The insanity of the modern strokes.

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by goeblack, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. goeblack

    goeblack Rookie

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    After years of playing tennis from the hip I decided 2 years ago to upgrade my game. I was hellbent on going from 4.0 to at least 4.5.

    I had always hit a pretty good topspin forehand. I also had a good enough backhand slice and decent topspin backhand I used if I had plenty of time. I used mostly continental grip for all these strokes.

    I am a lefty and must say my serve has improved from the things I have learned in my 2 year venture to greatness. So have my volleys but that is all.

    Everything else has really suffered without me even noticing my own demise.

    So here is the insanity in all this: For those of us who will never, never, reach the 5.0 level all these modern strokes can be huge distractions.

    First I changed my forehand grip and Eastern. Then I changed my backhand grip to get get my wrist more behind the racket. Then I practiced, more than I care to admit, to get my muscle memory to adapt to these new strokes.

    As I went along this journey, I was engulfed with some of the amazing shots I made from time to time. Mostly against weaker players. It was those shots that kept me going and going and going.

    What I refused to admit to myself, was that my game had really gone downhill. Oh no, I was just intent on the fact that my breakthrough was just around the corner. Keep in mind this is after 2 plus years of dedication.

    Another reason I was thinking this was working for me, is that because of my commitment to practice I was seeing the ball better and maybe moving better too. Otherwise is was all for nothing.

    So, I give up on looking like a pro on the court. I decide just to do what I can do. To do what feel natural to me.

    Here are the results.

    Forehand with conti just as effective but more reliable.I found that all that jazzed up modern stuff had added nothing for me but unforced errors.

    Topspin backhand with conti. Not as much topspin but still enough to bring the ball down in the court. Sooo much more time that I can now use it on most of my backhand shots. (at least this benefit is from being forced to get quicker from my futile effrots mentioned above) Much more reliable now with conti.

    Backhand slice is better merely because I never get caught with the wrong grip.

    So now I do not have the beautiful TV shot but my game is much better.
     
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  2. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I'm almost 2.5 years into modern strokes. It was mostly a fh and a bh slice for me. I've used a 2hbh for decades and the only thing I did was switch my left hand grip from an E. fh to a SW fh which allowed me to hit with more topspin.

    The forehand has been a journey and it's been a lot of work, but for me the results have been there. I'm more consistent in general, I can hit harder with way more consistency, I can hit with way more spin than I used to, and I can handle pace and spin from my opponent far better.

    The slice is still progressing. Some days it can be reasonably consistent and cause good players a few problems. Weaker players mostly can't handle it at all. It can still be very inconsistent at times. I still mostly use it for low, short balls, though I've tried to start using it on higher balls to mix up my bh, but that's where the inconsistency can come in.
     
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  3. pug

    pug Semi-Pro

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    Good that you have found what works for you and also what you like. I find modern strokes "fun " to hit so i tend to enjoy playing more.
     
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  4. goeblack

    goeblack Rookie

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    That is my point. I found the modern stokes fun because I knew I looked better on the court and hoped I would become better too. As fun as that is, for me ,it led to less than optimal game.
     
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  5. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    The thing that cracked me up about your post is that teaching a grip change between the forehand and the backhand isn't exactly modern. As far as I know, that's been pretty standard since at least the 1970s and probably prior to that.

    The eastern fh grip isn't considered modern these days either. Most juniors actually seem to be hitting full western and then rotating toward semi as they grow taller.

    Lastly, most people play worse when changing their games. It definitely takes time to groove and understand new shots. This is why so many adults never progress in tennis.

    Since tennis should be for fun, there's nothing wrong with playing however you'd like.
     
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  6. goeblack

    goeblack Rookie

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    I agree with you. I am not dictating what anyone should do. It should be fun of course.

    But, I can not help thinking there are many frustrated people studying video after video while trying things they would be better off just leaving alone.

    Chasing down the lob and hitting it between my legs is fun but .........:)
     
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  7. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    I'll also note that...

