Practice for Smarter Targets

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by 5263, Feb 11, 2012.

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  1. OnlineTennisInstruction

    OnlineTennisInstruction New User

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    Hey guys,

    It's Florian from OnlineTennisInstruction.com

    I came across this thread cause I saw that it linked to my website. Definitely an interesting discussion you have going here and I am glad to hear that some of you enjoy my website.

    In regards to the video tip here is the direct link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJlzcrZZxKA

    It is part of my Top5 video series and usually you have to sign up to receive the link.

    I've talked to quite a few experts about this subject of not hitting to the lines and no one really knows of any significant study done on the subject. There have been studies done on the square avoid area around the center T and those showed that the pros rarely hit into that area, which is not surprising. Just cause they don't hit in there doesn't mean that they hit very close to the lines though as is obvious from the shot placement screenshots.

    I would like to do a study myself sometime but I just don't have the time at the moment. Looking at the images of shot placement in this thread I guess it would be possible to take a bunch of those if they are available for entire matches and make a rough analysis from that. Maybe I'll get around to doing that sometime. Anybody know if those are available for entire matches ?

    My guess is that the percentage of shots hit that are not within 3 feet of the singles sideline in pro tennis is extremely high!

    What do you guys think ?

    Regards

    Florian
     
  2. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Glad you found our thread and shared your thoughts on this.
    Very nice presentation!
    I think we agree in general and on the overall, big picture approach of reducing
    UEs, but...

    we do have our divergence it seems.
    While I agree that a low % of shots are within 3ft of the sideline, I also find
    a corresponding low % within 3ft of the baseline in my charting and study;
    especially if you subtract the misses that more than nullify the number that
    are made there.
    The idea in this post is to stay nearer to the sidelines while still giving yourself enough margin there to be highly consistent and avoid the
    back 3-5ft at the baseline as targets as well.

    Where we differ is that IMO the net and long misses are the worst and are closely related in many ways. Many errors in too much depth, with the ball
    flying long, are the precursor to misses in the net. Hard hitters looking for extreme depth often find themselves hitting closer to the net to avoid hitting long,
    which often leads to missing into net. Your target area includes the last few feet and the baseline, which make little sense to target IMO.

    I guess you saw the triangle targets on each side, but well off the sideline as well. I feel that by hitting solid TS and power, you can hit to the opportunistic side and avoid most attacks by the opponent; while
    at the same time, you can hit near these same targets with good power for your winners.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  3. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    While I agree that the errors in the net are the worst of them all, IMO missing it deep is just as bad as missing it wide and even worse. I think that a successful extremely wide shot will be less likely to come back then a successful extremely deep shot, some opponents who are used to taking the ball on the rise don't actually mind deep shot's, they even feed off of them. I don't know anybody who likes to be pulled way out of the court and out of position.

    here is something to support my theory:

    [​IMG]

    you can clearly see that the only winners from Federer are shots hit in the 3 feet range from the side line, only two of them are actually deep (just as many as the ones inside the service box).
    But to get the full picture here we will need to also see where did the out-balls land
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Actually, lots of tourney players at your level love to create extreme angles from well out of court. I found this to be the case as soon as I went the next step after C or 3.5 levels. Nobody I faced minded hitting passing shots from 7' outside the sidelines, and most create some pretty cool angles from there.
     
  5. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    That is if they can get to it. Remember we are talking about extreme angles here.
     
  6. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    And also, while hitting it deep in the middle as coach Meier suggests might take some time from your opponent to prepare, it also works the other way around, it shortens your time to recover from your own shot, and if your opponent doesn't mind the deep balls, you are in trouble. And the screen shots of the pro's shot placement really supports 5263's argument. the only time when the pros would consistently try to go deep in the middle is when they return serve which can be explained with the fact that the safest shot is to return the ball to where it came from and when they are returning they are really trying to simply get the rally going (most of the time).
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  7. OnlineTennisInstruction

    OnlineTennisInstruction New User

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    I believe we do disagree here to a certain extent.

