Should I take lessons from a coach who teaches traditional strokes?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by MikeyBigShot, Sep 22, 2012.

  1. MikeyBigShot

    MikeyBigShot Rookie

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    My area has more tennis courts than players, and even fewer tennis pros. I just want to play good recreational tennis and join a league next year. Is there really any good reason why I shouldn't take lessons from a coach who teaches traditional strokes.

    His lessons are really cheap $45 for an hour. I'm thinking about taking lessons 2-3 times a week.
     
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  2. monomer

    monomer Rookie

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    If I was interested in learning a modern FH I would not go to an old-school coach. If you are fine hitting closed stance and somewhat flat then I wouldn't worry about it.
     
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  3. MikeyBigShot

    MikeyBigShot Rookie

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    From what I've seen, he appears to teach more of a neutral stance forehand.
     
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  4. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Guest

    I wouldn't. I used traditional strokes for 20 some years. Now using MTM and killing it.
     
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  5. Xizel

    Xizel Professional

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    I do think traditional coaches teach certain strokes better, like the slice and volleys, but the modern game plays better than traditional at this point in time.
     
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  6. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Why not? It is not a bad idea to incorporate some classic/traditional stances and stroke mechanics into your game. I teach a mix of classic and modern to my students. I strongly believe that the older, classic style is easier on the body if done correctly. It appears that there are significantly more injuries with modern styles from what I've observed for the past 4 decades.

    Players who use a fully open stance on nearly all of their strokes are asking for hip and, possibly, shoulder problems. Hewitt & Kuerten are good examples of this. Federer is a good example of a player who uses a blend of old & new. He will possibly outlast both Nadal & Djoko even tho' he is quite a bit older.

    If you learn traditional strokes but also watch a lot of top contemporary players, you will undoubtedly also pick up a lot of the new stuff as well. If not, you could always seek out some modern instruction some time in the future.
     
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  7. BevelDevil

    BevelDevil Hall of Fame

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    If your only choice is being self-taught, you should probably take a few lessons from him and see how it goes.

    Also, if you want to be an all-court player, this could be a good thing if he teaches you how to hit flat, penetrating shots.
     
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  8. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Yes, some very good reasons.

    You are limiting your upside potential. It's easy to say "I just wanna play good recreational tennis," on a message board. But, when you're in the heat of battle, you just want to win. And, if you are the one who employs modern technique against those who don't, you'll be the one doing the winning. If you are already an accomplished player with old school strokes, that's something else. Speaking from personal experience, changing from old school to modern strokes takes a lot of time and effort. But, if you are a relative beginner, one is no more difficult to learn than the other. If you are not an accomplished player, why spend your time and money learning obsolete technique? That doesn't make sense.

    Further, old school technique was developed to succeed with heavy, flexible, wood frames with small heads and a sweet spot barely the size of a tennis ball. Modern racquets are made for modern strokes, light weight, ultra-rigid, huge sweet spots and very powerful. Modern frames do not reward hard flat strokes with small margins for error. They reward heavy topspin strokes with big arcs that clear the net by 5+ feet. You can't play your best tennis with old school strokes and modern frames any more than you can play your best with modern strokes and old wood frames.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
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  9. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yesterday as I was waiting for my court, I found a coach teaching his sons on the same court. I noticed some 65 sq inch wood rackets lying around. He said he makes his kids warm up with them. Then he asked me to hit wood to wood with him. Surprisingly, I found it easy and did not miss my usual racket much. I was even hitting forehand and backhand topspin with it. The only thing I pointed out was that there were some harsh vibrations, but he explained the reason for that - there was no grip! He has just wrapped an OG over the handle. I told him he might ruin his kids' learning with these frames, but he said it helps a lot during warm-up by making them focus and avoid bad wrist movements and develop real tennis strokes. Of course their regular frames are modern ones.

    I am thinking seriously of switching to 65 sq inch wood full-time. But my problem is not knowing the specs and the grip size. How can I ensure uniformity between the frames without sanding them down or whatever? How can I choose a HL over a HH frame? That is the biggest problem for me. I think I can play quite well with wood.
     
