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-   -   How to improve with a slow hitting partner 5 days a week - drills, feeds, etc??? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=462604)

jason586 05-04-2013 08:58 AM

How to improve with a slow hitting partner 5 days a week - drills, feeds, etc???
 
My wife started playing tennis at my request about 6-8 months ago and is really enjoying it, and we practice and feed each other balls 5 days a week (2-3 hours per day). We do this in the middle of the day when no one is at the courts and can bring the kids out with no issues. I play 4.0+, and she is now playing as well as the 3.0 ladies in our area. She is definitely getting better, but I am not improving as much as I would like. I know in time she will get even better, but what can I do in the meantime?

I am finding it harder to adjust back to hitting the faster pace and heavier balls at night and weekends with my 4.0-4.5 partners. My timing is behind as I am getting accustomed to lots of time for footwork and prep. I do practice off-speed slice wide and kick serves to her which are getting more consistent. I tried having her hitting serves from in front of the service line to practice returns, but they were still way too slow.

So how can I improve and get the most out of a slow hitting partner 5 days a week as this will not change; any special drills or feeds? [BTW - I am very happy and thankful that she is enjoying tennis, but I would like to continue improving as much as possible. She is willing to feed the ball anyway I like (hand, at net, mid-court, baseline) but can not put a ton of pace or spin on her feeds.]

JSummers 05-05-2013 09:18 AM

Add some artificial handicap to yourself e.g.
- only hit forehand or backend
- she can hit the doubles alley
- she serves to you from her service line
- you can't hit shorter than service line
- you can only hit cross court
- you can only hit down the line
- you can only slice
- after every hit, you must touch T to continue next hit.
yada yada

mightyrick 05-05-2013 09:32 AM

If I am hitting with a significantly weaker player, I practice timing.

Focus on slow deliberate movement, timing, and strokes. Slow yourself down 50% in all areas. Turn your strokes into shadow strokes.

Even if you hit with 4.0 or 4.5 players, you need to be able to adjust timing to meet slow/medium paced shots as well as fast-paced shots.

Lukhas 05-05-2013 10:29 AM

I'd practice some drills. Inside-out forehand, slices, chip 'n charge, yadda yadda. But slower to built some muscle memory. Tweak my footwork and technique too.

user92626 05-05-2013 10:53 AM

Get a hopper of balls. Have your wife learn to drop feed or toss feed the balls to your corners. You're going to be stretched to your max and your wife will learn how to swing hard and accurate. Win win for both.

10isfreak 05-05-2013 12:10 PM

One area of people's game which is typically weak is their in-court game and the footwork related to transition patterns (i.e., hitting approach shots, short balls). That can be worked on, regardless of how good your opponent is and it doesn't require big strokes. If you're better than your wife, you probably can enter within the first three feet of the back court and you probably can control your strokes so that you don't out-power her uselessly.

So, one option would be to practice entering the court and then retreating behind the baseline -- it's challenging physically and technically, but because you focus mostly on your feet and body position, you don't need to hit at challenging targets or try to hit very hard to benefit from it.

An other common problem with people is their tendency to play JIT tennis. They move to position themselves "Just In Time" to make a shot... ideally, you should be there as early as possible and instead of delaying your footwork, you should delay your shot. Yet an other problem that is related to this bad tendency is when you see people taking back their racket way too early. You can turn your shoulder and hold it on your side, but the tack back and the swing should be pretty late -- that's actually the part of hitting a ball that has to be accomplish Just In Time!

These two issues happen to make hitting slower balls A LOT HARDER than mid-paced rally balls. Your shot is only as good as your preparation allows... and hell do people prepare poorly when the ball is a gift!

So, movement and preparation are two things that you can easily work on without totally pulling your wife out of the court and out of her socks. I know that it's not as exiting as hitting a big serve or a good backhand winner, but it's important to be able to do these things properly ALL THE TIME. Work on getting a Federer-quality preparation for every ball (which is actually pretty demanding physically because you have to work A LOT to get an ideal body position on every shot, even against an average amateur) and you'll find it easier to play to your terms once you meet a better player.

baba123 05-05-2013 12:49 PM

Practise tennis where your only allowed inside the baseline

ATP100 05-05-2013 02:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason586 (Post 7386048)
My wife started playing tennis at my request about 6-8 months ago and is really enjoying it, and we practice and feed each other balls 5 days a week(2-3 hours per day). We do this in the middle of the day when no one is at the courts and can bring the kids out with no issues. I play 4.0+, and she is now playing as well as the 3.0 ladies in our area. She is definitely getting better, but I am not improving as much as I would like. I know in time she will get even better, but what can I do in the meantime?

I am finding it harder to adjust back to hitting the faster pace and heavier balls at night and weekends with my 4.0-4.5 partners. My timing is behind as I am getting accustomed to lots of time for footwork and prep. I do practice off-speed slice wide and kick serves to her which are getting more consistent. I tried having her hitting serves from in front of the service line to practice returns, but they were still way too slow.

So how can I improve and get the most out of a slow hitting partner 5 days a week as this will not change; any special drills or feeds? [BTW - I am very happy and thankful that she is enjoying tennis, but I would like to continue improving as much as possible. She is willing to feed the ball anyway I like (hand, at net, mid-court, baseline) but can not put a ton of pace or spin on her feeds.]



Your life is good!!!!

jason586 05-05-2013 02:08 PM

Thanks - already some really good suggestions that I will start using tomorrow.

I did some researching on in-court/transition footwork and found a "Dynamic Footwork Series" on youtube by a tennis coach named Yann that looks good for practicing what some have mentioned about deliberate footwork. Has anyone seen this - Thoughts? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agkP1i2Ljto
Any other suggestions on footwork videos on youtube???

