[Merged] Wardlaw Directionals -- what a difference!

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by smoothtennis, Apr 13, 2008.

  1. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Call me stubborn or dense, but previously, I just couldn't get the ideas of inside and outside shots through my thick skull. It just didn't quite make sense. Then I watched the Chuck Kreisse vids someone posted this week, and FINALLY understood what those terms meant.

    I went out this weekend, and hit trying to employ just three of those directionals - Outside balls go crosscourt, inside balls - can change direction - weak shots, I can hit down the line aggresively if I choose. Otherwise, no changing directions on balls, and limit the DTL shots.

    Well - I can't believe what a radical improvement this made in my play. Three things happened that surprised me.

    1. I had so much less 'noise' in my head. I didn't have to decide on what shot to hit, I already knew, so I just set up and hit it. It was mentally so much more comfortable hitting this way.

    2. Consitency was improved, not just because I choose the right shot - but because there was no hesitation as to what shot to hit. I noticed how much quicker I could set up.

    3. I put my opponent in way more trouble than I usually do, and I hit with my regular hitting partner, so I know how we hit. I guess simply because the percentage of power in the shots used was greater than single segment shots - even though it seemed much more predictable as to what I was going to do. I thought he would start to groove on me, but the high percentage shot was still just that - the high perentage shot - whether he expected it or not.

    It just felt so good kinda knowing exactly what was going on out there for a change. It was mentally relaxing hitting this way, not to mention - it just works.

    In fact, I'll be honest here. I am kinda freaked out how great it was hitting this way. I am seriously excited about this.
     
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  2. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Great! Glad they helped.
     
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  3. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    Huh? "Wardlaw directionals"? What are y'all talking about? Never heard of this before...any links? Thanks!
     
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  4. Moses Man

    Moses Man Rookie

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  5. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Aside from the directionals encouraging high percentage shots (truly a good thing), you also went out there with a reasonable plan instead of just playing in reaction mode. When I can successfully encourage the kids that I coach to do that, it's not rare to see that same calmness in their game because they already know what to do with the ball. You could even scratch down some highlights of Wardlaw's magic formula and revisit them while you're playing - check them on changeovers or before you start. I've tried it and I've found that it can really chase the garbage out of my head.
     
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  6. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Too true. I look forward to developing more with these. At first glance, you know...it looks like a physical shot selection thing. When I started going with it, and allowing it to be part of my point play, it became a mental thing with much more 'time' on my side. Hard to set your feet up well, when you haven't made a final decision on what shot to hit.

    I remember being out wide on some forehands, hitting an deep aggressively spun shot back cross court, and *right there* thinking - "ahhhh - this is where you always scramble back hard to the center to cover the DTL!" Only this time, I didn't recover all the way - I let him have a shot at it if he was willing to take the high risk low percentage shot. It not only worked, but I saved a lot of energy not scrambling all over to cover low percentage possibilities.

    It was a big 'AH-HA' moment for me.
     
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  7. 10sfreak

    10sfreak Semi-Pro

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    Thanks, Moses Man! You've led me out of the wilderness!:)
    Actually, I thought that maybe this issue had been discussed before on this board, and I wanted to read through it...BUT, you made a great point - I should have googled it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
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  8. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Just wait till you watch a pros match. Try and watch the strategies and how they try to move the ball around. Obviously the pros can defy the Directionals somewhat but you will see them in use often.

    Take note when a player goes for a very risky shot to change direction and get a better matchup. Makes watching tennis much more interesting. Also note the serves and the returns and how the players try to position themselves for the rallies in the point.

    When you mix in the Directionals, matchup tactics, you will really enjoy watching tennis. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2008
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  9. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    The Directionals are the entryway for understanding strategy in tennis as they take the dimensions of the court and net into consideration.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2008
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  10. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    The take away i see is that "one should be deterministic about their shot and not be guessing where to hit".

    The wardlaw directionals look very basic to me and may help certain players.

    There are several different strategies in tennis game and thats why i love it. I play it a little different. To me at a high level there are two deterministic strategies

    1) attack opponents weakness
    eg:Weak backhand. Apply pressure consistently attacking the opponents backhand and try breaking it down. I take it to extreme sometimes and repeatedly hit to opponents backhand regardless of where they hit to me.

