Teaching the Serve

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by BU-Tennis, Jan 19, 2009.

  1. BU-Tennis

    BU-Tennis Semi-Pro

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    So my sister is just getting into tennis this year. Last year I coached the high school team and she came out to play and ended up doing really well at four singles. Now she is a senior and will most likely be number 1 depending on the new competition. I have been working on the serve with her and she has a pretty good motion going. The best thing is that she is getting tons of slice/kick spin (don't know what to call it) but struggles with getting any pace and depth, usually the ball doesn't make it over the net because of the lack of power. I know that she isn't snapping the wrist through the shot but I'm not exactly sure how to get her to do it? Any suggestions?
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    First of all, can she throw?
    How tall?
    Start her out with eastern forehand for pace.
    Once she hits too far to go in, have her move grip towards continental.
     
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  3. BU-Tennis

    BU-Tennis Semi-Pro

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    She's about 5'3" and can throw and is currently somewhere between a continental and eastern forehand. She was able to hit a decent eastern grip serve with some ok speed but soon maxed out so we switched her to a continental. The problem is I dont know how to get her to understand the snapping motion at the top of the serve or how to get her to do it.
     
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  4. ThA_Azn_DeViL

    ThA_Azn_DeViL Semi-Pro

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    Some people actually need to see a visual, give her a video of a pro serving (preferably with her grip) and show her where the pronation occurs on the serve. Just dont try to stick too much on her in too little time, or her mechanics might break down.
     
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  5. BU-Tennis

    BU-Tennis Semi-Pro

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    Trying to get my sister to watch a tennis video is impossible. Another question though. you see a lot of women pros who take the racquet up instead of around the body to get into the trophy pose. This is currently how my sister does it. Are there any problems with this?
     
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  6. BullDogTennis

    BullDogTennis Hall of Fame

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    i think the best way to get her to swing harder would be to imagine throwing the racquet up as far as she canin her swing. if you have a old racquet, tell her to just let go at the top, and see how far it goes. its a good way to get the ball deeper and more spin.
     
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  7. BU-Tennis

    BU-Tennis Semi-Pro

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    I recall seeing the williams sisters doing this in the documentary made about them from the early 2000's. I think that will work very well, even for my serve. Thanks
     
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  8. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    Nope, no problems at all. Some people would argue it's a better choice.
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yup, straight takeback is not a hindrance for players learning the service motion. Lots if top level girls do it. JuanIgnacioChela did it, and he was top 10 ranked MENS.
    The takeback is not the problem. The goal here is to get a consistent swing that gives some amount of spin coupled with lots of pace on the ball, and still fall in.
    At 5'3", she needs an arc to get anything over 80mph into the court. I think you have her grip too far over towards eastern backhand, which is why she spins the ball too much. Move it back towards continental with a slight forehand flavor. She needs to practice hitting her serves 3' over the net, no more, on her first serves. She can practice against a wall, with a line showing correct height.
    Why can't you just SHOW her how to pronate? Hold the racket normally out in front of you, then twist your arm inwards, making the racket head go faster than your armtwist.
     
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  10. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    PLEASE DO NOT START HER OUT WITH AN EASTERN FOREHAND!!!!

    IF YOU HAVE NO HISTORY OR MUSCLE MEMORY AND IT IS THEE MOST OPPORTUNE TIME TO START HER OUT WITH THE CONTINENTAL.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
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  11. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I think that throwing an old racquet or even a stick or old broom handle might actually be a good idea.

    It might also be helpful to try working a good tempo into that serve by taking practice motions while only gripping the racquet with the thumb and first two fingers (index and middle) on the handle. That sort of super-loose grip encourages good timing since it becomes almost impossible to muscle the racquet over the top too much. With the right tempo though, it can generate terrific racquet head speed.

    If it's comfortable enough, try hitting practice serves with the same tempo. One thing to watch for is the motion getting jerky when trying to hit a ball. If that's the case, change the moment at which the toss goes up so that the smoothness in the motion is preserved. Many players make their toss before they're ready to hit it on time and they end up rushing to the ball, even the pros. That's a serve killer at all levels. Find the smooth tempo, then make sure that it can be duplicated when actually hitting a ball.
     
