Practice for Smarter Targets

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

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    For doubles-
    It is pretty easy to just imagine targets near the center T and both side Ts.
    Use the center T for hitting between the opponents
    and the side T for heavy crosscourt and down the lines.

    For singles, the center T is the avoid for about 6' in any direction, and
    the both side Ts are ON the line, so we have to move in about 2' with
    the target, right?

    Remember these are mainly for creating shot paths or vectors and not so much
    to actually hit the targets. My mindset is to clear the net and go hard at the
    target. I usually end up flying or overshooting the target a bit (2-8'), but that
    matters little cause it still will stay in due to the shorter nature of the targets.

    The triangle aspect of the targets relates more to singles and using the botton
    2 cones as gates or a funnel to the target area and/or shot vectors.

    Also remember the big idea here is to focus on shot vectors that allow us to stay
    clear of the lines
    , where you may miss, get cheated, or get a bad call.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  2. NE1for10is?

    NE1for10is? Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Messages:
    477
    Thanks! I just applied that very effectively in a doubles match this morning. We won against a decent team, but more than that, I found that by having those simple targets to shoot for I was able to keep the opponent off balance more easily and limit my dumb errors I would have normally made due to poor shot selection, and hitting angles I never usually hit. I found myself forgetting to hit the targets on overheads and shooting up the middle, only to have the ball come back again and again. Once I realized this and started hitting the overheads for the targets they couldn't get them back. I'm looking forward to trying it out for singles.
     
  3. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Sounds like it was a fun outing. I think you experienced how nice it is to have
    good default targets to use when you aren't doing something else specific and even
    when you are working something else, these targets can play a role at times.
    Nice job!
     
  4. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Messages:
    4,097
    You seen the thread about rec layers having no plan at all?

    hard to believe, yet at least a couple of posters have agreed!
     
  5. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    I am also going to post that I agree, as I think the extent of the ones who
    do have a plan amounts to almost no plan.
    I don't even think connico is right that tournament players all have plans, or
    at least a decent one anyway.

    90% of what I hear from rec players is something like who to hit to or looking for Bhs.
    A few other things like be aggressive or be consistent. I don't think those are much of
    a plan.
     
  6. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    I really like reading how this helped you to realize how often you were hitting
    down the middle.

    On the part I underlined above....I'd like to put that another way just a bit...
    and say that your "line of shot" with reasonable power for your level, is more
    important than just banging it hard OR hitting for placement near lines
    .
    What do you thinK?
     
  7. connico

    connico Rookie

    Joined:
    May 7, 2012
    Messages:
    277
    They are still plans. No one walks blindly into a match... hitting smart targets.. that's a plan...
     
  8. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Yes, hitting to Smart Targets is a basic plan and how to use them and work
    with them is a higher level plan.
    Are you still arguing the "straw man" about the literal meaning of "No plan".
    I think most of the reasonable posters have excepted that the intent was
    related to not having much of a plan and not tailoring play to the opponent.
    A few of you seem stuck on a very literal interpretation of the statement.
    Either way, posters like me made the allowance that players have very basic
    plans
    , and then went on to discuss how they fell far short, so your comment
    directed to me makes no sense.
     
  9. connico

    connico Rookie

    Joined:
    May 7, 2012
    Messages:
    277
    lol, makes perfects sense to me. The majority of REC players have plans and don't win by luck. No matter how crap, insignificant, poor, shoddy, obvious etc.. the plan is its still a plan.

    The op's quote in that particular thread is a sweeping statement that is incorrect and belittles every rec player there is. Labelling REC tennis plays as nothing by monkey's swinging blindly.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2012
  10. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Ok, your opinion was heard. I also agreed with you if we take the literal meaning, as anyone will.
     
  11. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Hit that ball machine yet?
     
  12. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    Messages:
    332
    Yes, I have, thanks! I've worked on hitting my forehand and backhand crosscourt into those triangles, while avoiding the central rectangle. It's been very helpful for my consistency.
     
