll happen, one day. But let's take it one step further. Let's say you do become a 5.0? Then what?"

    Food for thought, IMHO...
     
  39. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    ^^^Wow, excellent post, thank you for sharing!
     
  40. misterchris

    misterchris Rookie

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    Interesting.

    Before getting into tennis, I was strongly considering getting back into Karate. I realized that the competitive element of tennis would drive me to excellence and fitness more than _participating_ in karate for some number of years, (although I believe that martial arts are a better total body workout.)

    Asking when a 5.0 will be achieved is not unlike a white belt asking how long it would take to accomplish a black belt. In martial arts there are belt requirements that usually have a time component. So achieving a certain belt really does take a certain amount of time. Perhaps a black belt in 3-4 years.

    The belt system is useful for motivation and to trck progress. A certain belt level is expected to have a degree of competence in sparing and know particular katas.

    In tennis, the rating system is not much differnt, however the rating is based upon _results_, as opposed to time spent studying and practicing. In that sense, tennis is more interesting and the possibilty of beating players who have been practicing much longer is very real.

    The question about how long to attain a 5.0 did not imply that was the end destination, just how long it would take to achieve what is regarded as a high level of competence. These ratings are useful for students to track their progress, so I believe it is a valid question. Beating individual opponents may (or losing and enjoying the game) have their own reward, but this is all distilled into a person's rating. I suppose once one has achieved the 6.0 level , that he then seeks to attain a ranking.
     
  41. mawashi

    mawashi Hall of Fame

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    You interrupted my post, when I wasn't talking to you. My comment MY ADVICE to misterchris, I never turned on you I was agreeing with you FOOL when I said swhettyballs bs can only be covered for so long. Obviously you don't read well.

    You need coke bottle glasses and yeah, you are still a immature old fart, any questions?

    mawashi
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  42. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Beautiful...

    ...that's exactly where I hoped somebody would head. You wanna be a black belt? Here's the path...we think...get on it, and trust in...something bigger than yourself...
     
  43. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Gotcha...second reply this one, and what you say all makes sense...more or less. Lemme just take it one (or two) or steps further:]

    - You're talking about all this in terms of belts. That's valid, if that's what you want to do. Let's take it back to tennis: I never really cared what my ranking was, or my NTRP level was, or any of that other kind of lame happy jive. What I wanted to do was win Wimbledon. It never happened, and the obvious answer to why not? is: The dude just didn't have it. Fine, but at least I knew what I wanted, and it wasn't to be like every other guy on the block.

    - Okay, let's imagine for a minute that I actually did it. I won Wimbledon! And that meant exactly what? There's a famous Rudyard Kipling quote, apparently, over the last door that the Men's Singles Finalist Contenders exit before they actually go out on the court for the finals that says something to the effect that "Okay...this is really heavy, and I won't deny that, and you're either going to win or lose...but let's sit down and do some Reality Sandwiches, for a change, and admit that neither really matters, in the long run (who won the 1947 Wimbledon Men's Singles Final? Did it actually happen?) What does matter is...could you treat those two imposters (victory and defeat) the same and go out, win or lose, and delight in the battle? Which is what this is all about, right?

    I'm not a big Jimmy Connors fan, but one of the things he fully understood, that many of his antecents do not understand, is that one on one tennis singles competition is a thinly disguised modern day enactment of...you guessed it...Middle Ages Jousting, where two knights go out on horses, and basically attempt to beat the living s*** out of each other until one can't move, or get back on his horse, or pick up his lance.

    So you can talk about whatever level you're at, or whatever level you aspire to, all you want, but past a certain point, it's just all style points. You wanna be a tennis player? Fine, go out, next weekend, and find a tournament, and win it. I don't care how you do it...because if you don't win, I'll tell you what somebody said, with telling finality "Show me a good loser...and I'll show you a loser."
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  44. misterchris

    misterchris Rookie

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    Sure, I'd like to win Wimbledon, but given where I am in my life I cant think this is even a remote possibilty (I can barely play). I know this going in, but I still think I can get my game to a high level in a short period of time.

    Going for broke and putting everything forward is a recipe for success, but also it takes maturity and character to admit one's limitations. I guarantee these tennis greats are average (or below average) in other aspects of their life and are confronted with their own failures every day. Buying into your proposed mind trick (i.e. failure is not an option) is appealing but not applicable for people with complex lives. Great tragedy strikes from out of nowhere and can derail even the best plans. At some point you are humbled and thankful for your modest ability.

    That said, in a greater sense, the school teacher who plays tennis on the weekends for fun deserves as much respect as Federer. I dont look at life in absolutes and try not to pass judgement.
     
  45. Japanese Maple

    Japanese Maple Semi-Pro

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    Misterchris-welcome to the best sport to play as an adult! Before I can give you some advice based upon my experiences, I need to ask you a few questions: 1) what sports did you play growing up and at what level-varsity h.s., grade school, ect. 2) what has drawn you to playing tennis-regardless of what level you ultimately achieve, why do you want to play tennis vs. other sports like golf, squash, basketball, mountain biking-what is your true motivation?
     
