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-   -   How long 'til muscle memory builds? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=461790)

DonDiego 04-26-2013 11:18 AM

How long 'til muscle memory builds?
 
I'm a decent 4.0 / 4.5 recreational player who never really worked on his volleys. So this winter I decided to get a ball machine and practice my volleys (starting almost from scratch).

For the past four months, I've been training twice a week with my machine (which is great for practicing volleys), and also had a coach helping me with technique once a week. I must say I made great progress in four months. My volleys are solid on both wings and my muscle memory seem to have done the job, since I dont't have to think about anything when I'm hitting, and yet I hit with good technique (according to my coach).

My question is: should I keep practicing twice a week with the machine, or is my muscle memory already built in, so that I only need to hit volleys once a week with the machine or coach (plus at least one match or friendly hitting session a week) to make sure I don't «lose» what I just learned?

Ash_Smith 04-26-2013 11:59 AM

For an average person learning a new motor skill or pattern takes something like 300-500 correct repetitions. To modify an existing motor pattern can take 3000-5000 correct repetitions.

I guess the way to answer your question is to ask yourself are all your volleys at an autonomous stage of learning?

DonDiego 04-26-2013 12:19 PM

Thanks. Like I said, I started almost from scratch, so it was easier to learn new habits (didn't really have to get rid of bad ones). By my own calculations, I must have hit about 4000-5000 volleys during this 4-month period.

I guess the next step for me is to hit more volleys during hitting sessions and matches (which will need a lot of adaptation and represents another part of the learning curve). And I'll try to hit volleys in a «controlled environment» at least once a week, to make sure I dont' develop bad habits.

pushitgood 04-26-2013 06:10 PM

What sort of drills/routine did you do with your machine? My volleys are weak and I would like to bring them up too. I have a Silent Partner ball machine.

goran_ace 04-26-2013 11:31 PM

If you're that grooved on the ball machine I'd say stop hitting with the ball machine entirely and hit with a live partners. Volleying is one area of the game where you can get away with not being so great technically. Some guys have good hands, some guys don't. Your feet are more important in a live situation; it's more about your positioning/movement. You don't have to be a great volleyer if you're in the right place at the right time. Also, you could have great technique but if you're out of position it is meaningless.

DonDiego 04-27-2013 04:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by goran_ace (Post 7370841)
If you're that grooved on the ball machine I'd say stop hitting with the ball machine entirely and hit with a live partners. Volleying is one area of the game where you can get away with not being so great technically. Some guys have good hands, some guys don't. Your feet are more important in a live situation; it's more about your positioning/movement. You don't have to be a great volleyer if you're in the right place at the right time. Also, you could have great technique but if you're out of position it is meaningless.

Good point.

DonDiego 04-27-2013 04:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pushitgood (Post 7370453)
What sort of drills/routine did you do with your machine? My volleys are weak and I would like to bring them up too. I have a Silent Partner ball machine.

I also use a Silent Partner machine, the low-end model. My problem was especially the backhand volley.

-First, set the machine to throw the same ball everytime. Hit volleys (FH and BH) in a ''static'' way, just to develop your timing and general technique. Move your feet to make sure your body moves forward when you hit, and make sure you hit clean and deep. (This is the most important part when you start. In my case it took an hour or two -- 500 to 700 balls -- and I got my timing right, my contact point right, and was able to develop the ''feel'' of hitting volleys, i.e. a short punch (6-8 inches).

-Use the oscillator to throw balls left and right. Make sure you come back in the middle of the court (close to the «T» of the service lines) after each shot. And make sure you use sound footwork when going for each ball. Work on your placement (deep, angled, crosscourt, parallel), and technique (keep the racquet head close to your head -- freeze -- when you hit, etc.)

-You can also set the machine to throw fast and to your body, you will then work on spacing and (again) your footwork to move quickly to get out of the way and still hit a clean volley.

-Do the same drills to develop the feel for drop volleys (what I'm currently working on). Also work on your half-volleys. Serve and volley...

There's really no limit to what you can do. And you will quickly realize that one hour is not enough! Ball machines are truly a great asset if you use it right, and if you're lucky enough to have a court at your disposal. I f you don't have a coach, I suggest you look up the web to understand the basic technique of the volley before you start hitting balls. (fuzzyyellowball, Jeff salzenstein, or numerous short clips available on YouTube.) Repeating mistakes or using bad form could be worse than not hitting at all for your development.

pushitgood 04-27-2013 06:03 AM

Thanks Don! Sounds like great advice. I've been working with a coach once per week, but I've been primarily focused on groundstrokes and footwork up until now. I'm probably around 3.5 at the moment. I think the volleys will be a summer project, and I'll focus half of my lessons on this area from now on.


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