The Six Playing Styles Described

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Kaptain Karl, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Thanks for the kind comments, people. Glad you find this useful.

    As to "best" ... there isn't one. Choose what fits your own natural abilities.

    I am a HS Coach. I encourage my Single players to develop at least two styles to high levels of competence. So if Plan A doesn't work that day, they have a Plan B.

    (By definition, if they are All-Court players, they can already do this.) I don't think Baseline / Counter Punching is "different enough" but If you can do either of those AND Attack the Net, those are different enough that give you Plan A and Plan B.

    Baseline and Junk Ball is a good mix, too. (Honestly, most HS kids today have "natural tendencies" toward Baseline and Pusher. "Oh well...!")

    1 - Attack the Net
    2 - Baseline
    3 - Counter Punching
    4 - Junk-Ball
    5 - All Court
    6 - Pusher

    - KK
     
  2. matkimi

    matkimi New User

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    im a spin doctor / baseline player
    most of my points are not more than 3 hits
     
  3. Beastforearm

    Beastforearm New User

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    I really enjoyed reading. :D
    Thank you for posting.
     
  4. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Good. You are welcome.

    - KK
     
  5. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    This is an excellent thread/sticky. Where do you guys think that Henri LeConte would fit into in these categories?
     
  6. nfor304

    nfor304 Banned

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    What would you define a player like Younes El Aynaoui or Andy Murray? They both play primarily from the baseline and serve strongly, but they play with alot of different spins and placements. They go from all out attacking one point to mixing soft slices and deep topspin shots the next...
     
  7. Nix91

    Nix91 New User

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    Andy murray is the best example of counter puncher.
     
  8. plasma

    plasma Banned

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    anyone can change tactics at anytime. I only see two styles of player. A guy who tanks and a guy who cheats...I expect a subtle mild form of one or the other from every opponent. Not to say I don't have decades worth of tactics for different players, I guess if you've played as much as I have you pay attention to different things though...
     
  9. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    I actually try to *avoid* categorizing current Pros. Years ago I might have (erroneously) labeled ... Roger a S&V player ... Roddick a Big Serve / Big FH player ... Murray a ordinary Baseliner. All of these would have been wrong labels today; they've adapted their styles.

    (I tell my HS boys to watch ... Fed and Murray any chance they get. They play the smartest tennis I see ... right now.)

    - KK
     
  10. coriafan

    coriafan New User

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    I use lot of topspin ball that jump shoulder high to push opponent back and then combine it with dropshots. Should i be ashamed of my style of play, is it lame? Cause some people don`t enjoy playing me.
     
  11. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    Here are the categories I use

    1. Ace Machine: A huge serve with no other game to speak of. The only example I can think of is Ivo Karlovic.

    2. Net Rusher: Likes to come in to the net. Rare nowadays.

    3. Aggressive Baseliner: By far the most common type of player now. Hits hard.
    Example: Williams sisters, indeed most other pros

    4. Spin Master: Hits crazy, weird spin shots. Likes to mess with your head. Example: Fabrice Santoro.

    5. Counter-Puncher: Very fast on court. Play defensive until they get an easy ball, then BAM! Smack it for a winner. Example: Gael Monfils

    6. Pusher: No offensive game to speak of. Hits ball back with little technique and usually a slow pace, but utilizes different spins and super-accurate placement

    7. All Court Player: Good everywhere on the court. Good footwork, good groundstrokes, good volleys, usually hits with topspin, sometimes slices to stay in the point, sometimes flat. Takes some risks, but not too many. Example: Federer

    8. The Risk Taker: Inconsistent, either hits ridiculous winners or embarrassingly shanks or misses outright relatively easy balls. Double faults more common than other categories. Example: Simon Greul
     
  12. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Do you win more than you lose? (Don't change.)

    Do you lose more than you win? (Change ... or go take some lessons.)

    - KK
     
  13. plasma

    plasma Banned

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    there are only emotional styles at my level, any player can change physical tactics. I will beat you, not jut beat you but let your emotions and "you" beat yourself, overhitting yourself out of position and then screaming like a macho man as if you could have made those shots any other day.
    You always yell, I always win.
     
  14. RunningBeagle

    RunningBeagle New User

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    I am a very emotional player. I like to yell when I miss a shot so that everybody knows I could have made it any other day.
     
  15. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    Great sticky thread i have to say.
    Very interesting. I would have to say im an all court player though. I like to keep my opponent guessing. One time ill rush the net the next time ill smash from the baseline.
     
