Anyone else have trouble "easing up" for students or lower level players?

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#1
I sometimes hit cooperatively with players I coach. Obviously some reach a level where I can just hit like normal and there is no issue.

However, I have trouble hitting an easier ball for the ones who are not quite as advanced. Ideally, I'd like to give them fairly flat shots with moderate pace and moderate depth. I hit with a good amount of topspin, though, so I often end up hitting shots that bounce up to around shoulder height on them. I'll also occasionally slow down the swing too much to wear the shots go short.

I know I could just feed it to them to make it perfect, but I am kind of wanting to give them a bridge from hitting feeds to live ball hitting at full speed.

Anyone else ever struggled with this? Do you alter your stroke mechanics to hit with lower level players? Any tips?
 
#2
No, but you have to learn to hit different shots. You do not produce a medium flat ball the same way you produce a heavy topspin. You have to be able to hit everything from a slice chip or dropshot to a heavy topspin drive and every subtle variation in-between to be able to hit optimally challenging balls to your students. I assume you can hit little slice chips as well as heavy topspin drives, so it is likely not a problem of capability, but of just practicing enough hours on court to be able to hit all the variations that are necessary. You have to be a more capable tennis player - though these capabilities may not help you win matches.
You can practice these things and all sorts of crazy shots on the backboard. When you spend enough hours hitting against it, you get bored and try all sorts of ways to hit the ball. That's why I could always hit every shot with any type of pace and spin.
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#5
No, but you have to learn to hit different shots. You do not produce a medium flat ball the same way you produce a heavy topspin. You have to be able to hit everything from a slice chip or dropshot to a heavy topspin drive and every subtle variation in-between to be able to hit optimally challenging balls to your students. I assume you can hit little slice chips as well as heavy topspin drives, so it is likely not a problem of capability, but of just practicing enough hours on court to be able to hit all the variations that are necessary. You have to be a more capable tennis player - though these capabilities may not help you win matches.
You can practice these things and all sorts of crazy shots on the backboard. When you spend enough hours hitting against it, you get bored and try all sorts of ways to hit the ball. That's why I could always hit every shot with any type of pace and spin.
Yes, I think you're right. It's awkward because, as a player, you never think about or practice trying to hit your opponent the optimal ball.
 
#8
I occasionally hit with lower level players. In my experience, there's a few styles of shots that work well with them.
1) Block the ball to slowly float the ball back. Probably the best for a complete beginner.
2) Flat(ish) shots hit lightly with moderate height over the net which land in the middle of NML.
3) Topspin shots that land on the service line.
 

Lex

Semi-Pro
#9
Try using a continental grip to give them a nice "feeder" ball. I have to do this when hitting with lower rated players. I hit a heavy top spin ball normally and that just won't work for beginners.
 
#10
just do more of a block/half volley, or almost like a mini lob.. just to send it to them.

tho i guess you already know this.. but next time your having a social hit.. just start on service line and use the first 2 squares.. to warm up.. you'll also learn to hold back.

for the backhand.. is more like a block slice. i always aim fairly up tho so they have time to see the ball.
 
#11
If you want to work as a coach you need to be able to not only reduce pace but also spin. You can't hit heavy spin to beginner or lower level players because they can't handle it.

Professional coaches thus often use slightly different strokes than they would use in a match. You open the racket face a little, use less lag and swing a little slower and flatter.
This isn't ideal for developing your own match competence of course but you have to do it to be an effective coach for beginners, young kids and lower level players. You just can't rip heavy spin against an 8 year old.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
#12
It's about control. If you can't do it you aren't a good enough player.

What's the answer? Practice.

If you are teaching you have an infinite supply of balls to practice against all day. I bet in a couple of months you'll be much better.

I bet it will help your playing too.

J
 

Fintft

Hall of Fame
#13
I had this problem for years with my significant one, but lately I've adjusted. Anyhow it's easier for me than for you, since I hit flat with some safety, but not with tons of top spin/not heavy.
 
#14
For me my issues has been too much player hitting and ball feeding and not even competitive training and play. I get in matches and find I am hitting balls down the middle to "feed" shots instead of going for winners. Just the mentallity that sets in. When I try to go for shots I am missing more often than not. Not working with anyone except my son this year and playing competitive matches, so hoping to get some of my chops back.
 
#15
It's about control. If you can't do it you aren't a good enough player.

What's the answer? Practice.

If you are teaching you have an infinite supply of balls to practice against all day. I bet in a couple of months you'll be much better.

I bet it will help your playing too.

J
^^^This

Also, green dot balls are always a good option. They don't bounce as much and you can rally well with your students.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#17
For me my issues has been too much player hitting and ball feeding and not even competitive training and play. I get in matches and find I am hitting balls down the middle to "feed" shots instead of going for winners. Just the mentallity that sets in. When I try to go for shots I am missing more often than not. Not working with anyone except my son this year and playing competitive matches, so hoping to get some of my chops back.
I used to have this problem with volleys, as my only real practice was "cooperative" hitting where I was politely hitting volleys right back to the baseliner during warmup.

Last couple of years I have incorporated specific volley drills where I'm aiming for cones to practice putaway volleys CC, DTL, drop volleys, etc.

Has helped immensely!
 