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  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I agree with BBill's advice about NOT starting out with eastern forehand....but....
    If she just can't replicate the service motion, can't hit overhead, can't swing overhead, it's the first step to getting an overhand service motion. NO, don't stick with it. Just hit a few with some pace and placment, then change to continental...straight, biased, or whatever.
    But she can't swing and contact with continental AS IS! So we gotta make her practice tons, frustrate the heck out of her while her match play suffers, before she gets the hang of serviing semi flat with a continental grip.
    She can't hit it because she doesn't understand pronation.
    Even after the basic understanding, you MUST know that lots of good women's players serve with a forehandy side of continental, even after they're pretty good.
    The service motion is not natural for most women. Give them something to start the point and they're on their way to tennis success.
    You and I can argue over the nuances of continental, biased west or east, twist, top, flat, or whatever, but give the public something they can replicate NOW, not after 60 hours of practice.
    But I do agree, I hate watching 4.5 level women serve with forehand side of continental grips.....and swing like a girl.
     
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  13. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    Excuse me? But, what does "Swing like a girl" mean? I'm so sick and tired of the many men on this forum putting women and women's tennis down like this. Wake up, guys, there are women on this forum and I've had enough of this bashing.

    spokewench
     
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  14. SourStraws

    SourStraws Rookie

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    From a personal experience..... Switching to a continental grip will definately help in the long run.... I think it's important to ignore the short term results..... It took me about 3-4 weeks to get used to it..... But there is now a clear increase in power and Im working on placement......

    As for getting it past the net..... Once again from personal experience..... Tell her to hit the fence when she serves to help her get used to the idea of actually hitting through the ball.....

    Hope it helps


    S.S.
     
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  15. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Trust me, teaching the Eastern forehand for the serve to a beginner and a young player is a mistake. This is an instructional direction that was largely based on - nothing. It was just something everyone did without a whole lot of research and understanding.

    The issue you have with this is once they get used to using this grip, the Continental is different enough were it will feel very awkward and uncomfortable for them to switch to it. It becomes a struggle.

    The hand and fingers have a ton of sensory receptors that sends tons of information to the brain on "what feels right". Not only this, the motion of the arm as it swings the racquet becomes a certain "feel."

    You do not have to put a person in a Eastern forehand grip. To teach pronation you would do the things you mentioned above which is throwing a ball. In fact, I have never taught pronation but simply tossed the ball up and had them try to hit the ball. It is that simple.

    You can also place a ball in the fence high enough to where they would make contact and in slow motion, teach a person how the arm moves. However, I rarely break it down like this and simply teach a person how to serve much like I teach my daughter how to throw a ball. I never say "okay make sure you pronate now." The arm naturally pronates as it releases the ball in a throwing motion. I simply teach about four positions the arm is in at certain stages and that is it. Forget the darn pronation thing.

    If you want to argue with me go right ahead. Quick fixes are not always the right solution. I have provided something for people to replicate, I am not looking for immediate satsifaction, I am looking at player development and to avoid frustration down the road when they need to learn to switch.

    Teach the Continental. PERIOD.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
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  16. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Power is derived from the legs. Many women do not use their legs properly in the serve or they mistime their rise from the legs and short circuit the arm in the process. In fact, many men also have the same problem. Men and women simply need to be taught how to do it and willing to practice.

    It is important that you understand how to draw up power from the ground through your body. It is important for you to develop a "springboard" sensation as your toss goes up and your legs and toes povide the explosive lift you need to send this upward energy into the ball.

    Extension, torso/shoulder rotation, non-dominant arm, legs, continuous motion, loose and relaxed hitting shoulder and arm, ball toss height and distance from body, all have contributions to power.

    If you teach a relaxed noodle arm for the hitting arm, you really dont need to know more about the arm. If the ball is in the right place, the racquet will come forward and a loose wrist will act like a hinge to bring the racquet face into the ball.

    Do not take shortcuts in the serve motion and grip. Use a continental grip. The serve motion is the most difficult of all the strokes, so it should take time and it should have some frustration. All sports have their "things" that require us to practice more in order to "Get it." Musicians know this when they take on a more difficult piece.

