Relaxed swing on no pace balls = more controllable power?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Power Player, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I was hitting with a guy last night who is a very very good junkballer. He likes to give you no pace and heavy backspin, now and then dialing up a heavy winner.

    It's great practice because my timing was constantly being thrown off.

    Anyway, I noticed that once I started relaxing my swing more and not going for a ton of racquethead speed that my control and power was actually better against this type of ball. I was hitting a lot harder than it felt like I would be.

    It also allowed me to hit wherever I wanted and set up winners easier.

    A lot of people struggle with no pace balls and I was wondering who else has tried this.
     
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  2. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Well, racquet head speed is worthless if you can't time the ball properly. So when you loosened up, your timing improved and you made clean contact, which beats a muscled swing off the throat of the racquet.


    Of course, this doesn't mean that high level players don't swing at supersonic speeds. But timing and clean contact come first.
     
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  3. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Well yes and no. I am talking also about no pace balls. The ones where the opponent is basically waiting for you to make an UE. I completely agree with you though.

    It is easier to swing very hard at pace.

    I guess my post was more along the lines of how much pace you can generate with a relaxed swing against these types of players. Especially since I am always seeing "i lost to a pusher" threads on here.
     
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  4. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    this is the concept I've tried to educate my old dogs and some young lads -

    a more relaxed motion means less acceleration from muscle power (at least in the initial stage of the forward swing), and more acceleration from gravity.

    Gravity is always consistent and reliable. muscle power is not.

    Therefore, on these tricky balls coming in with heavy top/underspin, where you are not exactly sure if the ball will skid forward or check up, it's quite difficult to muscle it back.... on the other hand, if player simply 'drops' the hitting arm into the ball, then by the time the racket approaches the contact point, it already has enough momentum..... so any adjustment to handle the skidding/checking can be done by the arm, in an easier way.
     
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  5. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    I read that you played a junk baller, so I assumed based on my own experience with one that at first you were tightening up because your footwork was off. As you know, we are capable of swinging fastest when we are loose. But unfortunately that pesky human nature can kick in and prompt us to tense up so that we can hit hard.
     
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  6. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Nah my footwork was actually pretty nice..takeback..prep..all good..those are my checkmarks when I warm up.

    Dozu, agreed. with the nice relaxed swing I was hitting shots with good pace that were under control. They allowed me to move the ball around the court to the point where I never really had to swing out to finish the point.
     
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  7. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    PP, I've gathered from your posts that you are a decent player. But the point of this thread was helping people who struggle with no pace, right? That was sort of what my posts were going for.
     
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  8. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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  9. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yeah, it is really just a mini revelation I had about how hard you can hit a no pace ball when you have a relaxed swing. Like you said, a good pusher messes with your timing by hitting different spins that throw you off if you try to crush it.

    But if you ever have days where your feet are moving..you are set up and shoulders turned and still not hitting like you want, it can be frustrating. This is when the relaxed swing mindset really pays dividends because a no pace hitter gives you a lot of time to set up..you have to welcome that and take that time to think about your shot and just swing nice and loose with placement.

    I think many people equate that with hitting soft, but what I noticed was how much weight was behind the ball using that technique. I thought about it more, because I have had good days where everything hit hard is going in and I am just blowing the guy off the court..but I still do not believe it is the best approach.

    Mightyrick..awesome video..the guy I hit with is not a pro, but very very similar to Santoro because he will crush a poorly hit ball back at you, but mainly relies on underspin. That is what can create the "must hit hard" mentaility, when really, you just need to hit relaxed shots with placement instead.
     
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  10. SlapChop

    SlapChop Semi-Pro

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    LMAO best comment on that video

    "Santoro was "spawned" by the the millions of park players around the world. He is proof positive that unorthodox shots, if practiced enough, can cause a whole world of pain for your opponent - long live park players!!!!!!"
     
