On NTRP

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by skiracer55, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    There is a staple in the philosophical musings racket where the title of whatever the current examination is tends to be "On [fill in the topic]", where an example might be "On Truth and Beauty."

    Which actually is the subject of this series of postings (Truth and Beauty in Tennis), but, for the record, I'm going to call it "On NTRP". So welcome to a series of my thoughts about NTRP and the larger game of tennis. For those of you who don't know me, my credentials are:

    - I'm 62, have played tournament tennis since I was 10. I play mostly Men's Open events, occasionally age class, like Men's 45 or whatever.

    - I was fortunate enough to have as coaches the Head Men's Coach at CU Boulder and his assistants and players some years back. They taught me a lot, and I try to pass on as much of it as I can.

    - To that end, I've always taught something. I am PSIA L3 Alpine certified, taught skiing for 6 years at Breckenridge and Copper Mountain in Colorado. I'm also USSA Coaches L100 certified, and I am both an athlete and coach in our Masters program at Eldora Mountain Resort near my home in Colorado. Last summer, I start coaching tennis, some one on one sessions, also a group of 3.0/3.5 and another group of 4.0/4.5 players from the Longmont Tennis Association. I had a great time, I think they did, too, and we all learned a lot more about the game of tennis.

    So, to end this first post, before we get to NTRP and all that good stuff, my philosophy of tennis, a lot of which I got from the CU coaches:

    - Be honest. This isn't just about making honest line calls, it's about being truthful about what you did out on the court. If you didn't prepare well enough, or the other guy was just better, don't whine. You lost, and there was a reason for it, so learn from it and move on.

    - Believe in yourself. It seems axiomatic that if you step out on a court to play a competitive match you have to believe in yourself. Otherwise, what are you doing? But in cruising through the TW fora, there's a lot of people players who evidently, to put it bluntly, don't have a lot of confidence in themselves. Above, I said, "If you didn't prepare..". Okay, fine. If you're not in shape, if your racket needs stringing, if your forehand let you down, those can be reasons for sub par play, but they're not excuses. If you're not a winner today, you still have to believe that you have it in you to figure out what you need to do better, and go do it so you're ready for your next match. That's the lowest common denominator of believing in yourself.

    - Always do your best. Great, I can hear you saying, And apple pie and motherhood are a safe bet, too. Okay, but have you ever said 'Not my day...time to bag some sand and get off the court." Don't lie to me, because we all have, including Yours Truly. Just don't do it again. Instead, run your butt off, chase every ball down to the last one, and play bold tennis. Yeah, I know...pushing wins, maybe, up to a certain point, but who really cares? Past about 4.0, if you don't seize the moment and try to take the match away from your opponent rather than hoping he or she takes gas one more, time, it ain't gonna happen, IMHO. Fortune rewards the brave...

    - Have fun. Uh huh, I can hear you saying. This is the Mudville 3.0 Championships, and that's serious business. Maybe, maybe not. I'll wager that all of us in this forum have jobs, families, other pursuits, and so forth. If we lose our next tennis match, we're probably not going to go hungry. On the other hand, if you're an ATP pro hanging around at number 150 in the world or so, if you don't win, maybe you will go hungry next week. It's just a game. Compete hard, compete fair, do your best, it ain't great if you lose, but even if you do lose, it's just a game....
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
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  2. goober

    goober Legend

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    So is there another post coming where you actually give your thoughts on NTRP? :)

    ^^^^ But nice post nonetheless. Good reminders to keep the game in perspective.
     
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  3. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    On NTRP 2

    ...yes there are a bunch more posts. So let's get back to NTRP. I'm not a big fan of NTRP, mostly because in perusing this forum and watching NTRP league matches, what I see is (a) a bunch of players locked into the "win or die" philosophy and (b) a bunch of players who are essentially limiting their tennis horizons.

    I talked about (a) in my last post. It's a game! If you lost a match in the 3.5 league finals, you probably won't get shot...but it you win, they probably won't hand you a wildcard into Wimbledon, either.

    What is (b) all about? I guess I see two sides of "self-limiting." The first of which is, I'm [fill in name of NTRPer here], and I'm addicted to winning matches. I'm deathly afraid that I'll be rated higher, and I'll start losing...what should I do?" Answer: You already know the answer. Try to improve your skills on the sly, and sandbag shamelessly. Win matches, but not by a lot. Throw points and whole games, if necessary. Tell your opponents they played great, and you were just lucky as hell...again. Play with a 10 year old racket and sweat-stained pleated Wilson shorts from the 60s. That kind of stuff...

    The other side is "Golly Bob Ned! I've been a [fill in current NTRP level here] since God was in short pants...what do I have to do, aside from sacrificing my first born, to get to [fill in next higher NTRP level here]?"

    I have the answer here in the envelope, and it's actually a lot easier than you think...but what happens when you get to [fill in next higher NTRP level here]? I thought the whole idea was to be the best that you can be, so what about [fill in next higher NTRP level after that]? This is the self-limiting, built-in governer that, to me, is the basic flaw in the way most players approach the NTRP ratings. Fine, you have to be a good player to be a 4.5...does it say anywhere in the 4.5 description that you have to put your shorts on both legs at the same time? I think not, so let's work on improving your serve, which is something that (a) I know you can do and (b) is essential to getting to 4.5.

    End of NTRP Part 2...watch this space for more news at 11...
     
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  4. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    I've no real disagreements with what you've written. But I think the NTRP system does a great job at what it's intended for - generating competitive matches at a range of skill levels. The old ABC system did the same thing so there must always have been a desire among amateur tennis players for this.

    Age group tournaments are really trying for the same goal in a more indirect fashion. You could always say "why play the 60s, when you can play the Men's Open? Are you afraid of losing???"

    Some people obviously get way too focused on NTRP instead of having fun playing tennis. But NTRP can make tennis more fun if you value relatively competitive matches over blowouts. Works for me anyway - I love playing league matches.
     
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  5. goober

    goober Legend

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    I agree that in general NTRP is fine for leagues and tourneys. The main problems occur when people start trying to "work" the system to gain advantages over others and when whole groups of people do it (i.e teams) it gets pretty annoying.
     
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  6. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    I don't disagree with the spirit of what you're saying...


