Ideal real world progression of learning tennis?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by TimeToPlaySets, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Hall of Fame

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    We can all agree that most players casually learn on their own and develop bad habits that need to be unlearned. Most often these habits are never broken and stay for life. (It takes months of drilling to change habits) On the other end of the spectrum, a kid at an academy is taught not to think, but to perform the strokes. He is a tabula rasa, a trained monkey. No bad habits, since he learns the right strokes from day one. Supervised. But, what is the motivation for this kid? Anecdotally, my motivation to get better at tennis was playing with friends and wanting to get better. The 2nd kid risks simply never actually enjoying the game, since it's presented as a purely technical exercise, not a fun game with friends.


    Also, who has the harder adult journey ahead of him?

    A) A pusher with 3.0 strokes who learns to win matches by playing smart tennis (hit away from opponent, just keep the ball in play, no poor risk taking, drop shot -> lob, never DFs, etc) He intuitively understands how to win tennis matches, but needs to develop offense to be a complete player.

    B) Guy who learns to hit hard, lots of spin, but never develops the pusher mindset. Beats himself with many UE's. This player can hit the ball, but needs to learn how to hit the ball in play to win matches (against weaker players)
     
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  2. samarai

    samarai Semi-Pro

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    the kid's motivation is to play good enough to turn pro, get scholarships to colleges, i.e. start a foundation in tennis for possible coaching opportunities. Your motivation is to get better so u can beat up on your buddies and be the king of the recreation tennis courts.
     
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  3. krisdrum

    krisdrum Rookie

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    Most kids at an academy are taught through "games", not purely stroke mechanics and process. A good instructor will "hide" that stuff inside a drill/exercise that is fun and engaging. So they learn that tennis is fun while becoming proficient at preferred stroke technique.
     
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  4. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    You do realize that there are alot of official tournaments and leagues for rec tennis, so essentialy its similar to pro tennis just that you dont get nearly the same amount of money and make a job of it.so your comment about a rec player wanting to get better to be the "king"of rec tennis is quite silly.
     
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  5. leojramirez

    leojramirez New User

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    I would say its equally as hard depending on the level you aspire to. Pushers tend to be complacent about their level as they can win most matches against players with the same level that may also be pushers or play like the B person you describe. B can beat a pushers but most likely they will need a very good day to do so, and as they lose to the pusher more I would think that they have an ambition to get better to at least not lose against that pusher. B has more potential I would say but it can only progress once they decide to start playing like a pusher with better depth and speed while maintaining consistency and developing a sense of when to go for the shot that will earn them the point or set them up to earn it on the next shot.
    In other words, you want to become a controlled hard hitting pusher. There will always be someone better that will blow you off the court, you just got to keep on working to improve.
     
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  6. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    A guy in my fraternity won intramural tennis. I didn't even know he played. He never went out to the courts to play tennis like the other guys. I asked him why I didn't see him playing for fun. He said, "When I was a kid, tennis was pushed down my throat."

    Even though he had gotten so good, he didn't see tennis as fun, it was just work to him. I doubt if he even continued playing as an adult.
     
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  7. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    There are a lot of faulty assumptions in the op post. I certainly don't agree that I (or many) "develop bad habits that need to be unlearned." Speaking for myself I don't have bad habits that I care about. My tennis is as perfect as it gets for my level and purpose, and I win a lot too! :)

    What exactly is "the harder adult journey"?

    What's with the obsession over pusher vs whatnot in this place?

    If you keep losing by continuing to hit too hard or too easy, you are simply an idiotic competitor. If you care to compete to win, you'll need to change from the current style. Other than that if you think it's fun to play with racket and ball in certain ways, any ways are fine. Rec tennis is rule-less and undefined.
     
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  8. rogerroger917

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    Someone call pomo
     
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  9. CT-Topspin

    CT-Topspin Rookie

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    I think for some people like TTPS the joy of tennis is not just in winning, but in the progression that comes with investing a significant amount of resources into getting better.

    What I've noticed though (I'm guilty of this as well), is that when you choose this approach, you might feel resentment towards somebody that beats you in a way that doesn't fit your model of how you learned tennis. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn how to hit the ball in the "correct" manner and when you try to execute this style against somebody that is content to win in an unconventional style that is a result of them adapting to their own habits, it can cause frustration.

    This is definitely an issue of ego. It can be difficult not to conflate improvement with success in matches which is where I believe some of this resentment towards "pushers" comes from.
     
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  10. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    Pushers can probably beat alot of lower level players but once you progress to higher levels of tennis theres no way a pusher will beat you, 4.0+ level I mean.

    @nytennisaddict would crush any pusher with ease 6:0 6:0

    And im not talking about defensive counterpunchers or what not, by pusher I trully mean pusher, dinking and hitting slow balls and bunting balls and just trying to get everything in.
     