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  10. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    If it's a matter of traditional or nothing, go with traditional. If it's a matter of money, go traditional. If the modern guy is also an SOB, go traditional. Just take lessons.
     
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  11. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Just get pro stock woodies and customize 'em to your liking.
     
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  12. Roy125

    Roy125 Professional

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    "I just want to play good recreational tennis and join a league next year."

    If this is your goal, there is absolutely no reason why you wouldn't go to that coach. It's not like someone with modern strokes will automatically beat someone who knows only the traditional.
     
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  13. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    do you have to wear tennis trousers to practices?
     
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  14. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That will surely involve making them heavier.

    What is a 12 oz strung, 8-10 pts HL strung woodie?
     
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  15. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    I would like to see a video of you hitting groundstrokes with noticeable topspin on a wood racquet. That is, without editing out the five shanks in between each solid hit.
     
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  16. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    He just talks a bunch of BS, he will not even show any video of his strokes with any racket. But is the biggest critic of anyone that does, but I have noticed there are quite a few here that do the same.
     
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  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    There were no shanks. And I would not say the topspin was great. It was definitely easier on the BH but still doable on the FH.
     
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  18. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Still upset that your hero's thread was deleted?
     
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  19. MikeyBigShot

    MikeyBigShot Rookie

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    I have a 13 oz, 8 pt HL, 100 sq. in. Prince Woodie sitting in my garage! You can have it for $25 and a video of you playing with it! :)
     
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  20. Netspirit

    Netspirit Hall of Fame

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    Learn footwork, slice, serve and volleys with him. Those elements have not changed all that much, and it is still a significant part of the game.
     
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  21. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Yeah, you might not get better than Pete Sampras.

    Take lessons if you can afford them. Remember, guys who grew up with the traditional methods hit every shot the new methods teach. Studying how the pros (who all had learned traditionally) actually hit the ball as the game evolved is how people came to teach the modern way. It is a longer learning process if you want to get to hitting open-stance, big-topspin, reverse forehands. The difference is teaching it first, versus evolving to it. Serves, volleys, backhands (assuming he can teach a 2-hander), half-volleys, etc. should be about the same. Recovery is a step quicker with the open-stance forehand.
     
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  22. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    This doesn't make any sense. What does Pete Sampras have to do with it? Sampras' technique is irrelevant. The OP will not "get better" than Pete Sampras no matter what method he chooses to learn. But, he can elect to learn a method that has a higher upside potential or a lower upside potential, for him. Why would anyone choose the latter when the former is a superior method and is just as easy, or easier, to learn?

    This is wrong in every respect. Players who learned old school strokes did not "hit every shot the new methods teach." The pros today did not learn traditional methods. It is not a longer process to learn modern methods, unless you are foolish enough to learn traditional methods first and have to unlearn them in order to learn modern methods. They are irreconcilable with each other.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
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  23. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I want only 65 sq inch head size. Instead of 100 sq inch, my PS 85 is better for me.
     
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  24. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Is it? Former touring pro and world-famous coach and Tennis magazine contributor Peter Burwash does not think so. He cautioned that swinging across the body causes injuries and ineffective strokes in many adult club players. Now, obviously you will claim to know better, but I will go with a verified coach any day who can be openly challenged.

    There is a video on Youtube in which a young coach shows how to hit a forehand. He holds the racket in 2 fingers and effortlessly swings across the body, nailing every ball.

    Then I glanced at the first comment posted below it. It said something like "But yeah take the average guy and see if it is easy for him." Then I realized I was not the only one skeptical about it.

    In his Revolutionary Tennis website, George Pappas, another former touring pro, explains how swinging across the line of the ball on a ball that is already swinging away from you requires tremendous precision.

    All these coaches are not wrong, and what is more, they are verified people who have put their reputation on the line by not remaining anonymous.
     
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  25. goober

    goober Legend

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    I assume the choices are him or no lessons? If that is the case I would use him.