    ...this is the whole "fun, friendly competition" at the appropriate level that NTRP, as a noble USTA experiment, was the beginnings. I'm just not sure, in my observations, that this is really what most of the NTRPers I see are really into today. I mentioned the two NTRP groups I coached last summer. Most of them wanted to "get better", even if it was only to win more matches at their current level.

    So if the idea is "I'm at level x, and that's just fine...I just want to have fun, friendly matches at that level" and it actually works, then fine. I have no further comments. I'm really just talking to NTRPers...or anybody...who wants to get better.

    I also mentioned that I taught skiing for a bunch of years, and currently coach Alpine Masters racing. When I was teaching, I'd see my students frequently get all tied up in knots trying to improve, and a lot of times their motivations were, IMHO, the wrong ones. As in "I have to get better so I can ski the blues with my husband." To which I'd say "Slow down. First, skiing is an individual sport. If you can ski together as a family and make it work, fine. If not, you do your thing and Joe can do his, and you can meet in the bar for a drink and talk about it later. Now, here's a real reason for improving your skills, which is that as you get better, you get to experience cooler things on the slopes. As in, skiing powder, skiing bumps, skiing the trees, maybe running some gates. All of which, I promise you, are the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Sound like a plan?"

    Kind of similar in terms of tennis. Bode Miller is basically an artist as a ski racer, and you could make the same case for Federer, Djoko, Nadal...Sharapova, Clijsters, and so forth at the top of the game. Have you ever watched McEnroe play and thought "Just once, I'd like to play a serve and volley point like Mac does." So that's my pitch for improving your game: you get to do cool things on a tennis court, and you get to play cool tennis with a higher level of opponent...Sound like a plan?
     
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  7. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Yep, that's one of my objections, too...

    ...this was supposed to be "friendly, fun competition", but it doesn't look like much of either a lot of the time. I'm going to stay away from that train wreck, and instead, I'm going to stick to the "I'm an NTRPer, and I want to improve...what do I do next?" theme, because I have a whole progression of suggestions. Watch this space...
     
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  8. GPB

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    watching....
     
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  9. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    On NTRP 3

    Here's where I start to expand my discussion from simply "NTRPers who want to improve their level" to "tennis players, at large, who want to get better." And here, I will say that I'm still going to stay somewhat within the NTRP model, because it provides at least a semi-objective measurement of a player's skill. If I *think* I improved a ton in the last year, but I didn't have an NTRP rating to start with...how do I know I really improved? To me, this is one of the best advertisements for NTRP...you have a tool to track your progress on the court.

    So you want to get better...what's the first step? Okay, let's pretend I'm coaching everyone listening in out there in radioland, and I have Total Control of the situation. I'm the coach, and you get to do what I tell you, just like my coaches used to do to me in high school. So here it is, campers. Drop your tennis rackets, and pick your running and biking shoes, because you aren't going to see a tennis court for at least two months. I want to see you putting in at least 75 miles a week on a road bike, I want to see you pumping iron for two hours twice a week, and you're also going to be doing a ton of agility exercises like running tires just like the football players do. Keep a journal, we'll meet once a week or more often to chart your progress, and if I like what I see in two months or so, we'll talk about getting back on the tennis court again.

    Collectively, as tennis players, I think we forget that tennis is both a game and a sport. And to play any sport well, you have to be an athlete. I'd love to take an accomplished triathelete out on a tennis court and basically teach him or her the game from ground zero. I'll bet it would take about a week, two hours a day, and her or she would be a 4.0, minimum, at the end of that two weeks. So that's my sermon for this morning: You want to be a better tennis player, become a better athlete.

    This forum is about NTRP, which is irrespective of age, but I don't think I'm making any rash assumptions when I say that most of the posters are probably 30 somethings or older. There are age groups in tennis, well, there you have it. Most other sports have Masters competiton programs, ski racing, my winter sport, being one of them. I just finished my season with the tech races (SL and GS) at the US National Masters Championships at Copper Mountain, Colorado. One of the male competitors was something like 86 years old, and he didn't get any slack from the course on race day. He raced the same course I did, which one of the Austrians in Men's Class 9 (65 plus) said was as tough as any World Cup course he'd ever skied.

    This 86 year old gent was strong, limber, and fit, and he didn't get that way, I'm sure, just from skiing. Every Masters racer I know is basically doing dry land all year long, more in the summer than in the winter, but it's still a required activity any time. For me, in the summer, two hours twice a week of weights, 50 to 75 miles a week on the road bike, 4 to 5 days a week of hard tennis two hours a day (tennis and skiing are excellent cross training for each other).

    If you're not putting in time cross-training off the court, you're not the athlete, or the tennis player, you could be. It's also, I believe, a good thing to do other sports. I know people who play tennis all year, 12 months a year. That's burnout city for me. If you get away from the sport and do something else, you come back fresher and more motivated. When I was teaching skiing, we used to say "We learn to ski in the summer, we learn to play tennis in the winter..." Words to live by...
     
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  10. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    [​IMG]
     
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  11. obtn

    obtn Rookie

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    While I agree with your point in general, I think this is a bit of an exaggeration.

    I am 25, 5'5", 145 lbs. I can bench 190, deadlift 260, and squat around 180. I can run a 5k without a problem and at a decent pace. I am a mid-level 4.0 at the moment, at best. I have been playing tennis all my life, but only seriously in the last 6 months or so. During that 6 months I have played tennis a minimum of 4 times a week. If you can make someone who is an athlete but has never played tennis a 4.0 in two weeks, then I can grow to 6 feet tall in the same amount of time. :p

    Your point is valid though. I'm a much better tennis player after becoming a better athlete. In the last year or so I dropped 30 pounds, and increased my lifts to what you see above. This has improved my performance dramatically. I can outlast almost anyone I play, and the extra muscle helps me maintain consistent, powerful strokes throughout the match.
     
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  12. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Xlnt...

    ...you're the athlete you should be, stay tuned for an installment, coming up, re what a good athlete needs to do to become a better tennis player...
     
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  13. jdubbs

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    Usually, I read posts like this from "old crusty guys" and they're normally holier than thou combined with bragging, with very little in useful information.

    But I like the info you're putting out there. I agree with the cross-training (though I don't do nearly enough of it). My form really starts to disappear after about 30-40 minutes of a tough match due to my conditioning.

    My goal is constant improvement, I've played 4.0 for a while and ready to make the jump to 4.5. I don't mind losing to a superior opponent, I just want to get better all the time, so I hear what you're saying loud and clear.