    In my opinion we need to differentiatione two things here:

    #1: Pro Tennis vs. Rec Tennis
    #2: Where The Balls Are Landing And Where Players Would Prefer To Hit

    #1:

    In pro tennis it appears that power or the combination of speed and spin have become the most important aspect. Whoever can hit the ball really hard and heavy without missing much is usually in good shape. Because of the high amount of spin that especially the men use, it is not so much of a problem anymore if you hit balls relatively short. Just think of Nadal with his forehand

    The same holds true to a certain extent for sheer power. Think about the women's game: if they nail the ball and it lands maybe 1-2 feet behind the service line usually they will not get punished. Nevertheless, I believe in the women's game depth still plays a bigger role than in the men's game because they hit with less spin on average. So I would expect the shot placement images to reflect a little more depth on average as well

    When you go to the recreational game though, where there is much less speed and spin involved depth is still a lot more important. Think of the days of Chris Evert for example...that was obviously Tennis at a much lower speed and depth was crucial.

    #2

    The fact that most balls do not land deep or near the sidelines in pro tennis does not mean that guys would not prefer to hit the ball deeper or closer to the sidelines. It just reflects the fact that at the given speed of the game they are not able to go closer more often without risking too many errors.

    My advise for rec players is based on the fact that rec players on average hit way too many balls wide and short. It takes a lot to hit a ball long and most players don't hit long very often at all from my experience
     
  8. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    This makes my point exactly.

    Most of the negative comments about not going for extreme depth are centered around how at higher levels,
    "any shorter balls get punished".
    We have your comments and the diagrams to give strong evidence how this is not true.
    Well struck balls with good spin and direction rarely get attacked and make solid rally balls.
    This is my point.
    I don't develop strategy for the lower pusher levels where you see few balls hit long.
    We all know that at the lower levels, few balls get punished efficiently anyway.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  9. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    You haven't seen me play.

    It's a freaking nightmare of long UEs..lol. And I hit with heavy spin..working on fixing it.
     
  10. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    I love this concept, these targets are way better than just deep in teh corners. However, last night I played a flat hitter and hit a nightmarish number of balls into the net. I may have just been off but it felt like I did not have enough margin to aim for more angles.
     
  11. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Glad you appreciate the ideas here, but need a little more info on your situation.

    Really there is nothing in this about hitting big angles. It does allow for big angles by using the shorter section of the target on crosscourt shots, but
    when using the deeper areas of the target, the angles would be quite reasonable and should not encourage
    any more balls in the net. Also remember that the
    #1 objective in this approach is to clear the net. That is job one in this tactic, followed closely by using
    good to great topspin to bring the ball down quik!
    This alloy of ideas, (clear the net with good TS)
    a "Dual Objective" if you will, is the basic Idea here with the assumption that one
    will be hitting the ball hard relative to their skill level.
    Then the "Smart Targets" provide the direction aspect to round out this approach.

    For this method, we are not so much hitting shorter, but not looking to hit for extreme Depth.
    By using good pace, spin and direction, we can control the rallys while not exposing our game
    to heavy risks of depth and with the net, while also minimizing the wide mistakes with margin
    and TS there as well. This concept should allow players to cut loose with all the power of their current
    skills and not have to hold back trying to be so exact with their placements. Good topspin will
    bring the ball down quicker, which is not a concern, but actually a benefit with good pace and
    direction!
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  12. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    I think I understand, so on a defensive shot against a flat hitter the concept would be to hit deeper into the target with more topspin?
     
  13. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    That should work well and would be one of the top options.
    This approach provides lots of options though.
     
  14. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    While extreme angles are covered with this, when in a BL Rally, it would mostly be moderate normal crosscourt shots that I wouldn't even refer to as angles.
    It is mostly just hitting crosscourt away from your opponent mostly, with enough
    pace to keep them on the move.
    The more severe angles would come in for attackable ball and angles slices.
    When you are attacking, the assumption is your attack is good enough that
    you don't get attacked in return. If you do, then you miscalculated your ability
    to hurt your opponent with that attack, right?
     
  15. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    I hear you PP, i use a 90 sq. inch racket with poly strung tight and a lot of spin but still hit a bunch of shots long at times.
     
  16. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    While there may be less spin and pace on avg, many rec players hit very hard and
    often hit harder than they should given their control. This thread is for the harder hitters, especially if they can produce good spin too.

    The other thing to remember is that if 2 rec players of very equal level are playing, depth will work well, but produce many errors as well, so it is probably
    not going to work any better to hit deep if you hit soft. If there is anywhere that a player can hit short and get away with it, beginner tennis is that place. It's why pushers tend to rule this level of tennis. Beginners can't effectively attack short balls and if they could, they would not be beginners.
    Most of this confusion comes from developing ideas from matches where the players are not very equal in ability.
     
