How to move from 4.0 to 4.5 ?

vex

Legend
How to do it ? Shot recognition? Better stokes? Strategy? An insane work ethic?

Is it worth the effort? The money into lessons? What's the ultimate reason if I'm not a pro and do not play tournaments? I'm 46 with four kids and a wife at home, working two jobs already.
Is it more fun to be a 4.5 ? Will I enjoy the sport and be more fulfilled? Will I lose more matches but be proud that I am at least competing at a higher level?

How long will it take with a guy like me of moderate ability? Is it even possible since I cannot practice every single day? Is it unrealistic? Should I even care about my NRTP ranking since I just enjoy playing?

Thoughts?
Dude, you’re not gonna be a 4.5 and it doesn’t sound like you even care to be. You don’t have the time to improve your skills and you’re too old to become an ultra Grindy MEP-style pusher even if you had the time to max your fitness. Just enjoy the sport with the time you do have. Focus on working on one shot at a time.
 
As someone who used to play 4.0 and bumped up to 4.5 (currently participating in 4.5 leagues while still playing with 4.0 friends casually), the biggest differences I noticed are

(1) more than just consistency (or "keeping the ball in play") - work on your put-away shots, shot/point construction and anticipation: just "hitting it back" doesn't win points any more at 4.5 level,

(2) more control (not necessarily power) on your serves - being able to hit slice serves on FH side and kick serves on the ad side is a must and solid second serves to each side, plus occasional flat serves down the body, and

(3) using different formation (I-Formation, Aussie formation, etc.) & getting used to them (just knowing how to do those is not enough - you should be comfortable as a server or the net player to plan and execute them).
Good points. I'm working on approach shots, followed by the volleys and putaways. More aggressive tactics with better ball recognition. I've finally good a really kicker on the second serve.

What are the different formations?

I'm trying to develop a slice, but I'm having a heck of a time with it ... youtube is not helping. I'll have to get some more lessons for it, I'm sure.
 
As someone who used to play 4.0 and bumped up to 4.5 (currently participating in 4.5 leagues while still playing with 4.0 friends casually), the biggest differences I noticed are

(1) more than just consistency (or "keeping the ball in play") - work on your put-away shots, shot/point construction and anticipation: just "hitting it back" doesn't win points any more at 4.5 level,

(2) more control (not necessarily power) on your serves - being able to hit slice serves on FH side and kick serves on the ad side is a must and solid second serves to each side, plus occasional flat serves down the body, and

(3) using different formation (I-Formation, Aussie formation, etc.) & getting used to them (just knowing how to do those is not enough - you should be comfortable as a server or the net player to plan and execute them).
How do you maintain 4.5 play when your friends are 4.0 ? Do you practice regularly with your 4.5 team? Do you play tournaments, lessons, working with the ball machine ? Just curious.
 
+1 for develop stronger serve and FH. On BH master the slice, lob and IO and II FH.

I'm in my mid fifty's. I've stayed competitive with the young guys without much training. Basically by moving to a crafty old man's game and learning when to cheat a couple of steps in or to the side.
So you're sayin' there's a chance ... :-D
 
Dude, you’re not gonna be a 4.5 and it doesn’t sound like you even care to be. You don’t have the time to improve your skills and you’re too old to become an ultra Grindy MEP-style pusher even if you had the time to max your fitness. Just enjoy the sport with the time you do have. Focus on working on one shot at a time.
Yea, I hear what you are saying. I've rededicated my self to the game this year and doing thing hat I have never been tried (such private lessons, getting a ball machine, ect). And I am working on one shot at a time... and it will not be the end of the work for me if I never make haha. BUT I figure, heck, I'm playing, why not set that goal?
 
I play 4.5 and will second akeam's comments. This is the USTA rating where players start to develop a clear weapon that they can game plan around. Most commonly, people will have a strong serve/forehand. It comes down to who can leverage their strength more during the match while minimizing their weaknesses - typically the backhand.
I have been playing for a little over 30 years and pretty much a self taught player that came from a tennis family. At 54, I am now a 4.0-4.5 player. I would recommend on focusing on your strokes that need improvement rather than striving to be a 4.5 player. I stopped playing tournaments about 10 years to prevent injuries setting into my knees and shoulder. Nowadays I just work more on technique and play an occasional match. My recent focus over the last year or so was to improve the technique on my serve since it is my least consistent stroke. All the work this Summer is finally starting to pay off. My toss is more consistent resulting in a better serve with good pace and spin that I can rely on. The bottom line is find ways to improve strokes that will make you a better player. There are alot of instructional videos on YouTube that could help you out. I don't care about winning or losing matches! I care about improving as a player!
I could not have said it better... youtube tennis videos are my best friend. Currenly I'm working on ALL my strokes to one degree or another.
 