    2) Play to your strengths
    eg:Strong forehand. Play as many forehands as possible and dictate the play.


    As to when to change the direction of the ball, my strategy is simple. Whenever i feel i have an open court or an opponent is out of position I pull the trigger.
     
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  11. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    SmoothTennis,

    If I watch the videos and play on Sunday, do you think I can employ the directionals to good advantage? Or would it be better to do it in a practice situation first?
     
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  12. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    The key to the Directionals is gone over in detail in the book, Pressure Tennis. This is not necessarily the "direction" you hit the ball but more important for singles, is aiming out the back of the baseline, instead of for the sideline, ie deeper, more penetrating shots vs wider, shallower shots.
     
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  13. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    These directionals help a lot, but I have to say, you've got to be careful not to be too predictable. I've played doubles against some people who returned cross-court NO MATTER WHAT, no matter how obvious my poaching was. Gotta try to put me in my place SOMETIMES.
     
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  14. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Use the Directionals as your basic foundation on how to move the ball around. As you get better and stronger, you will be able to defy the Directionals and take more risk. However, even at the pro level you can see the Directionals in use even though they are not consciously thinking about it.
     
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  15. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    The Directionals can be using in doubles but IMO they are best used there for single strokes (like a tough volley), not for whole points (or a rally).
     
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  16. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Ha, I'm imagining an all down the line shot rally now, that would be one ugly sight to see!

    God I'm bored today, can't stop posting!
     
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  17. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Hmmmm...depends. What I did was to watch those youtube vids from Chuck K., then get my head around it by thinking through points for a few day, until I sort of though I had it, at least a few rules.

    So I then went out a few day later, and practiced them while hitting with my partner on groundies, and I quickly got the hang of it.

    Then in my next match a few days later, without thinking about it too much, I was seeing it. ie, "Oh, thats an outside forehand coming...crosscourt - np"

    Just pick take the crosscourt rule for outside balls, and stick with that. When you get an inside ball, you have options. Don't get too complicated with it, just have fun recognizing inside, outside, or weak ball.

    Good luck - have fun with it Cindy - this takes repitition. But let me say - it helped me a lot just doing them a little bit, being aware of what was going on. Funny thing too---most of the errors I saw from my partner, where when he clearly violated one of those rules!
     
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  18. anchorage

    anchorage Rookie

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    I hadn't come across this prior to reading this thread. But, hasn't one important element been left out, namely that an outside ball has to be returned to your opponent's outside (actually, shouldn't you always hit to your opponent's outside unless you've gone straight down the middle?).

    Seems to me if you hit cross court but to his inside, you're dead meat. Also, are you meant to adapt if your opponent just stands there anticipating where you will hit?
     
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  19. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    The Directionals tell you where on the court to hit the ball, where your opponent is standing is not addressed. However considering that the target area for CC balls is the outer third of the opposite side, it would be the unusual situation where the other guy would get an inside out shot off of it.
     
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  20. GPB

    GPB Professional

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    After reading up on them a bit (I haven't bought the book or anything yet) I used this thinking yesterday in a match, and it was pretty common-sensical and came naturally to me. Lovely.
     
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  21. origmarm

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    Coincidentally I have recently bought the book. I'm going to read it and see how it works out but I reckon I will try and implement slowly over the next month or so
     
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  22. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    from above link, at the bottom it says:
    This is just a basic idea on the Wardlaw directionals, the same principles apply to Volleys, approach shots etc.,


    Not sure this applies to volleys or approach shots..
    If I am at the net and someone hits a cross court passing shot from the corner, and the ball goes across my body, why would I volley cross court back to him all the time.

    Similarly, for an approach shot, most of the time I want to go down the line on a short cross court hit ball, even if the ball goes across my body.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2008
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  23. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    For volleys not so much. However, with volleys you want to use a different approach and that is defensive or offensive. Balls that are volleyed from a low position are more defensive in nature (defensive does not mean hitting a sitting duck back). A ball that is above the net can be hit more offensively.