    Good advice, nice post.
     
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  14. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Thanks, watch this space...

    ..............
     
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  15. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    An athlete that has excelled at another sport already has an advantage because they know what it takes to be successful. They know the work and effort involved. They also know proper biomechanics. Most athletes know how something should “feel”. To throw a proper punch in boxing, to throw a ball in baseball or football, to swing a tennis racquet etc. That alone helps speed up development. Most non-athletes have no clue that’s why they look so awkward on court and have so many hitches in their strokes.
     
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  16. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    On NTRP 4

    Okay, we're about to get to where I actually tell you about how to improve your tennis, but first, a commercial word, which is "gear matters." I'm a gearhead, I admit it. I have 4 road bikes and 12 pairs of race stock skis. But I know why I have each and every one of them, and how to use them, and why they can help me ride better or ski faster.

    Tennis is similar. There's a lot of marketing hype, but there's also a lot of good technology around, so your job is to get with the gear that's right for you. Before we start talking rackets and strings, it all matters. You can play tennis in cutoffs and a T shirt, but, for me, it's a lot more comfortable in shorts and a shirt designed for tennis. Pick anything you like and go with it. I have access to the latest Adidas stuff a couple of times a year at 20 cents on the dollar, and it seems to work just fine for me and lasts a long time, so I usually stock up.

    Shoes, too. Adidas works for me...and I get them for 20 cents on the dollar, so I stock up. Your mileage will vary, but make sure you play in tennies, not running shoes. Tennis shoes have a similar upper construction, but a wider sole that is designed for side to side, not forward motion like running shoes. I usually have 3 or 4 pairs that are broken in but not trashed out that I rotate so I always have a dry pair.

    Rackets and strings. Lots of manufacturers and variations, aren't there? For the record, I currently play with a Head Speed Lite IG strung with Gamma Professional 17 at 62 pounds...but that's my choice, and the chances are that your mileage is going to vary.

    It seems like a lot of players...and even pros...are getting into mid plus rackets in the 100 sq. inch range. But if a larger (or smaller) head size works for you, go for it. The only way you're going to know, IMHO, which racket suits you best is to go demo a bunch. Actually, first get a basic idea of what head size, string pattern, and so forth, generally, is gonna work for you, and read the reviews to narrow down the list to 4 or 5 that you can go test drive. When you find something you like, buy two or three copies, have them strung the way you want, and go play tennis.

    Yes, I know...manufacturers want to sell you new stuff every year, so they are constantly coming out with what they say is better than last year's. Some of this is marketing hype, but there's a lot of available technology that can make a difference. I had three 2010 Head Speed Lites, I donated them to the local junior tennis programs and get three 2011 Head Speed Lite IGs. I can feel the difference. The new frame is quicker, more precise, feel more like a scalpel, which is what I want. If you've been using the same frame for a couple or three seasons, try some of the new stuff. Sometimes just changing rackets, or strings, can reenergize your game. Besides, what fun would it be if we couldn't spend $$$ on tennis gear?

    I say "two or three copies" because I've actually broken strings on two rackets in a match. If you're going to play matches, or play at all seriously, I think two frames, strung the same, is the minimum opening bet. Two identical frames strung the same. I don't understand people who have quivers of 15 or 20 different rackets. There's enough variables in tennis as it is, I don't want to have to wonder if Racket A (which is different than Racket B, which just popped a string) is gonna let me put my second serve in on match point.

    Strings...yeah, I know. Poly and hybrids are all the rage, but they don't work for me. Too stiff, too hard on the arm, can't feel the ball. I like high-end syn gut strung tight, see above. Your mileage will vary, of course. But make sure you restring often. I'd say 8 to 10 hours of hard hitting is all I'll get out of a set of strings, if that. I've had a stringer for many years and restring my own frames...saves $$$, and if I pop strings on Saturday, I can restring that night for the next day's play.

    Note that there's a trend toward smaller grip sizes. I was playing with a
    4 5/8s, my coach had me downsize to 4 3/8 because the racket handle would sit in my hand more easily and I'd be better able to manipulate it when changing grips. I've heard that Rafa and Roger use 4 1/4, which is really tiny.

    I use a light, head light frame, see above, and customize by adding a little lead tape at the bottom of the hoop. "Leading up" is a whole complex topic I won't go into here in detail; just be aware that you can fine-tune the way your racket behaves with the judicious application of a little lead tape.

    While we're talking about maintenance items, either change your grip frequently or do what I do, which is don't change the grip itself, but use a tin, stretchy overgrip like Wilson and change it at least every time you restring.

    So that's my "gear matters" pitch...stay tuned...
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
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  17. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    I don't believe this. While I agree athleticism is important, tennis is much more of a skill sport than track and don't think you cannot develop the muscle memory in 2 weeks. I've never met anyone who got to 4.0 in anywhere close to that amount of time.

    Juniors would be good a test case for this theory actually. Kids generally learn faster than adults, and they can train harder for longer without injury. Does anybody on here know a kid who got to 4.0 in two weeks?? I don't think you could do it even if the kid was in shape, motivated and available to train 6 hours a day with perfect instruction.

    On another note, my main reason for doing off court work lately is injury avoidance. If I play nothing but tennis as much as a want (which is a lot) I get overuse injuries these days. I care much more about staying healthy so I can play at all, than getting fitter actually. I'm 34 years old now, I can't imagine this gets any easier.
     
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  18. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    You are right of course... but...

    I would hazard a guess that most recreational tennis players do not have the level of dedication required for what you're recommending - because of lack of time, or lack of motivation, or both.

    I am one of them.

    I play tennis because it's enjoyabe and a fun way to get exercise. I enjoy the competitive aspects also, and of course I want to improve. But improvement is not my main goal. I'm a 4.5, in my 40's, and tennis is never going to be a source of income for me. I'm unlikely to ever make it to 5.0, and even if I do (which would require practically dedicating my life to tennis at this point, and even then it's not a sure thing), so what? What does that bring me?

    If I enjoyed other forms of exercise enough to want to do them to the extent you describe, and had the time for it (which I don't), I would then have no need to play tennis :)

    As it is, tennis keeps me (somewhat) in shape and is the most enjoyable way for me to spend the 6 hours a week or so that I have available for exercise / recreation.

    I think most recreational players fall into the same boat as me (if they are being honest with themselves), and basically are not all that focused on improvement that they would be willing to put in that level of effort.
     