  16. rlamb101

    rlamb101 New User

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    Excellent!

    That is one of my favorite posts ever! Very good breakdown of the player (and sub-player) types.

    Junk Ball and pushers can be beat consistently, with the right weapons. Take away the pace they have to work with....and force them to produce pace with a quality shot by pressing in. Close all the way in on very low, biting slices and await the junk lob on everything else.

    I have used this effectively with those types of players many times. Also, sneak into net behind moderate paced body serves and don't kill their weak returns...simply touch them into death angles....to **** them off! :)
     
  17. wyutani

    wyutani Hall of Fame

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    is that all? no more other playing styles?
     
  18. Fay

    Fay Professional

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    well I think there are three:

    baseliner
    serve and volleyer
    all court player

    and many many players move between these styles

    McEnroe is a true serve and volleyer ... I watched him in person last year and just about *every* first serve he went forward. Usually not on second serves.

    What seems to be the problem nowadays is that when someone pulls someone off the court and give themselves the opportunity to go to the net, I see a lot of hesitation. Wasted opportunities because they don't trust their net play, don't know where to go, or who knows what. But easy for me to see sitting at home in front of the television and quite another to do on court with high stakes.

    Commentators from years ago who played a lot of serve and volley are tearing their hair out when announcing.

    When some of the top 10 players are beginning to lose and they have the presence of mind to go in on the first good opportunity, and they can play the net well, usually do much better than waiting on the baseline for their opponent to make a mistake or hit a short ball.

    I cannot count the number of time I have seen top-level women players get a shortish ball and then *not* step in and punish their opponent with a blistering sharp angle.
     
  19. Fay

    Fay Professional

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    as far as pushers, then the subcategories are
    Bangers
    and
    Pushers
    LOL
     
  20. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    QFT. Topspin is the flavor of the month, and there's a reason everyone is using it nowadays. Topspin is both offensive and defensive in that topspin is a very safe shot in that it will drop in play, but the height that it bounces with, the ability to hit the ball hard with topspin, and the fact that the ball speeds up so much after it bounces EASILY make up for the small difference in pace. It is 100% practical to hit 99% of balls in a rally with topspin and in that, combined with its increase in popularity, is deserving of its on category.
     
  21. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Not everyone has to change their style. If you miss a couple shots from the baseline when you're going all or nothing, doesn't mean you should give up on it and play at the net all day, you have to do what got you where you are. With that being said, everyone can benefit from being able to play the court. But just because you can doesn't mean you should.
     
  22. Yuuzuki

    Yuuzuki New User

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    I know I probably haven't been playing long enough to have a "style" yet.

    But, reading through them I think I fit into the Pusher/Retriever style so far ^^;;

    I love the descriptions by the way, they're great!!! XD
     
  23. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Thanks for the feedback, people. I'm glad this is a provocative thread.



    I'd say I am an All-Courter-with-a-big-emphasis-on-Attack-the-Net.

    What is your style on the "big" points? When it's Your Ad, what's the opponent most likely to see from you? (I think this answer reveals one's preferred style.)



    Thanks. And I agree with your presentation of the best way to handle those nasty Junk Ballers and Pushers.




    Yup. Kriese is fond of saying "you are the best in the world at YOUR style of play." (Assumes a player knows what "his style" is....)

    Also, "match ups" can make things interesting. I've spent the last two years of my tennis life working on confidently *attacking* with my Returns of Serve. All because of a buddy whose S&V game matched up so well against me. (My Singles Return *was* the weakest part of my game.) I cannot wait to meet him on the court again...!




    You're also not "stuck" in a style. Experiment. Have fun!

    - KK
     
  24. makenakai

    makenakai New User

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    some famous others.
    king and young jimbo were snv ( practically everyone was back then); Mac was netrusher; Nasty, allcourt junker; Borg baseline counter; Soloman, Yaeger, mooners; Seles, aggrobase.
     
  25. makenakai

    makenakai New User

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    attacking with spin

    Borg said in his autobiography all he tried to do was hit in the middle w "crazy" TS. its an attack on your technique using spin. Its tougher to attack the spin, therefore counterpunching is more effective. Borg could do this forever.

    Nadal did the same til he hurt his core. His rally shots do not explode crazily (and leftily!...) as before. That's the point of this type of game.

    Technically a windshieldwiper motion causes a slight sideways hop as well as a fwd one A RH TS jumps into a RH FH - but a LH FH jumps away from RH FH. (check it out...) . This makes it diff to hit on the rise and dooms you to duke it out from the back.