  17. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Just curious,
    what kind of depth do you normally target?
    How close to the BL would you ideally like to hit?
    thanks,
     
  18. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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  19. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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  20. Swissv2

    Swissv2 Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for that link. Unfortunately, its very limited - but I think one of the biggest things that we are missing from this conversation is the angle of the balls that were hit. (pro vs. amateur)
     
  21. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    if you click on play-by-play button you will be able to see every single point, click on any pint and you will see the actual rally WITH the angles, very cool
     
  22. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    yep I did them all :)
     
  23. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    What is the premise that you would like to test if you have data for Pro vs Am?
     
  24. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    hey 5263,
    I sent you something to your email, did you check it out?
     
  25. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    here is another snapshot of a completed match Tipsarevic - Nalbandian:
    7/5 6/3

    [​IMG]
     
  26. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    if you circle out the concentrated areas and estimate the their center (asuming that is actually the target you will get this:

    [​IMG]
     
  27. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    got it, thanks.
    Great progress in that vid. You look so much more relaxed and balanced,
    which will lead to super control of your shots.
    replied to your email too.
     
  28. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I think my "Smart Target" triangles would work quite well to represent targets leading to those results, but the general areas are tough to deny IMO.
     
  29. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I wish the diagrams showed the out ball misses to show how the misses
    offset the number of balls near and on the lines.
    My charting usually show more misses long than there are balls landing in the
    back 3-4' of the court.
     
  30. jmnk

    jmnk Professional

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    there's an interesting quote in Vince Spadea book (Break Point). When he started working with Fisher, at the time former coach of Sampras, he stated:

    "Fisher focuses on hitting the ball wide to a certain depth area. He says it's stupid to miss long, because even if the shot lands in, your opponent will probably be able to return it. You hit winners by taking people off the sides of the court, rather than hitting balls deep toward the baseline."
    (page 36).

    Not sure what else to add.....
     
  31. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    you don't need to add much more. Whoever does not believe they just need to watch a professional match and take note where the ball lands most of the time ( and definitely turn the sound of the tv off because the commentators will keep insisting that the pros are hitting with great depth)
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
  32. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    This is totally in agreement with what I've found. My charting has proven to my
    satisfaction, that winners are mostly related to the pace and direction of the shot.
    Watching courtside at the Sony-Ericsson matches was also great evidence. Fisher
    deserves way more credit for Pete's performances than he ever got IMO.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  33. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    This was the wrong guy, but he is looking good and using the Smart Targets well;
    Especially in his highlights. Seems the greatest use of them tends to show in highlights.
     
  34. Swissv2

    Swissv2 Hall of Fame

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    What is interesting with the ball placement is; while it looks like they are hitting the ball in "high percentage areas" or "safe areas" of the court, the Pros hit the balls at more extreme angles (think Nadal doing cross court shots) and speed than the amateurs. Amateurs would hit the balls to those HPAs (High Percentage Areas), but they would have less angle, and much less speed, giving the opponent the ability to easily return the shot.
     
  35. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    hey 5263,
    I really think you will like this one. I charted the Dimitrov's shot placement in his match vs Berdich and included the shot that were long or in the net, which I consider uncontrolled depth, since the height over the net has very much to do with the potential depth of the shot. so here they are:

    Disclimer: I estimated where the ball landed by watching recording of the match, so the exact point of where the shot landed is not 100% accurate some shots may be a foot or so off of the actual point they landed, but those are mainly in areas far from the lines (which I used as guides for estimation)
    SET1 :
    some error stats: 5 long, 5 in the net, 3 wide

    [​IMG]

    SET2:
    errors: 8 long, 9 in the net, 2 wide


    [​IMG]

    FYI the first set was won by Dimitrov 6:4 and the second he lost 2:6. the underlined dots are the last shot of the rally. In a case where he lost it that was where the ball landed so Birdich hit a winner, and in the cases where he won it that was where the wining shot landed ( it could either be a straight out winner or a shot that caused an error from Birdich)
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  36. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks! love the charting.
    help me to understand the marking though.
    Wouldn't any out ball be a straight line to show end of rally?
     