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  11. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    It's more than an issue of ego, it's also an issue of shortsightedness or of blindness to the world outside. They cannot see / comprehend that there are other ways to learn good (better) tennis other than their way, or others are just simply more talented.
     
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  12. CT-Topspin

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    Well there are definitely consistencies in what we consider "good" form and strategy and proper ways to achieve these things. Usually a good coach can help make this distinction and guide you in the right direction. The more you deviate from these methods, the greater chance there is to develop bad habits. Like you said, though, sometimes these habits can be masked through other strengths, or raw physical ability.
     
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  13. CT-Topspin

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    It is my understanding that "pushing" is a legitimate style of tennis that can be improved upon like any other style. I guess once the player achieves a certain degree of success with it the name changes but if it's just semantics it's just semantics.
     
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  14. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    hehe, i'm certain i'd beat a 3.5 pusher 0,0
    but would probably lose to a 5.0 "pusher"

    on the forums, i've realized that, "pusher" is meant to describe anyone, regardless of technique, who gets alot of neutral balls back (deep), typically with not alot of threatening pace, infrequently trying to dictate play... but you can play a pretty high level with this style.

    i tend to reserve "pusher" to describe folks with bunty stroke technique, can't hit topspin, and therefore can't "swing out"... so all they can do is redirect pace... ie. folks at the 3.5 level that never took a lesson.
     
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  15. Vanhalen

    Vanhalen Semi-Pro

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    The embarrassing thing is taking years of expensive lessons, practicing every day, having a bag full of the latest high tech rackets and strings strings finely tuned to your specifications, perfectly designed latest shoes and attire.

    As TTPS is practicing some serves on the city parks courts, along walks up a random older guy wanting to play. Has one Wal-Mart $7.99 cheap prestrung racquet with a worn out grip. Old running shoes stained green from mowing the lawn. An old tee shirt from Froot of the Loom and cargo shorts with a belt.

    He slices and dices and dinks you to death with strokes with the looks of a 9 year old girl. You lose.......now what do you do?
     
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  16. CT-Topspin

    CT-Topspin Rookie

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    You shake his hand and thank him for the opportunity to play. Like any loss you use it as a learning experience to make you a better player.
     
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  17. Wise one

    Wise one Semi-Pro

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    LOL

    I've seen that happen before. Learn what he's doing and do it better.
     
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  18. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    when that happened to me... i definitely broke some racquets...
    nowadays i'd smile and thank him for the free lesson :)
     
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  19. FiReFTW

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    For me a 5.0 pusher doesn't exist, neither does a 4.5 pusher, players at such a high level have some weapons and can use them to destroy 3.5 or 4.0 players, pusher for me means someone who just bunts the ball back and doesn't really have a high tennis level.

    There are players who play a fairly safe game at higher levels but those are more defensive minded players, but when they get a right ball or short ball they will attack because they have the shots to do so.
     
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  20. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    my point is that people define "pusher" so many ways... and i've never seen agreement on the definition of "pusher".
    i think you and i agree on what a "pusher" is... but that's it...
     
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  21. MyFearHand

    MyFearHand Rookie

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    As to the first thing about academy kids. I trained quite a bit towards the end of high school with some really strong players. We play lots of games when we train, we definitely all love playing together and trying to improve. No matter how good you are you inevitably find people who are at a similar level to you where you live (up to a certain point, maybe not at 5.5+) and then you want to play with them. So it's not as lonely and as unenjoyable as you'd think. Although some kids definitely do burn out, I wouldn't say this is the norm.

    For your comment about needs to learn how to hit the ball in play to win matches against weaker players, if the player isn't winning the matches then he isn't playing against weaker players. There is no wrong way to play tennis. In the long run there are certainly more optimal ways to play, but there are many styles at the rec level that can win.
     
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  22. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Hall of Fame

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    The reality is the physical ability to compete continues to decline as we age where kids are on the uptake for improvement. It has taken me over a year and a half to make small improvements to my mechanics, all while having issues with health and fitness. The result is actually a net loss in overall rating and performance. I hit with one of the college kids this weekend, and he is someone I played with since he was in high school. He is VERY good, and where I used to be able to keep up, I was struggling this weekend overall. Difference between 20 years old and 50 years old.

    So the irony of it all for me, and I get a little laugh out of it thinking about it, is that I have dropped level, dropped fitness, have less power and longevity on court, but for the time I am out there My strokes look prettier and shots are more polished. lol.
     
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  23. mcs1970

    mcs1970 Professional

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    The best argument to keep doing drills and practices even as you age is not to make any radical jump in levels as much as to delay the decline that will inevitably happen due to increasing age. Plus, if you're going to be the old guy who loses, might as well be the old guy who loses with prettier looking shots.
     
