Need suggestions for adult clinic drills/activities

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by beernutz, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    My local city tennis center has adult intermediate clinics which run in alternating 4 and 8 week sessions where you can sign up for either once or twice a week for one hour time slots. I'd never done one of these clinics before due to work conflicts but since I was free for the current 4 week session I gave it a shot and signed up for twice a week. It was only $64 so I wasn't too worried about whether it was going to be worth it or not.

    The first session got rained out last Monday so last Wednesday was our first meeting and it turned out only one other man signed up. He was a 3.0 who I hadn't met before but who'd coincidentally played on a 3.0 team at my club which went to state last year so we knew a lot of the same people. The instructor was a 22 year old fresh out of college guy who'd played DIII at a local University and had previously taught kid's clinics at a country club but had never taught adults.

    So last Wednesday we warmed up for about 15 minutes with him feeding us balls and having us hit a forehand crosscourt, BH DTL, approach shot, volley, and overhead and because there were only two of us we each hit a ton of balls. At this point the instructor told us he'd never done an adult clinic before and asked us what we wanted to do. The other player wanted to work on doubles so with the instructor feeding balls to us in lieu of serves we played a cross-court doubles drill for another 15 minutes while he kept score and occasionally offered critique. We then at the instructor's suggestion hit serves for 15 minutes while he watched and gave a few tips then finally the 3.0 guy and I played points while instructor picked up balls for the last 15 minutes. He didn't really watch us during this last part that I could tell.

    I'm writing because its very likely instructor is going to again ask us what we'd like to work on and I'd like to have some good suggestions ready. There is also a possibility I'll be out there on my own tonight as the 3.0 guy only signed up for once a week (Wednesdays) and though he told me last time he might change to twice a week he wasn't sure. If I'm by myself I'm thinking of just suggesting that the instructor and I just play at least a set since I don't get that many chances to play singles against 4.5 or better players which I'd guess is where he is. Good idea?

    Any suggestions you all might have for suitable drills or activities for either two students and an instructor or just one-on-one with the instructor would be much appreciated.
     
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  2. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    Unless you think you can play a competitive set I would not bother with that. Instead, when you get a chance to learn something you should take it.

    Over the last couple years I have picked out the things that bothered me and had the pro focus on that over 8-10 lesson in the course of one summer.

    The first time I worked on the BH and the serve return. The second summer I focused on the volley and approaching the net.

    If I had it to do over again I might have just spent 8 weeks focusing soleley on footwork drills. Certainly any good pro will touch on footwork while working on other stuff but it is nice for that to be the only thing you focus on.
     
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  3. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    Thanks, those are good ideas. Footwork drills are a great idea--do you have any specific ones you've found to be effective?
     
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  4. Mongolmike

    Mongolmike Professional

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    I agree with dizzlmcwizzl.... try to learn/improve something rather than play, because if he wanted to he could run you ragged chasing points or just plain pass you with shots... not sure what you learn except "dang, he's really good!".

    My suggestions:

    -Identify your weakest area, ask him to help you with that stroke(s).

    -Identify your strength, ask him to help you make that shot even more of a weapon

    -Ask him to drill you shots that are harder to practice on your own: overheads, reflex volleys with pace that are just barely in your range, return of serves from your weakest side, multi feeds that force you to move, swinging volleys, between the legs shots if that's what you want to learn, etc.

    If you are dead-set on playing him, change the rules so it is a challenge for him too, for example:

    -you can hit to the doubles court

    -you start out every game ahead 30-0

    -he only gets one serve

    -he is only allowed into the service boxes to retrieve a shot, then he must exit (to keep him off the net)

    These all work. When my wife is willing to play me, she hates to lose, so I play with all of these to make things close... or if I lose, it doesn't matter.
     
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  5. Setmatch45

    Setmatch45 Rookie

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    depending on your level it is hard to find good drills. Maybe footwork and fitness would be a good idea. Or working on other parts of your game you really don't have again depends on level.
     
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  6. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    FWIW, I'm a reasonably successful computer-rated 3.5 going 8 and 1 in local league 3.5 doubles last year, 4-1 in USTA doubles, 4-3 in USTA singles with all 3 singles losses to players who were ESR at 4.0. I've played many 7.5 combo matches where one of the players was a 4.5 as well as just fun/practice doubles matches against 4.5s at my club so I have a good idea about what to expect.

    I have no illusions about winning more than 1 or 2 games at most and that would be a long-shot but like I said I so rarely get to play singles with players at that level I thought it might be worth spending at least one of the sessions trying it.

    Thanks for all the feedback.
     
    #6
  7. escii_35

    escii_35 Rookie

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    Footwork off the closing mid court volley.

    A few days ago I practiced with a 3.0 who was off to sectionals in a few days. I had forgotten how floaty and oddly spun many 3.0 groundies are. The last time I hit so many floating mid court balls on the fly was working with an ultra consistent female 4.0 senior moon-baller.
     
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  8. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    This is an excellent question.

    I mean, what a challenge! Two players with disparate abilities, a green instructor, and no clear goals.

    I have done a lot of semi-private lessons, and I would say it is important to work on things where the other student's weaknesses will not deprive you of a good lesson.

