Thoughts on why adults have a hard time learning how to hit with the right muscles.

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Alafter, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. Alafter

    Alafter Hall of Fame

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    It just came into my head as I was thinking about the meaning of using the right muscles to play in tennis.

    The answer is probably as simple as we are adults and we are much stronger than kids. That means our arm is strong enough to overcome the ball.

    On the other hand, a 5 years old kid probably find playing tennis is more like hitting a medicine ball, so he needs to find a way to overcome this. Then the kid is forced to use the entire body or fail. The kid retains what he learns, so going into adult hood he throws his whole body into the ball.

    I dunno, maybe a good way to understand how to hit with the body is to imagine what would you do if you were playing tennis with a medicine ball.
     
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  2. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the reason to this is simply more ingrained muscle memory and/or unwillingness to learn a new concept in the first place.
     
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  3. [osu]ilovecows

    [osu]ilovecows Rookie

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    I'm gonna have to disagree, although not completely. Even a skinny 12 year old is capable of arming the ball. Improper technique is merely a result of improper or lack of instruction. You see kids hitting with proper technique because they were taught that way. If a kid didn't have the proper instruction, they'd most likely just learn to arm the ball by themselves.
     
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  4. Nellie

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    Kids learn bad technique from being forced to hit with too heavy racquet/ tennis balls (which is why kids start with small light racquets and foam balls). You can always tell the kid who used a heavy racquet too early because they swing like lumber jacks. It is like basketball - you can see the bad technique in the kids who shot too heavy of a ball too young.

    In adults, you have ingrained muscled memory that is hard to overcome. For example, it is much hard to teach someone a good serve who has never thrown a ball because their weight shift and timing are really off.
     
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  5. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Here's why I think it is difficult for adults to learn proper technique:

    1) Alot of times they played few sports as children and did not develop great muscle coordination. Then as adults there is opportunity to take up tennis maybe due to their social status and they can't get over their lack of athletic ability developed.

    2) They have less one-on-one instruction available to them as there are more programs geared towards kids.

    3) No time or incentive to train hard. They don't have the incentive of making it onto a high school team or even getting a college scholarship. They don't have time to improve their game with hard work, so they take comfortable shortcuts such as the push-stroke for immediate success.

    4) They are stubborn and their ways are set. Ever heard the saying, "can't teach an old dog new tricks"

    5) They are more likely to suffer injuries and health problems that impede their ability to use certain parts of their body effectively.
     
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  6. ElMagoElGato

    ElMagoElGato Rookie

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    Too much teaching prevents learning in many cases. If you teach someone how to walk, chances are he even forgets how he naturally walked before.
     
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  7. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    This is not necessarily true. If a child is left to themselves, no matter how heavy or light the racquet is, a player has a high chance of developing improper technique in all or parts of their swing. Strength is a key but coordination is also a key. I learned tennis with a wood racquet that was regarded as being heavy.

    Sometimes. An athletic person can adopt a good swing through practice, shaping, and repetition. What I mean by shaping is one who is practicing good form and executing their swing.

    The trouble with kids and adults learning the game of tennis has to do more with the following:

    1. Practicing with a faster feed then they should: This usually comes from our past capabilities like hitting a baseball or puncing a beach ball. We do not consider that the control of a racquet head in a certain grip is that hard. That is until we see the ball fly high into the sky or dump the ball repeatedly into the net.

    2. Not ensuring good form is practiced and grooved. To many people (even here) we say "just do what comes naturally." Well, that could spell doom for a lot of people because they may have learned bad habits or bad form in other sports that they could bring in to tennis. Or a player just may not be mature enough with their coordination (both adult and kid).

    3. Not practicing and just playing matches or they are just recreationalist.

    4. Practicing one way (stroking the ball) and playing matches with another way (pushing).

    When adults learn different activities, the muscle learn to fire a certain way. Tennis is unique enough were it places demands on the muscles both gross and stabilizing to fire a certain way to shape a stroke and contact the ball.

    There is a lot being processed by the brain as it should. However, the naturalist claim that a player with all of these do's and don'ts are supressed to mediocrity because they have too much to think about. I dont agree with this.