    How old are you and what level are you playing? People can do very well in doubles with traditional strokes up to 4.5+. In singles you can probably still do well up to 4.5 That pretty much covers close to 99% of recreational level players.

    If you are older (40+) most tennis at clubs and leagues is geared toward doubles. Traditional strokes definitely not a disadvantage in doubles IMO. If you are in your 20s and want to focus on singles and see yourself getting 5.0+ , then I would probably stick to learning the modern game.
     
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  26. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Assuming (which I do not), that you have accurately represented these coaches positions, then the are all wrong. But, more likely, you have misrepresented their positions and it is just you who is wrong.
     
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  27. Paullaconte1

    Paullaconte1 Rookie

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    I would go for a "traditional coach" only to learn some selected strokes such as the sliced backhand or some net approaches. I think that mixing it up traditional tennis with "modern tennis" gives a good edge.

    Try to play with upcoming (and very strong) young teenagers (let's say 13 years old) they can master already powerful 2HBH, but as soon as you put some vicious slices the crumble.

    This happens also with some top players eg. Berdych choking in the 2012 Madrid final with Federer when at the end of the match he was really struggling to play back some vicious BH slices and Federer took full advantage of it.
     
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  28. MikeyBigShot

    MikeyBigShot Rookie

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    33, beginner and I don't care about reaching 5.0. I believe my bad shoulder, and bad knee from a cycling accident will keep at a pretty low level. By old school, I mean he teaches more like Tom Avery or Brent Abel.

    I will learn from him what I can, but will still play around with my modern forehand. Seeing the personal results of a guy like Brent Abel does give credence to old school teaching.

    I was playing around today using the forehand and BH I learned from Wegner videos, and I was ripping it. I'll mix old and new.
     
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  29. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    The upside potential of learning the traditional way is not limited at all. The upside potential of any player is their God-given ability and how hard they work at it. You are wrong - the old pros did hit every shot, including reverse-topspin-forehands and anything else you can come up with. Do you think somebody just invented these things on paper and then started teaching them? If so, who did it?
    You didn't read my post carefully - I said it would be a longer process to get to modern strokes if you started with traditional teaching.

    You are so hard-line that you think it is better to not have any lessons at all than to take lessons from someone who teaches traditionally? That someone mentioning a neutral-stance forehand overshadows all the other parts of the game the OP would learn?
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
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  30. sabala

    sabala Semi-Pro

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    Do you know the coach's background? Talk to anyone that has taken lessons from him? Does he have a website that you can look at?

    You can run a quick Google check on the coach's name - I've done that looking at teaching pros in my area and I've seen their college tennis background, tournament history, players they worked with, etc.

    I even ran across one coach's Yelp reviews...all one star with lots of complaints, lol.

    So I would try to find out info on the guy before deciding to drop 45 bucks just to see if I like him. If he looks legit and has good results, just go for it and take a lesson.
     
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  31. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Sorry, but, you don't know what you're talking about. I've been playing tennis since 1969. I've seen virtually every #1 player in the World play live, up close, beginning with Ken Rosewall. I've evolved from Continental and Eastern drives with wood racquets to modern SW strokes with modern frames. I know what it means to play both ways and what it means to make that transition. You are wrong in every respect.

    Nor am I hard line, you are. The upside potential of obsolete, old school technique is below the upside potential of modern technique. If that were not the case, modern technique would not exist. Whatever God given talent the OP has, and however much effort the OP expends on his game, his upside potential is higher with modern technique. Your premise is the equivalent of arguing that the OP's upside potential is the same whether he plays with a Dunlop Maxply Fort or a Babolat PD, and is only circumscribed by his God given talent and effort. That's ridiculous.

    Nor have I told the OP, express or implied, that he should or shouldn't take lessons with anyone. I told him that, IMO, he is better off learning modern technique and not wasting time learning obsolete technique. I know many coaches who don't play with modern technique, but are very good at teaching it to high level, accomplished juniors. You need to read more carefully to avoid imputing false premises to others.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
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  32. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    might be the wrong thread to talk about this, but i´m asking anyway.
    when you realized that your technique was becoming obsolete and you wanted to change it, how did you go about it? was it something that evolved over the years, or did it happen all at once? and what parts of your game did you change?
     
