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Electricsmooth 09-05-2013 03:18 PM

Tennis newbie
 
Hi everyone!

I just started playing tennis this year after a relative looking for a partner kept dragging me to the courts. At first, I did not find anything appealing about the game but once my returns started crossing the net and my service falling within the box, it got a lot more fun.

I really got the tennis bug and haven't felt this way about a sport since playing hockey in my earlier years. I am 39 now and my only regret is that I didn't discover tennis much earlier in life.

I want to improve and play as much as possible. I see other people on the courts and marvel at the skill displayed by some of them. This got me thinking about a tennis ball machine. I do have partners who regularly play with me but in a game situation, I find myself hesitant to try new things just to keep the rally going. Especially while playing doubles, I don't want to be the guy who screwed up. I really think a machine will help me improve my spin and baseling power game.

Im looking at a silent pro sport. It seems to be the best bang for the buck. Besides, they offer free shipping to Canada as well. I've read here that some people have been able to pick up these machines during a sale for $799. Currently, this model is $849. Has anyone been watching the website to see how often the price fluctuates? I'm in no rush as I probably only have another month of tennis to play before the rain starts (Vancouver, Canada) and doesn't stop until June next year.

Also, is it a good idea to get a machine? Am I rushing in? I believe I am committed to playing long term and I always follow through with my athletic goals.

Electricsmooth 09-05-2013 03:21 PM

I should mention that it is the nxt model up (star, currently $949) that people have been able to purchase for $799.

BHBeguile 09-05-2013 03:40 PM

Rather than buy an expensive machine, why not get a tennis twist, which is an inexpensive battery operated machine that will feed balls tobyou at a slow pace? It's not versatile at all, but it might be sufficient to help you groove your strokes.

esgee48 09-05-2013 08:30 PM

I would first work with a pro or someone who knows something about stroke production. That includes footwork as well as racquet prep. You may be able to get this from Youtube or DVDs.

Then I would work against a wall, then a ball machine. If you belong to a club, you may be able to rent the use of a ball machine.

newpball 09-05-2013 08:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Electricsmooth (Post 7728366)
H
Also, is it a good idea to get a machine? Am I rushing in? I believe I am committed to playing long term and I always follow through with my athletic goals.

No, I do not think it is a good idea at all, too early to think about a tennis ball machine.

Practice with people and use the wall.

Remember the wall is your friend, she never fails to return:


KineticChain 09-05-2013 09:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newpball (Post 7729461)
No, I do not think it is a good idea at all, too early to think about a tennis ball machine.

Practice with people and use the wall.

Remember the wall is your friend, she never fails to return

I disagree. A wall is the least best way to improve. A wall does not offer confirmation of good strokes because you don't know where the ball would be landing on the court. Playing a human opponent is the best way to improve, however, if you look at the OP, he/she stated that he/she doesn't want to mess up rallies with partner to improve technique. A ball machine is the next best thing to a human opponent and you don't have to worry about the machine hating you for mis-hitting a ball. If you have the money, I say why not

SuperDuy 09-05-2013 09:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newpball (Post 7729461)
No, I do not think it is a good idea at all, too early to think about a tennis ball machine.

Practice with people and use the wall.

Remember the wall is your friend, she never fails to return:


connors???

newpball 09-05-2013 09:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SuperDuy (Post 7729490)
connors???

Naw, a 3.5 at most ;)

Just kidding, actually it is Connors.

Baxter 09-06-2013 02:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newpball (Post 7729513)
Naw, a 3.5 at most ;)

Just kidding, actually it is Connors.

Yeah, that's Connors from a few days ago. Nice, huh?

andreh 09-06-2013 03:46 AM

My tip would be to get lesson from a teaching pro, learn the proper technique and footwork. Once you got the technique down you can start thinking about ball machines.

But it's much more fun to hit with people. I'd try to find a hitting partner that's better than yourself (to some degree, and that still doesn't get bored playing because he/she is too high level). The pro can of course be that hitting partner, but he costs money.

gmatheis 09-06-2013 04:23 AM

The user silentpartnerbyauction on the bay is the maker of the silent partner machines and regularly pulls machines off the line to demo then puts them on auction.

I got mine that way and was very happy with it ... until I sold it because I was playing so much tennis that I never used it.

Electricsmooth 09-06-2013 07:33 AM

Thanks! I did some research and learned that I can rent a silent partner machine nearby for $25 for 3 days. I'm gonna rent it out and see how I like it.

TimeSpiral 09-06-2013 09:34 AM

My two cents:

1. Get a hitting partner, and just hit: not match play.

2. Grab a bookbag, stuff it with old balls, and go to the court by yourself. Hit with specific goals in mind. Play games with yourself, and then when you're out of balls, run around and swat them towards the fence, or pick them up and practice a shot. This will add a little running to your practice, which is always nice.

3. Upgrade from the backpack and get a ball-hop. Stuff it with as many balls as you can, and go out there and do the same as step 2.

4. Practice your serve. Practice your serve. Practice your groundstrokes. Practice your serve. Practice your serve. Practice your groundstrokes. Practice your serve. Practice your serve. Practice your groundstrokes.