    Doing one hour on overheads would work well. One student lobs, the other hits overheads. Instructor mostly corrects the form of the one smashing.

    Another good one is a poaching drill where you work on poaching and service return. Instructor serves to one student on the deuce court (serving from no mans and). The other student lines up at the net and tries to poach every all. Returner gets to practice returns. Poacher ges to practice split step, poach, correct target, and crossing.

    If you want to work on ground strokes, instructor should shuttle back and forth between you, correcting your form.

    I think the instructor should not feed if there are two students. By making you two hit cooperatively, you will get to hit more balls and the balls will resemble what you normally see.

    If you wind up with a private lesson, I wouldn't use it playing him. I would use it to work on your approach volley and/S&V. Those ar things tat require instruction and lots of reps to master.
     
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  9. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Fresh college D3 grad? Don't under-utilize him and waste your time with drills, which any oldie 4.0 coach can feed you later. Play games with him and observe his strokes. One of you can play a game and the other watches him, then vice versa. With such people, seize the opportunity to get a feel for an advanced ball and observe them carefully.
     
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  10. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Cindy, those are excellent suggestions. Based on the feedback so far I'm leaning away from my original idea of suggesting the instructor and I play a set.
     
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  11. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    You know . . .

    Another way to approach this is along the lines of what Dizz suggested. Pick one goal and pursue it for the entire session.

    It isn't a bad idea, and I have had some real breakthroughs that way. It takes a lot to blast through current muscle memory and replace it with something better.

    Looking back on my 3.5 self, I would say the thing that might benefit most from focused semi-private work could be the volley. When you move up, your volleys will be sorely tested, and any form breaks will cost you. Does your current volley have consistent weight? Can you can hit a quality volley from any position on the court? Are you using the correct grip and (hopefully!) one hand for FH and BH? If not, I would think focusing on volley drills would be a good use of the young instructor's skills.
     
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  12. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    That is essentially what I've decided to do during the rest of the sessions (we have 5 more). I want to develop a more penetrating 1HBH and have sharper BH volleys so whenever the instructor asks for suggestions on what to work on I will have drills ready to offer related to developing these skills. My 1HBH footwork needs a ton of work and he gave me some suggestions yesterday which seemed to help in addition to some pointers on tightening up my BH volleys. We spent about half of yesterday's session doing these drills.

    Mike the instructor even suggested we play out some games against each other so that may happen after all. Again, I do appreciate all the suggestions so far.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
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  13. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    They've been great ideas. I'd think it a real waste to simply play games - we can practice poor play anytime.... perhaps just a few minutes where the emphasis is on point development - good/poor approaches, proper positioning after shot, etc. with each point critiqued afterwards.

    With a 4.5, and at 3.0/3.5, you have a chance to have a guy repetitively give you a ball that you want to work on. Grasp the chance.
     
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  14. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    If he continues collecting balls while he should be watching,you might gently suggest that you value his opinions more than his housekeeping? :)
     
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  15. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    There are a lot of pros out there teaching. Some are better than others. Some pros are nothing more than "human ball machines". Ball machines cost less than "human ball machines" and if I am pay for professional lesson, I want to practice what the pro taught me, two or three times before I go back to that pro to demonstrate I can hit the shot he has taught me to hit.

    I have done drills for 18 months and recently paid for 6 private lessons (buy five lessons and get one free) from a former SEC tennis player who has been teaching since he left college about 15 years ago. The six lessons had specific goals for each lesson. Before the first lesson, I told the Pro I don't want to be a 4.0, I want to win consistently at 4.0

    I told him my biggest weakness was my serve and I wanted a 2HBH like my forehand, a penetrating weapon, that I could rely on to force errors by my opponents. Hitting a shot so well, that causes your opponent difficulty is the goal. Clean winners will happen, but the goal is to hit penetrating ground stokes that either results in an error or shot that I can finish. Then I let him hit with me, access my strengths and weaknesses, warts and all, and then come up with a plan. He did just that.

    We spent two lessons on serving, one on my forehand, one on my backhand, one on doubles strategy and the final one on approach shots, lobs and doubles strategy with volleys. It was the best $375 I have ever spent. Why? Because the Pro looked at my game and then decided where I needed the most help. So many instructors do not understand tennis like this guy does. He gets it. I taught people to fly jets for a living. Not all pros have the same teaching ability. Just like doctors, attorneys and teachers, some are amazing, many are average at best, and some well below average. When I starting teaching students in multi-engine jets, I was an experienced pilot, but not an experienced instructor. I had to learn to teach. So I watched and listened to the best peers I worked with. Out of 100 guys, I found 4 or 5 that were amazing instructors. I flew with them and learned from them. It was the best job I ever had in my life. But life moves on and so do we.

    Teaching one on one is a learning experience for both the teacher and the student. The best instructors can break down a maneuver in simple terms (a crosswind landing, stall recovery, or something more complicated like a Cuban 8), just like a great tennis instructor can break down a serve, closed vs open stance 2HBH in simple terms. In tennis, like flying, the KISS principle works well. Keep It Simple Stupid = get the basics, and don't overload. Basically, don't overload the student with two many things to do on one shot/maneuver. The Pro I took lessons with recently understands this and works with the basics that have to be there for the shot to have a great chance of success.