  13. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Sounds good and look forward to hearing about you using it well in some
    match play!
     
  14. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Maybe we can hear how some of your matchplay has gone with this.

    If you can learn to use these targets with higher net clearance on rally shots, and flatter trajectory
    on mid court attacks, it can help greatly, even if it mainly
    just keeps your balls out of the avoid area.

    Another important aspect is that Smart Targets will help you avoid the fatal step/hit pass
    when you approach with a powerful approach shot.
    Step/hit pass is when you get a mid ct ball and blast it within a step or 2 of the
    opponent as you come to net. It may work fine against weak players, but good
    ones will take a step and redirect your power into a pass that comes by you
    before you can transition thru no-man's land. The combination of your power and
    their short travel distance leaves you caught in no-mans land. Remember this
    if someone uses a power approach on you where you can just take 1 step or so
    to reach their shot. Your pass does not have to be the best due to their poor position.

    By hitting to the Smart Target away from your opponent, you put them on the move,
    and when they are moving you can too! You can use their moving time to execute a
    successful transition to good net position...even when using a power approach shot
    and avoiding being the victim of a step/hit passing shot.
     
  15. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    957
    I am doing much better in matches using smart targets - so thanks again, 5263! I still tend to aim a little safer, but hit harder. Due to natural variation in shots, a lot of them hit just the right spot. It's amazing how this forces the opponent to move, and keeps them on the defense. I realized (the hard way, of course :) ) that it's important to hit to the target area that's further away from the opponent, whenever possible. Very few people hit well when they are forced to move, it seems...
     
  16. Roforot

    Roforot Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,198
    One thing I would add is to practice hitting these targets from different depths. I usually stay at the baseline, but played a guy who's rally ball had so much spin, I had to play 6-7' behind the baseline. This actually makes the court look a lot different and I found especially on my BH side I had trouble keeping the ball out of the "avoid" box.

    I've also started practicing hitting short balls; I typically aim for the deep target but because this guy was set up behind the baseline, those shots didn't really rush him and actually were in his strike zone. I realize I need to aim "short" and angle between the two up targets to take advantage of his court position.
     
  17. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    Messages:
    332
    The only competitive matches I've had this summer have been with my weekly practice match partner, a 4.0. (I'm a 3.5.) My practice partner hits really strong, well-placed shots with good consistency. So, I definitely have to hit to the smarter targets to stay in rallies (and occasionally win them). He's particularly adept at hitting winners off my weak replies that land in the middle of the court (what I call the Rectangle of Death). I have, therefore, lots of incentive to hit to the smarter targets, when I play someone like my practice partner.

    As for approach shots, my practice partner is exactly the type of player who can smash a fast approach shot back at my feet or past me, if I don't make him run first. (He'll still pass me on an approach shot made into a smarter target zone because he's a good player, and my approach shot is a work in progress.)

    Thanks for the tips!
     
  18. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    You make some good points. I think it is always good to put the opponent on the
    move except when you need to put the ball back where it came from.

    By the way, has anyone notice Li Na hitting more topspin and using the
    smart targets more since she got her new coach Carlos?
    Sure looks that way against Venus.
     
  19. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,327
    Location:
    colorado
    I've been practicing smart targets for ~1 month now and I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with the results. Beat a guy 6-3,6-3 today who I have never beaten before in my life. Every rally we had he was running much more than I was and was being pulled out wide much more than I was. Every time he tried to change the direction of the ball I just hit it back cross court to the other smart target. I wore him down by the end of the match and I was able to come through against a guy who has always gotten the best of me.

    I'm not really hitting the ball any harder than I was before, just using more spin and making a conscious effort to hit my spots. I've been much more consistent using this strategy, and it feels pretty good.