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  33. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    This is not a thread about modern vs. traditional technique. This is a thread about whether someone with very limited options should take lessons from someone who teaches traditionally or not.
    I was careful not to state that I thought teaching the traditional method was better, and don't necessarily think that it is. There are benefits and drawbacks to each.
    I believe he will benefit from a good coach of any type much more than not having lessons. It appears you disagree with this because maybe at some point years later in his life he might move to another town and his self-taught strokes might be less impure than if he had lessons.

    By the way, I've played tennis longer than you have. What does that have to do with anything?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
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  34. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Best is not to take lessons but just watch Tennis Channel and read this forum.
     
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  35. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Yes this is a thread about modern vs. traditional technique. That's why the OP asked if he should bother taking lessons from a coach who, apparently, doesn't know modern technique. You repeatedly asserted that modern and old school technique afforded the OP the same upside potential. That assertion is objectively wrong. I agree that the OP will benefit from a good coach. But, IMO, a coach who does not know how to teach modern methods with modern racquets, although he may have been a good coach 30 years ago, is no longer a good coach.

    Of course learning modern technique from a personal coach is better than teaching it to yourself. But, IMO, the OP is better off learning modern technique from the resources available online and a good video recorder, than he would be learning obsolete technique from a personal coach.

    Finally, you said:

    If you have, in fact, been playing tennis longer than I have, as you claim, then it would appear that you are still playing tennis the same way you did in the 1960's. If you knew modern technique, you wouldn't have made this statement which is objectively, demonstrably, false. The "traditional way," as you put it, cannot be reconciled with modern technique. There are fundamental differences in "obsolete" old school technique that, once learned, must be painstakingly unlearned in order to execute modern technique properly.
     
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  36. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    So, how's that worked out for you, sureshs?
     
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  37. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Fantastic.

    I am better than any adult in several clubs around here who takes lessons (and started tennis as an adult).
     
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  38. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I would agree with this over taking lessons from traditional instruction.
    The old classic instruction was never correct...so how much you want to pay
    someone to teach you wrong or poor strokes?
    You can probably do that for free.

    Lots of uninformed comments on here so far like suggesting modern will lead to
    injuries, longer to learn, or that classic is as good for slices and volleys.
    Limp'in is right on target with most of these comments on more modern strokes.
    Modern slice and volley are at least important as modern TS if you use the
    slice and volley in your game.
    Fed is as modern as anyone and has been very injury free, while Guga grinded
    on clay as his best surface just like the extreme examples of Hewitt and Nadal were/are
    grinders who everyone predicted injury problems for...not for technique, but for workload.

    I just did a 1st lesson with a 70yr old man who had played A level tennis most
    of his life with traditional strokes. He was blown away at how much more efficient
    modern strokes were and how much easier they were on his body. He picked
    things right up and lamented that he had never had this earlier. Asked several
    times why anyone ever taught the old way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
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  39. goober

    goober Legend

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    How can you say that classic instruction was NEVER correct. Do you really think if modern tennis was taught in the era of 65 sq. inch wood racquets, people it would have been a dominant method of technique? Tennis instruction is constantly in evolution, there is no such thing as absolute correctness for teaching methods. Advances in racquets and strings since the wooden era have allowed for different styles of hitting and grips.

    Are you suggesting that we have reached the peak of tennis instruction and there is nothing else to learn? 50 years from now tennis instructors may be looking back on this era and saying how wrong everything was taught. Can you not concede this possibility?
     