    I was 8 years old when I tried to learn how to surf. I fell down and fell down. The most I could do was try to ride the whitewater and get up for a second withouth falling down. It took three weeks of trial and error before I could paddle out, sit and turn my board, judge a wave, paddle into the wave, and then get up and ride it. I eventually moved to Hawaii when I got old enough and surfed on the North Shore of Oahu for 7 - 8 years.

    The Serve motion is the most complicated motion and although there are indivdual things going on like pronation, rotation, etc...you dont need to necessarily get all scientific about it to teach it. Teach it the right way and although it will require patience and learning, it will payoff.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
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  17. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I agree. There is no reason why women can't learn a good serve motion. Too often some coaches shrug women off because they "serve like a girl" so they place them in a grip that dooms their serve to mediocrity forever.

    The serve motion is the serve motion. Barring any physical or mental limitations, anyone can learn a decent serve motion with a continental grip.

    Enough of this nonsense, women just need to be willing to put in the work and training to learn how to serve properly ust like men need to do.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
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  18. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

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    I'd have to disagree with you on this one...

    When you have girls (and guys for that matter) who you know won't put in the hours needed to develop a "real" tennis game, that are just focused on the short-term results, you teach them something that they know they can get in with decent pace and that they can compete with.

    Just my 2 cents... :)
     
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  19. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    What qualified the short-term results? What qualified thennot putting in the "hours"? Maybe I missed that.

    If a person isnt willing to practice anything then it probably isnt worth teaching them anything now is it? Why even teach them the fricking forehand or backhand for that matter? They arent gonna practice anyway or put in the "hours".

    It also isn't a matter of a "billion" hours needed to hit a serve with a continental grip. It is a matter of teaching the serve. When someone is learning the serve, you teach them the Continental. You dont know how long someone will take to learn a serve with a continental. Some learn it fast, others more time. Do you know?

    I am not into short-term results or players that aren't willing to practice. If we are talking about these players why even provide them with any instruction. Just go and tell them "do what feels natural". If you feel like taking off your clothes and you think you will serve better, why not!
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
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  20. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    Thank you Bungalo Bill. I agree with you. I want a person to teach me the correct form at first so that I can develop into a better player. I do not want to be doomed to never get better cause my grip keeps me from putting spin on a ball, etc. I started working on a topspin serve a while back and while it is not perfect; it gets better all the time. At least when I work on it, I know that if I perfect it, I will have a pretty good serve. Otherwise, I would have just a simple flat serve and at my height of 5'4" isn't gonna get me anywhere. I think that people assume that a person is not interested in getting better or that they do not have the time to put in the practice, but what I have seen is that if you give them the tools, they will more than likely get more interested and start to put the time in!
     
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  21. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Exactly.

    We have this "coach in the park" around here. He asked me to fill in for him.

    The women ranged from people who dont care to improve to those hungry for ways to improve their game.

    One of the strokes most of the women wanted to improve was the serve. Many of them were in the Eastern forehand grip. So, for a half hour, with the ones that didnt want to improve complaining, I had the women hit in the Continental and learn to simply and competely relax the arm.

    Did they struggle at first? Absolutely. However, even if these girls went back to the Eastern afterwards, they at least tried.

    Out of eight women, and after several demonstrations and exercises, two of the women hit with the Cntinental with more pace on their serve and a smoother action in the arm and motion. One of them transformed her serve and demonstrated excellent form. She was so excited.

    My questions would be? What are we afraid of? A little failiure? A little frustration? Or are we so dumb to think that women because of the so-called "they cant throw a ball" can't learn to serve? And what is this throw a ball thing? I taught my daughters how to throw a ball. A friend of mines wife can throw an NCAA sized football with a perfect spiral better than I can.

    It is absolute nonsense. We need to teach the right way to hit a ball and let the brain and body learn.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
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  22. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    Try to get her to hit in the direction of the shoulders with that continental grip. Too many player used to an eastern grip want to face chest toward the target. If you just change the grip, their serve will still be chest forward, and the serve really be bad. Then you will have to hear endless stories of how the grip change is ruining their games. At times, I have kids throwing a football/baseball with their off (usually left) arm extended and pointed along in the line of the shoulder so they can better visualize the swing path.