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  19. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    Yes but this is about players that are motivated to improve, not those that are happy were they are and what they’re doing. Heck I’m happy just hitting a couple times/ week with almost no exercise on the side, but I know there is no hope in improvement doing that. If I wanted to take my game further I know what it takes. It’s not easy that’s for sure so it’s about what you’re willing to sacrifice to reach your goals
     
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  20. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    I agree the 2 week thing is a vast exaggeration. I don’t know if he exaggerated for effect to make a point or if he was actually serious about that. You can build some sort of foundation in 2 weeks but no way you can build the consistency.
     
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  21. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    I might be wrong...

    ...but I'd love to give it a shot. I might even do so, this summer. Let me tell you about a similar situation. Eric Nesterenko, whom some of you may remember as an NHL star, after his hockey career, decided he still wanted to do something athletic and challenging. So he moved to Summit Country, Colorado, and took up skiing...and became a bonafide expert, in less than a month, without even taking lessons. True, there's an incredible crossover between skating and skiing. I don't think anybody had to explain to him anything about balance, quickness, or carving a clean turn on a sharp edge. Still, it was pretty damn impressive to me, and I'll bet something similar could happen on a tennis court with a well-conditioned athlete...
     
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  22. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Yep, that was the message I was trying to get across...

    ...and I said something in one of my earlier posts to that effect. Which is, if you're playing at x level, and that floats your boat, then don't worry, be happy. But if you want to get better...this whole issue of "sacrifice", and "not easy" and "time consuming" is a difficult one, and I'd be the first to admit it. My own track record is that as a kid, I wasn't much of an athlete, and couldn't make any of the school teams in the typical American team sports of baseball, basketball, and football. So I picked individual sports like tennis, ski racing, running, and cycling that I could work at, on my own, to get better.

    Thing is, I never thought of it as work. I loved skiing, playing tennis, biking, running...and still do. I wanted to see how far I could do in my chosen sports, and that's become a lifelong journey. Not a goal, a journey. When I was living in Summit County, Colorado, back in the 70s and 80s, I ran a couple of different restaurants at night and, in the summer, hit two or three hours a day with my doubles partner. We played tournaments every weekend, all summer. Our best year, I made the last 16 of the Men's Open at the Intermountains and Dennis and I made the quarters, I think, in the doubles. I won a couple of smaller tournaments.

    In the winter, I skied and ran gates. My whole life was basically organized around skiing and tennis, but it didn't feel like a sacrifice at all. It was one of the best times of my life, and once I went and got a real job...well, I continued to find ways to play lots of tennis, ski race, and ride my bike a whole bunch. It takes commitment, but it can be done. I have a full time job, a wife, a 7 acre hobby ranch with two horses in Berthoud that I have to run. It takes time, and commitment, but it all gets done...
     
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  23. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    There are very few sports with the same number of elements as tennis. A tennis player can’t excel at one thing. They have to be good at 100 things. That’s why tennis players look so average 6’-0” 180lbs, and I’d be most have decent IQ levels. You need a total package physically and mentally. You have to be solid at everything which in some ways doesn’t make them stick out like say a 100m sprinter or a power lifter. Some athletes may very well be intimidated at the number or things you have to learn to be successful at tennis. It’s a precision sport with few peers in terms of peak difficulty.
     
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  24. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    On NTRP 5

    ...my man, what a great lead-in. As we know, when it comes to winning at any level of NTRP, strokes aren't the only prereq. You have to be an athlete, have the right gear, and compete well. But you're handicapped without clean, repeatable stroke patterns. I'm not really going to get into the details of how to hit individual strokes, there's a whole other forum about that stuff. I want to keep this at a meta level, and try to offer some general principles for moving your strokes to the next level. With that in mind, one of the coaching things I'm good at is taking solid 4.0s and moving them up to the 4.5 level. So let's explore that topic.

    Here's what the descriptions of the NTRP levels look like for 4.0 and 4.5:

    4.0
    You have dependable strokes, including directional control and depth on both forehand and backhand sides on moderate-paced shots. You can use lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys with some success and occasionally force errors when serving. Rallies may be lost due to impatience. Teamwork in doubles is evident.

    4.5
    You have developed your use of power and spin and can handle pace. You have sound footwork, can control depth of shots, and attempt to vary game plan according to your opponents. You can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve. You tend to overhit on difficult shots. Aggressive net play is common in doubles.


    I'd really emphasize that the differences are in moving from "dependable" strokes to strokes and strategies that use power, spin, placement and variety. I'd especally point to the 4.5s ability to hit first serves with power and accuracy. That's kind of the sermon for the day. The serve and return, in that order, are the most important shots in tennis. You may have the greatest rally forehand in the world, but if you can't get my serve back, your forehand ain't gonna do you much good. On the other hand, I do have a good, forcing return of serve, so if you can put me off my feed with your serve...well, your forehand is going to help much there either, is it?

    Especially when you get to 4.0 and are moving upward with a bullet, or hope to, the best way, IMHO, to distance yourself from the pack your currently in is to beef up your serve and figure out how to hit consistent, forcing returns. So how do you do that? I have a theory that there are two cornerstone shots in tennis: overhead and backhand volley.

    If you want to develop a better serve, go out and hit about a bazillion overheads against a ball machine. After you get to the point where you can pulverize 95% of whatever comes out of the stratosphere for you to smash, a serve is a relatively easy elision, because you get to toss the lob. As I said, I'm not going to get into the specifics of stroke mechanics. If you don't have a coach, fuzzyyellowballs.com and other sites do a good job of walking you through clean stroke mechanics.

    I will say, however, that there is room for considerable variation in the way each player produces strokes. I'm not a great Nick Bolletieri fan, but in a recent Tennis article, he said something that I thought made a whole lot of sense about improving the serve. Which was basically "Look at a bunch of different serve motions of the top pros, and experiment with different ones until you find something you like." There's a big current debate about what, exactly, "the Modern Forehand" is. You could argue that it's a SW or FW grip with a loop swing...and Federer and Nadal both do that, but in strikingly different ways. The constants to good stroke production remain the same: early prep, move the feet, stay in balance, keep the swing path clean and consistent. True of the serve, true of the forehand.