    ...you're focusing almost exclusively on the ground strokes, which is a mistake many players make. How's your serve? What about your return? What does your volley look like? Can you put away an overhead? The two most important strokes in the game: serve and return, in that order. There are, per all the discussions in this thread, advantages and disadvantages to the variations on the groundstrokes. But if your serve is a helium ball, and you can't get enough returns back to break serve, doesn't matter what your ground strokes look like...
     
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  8. goeblack

    goeblack Rookie

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    One thing I have noticed about this forum, other than that inferior players are constantly giving advice to better players, is that the original post when it gets about 3 post deep never get really read.

    I too am guilty of that. Oh well.
     
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  9. bjk

    bjk Hall of Fame

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    This happened to me. I tried to change my forehand, which I'd always had great confidence in. It didn't work. Not that I made a huge change, but I was caught between my old and new forehand, so I just went back to the old forehand. The advantage is that I can hit hard flat strokes that my opponents aren't used to seeing, and can't hit themselves.
     
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  10. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Changing to modern strokes after my first few years of playing greatly increased my playing ability, so for me it worked out very well. I went from Eastern FH / Conti BH to Semi-Western FH/2HBH and it made my life so much easier. I have such a "live arm" when it comes to ground strokes in the fact that my Rackethead speed is huge when I'm going for it, that I wasn't able to hit clean enough with classic strokes. The nice thing about modern strokes, is even mishits go in with enough spin. :razz:

    Definitely agree with Skiracer though, serve and returns are everything. Ever since developing my serve to a much higher level than the rest of my game, it's done wonders. Highly recommend! :)

    -Fuji
     
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  11. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    I woulldn't say necessarily that modern strokes look better. I've seen so many ugly, unnatural looking shots out there, especially with the more extreme grips.

    For me the modern strokes somehow worked better, especially on the fh side. Coming from tabletennis I was already used to more open stances, short backswings and rotating into the shot. I had to adapt my stroke of course, but after i focussed on hitting more through the ball I got my fh going. Taking my racket far back to swing forward has always felt kind of awkward to me. I think people almost always prefer what you learned first, because that's ingrained in their
    muscle memory. But of course there are always exceptions as some earlier posts prove.
     
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  12. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    What are some examples of the strokes you tried to learn - a link or two describing each stroke? For example, analyses from Tennisplayer.net, Fuzzy Yellow Balls, TennisOxygen, videos of Federer's forehand, Djokovic's backhand, or serve as described in some book or video, etc. How did you get the details of the stroke, self observation, in lesson, analysis?

    Besides your results, how did you check that you were doing what you were aiming at on the strokes? Feedback from tennis instructor, high speed video, etc.
     
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  13. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    there is that and also,

    It's tough to respond to your post without being highly critical.
    It seems from your post, you don't really have a strong grasp of modern
    technique and I didn't notice any mention of a coach of modern book to help
    you. I'm sure you have your own ideas about what is modern, as many who
    debate on here daily, but likely you are an example of those with a foot in each
    boat, not getting the results of the subtle, yet critical aspects of modern fully technique.
     
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  14. goeblack

    goeblack Rookie

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    I do not need anyone to advise as to why I did not succeed with my game change. I merely posted this in case there are others who are so engulfed in all this pro stroke stuff that they do not see the truth.

    For many of us, who will likely never get past 4.0 or 4.5 it is more about learning how to max out the talent that we have. That may or may NOT include looking like the pros on the court. That is of course for those who prefer winning over looking good. I would guess that group at about 50%.

    Then of course there comes a time in every tennis players life when it is what it is. I will be 65 in Aug and that time has arrived. I still however intend to bust into 4.5 but I will do it with my conti grip all around.
     
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  15. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    You can hit the modern extreme Western grip forehand without being very string in the shoulder & wrist. Weaklings dare not try. Stick wit the Eastern grip.
     
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  16. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    And I merely pointed out why you didn't get as much response as you expected.