    With a shorter player, I would start them with a toss more over their head, so they are hitting up and through the ball. Ideally, over time you would want to have the toss move forward, with the body bending into the shot.

    I use an old racquet with a cover that does not cover the handle. I have my kids practice softely hitting serves with the cover on, so that the kids are leading with the racquet frame (blading through the air) with the wrist rotation/pronation just prior to contact to get the racquet face open to the ball.
     
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  23. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I think a good serve needs a prep where the back faces the opponent, like in a mens service motion. Not amateur men, but pro men.
    Next, they gotta shorten up the swing so the goal is to accelerate the racket face thru the ball, NOT to swing the arm fast.
    Swinging the arm fast is good, of course, but is NOT the goal in a tennis serve.
    Racket head speed should be the goal.
     
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  24. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

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    I wouldn't call it a "cop-out," but it's kinda obvious that I'm not going to get anywhere with you (after reading your posts). So, are Patrick Rafter and company the results of coaching cop-outs? :confused:

    P.S. : Unlike other people on the board, I'm not trying to sound all knowing, just wondering how you can be so closed-minded when some have made something work the other way...
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
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  25. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Start by teaching her to hit an overhead...

    ...lots of overheads. Once she gets that one wired, standing in one place and hitting a ball that she tosses is a piece of cake...
     
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  26. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    You are right, you wont go anywhere with me on this topic. You can bring up Zeus and it woudnt matter to me.

    Well, I am not trying to sound all knowing either, just have been there and done that. So, if you consider a person that has experienced something and has determined his direction closed-minded, well you can bleep...bleep...bleep.

    I also have been through the Eastern forehand grip process, I have taught the Eastern forehand grip process, and have told people about the Eastern forehand grip process, and was sold on the Eastern forehand grip process. I am not trying to tell you that I am "all knowing" without any background in it. I am telling you my experience and what I consider the right direction. Get it?

    And please, spare me on the crybaby talk...
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
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  27. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

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    Ok, we can differ in opinion, if only just a little... But you didn't answer my question about Rafter and co...

    As for the crybaby talk, I just want to prove that I'm not one of these hard nosed enthusiasts who think they know what they are talking about because they read it in an article. My opinions will change if I think it is a good idea, but this is one where I have the differing opinion... :neutral:
     
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  28. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Ivanovic

    If you have a spare minute please watch/click
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/05/26/sports/playmagazine/200805227
     
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  29. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I was initially taught to serve with a continental grip and still use it today. I've taught beginners to serve with the continental grip and didn't have a lot of difficulty with it. Many started hitting well right away.

    A lot of players already hit a waiter's tray or badminton serve with a forehand grip, and it may be difficult to convince them to hit with a throwing motion with the continental, but it is probably worth the effort.
     
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  30. sukivan

    sukivan Banned

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    its like a throw EXCEPT the front shoulder stays where it is and the back shoulder comes up and over it. stretch your hitting arm upwards and put a string just below the point where your hand is. then tell them to throw a ball over it but they can only release once their hand is above the string.
     
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  31. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Learning to serve (or volley or slice backhands or hit overheads etc) with the continental grip is easy IF you teach the right tools, progressions, and advisements.

    BB is correct. I have trained 3500 players with only one or two exceptions to use the continental grip. They did not have to "serve 10,000" balls, or spend their waking hours concentrating on it. There are a number of 'exercises' that program and provide a player (of any age) to master the continental grip.

    However, I will say that if I were only to show a person a continental grip, and not know how to teach the additional swing components using the continental grip, then my students would probably NOT learn to use this grip and end up using the more rudementary easter forehand grip.

    Those who say that everyone should be taught to use the eastern grips is only saying that because they usually don't know how to teach the proper grips and strokes associated with that grip correctly.

    And, yes, I agree it is a 'cop out' for pros to encourage the eastern forehand grips for success....because they don't know how to teach the proper grips correctly.

    I taught my 8 year old daughter to hit a slice, kick and flat serve using the continental grip...among thousands of others. You can observe her actual development at that age in a series of articles found at TennisOne.com. I include the teaching tools and progressions that we used for her to master these serves with the proper grip.