    Notice also what it says about about variety. I'm a big fan of variety as a tool for getting what you want (and what your opponent does not want) on a tennis court. I have a reasonably heavy serve, I might serve at 100 mph or better if I really go after it, but what I mostly have is variety and consistency. I usually hit about 60% of my first serves in and I can vary them all the way from a wide slice to the forehand, to a wide flat ball to the backhand, to a heavy kicker body serve. The 60% comes from clean, consistent mechanics, which also enable the variations that allow serving to spots with different spins. So that's where I want y'all to go with your serves...heavier, more unpredictable, forcing, but lots of them in the box.

    My volley is one of my better strokes, especially the backhand. Having a good backhand volley also means I'm most of the way there to hitting a slice backhand groundstroke, which I think is essential at 4.0 and above. Yep, a moderate to heavy topspin backhand is your bread and butter, and I have one of those, too, but if you have that, plus slice, you'll tie your opponent in knots and force him/her to chum up some balls that you can do anything you want with.

    So that's my advice: tune up your overhead, work on your volley, especially your backhand, and your whole game will pick up. There's more I could say about strokes, at this point, but that's a discussion that could go on forever. Think of this post as a starting point to beefing up your stroke production as an agent of your climb to the next level; let me know what you think, and we'll take it from there...
     
    #24
  25. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    I agree with what you're saying. In the past few weeks, with some advanced one on one lessons, I've learned:

    1. A slice backhand. Great on low shots and shots outside of my range (I have a 2BH)

    2. Serve return split step -keep momentum moving forward, cuts the angles off of serves, helps me put serves back with pace.

    3. Turn shoulders more on the forehand for more power and less shanking (I have an open stance)

    4. Focus on footwork, being very active

    5. Toss slightly more to the right on serves so I'm not falling to my left. Cutting down on my double faults. increasing first serve %.

    6. Fitness. 20 minutes of hard drills leave me out of breath, so working on cross training (but not too much as I have nagging injuries so can't pound the pavement too much).

    I've got a practice match in a few hours with an excellent 4.0 who beat me last time we played 4 and 4. Curious if some of the work I've put in will help me turn that around.

    I look at this like a continuous improvement process, it's really fun and feeds my competitive nature. My end goal is to be a solid 4.5. I'm not there yet.
     
    #25
  26. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    On NTRP 6

    ...you're not there yet, but you're working on all the right stuff, in the right way. Good luck in your match, and let us know how it goes so we can help you move forward, win or lose.

    Your practice routine looks like a good one. I especially like the idea of "practice matches." Too many players show up for matches without any practice, let alone match play practice. So now we're into the realm of strategy, a. k. a. "What's my line?" There's a good posting in the Tennis Tips/Instruction forum re the 6 basic styles of play. Every player who wants to get better needs to choose a style...or, more accurately, I believe the style chooses him or her. And you have to be aware of the other styles and how yours matches up against them.

    When I say "a style chooses you", what I'm really talking about is that I think everyone plays best by being him or herself on the court. Remember what I said about being honest? A big part of that is not trying to create a "tennis player persona" to be trotted out for match play only that is not really who you are.

    I'm straightforward, outgoing, and I like to take charge of the situation. When I can, therefore, I try to play what I call "one, two, three" tennis. That is, my prototypical point is something like this: I'm up 40-15 on my serve, time to slice a first serve out wide to the forehand, follow it in to net, looking for the backhand volley which I can knife cross-court, look for a forehand volley or overhead into the open court for the winner...end of story.

    What happens if I get a return to my forehand instead for my first volley? I just have to be quick enough to read the play and make the adjustment. What happens if my first serve isn't doing so well, or the guy has a tough return? Maybe I have to play 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 tennis, or even grind and make it a physical match. One of my former coaches, Dave Hodge, who was on the ATP tour, was then Men's Assistant at CU, Men's Assistant at Stanford, then went on to be one of the five national team coaches in Tennis Australia, had an incredible serve and volley game...most days. In the semis of the Colorado Open one year, his first serve and forehand deserted him. He ground the match out in 3 sets on the strength of his athletic ability, determination, second serve, and slice backhand.

    So to an extent you have to be different people, but I believe your bread and butter game should revolve not only around your strengths in terms of strokes and so forth, but also be centered around who you are comfortable being as a person. To take an opposite example: a player who is comfortable with the long haul for any endeavor, doesn't mind, in fact loves hitting a lot of balls and running all day long, maintains an even strain, goes for solid stuff and few errors. That's a player who probably does best with a solid, but forcing first serve, great court movement, lots and lots of solid point construction. On the WTA side, this would be Wozniacki or Clijsters.

    So there's the next building block. Learn the different styles of play, experiment with them, find what you like, and make it your strength. I believe the "experiment" part makes you a better all round player. I don't like long rallies from the baseline, but periodically I'll structure a practice session around hitting a ton of heavy groundies that all go in--15 to 20 shot rallies if possible. Similarly, if you only go to the net to shake hands after the match, and want to get to 4.5 and above, better learn to volley. Because that's the only place you'll be as soon as your opponent spots you as a Chronic Baseliner...
     
    #26
  27. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Well, i got cancelled on so won't get to test it out this time.

    Agree on your other points (except that Woz and Clijsters have far different games).
     
    #27
  28. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    In some ways you're right...

    ..in other ways, you're wrong. But you're mostly right about this one, and the fact that you're conscious of these kinds of subtle differences in game style mean that you're a long way down the road to finding your own best style...
     
    #28
  29. NinjaKiwi

    NinjaKiwi Banned

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    Hello there,

    This is the best thread to explain NTRP is about. I like the fact you give a detailed information about NTRP 1, 2, 3..... This is a great information for a beginner. Anyhow, thank you for posting this.
     
    #29
  30. GPB

    GPB Professional

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    Yeah I was reading that thinking "did he just put The Blonde Backboard in the same group as Clijsters?" Clijsters hits the he|| out of the ball! Wozzi just never misses.
     
    #30
  31. eidolonshinobi

    eidolonshinobi Professional

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    Skiracer, you sir are awesome.

    I subscribed to this thread because of all the wealth of wisdom on it.

    I have been a relatively great athlete all my life, especially in high school.
    I was varsity captain of basketball, football, and track and field; I helped lead my team to state championships throughout my 4 years of athletic bliss.

    I received a partial scholarship for track and field to a UC and blew out my knee in a lame pick up game of basketball; full ACL tear. I was devastated but a couple of months before surgery I saw my dad's old tennis racquet in the garage and I figured I could hit with it against the wall since I couldn't move much anyways. It was really therapeutic even though I didn't really know grips and such.