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  11. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^^^

    It is so true. I can see why people would get upset at a 3.5 pusher if they are lower level and think they have "prettier strokes" (which means in theory that they should be winning rather easily), but a higher level player who has practiced those shots for years, I personally applaud and appreciate.
     
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  12. rudester

    rudester Professional

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    This is great reinforcement, because i discovered the same thing yesterday, exactly the same, i was overhitting everything on no pace balls, i think the tendency to do this is tempting, but when i loosened my grip and relaxed, not trying to hit hard, all of a sudden i was hitting great with sufficient pace and without errors. great observation.
     
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  13. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    For me this works great on the forehand side but if I try to do this with my topspin one handed backhand it just falls apart.
     
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  14. SlapChop

    SlapChop Semi-Pro

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    are these short no pace balls or deep no pace balls?
     
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  15. jester911

    jester911 Rookie

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    One of the most difficult things to do in tennis is consistantly put pace on a ball with no pace.

    Many players view that easy powder puff ball as something they should be able to hit winners on. Very seldom is that the case. Another common mistake made on the soft ball is the tendency to not move the feet to get in position for the ball.
     
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  16. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Deep. I attack short balls or else he will lob me to death.
     
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  17. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    it's commonly accepted that 'changing direction' in tennis bares risk.

    but many players don't realize, that 'changing direction' not only means directionals of the court, it also means the ball trajectory.

    it's always easier to hit flat against flat, and hit spin against spin..... otherwise your swing path are less 'in sync' with the incoming ball trajectory, and there is more risk.

    so for a no pace ball, the trajectory is more up and down (instead of flying 'flat' right at you), so the safe way to punish is to have a relaxed (and therefore more up and down) swing, to punish more with spin, than with flat pace.

    trying to hit flat winners is exactly 3.5 and below have trouble with pushers, as they don't have the skills to time the flat winners yet.

    the safer strategy is to use relaxed spin shots to create angles and take out the legs of the pushers.

    even at higher level.. e.g. in that infamous shirtless video, the shirted 4.5 has a near conti grip FH and had trouble creating angles, allowing the shirtless to throw junks back again and again.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
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  18. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Hey! Dozu is back to making good posts!

    This is good stuff. I especially agree about using spin when the ball gets below the net. What about when a short ball bounces higher than the net, though? Sometimes I think for those shots it's good to have a slight downward component to the swing.
     
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  19. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    Oh well, was trying to play along some more, but Hewex brought me to tears and ruin the whole thing.

    anyway, short sitter inside the service line, you should win 9 out of 10.... at that point, I don't think spin/flat makes that much difference anymore.... personally I still prefer using a lot of spin, so the ball kicks away after the bounce, then you just seal off the net... it's a preference thing... but I'd feel more secure to create angles with a lot of spin.
     
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  20. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Seems like a recurring theme around here is advices that diss out info that...everyone already knows but it always comes down to if a person can actually do it!!! :)
     
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  21. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    I think most can do it if they just don't hit too hard. Hitting a winner if you're standing on the service line certainly doesn't require the pace that it does if you're standing at the baseline.

    I know I've messed up my slice if it lands at the service line (or right before it). I expect to get a winner fired my way when I make that error. Usually, I am trying to land low, deep slices at the midpoint between the baseline and the service line. It's tough to hit a winner off a ball at the baseline that has medium pace and is only a foot or so off the ground.
     
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  22. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    talk about easier said than done huh.... you are right in the sense that there are no short cuts.

    and it is NOT an easy thing to punish short balls.... I'd say short balls higher than the net is the least thing to worry about.... most people have trouble with low short balls.
     
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  23. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    so here is the preference thing comes to play... and 'preference' is actually a reflection of tennis experience and instinct.

    when you look at my video, I am airborne more often when hitting an approach shot, than hitting a baseline shot... why?

