who's natural? who's manufactured?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by dunc88, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. dunc88

    dunc88 New User

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    sorry if this is a topic that's been discussed ad nauseum

    do all top tennis players have preternatural sporting abilities or are a lot of them only good because they've been hitting balls since they first learned to walk?
    if you took any old kid and trained him from the age of say 4 surely he'd end up pretty skillful...

    and then there's also the question of having natural tennis abilities vs being a natural athlete? clearly justine henin is a more natural tennis player than sam stosur - but if the two were to compete in a triathlon I'm guessing stosur would come out on top.

    anyway it's definitely a topic that interests me
    any thoughts on these topics?
     
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  2. supineAnimation

    supineAnimation Professional

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    It's a mix, I suspect, at least in the ATP. I don't really follow women's tennis. Obviously some of the guys - Federer, Nadal, Tsonga, among others - are sick natural athletes, while others are able to succeed without out-of-this-world natural athleticism. Lendl, I read, was considered only an average athlete at best, but he worked so hard on his game and his conditioning, particularly in a time when being supremely well-conditioned wasn't a necessity, that he was able to be extremely dominant. But I think these days it's tougher for those kinds of players because virtually everyone is in killer shape and the best training and dieting regimens are commonplace. There are players like Ferrer who have one outstanding natural gift (speed) without much else who are able to combine that with incredible hard work and guile to get into the top ten, but I think it's becoming rarer and rarer.
     
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  3. Winky

    Winky Guest

    Since there are sooooo many people who try to be pro athletes and only a tiny tiny handful that make it, these days you pretty much need all of the above, plus luck.

    You need natural physical ability, great instruction, a healthy strong body, and lots of luck (avoiding injury, getting that lucky bounce at match point, etc.)

    I played golf in high school with some great players including Tiger Woods and was groomed to be a pro player, but it never happened. I had the hand-eye coordination, the instruction, but I wound up a 5'8" small-framed guy and Tiger wound up 6'1" and well proportioned for the game. There was no way, given my genetics, I could ever compete with the top 100 players in the world, so oh well.

    My point being, these days the top players are the ones who have it all. And if we were to rewind history and throw in a few different lucky or unlucky bounces, we might have a completely different group of players in the tennis top 20.
     
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  4. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    Good athlete is someone that would be good at other sports. These guys have a advantage because they are more cordinated, better hand eye, better movement-balance.

    American tennis suffers as a sport because most athletes tend to pick other sports.
     
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  5. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    um, KJ Choi ?

    he is only 5'8"
     
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  6. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    You really think the drive makes that much difference?
     
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  7. Winky

    Winky Guest

    Yeah, I knew that someone would come along and point out some pro who is the same size as I, as if it proves that I would be in the exact same place as he if I continued. It never fails to happen.

    Suffice it to say, I got to the end of high school and realized that to go on trying to compete at high levels at my size would be a real long shot. Today's sports are built on power, and bigger guys are going to hit harder shots at those high levels of play. When Tiger's hitting a 7-iron into the green and I'm hitting a 4-iron, he has a tremendous advantage. If KJ Choi overcame that, then more power to him. I didn't, and wasn't prepared to spend years playing the Pakistani Tour or whatever just to see if I ever made it.

    These days being under 6'0" is a tremendous hurdle to overcome for any man aspiring to be a pro athlete. The fact that a few people make it despite being small is an exception that proves the rule.

    But this is all beside the point... I think you need to have it all to compete in the highest ranks. And even if you have it all and are the best in the world hands down, if you sprain a wrist at the wrong time, get into a car accident and hurt your back, or have some sort of genetic weakness that manifests itself at age 20 or whatever, you can be out of the running forever just like that.
     
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  8. Winky

    Winky Guest

    Dude, this isn't a topic about my golf experiences. Power makes a difference. I didn't have it, which is why I now practice law rather than bunker shots :)
     
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  9. adlis

    adlis Professional

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    One example is 2006? DIII singles champion will boe who has got a solid game with wins over dozens of ranked pros but he has failed to gain a single ranking point

    http://www.itftennis.com/mens/players/activity.asp?player=100003276
     
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  10. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    I know, but it's always interesting to hear the storys. Just tiger doesn't strike me as some powerful guy. Even though i know he has sick technique-club speed and can drive 300+.
    But i always thought if you could hit 260ish, that a pro should be able to shoot under on any course.