    Just one thing though guys- Be careful of hitting a really slow, really short looper cross court. Just because you are going for a bit more angle with these smart targets doesn't mean you have to take a ton of pace off your normal shot. Did that a lot when starting out until I figured out you can hit a pretty heavy topspin shot and still hit the angle- no need to push or anything. I feel like the topspin helps alot

    Anyway just felt like I owed you a thank you. I had hit a plateau in my game before this, feels good to be improving again and seeing positive results in match play
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012
  20. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Excellent post and story! You make an excellent point about slow rollers; a slow roller must be a deeper ball.
    These smart targets are for crisply or harder
    hit balls. If anything, the safety of these targets being away from the lines
    should lead to being able to cut lose and hit with more pace...not less.

    I appreciate the thank you and glad to hear how it is helping you!
    Thanks for the helpful comments on how to use these targets.
     
  21. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Another good post illustrating the versatility of using this approach.
    By opting to go wider at times and working the deeper aspect at times, you can
    really use these targets to give different looks to your opponent.
    I also like your point about some practice to hit them from different parts of the court.
    I would prioritize the mid ct looks first (including volleys and overheads), then BL rally area, then also
    focus on how you would use them from deep behind the BL.
    Very good point you bring up on this!
     
  22. maleyoyo

    maleyoyo Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    333
    I too have been practicing smart targets with a ball machine for 3 months and find it particularly helpful for consistencies with my cross court shots. I do well with medium pace topspin shots. I find the up and across FH works well for me.
    I’d do much better now against players at my level comparing to a couple of months ago.
    Now I need to take it to the next level since I play more with stronger players now, and I need more spin and pace for those targets. Otherwise they will make me run all day.
    The obvious would be to swing harder with more spin or angles, but it is not easy as it sounds.
    Just played a tourney and lost badly 2-6, 2-6 to a mid 4.5 because he has better quality smart target shots. I was forced to hit deeper to stay in the points and hitting long as a result.
    How should I practice to improve?
     
  23. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Sounds like you are on the right track and improving already, but
    I would suggest that you don't have to use the part of the target near the
    lines,
    and by moving away from the lines, you should be able to cut loose with your
    power more. If not, the strokes probably need more work.

    A big aspect of the Smart Targets is to give a very general idea of where to
    hit that is quite safe from missing near the lines...so you can hit strongly!
     
  24. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mick3391

    Should I just teach him to stand two feet behind the baseline and kill it? Hope the other guy makes an error? I don't mean to sound sarcastic, just a bit frustrated..
    ------
    my answer
    No good player plays in this fashion above.

    A good player hits aggressively from the baseline for 2 main reasons.
    a. gets errors from opponents
    b. keeps the opponent on his heels a bit and from attacking him

    the errors he gets from his opponent are some times UE's winning the point for him, but
    more often they come more in the form of a shorter ball that is attackable.
    That is level 2 of todays game...attacking these shorter, easy balls.
    A whole extra layer of skills and decisions.
    You are correct that most avg players never develop this layer ...or the next level 3 of
    closing out the point after attacking the shorter easy ball...usually with overheads and volleys.
    _____________

    post in another thread about the 3 levels of todays tennis imo.
     
  25. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Another big aspect is about knowing where to avoid hitting, so it makes it much
    tougher for your opponent to take control over the point.
     
  26. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    below is a post of a father whose daughter learned from the standard traditional type coaching and is now struggling with the change she needs
    to compete.

    Good example of why I think it is so important to start out with the strokes that
    give you potential to be a tougher competitor; and they are easier to execute anyway!
     
  27. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Grip and rip

    A good example of where the smart targets would help.

    In FYB, Grip it and Rip it, they work on attacking mid ct balls back to the deep middle. While I do like that target for returning 1st serves at times, it seems a
    poor idea for mid ct balls. Even in the drill there were many missed deep and the drill done to the middle lacked the positioning on the ball required to get to better targets.

    IMO it would be much better to move the feeder around some, but mainly work the
    drill at one or both of the smart targets, incorporating a more useful and safer target goal.
     
  28. Chillaxer

    Chillaxer Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2012
    Messages:
    432
    Have you got any comparisons with other players?
     