#18
I used to have this problem with volleys, as my only real practice was "cooperative" hitting where I was politely hitting volleys right back to the baseliner during warmup.

Last couple of years I have incorporated specific volley drills where I'm aiming for cones to practice putaway volleys CC, DTL, drop volleys, etc.

Has helped immensely!

Agreed. I am working in better tactical practices too instead of coop hits, feeding kids or practices.
 
#19
Haha, I wish it was that easy, but the upwards path is so ingrained if I just swing slowly it will often be too much of a looper for them to hit easily.
Did you not ever master hitting slower, spinny shots for mini-tennis (short-court tennis)? If you could do that, you should be able to do it for full court hitting. When hitting mini-tennis, in addition to slower topspin shots, also try some flat or underspin shots. I do this with students all the time to make it easier for them to hit slower topspin shorts in the short court drill/warm-up.
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
#20
Mostly, yes. But it doesn't have to be an extreme amount and the idea I was suggesting was to remove some of the forward component of the swing to make it easier for the partner.
Well, it’s subject to where you start from, but I would actually go with reducing vertical component, while decent (although not extreme) forward speed is good for comfortable feeds.
 
#21
Well, it’s subject to where you start from, but I would actually go with reducing vertical component, while decent (although not extreme) forward speed is good for comfortable feeds.
Whichever way yields a ball that the other person is comfortable with. And it probably varies from person to person.
 
#22
It's not all about the gear, but I like to keep two different models in my bag. One is a lot easier for me to use for all sorts of stuff like feeding at lower speeds, hitting touch shots including volleys, hitting strokes with more spin, etc. The other is a lot easier to use for grinding at full speed and also hitting bigger serves, especially in a singles setting.

I made the mistake of trying to use the second frame (the one that makes the easier power) for a lesson last summer with an older lady who needed lots of moderate feeds. If I didn't pay close attention to what I was doing, I'd occasionally spank a ball much too hard.

I'd be uncomfortable with a completely different racquet from my regular players, but I can definitely appreciate the upside of having a feeding racquet that's maybe a little more anemic in the power department. Fortunately these two models in my bag have very similar weights and balances, so it's pretty easy for me to switch off depending on the setting.
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#23
If you want to work as a coach you need to be able to not only reduce pace but also spin. You can't hit heavy spin to beginner or lower level players because they can't handle it.

Professional coaches thus often use slightly different strokes than they would use in a match. You open the racket face a little, use less lag and swing a little slower and flatter.
This isn't ideal for developing your own match competence of course but you have to do it to be an effective coach for beginners, young kids and lower level players. You just can't rip heavy spin against an 8 year old.
Yes, I know you can't rip heavy spin at them. Hence why I made the thread.

It's about control. If you can't do it you aren't a good enough player.

What's the answer? Practice.

If you are teaching you have an infinite supply of balls to practice against all day. I bet in a couple of months you'll be much better.

I bet it will help your playing too.

J
Should clarify I'm coaching high school. I'm not a high level teaching pro who was a former college player. I'm just a strong 4.0/UTR 7. I have a day job, so unfortunately I can't practice all day.

I'm just finding that feeding and cooperative hitting with lower levels are really arts and skills onto themselves. It gives me more respect for how my coaches can feed balls to 2 different kids at rapid speed all while still watching their technique.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
#24
Yes, I know you can't rip heavy spin at them. Hence why I made the thread.



Should clarify I'm coaching high school. I'm not a high level teaching pro who was a former college player. I'm just a strong 4.0/UTR 7. I have a day job, so unfortunately I can't practice all day.

I'm just finding that feeding and cooperative hitting with lower levels are really arts and skills onto themselves. It gives me more respect for how my coaches can feed balls to 2 different kids at rapid speed all while still watching their technique.
Work on your ball control and it will pay dividends.

J
 
#25
I sometimes hit cooperatively with players I coach. Obviously some reach a level where I can just hit like normal and there is no issue.

However, I have trouble hitting an easier ball for the ones who are not quite as advanced. Ideally, I'd like to give them fairly flat shots with moderate pace and moderate depth. I hit with a good amount of topspin, though, so I often end up hitting shots that bounce up to around shoulder height on them. I'll also occasionally slow down the swing too much to wear the shots go short.

I know I could just feed it to them to make it perfect, but I am kind of wanting to give them a bridge from hitting feeds to live ball hitting at full speed.

Anyone else ever struggled with this? Do you alter your stroke mechanics to hit with lower level players? Any tips?
This is how I have done it to control my pace of the ball for various level of players (or if I just want to play slower or faster, it is really up to me)

If you use SW grip, the flat shot is always having higher take back where your racquet pointing up in the sky and swing through where you ended up with your arm slightly pronated. You can still hit over the shoulder but you shouldn't be doing reverse forehand over (that means don't actively use too much of your wrist). The pace depends on your 1) backswing, shoulder rotation, etc.

However if you want to hit a safe shot that is slower, you have to hit higher launch angle, which means you need to imagine you are opening up your racquet face slightly, and hit slightly slower, then your ball will fly higher and flatter instead of spinnier version of it.

Then once you get into rhythem, try challenge your students to hit and return topspin shots by slowly closing the racquet face, and follow through like how you usually do.

Hope this helps.
 
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