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-   -   There is hope to get better. (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=448209)

NLBwell 12-14-2012 05:06 PM

There is hope to get better.
 
Many years ago I used to play Open-level tournaments. I then didn't play for a number of years and came back as a 5.0 level player. Age and injuries to my shoulder, elbow, ankle, and knee, some keeping me out of the game for lengthy periods of time, dropped me down to 4.0. I've been fighting a tear in my achilles tendon for the last couple of years which is slowly getting better and then last winter tore some cartilage in my shoulder. I played very little this summer, however I did practice what I was physically able to do.

I worked very hard on the backboard and drop-feeding myself trying to fix my strokes, re-learning them almost from scratch, and driving out the habit of lifting my head to look at the opponent which almost destroyed my game when I was teaching (lifting up to see what the students were doing during drills). As my shoulder and achilles gradually got better, I started hitting more seriously, and learning to serve with what range of motion I did have in my shoulder. With rest, time, and dissolving cartilage chips, everything gradually got better and I was able to hit with friends of mine fairly consistently. Still, I went out to the backboard or fed myself balls out of the basket working carefully on form almost every day - getting rid of the sloppy habits accumulated from injuries and lack of movement, working on every type of shot.
Finally, my shoulder felt much better and I started to learn to serve much more normally. I now go out and practice serves quite often, re-learning all my serves again. Not all the way there yet, but getting much closer.

I'm now often dominating in the higher level 4.5 doubles I play. I'm beating my friend I who I historically was even with. When coming back from injury he was beating me 6-0,6-2 or so pretty much every time. Thanks to him for putting up with me. Just beat a guy who I wouldn't even have thought of playing a few months ago because I would have had no chance, winning 6 of the last 7 games, just overpowering him.

There are two points to this:
1) Even though for long periods of time where it seemed improvement was not coming at all and I had thoughts that it was all in vain and I would now be a 3.5 player, all the work finally did pay off in getting my game together.
2) If someone is wanting to improve to a higher level, are they putting in the many hours on the practice court it truly takes to do it?

LeeD 12-14-2012 05:16 PM

Wish I had your dedication and determination.
Your first paragraph sorta parallels my tennis from the mid '70's.
I quit for motocross, then for windsurfing.
My third year regular practice partners were Div111 singles players, and a couple of top high school players. They often were also my doubles partners, and I was the poorest person with no transportation.
I haven't recovered from the windsurfing yet.

Cindysphinx 12-14-2012 06:18 PM

Congratulations on your improvement!

Drop feeding rocks. Way underrated way to practice. . . .

Mick 12-14-2012 06:25 PM

In my opinion, it is easier for a player like NLBwell to improve since he was once an excellent player before the injuries and time off. Bad players who don't have coaches can't fix their forms and usually lack the dedication needed to advance to the next level. It's much tougher for them.

LeeD 12-14-2012 06:28 PM

As usual, I disagree.
I suspect NL is close to my age, like SocialSecurity eligible.
As such, long practice sessions and drilling, some play, can quickly lead to injuries that are hard to recover from.
If he was 50, yes, he has a great chance to get back up to at least 4.5.
At 64, no chance, it's reality, injury is the NO. ONE factor that inhibits getting good.

NLBwell 12-14-2012 08:29 PM

I'm around halfway inbetween 50 and 64. So I guess I've got a half chance?

Still got a long ways to go in my movement before I'm a solid 4.5.

Mick 12-14-2012 08:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NLBwell (Post 7063960)
I'm around halfway inbetween 50 and 64. So I guess I've got a half chance?

four or five years ago there was a Mercedes-Benz commercial shown on TV where a guy went see to his doctor. After the examination, the doctor told the guy, "I don't know how to tell you but you only have 40 years left, 50 max." The guy left the doctor's office feeling down and out then he saw a Mercedes-Benz car, bought it, took up hang gliding, and engaged in other exciting activities.

Maybe you are like that guy, except your passion is tennis :)

maggmaster 12-15-2012 04:32 AM

Inspirational. For those of us who are younger but not kids and are trying to improve, this is a great example. Thanks man.

TimeToPlaySets 12-15-2012 04:55 AM

What is drop feeding?

dizzlmcwizzl 12-15-2012 06:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TimeToPlaySets (Post 7064282)
What is drop feeding?

Drop the ball ... and hit the ball over the net ... repeat. Then go pick them up.

TimeToPlaySets 12-15-2012 08:40 AM

Seems totally useless.

LeeD 12-15-2012 09:35 AM

Drop feeding is useless for lots of players.
But for some player's, it's useful to hit the ball with solid kinetics, like the first ball against a wall, so you get in practice to hit real balls, not slap shot first ball feeds in rallies.
Most of us play like we practice. Notice lots of guys on here feed the first ball with a side/underhand slap, and hit their forehands like that.
Not every player needs to concentrate on the first feed ball, but some do.