    But yet you do slip in and make blanket statements like above, saying what it is
    when you have not done it yet. Overall, I agree that most older players won't
    have the approach it takes to make the changes they need to...but am currently
    coaching a 65 & 70 yr old who sought me out to change to modern and they
    have been overwhelmed by their improvement in just 4-6 weeks.

    Best of Luck as you go forward to make it to 4.5.
     
    #16
  17. goeblack

    goeblack Rookie

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    Enough about me.(after this post) Again I just say that we all do not have to look alike to play our best tennis.

    I say this not for my benefit because my decision has been made. Nor do I say it to get support from others about my decision. I say these things because I can not help but believe that others also may be distracted from finding their best game by insisting on playing like someone else.

    Yes, a 5.0 player will certainly benefit in studying the pros.

    I was a 4.0 player before I even really cared about tennis. That was over 30 years ago. Just played when the wind did not blow and never even thought about getting better.

    I was 60 when decided to really give it a go. I came up with the wild idea that if I trained and learned the "new game" I could reach enormous levels.

    So now I revert back to my old game. A game which I never really gave a chance at improving since I blasted out with all my new ideas.

    Finally, when I made this decision, I tried it against the wall for about 2 hours. There was no doubt I could do more with the ball by making things a bit more simple.

    Then I have played one set against my main rival who is a 4.5 and much younger. I was ahead 5-2 and won 7-5. That sealed it for me.

    As far as not having the approach needed I will say again I stay with this effort of developing the new game for over 2 years. Everyday. Never, ever reverting back. No matter what. Even losing many matches because I was hell bent on using a particular shot I was hoping to master over time.

    This of course could be my age kicking in, but I can still move around the court with the young hot shots and I really only love the game of singles.
     
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  18. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I've read through many paragraphs but no one describes what a "modern stroke" is. What is it?
     
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  19. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Sounds good...

    ...I see where you're headed...but why stop at 4.5? Why not Aim High, as they say in the Air Force? I'll be 65 this summer, too, and as soon as I rehab from a knee injury sustained in a ski racing crash, I'll be back out on the courts trying to push the envelope. Yep, getting to 4.5 is a worthy goal, but NTRP can be limiting. I don't play NTRP, just Men's Open, and my suggestion is that you find some Men's Open tourneys and give it a whirl. You'll find out something playing younger guys at the 4.5 level, but, IMHO, you'll find out a lot more playing 20somethings with spiky hair and 125 mph serves in Men's Open...
     
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  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    This is quite a complex issue with no right answer. Many adults do well with JMac style strokes with conti grip, winning matches using their savvy, court sense, fitness, and experience. There are others who always use top spin forehands with SW grips, top spin backhands, shun the slice, look good when playing, earn compliments on style and technique, but have ineffective strokes. I probably fall into that category. I had no choice because I could never hit without top spin - I can't guide a ball straight like Chrissie or Connors can do. The hand shakes and the frame wobbles. It is much easier to adopt a top spin motion which "masks" these problems. But the spin must cross a certain level for it to trouble an "old-style" opponent. If it doesn't, it is a waste, unless you can convince yourself that you would do worse without the spin. Which of course you don't know for sure as you are not switching styles back and forth continuously.
     
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  21. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    Just remember, when your body breaks down, the "Modern Stroke" will not be good to you.

    The classical players last longer (are better longer).
     
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  22. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Interesting. Why do you say that? Can't you "gracefully" dial down the spin as your body breaks down (by swinging slower, for example)?
     
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  23. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Two answers...

    ...I don't think so. I think we're all a little hazy about what the "modern stroke" is, but if you're talking about, say, a SW forehand, low to high, with an open stance vs. an Eastern grip forehand, hit pretty much through the ball with a closed stance, one isn't better than the other, they're just different.

    Second, don't let the body break down. At this year's USSA Master's Alpine championships, one of the racers was the legendary John Droege...age 90, who won gold medals at this year's events...despite the fact that he had quad surgery last summer, which required a long and difficult rehab. Unfortunately for those of us in the tennis community, he's had to hang up his racket...but he still hikes and road bikes with his wife Anna, who is "only" 73...
     
