Old Sckool Vs Present

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by jman, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. jman

    jman Semi-Pro

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    Listening to the Wimbledon commentators, I heard a comment to be quite interesting. They commented that with todays current racket technology, players seem to have forgotten the basic techniques of tennis. You know, taking back the racket, hitting side on & so forth.
    So, I was wondering if todays recreational players still follow the 'Old Sckool' techniques or today's modified techniques? Which ever one you pick, give an example of any player, present or past, which best fits your opinion.
    For me, I like the old school/classic style of Patrick Rafter and Pete Sampras. I like the Sampras serve, simple and classic, and envy Rafter's volleying skill, they were out of this world!
     
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  2. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Rafter didn't have a classic looking game. He played serve and volley tennis, which is "old school," but aside from that each one of his strokes was pretty modern, leaning towards the ugly end of the spectrum.

    And he was a good volleyer, but I never thought he had great volleying technique. He was no Edberg, that's for sure. Edberg once said that you volley with your legs, not your hands, and as far as that goes, I think that's why Rafter was so effective at the net -- he was super athletic, very fast, and fearless. Somehow, Patrick managed to be a grinder... who served and volleyed!!! I think there was some guy named Tim or Tom Wilkinson (?) who played in the 80's who was similar to Rafter in that he made serve and volley look "dirty," not like the tennis equivalent of aikido (like Edberg and Mac did). That's right, serve and volley is aikido, and baseline play is tae kwon do.
     
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  3. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    A very good summary of Rafter's game. When volleying he didn't, so much, hit the razar sharp angles that Edberg was known for, or the ridiculous ones that Mac hit, or the combination of angles and touch that Sampras and Mac demonstrated. But, being a big, strong and fast player, he really was able to hit his volleys DEEP, in both corners-he really lifted the ball. His groundstrokes were just good enough to keep him in the point until he could capitalize on an opportunity to attack the net. Very fun player to watch...and really, the last of his kind.
     
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  4. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Yeah, and he often seemed to be "reacting" to shots hit at him, like he was caught off guard, yet he got most of his volleys back into play. He didn't seem to always be one step ahead like the really masterful volleyers, like Edberg and Mac. Okay technique, but great athleticism and reactions. Another thing he had going for him was he was really one of the most physically intimidating players on the tour. He never got hatoraded for it, but he used to scream in his opponents faces a lot, like Hewitt. I think, like Becker, his intimidating presence made him more effective at net than technique alone could account for.
    His groundstrokes were really mediocre for a top 50 player. I wonder if we'll ever see such "weak" groundstrokes in the ATP top 5 ever again. His groundstrokes too were a testament to his athleticism.
     
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  5. fastdunn

    fastdunn Legend

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    Sometimes, I wonder about same issue myself.

    Even when I play doubles, sometimes I wonder if I need conventional volley.
    Some young folks with modern forehand plays doubles match compeletely
    with ground strokes. Maybe some swing volley and overheads.

    I also know this guy who learned tennis completely by himself.
    No lesson and not much TV viewing. Just hitting at public park.
    He does not have back swing. He just bring his racquet(Babolat Pure Drive)
    near incoming ball and flick it at last split second. He generates
    incredible pace and nobody knows where he is hitting until he hits.

    Then you see juniors hitting modern forehand which has all the elements
    that old school coaches would say NO NO about...
     
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  6. omniexist

    omniexist Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, I remember Rafter's game being very physical. I got tired just watching him play. I don't know how anyone could play like that match after match but I guess Nadal is the baseline equivalent.
     
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  7. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Dude, I used to say the same thing all the time.
     
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  8. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    The commentators may be exaggerating a little or massaging their own egos. Without good technique of some sort, you cannot compete at those levels.

    But your thoughts about recreational players are right on the mark. What works today is open stance and hitting off the back foot. I started doing that on both sides as a defensive play. Then recently someone my level told me he had a revelation and found that hitting off the back foot is the way to go. It makes the backfoot move first and get behind the ball. Nadal hits open stance on the forehand all the time.

    When you mention racquet takeback, I don't understand what they meant. Did they mean that the takeback has become shorter and later? What works for me is not to take the racquet back too early, but to track the ball (take the racquet back continously in proportion to the trajectory of the ball) and then accelerate the back swing and then the forward swing rather violently after that. For short balls, some people are starting the backswing only after they are close to the ball.

    Both of these were always possible, but modern racquets make them more feasible. Wooden racquets with small heads required proper old-school technique to make any progress at all.
     
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  9. jman

    jman Semi-Pro

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    Ok, thanks for the replies. I myself really want to improve my volleys, so which player, past or present, would you guys recommend to watch? I know some said Becker and Mac, but are there anymore?
     
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  10. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Edberg.

    NOT MCENROE. Why not imitate one of the greatest volleyers in history, you ask? McEnroe's genius hands allowed him to win with the most idiosyncratic volleys ever. He could hit great volleys with an open stance and a limp wrist, his racket face dropped, but nobody should copy that. Maybe copy how incredibly compact his swing was (probably because his racket was strung so loosely).

    I don't know if I would copy Becker either. He sliced his backhand volleys too much and I think he used an eastern grip on his forehand volleys.

    I would recommend Edberg and Sampras. Edberg had flawless technique. Sampras' technique was hella tight, too.
     