    Again, these a general rules to build consistency, placement, and depth. It helps with shot selection and should be incorporated into your risk tolerance. Obviously, if you take risk on and blow it, you need to rethink if you are ready for that kind of shot and realize when to back down or what your limitations are.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2008
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  24. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    You are right. I did not think of that. Thats why you are a teaching pro and I am not :grin:
     
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  25. Fay

    Fay Professional

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    I realize that I am not at all y'all's level, but I had two coaches I like tell me the same thing. Always hit down the line on short balls so that I can be at the net to cut off their angles. If they could be so accurate as to pass me in that situation to just keep practicing and acknowledge that they are better players.

    I was told to try to hit deep to the corners and either pull someone off wide so I could come to the net on a weak high return or by hitting deep corners to try to force a short ball for me to come to the next. I was told to hit down the line on a short ball with gusto so that they couldn't get to it.

    If I was pulled off court to try to hit a very sharp cross court ball short in the hopes that they couldn't get to it ... or if they came to the net anticipating that to hit behind them.

    I was also told to use a down the line response to a ball hit to my BH to set up an exchange back to cross court back to my FH which is stronger.

    Now obviously this is a rather simplistic strategy but I am not an advanced player ....

    is my strategy going to conflict with the Directionals at some point? This is a bit confusing for me.
     
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  26. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    Thats where Bungalo Bills explanation comes in (offensive or defensive). If it is a high short ball across your body you can go down the line. If it is a low short ball across your body then you have the option of going back cross court.

    This would apply to both volleys and approaches on short balls.

    I know that for approaches off low short balls which cross my body I often tend to hit the ball into the doubles alley if I try to go down the line. Thats either Directionals at play, or I am just rusty, or not skilled enough :)
     
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  27. Fay

    Fay Professional

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    If one hits a short ball cross court, doesn't that leave a huge area for opponent to make a passing shot to the open court?
     
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  28. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    (wardlaw) Makes a lot of sense. I can immediately see how my partner changes directions when i hit to his inside (during a CC forehand rally). I think he has been employing this on me all this while without letting me in on this !

    Does the same hold true for return of serve, too ?
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2008
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  29. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    I would think so, but it also depends on the quality of the serve.

    1) If it is a great serve the high percentage play is to try and get it back into the court. So, it is safest to return to the center baseline on great serves.

    2) If it is an average first serve, or a second serve, I would apply the laws.
    a) Serve out wide: return cross court kinda to where the ball came from..i.e. close to the middle or a little farther crosscourt.
    b) Serve down the T: return down the middle, though the law says that you can change directions a bit here since the ball has not gone across your body.
    c) Serve between body and T: return in a range from down the middle to down the line.

    Am I correctly applying the laws on a,b,c ? :neutral:

    If it is a serve and volleyer, the same laws hold but the priority then is on getting the ball low.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2008
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  30. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Well thanks for the compliment, I appreciate it.
     
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  31. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    The return of serve does work similarily. You should get the video as they have return of serve in there as well.
     
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  32. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    Today, again I applied wardlaw and found it great to keep the ball in play (against a better player), and a few times when i went down the line, my opp was surprised - he had run to cover crosscourt (realizing I was playing cross-court largely).
     
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  33. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    You are right. I would not go cross court to the baseline, if it was a short ball near the sideline. The would leave the huge area for the opponents passing shot.

    This discussion was for a low short ball cross court (defensive one for you)

    If you change the direction and go down the line , the opponent still has lots of area cross court before you can cover the center.

    You could do a very sharp cross court where the ball crosses the opponents sideline around the service line, taking him off the court. This way you do not violate wardlaw's law in terms of you getting the ball cross court. Also, gives you time to cover the center angle, and gives the opponent a really small area to hit into from outside the sideline.
     
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  34. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Good job Sentinel! Glad those are working for you.

    Last night I won 11-3 using Wardlaw almost exclusively as a goal, along with not overhitting. The result was just amazing because, this man was a tried and true solid good 3.5 tournament player. I knew the pace would be slower than normal, and I was tempted to do the ol' overpower him with big shots, he'll crack and make errors thing. Using that approach, I would have lost at least 2-3 more games.