    It is true that in order to improve in tennis, one will have to work hard. This means you will need to process a lot of information under stress to make things "natural" or automatic. Most adults never allow their practices to go this far.

    The human being has an amazing ability to adapt to its environment. Place the human under stress and what was once difficult becomes easy. This is the case with tennis. In the beginning, there is a lot to process. However, if one works hard at it, slowly the information that is being absorbed gets absorbed one by one and it becomes part of the player.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
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  8. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    We love to throw out these "phrases". What does "too much teaching" look like? How do you know when there is "too much teaching."
     
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  9. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    No. Just no. There is no such thing as too much repetition in tennis. This sport is frigging hard and to compare the complex motions that are acquired through endless repetition to something as basic as walking is simply a logical fallacy. If you want to excel in tennis, or anything for that matter, then you have to be willing to put in the hard yards.

    Matt

    P.S. Doh! Bill already beat me to it! :wink:
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
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  10. GeorgeLucas

    GeorgeLucas Banned

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    I think you hit it on there. Adults can compensate for lack of technique because of muscle.
     
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  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    My 1 cents worth...
    You find athletes in adults and in kids. Some peeps aren't ever gonna get it, other's find it easy.
    As adults, you have lived your childhood, so more chances of playing in some sports, whether it's soccer, pingpong, or basketball...whatever.
    As an 8 year old, you have just STARTED playing sports, and do not have the learned physiological skills that most older beginner tennis players have.
    So my take after all my BS.....
    If you start tennis as an athlete at 24, you get pretty good by 28, with little formal instruction. Older peeps tend to learn by association, research, video, TV, and talking to other players.
    If you start tennis as an athlete at 8, it might take you TEN years to reach the same level as the old fart.....but you have maybe 10 more tennis years within your physical prime.
     
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  12. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    It could be due to a lot of elements.

    The stage for motor skills and coordination is way past, and they simply won't develop necessary coordination to use their whole body into the shot.

    Also, time and commitment. When you are young, you have more time for sports and other things. You parents encourage it as well (not all do.)
     
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  13. MTXR

    MTXR Professional

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    I think this is true...
     
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  14. Alafter

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    Is my theory a complete fail?
     
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  15. mawashi

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    The old additch of can't teach old dogs new tricks comes to mind.

    It's always easier to start young. Less bad habits to remove.

    Start too old n moving becomes a problem in the first place LOL!

    mawashi
     
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  16. crystal_clear

    crystal_clear Professional

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    Well said.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Why to all you guys assume kids have more time for tennis in the learning stage than adults? Seems askewed.
    All the 15 year olds here on the forums say they play 1.5 hours a day, maybe 3 times a week.
    When I started tennis at 24, I played 4 hours a day 6 days a week the first few months, then when my leg started getting stronger (I was in a 13 pin, 11 break tib/fib compounder) I started playing 6 hours a day ON THE COURT 6 days a week for a couple of years. Most days, I'd leave the house at 8 in the morning and not return from tennis till well after 6PM.
    Maybe my case is unusual, my lots of my playing partners then AND NOW, hav at least 5 hours a day to play tennis, easily 5 days a week or more.
    Who do you guys hang out with anyways?
     
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  18. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    In a word, no.

    Not sure if you realized it or not in your OP, but the core principles that I saw based on your post was the importance of a strong work ethic and a desire to improve. This is key to anything in tennis and life in general. The most important thing a player can do for his development is learn how to help himself.

    Matt
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
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  19. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I dont think it is a complete fail. I think you have a point. I just think over the years I have taught tennis that it is the maturity or a kid's ability to process information such as the incoming ball, the information around him, and to coordinate the muscles to fire a certain way on time that is the main problem.

    If I toss a ball to my 5 year old child, their hand-eye coordination is not mature enough to handle and process the information received from the eyes. He may move his hand to the wrong place and miss catching the ball.

    The brain is receiving information and getting the muscles to move to the ball. However, because the brain calculated improperly because it is still learning, he doesnt catch the ball and is in a learning process.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
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  20. Kevo

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    I would say it's part of the equation, but the main thing is that adults are not great learners. Young kids are great imitators. If you get a kid young enough and let them watch someone who knows how to play, many kids will over a short-ish span of time start swinging like the person they are watching.