    I used to play this style (OS reaally helps:) and also against:cry: its draining psychologically to face.
     
  26. makenakai

    makenakai New User

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    all court game

    Tilden, in Match Play and The Spin of The Ball, said an all-court player is one who can vary his game at will in direction, speed, depth and spin so as to give an opponent what he least likes. A sort of "consistent inconsistency"

    In other words, according to Big Bill, if you can effectively adapt your game to anyone, you're an all-courter.
     
  27. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    Last edited: Nov 26, 2009
  28. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    I'm curious ... but ... before everyone jumps all over me I have to confess that I didn't look at the complete thread ... my question: was wondering if we have a rough breakdown of the percentage of players (not counting pros) who play each of the different styles of play ... that would be interesting to me ... I'm thinking that the "all court" or "counter puncher" style players lead the pack ... what sayeth thou?
    ______________
    "... I don't drink beer often ... but when I do, my friends ... I always drink Dos Seques."
    (from The Most Interesting Man in the World)
     
  29. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    KK, how would you beat a 6a and 6b if you were a good 4.0 baseliner?
     
  30. Wegner

    Wegner Rookie

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    Kaptain Karl, this thread you started is one of the best ever. I'd love to discuss with you doing a video together. My personal e-mail is tennisoscar@aol.com
    Happy New Year,
    Oscar Wegner
    TennisTeacher.com
     
  31. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    I'd say that's a good "short and sweet" description. (One of my all-time favorite tennis books, BTW.)



    If I understood your post correctly, I'd say your preferred style is S&V ... when you are serving.



    Just off the top of my head (and remembering the median NTRP is 3.0)....

    1) Baseline
    2) Pusher
    3) Junk Baller
    4) Counter Puncher
    5) Attack the Net
    6) All Courter

    Many players I've met over the years *think* they are All Courters, when they are not even close. (An All Courter excels at any style.) Very few people can actually do that....




    The key to your answer, IMO, is your premise. A "good 4.0 baseliner" ought to be able to handle either a (6a) Soft-Baller / Pusher or a (6b) Retriever / Pusher. But you'll need to be patient and play your Baseliner game.

    Just be prepared to play 8-12 shots per point on average (versus 4-6 against your common opponent at 4.0). Let me know if you have specific questions about the matchup.



    Thanks, Oscar. I'll shoot you an e-mail.

    - KK
     
  32. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    I recently had a singles match against a 4.0 pusher who has slice forehands/backhands. He has shaky servers that don't give me much trouble. I was up 4-1 and ended up losing when I tried to play his pusher game (thinking it would mess his game up.) I thought about playing my game, keeping the balls deep and giving him the run, but it just seemed like he started adjusting. We have a best of 3 sets coming in a few weeks, so I'm still not sure if committing to my game will be enough to keep me from melting down when/if he ends up getting all those random free points that I'll probably give. I'm not very patient.
     
  33. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    ... thanks for the response, Kaptain ... I was thinking that probably "pushers" (... the bane of all players who like "to hit out") would be at the top of the list ... I was thinking that life would be a lot simpler without pushers ... I really need to get away from the notion that "classic strokes" and "style points" are important in tennis ... obviously, they are not ... as I have so rudely found out *smile* ... nice, thread Kaptain ... keep up the good work!
     
  34. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    That last sentence makes your match-up pretty tough. I have questions....

    Is one of his slice ground strokes clearly stronger than the other (FH / BH)? Which one?

    Does he run ... better / worse / the same ... vertically versus horizontally?

    How is he at the net? And how is your drop-shot? Your passing shots?

    Usually a poor server also has a poor overhead. How is your lob?

    How are you at attacking (really forcing or getting a clean winner) off his serve?

    How are you at taking advantage of a "short-ish" ball and driving it for the winner?

    Can you "pin" a player deep behind one corner with 3 or 4 ground strokes to the same deep corner?

    - KK
     
  35. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    He's clearly got a better bh slice. His fh is random, and I would compare it to Russian Roulette. :(

    He's better side to side than going up and back.

    He's better than me at the net, and my dropshots are HORRIBLE, but my disguise/passing shots are great against him and every other 4.0+ player I've encountered.

    My lob is HORRIBLE.

    My return game is improving, I'm learning how to control height/depth on the bh, and my fh is much deeper since I've improved my timing.

    I don't really get short balls to put away, since I am always babysitting the baseline, so I'll have to say I'm 50/50 on that. It's mostly a comfort issue when coming to the net.. :(

    Yes, I can def. do that with both sides. My concentration/discipline has improved, and so has my footwork/swingspeed. I'm no longer a victim of a full-on emotional meltdown.. only partly though at times.
     