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  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Not sure "don't let your body break down" works in all cases.
    My body has broken down, after 55 years of competitive sports.
    Worse, it never get's a chance to recover, because recovery might take rest time, and rest time kills the endurance and lungs.
    My No.1 sport is windsurfing, which I do usually 6 days a week. Windsurfing is sailing at 27 mph, planing thru every jibe, be one of the fastest sailors in the water out of 40 guys, and jumping as high as the windswells allow, repeatedly and for mostly 2 hour sessions.
    Then next morning, knowing I'm going windsurfing in the afternoon, it's time for 3 sets of doubles tennis with the old farts, who are my age. The oldest might be 5 years older, but the youngest could easily be in their teens or early 20's, and mostly around 3.5-4.5 levels.
    The body breaks down when it wants to break down.
     
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  25. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    Yes, you have to with the modern strokes, but I think the classical stroke you don't have to swing slower.

    From what I've seen and talking to multiple tennis pro's in their 50's, they believe that the "classical" stroke holds up better in older age.

    I'm 38 and a Modern Stroker and I'm breaking down (played D 1 tennis). Just too violent.
     
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  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Agree!
    My strong SW takes a lot of energy to hit a FORCING ball, while easy to just limp rallyballs back.
    And playing S/V takes lots of energy.
    Heck, serving HARD, whether fast first flat serves or high kicking second serves, TAKES more energy than I have to give over the course of 2 hours.
     
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  27. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    1. Are you including the 2 handed BH in your analysis? In other words, do you think there is a modern version of that which is different from the classical version? Or are you saying classical backhand was mostly 1 handed?

    2. By modern vs classical FH, you mean SW/W TS FH vs Conti/E flatter FH, right?

    Just making sure because I want to narrow down what exactly is better for older players.
     
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  28. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    What exactly are you agreeing with, LeeD? Your first sentence makes sense about SW grip. But I don't see how S&V and hard serves are supposed to be modern game. Unless you are just lumping together everything that takes energy.
     
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  29. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You figured me out, Suresh..!
    Everything in good tennis takes lots of energy, concentration, and focus.
    Playing BAD tennis can take much less energy, concentration, and focus, but it IS bad tennis.
    As for modern strokes getting less effective with age..... if you hit the modern stroke where you should, it would be no less effective than old school strokes, and a loose grip fast swing takes no more of the E, C and F than old school strokes.
    Problem is, lots of days, I'm only good for 3 good doubles sets, while the bad players with no strokes can play 5-7 doubles sets, and play badly through them all.
     
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  30. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Are you now saying that modern strokes are as effective as classical strokes in old age, BUT still take more energy? For the same amount of effectiveness, what takes less energy?
     
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  31. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    The same, once you have figured out how to hit "modern" strokes.
    Say forehand. Strong SW vs weak E. Strong SW needs more RHS, but uses less grip pressure. Strong SW needs you to look at the incoming ball, but so does weak E. Does a fast swing take more out of you than a slow swing gripped hard?
    Serves haven't changed. I play with guys who use about 40% energy serving, while I put in 90%. I serve faster, win more points, have less points returned, but use more energy than just pooping the ball in to start the point.
    Overheads..... should we hit them hard ON A FLY, or allow them to bounce at our feet and high volley a softie? Which takes more energy.
    Good tennis takes more energy than lazy tennis.
     
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  32. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    So you actually disagree with the premise that old style is easier on the body.

    Getting you straight is so difficult.
     
    #32
  33. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Shades of gray (grey), my son.....
    The world is not black or white. Nor right and wrong. Nor hot vs buttugly......
     
    #33
  34. JohnYandell

    JohnYandell Hall of Fame

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    I think one of the issues here is how modern strokes are defined--and also what the underlying fundamentals are. I see many players (no idea about the op!) who think they are cutting edge modern, but lack the fundamentals that so-called modern strokes and all good strokes share.