    For those who insist on stagnating players below their ability by insisting they learn to use the eastern forehand grip first for the serve, try learning many of the helpful tools that will help your students or yourself.

    Yes, it is usually a little more frustrating for a few days at first! But I have a saying:

    "If you avoid that which you are trying to achieve, you will only achieve that which you are trying to avoid."
     
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  32. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    #32
  33. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Well sorry for the harshness, but what do you want me to answer? That Rafter is wrong? What era did Rafter learn tennis? Should I say that Becker is wrong? Or should I point out to you that instruction has evolved?

    I already told you that I used to promote the Eastern forehand grip process. I even told you that I was trained using the Eastern forehand grip. I even mentioned that I used to coach people to start out with the Eastern forehand grip.

    The trouble I had is players tend to move on and get new coaches or just move on for various reasons (move, stop playing tennis, etc...). When an instructor teaches, they have to be responsible to know what the outcome of their teaching could end up being. Players will engrain habits and because they "believed me" and have success with it, I found out that most humans do not want to go through another change later. Some "difficult to pinpoint the source" have arm problems later. Some don't.

    I also have been on the receiving end of my belief, trying to UNDO the advice and instruction to hit a serve with an Eastern forehand grip. Do you know how hard it was to change these people? Granted, not all of them had it tough, I already mentioned my success with two ladies above.

    However, I had to learn to be real patient and cut to the chase regarding this Eastern forehand stuff. Eventually, I learned that I would rather teach it the right way in the beginning (even though it may take a bit longer) than undo it later with no telling how difficult it will be for the player to make the change.

    I moved on in other words. Let's just agree to disagree.

    Teaching the Continental and having the perception that beginners or "women" cant learn it, is a misconception. Thinking that if they miss or struggle a bit with the serve in a continental grip and fear that they will lose interest in tennis is also a misconception.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
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  34. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    bungalow bill and coaching mastery are 2 VERY knowledgeable and experienced tennis coaches . people should listen to what they say very closely. often you have to pay for advice from the quality person like them. appreciate them. dont give them a hard time.
     
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  35. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Besides coaching experience, a couple differences between me and Coaching Mastery is he has more patience and tact with you guys. :)
     
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  36. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

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    It's not that I want to "question" them per se, but I wanted to know WHY. I appreciate all of BBs posts (haven't really been involved with too many threads with CM, but I digress...) and thank him for putting up with so many people. I just was wondering about this one subject...
     
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  37. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    I don't necessarily agree that someone isn't worth teaching if they don't practice often. While I almost always agree that it is a mistake to sacrifice long-term improvement for short-term results, sometimes it's more important for a player to succeed in the short term. This is most often the case with players "on the fence" -- people who may bail on the sport because the learning correct mechanics seems so daunting.

    I taught a 20-something woman a few years ago who couldn't serve with a continental grip. She was on her way but her serve wasn't "match ready." She was pretty consistent using an eastern grip and had a league match coming up. I said to her, "look, this is not the correct way to serve and you'll have to change your grip if you want to improve but it makes sense for you to use an eastern in the match. You have to get the ball in."

    I think what JSV advocates can occasionally be the correct route put it is one steeped with danger. There's a good chance you create long-term technical problems and let the student get comfortable with them. That said, I don't think coaches have to be so doctrinaire -- so technically pure -- that they can't give a student a shortcut here or there if they have a match coming up. IMO, the key is communication. "Here you go, but...." If students understand that they're not getting a long-term solution -- and they're actually getting something that will cause long-term problems -- hopefully any short-term successes they achieve will motivate them to improve.

    BB, perhaps the thing I disagree w/you about is that students automatically have the willingness / passion to practice. In my experience, that passion is partially a product of good coaching. Sometimes a coach has to balance long-term improvements with short-term results so the student stays interested. When you have a student that is passionate regardless then you're in great shape but obviously that isn't always the case. I'm interested to hear your thoughts. Hopefully I've articulated myself clearly.

    And I echo Larry's sentiments on BB and Dave Smith.
     
