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-   -   Does Modern Tennis Exist? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=449122)

JohnYandell 12-26-2012 07:52 PM

Does Modern Tennis Exist?
 
Obviously modern tennis exists, at least in so far as you believe this is the modern age and that in it some of the best tennis imaginable is being played by great, great champions.

But the reality is that there is no hard distinction between modern and classical tennis. Elements that are commonly labeled "modern" have always been a part of the game going back to the 19th century. This includes extreme grips, over the shoulder wraps, reverse and windshield wiper finishes, swinging volleys, as well as the whole spectrum of hitting stances.

And many of the key elements of classical tennis are still critical in the modern game. Eastern grips among top 10 players to start. Then the immediate initiation of preparation through the unit turn, the full coiling of the torso through the left arm stretch, and the upward, outward and right to left components on the forward swing--all mixed in different degrees to create swing arcs that have different levels of extension, height of finish, hand and arm rotation, velocity and spin. And that's just on the forehand.

The same false distinction is often made in teaching--classical versus so-called modern teaching. The claim is that the majority of coaches teach "traditionally" and that this doesn't result in the benefits of a "modern" approach--and further that the lack of American players at the top of the game is expalined by this single factor. This so called failed traditional approach includes the huge majority of American coaches including, paradoxically, the coaches who have produced our greatest champions. None of that is true.

But the deepest irony here is that the so-called modern approach is not based on accurate descriptions of the strokes of the very players it purports to take as models to teach everyone in the world at all levels to "play like the pros." They are misunderstandings of the fundamentals running from the classical thru the modern age, as well as the myriad variations, and in the shifts in emphasis and prevelance of important elements over time, something that has been largely the by product of the changes in rackets and especially string.

When these criticisms are detailed the response is often that that the lack of correspondence between actual pro modern technique and "modern" teaching is "irrelevant" because teaching technique is all about producing the right result.

And that point at least is true. In my own work I have since the 1980's used what I call the concept of over compensation at times to exaggerate some physical component of the stroke in order to move the overall motion in the direction I felt correct.

There is no argument about that. But you can't have it both ways at the same time: lay out supposed descriptions of what pros do and then say that those descriptions aren't in fact what they do, those descriptions are just teaching devices. If that were true how then would you even know those devices were working? You have now rejected your own reference points for what is "pro" technique.

Let's face it, if tennis technique wasn't so dynamic and difficult to understand, there wouldn't be so much impassioned debate. And that debate will always go on and has the potential at least to be healthy.

There are incredible resources available to any sincere student of the game--extensive high speed archives of the strokes of the top players, and now the further game changing emergence of 3D data bases and the potential to measure players in 3D in real time.

My belief is that the first step is a clear understanding of how players actually hit the ball and the incredible diversity of elements and stroke variations. This is a vast and at times daunting task. It is something I have spent 15 years working towards, in conjunction with dozens of elite coaches worldwide, starting with our groundbreaking first live pro high speed filmings in 1997.

This understanding provides the reference universe for creating and evaluating the potential range of teaching techniques and their application to players at all levels, to various appropriate extents.

TomT 12-26-2012 08:10 PM

A most interesting thread starter. Thanks for posting JY. I'll be following this thread. Always great to hear what serious, talented, and articulate students/researchers of the game of tennis have to say about it.

JohnYandell 12-26-2012 08:19 PM

Tom T,

Thank you sir for your words.

arche3 12-26-2012 09:39 PM

JY,
Are you actually a tennis coach or just study the mechanics of tennis?

arche3 12-26-2012 09:44 PM

What is your take on mastering technique vs. Winning at a young age for kids? Is it better to win with bad strokes or lose with proper technique as you compete as a junior. Say 10-14. Boys and girls.

Head Pegger 12-26-2012 09:46 PM

IMO I don't care what others label it
Tennis is, and always will be, TENNIS

TomT 12-26-2012 09:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Head Pegger (Post 7080940)
IMO I don't care what others label it
Tennis is, and always will be, TENNIS

What have others labeled it?