    I had ACL reconstruction surgery a couple months later and throughout rehab I spend hours on fuzzyyellowballs.com, read books, and watched a lot...A LOT of tennis (as I subscribed to tennis channel ). I was released from rehab in January and made it my goal to be successful in tennis.

    I play about 3-4 times a week when college doesn't get in the way and from what I've read I guess I'm around a 3.5-4.0? But I want to make a video in the near future and post it on TT and get a confirmation, as I want to participate in my first tournament this summer.

    What I'm trying to get at is you pretty much wrote down my goals and aspirations in all your posts. What I want to do when I'm on the court and what I think about to get better...etc.

    Cheers! I wish someone like you was available around here. The coaches I've seen like tennis and teaching but really don't understand that I really want to get better and better. For $60+ an hour I'm better off watching FYB.com or one-minute clinic segments on tennis channel haha.

    It's really refreshing to read all this. I still don't understand much of the tennis tournament lifestyle and these NTRP numbers still mean nothing to me :p
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
    #31
  32. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    I think with lessons, you really have to go in with specific things you want to work on. "I want to develop a slice backhand...I want to develop more pace and spin on my FH"

    If you just go in with "I want to get better" then a lot of times they'll feed you balls and not really work on any one thing.

    I took a couple of lessons in the last 2 weeks and have really improved specific areas that enabled me to play much much better. Things I probably wouldn't have learned on Tennis Channel or online.
     
    #32
  33. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Thanks...

    ...we'll get you there. I'm good via the Internet, but I'm better in person. If you...and this is a standing invitation to anyone on the TT forums...ever get to the Denver, Colorado area, lemmeno and we'll do some on court stuff...I have a couple of more additions to my NTRP [number goes here] series, which I think you'll find useful, and then it's open to questions...
     
    #33
  34. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Okay, ya caught me...


    ...you guys really are watching this stuff with a critical eye, aren't you? Good stuff...
     
    #34
  35. eidolonshinobi

    eidolonshinobi Professional

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    Yeah spent a session for the coach to look at my game and he critiqued things that I needed to work on but did not provide any helpful feedback that I couldn't already find at FYB.com. I was put through a series of drills for footwork and groundstroke drills. It became more of a hitting session than a coaching session. I was just really turned off that I wasted good money for stuff I already know.
     
    #35
  36. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Well, I played an excellent player yesterday (he's won 4.0 tourneys and competed at the 4.5 level).

    I tried to incorporate everything I learned at my lesson, and quickly got out to a 3-0 lead. But he caught up and won 6-4 thanks to several double faults (I counted about 7 in total, including 2 in a row to give him a 5-4 lead).

    I adjusted in the 2nd set to make my toss more to my right, and this really helped, as I started nailing all my serves, and won the 2nd set 6-3. We then ran out of court time, but it felt really good to compete at a high level with someone who would have blown me away a few months ago.

    Here are the things that helped me:

    1. Opponents Huge Serve. He had a big serve, but my move-forward split step technique let me bunt some back on my FH and nail them on my BH so I broke him a number of times.

    2. Big Forehand -I turned the corner more on my FH like I learned and this gave me a lot more pace and direction. Still having a bit of trouble going cross court with pace, but I'll work on it.

    3. Drop shots, slices, junk-As he started losing, he started hitting a lot more drop shots and mixing in junk. My instructor had me move forward into balls and not let them drop, keeping my feet very active. This helped me get to balls faster and put them away.

    4. My Serve -Well, this is where I really ran into problems. Too many double faults, and I had to start throwing in my spin serve as my first. Never got confident on it. In the 2nd set started throwing the ball more to my right, and this really helped as I got most of them in and didn't DF once.

    My opponent was at the upper echelon of 4.0, so I was happy to have split sets, and will try to focus on that, but keep in mind that I still have a lot to work on.

    Targeted lessons DO work, even more than online help/video. Know what you want to work on, and work on specific areas keeps you from a ball-feeding session.
     
    #36
  37. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    On NTRP 7

    Okay, we're moving right along, aren't we? So far, we've been talking about what to do...the skills you need, the athleticism you need, the game plan you design to make you better. Now we're going to talk about how to do those things, which is a conversation about training for tennis improvement.

    And to actually make things better, you have to do the right stuff, but ya also have to put in the miles. Stan Smith, who wasn't exactly a slouch, used to put in 5 hours on the practice court for every hour in a match. Maybe that's a little extreme, but most players are the exact opposite: Buy a racket, join a USTA league, show up for matches...practice? What's that?

    And in terms of focused training, a couple of hours on the weekend of hit and giggle mixed doubles doesn't count. I'll probably play 8 or so tournaments this summer, and I plan on two hours a day of hard practice with one of my hitting partners...

    I'll just tell you how my most frequent hitting partner and I structure our two hour sessions to make things happen as opposed to just hitting a bunch of balls and running around like gerbils. It goes like this:

    - We start with mini-tennis, or groundstrokes where you're both confined to moving and hitting within the service boxes. A lot of people hate mini-tennis...so why do it? The reasons are multiple:

    - First, because you've constrained the court, you'll probably get longer rallies going quicker than you would starting off from the baseline. Remember, we haven't even started playing points yet, all we're doing is warming up.

    - Second, again because the hitting area is constrained, you have to feel and finesse the ball instead of bludgeoning it.

    - Third, and maybe most important, because the ball comes back fairly quickly, you have to get your feet moving and get your eyes tracking the ball...no spacing out and watching the people flying kites in the adjoining park as you can if you start from the baseline.

    - After 10 minutes or so of mini-tennis, we go back to the baseline and start hitting full length, where the objective is high over the net and deep down the middle. We haven't started playing points yet, so we want to cooperate with each other, refine the stroke mechanics, and hit lots of balls. This can go on for a half-hour or longer, and, because Mark and I have known each other and hit with each other so long, as we're warmed up, we'll start introducing more pace, spin, direction, and so forth...without introducing silly errors. Sometimes if he's struggling with something or I am, we'll stop and discuss, coach each other, change slightly the pattern of what we're doing.