  29. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    There are several sprinkled into this thread that were provided by posters.
    I developed the targets thru charting lots of top matchups.

    I was slightly surprised how many landed so near the targets, as these diagrams
    are not screened at all. They include shots where the returner has little or no
    control over placement, along with several other things to skew them. Even though
    the pros tend to favor a bit more to the middle than the target at times,
    I think the targets would stand out well when they have a ball they can really direct well.
    These diagrams also show how often the pros hit shorter than most expect.
     
  30. Roforot

    Roforot Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,198
    Any thoughts on smart targets for serving? I know for many rec players, just getting it in the box is the goal...
     
  31. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Works a little different for serving as you have 3 main targets, 2 avoid zones
    and quite a few subtle options off those 3 good targets.

    You always have wide, T and in the body.
    1st serve with power you are forced pretty much to hit near the line, but OK
    since you get another chance.:)
    2ond serves use more spin to come down earlier to avoid being as near the lines.
    Often you want to have found a weakness or two to target for the second serve,
    like going to the Bh/body, with a kicker.

    Subtle options for example- body serve has Fh/body, Bh/body, and straight at body, along with each of these have the option of being a kick, slice or flat.

    Out wide can be kick, slice, or flat too, and also can vary in how wide.

    2 Avoid zones are hitting into "step/hit" to Fh or Bh where they take one step and rtn it.
    You can serve to either one if it is a major weakness though.
    T serve can be kick, slice, or flat as well.
    hope this helps? Did I get your question?
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012
  32. njboy

    njboy Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2006
    Messages:
    294
    where is the diagram?

    Can not see it.
     
  33. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    sorry, don't know why.
     
  34. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,110
    Hey 5263: Based on your specs, this is a scale image I made. Look okay?

    Blue = Smart Targets
    Red = Avoid Area

    [​IMG]
     
  35. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Yes, Really nice job!

    Keep in mind the triangles are targets, but not so much to hit inside them,
    but to work different areas in and near them...more of a Reference.
    For example, hitting dtl, you would likely clear the first dtl cone and try bounce
    on or just past the second dtl cone.

    If you were looking to hit a short angled slice or volley, then should try to go
    on a line for the shortest dtl cone and bounce right before it.
    Or for a inside out, you would like to bounce it just past the more middle cone,
    but before the deepest dtl cone; for more angle, more into the target, but
    for more depth, then work the inside out just to the deeper side more in line with the corner.
    Make sense?

    Again, great diagram! thanks
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  36. njboy

    njboy Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2006
    Messages:
    294
    Ifficult to hit

    Do you think so? Not easy to hit into the zone.
     
  37. njboy

    njboy Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2006
    Messages:
    294
    Not easy

    Not easy to hit into the zone
     
  38. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    did you read post #235?
    about how they are more of a reference.
    and
    also a method of staying out of the red avoid zone.

    also makes more sense if you realize that the cones won't be on the
    court during a real match, so clearly they will be just a reference,
    and you are just judging if you are using the court zones right.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  39. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,110
    nj - Just stay outta the red, and hit past the service line. Like 5263 says, the targets are just reference. Get it into the general vicinity and you're good.
     
  40. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Yep, just a good reference, but hitting them is fine of course, while I might seek
    to work a certain volley closer to net well inside the target for a sharper angle.etc...

    I think using parts of the targets for a default target when you don't KNOW something better to do, works very well. Also staying away from the avoid zone
    is super important, but really helps to have a suggestion where to go, than just
    being told where not to go!
     
  41. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Murray put on a clinic with Smart Targets vs Dodig in their match.
    Anybody catch a diagram for the bounce points?
     
  42. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    20,201
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    No but I am finding that my shots are a lot easier to drop in the zone now. This is a technique that rewards the loopier, spin heavy stroke style. I was hitting too flat for a while due to my string setup.

    Example..had my opponent on duece side, and he was only able to punch back shorter returns since I had him out of position. I hit the easiest shot from about 3 feet in the baseline, which was straight ahead and right at him. His returns were staying just low enough to where I did not feel 100% about going inside out to the ad side for the winner.