Also, I watched some of his other videos and saw the SweetSpotter idea he is working on which is like a junior baseball bat for practicing tennis. I searched the Sweetspotter here on TT, and there were suggestions to use a wood racquet instead to help focus on hitting the middle of the racquet, watching the ball better, and for earlier prep due to the heavier wood racquet.
So, I went to Goodwill today and picked up 2 practice racquets for $2.99 each. I got a Jack Kramer Autograph (4 5/8 Light, maybe 65 headsize?) Speed Flex and a Pro Kennex Silver Ace Midsize (about 85 headsize?), and both weigh almost the same at nearly 13 ounces. Both are in pretty nice condition and came with the cover and wood press (pics below).

I figure I could use these while playing against my wife to help me focus on watching the ball, prepping early, and really hitting the sweet spot. I figured the Silver Ace could be a middle ground between the JK Auto and my Vantage 95.









Cindysphinx 05-05-2013 02:26 PM

First of all, you sound like a real dreamboat. I mean that. You are being patient and kind and helping your gal build her game. Few guys would do that. Props to you.

One thing you should keep in mind is that women were Born To Lob. We come right of the womb knowing how to lob. So one thing you can do is stand at the service line or closer and have your gal feed you lobs that would bounce on the baseline. Practice control on your overhead/swinging volley right back to her. Teach her to slice or block that next ball as a lob, and so forth.

If she is 3.0 and can own a consistent lob, she will beat . . . well, she will beat *everybody* at 3.0. Few at 3.0 have an overhead. Heck, I am walking proof that even 4.0 women can lose to a good lobber.

Good luck!!!

jason586 05-05-2013 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ATP100 (Post 7388166)
Your life is good!!!!


She hated trying to learn golf which was my passion for nearly 20 years. It was just too frustrating to her being athletic and a high level soccer player growing up, but she loves tennis. I have many friends whose wives give them a lot of grief about playing too much tennis even if it is only once a week.

So yes, I feel very fortunate to have a wife who enjoys tennis, and she even looks great while doing it although I'm quite biased.







Cindysphinx 05-05-2013 02:30 PM

Oh, here's another thing that would help her.

I wish some guy had hit spin serves to me when I was a 3.0. Most women don't serve with a lot of spin, so I am not used to seeing it. If you can hit big kickers and twist serves and slices to your gal, she will develop the skill of being able to read the spin better.

Maybe when she gets to 4.0 she won't be as easy to ace as I am!

jason586 05-05-2013 03:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 7388206)
Oh, here's another thing that would help her.

I wish some guy had hit spin serves to me when I was a 3.0. Most women don't serve with a lot of spin, so I am not used to seeing it. If you can hit big kickers and twist serves and slices to your gal, she will develop the skill of being able to read the spin better.

Maybe when she gets to 4.0 she won't be as easy to ace as I am!


I definitely do this with her as I know what you are talking about. Since the pro and I are friends, I will sometimes fill in and play with his 3.5 and 4.0 ladies practices for doubles and none can handle kick or slice serves.

To challenge myself and my wife, I have her start even with the doubles alley on both sides and try to go even wider with a slice on the duece court and out-wide kicker on the ad side. She knows exactly where I'm going to serve, and then I try to take it even wider and with as much spin as I can.

NLBwell 05-05-2013 06:52 PM

Work on closely watching the ball until after you hit it if you are feeding balls to her. It can destroy your game to watch her as you are feeding balls - you will learn NOT to watch the ball in matches.

ttwarrior1 05-06-2013 05:19 AM

Way too much tennis, take a break. How about hitting gym to get stronger. U get better playing better people

jason586 05-06-2013 05:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NLBwell (Post 7388596)
Work on closely watching the ball until after you hit it if you are feeding balls to her. It can destroy your game to watch her as you are feeding balls - you will learn NOT to watch the ball in matches.

That's a very good point. I'm sure I am not watching the ball enough during feeds to her, but will start doing so. It's easy to get into robot mode with the feeds and only watch her to correct technique issues.

boramiNYC 05-06-2013 07:26 AM

try shortening the swing around the contact point and focus on controlling the ball as precisely as possible. also focus on the footwork so there's no laziness nor rushing. this will require fairly high level of foot and leg strength which you can practice. slow, smooth, and perfect timing. the shortening the swing will come in handy for serve returns and dealing with fast balls when you play at full speed. be diligent and maintain the right perspective of your swing and it could be an effective practice. you can also practice point construction but control it just enough so your wife can return every ball. and you can come in and hit a few controlled volleys as well.

dknotty 05-06-2013 01:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mightyrick (Post 7387693)
If I am hitting with a significantly weaker player, I practice timing.

Focus on slow deliberate movement, timing, and strokes. Slow yourself down 50% in all areas. Turn your strokes into shadow strokes.

Even if you hit with 4.0 or 4.5 players, you need to be able to adjust timing to meet slow/medium paced shots as well as fast-paced shots.

Totally. Timing, slowing it down and getting into the best possible position to take the shot.

I do a martial art and learning to do things slowly and precisely before adding speed and explosive power is fundamental to how we develop muscle memory.

jason586 05-07-2013 11:08 AM

After two days of paying more attention to my feeds, I was definitely getting in the habit of not watching the ball and have now been focusing on watching the ball when feeding.

I also have been trying to be very deliberate about my footwork and slowing everything down. Even slowing down, I noticed that I was not consistently getting proper spacing being myself and the ball due to lazy/tired footwork. Trying to get perfect timing and spacing on EVERY ball seems to be a challenge even with the slow pace.

The two practice racquets have helped as well exposing the same issues of not watching the ball long enough and need of better footwork. I really have to watch the ball and have plenty of time to be in correct position with them.


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