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  11. Gundam

    Gundam Semi-Pro

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    I think differently. Rafter used to grunt and that gave those impressions. Of course, I am a big Edberg fan (as well as Rafter's) and I agree that Edberg's movement/game was so silky and effortless. Edberg was a Porche while Rafter was a Mustang.
     
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  12. dannyjjang

    dannyjjang Semi-Pro

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    i think todays tennis is missing rivalry and drama...
    Drama queen Safin is unlikely to be in top 10, there aren't any rivalry such as Agassi-Sampras.

    We need a bad boy in top 10 to make tennis more interesting... Little drama won't hurt
     
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  13. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    I think the commentators are saying these new techniques are wrong because they themselves were taught to believe it was wrong. When I was learning to hit as a kid, my mom showed me an eastern grip and told me to hit the ball when it is level with my front foot. However, it always felt natural to use a western grip and hit out in front of me, which people at that time still believed was "wrong." I was learning just as the people were finally starting to accept that "extreme" grips allow bigger swings and more spin. A decade later, this is how all kids were being taught.

    I think the commentators suffer from the false belief that older is always better. Since they don't want to admit that they were physically weaker and possibly slower in terms of reflexes, they try to put it all down to technology. But, I promise you that, if you were able to stage a match between today's Nadal versus Connors in his prime, with both using wood rackets, Nadal would win. Why? Because Nadal today is bigger, stronger, and faster while having a similar level of talent and mental strength. I think the same could also be said of Federer. I could see him beating McEnroe, Connors, etc., with wood.
     
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  14. Matthew

    Matthew Professional

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    When I was learning tennis my first thoughts were to just mimic what I saw in the pros. I idolized Roddick, so I had a very Roddick looking serve and forehand. I went back and forth between a two handed backhand and a one handed backhand, but I have found now that my one handed backhand is just more natural for me. I still don't know how to volley :mad:.

    Eventually my serve turned into whatever it is today, not necessarily Roddick-esque in motion but Roddick-esque in effect (at my level). My forehand changes every day, if I'm in the mood to hit with more top or drive the ball hard. I guess my point is that I have learned technique more through trying to reproduce what I see in the pros than what I have been taught, and eventually through practice it has grown to be what it is.
     
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  15. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Edberg looked like he was dancing at the net. Rafter looked like he was scrambling at the net.
    When I first started playing, the guy who gave lessons in my city's public courts during the summer tried to change my eastern forehand to a continental. Between my junior and senior years at college, during the summer, I taught tennis in NYC. One day the second in command guy showed up at a park I was teaching at in Queens, and upon seeing that I was teaching the kids top spin forehands using Eastern grip, acted all shocked, and steps in and instructs all the kids to switch to continental forehands. Then he enlightened me, telling me that all people should start with a continental. This guy was an idiot. After he left I told the kids he didn't know what he was talking about and they all went back to easterns. They were hitting their forehands really nicely too.

    At most public courts, only 1 or 2 people are allowed to teach at those courts. Parents bring their kids to these people thinking, understandably, that they're going to an expert. So they pay a person $35 an hour to teach their 7 year old to hit a continental forehand. The kid shanks balls all day, his form looks terrible, and all the instructor says is "watch the ball... hit through the ball... etc." I really feel bad for those people.
    If we're talking about the small headed wooden rackets, Nadal would lose. Connors drove through the ball a lot more, way more margin for error with those tiny heads. Just look at how he could hit so well with a t-2000. Nadal would be shanking balls all over the place. His forehand is perhaps the most state of the art, modern stroke in tennis right now, and it wouldn't be possible with a modern racket. His 100 square inch, head light Babolat is perfect for him. Wouldn't be possible with a... how big were the head on those old wooden rackets? Like 80 square inches?
    I agree with this. His strokes are more classical. Although he seems to shank his backhand an awful lot and a wooden racket certainly wouldn't help with that. I think Jiri Novak, Jan Vacek, Taylor Dent, and Bjorkman, just off the top of my head, would all hit well with wood.
     
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  16. kabob

    kabob Professional

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    I've had teaching pros hammer proper technique into me. I used to be very much an open stance/torque my body from the back foot type player but that crap doesn't fly when you're older and can't afford to waste energy on inefficient technique. I know hit my forehands and backhands leaning into my forefoot and with a closed stance.
     
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  17. Grigollif1

    Grigollif1 Semi-Pro

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    Ohh ..Please, change the disk and stop giving this mechanical conditioned answer..
    What about Federer and Nadal, isn't that a rivalry? Nadal is looking more and more that he could get to the Finals of wimbledon.. Isn't drama enough also to see if Roger Federer on of the Goat, trying to break all Records in the books...

    People are never happy., come on!
     
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  18. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    Actually, I think Nadal would be able to adapt to a wood racket. Granted, his strokes wouldn't be as effective as with his normal racket, but they would still be much harder and have more spin than the players of the 70's and early 80's.

    I think this because, last summer, I played for over a month with an old Head Guillermo Vilas. By the end of that time, I had adapted to the small head and was able to hit my normal topspin strokes without many mishits. Nadal would need some time to adjust, but after that time, he would be able to blow the old-schoolers away.
     
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  19. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    I always felt Pat Cash had a great net game, he really used his legs well to get down to low volleys. I think Martina needs some respect also.
     
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