    So I hit 4 straight balls in that zone right at him. probably landed 3 feet inside the baseline and were rather hard with a lot of top. Basically a shot I felt like I could hit 100 times in a row if I had to. After 4 of them he made the error. My logic was that by freezing him just enough to think I may go inside out, it would mess up his timing and he would cheat and give me a clean winner or make an error.

    for me, this was smart tennis and before I probably would have gone for the inside out winner before and missed by a few inches. I could be wrong, but the way I apply all this logic is to now only go for winners when everything is perfect (feet are set up exactly how I want, spacing is good, ball is in my zone).

    I find this helps a lot of approach shots, since I think a lot of players come at a short ball thinking about their stroke first. I think of my feet first now..are they setup, am I spaced properly, am i prepared? If any of those things are off, I play a safer shot and don't go for an off balance winner (which is usually going to be a UE).

    To really embrace the shot placement described in this thread you need to have a lot of confidence in your strokes and not be afraid to play longer points.
     
  43. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Yes, works fine for loopy, but even better for more driven, but biting TS shots as well as low skidding slices,
    especially when vectored away from the opponent.

    I also really like your willingness to pin them to a side and go back there with several shots in a
    row before busting out.

    Pretty much got it here. I wouldn't say perfect, but set things up pretty nice before pulling the trigger and with things set up well, pulling the trigger does not
    have to be as super aggressive to get results.

    The other Major point is to be aggressive with Rally shots, but without missing due to Smarter Targeting! Good Pace and Biting TS will work well with these
    conservative targets where you can hit quite hard without missing. I you can hit 4-5 hard shots with some pretty good TS...very likely you will force them
    into error or get the attackable ball with a very nice set up!
     
  44. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    20,201
    Location:
    On my iPhone
    Yes, this is what I am doing now. I do hit pretty driving shots as well. My opponent told me last time that he simply was overpowered and was just trying to get the ball back.

    The key part about that is this guy is no slouch and will jump all over anything short. So what I am doing is making sure to push him back on balls that he hits to corners so I dont give up short balls. That is a key part to address. If I get pulled wide, I notice a huge change in success rate if I put the ball back deep. It keeps them from really attacking the shot, and instead can get me back to the center of the court, and then able to reset and hit the targets again.
     
  45. NE1for10is?

    NE1for10is? Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Messages:
    477
    I was there watching the match at Ashe with some friends who aren't as tennis literate and I pointed out that very same thing. They asked why Dodig was losing even though he was belting the ball pretty well. I told them Dodig was always hitting down the middle and always seemed off balance and Murray was always on balance, hitting angles and making Dodig run side to side, and it's always a lot harder to stay on balance when you have to hit the ball on the run. So, yes I was very aware of the smart targets in that match. It may partly explain why Dodig only gets to a certain level.
     
  46. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    I think it clearly is a part of why Dodig does not compete better. Did you also
    notice he had occasional great points and how in most of those, he worked the
    Smart Targets better, along with avoiding the Avoid zone.
     
  47. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Yes, imo this is when more depth can be important...when defending a tough shot
    where you don't have the control to drive to a better target with authority.
     
  48. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Chris Evert just comment on how often the shorter shot works better, because
    today's players are so comfortable behind the baseline area and the short shot
    on an angle to one side causes them to move much further.

    Watched several games of Sherapova where she was hitting shorter targets
    consistently as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  49. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,446
    Anyone notice when Fed was playing poor against Berdych, how he was hitting
    very near the lines,
    then how his play was much better during the 3rd set as he hit more in the
    Smart Target areas?
    Also notice how each of them attacked so well when balls were hit to the center T avoid area?

    I got several emails and calls from players who noticed this last nite.

    Could say more but don't want to ruin the result for those who have recorded
    the match for later.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  50. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Messages:
    1,007
    You mean Berdych? :)
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page