    Power makes a difference in tennis also which is obvious.
     
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  11. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    there are plenty of guys under six foot making a living,

    Luke Donald 5'9"
    Camilo Villegas 5'9"

    Rod Pampling 5'10"
    Rory McIlroy 5'10"
    Sergio Garcia 5'10"

    i could probably find more.. dont make your height an excuse for falling short (pun ;) )
     
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  12. Winky

    Winky Guest

    Pound-for-pound Tiger was the strongest guy in the Stanford weight room. He is an extremely powerful player and has been accused on more than one occasion of juicing. I don't know if he does, but he is *extremely* strong. Guys who trained with Tiger in college were dumbstruck at how physically powerful he is.
     
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  13. adlis

    adlis Professional

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    Define power.




    Dent can hit 150 mph bombs but he has terrible movement and is constantly injured because of his strong 6'1 220lb+ frame.


    Gonzo has got one of the biggest forehands on tour but no backhand .

    I think you need the full package in tennis, this isnt mlb.





    Golf isnt a sport, do you ever hear stories of tennis pros having Gastric bypass procedures?
     
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  14. Winky

    Winky Guest

    "Plenty" and you name a half dozen? :) How many guys tried and failed? For every guy in your "plenty" there are 10,000 who failed. A 1 in 10,000 shot just ain't good odds in my book, for all the work and sacrifice that being a pro athlete takes.

    Furthermore, I don't know of anybody who goes into pro sports to 'make a living.' Guys go into pro sports to be the best. The touring lifestyle is not an easy one and there are better ways to live if all you want to do is make a living. Who wants to spend his life on planes and in hotels, as well as deal with injuries and fatigue and pains for the rest of his life, just to make a living?
     
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  15. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    It's interesting that lifting weights didn't throw off his game.
     
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  16. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    many failures and fewer success stories occur in any sport

    its funny you seem to only lump short statured people into the "failed to make it" category when there would definitely be similar numbers with taller people.. for whatever reason, people try and fail and obviously there are thousands who dont make it.. im pointing out examples of shorter people since it is not impossible

    And when i say make a living, obviously these guys are making more money than most
     
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  17. Winky

    Winky Guest

    It's always interesting to me that so many people I talk to don't understand how difficult it is to be a top-100 ranked pro athlete in any sport. I'm telling you, it's almost impossible. I think it's because you just don't see all the people who tried and failed. They're not on TV because they failed. So you just see the winners, and don't realize that for every winner there are 100,000 losers at least. And 1,000 of those losers were just a hair away from being that winner.

    I played with probably 1000 kids over the years in tournaments around the western US while in Jr. High and High School. Except for Tiger, not one of them was ever seen on a leaderboard in any major tournament, ever.

    I remember one girl who played with the guys. She was very good, could beat most of the men, and was a sure thing for the women's tour. She is the only person I played with other than Woods I ever heard anything of, ever. This girl spent her entire childhood playing golf, and was one of the best female golfers in California when I was growing up. So good that she played against the guys. Here's what she did in her pro-golf career:

    http://www.duramedfuturestour.com/PlayerBios/BoothKellee.html
     
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  18. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    The opposite of not powerful.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
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  19. Blake0

    Blake0 Hall of Fame

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    It's both like someone said above. I'm sure 99% of the top pro's started playing before 10 yrs old, and played other sports too (esp soccer). When they grew older they focused more on tennis.

    You could take any 4 yr old and train him and he'd end up very skillful, but there are so many things that could go wrong, i.e. injury, limited potential, mentally/physically limited, $, etc.
     
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  20. Winky

    Winky Guest

    No, that's what you've decided to focus on. My point was that you need to have *everything*... if you have one thing that makes it more difficult for you to compete--and in modern sports that's largely physical power which involves stature--then you almost assuredly will fall out.

    It has nothing specifically to do with being short, it has to do with not being optimally structured for the sport. If you were a tall jockey you would be at a severe disadvantage and would fail. There aren't a whole lot of 6'1" jockeys because that's not an optimum physical stature for the sport. You all are focusing on the height, I'm focusing on the fact that these days you really can't have any weaknesses. You need it all, plus luck, to compete at the highest levels.
     