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  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I can concede, and in fact expect, further development in tennis technique, especially if equipment has any further significant changes. But, I don't concede that there will come a time when it is thought that "everything" was wrong with today's technique. And, I don't think that's what 5263 is saying about traditional technique. I think 5263 was referring primarily to the forehand. I agree with him that traditional instruction was never correct, most particularly, IMO, the closed stance forehand. That is a flawed premise that explains why many of the top players of the past had better backhands than forehands. It is true that when you are swinging a soft, flexible, heavy, wood racquet with a 65sq. in. head and a 2.5 inch sweet spot, you have to make a more controlled, level, swing in order to hit the sweet spot consistently. However, I do think that a full Eastern or SW grip with a WW finish and an open stance, ala Guillermo Vilas or Bjorn Borg, although not swung with the velosity or the steep swing path of today's pros, was demonstrably superior technique to that used by virtually everyone up until that point. Supremely talented players like Lew Hoad, Rod Laver, Tom Okker and Ilie Nastase were outliers in their time, using the same technique that Vilas and Borg used, with Continental grips, made practical only by the abundance of lower bouncing grass and hard courts and the absence of too many opponents doing the same thing to them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
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  41. goober

    goober Legend

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    Yet players like Jmac and Connors could beat Vilas and Borg (especially on nonclay surfaces) with demonstrably inferior technique?
     
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  42. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    On their respective forehands, yes. But, there was very little traditional technique in either Connors' or Mac's forehands or backhands.
     
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  43. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, I will start with agreeing that I can concede that 50 yrs from now they may
    say that .......and hope they are right when they do. Yes....tennis evolves.

    Difference is that classic never had a time when it was really much on track.
    Decades went by with players learning classic, but having to evolve before
    being much good! Limpin is right that is most obvious with the Fh, but to some
    extent with other strokes as well.

    If you learn good modern strokes now, you will have very little adjustment to
    make if you have the talent to make a touring pro, and you will not be held back
    by technique if you are just another good player. Your limitations will be yours.
    With classic instruction you were starting with a limitation out of the gates.

    Yes, Oscar was teaching modern in 72 with wood, and observed them from best strokes
    of current and past pros like Santana. I also can play with modern strokes using
    wood, as do my sons...met one of my sons in the finals of a woody tourny just
    a few years back with some jokingly suggesting that my game lost nothing with
    the wood, some saying my serve was better than usual. I realize that was
    due to their diminished returns though, lol. Later in the day I stayed with the
    wood and played friends with their modern sticks with no problems.
    Modern strokes work great with wood rackets if you know how to do it properly.
     
    #43
  44. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    JMac won on modern serve and strokes more modern than you think.
    His slice and volley were very modern too.
    You are confusing that a certain grip is modern or not, which is just as wrong as saying
    certain stances are modern or not.

    Connors strokes held him back to an extent, but he dialed them back some to
    keep from missing, so it became more of a war of position and will.
     
    #44
  45. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Too much emphasis on the forehand.

    There is hardly any difference in backhands, volleys, serves and smashes, especially for a 1 handed BH player.

    It is pretty easy for anyone to learn to put some top spin on the forehand. In fact, with a SW grip, it would be difficult not to.

    Not worth all these discussions when the player is likely to be limited by other factors.
     
    #45
  46. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Really ??
    So maybe you want to explain what you know of the modern Volley, slice, serve, and Bh?
    From the above comments it seems quite a bit is missing.

    Even though I though I was a good slicer and volleyer before modern, after learning Modern,
    I felt the slice and volley may have benefited even more than the TS strokes.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
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  47. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I found that I could easily put top spin on FHs with 65 sq inch wood.
     
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  48. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    There is not much difference. Any coach can teach you that. If you think landing on both feet is a modern serve, that is not the big issue for a beginner. One handed BH may have more top spin on it, but it is easy to do, even with wood. Other differences are what you deliberately amplify because you have an axe to grind about a methodology which is lacking on anything other than a few obvious comments on the forehand which every junior has been doing for a long time.
     
    #48
  49. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is a long time. Which pros has he produced that we can verify?
     
    #49
  50. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Tell that to Federer and Nadal who will run to the outside of the backhand doubles ally to hit a forehand, and who would hit only forehands for an entire match, if they could.
     
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