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  24. ChaelAZ

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    Exactly. I work harder than I ever have...just to maintain!
     
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  25. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    I 2nd that. I play a 5.0 who rarely hits winners [unless I'm at the net]; he mainly moves me around and lets me self-destruct. He doesn't hit with a lot of TS or wicked slice or paint the lines. But he puts the ball in the far reaches of my comfort zone and I eventually make a mistake. I would call his style "pushing" although I know he can kick it up several notches if he wanted to.
     
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  26. Steady Eddy

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    I played a guy who was so new to tennis, he didn't even make sure he had two balls in hand to start a point. If he faulted he just looked around for another ball.

    So he was a real novice. But he'd hit crazy winners, and I had trouble beating him. He'd hit a flat, net skimming winner just in, and I'd wonder, "Does he know how hard that is?" Some guys get about one level better every hour. These have always been young, athletic guys. It's not all about knowledge, some guys improve very fast in tennis. And then there's people like me.

    (I still have fun with it, though)
     
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  27. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Hall of Fame

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    Good point. They don't have any real incentive to go backwards. They are already winning.
    And when they see pretty strokes, they might think that is just a natural gift.
    (Fed is a natural !! LOL!)
     
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  28. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Hall of Fame

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    Never. If I lose to someone, they are tops on my list to hit again.
    Pushers are/were at the top of my list, they helped me to learn not to be a maniac.

    Also, people don't give pushers enough credit.
    They spend 5 days a week perfecting their craft, over 10-20 years.
    Pushers get my respect, big time.
     
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  29. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I actually feel good and proud having a nice expensive looking bag, gears, new shoes and attire. I'd dress up nicely everytime if I had the money.

    Frankly I don't respect those that wear one pair of old (sometimes not made for tennis) shoes, same old short and shirt every time. While it's a hit or miss with decently dressed players being good, it's almost always the case that sloppily dressed players are lazy and low work ethic. They tend to not be passionate about the game. And they never ever contribute new balls.
     
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  30. CT-Topspin

    CT-Topspin Rookie

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    Pretty strokes are only one piece of the puzzle. Executing those strokes in some sort of strategic pattern that makes the opponent uncomfortable is what will put Player B ahead of Player A in the long run.
     
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  31. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    Very good point, a good stroke with nice pace and spin is good.

    But a good stroke with nice pace and spin that is accurate and reliable and consistent all that while being executed well like you said with a tactical intent is several levels above the 1st and its not even close.
     
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  32. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Hall of Fame

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    Yes, that realization comes when you get crushed 6-0 by a guy who hits half as hard as you.

    Placement trumps power
     
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  33. CT-Topspin

    CT-Topspin Rookie

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    In my experience it's contextual. Your approach shot down the line has to have enough pace that you reduce your opponent's ability to hit a passing winner or lob.

    Also, there are some people that just can't handle or redirect power efficiently so slamming shots anywhere in the court can be a successful strategy.

    I don't think one trumps the other, nor do I think that's the mental framework you should engage with when trying to become a better player. They both have their place in their own respective situations.
     
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  34. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    Pace is important, but its only 1 factor out of many.

    Theres also placement.
    Accuracy.
    Consistency.
    How does ur shot work when on the run?
    Does it break down against heavy pace or spin or both?
    How does it handle no pace balls? Slices? High balls?
    How efficiently do you use it? Do you have a tactical awareness abd purpose or just blindly hit shots?

    Its not hard to hit fast, even a beginner can smack the ball pretty fast even if the ball hits the back fence with no control and even when arming the shot.

    There are a ton of things that are important abd affect how good ur shot is against opponents.

    Pace and ability to hit fast is important and the faster you can hit the better, BUT not at the expense of all the other things..

    You should hit with the pace that allows u good consiatency, placement, control etc etc... and work and train and as you improve you improve all the things and can hit faster and faster while maintaining all the rest.

    But if you swing like a madman and lose all your other things or in other words hit faster than your current ability allows ur shot will be more risky the more you go above your ability.
     
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  35. rogerroger917

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    Spoken like an inconsistent 3.5. Watch a top level junior, college , pro match. They smash and they dont miss. Can hit spots.
     
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  36. CT-Topspin

    CT-Topspin Rookie

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    Pace is probably too generic of a term to encompass all of the things that are going on when the ball is hit fast. We probably agree with each other on most things but have different assumptions when the word "pace" gets thrown around. When I say it I am assuming you are hitting loosely with good follow through, are balanced and have moved into position early enough to execute a high pace shot. I don't think "reckless", because I think it is entirely possible to miss a shot when all things line up correctly, especially if you make a bad decision.
     
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  37. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Since very few on this list are at this level, your comment isn't very relevant.