  37. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    haha, dhuu. I was coming with the methodology on the flight. I don't know why I underlined the ones that were out they are obviously the end of the point
     
  38. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    thanks, I had misread it anyway, but will study it some now.
     
  39. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    A couple things I notice with a quick look on rallys lost-
    Seems that nearly all the out balls hit long were near the middle.
    More balls were landing near the middle.

    On rallys won-
    More balls tended towards the sidelines, especially when compared to the
    rallys lost pic, but not as much as you see from more experienced pros.

    An in general-
    Very little missed wide.
    Missed more long than heavy depth ever helped him.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! Thank you!
     
  41. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

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    Well if you ask any pro player they will tell you that they will prefer every ball to land smack ON the back of the line... but that is not possible and too risky.
     
  42. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    except you just highlighted the less useful aspect of that great post.

    "Originally Posted by OnlineTennisInstruction
    * * *
    The fact that most balls do not land deep or near the sidelines in pro tennis does not mean that guys would not prefer to hit the ball deeper or closer to the sidelines. It just reflects the fact that at the given speed of the game they are not able to go closer more often without risking too many errors. . . ."

    Of course everyone wants to paint the outside of a corner if they can count on getting the call correct from the caller, goes completely without saying and can't see why anyone would ever say it except as used above; but....

    the bold above is what is important in the statement!

    And now I see where gin made the same important point above in a post.
     
  43. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I think if you take the time to chart this, you will see that not to be the case.
    Also, even if Pros do use tighter angles, they cover them better and are more
    dangerous with them. Rec players on the other hand, don't move as well and are less
    dangerous with shorter balls once the get them, so it tends to equal out based on the
    level; except everything is a little tougher the higher you go, so the lower you
    are, the MORE you can get away with,
    Not the other way around!
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  44. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I played a local Jr player who does well in 14s this weekend who didn't think too much of the Smart Targets. He was happy to get on court and show his stuff with an older fellow like me. You never know how you will do with these young guns so I wanted to play well for sure and employ the targets well. I focused on hitting crisply and working the shot lines for my targets. The CrossFit workouts seem to be working well for court coverage and endurance!

    I made sure I cleared the net well and brought the ball down hard with TS and also did all the slices to the targets. Without working too hard at all and with very few misses on my part, next thing I knew I was up 4-0. I stuck with my execution and closed it at 6-0 with only a couple of wide misses and fewer long for the set. I think I put one slice in the net.
    Anyway in the end, he talked of how amazed he was on how much pressure I could get with those simple targets, along with how I never missed applying that pressure. No major result or anything, but a satisfying example that may have helped a young mans game.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  45. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Another interesting match today, especially since I don't get to play that much singles (but and trying to play more singles now to use the smart targets).

    Today was a pro-set against a AA in his 30s. Good ball striker and surprised me in that he had added the drop shot to his arsenal, which works well with his depth and power. I must confess that this fella gave me some trouble in respect to the Smart Targets with his pace and court penetration. He plays sort of traditional and really drives thru the shots. I say the trouble was in relation to the targets because I found it tough to work the targets like I wanted when he drove it hard, flat and deep. It forced me to take the ball where I could, more than where I really wanted to at times; and yes, I know several have made comments about how this is a big part in how it goes in tough rallys. It reminded me that when a guy hits a heavy ball with pace that often you just need to take it back where it came from just like you might with a big 1st serve. Of course this still works within the context of how the Smart Targets are used, but bears mentioning just the same.

    I was able the focus more on the targets anytime he wasn't hitting as strongly or deep; and using the targets helped me to aggressively control the rallys without missing once I got the right ball and also helped me to do damage when I got a shorter attackable ball to work with... again without missing. When working with the right balls, I was able to execute rallys and attacks at a relatively high level.

    So in the end, even though he is quite a bit younger and out served me a little bit too, I won 8-2 fairly easily. I expect the difference IMO, was as much him not using the Smart Targets as it was that I was using them. Even though he did give me some amount of trouble with his deep power, he also donated quite a few points my way missing long and it cost him. If he had used these targets, he could have missed less IMO, although it may be tougher with his more traditional strokes.
    It's worth noting that when the opponent unleashes a big shot, then taking back where it came from is still a great idea, but looking to start working the Smart Targets at the 1st Opportunity seems to be a great way to go.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  46. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    To answer some questions I've received from emails-

    due to looking at tennis as a game of where you need to make your shots consistently,
    more specifically, "Make your shots to the right spots"
    I began to look for ideas about where to place the ball that met certain criteria.