    One issue is grip--thinking that extreme grips are the essence of modern tennis. A second is the lack of early preparation which includes a unit turn and full left arm stretch timed to around the bounce.

    Another issue would be predominant use of extreme open stance, rather than a semi-open stance or a neutral stance depending on the ball. Another would be a forward swing that appropriately mixed extension toward the other side of the net with hand and arm rotation and the movement across the body--again depending on the ball.

    I see tons of players hitting with limited turn and heavy, constricted wipers or extreme nadal finishes with swings that are mostly arm and calling that modern. If the fundamentals are right I think most players can use advanced elements.

    But clean classic strokes like Sampras or Tim Henman are in my mind still pereferable if the other option is poor fundamentals.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013
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  35. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Modern can be executed smooth and easy too, and don't have to be violent.
    You should try it!
    Modern is good that it allows you to be more violent if you are up for it, and still
    make shots, but there is NO need to do it that way.
     
    #35
  36. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Am coming up to a year on my quest to switch my forehand technique, and I would say that while there may have been some bumps along the way, the process has been quite enjoyable! While I don't have the ideal technique quite yet, overall my forehand is a lot more effective than it was a year ago!

    But if the OP truly feels more comfortable with his classic technique, then that's great too. Whatever works.
     
    #36
  37. goeblack

    goeblack Rookie

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    Well I was going to bow out but since Lee D brought up windsurfing I am helplessly drawn back in.

    First in regards to windsurfing, that along with Sailboat racing is what put tennis on the back burner until a few years ago. I sold my J120 and moved inland to Tx from Fl. I won just about every stock windsurfing event in the early 80s. Then came Misral one design. I won the North American championships in 1990. I was second in 1989 and 1991. Then I moved aboard the short boards and it was game on. I lived on short boards from then on and if it was not windy enough to get them up and running we practiced big boat racing.

    Then if it was really light air we played tennis. I loved the game, but I dreamed of sailing in bed at night and that was that.

    So it was when I looked around at life here in Tx that I decided I must pursue something to be happy so tennis was it.

    Honestly I thought I could become a really amazing player but I have not.
    I have given everything I have , everyday for 2 plus years.

    I made a decision to abandon the tennis game I played in Fl and learn all the modern shots. All the different grips and so forth. Patiently I waited for muscle memory to take over and make all this feel natural. I still get caught in the middle of a point with the wrong grip till this day.

    Now all is not lost. I know the courts better than ever. I have learned to volley and my serve is confusing to the players I will likely never beat.

    I just think I give this another year not trying to hit TV shots
     
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  38. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Agreed. You should be able to slow down the swing and still have the modern technique - feel the racquet whip up and across the ball. In fact, if you can't slow down your stroke then I'd say you don't quite have it down yet.
     
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  39. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Federer plays relaxed with an arguably "modern" style. True, his fh is hit with something close to eastern, but the stroke pattern is similar to the semi-western of Safin and the like.

    He's been remarkably injury free for a touring pro. While they have better conditioning than us rec players, they also have a grueling scheduling.
     
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  40. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I agree and don't know of anything that is not modern about Fed's game.
    He hits up and across his top spins and down and across his slices, along with
    using largely Open stance or compensated to open stance thru lift.

    I also agree he is an excellent example of how the modern game can be flowing
    and smooth at the highest of levels & likely is part of how he stayed so healthy.
    That said, I guess you can also make the
    case he does unleash plenty of vicious rips on the ball at times as well.
     
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  41. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I hit with a lot of guys in their 50s and 60s and you see lots of conti grips. Some of them are very good. They tend to like the ball low - waist or below - with the conti grip. Kick it up high to them and they are not as effective especially on the high forehand.

    I am 56 but was self-taught during the Borg era. I went with E toward SW on forehand and 2 handed back. Last 8-10 years, I have practiced open stances, and WW follow-thrus. I think it has helped. I learned based on a "modern" player in Borg had SW grip with WW follow-thru.