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  21. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Tennis is a skill based sport that is becoming increasingly athletic, so it is a mixture of raw talent and practice with today's pros.

    There are some very good ball strikers out there at the junior level who will never be top 100 pros because they lack the athletic movement ability of the top pros.
     
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  22. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    No, you decided to post your own experience and zeroed in on your genetic short coming, namely your height..

    its fair enough that it is extremely difficult to make it in any sport.. and obviously the right make up puts you at an advantage, but all im pointing out is that short comings aside, sometimes it actually does pan out.. height aside, i guess these guys had that something extra that got them there
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
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  23. Winky

    Winky Guest

    Not just height but small frame. KJ Choi is 45 lbs heavier than I. But again, you're missing the point yet again.

    My point, let me make it yet again! is that I felt I couldn't compete because my physique was and is non-optimal for the sport of golf.. or indeed tennis.. or basketball... or volleyball. If I had tried to become a jockey, my genetic shortcoming would have been that I was too tall.

    Come on guys, this concept isn't so hard to grasp is it?
     
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  24. adlis

    adlis Professional

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    Ok clown Define The opposite of not powerful in terms of tennis p3wnage.

    Talking about fat nobody golfers?
     
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  25. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    Strictly buy numbers there is usually only 1 best in the world in a sport like tennis and golf. That's a staggering number when you think about it. Even top 100.

    It's not rocket science though. If the person has the talent they need to play and compete against pro's. Eventually if the person is good enough he-she will start to win. How many players truely were able to play-train alot against pro's and failed? In golf you play the course. You are failing at beating the course. In tennis, you lose to your opponent.

    Most d1 kids play other college kids. They won't be pro's because they don't train against pro's. And if they ever do play against one, it would be like a first time thing. But i agree, the odds are heavily stacked against anybody becoming a top 100 pro. But they really are impossibility if you don't train like one and play other pro's.
     
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  26. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    yes i know what youre getting at..

    but if your only retort to Choi being heavier was the issue.. well, gaining weight, muscle is not that hard.. these guys, despite their shortcoming still made it in the big league.. talent and ability aside, they had the mental fortitude and drive to make it also.. their physical traits were not optimal, but they found a way..

    this obviously isnt across the board, its impossible for everybody to be a jockey, height aside, they have weight restrictions.. im not disputing some sports are more prone to requiring certain attributes, but i only cited golf as my example
     
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  27. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    I take it you are not a powerful player then? Do you run around your backhand alot like federer and hit weak serves?
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
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  28. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    someone has a beef with golf..
     
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  29. canuckfan

    canuckfan Semi-Pro

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    I think winky is just being honest about his weaknesses as a golfer. He's not claiming to be as skilled as any tour pro of the same height. There may indeed be other factors that make KJ Choi a PGA pro (and multiple winner). Winky isn't denying that. He's just saying that his build was a hurdle that put him at a major disadvantage.

    You're kind of implying that he's kidding himself and he didn't have the heart or determination. There's no way for you to know since you don't know him, so why not lay off the guy? He's not bragging or being a jerk.
     
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  30. longnt80

    longnt80 New User

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    You need a lot more than athletic ability to become a pro. Athletic ability is very much overated.

    First, finacial. It is not coincident that rich countries dominate the Olympic. Without money you won't be able to produce athletes.

    Second, lifestyle. As Winky has point out, to become a pro you need to live a different lifestyle which many find difficult to deal with.

    Third, culture. Many Asian countries don't look at sport as a living. They only consider it as luxury or a game. I know many guys who very good footballers but don't want to become pro because they want to follow a "real" career such as: engineer, doctor, lawyer,...
     
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  31. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Tennis takes both athletic ability and training. With tennis being a world sport and more people playing you need to be more athletic then ever. This is why the US is losing out - we aren't getting the best athletes in it..

    So the premise of this thread is bogus. Everyone is both natural and manufactured. Without extensive training from a young age you won't be a pro player and without considerable physical gifts you can't be a top pro.
     
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  32. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    So... Federer's NOT a powerful player? News to me...