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  38. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I dont know how you can disagree with something I either never said or implied. I already know students dont always practice. This is a common coaching dillema we all face. :)

    I dont know about passion but certainly motivation.

    Ummmm...I just dont "do" short-term. I dont mess around with it. I think the better thing to say is "some coaches will go with short-term results" and I dont know if it really benefits long-term improvements. It may or it may not.

    There are so many ways and tools we coaches can use to teach the correct way at our disposal nowadays. I just dont go there.

    With me, if the player is not interested in learning tennis and improving in the process. I just tell them they have the wrong coach. It ends there with me.

    I can motivate a player. I can get them to believe in themselves, get them willing to want to improve, and get them to take their off-lesson practices seriously. I do this because they dont walk on to the court with me without showing me the results of their work. I never look at tennis coaching as a bunch of "lessons". I am a partner to a player that wants to improve themsleves in a sport that is difficult to master. I am a consultant to their goals and desires. They are paying me to get results so they can improve their quality of life and I need to take a genuine interest in them in hopefully all areas of their lives (mentally, spirtually, emotionally, and physically).

    Finally, you have articulated your points well but I think you misread my information or I may have mistyped. I understand motivation needs to be there to accelerate improvement, however, I am not the type of coach that heads down the short-term results path to keep em happy and interested. With me, you either are interested already, you're gonna get interested, or you go home.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
    #38
  39. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    The reason I promote and teach ALL players the serve using the continental grip is several fold.

    From the simple observance of top players, (not just pros but top juniors, club players, college players and top seniors), the preponderance of the use of the continental grip (we are talking probably close to 99 percent in my experience), should be somewhat of a clue as to why you should learn to serve with this grip. The rarity of exceptions, combined with the obvious use of the eastern forehand grip by a huge percentage of weaker, stagnated players, should also be fairly revealing.

    In my teaching experience, the pros who advocate the eastern forehand grip either do not know how to GET players to FEEL comfortable with the continental grip, or, they don't know how to educate students to understand and accept the simple aspect that learning some things can take more time and can be initially a bit challenging. (The continental grip for most beginners on the serve is foreign.) Most people understand that skilled activities can take time. No one ever challenges the piano teacher or the typing teacher who teaches students to use ALL their fingers! (I think we would ALL question those same teachers if they taught "Hunt and Peck" methods of learning the piano or keyboard!) But, using all fingers in those two activities takes a lot of time to feel comfortable and eventually master. Avoiding these methods (of using all the fingers), would simple make mastery of those instruments imposible...at least within our understanding of what a person can do when they DO master all the fingers.

    Finally, the most impressive criteria for me is that players will seldom "transition" from the eastern forehand grip to the continental once they start playing tennis as competition. This is because no one wants to lose or perceive they might certainly lose! So, would a student use something that is unfamiliar or uncomfortable in competiton? Of course they don't...because that would make them feel like they will lose. (They don't feel uncomfortable losing using their familiar--but totally mediocre--methods!)

    There are those who can recognize that they are not getting any better, recognize how those who serve effectively do it, and then work hard to transition to the continental grip. But this is rare, as BB so succinctly mentioned with his story of his group of women he taught, filling in for another coach.

    So many coaches are blatently afraid to tell players the truth. Let's face it, it is hard for individuals to A) be told they are doing something wrong--or ineffectively, and B) to then recognize that they have been doing it wrong for a LONG TIME!

    Having taught the large numbers of students I've mentioned, I can say from a first hand experience, that the most difficult and frustrated student are those who learned the more "rudementary" grips first. Many of these find it so frustrating that they honestly believe they can not possibly learn to serve well. (This thinking, of course, will prevent them from learning it altogether!)

    The final note on this expanded message is this: IT IS NOT JUST A GRIP CHANGE. Those who say, "heck, we will teach your this easier grip first...then later, we will learn to use the more advanced continental grip," don't understand the other variables the also must change with the grip change. The stance, the swing path, the racquet's position relative to the forearm, the follow-through all have a direct relationship to the girp. This helps explain why it is indeed so VERY HARD to 'transition' to the continental grip.

    I hope the helps everyone understand this concept...at least from one pro's perspective. I try never to advise base on personal opinion...but based on extensive research, observations, and, quite frankly, common sense.
     