JohnYandell 12-26-2012 09:50 PM

Arche,

I started as working teaching pro in the early 1980s. I coached multiple sectionally ranked juniors in norcal, coached high school tennis for 30 years--355 wins and 14 titles, thank you--as well, as teaching the whole gamut of adult players from total beginners to nationally ranked senior players.

I started producing instructional videos and doing filming in the mid 1980's. I developed a reputation and an expertise in technical stroke analysis which has been the major focus of my work since.

The higher level coaching I have done has been as a technical consultant, filming, analyzing and making suggestions on court as well as off court for probably at this point a few hundred elite juniors, college players, satelite players, and wta and atp tour players.

I have been fortunate to work with some of the top players in the world as well as their coaches in this capacity, including players who won multiple slams and many others who played in the top 100.

JohnYandell 12-26-2012 10:01 PM

Arche,

As for the other question, it's a great one. Confidence is founded on winning and unless you win you don't stay too long in the brutal world of junior sanctioned tournament play.

At the same time, technical, tactical and mental limitations are often obvious in young successful players.

I am not a developmental coach. That's not my interest or expertise, although I provide technical info and feedback to many high level ones.

So the rest is just my opinion, which is: you can lead a horse to water, but, etc.

A good friend who had coached one of the greatest women's players to multiple slams had me film a new player he was working with. Her serve, we saw in high speed video, was actually worse than either of us thought--and it looked bad to the naked eye!

Still she was in the top 20. My friend actually predicted what would happen but felt it was his duty to bring her the analysis of what it would take to go higher--a better serve motion among other things. She and her dad took him out to Denny's for breakfast and fired him.

My opinion is many players, especially kids, can only handle so much change. You push them as far as you can without making them go negative on themselves. The most successful players will of course have the ability to recognize and implement what they need to go to the next level.

Since virtually zero percent will ever earn money, I think at some point the sport for life mentality has to drive.

treblings 12-26-2012 10:04 PM

John,

first, let me take this opportunity to thank you for giving me access to your site for a week. i used it extensively and enjoyed it a lot.
i can recommend it highly and will subscribe to it

as to the decline of u.s. tennis. we europeans probably have the advantage of playing on slower surfaces, mainly red clay, in clubs and academies.
with the atp tour slowing down the courts, the fact that europeans are used to playing longer rallies and maybe working on shot selection more, probably pays off.

Head Pegger 12-26-2012 10:06 PM

Some call it modern tennis
Slower courts and better equipment(rackets, strings)
leads to different approach to the game
More spin, more rallies, less volleys etc.
but to ME I just call it tennis.

JohnYandell 12-26-2012 10:13 PM

treb,

Thanks for the good review! There is a coach's discount so email me before you subscribe.

And yes the court surfaces especially combined with the poly string are a huge factor. I've hit on some of the show courts in Cincinnati and Indian Wells and man they are gritty and slow--don't fall down if you don't want to bleed.

If the hard courts were fast and slick like in the old days and the indoor courts bounced like the old supreme court that might shift the balance of style for at least some players.

TomT 12-26-2012 10:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnYandell (Post 7080957)
Since virtually zero percent will ever earn money, I think at some point the sport for life mentality has to drive.

Good point, and I think that for most of us, this is the driving force. And of course we all want to get better. So, it seems that there will always be a demand for instructors of various orientations. Your stuff seems to be primarily based on detailed observational analyses of movements/techniques. Since I'm a former working scientist, this approach appeals to me. But I also like the 'intuitive' or 'feeling' or 'broadstrokes' approach.

Am I just getting progressively less able to deal with detailed technical nuances or is there something to be said for the, er, 'inner tennis' approach?

What do you think ... keeping in mind that I highly value the detailed technical analysis approach?