I would not listen to the guys saying you can not improve to 4.5, thats BS, 4.0 to 4.5 is definitely doable. The easiest way to get better is to focus on one thing and improve it. So if your backhand is weak, then just focus on improving your backhand every practice and even in match play, and little by little you'll get more confident with it.
Thanks for the encouragement and realistic advice(y)
 

AlexSV

Rookie
As someone who used to play 4.0 and bumped up to 4.5 (currently participating in 4.5 leagues while still playing with 4.0 friends casually), the biggest differences I noticed are

(1) more than just consistency (or "keeping the ball in play") - work on your put-away shots, shot/point construction and anticipation: just "hitting it back" doesn't win points any more at 4.5 level,
This mirrors some of my recent experience. Before I could hit a firm forehand cross court knowing I would receive a very manageable ball in return and start to build the point from there. The better players are returning the ball with much better placement and pulling me out of position much sooner.

So I agree, you need to start constructing the point a lot sooner as "hitting it back" really doesn't work.
 

TennisCJC

Legend
To go from 4.0 to 4.5, you're need a decent dose of athletic ability and have to play a lot of tennis. You generally see better technique at 4.5 but some make it with ugly technique and outstanding athleticism and good hands. MEP in Atlanta wins at 4.5 level and has an ugly game in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I respect MEP for what he's done but I wouldn't want to play like he does. When I move up to 4.5 I was in my 20s and playing on average 2+ hours per day and 6 days a week. I played in lots of leagues and a few tournaments. Took a fair number of team lessons and a few individual lessons with a couple of week long tennis camps thrown in. Personally, I suggest concentrating on technique to make your shots stronger and to eliminate glaring weaknesses.
 
To go from 4.0 to 4.5, you're need a decent dose of athletic ability and have to play a lot of tennis. You generally see better technique at 4.5 but some make it with ugly technique and outstanding athleticism and good hands. MEP in Atlanta wins at 4.5 level and has an ugly game in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I respect MEP for what he's done but I wouldn't want to play like he does. When I move up to 4.5 I was in my 20s and playing on average 2+ hours per day and 6 days a week. I played in lots of leagues and a few tournaments. Took a fair number of team lessons and a few individual lessons with a couple of week long tennis camps thrown in. Personally, I suggest concentrating on technique to make your shots stronger and to eliminate glaring weaknesses.
Who is MEP ?
 

Rosstour

Legend
Who is MEP ?
Epitome of pusher, Most Exhausting Opponent aka Green Shirt Guy. The kind of player who drives every wanna-be flair player up the wall.

I'm pretty sure I'm a 4.5 but I'm also pretty sure he would beat me almost every time.

And if you are "trying to develop a slice" then stop fixating on your NTRP rating. Someone at 4.5 has already developed that shot and is simply thinking about the best times/situations to use it.
 

ubercat

Professional
Yea tru dat. All 4.5s I ve seen have at least a driving slice dropshot and safe deep slice into the BH corner. There s a lot more variations past those 3.

I m an aggressive junk baller with pretty good touch on the slice and there are guys who carve me up with their slice game.
 

aa2

New User
I found using the ball machine every week hitting 900 balls then having a hitting partner once a week in addition to lessons really upped my game. I use the ball machine to fix whatever my coach says I need to work on. I found the best drill was me at the baseline and my partner at net volleying anywhere singles. You can't do that drill without a split step and you can't get to 4.5 without footwork. I'm probably a 4.2 now but I like to round up.
 

socallefty

Legend
The only reason to have a NTRP rating is if you plan to play in USTA tournaments and/or leagues so that you can be at the right level of competition. If you don’t plan to do that, there is no reason to spend any time thinking about your rating. Just focus on beating the guys you play and have fun.

If you want an official NTRP rating, you have to play enough official USTA tournament or league matches so that the USTA computer can assign you a computer rating. So, you have to play enough matches and beat good 4.0 or 4.5 computer rated players to get a 4.5 computer rating. If you plan to do that, you obviously have to be at the level to do that.