    #39
  40. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    BB -- Thx for the response. What would you have done in the situation I described. The woman I gave a lesson to couldn't serve w/out an eastern grip and had a match coming up. Would you have told her to stick w/an eastern for that match (while making it clear that it is a technically incorrect / she needed to switch to a continental if she wants to improve) or had her serve w/a continental immediately?
     
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  41. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    Will, I know you asked Bill about this, but I thought I would offer another perspective in addition to what he might add:

    In your situation, you must ask the woman this important question: How good do you want to become? If the answer is "As good as I can possibly be" then you must encourage her to use the continental grip immediately...even if it means losing every service point in her next match.

    Unless her life depends on winning the match today, then the loss is a win: Every opportunity to use proper stroke mechanics, be it serves, volleys, gs, or playing strategies, in competition brings that player closer to mastering those desired skills and strokes. Everytime a player avoids them, they will avoid them even more the next time.

    There are some exceptions to this generality: if the player is in a league match and others are depending on her, then, of course, you try to win any way you can. (short of cheating!) But, a clear understanding and training must be instituted by providing 'competitive' opportunities where the player uses the desired patterns under pressure.

    Very few players who are 'trained' to use the eastern forehand grip can make the transition in match play without some level of practice. The perception of failure (with the unfamiliar) will make almost all players revert bact to their comfort stroke patterns and grips. Obviously, if the woman sincerely believes she can't or won't be able to serve using the continental grip, that would be another exception. If there is no clear understanding of the goal of this grip and the resultant swing pattern necessary, the player will almost never transition.

    So, in a nutshell, we must educate and help those who are using inferior strokes or grips, understand not just how, but why, using more effective grips and strokes will help them play more effective tennis. If they don't see this connection, you can tell them till your are blue in the face to change...they won't.
     
    #41
  42. wishsong

    wishsong New User

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    For me, I'm probably a low 3.5 or a high 3.0 player, it's all in the toss. To get a lot of pace, I throw it a bit in front of me, and bend my knees. When I'm going to hit it I jump forward while hitting it. Be careful not to pass the baseline, or else your serve won't count.
     
    #42
  43. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    One additional analogy I use when trying to convince people of change:

    If you lost every match for the next six months, how would you feel? Now, ask this, what if in six months, you not only start winning a high percentage of matches, but you are playing at a higher level than you ever have, how would you feel?

    Most will recognize the long-term benefit of working on more effective techniques. And most would be more than happy to lose all their matches for a period of time in turn to have a lifetime of more effective, higher skilled, and more competitive matches.

    The problem is the need for "immediate gratification" which so many people put ahead of longterm improvement and, ultimately, reaching a player's true potential.

    If a stroke technique is limiting, then it usually will prevent a player from reaching their potential. Yes, some can manipulate a quasi unconventional/irregular form to make it somewhat effective within the context of current levels.

    But, remember that as you play 'better' you will end up playing better opponents. These new players' shots may be too effective for your irregular or strange technique...even though that same technique might have been very successful at a certain level before.

    There is so much to this argument. But, the bottom line is that the vast majority of players tend to play at levels far below their potential simply because they are still using the basic, mediocre methods that were first taught to them or that they self-generated through self-taught interpretations.

    Just a couple more 'cents' from my perspective to try and help others 'get it.'
     
    #43
  44. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Hi Dave. I agree with what you said assuming the woman says, "I want to become as good as I can be." However, I think many club-level players would instead answer, "I want to have a good time and socialize." In those frequent circumstances I think a doctrinaire approach to coaching correct technique may detract from that goal. Playing at a high level simply isn't their #1 priority.

    I suspect some of the disagreements in this thread have to do with the fact that we are assuming all tennis players / students are monolithic.
     
    #44
  45. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    I concur with your point. That is why I would ask and not assume the player wants to become a better player.

    But, anyone can socialize, even competitive tennis is an exercise in social interaction. And, we also need to look at what people consider a "good time"...

    My take is that the vast majority of players WANT to get better...which is why so many come to you and me for lessons! I seriously doubt that too many players really think, "Hey, I think I'd like to play some tennis but I really want to suck at it."