Avles 12-15-2012 10:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TimeToPlaySets (Post 7064507)
Seems totally useless.

Drop feeding is certainly limited but can be helpful for working on technique (if you do it mindfully).

A quick anecdote from Vic Braden--

"...about three days later I was at the Los Angeles Tennis club and Stan was out on the court like a beginner, throwing the ball up and working on a topspin backhand. He would let the ball bounce, take his racquet back at eye level, then drop down with his thighs and lift up as he hit the ball."

"Stan" is Stan Smith. If drop feeding was useful for him, it's probably potentially useful for most of us.

Another anecdote (based on memory, but I think it's accurate): somebody once asked Tony Larson on this board about how he mastered the 2hbh. If I remember right, Tony responded that one of the keys was when an instructor insisted that he use his backhand when feeding the ball to start rallies. Pretty powerful evidence that drop-feeding can make a difference.

Cindysphinx 12-15-2012 02:36 PM

Drop feeding is great for developing rec players, IME. If you don't have the budget for tons of instruction but you need to work on muscle memory or change one specific thing about your stroke, drop feeding is awesome.

I did a lot of it to get used to the feel of SW grip, for instance. I also taught myself to hit topspin lobs off of both wings that way. It's also very good for learning to put away mid-court sitters -- toss the ball up over the T, crush. It's probably one of the reasons why I like paceless balls.

I think drop feeding can be better (or maybe just different) than hitting off the wall. Most people I see hitting off the wall are slamming the ball, which is back on them quickly. So they do an incomplete swing to be ready. How is that helpful? With drop feeding, you can take your time and do the thing right so you build some muscle memory.

3fees 12-15-2012 04:15 PM

drop feeding is useful to work over and over on the same stroke to improve it,,eg, I had trouble with short ball put aways, did a lot drop feeds to get a feel for the shot, now its much better when playing.

OrangePower 12-15-2012 06:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mick (Post 7063823)
In my opinion, it is easier for a player like NLBwell to improve since he was once an excellent player before the injuries and time off. Bad players who don't have coaches can't fix their forms and usually lack the dedication needed to advance to the next level. It's much tougher for them.

This.

Big difference between "improving" to get closer to what was previously your level, vs improving to a level higher than you've ever previously been.

TimeToPlaySets 12-16-2012 07:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Avles (Post 7064626)
Another anecdote (based on memory, but I think it's accurate): somebody once asked Tony Larson on this board about how he mastered the 2hbh. If I remember right, Tony responded that one of the keys was when an instructor insisted that he use his backhand when feeding the ball to start rallies. Pretty powerful evidence that drop-feeding can make a difference.

Cool tip, actually.

goober 12-17-2012 06:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by maggmaster (Post 7064260)
Inspirational. For those of us who are younger but not kids and are trying to improve, this is a great example. Thanks man.

I admire his determination, but I am not inspired. In reality his overall net improvement is negative. He is just not as bad as he use to be but still not as good when he was at his peak. What is more inspirational a professional concert violin player that takes off 20 years from playing trying to get back to make first chair at his local community orchestra or a 40 year old adult that takes up violin that makes makes it ? The point is he doesn't have to learn anything. All the technique and ability have already been honed with thousands of hours of training previously. He really just retraining himself so his improvement from 3.5 to 4.5 is expected. An adult recreational player that started tennis in his 30-40s improvement to 4.5 is not necessarily expected and should not be compared.

Avles 12-17-2012 08:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by goober (Post 7067298)
. He really just retraining himself so his improvement from 3.5 to 4.5 is expected. An adult recreational player that started tennis in his 30-40s improvement to 4.5 is not necessarily expected and should not be compared.

I think that a lot of 30+ y.o. people at the 3.0-3.5 level are worried that their chances to improve significantly will be foreclosed by advancing age.

So it's inspiring to hear about someone on the older side (no offense NLBwell) getting back to a high level despite some health issues.

That doesn't mean we expect to replicate his progress-- just means that, like the thread title says, there is hope to get better.

dizzlmcwizzl 12-17-2012 01:23 PM

@ goober and Avles

Goober is right in fact that the OP getting back to 4.5 is not all that impressive. Players who have built up the muscle memory as a junior will always have a higher ceiling than the folks who came to the game late.

However, what you can be impressed with is making the effort after so long away from the game. I will tell you that once I stop playing tennis it will be golf full time, and you will never see another post from me again.

FWIW ... I am a 43 year old that did not start until my 30's and just this past year was bumped to 4.5 ... so it can be done. However, my strokes will always be unorthodox compared to someone that learned proper technique when they were 12. I will never be able to develop a 5.0 game with my current technique and I have neither the patience or the time to completely renovate my strokes.


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