    I played singles for most of my life, and still do. I tried to play doubles starting two years ago, and realized quickly, some of the things I do in singles doesn't work in doubles at all. I also realized that while I could most avoid the net in singles, my volleying skills were flat awful. My overheads were weak. I then two years ago, I decided to take a year off from singles and learn how to play doubles. The goal: learn how to win at doubles. And so the journey began.

    If you want to win more at doubles, buy three copies of "The Art of Doubles" by Pat Blaskower. Best book I have found on playing doubles. It is not a beginner's level book.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Doubl...1345042233&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Art+of+Doubles

    Give one to the young 22 year old instructor. Keep one for yourself, and save one for your future doubles partner that you find you complement and play your best as a team. When you read the book, you will understand what I mean by that. There are drills in this book for doubles.

    If were to start tennis again as a adult playing the game for the first time, I would do this: seek the best instructor I could find by asking "Who's the best pro for the money?" Then tell your instructor what your goals are: (Mine is to win 75% of my 4.0 matches) It is an achievable and measurable goal.

    My list of most have shots with the proper technique:

    1) Serve (spin, flat and kick)
    2) Forehand (inside out and traditional)
    3) Backhand (my preference given to 2HB but a one-handed slice should be learned IMO)
    4) Volley (Backhand volleys are essential)
    5) Overhead (then try to master a 2HBH Overhead)
    6) Approach shot (forehand and backhand)
    7) Both offensive and defensive lobs.
    8) Drop shot

    Ask the instructor to demo the difference between a flat and topspin groundwork and the reasons for hitting one vs the other. Ask the pro to demo various grips and the reason for each.

    Just my .02 Have fun learning. What a great sport!

    P.S. Many thanks to the guys and ladies who regularly contribute their thoughts here. I truly appreciate your thoughtful inputs.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2012
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  16. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    Great story and good suggestions--thanks for sharing. I have The Art of Doubles on my Kindle and I've read it all at least twice now. It is highly recommended--you just have to convince your partners to read it too. ;-)
     
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  17. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Beernutz, I have bought six copies of this book for friends, including two 4.0s who have read the book. These two 4.0s both win more than 80% of their 4.0, 7.0/8.0/9.0 Mixed, and 7.5/8.5 Combo matches. That is where I want to be: winning 75% of my matches at this level.

    I have learned in doubles, that while I can play with various partners, I excel when put with someone who complements my game, like Pat Blaskower writes about. I am very fortunate to have a both a 3.5 and 4.0 partner, who I both play with regularly. The 3.5 and I have lost one match this year.

    The 4.0 and I used to be 3.5 partners, until he was bumped two years ago. I will be bumped again at the end of this year, or I will simply play 4.0 only. I was unbeaten in 3.5 singles this year (including two wins over 3.5B players with 90% winning records themselves, and nearly unbeaten at 3.5 doubles with only one loss in the finals of a Level 2 tournament) I feel I have nothing left to prove at 3.5

    For the most part, I am no longer challenged at 3.5, unless the player is a "3.5S". I beat two very strong 3.5S guy this year in singles. One in USTA and one in a ladder match. The USTA guy asked me if I was self-rated? I replied "No, unlike you." :twisted:

    The other asked if I was "juicing" after taking two Alleve on the court. :rolleyes: I showed his email to several friends, who couldn't believe he had the balls to ask that after I beat him in 3 sets of a ladder match.

    Ready for more challenges at 4.0
     
    #17
  18. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    It was an interesting clinic last night. As I find out more of Mike the instructor's history I find he is at least a 5.0 NTRP. He has been taking lessons and playing tournaments since he was 12. When he was a 14 year old 9th grader his coach rated him a 4.0. He won a doubles state title as a high school team player and played #1 singles for his college team. Pretty dang impressive.

    Last night the other adult didn't show because he was traveling for work and so we agreed to play some games. I predictably lost the first two games but did manage to score a couple of points in each game which isn't surprising since even though he was hitting hard he was trying to keep the points going by not hitting for the lines. My second service game I actually hit two service winners, got a net cord winner, and he netted a ball so that I "won" a game. Woohoo! I know full well it not a real game win because at that point, despite his stating he wanted to keep points going he starting pushing me around and punishing short balls.

    We played out that set and one more and not only did I not win another game I think I only got as many as two points in one other game, one of them being another net cord winner. I did keep several points going and he ran my *** off so that it was really fun despite the beatdown. The lesson is only one hour but he was nice enough to stay another 20 minutes to finish the second set. Actually I was so caught up in the game I didn't notice the time but I am sure he did but he didn't say anything about it.

    As we talked afterward about his tennis i found out he'd burned out from tennis after his senior season ended and had not played a competitive match for months until last week when he played one of the current players from his old team and beat him 1 and 1, which doesn't surprise me at all given how good he is.

    During our game play Mike was giving me tips and suggestions so there was some coaching going on too. I don't believe I would get much out of doing this again but i'm really glad I got yhe experience of doing it this one time.
     
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