It sounds like your 4.0 is a self-rating and you might be completely wrong if you don’t play against computer-rated USTA players. Since the USTA computer ratings measure only your ability to beat other players with computer ratings, there is no style or technique level that can be said to be 4.5 - you have to play official USTA matches and earn the computer rating and there’s no other way to measure it. Coaches, clubs all assign inflated ratings to their students/members to preserve their egos and most club-rated 4.5s do well only at the USTA 4.0 level - there seems to be always a half-level inflation with club ratings.

If you want to self-rate, just call yourself a 4.5 and presto, you are a 4.5 minus all the practice and hard work! You have guys from Canada, Australia, Europe etc. giving themselves NTRP self-ratings on this board and I always wonder how there is any chance of it being realistic if they have never played in or watched USTA leagues or tournaments at the various levels. Watching video alone makes it hard to distinguish between players of different levels because ‘pretty technique’ gets rated high by watching videos, but mental toughness, physical fitness, lack of choking in league matches, fighting spirit etc. all contribute much more to winning USTA singles and the ability to gel well and communicate with different partners to lift up their game contributes a lot to USTA doubles computer ratings. You can’t rate any of that on video.

So, my advice is not to worry about ratings and keep improving to beat the better players that you play. Ratings matter only if you want to play in USTA sanctioned tournaments and leagues. If you play on public courts that don’t have an USTA team, you might go for years without playing players who have an USTA computer rating.
 
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jz000

Rookie
I’m almost there. But I’m 33 6ft
Just rely on hitting inside the baseline to dictate points. 2nd set, more spin and endurance race.

eat your steaks n protein shakes.
Of course find more efficient strike mechanics.
 

Goof

Professional
Beat all the 4.0's in your area.
This actually might not be enough to do it. The USTA computer ratings use a formula based on "non-competitive wins" that takes number of games won/lost in a match into account. I don't remember the exact game spread needed for a match to be considered "non-competitive", but if a 4.0 wins every match against 4.0s for ten years but always wins 7-6 6-4 or something like that their rating won't go up.

Addendum: the cut-off is 7 games for the match loser. 6-3 6-3 (or even 6-0 7-6) is considered a "non-competitive" match, while 6-4 6-3 (or even 0-6 7-6 0-1) is considered "competitive". If you win or lose back-to-back "non-competitive" matches in USTA league play (excluding mixed doubles), your dynamic rating goes up/down a bit. The fewer games that are won by the match loser, the more impact the match has on the dynamic ratings of the players. The computer rating system is patented, so if you know how to do a patent search you can find it online. :)
 
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nyta2

Professional
As far as moving from 4.0 to 4.5... I've never seen an adult rec player do this in real time.
i've seen adult rec go from 3.5 to 5.0. rare, but possible.
for the few that i know that went through that journey, i think the big difference was taking regular lessons (2-3x/week) with a good coach, and practicing the right things, along with fitness, etc...
 

nyta2

Professional
46 is 46 tho. Big difference from a 26 y/o 4.0 without FOUR kids and two jobs asking this question haha
but 4.5 is not a huge skill level to achieve... ok if you're targeting top of the 4.5's, low 5.0... maybe that's alot, but 4.5 is very doable imo with focused practice (ie. a good coach vs. mindless baseline hitting).
 

badmice2

Semi-Pro
I went from 4.0 to 4.5, and back to 4.0 flirting with 4.5 again. Based on my observation, outside of physical and mental toughness, there is a substantial skillset gap going from low 4.0 to 4.5 you need to close - the most glaring one is overhead and sound volley. While you should have good ability to control ball placement, 4.5 will close points within the 1st-3rd ball opportunities they get - their opponent rarely get a 2nd ball chance.

Personally, I didnt feel like I have time to maintain a 4.5 level - I also have a family with 3 kids. The thought of finding time to get routine hitting to stay afloat was an after thought. At 4.0, I can step on the court once a week - the one day being my match day, and be competitive without putting in the work. Naturally and unfortunately, the scoreline is catching up to me and looks like I'm on my way back to 4.5.
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
i've seen adult rec go from 3.5 to 5.0. rare, but possible.
for the few that i know that went through that journey, i think the big difference was taking regular lessons (2-3x/week) with a good coach, and practicing the right things, along with fitness, etc...
I would like to know who that is, I have a feeling that 3.5 to 5.0 was already a 5.5 in past life, he/she fooled you and made you think they were 3.5 but in fact they are just so much better.
 

