In the center

#1
I practice more these days with angles and slices, but played a match last night where I couldn't hit anything out of these middle. Other than *just do it* is there anything, mental image that I can adopt to take me into a practice space ?

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#2
Are you usually waiting for the ball to bounce to initiate your preparation (unit turn)? If so, you might be preparing too late to hit x-court. Make up your mind whether you are going to hit a FH or BH before the ball crosses the net. For most balls, initiate your unit turn as the ball crosses the net... do not wait for the ball to bounce. Make this a habit.
 
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#3
And make certain that you are initiating a split step during your opponent’s forward swing so that you are at the top of the hop when they make contact with the ball. When you land, turn and move. This should get you to initiate your unit turn early.

Before you start your own forward swing, visualize your target area as you are watching the ball bounce and come toward you. As you develop your visualization skills, your brain (subconscious mind) will eventually figure out how to get ball to your intended target area.
 
#4
Mental image #1, visualize the court as a tic-tac-toe board and you want to put the ball in one of the squares (but not the center one).

#2 visualize an arrow through the center of the ball- pointing in the direction of your intended placement. move and position yourself with the ball so that you hit every ball as much as possible the same, in relation to your body, and drive through the ball in the direction of the arrow using topspin or slice, as needed, to control your placement.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
#5
I practice more these days with angles and slices, but played a match last night where I couldn't hit anything out of these middle. Other than *just do it* is there anything, mental image that I can adopt to take me into a practice space ?

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this was done some yrs back, but relates in general to how I teach it with some noted degree of success....

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=413112&highlight=practice+for+Smarter+Targets
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#6

5263

G.O.A.T.
#7
The 18" seems a little tight to the sideline for a rec player? (i.e. not that smart of a target)

i.e. if you think it's unwise to aim 3' from the baseline, why is it wise to aim 1.5' from the sideline?
Good questions and since it's a long thread, I'm not surprised that you missed where it explains how the Targets are really more of a reference to help see the court more usefully. You can reference them however you like and even reference them different on weaker days than better days. 18" off the line is a good avg reference to work from with the DTL and mainly to help those who hit for the lines to learn how to bring it in some. On easy balls and good days, I may use the alley created by the 18" line, but on a sub par day, I might play more into the triangles. The most commonly used targets nearly all go right out to the lines, so if you don't think this is enough room for your game, then adjust accordingly. Smart Targets do make the game more simple, but are not a substitute for all thinking.

As to 3' vs 1.5'.....You can see the 1.5' and at least make adjustments for it related to your performance, but the back 3' can't be seen with any level of accuracy. If you are speaking to crosscourt shots, then you would bring the ball down before the 1.5', not try to hit the backside of the target.
 
#8
I practice more these days with angles and slices, but played a match last night where I couldn't hit anything out of these middle. Other than *just do it* is there anything, mental image that I can adopt to take me into a practice space ?
A purely short-term expedient would be to deliberately hit early or late which will cause CC or DTL respectively. You could also try adjusting your stance to more open or closed.
 
#9
I practice more these days with angles and slices, but played a match last night where I couldn't hit anything out of these middle. Other than *just do it* is there anything, mental image that I can adopt to take me into a practice space ?

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Two thoughts that might be generally useful, but it's hard to know exactly what to address without being out there on the court with you.

I think that a great way to transfer practice techniques over to competitive settings is to break up a practice hit with a tiebreak or two. If you're hitting more to the corners with a hitting pal and deliberately working on staying out of the middle, change the grain of things by playing a quick tiebreak so that you can put that shot placement to work in a few points. Then go back to a little more practice grinding. This can make our practice hitting more similar to how we hit during point play. There's a difference between "practicing it" and "practicing how you put it to use".

Another idea that might be helpful is how you think about dealing with cross court or "angled" shots from an opponent. When an opponent sends you a shot with pretty good angle on it, your default can be to always send it back across the net with at least as much angle. It's generally easier to send an incoming ball back in the same direction that it comes to us compared with changing its direction. Changing the ball's direction requires more demanding timing of our strokes compared with hitting it back down the same path it came to us from an opponent. If you've never read an overview of Wardlaw's Directionals, I recommend a look - very useful insights.

So sending the ball back to the other end with at least as much angle as it came to us can be a no-brainer for staying out of the middle. The other great feature of hitting back to an opponent with a little more angle is that it can very effectively neutralize that opponent. Instead of his cross court ball leaving you out of position, your cross court response with even sharper angle will often force your opponent to reverse course if he's recovering toward the middle. More angle will effectively let you hit behind that guy, stretch him, and force a weak reply.

The other thing about answering angle with greater angle is that it can deny an opponent an opening. If his cross court shot runs you over to a sideline, that leaves the far half of your end exposed, but if you hit a sharper angle back to his end, that puts you opponent in the same pickle. And because he has to hit from near or even beyond his own sideline, his high-percentage response is cross court. He has to hit back toward you even though you're out of position. If he goes for a much tougher down-the-line winner, he's going to miss that one a lot more than the cross court option.

Think this over and keep it in mind the next time you're on the practice court of playing points. Our game's version of "fight fire with fire" can be "fight angles with angles".
 
#10
I practice more these days with angles and slices, but played a match last night where I couldn't hit anything out of these middle. Other than *just do it* is there anything, mental image that I can adopt to take me into a practice space ?

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No mental imagery can make up for lack of reaction time, speed, footwork, experience, positioning, etc.

You should focus on the ball and what you want to do with it with your racquet. You could see where on the ball you want to make your cut or brush OR you could manipulate your racquet face angle ever so slightly and that will alter the path of the ball. I'm not sure if that was what you were asking.

I think if you practice well, the match itself should not be too different. This means you are not practicing at the same speed as your match, and its normal many people do this.
 
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