    Adults aren't nearly that malleable. Their brains are already wired for all sorts of things, and those things will naturally influence the way they try to hit the ball.
     
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  21. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Hmmmm...adults aren't great learners? I dont agree with that. Adults learn differently than kids do. Unfortunately, may coaches do not recognize the need to present information differently to an adult vs. a child.

    And kids may try to imitate their "heros", however, it does not mean they are doing it correctly.

    I think a lot of "players" here on this site dismiss the difficulty in coaching players of all ages and think tennis unlike any other sport only needs someone to do it to get it.

    If this were the case, we would see a lot more 5.0 tennis players than we do 3.5 players who push the ball.
     
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  22. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Yes!

    Your post highlights one key aspect of the vital differences between a child and an adult (not to necessarily be confused with a real man or women, of course): stubborness.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
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  23. Kevo

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    Maybe I didn't say that very well, but I hope you got my point about children having empty sponges for brains, and adults have full sponges with water pouring out their ears.

    I'm not saying that adults can't learn, just that it's a totally different process. I like the analogy from the movie No Retreat No Surrender. I'm sure this was taken from earlier Zen teaching or something, but in the movie an imaginary Bruce Lee was teaching the main character. Bruce picked up a glass of coke and poured it out. He then refilled the glass with water. He told his student that he needed to get rid of his own knowledge to make room for what he was going to teach him. Little kids have nothing to pour out. They just take in the new.
     
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  24. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Exactly. Also, since they have nothing to pour out, they also have no ego to tell them that they know better than the voice of experience.

    Matt

    P.S. Mail sent, Bill. I know you're a busy guy though.
     
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  25. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I have taught tennis to kids and some kids are very difficult to teach. Many of them have ADD and I dont mean this in a medical way.

    Learning for both adults and kids can vary. Many adults have a deep desire to learn and will listen and most importantly practice. Some don't.

    The same with kids. Some kids are excellent learners and are eager to learn how to better themselves. Some goof-off, are stubborn, whine, distract other kids, or are only there because their parents told them to go.

    Some coaches end up being babysitters for kids.

    However, when it comes to learning, both adults and children learn differently and it is paramount that a tennis instructor positions their lessons with this understanding.
     
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  26. Tomek_tennis

    Tomek_tennis New User

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    Athletic adults (who trained sports like basketball) learn very fast, maybe even faster than kids. They have more mental blocks. I hear "I am to old" from 30 years olds so often...
     
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  27. MordredSJT

    MordredSJT Rookie

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    Everyone can have a hard time learning to hit with the right muscles. Some people just pick it up and get it...others it can be a constant struggle. This is regardless of age. We have a seven year old boy here at our tennis center who (if he sticks with it) is going to be a big time player...at least in the younger age divisions...after that his physical development is going to play a bigger role. He just picked up a racquet and without much instruction was already stroking the ball competently...now after about a year and a half of top notch instruction (with proper sized equipment) he looks like a mini-professional player. I've taught other kids who have trouble standing on two feet and not falling over...it's the same for adults.

    I happen to be doing a lot of experimenting with the inclusion of isolated drills and muscle activation exercises in conjunction with my technical instruction, and I have had some very positive results so far.
     
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  28. goober

    goober Legend

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    Uh some of us have jobs and families. I at work about 60 hours a week and have 3 kids. There is no way I am fitting the kind of tennis that you are putting in. Not that I wouldn't mind having that much time. But unless you are independently wealthy or just don't have any responsibilities other than yourself, I don't see how most adults could possibly do something that resembles your schedule.

    All my playing partners are in similar situations. The ones that can play 5-6 times a week have no kids or kids that are old enough that they don't have to be with them all the time.
     
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  29. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    As you said.... SOME OF US ....
    Not everyone !
    The crowd I play with, mostly 5 days a weekers, didn't have to work 1/2 as often as you, most much less.
    Work is fun and great and all that, but so is playing tennis.
    We live ONE life. You may choose your circumstances.
     
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  30. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Read this. He knows what he is talking about. This is true and accurate about what really happens in learning both from kids and adults.
     