    This took faith because there were many balls when he hit back to me crosscourt off one of my good corner shots, clearly a blatant outside ball, that I had almost the entire court open! My brain said - down the line!!! My Wardlaw thinking said - cross court - you have the percentage play here.

    So even when I had a huge open court on an ouside balls, I would semi -aggressively roll it back cross court with plenty of spin. It worked! It just works. First of all, he is trying to adjust and cover that HUGE open court, so he had to constanly reverse his weight to cover the cross court shot. This almost always forced some kind of error or weaker ball.

    I did go DTL on all short mid court balls or very weak baseline shots.

    Anyway - I was thinking during the match, nah, this is too slow for Wardlaw to work, but the pace didn't seem to impact the percentages or the footwork much. The rules still worked. Cool. And oh yeah - almost all of his errors occured violating a rule. That was the other cool thing about those rules.
     
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  35. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    Seeing the positive feedback I tried to use wardlaw's just as a sanity check. I take great pride in my ability to read the play and coming up with tactics or strategies and then execution of it (sometimes it doesnt work --ofcourse).

    My results are mixed at the best. I would rather trust my instincts and adjust as i play the game. Not get too carried away on whether should i hit cross court or DTL.

    I would use wardlaw's as a beginners guideline. At advanced levels (or if i play better players) i need to take risks to win.

    What chance does carlos moya have in engaging cross court backhand rallies against Blake or Gasquet. On the other hand if moya runs around and take a big forehand DTL or etc, now he has a good chance.
     
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  36. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I think you are missing the point on the Directionals.

    The Directionals simplifies rallies and allows you to focus on your strategy and not make dumb shot choices. You have indicated that you are not always right in the risk you take. So that means you are probably not making good shot choices and using risk as an excuse to do whatever you want.

    Also, the Directionals are not for beginners. I can't imagine you being so good that they are beneath you.

    Further, once you recognize how to reply to your opponents shot, matchups begin to take effect. Which means strategy and tactics start coming into play. Risk is taken when you have a weapon that can, in a way, defy the recommended reply.

    However, the risk you take is calculated and can be managed. The Directionals are not the end to tennis strategy and tactics. It is only a part of it.
     
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  37. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    I agree only in parts. I definitely dont agree with the part of not making good shot choices. I am very comfortable with my shot selection and believe in them. Just because i made a good shot choice doesnt always result in good execution. Wardlaws or not i dont have that consistency to be perfect every time on every single shot .

    I strongly opine that wardlaw's are not for advanced players. I dont belive in hitting a ball cross court or DTL because it crossed or didnt cross a path.That may help the early learners. My approach relies on what options i have available and i am comfortable doing and what gives my opponent most trouble. You have better perspective of coaching players and your knowledge on tennis is well known. So i respect your opinion on Wardlaws but i cant rationalize it myself.
     
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  38. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, whatever.

    LOL, are you kidding? Did you even read what I wrote? The Directionals are the foundation to shot selection, risk taking, and matchup strategies and tactics. Hello? This is not beginner level! lol

    That is because you dont understand them and only want to do it your way. You try it once and have a melt down. If you have a melt down using them, why would they be for beginners? You can't even handle it! lol

    I can guarentee you make more mistakes on shot selection choices then you know about. In other words, I would probably say "that was a dumb choice" more often then you would think you made a dumb choice.

    Bottom-line, you aren't above them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2008
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  39. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    Sorry i dont read just about every crap message that is out there. i try to weed out as much as i can and only read useful stuff.

    You seem to have a vivid imagination to assume information that wasnt provided.


    LOL. now thats funny..guarantee on internet...thanks.
    May be you say "that was a dumb choice". Not me. I am happy with my shot selection and dont need any unsolicited advise.

    On your bottom line. Give it to someone who values it.
     
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  40. GPB

    GPB Professional

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    Well you're always taught that crosscourt is a "safe" shot and down-the-line is a "risky" shot, blah blah blah.

    I think, mainly, the Wardlaw Directionals are just another way to look at this. It's an easy-to-remember guideline of how to remember where the safe shot is, and when it's a good idea to go for the risky winner.