  46. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Since you are using the Karate analogy and obviously know a lot about it, here is a question: what percentage of folks who study karate for 10 years straight, don't get a Black Belt? My guess it is pretty low. Be aware that a small single digit percentage of all tennis players (many of whom play for multiple decades), ever get to 5.0
     
  47. misterchris

    misterchris Rookie

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    Exactly. One is based on ability, the other is based on time spent.
     
  48. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Sorry about that...

    ...honestly, I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote that, and I was way off base. Sorry about that. Let me restate what I more or less said in another post on this subject, and add some additional thoughts. Let's leave the karate discussion out of this because you're absolutely right...I know absolutely nothing about karate and you do.

    Let's go way, way back to where misterchris started, which was:

    "So my question is given ideal circumstances, access to a pro, ball machine, good work ethic, a good fitness foundation, etc, how long will it take to reach the 5.0 level?

    I know most people never reach this level, but I think I can do it in a few years or quicker. My plan is this:

    *Be mindful of my health and train within my limits. (I have learned about tennis elbow and how proper technique can prevent.)

    *Move from weight training and endurance running to sprint and jumprope training. Get down to 6'1" 180lbs.

    *Work up to 3+ hours of practice a day. Continue drills with ball machine. Focus on perfecting my serve. (BTW, 3 hours a day for 3 years is about 5000 hours, or half of what I read an average young player practices before going pro.)

    *Keep taking provate and group lessons.

    *When I am nailing groundstrokes with pace and have a respectable serve, start the local ladder/tournament system to learn about game play, but stay more focused on practice than competition against other losers. When I get very good at hitting, seek out other great players to practice with. There is a tennis academy outside Washington DC near where I live.

    I am interrested to see what I can do with this."

    So what I now say to misterchris is "sounds like a reasonable plan, but..."

    First, I see what you're thinking, and there's a lot to it. Meaning, if you're used to the belt system in martial arts, then NTRP is probably the corresponding thing in the world of tennis. And I now see where you're headed, because if you get to 5.0, I would agree that that is probably the equivalent of a black belt. Maybe you've got a purer look at the game of tennis than a lot of people, because you're saying is "I'm interested in attaining a level of mastery in tennis, that doesn't mean it necessarily floats my boat to tot up all the matches I won to attain that level."

    So fine, but there's a strange little game going on with the game of tennis...and I don't know if martial arts has an equivalent thing or not...but to honestly be a 5.0, sure you can do so simply by self-rating yourself a 5.0, but to stay there, you're gonna have to beat other 5.0 players.

    The NTRP system is kind of insidious that way, because if you look at the descriptions of the levels, it's all about strokes and strategy, but there are no words about winning matches. For example, part of the description of a 5.0 player is "You can regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls and can put away volleys. " Fine, but it doesn't say when you are doing that stuff, or what the result of doing that stuff is.

    I'll give you an example. The other day I'm playing point drills...no score, just serve and return, play out the point drills, with my usual hitting partner. I hammer a serve to his forehand in the deuce court, he sees it coming and whacks a great forehand return down the line. The ball is going about a bazillion miles an hour and is going to land a foot in from the baseline, a foot in from the sideline...at least four feet from where I currently am. I have one choice: jump, go for a Hail Mary backhand volley cross court into his backhand corner...and wouldn't you know it...the damned thing fell in! Best shot I hit all week! Definitely 6.0 plus material!

    Then I doublefaulted on the next point. Back in the spring, I asked my hitting partner what his goals were for the year, and he said, much like you're saying, "I want to play at the 5.0 level." I said, "Mark, what does that mean? I've seen you hit forehands that were at a Futures level, once in 20 times, and I've also seen you dump 5 straight forehands into the net. You just played a 5.0 tournament and lost 6-0, 6-0 in the first round! So what does 'playing at the 5.0 level' mean to you?" To which he had no answer.

    So I'd invite you to go back and figure out what "reaching the 5.0 level" means to you. And I'm not, in advance, criticizing whatever you come up with, because ultimately, at whatever level you play, ya gotta play tennis for your own reasons, not somebody else's, or the USTA's definition of what a tennis player is. That shot I described that I hit was, in one sense, all I've ever asked of the game of tennis. And I'll tell you a secret: the minute I hit it, I knew it was going exactly where I wanted it to. I have a lot of variety in my game, and I can do stuff like this all the time. I just haven't figured out yet how to do enough of it...and how to play enough bread and butter tennis in between shots like this...to win matches. So, for me, I want both. I want to hit amazing shots, but I also want to have enough discipline to play my way through a tennis match, using whatever strokes and strategies I have to, and win. You might be same/same on this issue or different...it's up to you.

    So, I dunno. Everybody, myself included, has said "Wow...getting to be a 5.0 is a tough thing, even if you've got all the stars lined up right." Personally, I think you've got a good plan and a good shot at it. But first, drop back 5 and ask yourself what it means to you to reach the 5.0 level...
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2008
  49. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    I am 35 years old.

    I am in my 7th year of playing.

    I am 4.5 (I play in 4.5 USTA tournaments and win a respectable number of matches).

    5.0 is a (relatively) long way off for me I think. Those guys don't really hit the ball better / harder than I do, but they much more "match smart" than I am.

    I play 5.0's and win sets and the occasional match, but I am not in their league.
     
  50. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Thanks, I needed that...

    ...now, do you want to know how to hit a 130 mph serve? Or should I start another thread on that?
     

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