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  31. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yeah, for sure...
    Some peeps, regardless of age, pick stuff up quickly and naturally.
    Some peeps, regardless of age, pick stuff up never and resist any help.
    Dat's some peeps for ya....
     
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  32. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    ^^^^^what's with the "peeps". :)
     
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  33. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    I look at it from a social aspect:

    1) Many adults will play doubles (mixed or otherwise). You can easily get by with just using your arm.

    2) In adult tennis, there is pressure from the start to "just keep the ball in play". It would not be much fun to play with a guy who is just learning that insisted on taking full swings. He will spray the ball all over the court, be very easy to beat, and be a boring partner. After a short time, this guy will have trouble finding any matches. He quickly learns that is is more socially acceptable to just push the ball back and keep the rally going. So that is what he does. These strokes are ingrained.

    3) Time. As mentioned, adults will play a few hours per week. Most certainly won't want to spend this time practicing fundamentals. They just want to play. And, they will play as outlined in (2) above.

    I started playing as a 29 year old. The only partner I had for the first 3 years was a ball machine and a serve basket. Every time I played the old guys at the park, they killed me (they pushed the ball back until I made an error).

    These days I beat the old guys easily. I just turned 36.
     
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  34. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Oh sure. I was actually referring to really young kids though who haven't "learned" enough yet to think that ignoring the voice of experience is a smart idea though. Teenagers don't count here, they're in a league of their own, LOL!!!!!!!!!!

    As for the ADD thing, I'm 100% opposed to the entire concept. IMO, the entire concept of science is merely based around giving fancy names to God's creations anyway, so to simply prescribe them personality killers such as Ritilin when in reality, all that is really needed in the first place is DISCIPLINE.

    But this is another post altogether.
     
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  35. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Sorry BBill, I post quite often in the surfing forums...
    I don't think we can catagorize "adults" as having a certain # of hours to play or a certain mindset to improve, or having skill and motor contraints.
    Most players, NOT ALL, have a notion of their abilities and once they exceed their skill levels, tend to back off and play at lower levels. Those who don't, I just blast my first serves at, volley into their shoes, and hit deep returns to their feet and volley away the next ball :):) just kidding, I know I'm not good enough to do dat :confused:
    Couple players at my low level insist on standing in against my serves. Like 2' inside the baseline. I hit flat into their hitting side hips, slices into the body, twists into their bodys and out wide, and laugh as they return, even by lobbing, less than 10%. You'd DINK us old folks would learn after 90% unsuccessful rates, but alas NO, old folks can be just as stuborn as the young. and some old folks can spell, udders just can't...
     
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  36. Chauvalito

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    Cerebellum
     
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  37. Chauvalito

    Chauvalito Hall of Fame

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    There are many many kids, adolescents, and adults out there who are eager to learn, want to learn, and try to learn but are hindered by ADHD.

    The description of the kids which you find hard to teach above does not in any way describe someone with ADHD. They may be children who misbehave, but they certainly do not have ADHD, as far as what you described above.
     
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  38. Chauvalito

    Chauvalito Hall of Fame

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    The question posed in this thread can be answered very easily with varying degrees of nuance by simply reading about the development of the skeletal and motor systems, and especially noting the differences in the abilities to learn COMPLEX MOTOR MOVEMENTS as a function of age.

    Roger Federer is Roger Federer because he started playing tennis at a VERY young age.

    Yo Yo Ma is quite possibly the greatest chello player ever because he started to play at a very young age.

    You could take anyone over the age of 21, and if you attempted to teach/learn the game to reach the professional level it would never happen. They may become great 4.0-5.5 level players with good strokes, but it would be nearly impossible to reach the professional level.

    I should say however that there can be exceptions.
     
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  39. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Huh? What? Did I give a description? I didnt know I did.

    Did I say THE CHARACTERISTICS OF CHILDREN WITH ADHD ARE THE FOLLOWING...? DID I?

    DID I?

    I didnt even mention ADHD. Before you decide to debate this topic with me, you best be prepared. What I do not like is when someone like you reads into things and starts running at the mouth about something you think I said.

    Also, I have already mentioned that their are children that are eager to learn and others that aren't serious about learning or the topic they are learning. Did you read that before you decided to "chime" in? Did you read that I also feel the same about adults and that some learn well and others struggles depending on a variety of issues. Did you?