    - When we're 50 minutes to an hour in, we'll both go to the service line and hit volleys at each other. I think this is a lot more productive, most of the time, than the standard one person on the baseline one person at the net drill. Again, we're trying to cooperate with each other and get the volley going, so while we're concentrating on balance, reading the ball early, turning the shoulders and stepping into the ball, we're mostly hitting it back to each other instead of going for winners right away.

    - A few minutes of lobs and overheads, and then we both warm up our serves and start playing points. Not counting the score, just playing points where I'll service for 20 minutes and play out the point, then he'll serve. We're really working on serve and return skills and point construction. If we have time, we'll play a set or two, but most days, I want to train for tennis improvement, and taking this progression to playing clean points is what I really want.

    Your mileage may vary, but come up with some kind of routine or plan for a hitting session, even if you vary your plan. Otherwise, it's just random events, and you know where that leads...(answer: random destinations).

    Oh yeah, one thing I forgot to mention in the gear section. I'm a believer in new balls, often. If you're doing drills out of a hopper, fine, they can be a little long in the tooth. But for one on one hitting sessions, new balls every other session, minimum. Otherwise, you're not practicing tennis, you're playing squash. I always open 2 cans, which makes each individual ball last a little longer and means you don't have to spend your life pickin up balls. Balls are about the cheapest investment you can make to ensure effective training. I go to Sports Authority or someplace similar and pick up 2 6 packs about twice and month, which costs me all of $25 or so, and I'm all set...
     
    #37
  38. eidolonshinobi

    eidolonshinobi Professional

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    I can definitely relate to this. A few years ago my friends took me snowboarding for the first time and it took me 30 mins to ride down and master the bunny slopes and within the hour I was riding down intermediate blue square runs. The next 2 trips I mastered boarding black diamonds and was fairly comfortable with double blacks.

    With no prior experience, just an athletic background and no formal coaching I was at least what people describe as a solid 3.5 within a month. I'm sure with coaching an athletic person can get to the 4.0 fairly quickly.
     
    #38
  39. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Good stuff...

    ...jdubbs. You're learning and improving. See my comments below, in blue...

    Well, I played an excellent player yesterday (he's won 4.0 tourneys and competed at the 4.5 level).

    I tried to incorporate everything I learned at my lesson, and quickly got out to a 3-0 lead. But he caught up and won 6-4 thanks to several double faults (I counted about 7 in total, including 2 in a row to give him a 5-4 lead).

    The double faults aren't great, but other than that, not bad. It's not unusual to have momentum switch in a match. You were probably doing everything right up until 3-0, the other guy caught on, made some changes, and re your double faults, you let down a little. Main thing is you didn't panic, made some changes yourself, and went on to take the second set.I adjusted in the 2nd set to make my toss more to my right, and this really helped, as I started nailing all my serves, and won the 2nd set 6-3. We then ran out of court time, but it felt really good to compete at a high level with someone who would have blown me away a few months ago.

    Here are the things that helped me:

    1. Opponents Huge Serve. He had a big serve, but my move-forward split step technique let me bunt some back on my FH and nail them on my BH so I broke him a number of times.

    XLNT. Remember how I said the serve and return were the two most important shots, in that order? Well, you just proved it...

    2. Big Forehand -I turned the corner more on my FH like I learned and this gave me a lot more pace and direction. Still having a bit of trouble going cross court with pace, but I'll work on it.

    We're trying to excellence, not perfection, and if you upped your level on you FH...and know where you want to go with it next time, you're way ahead of the pack.

    3. Drop shots, slices, junk-As he started losing, he started hitting a lot more drop shots and mixing in junk. My instructor had me move forward into balls and not let them drop, keeping my feet very active. This helped me get to balls faster and put them away.

    Well done. You recognized a change in your opponent's game, made a corresponding change and...surprise!...determination, belief, and out athleting him were the solutions!

    4. My Serve -Well, this is where I really ran into problems. Too many double faults, and I had to start throwing in my spin serve as my first. Never got confident on it. In the 2nd set started throwing the ball more to my right, and this really helped as I got most of them in and didn't DF once.

    Good stuff. Remember, nobody gets through a tennis career without a few patches of silly errors...even Fed and his ilk. The important thing is not to panic, to figure out a fix, and make it happen. Which you did...

    My opponent was at the upper echelon of 4.0, so I was happy to have split sets, and will try to focus on that, but keep in mind that I still have a lot to work on.

    Yeah, but think how much fun it is to Aim Higher, as they say in the Air Force, and actually get there...

    Targeted lessons DO work, even more than online help/video. Know what you want to work on, and work on specific areas keeps you from a ball-feeding session.

    Amen. Couldn't have said it better myself...
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
    #39
  40. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    On NTRP 8

    Okay, this is the last *planned* post in the series, meaning this is the final thought I have on NTRP and improving as a tennis player. I'm very grateful for all the responses, and it sounds like this has been largely positive for a bunch of the other posters in this thread, so if there's other questions, comments, discussion, etc., please, let's keep it going.

    So let me close with some thoughts about competing and match play itself. Nobody likes losing, but I think we all like competing to our best. Nobody in the history of tennis, including Sampras, Laver, Fed, Evert, Navratilova, and so forth, won every match he or she played, but they didn't lose every match, either. I don't like losing a match any more than anyone else, but I like competing...playing my best, going to a new level even (it does happen in matches), in a tough competition with a dedicated opponent is worth it, IMHO. But each of us has to make his or her own peace with competing, winning and losing, and so forth. To me, it's simple: we're all part of a great game with an incredible history of talented dedicated athletes...and I'm including NTRPers here...why wouldn't we want to go out and play matches?

    I'll give you two pieces of advice re the venues you seek out for match play. First, if you've only played or considered ladders or leagues, get yourself into a tournament. It's a way different experience in a way I can't really put into words...try it, you'll like it, I promise. And the second is, take some opportunities to go play the most challenging events you can find. Remember what I said about NTRP being potentially self-limiting. Just because you're a 4.0 doesn't mean you have to restrict yourself to 4.0 play! There are age group events, and I've found these to be a blast, and you can also play Open events, at least at a local and regional level. That's the nice thing about tennis, it's really democratic. If I put in my USTA number for the Boulder Open on TennisLink, for example, I see that I can play a whole raft of events, including Men's Open, which I plan to do, as I did in 2009. I got to play the 2008 Colorado State 5A Boys Champion in qualifying. Yep, he beat me, but I made him hit balls to do it, and it was one of the most fast paced, exciting, run and gun matches I've ever played. Try it, you'll like it...I did...
     