    Much more relevant are the legions of 3.0-4.5 rec players: for us, placement often does trump power. At least for me, it does: I lose way more matches because of lack of placement than lack of power.
     
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  38. CT-Topspin

    CT-Topspin Rookie

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    It's just weird to separate the two. If you place a ball somewhere with the wrong amount of pace, aren't you setting yourself for failure in certain situations? I'm sure you aren't hitting marshmallow shots back to your opponent, I'm presuming you can add pace if the situation dictates.

    When you start saying one trumps the other aren't you disregarding that most situations are contextual and require the appropriate combination of both?

    My experience in recreational tennis has been consistent with this understanding. I've played guys that have great pace, and guys with great placement, some have both! I don't know that I would prefer one over the other. I think it really depends.

    I feel like I am rambling. Does this make sense? Do I sound like the amateur I am?
     
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  39. TimeToPlaySets

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    Placement trumps power.
     
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  40. CT-Topspin

    CT-Topspin Rookie

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    Maybe. I'm willing to hear both sides and learn.
     
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  41. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    You make complete sense and I agree with the nuance.

    However, if I had to choose, I'd choose placement. My choice is based on the observation of my own losses and rarely are they due to lack of power, not because I have a lot of power but because I make more mistakes due to bad placement [ie hitting it out or into the net].
     
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  42. rogerroger917

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    True. For sure ttps cannot hit hard and to spots. But his observation was not relegated to only aspiring rec players. So the truth is you need power and placement for high level tennis.
     
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  43. CT-Topspin

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    I guess my question is one of development then. I'm relatively young (25) have a year and half under my belt and have been improving quickly but have always been searching for the optimal way to train (keeping in mind a full time job) with ambitions to be successful through the USTA ranks.

    Should power be a focus as the form is developing? Can this be something that can added after achieving consistency or is it more difficult? What combination of practicing these things gives the highest ceiling?
     
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  44. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Well, I'm the wrong guy to ask because I didn't go through much training or coaching when learning. Hopefully someone like @tennis_balla or @Ash_Smith can comment.
     
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  45. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Placement is easy. Power is not.

    One time or another many of us can paint the lines, the corners, anywhere in the court and win games just like Federer does. But none of recreational players come close to generating the power like pros do. Let a lone top pros.
     
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  46. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    If placement was easy, why do so few rec players have it?

    Pros have both power and placement; that's difficult.

    Hitting with power alone without regard to accuracy is easier than placement, IMO: all I have to do is hit hard without regard to whether the ball goes in.
     
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  47. AdrianC

    AdrianC New User

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    Im a year into my tennis now and im firmly in the B camp. But......i believe in playing to your strengths. Ive always played my sport aggressive, get the most enjoyment from being aggressive, prefer to know theres a higher ceiling if im good enough, and can naturally hit it pretty hard. Ive always been better at the burst type sports than endurance, so i really dont want to get tangled up playing the pushers game. If i were 170 cm and a whippet then it might be a different story.
     
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  48. FiReFTW

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    I agree with @S&V-not_dead_yet

    I have no clue what @user92626 is on about... power is far easier than placement, give a complete beginner a tennis racquet and throw him the ball infront of him and tell him to smack it as HARD as he possibly can, he might need a few swings to really hit the ball well in the center and the ball will probably fly to the back fence or maybe even over it, but assuming the person is fit and strong, he can hit with more power than a lot of decent level tennis players do.

    The reason the beginner with hit harder than most decent players is because he will smack it with all he has without any control, but a decent player will hit at his "speed limit" where he has good enough control, placement, accuracy, consistency etc...

    Its about hitting as fast as you can while having good enough placement and control, the more you put into it the more your control and placement goes down.
     
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  49. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    What are you talking about? All of us playing rec tennis are able to hit/dink/tap/bunt/smash the ball in places in the court and keep games going week in and week out!!!

    Do you see any player able to carry out pro's level FH of 60-80mph at city courts?

    OK, I'll take your bait of talking the extreme like simply wacking the ball without regard to keeping the ball in (meaning absent of any tennis intent? Who does that?), only a few youngsters you might see at the court are able to do that (pacey 70mph more horizontally pro looking shot). The rest of the people tend to aim high to have deep balls.

    Ask your 50s, 60s year old pals to rip ball that clears the net by 1-3 ft and bounce and hit the back fence with authority, see if they can do that 3 times in a row. And that's them standing in one place, not talking moving/running to the shot. None of the folks I play with is able to do that.
     
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  50. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    OK let's talk completely stupid premises like the one you suggest. LOL

    In the same token, give a complete beginner the equipment and ask her to place the ball into the opposite court, it's still far easier for her to do that than your beginner doing the power shot above.

    Are we done arguing stupid extremes?
     
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