    I'm totally cool with the concept that you can get to the #1 position for 200+ consecutive weeks without being a powerful player (Hewitt did 100+).

    The issue is that you didn't believe you could do it, so you couldn't.

    You're limited mainly by what you believe is possible and what isn't. There are other things that slow you down, but plenty of great people push through that and become the best.

    Justine Henin is a tiny woman, yet she has a beastly game all over the court except on overheads... LOL
     
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  33. Winky

    Winky Guest

    Right.. that was the only thing holding me back. All the tens of thousands of guys and girls who fail to make it to number one just didn't believe they could do it ;)

    That's a very democratic and western and egalitarian ideal of yours--that we can all do anything we want if we just want it enough. It's something Anglo-American culture cherishes as one of its great societal tenets.. but it's totally unrealistic.
     
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  34. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Honestly, after a few harsh losses, people lose hope and start doubting.

    Federer knew he'd be at the top, WANTED to be at the top, worked hard to get to the top, and FOUGHT HARD to get to the top. He knows how to win. He didn't give up. Sure he has some amazing skills to work with, but the thing that held him back in the beginning of his career was his head. He had the belief, but he'd lose his focus on himself and his game as soon as a few things didn't go his way.

    Plus, only one person at a time can be #1. Why do you even have to be #1? Being top 100 professional in golf is way more than enough to support yourself while doing what you love.

    For tennis, it's a little tougher... Top 100 status isn't such a great margin for making ends meet.
     
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  35. dunc88

    dunc88 New User

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    I think it's a bit harsh saying the premise of this thread is bogus.
    I just wanted to discuss what makes a top tennis player. Is athletic ability everything...I don't think so.

    For instance, a video was just posted on tennis.com of Agnieszka Radwanska having a go at gold. You'd think she'd be a natural considering that, like tennis, gold demands a high degree of hand-eye coordination. Yet she almost misses the ball. (http://www.youtube.com/WTA#p/u/2/WKM_fUFPBlw)

    Similarly, when sharapova went on the ellen degeneres show she was challenged to game of table tennis - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vAhPZvsx84okay. I know she wasn't exactly taking it seriously, but even so you'd think she'd be a bit better at it.
     
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  36. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Not exactly her sport. Plus, she's a natural lefty. :p
     
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  37. Ultra2HolyGrail

    Ultra2HolyGrail Hall of Fame

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    You've got the mindset but does that translate YOUR game to becoming a pro? Do you think you are going to be a pro. It's easy to say, hard to do.
     
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  38. Winky

    Winky Guest

    Hey, whatever lets you sleep at night. If you want to believe that all it takes is willpower and desire and hard work, then go for it. I do tend to make lots of western people very nervous when I tell them that my ability to play professional sports was limited by something completely out of my control. It doesn't sit well with most people, who believe that one should be able to accomplish anything one sets one's mind to.

    Interestingly, people I talk to from more stratified cultural backgrounds--societies where there are distinct social classes and little social mobility--understand exactly what I'm talking about: there are some things that you just can't have, and you can't do anything about it.

    It's alarming to many what little control they have over their lives. And then there are some who are "born on third base and truly believe they hit a triple." :)
     
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  39. Mr_Shiver

    Mr_Shiver Semi-Pro

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    I agree. I am American and realized this when I started traveling around the world, third world countries especially. I don't want get into a debate with anyone so I will leave it at that.
     
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  40. dunc88

    dunc88 New User

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    ^ I agree. It's sort of an insulting statement ... there are so many things people wish they could do but can't and it's not for a lack of willpower.
     
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  41. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    actually, based on the level he mentioned he was at, i am in awe as i know how hard golf is.. just being able to properly compress that little ball with proper technique is hard enough let alone achieving the lofty standards of the elite.. he is implying its practically impossible, when in fact it is possible, thats all
     
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  42. Winky

    Winky Guest

    I'm "implying" that it's almost impossible to become one of the greats of a sport, that's all, and was using my own experiences as a reference. My point was that you need "all of the above"--proper training, athleticism, raw talent, the correct physique, lots of luck, everything--to make it as a pro. Everybody you see winning pro sports on TV these days is both a natural and is manufactured and is very lucky to be there.

    Anyway, I made my point to the extent I wanted and now I'm done. Take it for what it's worth.
     
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