    #40
  41. tinyman

    tinyman Rookie

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    I really like using mini-tennis, the problem I usually get is that at least with the way we play, you can't hit 'down' on the ball (and it must bounce) - so you can't win off powering an angle or something, only by manipulating your opponent around. I guess that's not standard - the few people I have to play with will always end up chipping down on a ball if they can.

    The way I was taught, your feet can't get outside of the service box either, so anything that is 'deep' to the line, you have to try and pick off the rise. I'm not sure that those two are standard though - but they sure made it tougher to get the corner shots back.
     
    #41
  42. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the advice. I plan to compete at the 4.5 level next year, especially if I continue to play well (i.e. win tourneys or get to finals) at the 4.0 level. Even though I expect to lose the majority of my matches at the 4.5 level, I'll be at a much higher level than if I stay at 4.0 the rest of my career. I can see the problem spots in my game and how to eliminate them.

    I might play an Open every once in a while, just for the heck of it, and see the highest level of players that aren't pro (a couple former ATP pros around here play the open money tourneys). I'll set a goal to win say, 5-6 games total against a college player, and see what happens. Against the former pros, though, I'd be lucky to win a few points, total, not expecting anything but bagels there.

    Tourneys are really fun. Remember that feeling on Sat morning when you were a kid and you had a big soccer, or baseball game coming up? Tourneys are kind of like that. Fun times. Nerves definitely play a part. But its the good kind of nervous, and it's fun to see if you can conquer your nerves and find something about yourself.
     
    #42
  43. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Just do it...


    ...play open, that is, and see what happens. You might...check that...you will be surprised, in two ways: (1) There's some stuff you thought you had wired that requires some Additional Assembly (2) There's some stuff you thought was just okay that is better than you gave yourself credit for, because you're winning points with it against a higher level of competition...try it, you'll like it...
     
    #43
  44. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    That's another form of mini-tennis...

    ..which is the "we're not just warming up, we're trying to win points" flavor. Different, but also cool, and I plan to try it, soon...
     
    #44
  45. tinyman

    tinyman Rookie

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    I like it, because I find I warm up faster as I have to move more, as both of you essentially end up moving from one side to another trying to find an awkward placing. But, as I said - it's only the way I was taught, there must be a million varieties on the theme. I guess it is more competitive 'we're trying to win points,' to be honest I'd never really thought about it.
     
    #45
  46. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    I generally get to play open in all the local tourneys cause there aren't enough women to play singles. It can be okay; but it is a drag when you are in wayyyy over your head! No other word for it - Embarrassing!
     
    #46
  47. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    Location:
    On the deuce side, looking to come in
    Ok, skiracer. I've followed this thread with interest and agree with many of your points. But much like Orange Power, I just can't commit the time it'd take to make myself the best player I know I could be. Still, that doesn't mean I won't use some of what you've talked about here (mostly the part about improving my overall fitness first) to do what I can, in the time I have.

    My specific question/request for advice are along the lines on how to take an older mostly doubles player (in both age and experience) and make them a better singles player. Like me. This year, and probably for this year only, I'm in the position of (both) having to...and having the opportunity to, play singles in meaningful situations (USTA and other organized leagues).

    The biggest "technical" adjustment I'm having to make is in the direction of movement. In doubles, I much more often find myself in the situation of moving forward and backward...and, by the very nature of the game, not so much on the side-to-side. Singles, however, is a different ballgame and I'm struggling with some of the sideways movement (my 10+yrs of formal dance training be damned!).

    And then there's the whole visionary aspect. I'm just so accustomed to having those alleys to work with. Having to "shrink" the court is a big mental adjustment. And as my userID might suggest, I love playing the angles...and, man, are they all different in the singles court (both because it's literally smaller and my court positioning is different).

    So...any gems you can throw my way...I'd appreciate. And I promise, promise to put in some road and weight-room time!
     
    #47
  48. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2007
    Messages:
    2,005
    Okay, here we go...

    ...with some ideas:

    - First, try to get in some singles hitting sessions along the lines of what I described. Singles and doubles are different events. I don't play much doubles these days, so if I suddenly had to start playing a bunch of doubles, it'd take some getting used to to get used to a doubles court and having somebody else on the court with. Same is true of a doubles player starting to play more singles. The biggest single sticker shock you'll experience is getting used to the idea that every ball that comes over the net is yours and you have to move to it. So try to do some singles hitting sessions along the line of what I've described to get the feel of playing singles points.

    - Yep, there's more side to side, just because you're the only person on your side who has to move side to side. A lot of ways you can work on this. One is to do two on one drills. As in, two people at the net volleying, you are on the baseline. You'll have to move side to side, believe me, among other things. I'd also do two on the baseline, you at the net. I'm hoping you like to play some net (if you like angles, that's the place to be, right?), and this drill will give you the sense of reading a ball quickly and making the right move when you're alone at the net.

    Do some hitting with a partner where you're both on the baseline and the emphasis is on variety of shot. As in, without making silly errors, each of you tries to give the other a different look on every ball. So maybe I start with a simple deep forehand as a courtesy stroke, and now you can do whatever you want...hit cross court, go back deep down the middle, hit inside out, go topspin, use some slice...whatever. And I get to do whatever i want back: hit a drop shot, go for a heavy moonball down the middle...whatever. You get the picture...

    - Finally, see what I said previously about styles of play. You like angles, so how do you structure points to get you to a shot, as quickly as possible without making silly errors, where you can angle your opponent to his or her knees? Maybe it's something like serve out wide in the deuce court, cheat toward the backhand side so you can hit an inside out forehand, step in, take the next forehand cross court into the open court...basically, what we call patterned play. What are some patterns that you can use to get you into the driver's seat, as quickly as possible, to use your skills with angled balls? What you'll also find with this kind of stuff is that your movement will automatically get better because you're playing proactively rather than reactively. If you drive the direction of the point, you get the control the middle of the court while your opponent scampers from side to side...

    That kind of stuff...
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
    #48
  49. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,083
    .............................
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
    #49
  50. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,083
    I always assumed you lived up in the mountains. I'm no longer at your level, but if you want to hit sometime, I would enjoy that, I'm sure. I can still hit a pretty good ball.
    I'm on the south end of Denver, but if it's not rush hour I can get pretty much anywhere reasonably quickly.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
    #50

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