Or am I mischaracterizing?

JohnYandell 12-26-2012 10:25 PM

Tom,

No you hit one of problems on the head. If for example you came to my private court in SF and wanted to work on your forehand, we would film you and look at you side by side with some pro models but focus on a limited number of key positions--as few as one or two.

You could have as much or as little of the detailed technical info I am posting as suited you.

Another paradox is that despite it's tremendous complexity all the clear verbal understanding in the world won't get you a better forehand.

We would use the video to create actual, precise physical positions with checkpoints which you would master and you would then create internal mental images of them--this creation of kinesthetic feel and mental image is the real key to creating change. Most people need some of the explanation but for others it is simply interesting and fun--or of no interest.

Greg G 12-26-2012 10:32 PM

I also took John up on his free one week trial, and was thoroughly impressed by the quantity, and more importantly, the quality of the content on the site. I didn't even wait for the week to finish before signing up!

I particularly enjoyed the articles in the biomechanics section, and the 'your strokes' section. I am the type who likes to have a deep understanding of all things, so it really hits the spot.

A question about the checkpoints though- are they static positions you have the players hold for a certain amount of time, for them to get the feel of it? Then I suppose you progress to shadow swings?

TomT 12-26-2012 10:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnYandell (Post 7080973)
Another paradox is that despite it's tremendous complexity all the clear verbal understanding in the world won't get you a better forehand.

I don't think this is a paradox. In fact, to me it makes a lot of sense. Stroke technique is unique and complex. Communicating, in ordinary language, what needs to be done to improve is a challenge that I can appreciate.

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnYandell (Post 7080973)
We would use the video to create actual, precise physical positions with checkpoints which you would master and you would then create internal mental images of them--this creation of kinesthetic feel and mental image is the real key to creating change.

This makes sense to me, and, though technically based, it seems to be in accord with the 'inner tennis' orientation of 'quiet the mind', 'visualize', 'imitate'.

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnYandell (Post 7080973)
Most people need some of the explanation but for others it is simply interesting and fun--or of no interest.

Well, it's certainly interesting. And when it's associated with actual improvements in one's game, then also fun.

dominikk1985 12-26-2012 11:41 PM

well I would say there is a developement in tennis but we cannot say a certain year is the cutoff.

even in the 1920s there were some FHs that looked like a WW FH
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IdvdxqSg8E

however there were also some very odd looking ones.

what is different now´is that the top100 strokes now all look virtually identical (apart from nadal maybe with his finish) because other strokes just cannot compete anymore.

crosscourt 12-27-2012 12:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnYandell (Post 7080830)
Obtviously modern tennis exists, at least in so far as you believe this is the modern age and that in it some of the best tennis imaginable is being played by great, great champions...

But the deepest irony here is that the so-called modern approach is not based on accurate descriptions of the strokes of the very players it purports to take as models to teach everyone in the world at all levels to "play like the pros." There are complete misunderstandings of the fundamentals running from the classical thru the modern age, as well as the myriad variations, and in the shifts in emphasis and prevelance of important elements over time, something that has been largely the by product of the changes in rackets...

Your site is excellent because it gives us all the chance to look in tremendous depth at the components of leading players' strokes, and because we benefit from the expert analyses you gather. But modern tennis isn't about the techniques involved. It's about how you play the game. Rackets, strings, the fitness of the players, their mentality, the evolution of ideas about how to win points, are all significant. Good/modern technique gives you the chance to play the game but having those things isn't playing the game one way or another.

tennis_balla 12-27-2012 03:37 AM

Hopefully this will not get deleted either.

luvforty 12-27-2012 03:44 AM

I agree with many points from JY.. especially on the part about zero percent earning money...

student should understand how the contact is made...

'ques' leading to good contact are helpful, but should not be universal.

I have watched some of Oscar's clips, pulling to left, backwards.... volley with the hand etc... can work for some, but also can screw up others.


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