    I hit HARDER on approach shots, because there is more pay off for hitting harder from a shorter distance, and it also ensures I only have an easy volley to deal with if one comes back.

    this should be a good lead in on how to hit out 100% on low short balls.... most rec players dont know how to do it... and as result they hit 'less' hard, sending a decelerated dink over... and you can imagine what will happen next :)
     
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  24. SlapChop

    SlapChop Semi-Pro

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    Did you try using slice's and drop shots?

    I have had success putting massive spin on these shots and send them some skiddies.

    Also it should be pretty easy to get a good drop shot off a low paced ball, I don't have any results from this that I can remember off hand but it would be something to consider.

    The trouble I think with the no pace deep ball is that you don't get much of a bounce so you are taking it low. If they are slow enough you might just think about volleying them out of the air with a drive volley and try to get net position.
     
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  25. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    You guys should stop thinking about hitting harder or softer or more relaxed, etc. Thinking about the nitty gritty details is the wrong way to approach this.

    Understand the concept, figure out your problem and drill to master it is much better.

    Conceptually, hitting is...just hitting. For any shot to be effective it has to be placed well and has enough speed (so, see you can't think hit harder or softer). You need to hit with enough or better speed which comes from swinging ...with power. A no brainer LOL.

    To make it simple, just keep hitting at your top strength that you can sustain and be aware of. This will provide you consistency and consistent feel and no need to mind it anymore, and to get the ball in, adjust spin and net clearance amounts. That's all!!!!


    I'm a baseline player. Net volleying doesn't appeal to me. So, to win from baseline I need to hit in a way that gets my opponent to cough up short balls and put them away. That's my bread and butter!! :) hehe And because all my tennis is doubles, I'm required to learn to hit even through net men's defense. Baseline vs volleying!!!! Tough but no problem.
     
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  26. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I definitley use slice and drops, but great questions. In fact more then once I worked him CC and wide and finished the point with a drop shot on the opposite side. He covers the court very well and places short balls with incredibly sharp angles so I do not drop shot him too much unless he is out of position. The times I tried that he would attack them and carve off a super precise CC volley that once rolled down the width of the net and bounced..that is how precise this guy can be. Real fun stuff to hit against though.

    I think you are somewhat missing the point. I agree with you, but hitting with "top strength" is very hard to do consistently against no pace balls. I also do not play doubles..this is all singles. And I am not really overthinking at all except telling myself to relax. It's not more complex then that, but go to a court and watch how many people try to murder the ball without any sense of why or how.

    My point was how much power you can get from swinging relaxed as long as your form and technique is good. That is why the title is "relaxed swing on no pace balls = more power". It is not so simple in singles when you are in a 10 ball rally against a 5.0 level junkballer..trust me.
     
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  27. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    Agree, this is a preference thing as well as a skills/ability thing. I get what you're saying with regards to crushing the ball, and if it comes back, you're almost guaranteed an easy volley.

    I actually have the same philosophy except for I use placement over power to try to achieve the same result. For example, if I get a short ball, many times, I'll just dropshot it deeply angled to whatever point in the triangle is the most disadvantageous to my opponent. Sometimes I'll lob it for the same effect. Sometimes, I'd hit it (medium-paced) right at their feet.

    Obviously, if a rec player can combine precise placement and huge power when attacking short balls, they probably are pretty advanced. At my level, I don't see much of that.

    But I certainly hope to in the future. :)
     
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  28. Ajtat411

    Ajtat411 Semi-Pro

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    The reason that pros can generate so much racket head speed is due to a relaxed swing. In order to not be pressured by your opponnets ball you need good anticipation and recognition of the incoming ball. The more time you have to prep, the more relaxed swing you can use. The more relaxed your swing, the more fluid, consistent and powerful the stroke can be.

    The effortless power comes from continuity of your swing and from the lack of tension that slows or inhibits the buildup of racket head speed. IMO. A good side effect is that your stroke form is actually more consistent when you swing freely instead of holding back or trying to guide your shots.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
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  29. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes...think you are on to something there. good stuff, why I made the thread.
     