    There is nothing in that paragraph that indicated or implied "the following characteristics are children with ADHD." Get real.

    I didnt describe anything about ADHD. YOU THINK I DID. You took an isolated paragraph and twisted my words into meaning that the kids that goof-off, are stubborn, whine, distract other kids, or are only there because their parents told them to go, all have ADHD.

    So, Dr. Phil, read it again - slowly. LOL
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
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  40. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    No offense, but I think you have unrealistic expectations of the kind of time a typical adult can or should put into tennis. Like the thread with the guy who wants to be a 4.0, you told him to spend 6 hours a day playing tennis. Well probably 99% of adults do not have 6 hours on ANY day to put into tennis. I am obsessed with tennis and my wife would divorce me if I attempted to put in that kind of hours into this sport. Not only that, but its nearly impossible to find unlimited court time because there is always more demand than supply of courts in most places...unless of course you don't have a job and can play during the weekdays.
     
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  41. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, you might say it's unrealistic to expect to make 4.0 WITHOUT playing 6 hours a day, at least 5 days a week ....
    If you have somewhat lofty goals, you gotta put in the groundwork, the dedication, and the hours to allow your body and mind to get there.
    The ultimate goal of 4.0 tournament tennis level is not something you achieve by hocus pocus, short cut tips, wishing and hoping, fricken or praying.
    You gotta put in the hours!
    You already know that. I'm just reemphasizing it.
    Remember, we don't all start out with the natural skills, quickness, eyesight, speed, and temperament to be good tennis players, so that takes a bit of time also.
    The notion of playing 1.5 hours a day, 3 days a week is ridiculous. That just gets you to 3.0 tournament level AT BEST.
    If you don't have the time to put in, don't make such lofty goals! Be realistic.
     
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  42. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Haha, yeah, it's not exactly a coincidence that sometimes the best players have a horrible personal life. Just look at Henin.
     
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  43. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    THANK YOU, Dj for life...:twisted::twisted:
     
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  44. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    What are you off about now, dude? :)
     
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  45. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Geez, I say your post in RIGHT ON and you can't figure it out ?????
    That's EXACTLY why almost every good tennis player has a wierd, askewed home life while they're practicing and playing. NO TIME.
    You think ANY top pro had a normal childhood? NO WAY !!
     
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  46. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I know what it takes to improve, but I think 6 hours a day is a waste of time for most people because doing something wrong for 6 hours is not as good as doing it right for 2 hours. Based on what I've seen, I think you could probably make it to 4.5 without putting in the hours you mention. I think 5.0 is something special and will take some serious dedication, but I think 4.5 is a respectable level for an adult to achieve while still having a social life. I have seen the difference between myself (low 4.0) and a 4.5 (computer-rated), and skillwise it is not that big a jump.
     
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  47. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Hahaha, hello pot, I'm kettle.

    How would I know that when your posts frequently go off topic and your opinions seem to change every few hours or so? No beef against you personally..... just saying.
     
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  48. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Hey, I'm wierd, had a really askewed childhood, never had any ambition, and still am a homeless person:)
    Of course we can't expect to communicate normally. I'd assume most of you all have families, friends, relatives, and social commitments.
    I got only my sports :shock::):shock:
     
    #48
  49. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    5,484
    Location:
    Stillwater, OK
    Well, my childhood certainly wasn't normal either, not that it ever has an effect on someone's personality, mind you.
     
    #49
  50. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,146
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    But back to post 46.
    Why would you assume that practicing 6 hours a day means you have bad strokes?
    Even as a finalist in my first C tournament (3.5 maybe), all the good players said the basic strokes were there, where did I pick them up from?
    Why do you need bad strokes?
    In my day, like 1978's, most everyone used Easternforehands. Mine was conti side of eastern. Two handed flat, topped, or side backhand. BIG first serves and hit the oval fuzz outta the second serve. Volleys continental and moving forwards. Turned sideways on all overheads. Two hander promotes strong backhand overheads.
    Where was my strokes bad? That's end of second year in tennis.
    Not everyone NEEDS bad strokes to start out tennis.
     
    #50

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