    But, a good conti player can be a great player especially if you play lots of S&V or doubles.
     
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  42. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    I look at it more in spin and grip. With heavy topspin (forehand, backhand, & serve), I believe it creates a lot more strain on the body. Before anyone jumps in, I mean heavy spin, really heavy.

    I agree, as you get older, you can still have nice modern strokes with a nice brush (windshield wiper, etc.), but I just think since you can't hit it the same pace as you did in your 20's and early 30's, your game drops off. You have to be careful with topspin, an easy top spin shot is probably the easiest ball to return. I believe that someone who plays the classic route (continental, eastern, flatter, etc.) have better games later in life. They keep the ball low, and it's easier to change pace.

    The Modern game is far superior when you are in your prime physically, but I think it would be downhill once you hit 50.
     
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  43. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Maybe that's why you need to be able exploit the good points of both games....
    Old school is great for the lower shots, volleys, and slicing.
    So how to counter? Topspin loopers high to the old school folke.
    New school is great to hit high bouncers, low dipping angles, so how do you counter? With low skidded slices.
    You need both, or you lack the weapons to play different players.
    Maybe the old fart shouldn't be trying to out topspin a 23 year old, but it's wise philosophy to loop high balls to other old farts and use short angles to run them off the court.
     
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  44. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I disagree.

    I'm 50. I primarily play with two other guys in their late forties. We're all rippin' on the ball hard with modern strokes, lots of pace, and lots of spin. I think it's more a function of what your body can do rather than just an age.

    Clearly a top player will not be as capable at 50 than at 25. That covers a couple of thousand players at most. But for most of us, as long as you're healthy and have no significant physical issues, your age isn't what's defining your level of play. It's learning high level skills, practice time, court access (especially for folks in bad weather areas), quality of partners, etc.
     
    #44
  45. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    34,789
    Since you were a D1 player, your reference point is college level play, and your comparison would be someone at age 50 who was a D1 player and continues to use modern strokes versus someone of the same age and also a former D1 player, who uses classical strokes.

    But by the time you are 50, you will only face 50-year olds who were D1 players like you and played the modern game, so it should not matter! They will be subject to all the same pluses and minuses.

    The contrast is when younger players playing the modern game today but only at the club level face older players who play the classical style, and complain about getting beat, because the top spin they produce looks cool but is ineffective. But the older players in this scenario were pretty good themselves. The other older players are easily neutralized by high top spin.

    I used to play with a really older group in a network which unfortunately does not seem to be very functional these days. The couple of old guys who gave me trouble were a) a lot taller than me and b) had very good classical S&V form retained from their youth. All the other guys could be defeated by top spin which bounces high.
     
    #45
  46. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I know you and one of the other 2 players. The other player looks like he is in his 20s. When I learned he was older, I could not believe it. I still mentally lump him with the juniors in the club and feel a lot lot older than him.

    So he is an exception who must have drunk from the fountain of perpetual youth at one time. And you are also not the typical 50 year old player with a 1 handed BH, doubles-only focus, light racket, and complaining of some ache every day. So your group is quite atypical :)
     
    #46
  47. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
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    35,710
    50's is still young and somewhat flexible.
    Try mid 60's, look for a heavy topspin hitter with a big serve and good movement. You'd be better off looking Atlantis.
     
    #47
  48. user92626

    user92626 Legend

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    6,142
    I agree with you. I think it's because recreational players never graduate from the school of techniques and move onto the school of strength and athleticism. Our game and level is forever defined by strokes and flaws.
     
    #48
  49. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Guest

    100% agree. In mid 50's and I rip the ball now with MTM. Better now than I was 20 years ago.
     
    #49
  50. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    Messages:
    5,699
    LeeD, you're not a good example. If your stories are half true, you've spent most of your life abusing your body by repeatedly breaking things and getting horrific injuries. You may be in your 60s, but you've got ankles of a guy in his 80s or 90s. :shock:
     
    #50

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