    I've been keeping them in mind these past few weeks and been having lots of success.

    "It's only once you know the rules that you know when to break them..."
     
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  41. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    Guys, .... relax. As a beginner I think Wardlaw really helps. As for pros, I would assume they and their coaches know best. No comment.

    However, I have watched GS matches for years and never understood why they had long cc rallies, until I started playing recently and understood the logic behind it.

    We beginners watch matches on TV, and start going for shots. We do not truly understand shot selection and point construction. We need guidelines to keep our game simple, keep in play, let the other guy make an error. Yes, as we improve, or as we build a lead, or once in a while we can also take risks.

    One of the simplest/easiest winners I hit against far superior guys, is just hit behind them ! No need to go for a perfect shot. These simple guidelines are great for us !
     
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  42. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    this is such a good point for me-i find it much easier to find angles, but i cant manage to get depth. its frustrating me.
     
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  43. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I have trouble with depth too, Zap. First ball deep, Second ball a little shorter, Third ball a sitter at the T.

    OK, I'm playing again today for practice. I'll trot out the directionals again and see what happens.
     
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  44. ARNICOLINI

    ARNICOLINI New User

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    I have never really understood tactics, so this is a great help to my beginning to understand. Even in other sports I watch and enjoy but never grasp the xs and os of the game.

    I again going to start implementing this ASAP, I think it can help me greatly in smarter shot selection.
     
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  45. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    OK, I tried it again.

    It's really hard to know if Wardlaw helps or not. I mean, I make so many bloody unforced errors that I don't know whether to blame Wardlaw or not. For instance, I have trouble taking my FH crosscourt. Inside out feels more comfortable. Wardlaw makes me take it crosscourt a lot. I miss. Is that Wardlaw's fault?

    Probably not.

    I will say this, though. I had an ephiphany today. I always figured you needed to hit corner to corner to wear your opponent out. Not true. Having an extended rally crosscourt also seems to wear out the opponent, as they keep recovering and you keep going behind them. I won many points by just keeping a FH crosscourt rally going. In other words, when I did my job (keep it in play), the crosscourt rally with increasingly severe angles was an excellent strategy.
     
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  46. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    The Directionals actually are the starting point and help with UE's more than generate winners. It is the Pro's, with their higher accuracy who can do well by "breaking the rules" of the Directionals.

    BTW, the Directionals do not advocate severe angles, rather penetrating and deep shots with less angle.
     
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  47. smoothtennis

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    Ok Cindy - this is what I am seeing using the directionals myself. These cross court rallies...seem simple, but they are obviously not because the other guy is trying so very hard to keep recovering, while I am only partially recovering, knowing already where I am hitting my next shot.

    As I mentioned in my last post - my last opponent, would whiff a weak shot back or give a short ball after about the third crosscourt when he didn't fully recover and get back well. Most of the time, he felt in trouble, and hit up the line wide - I swear 10 times at least, violating the rules.

    Think about it this way. YOU know you are going cross court. YOU will set up faster and better for it. YOU will hit a pretty solid ball back. THEY may not be so sure what they are hitting back. THEY will over recover and get behind. THEY will usually set up their feet weak. THEY will usually give you a weak ball or an outright error.

    It is sound strategy.
     
    #47
  48. split-step

    split-step Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2007
    Messages:
    1,012
    Or they will rip a forehand down the line off your cross court and make the shot.
     
    #48
  49. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,541
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    Monk - I watched the Federrer/Djokovic Australian Open matchup again just watching for Wardlaw. I not only saw it a lot, most errors they were making came from violating a directional. Now I agree - these are the top two or three tennis players on the entire planet, and if anybody can break those rules successfully, they can. But they still stuck to the directionals on most points - and lost points breaking directionals. I admit, I was surprised...
     
    #49
  50. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,070
    Well, yeah.

    Wardlaw doesn't let me off the hook for hitting a short or weak ball. Like Smoothtennis said, my opponent missed more than she made.

    I wish Wardlaw could help me approach better. I mean, you keep pushing the ball up the middle rather than approach well to the corners, and you're going down in flames. If I could improve that one shot, I would really be cooking with gas . . .
     
    #50

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