    A great number of players, those who are stagnate at lower leves because of inadequate form, tend to 'say' they only want to play for fun or the social element. This is a protective mechinism as they know they are stuck at the same level and basically are "tanking" tennis as a sport because they realize that they are not going to get much better.

    And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these scenarios! The honest answer is based on the honest intent of the student.

    My only problem is with those who teach specifically the inferior methods just so the student perceives some success quickly.

    If you think about it, tennis is the ONLY sport to adopt a transitional methodology, teaching to "Play tennis fast" but not teaching to reach one's potential.

    One other thing too, I think I've mentioned this before: you can teach 5000 players exactly the same way and no two players will end up playing alike. The human condition, personality, character, etc., drives evolution and idiosycracies to the point that players will evolve their game to meet their particular taste, feel, rhythm, style, and personality.

    So, while it may seem that teaching an advanced foundation to all players could seem 'monolithic'...(or 'clone teaching') it is absolutely impossible for all those players to become clones.

    Now, you can--and should--employ a wide range of teaching strategies to get the foundation across. Analogies, tools, exercises, drills, progressions all are what make great coaches great. The worst coach, in my opinion, is the "used car salesman" coach, who only teaches one way, with only one teaching philosphy, and is ridgid when someone teaches a different way. Case in point: when I was a head pro at a club, the director wanted me to teach his way. (Even as I had taught hundreds of top state and nationally ranked players to his none!) Anyway, I asked him point blank: "If you knew one of your students would hit better using my technique, over your technique, would you teach my technique to him." His answer was, "No, our way is the best way."

    Scary.
     
    #45
  46. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    So, if I wanted to play social golf, and took lessons, I guess you wouldnt mind me holding the clubs without my hands interlocked somehow or backwards.

    Sorry, cant get there. I would still teach the continental serve if they were PAYING me to instruct them. Otherwise, I would send them to you.
     
    #46
  47. junbug

    junbug Rookie

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    so dave if some guy was telling me to teach the classic way over the oscar wegner way. when most of my student's success was with oscar's method. i should stick with it???
     
    #47
  48. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, to all of the above.

    If a player insists they learn the Eastern from me, I will upfront tell them, I am not their guy. Maybe I just wouldnt teach the serve to them after that.

    Maybe that is a fault in me, maybe it is a virtue. However, I personally would have a very hard time teaching the Eastern forehand grip for a serve knowing what potentially lies down the road for that player.

    Even if that player said they are only interested in "social" tennis. In a few months, they may change their mind and want to be more competitive. Then what?

    I would feel awful and unprofessional if that person went to a different coach and he found out I encouraged the Eastern forehand grip in any way shape or form. I can just hear it now "BB taught what? "What? The Eastern forehand grip for the serve? Who taught you this? Oh no, he was not teaching you the serve correctly...wow, you should get yor money back, he did you a disservice. Now, you have to undo a lot of engrained muscle memory thanks to him." Great, just great.

    I just have a hard time taking someones money for something I dont believe in. I would be sick to my stomach everytime the person hit the ball. What would you expect me to say when the player says "so BB, thanks for not letting me go down the path of the Continental, but just so we are on the same page, am I hitting the serve right even though I am using the Eastern forehand?" I wouldnt even know what to say and would largely feel like this inside: :cry::confused::shock::mad:
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
    #48
  49. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    So long as you understand the following:

    1. Oscar is not the Father of Tennis

    2. He was not the inventor of the "modern" stroke.

    3. That professional players prepare BEFORE the ball bounce.

    4. He did not teach nor influence Guga.

    5. There are limitations with his teaching and you need to incorporate other coaches ideas to help "round out" the instruction.

    6. That ALL other coaches that dont subscribe to Oscar's ways are not in the "old teaching boat" he puts them in.

    7. That OTHER coaches that dont subscribe to Oscar that teach good fundamentals are not wrong.

    8. That Oscar acknowledges his way is not the Holy Grail. That like any other method of teaching, it has its strengths and weaknesses and success stories and failures.
     
    #49
  50. split-step

    split-step Professional

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    whole heartedly second this.
     
    #50

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