  36. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Geez! You're not making this easy for "Coach KK." But I'll give you my best suggestions....

    I'm rearranging your replies to help you see why I asked what I asked.

    If you cannot drop/lob him with confidence, this tactic won't be helpful.

    For the future, I'd suggest you work on identifying when your shot will produce a weak/short reply ... quickly move in 4-6 steps (which for a classic baseliner means you have moved in behind the Service Line) ... and *pounce* on that short ball with a clearly forcing shot (which will produce an even weaker reply) or a winner.


    These data are helpful.

    Build a game plan around your ability to pin him, your FH Return and your comfort with your passing shots. (I know that seems "wrong". Bear with me....)

    With your FH Return and any time you get into a baseline exchange, PIN him into his BH corner with 3-4 driving shots. At least one of those ought to produce a weaker-than-normal reply with which you can "pretend" he's come to net and hit your passing shot toward the FH corner for a winner.

    Here's the key, you impatient player, you.... If his "russian roulette" FH happens to "work" that time, you need to play a little psychological trick on yourself. Instead of groaning to yourself, "Oh, this point will never end!," treat his successful FH return as the start of a new point. Just pin him on the FH side and hit your passing/winner to his BH side when he gives you a ball you can pounce on.

    Rinse and repeat.

    Also, if you don't have a drop-shot you can count on, but you do have the ability to hit a short ground stroke which he will use as an approach shot ... then you have two tactical approaches which work toward your favor. Just pass the snot out of him whenever he tires of being pinned and tries to come to the net.

    How's that...?

    - KK
     
  37. senna1rossi

    senna1rossi New User

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    great read!

    thanks. :)
     
  38. Kyle7286

    Kyle7286 Rookie

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    Great post!!! :D Thank you
     
  39. Wilander Fan

    Wilander Fan Hall of Fame

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    Just want to say that was a very interesting and enjoyable read. You should think about writing for tennis journals or magazines.
     
  40. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Why, thank you. I do write (sort of) ... for Talk Tennis!

    - KK
     
  41. John16

    John16 New User

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    Wow, one of the most interesting and complete pieces of writing I have ever seen concerning tennis. Nice job!
     
  42. Shadow Mix

    Shadow Mix Rookie

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    so.... can we say that the all rounders pwn all? Since they can adjust into playing various types of playstyles, btw If u all dont mind can u say what pwns what, like a cycle?


    Ill say what I think ok?
    Counterpunchers>S&V
    S&V>Baseliners
    Junk Ballers>Baseliners
    Counterpunchers>Junkballers

    Pusher depends on other players level right?
    All Rounder>all
     
  43. djokovicgonzalez2010

    djokovicgonzalez2010 G.O.A.T.

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    Is there such a thing as a pusher who is also friendly with the net? Cuz that's what I do...

    I do usually just push it back, though I also frequently drop shot/lob/heavily slice, but I also approach the net lots, usually off a heavy slice. Mental toughness and speed are my best parts, which fits with pusher or counterpuncher I guess.
     
  44. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Thanks!


    "pwns?" Sorry, I don't speak your language.


    You seem like a form of Junk Baller to me.

    - KK
     
  45. TheOneHander

    TheOneHander Professional

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    So I'm assuming "machine baseliner" is just another term for "grinder"?
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2010
  46. Mike2228

    Mike2228 Rookie

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    Are the classes the same for doubles players or are there entirely different classes all together?
     
  47. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Singles and Doubles are different enough I don't believe you can use these same player categories.

    - KK
     
  48. MixieP

    MixieP Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for an interesting thread!

    If one wants to spare one’s old body with its creaking joints and tender muscles, which of these playing styles would you recommend that one aspires to adopt?
     
  49. jack crack

    jack crack New User

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    From the perspective of a relative newcomer/late starter, this was a fantastic analysis.

    There is a counter-puncher 30 plus years my senior, who makes me work pretty hard as he waits to zap a corner shot/winner. No top spin, and a modest serve, but he knows how to use the tools he has.

    I don't mind though. He is largely responsible for motivating my ever deeper immersion into tennis obsession. Good friend too.

    Thanks KK
     
  50. phnx90

    phnx90 Hall of Fame

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    One of the people I used to play with is a junkball/pusher, it drove me nuts. He'd consistently produce very high lobs that landed on the baseline until I made a mistake. It drove me nuts.
     

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