    First the targets would need to be highly make-able with good margin for error, so we can be highly consistent while still using our power.
    Second they need to provide some safety, so an avg shot hit to them would not likely get smoked by the opponent very often.
    Third is that they needed to be able to do some damage when hit with authority! Not just a defensive shot.
    and
    Fourth, they needed to be sort of simple to make it easy to pick the target under
    pressure.

    Over time I was able to narrow things to 2 triangles for targets and a square to avoid at the center T.
    One of these triangles is almost always a pretty good place to hit.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  47. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I'd like to expand on the idea of learning the wrong lessons from matches, where
    the opponents are not well matched in skill level.

    I'll use the example of a young jr (Sam) at drills last week. He was playing several of the kids in match play that were not quite his level, so he could focus on his power right thru the court and cause errors. His confidence was riding high. This kid can work the Top spin pretty well and could have moved them around more and constructed points, but didn't. Later when he played an opponent at his skill level, he continued to try to hit thru that opponent like he had the others. This better opponent didn't really have a problem with playing against power and mostly just redirected it
    back, working the point. Sam became frustrated with the lack of results for his power and tried to hit bigger, but just made more errors in the process of losing.

    After practice, Sam was heard to say, "I was playing so well, then just fell apart in the last match".

    Now I'm not saying him working on his power game is a bad thing, as that is important in the growing process, but
    My point is he was learning the wrong lessons from it. He was learning that this is how he needed to play to win, with too much riding on overpowering the opponent and too little on working the point. When you go against players around your level, it will be odd if you can overpower them. You will have to do more than just hit a bigger ball in these matches and if you think about it,
    these are the only matches where winning is real Key.

    Beating a far lesser player should be no problem and getting the win on a clearly superior player is quite a long shot really.
    The Matches where you really prove your game and your skills, are the ones
    where they are truly well contested and both players realize they must play well to win.
    IMO, these are the matches we should be focused more on and trained for in our practices. When we learn to pay attention to what we can execute in these matches and build on that info, then we can make bigger strides as a player.

    The same problem happens in wt lifting. WHen you start lifting, you can be on the worst program out there and still make gains. You are so far from your potential that any work is better that what you were doing before.
    Often lifters will continue with poor programs because they worked in the beginning, but as they near their potential, the poor program doesn't cut it any more!
    This happens with tennis in much the same way. Any practice is better than not playing, so you often improve in spite of your program instead of because of it. To me, hitting for the back few feet of the court is an example of learning the wrong lesson in mismatches and like Pete Fisher is quoted to say in this thread, missing deep is not good, because there is little reason to take on that risks.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
  48. 1HBH Rocks

    1HBH Rocks Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Messages:
    426
    Substitute Aristotle's anger for power hitting in tennis and you will have an idea of what it takes to do it. It's not easy to do it right: it takes the touch and refinement of a true master to measure risks precisely enough and cunningly enough to step on the gas just at the right instant. It sure feels good to hit a booming ground stroke, but when you miss too many of them, not only do you loose, you also make sure you don't get to learn anything -- or if anything, you learn bad habits.

    In tennis, ball placement is really the corner stone of offensive: you can only hit so hard before missing, but with only mild efforts, you can place the ball one stride further away... in the end, you still robs time from your opponent and he'll be late on the play at some point if he doesn't respond, but it's a lot easier on the execution side of things to hit the right spot than to try and breach a hole through your opponent.

    I always get back to Federer when explaining things, both because I love watching him and because he does exemplify things wonderfully well... Watch him hit the ball, work his point now that he's no longer the biggest gun on the tour. He still seems so deadly. That's ball placement and court positioning: you'll hardly ever see a player place the ball so well while being so far forward on the court compared to his mates. Slowly, ball after ball, he builds himself a lead like a race car driver... and once he's one full step ahead, there's space and he hits in the opening.

    Want to make your opponent feel like they've been handed a tennis lesson from a master of the art? Place your shots and their effectiveness will duplicate.
     
  49. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    very well stated.
     
  50. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,412
    Glad you liked it and
    train to use it!
     
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