Mr.Lob 09-06-2013 04:07 PM

Hit the ball as often as you can... against a wall, ball machine, human, aliens... whatever. Walls are known to be notorious "pushers", so they will test your patience. Good luck.

loosegroove 09-07-2013 11:43 PM

I do agree with the sentiment that walls aren't that great for learning strokes. But I think they can be great for practicing strokes, if that makes any sense.

Forbin 09-09-2013 10:52 AM

I'm a late starter too (started playing at 34). Like you, I got crazy addicted when I started. And based on my personal experience, I agree with a lot of the points others have made.

(1) Get a good coach for a private or semi-private lesson, or take a group lesson or beginners' clinic (six people on a court, drills, feeds). If you're really a newbie, you need someone to teach you the strokes, and an provide immediate feedback to keep you from developing bad habits.

It's also a great way to meet other people of your level. You can schedule time to practice with them. The downside is that they probably won't be able to maintain a rally. The upside is that they should have more patience that you can't maintain a rally.

So for more consistent practice:

(2) Practice against a wall! Practicing against the wall is a great way to practice strokes, but a terrible way to learn strokes. Again, you need feedback to correct what you're doing wrong.

If you're lucky, you'll meet someone who wants to hit with you, which is even better!

Take clinics or lessons once a week to start (maybe even three times a week, if you have the time and money), and practice against a wall in between. You sound as addicted as I was when I first started, and I loved going out every day and hitting against the wall, or practicing my serve. About half the time, I'd make a new friend and hit with them instead. Then I'd go to clinic and get my strokes tweaked by the coach.

The $800 you were going to spend on a ball machine will buy you 6-9 months of weekly clinics. With practice in between, you'll get good enough where practicing against the wall, at your level, is as good and consistent practice as a ball machine (that's me!)... until you get so good you need a ball machine for the pace! (definitely not me.)

I have to admit, when I first started, I didn't know anyone who would hit with me and I shopped for a ball machine too. I just couldn't justify the cost after paying for lessons, plus I didn't want to be hauling that thing around to public courts. But hey, if $1600 is no big thing for you, get the ball machine AND the lessons!

Dimcorner 09-09-2013 11:33 AM

Almost same boat as you.

Learned tennis when I was in Jr. High. Didn't even touch a tennis racquet until I was 36 (last year). I have now just completed my first year in 3.0 league and I'm doing pretty good so far.

My best investment was in group lessons and maybe about 3 private 30 minute lessons. With the group lessons you get to hit a fair amount of balls and if the coach is good will give you tips/feedback on little things to tweak. You also meet people your same level give or take and maybe join a league or find hitting partners with similar goals. I think once you get decent then a machine might be good to iron out kinks. For example I probably would take a 30 min private lesson to work out a specific item and then just rent a machine for a few sessions a week to work on just that.

Also keep in mind that playing against someone is VERY different than hitting with a machine/wall so you need that experience too unless your goal is just to rally. With a machine/wall you know what is coming and it's not trying to win points off you. Opponents will throw different spin/pace/angle at you than if you are taking a lesson with someone feeding you a bucket of balls or you hitting against a wall.

As my coached mentioned before. You can have the prettiest strokes but if you don't have match experience you won't win.

Devil_dog 09-09-2013 09:50 PM

Started playing again 3 yrs ago after a long hiatus. Best investment for me was finding a clinic with a great coach. You get to hit lots of balls and you have someone who can give you instant feedback on your groundstrokes, volleys and serves. Plus it's always more fun to play with others, IMHO. Good luck and have fun!

Electricsmooth 09-10-2013 12:43 PM

Thanks everyone for the tips but I'm an idiot.

Being the shopaholic I am, I bought a used lobster 3 at a pretty good price.My rationale for buying the machine is that they really seem to hold their resale value. I can probably use it for a year or so and sell it for at least what I paid for it.

I do agree that pro tips on form and such would also be a huge benefit. I have been playing 3-5 times a week and have probably developed incorrect technique despite improving my game significantly.

I find that I can rally but seem to screw things up when I go for the winner. The ball will fall slightly out of bounds or will hit the net. I get it right about 40% of the time. I think a ball machine will help me out a lot with pace, spin, and placement.

Thanks

CoachingMastery 09-10-2013 07:00 PM

A wall will tend to reinforce the patterns you currently play with. Thus, if you have questionable technique you will usually improve within the limitations of those techniques.

While the wall will tend to improve you within your limitations, (because of the constant and consistent repetitive nature of the wall), it can also be very detrimental for another reason: Because the wall is half the distance to that of an actual hitting partner, players who don't know how to react to this faster-rebound, tend to resort to wristy recovery type swings to get the ball back to the wall.

I've seen where those who practice on the wall develop very poor mechanics when they don't know what they should be working on with the wall.

That said, if used PROPERLY, the wall can be beneficial in many ways. It can be used to increase consistency, footwork, repeatable PROPER strokes, volleys, and even overheads. (Yes, it can be used for overheads!)


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