ubercat

Professional
I agree you can walk on as a 4.0 with just s couple of strong shots in your bag. 4.5s r all court players. Big diff
 

Slicehand

Professional
Personally, we dont have that ranking where i live, so the fun thing for me, is to focus on improving the things that youd like to do better, if that takes you further, good, if not, al least you enjoy playing, as long as you can find people of your level, youll have fun, for me its not about wining or getting to another level really, i aproach it as i said, try to polish the things i like to do on the court, so i can express myself better when playing, if you got limited time on court you have to keep it fun, as you said, only thing you gonna get out of this is enjoyment, be it at 4.0 or 5.5, what i train for, is to be able to do the things that are on my mind when on court, as you said we cant train everyday, keep it fun
 

nyta2

Professional
I would like to know who that is, I have a feeling that 3.5 to 5.0 was already a 5.5 in past life, he/she fooled you and made you think they were 3.5 but in fact they are just so much better.
the folks (several) that i know were absolutely 3.5's (3.0's even) - didn't even know what grips to use when i first met them.
they already had a base in other sports (mainly baseball & soccer), and have spent alot of time getting good at those sports
they mainly applied the same level of dedication & hardwork they applied to their other sports, to tennis (including taking lessons at some recurring frequency: weekly or monthly, practicing daily, especially the boring stuff like serving, volleying, mid court balls, overheads, etc...
 
I think the reason people say it is impossible as well is because naturally there are diminishing returns as you get better, like in any sport. You can see really fast improvement from 3.0 to 3.5 to 4.0, but once you get advanced at something it becomes harder to get better which is why the majority of tennis players plateau at 4.0. All it takes is some hard work and practice to improve to get better it just starts to take longer and requires smarter focused practice (probably lessons from a teaching pro) to improve more, just many 4.0s do not have the time or desire to do that which is why so many on here say its impossible.
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
I would like to know who that is, I have a feeling that 3.5 to 5.0 was already a 5.5 in past life, he/she fooled you and made you think they were 3.5 but in fact they are just so much better.
There is a guy at our club, who is now in his later 30's, that was a mid- to high 3.5 player when he first joined about ten years ago. Right now, he's a strong 5.0, possibly on the verge of 5.5, having won numerous open level tournaments in doubles, including our state open. I don't recall seeing him take many lessons, and he did not come from a distinguished athletic background. His game seems pretty much unchanged from when he first started playing, but his timing is superb and so are his reflexes. He is 4-0 this year and 11-3 last year in various leagues playing doubles.

There's another guy at our club who was a college baseball player. He's in his early 50's now. I think he first took up tennis when he was about 40. He's 5.0 rated now. He doesn't have textbook strokes, and he looks attackable in many ways but isn't, and he gets everything back, can hurt you if you leave one sitting short, and makes good contact almost every shot.

My co-captain on our club's 55+ 9.0 team went from 3.5 to 4.5, where he is now, in the space of about five years, without taking many, if any, individual lessons and while working a full time plus job. This all happened when he was in his 40's. There's another guy who captains a bunch of 9.0 teams at our club who also made the 3.5 to 4.5 leap in his 40's and also without many, if any, individual lessons.
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
There is a guy at our club, who is now in his later 30's, that was a mid- to high 3.5 player when he first joined about ten years ago. Right now, he's a strong 5.0, possibly on the verge of 5.5, having won numerous open level tournaments in doubles, including our state open. I don't recall seeing him take many lessons, and he did not come from a distinguished athletic background. His game seems pretty much unchanged from when he first started playing, but his timing is superb and so are his reflexes. He is 4-0 this year and 11-3 last year in various leagues playing doubles.

There's another guy at our club who was a college baseball player. He's in his early 50's now. I think he first took up tennis when he was about 40. He's 5.0 rated now. He doesn't have textbook strokes, and he looks attackable in many ways but isn't, and he gets everything back, can hurt you if you leave one sitting short, and makes good contact almost every shot.

My co-captain on our club's 55+ 9.0 team went from 3.5 to 4.5, where he is now, in the space of about five years, without taking many, if any, individual lessons and while working a full time plus job. This all happened when he was in his 40's. There's another guy who captains a bunch of 9.0 teams at our club who also made the 3.5 to 4.5 leap in his 40's and also without many, if any, individual lessons.
I think the rating has age group as well but yea, hard work and constantly thinking and compete is the only path to improving your game.
 
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