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  30. SlapChop

    SlapChop Semi-Pro

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    Sounds like a fun match. I need to find someone more like this to play then what I have been playing against lately.

    The coach I went to always reiterated that if you don't like the shots available to you on a particular ball then send it back and get another one.


    One thing I am going to start working on is a good charging drive volley. I think it would really help in this situation. Since the ball doesn't have pace it should be able to be taken out in flight of course you have to take up a net position on the next shot and hope you don't get beat. It would be an option anyhow not sure if it is a good one. This would be un-tested use at your own risk.
     
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  31. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^^^

    Yes I do that sometimes. It is a very hard shot to hit consistently. IMO a consistent half volley shot is probably the shot that takes you to a 5.0 level if you have all the other strokes down. It would definitley be effective, but you have to have it consistent and be able to committ to it extremely fast with no hesitation.
     
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  32. SlapChop

    SlapChop Semi-Pro

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    That is where I need the help. If you mess it up your toast for that point. I do think it would be highly effective against this particular shot.

    The no pace, deep shot, is really a challenging ball. I think what makes it particularly challenging is that you have to take it low which cost you power and available options. It's hard to generate much top spin since your racket head is making contact so low to the ground.
     
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  33. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    When I give opponents the no pace, low, spinning, deep slice shot, the opponents who win these points against me (at 3.5 and 4.0) neutralize it by lobbing them back to me at the baseline. It completely eliminates my ability to volley a weak return or hit a winner off of a weak sitter.

    The really good 4.0s can pick them up and give a well-placed flat or topspin forehand. Some really good players can even return it back to me with equally wicked slice (mostly 1HBH slice).
     
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  34. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I return slice with slice the most, but on the forehand side have practiced for over a year on picking up those sliced shots and firing them back. The same guy has hit with me over this span and has drilled me on it. You just want to get low and keep your eye on the ball.

    Hitting a lob back is ok, but a good player can just hit an overhead smash since you are lobbing them while they are standing on the baseline.
     
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  35. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    PP,

    Your point is a misnomer, even if I had digressed (and gave you a different concept altogether.)

    Swinging "relaxed" -- a truer sense would be without rigid and hindering tension -- is applicable to all strokes and shots and not just no pace balls. Your body by default should stay fluid and quick throughout the game which is only possible when you're "relaxed", right? When should you not relaxed?
     
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  36. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Even though we may enjoy trading big, strong, full strokes from the baseline (just like those guys on TV!), it can make a mess of things when we go for a ball that's really off-speed. Think about it - our swing tempo and timing are typically grooved for an incoming ball with ample pace or even a lot of it. When the ball comes at us even faster, that demands more advanced timing, more deliberate footwork, yaddah-yaddah...

    Okay, so what happens when the ball comes a lot slower? Control can go away in a hurry when we try to take a good cut at that marshmallow because the ball isn't coming fast enough to match our regular swing. It's often the case against this slow ball that our swing timing gets too far ahead of the ball, especially when we're much more grooved to exchanges with more pace. The slow ball doesn't effectively move into our optimum hitting zone as it would with more velocity.

    One of the best swing thoughts I've ever learned is the idea of never trying to add any more than about 5% pace to a stroke. Many players can easily pounce of a really slow sitter and spray it off into who knows where when trying to hit a strong put-away because the swing tempo is too fast.

    Good rallies often start out at a medium pace, but each hit from the back court adds just a little zip to the ball, not a lot. It can take a few shots from each end for those rallies to really crank up. Unless the off-speed ball sits way up and lands short enough where it's easy to actually drive it down into the court, the idea of adding only a little pace while putting an opponent on the run can save lots of players from being too aggressive and donating too many points.

    I've had great success in coaching this idea with high school boys who play aggressive singles and often get suckered into errors by overcooking those sorts of shots. Patience is often among the last things they learn.
     
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