Interesting lesson with a pro.... not sure yet!

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by pabletion, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. pabletion

    pabletion Hall of Fame

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    I had my first ever private lesson with a club pro that, tbh I've always wanted to work with. He is a very nice guy, played Davis Cup at some point in his life (about 25 yrs ago) and he is as smooth as it gets, I'm talking about his strokes. But, as we all know, wether a persons is good or not to play has little to do with how good a teacher they are.

    About me: I'm a self rated 4.5 player (maybe would be a 4.0 rated, according to an american friend who I play against often and IS officially rated), been playing for almost 20 yrs now, I think I have very sound strokes, semiwestern fh, 2hbh (maybe my best stroke), ok serve, ok volleys, sub-par overhead, good slice, good dropshot, good overall touch and feel I'm very unpredictable, and have highs and lows, in my opinion too extreme sometimes, on a bad day I might play HORRIBLY bad, I sometimes dont even recognize e, while on a good day I might feel like a 5.0 or even higher, and feel almost unbeatable. I want to maximize my abilities and make those bad days not as terrible, be more consistent. It frustrates the heck outta me to have those terrible days, and I fall out of matches mentally, when, maybe if I grinded I would win. These are the main reasons I wanna train regularly.

    Ok, about the lesson: a couple of years ago, maybe last year, I was chatting about tennis with this pro, and he was talking a whole lot about eye dominance and how important it is to recognize it when youre working on your game. Im cross-dominant, right handed, left footed, and turns out my left eye is the dominant one. This is why, he says, my backhand is so good and even better, more consistent, than my fh. It made sense, but at the time I didnt particularly thought it was that big of an issue. Now, yesterday, first thing he did was bring this up again (Im sure he doesnt remember our previous chat), he told me that my fh is so unreliable, im part, because Im left eye dominant, and when I open up with my stance/chest, Im loosing sight of the ball. I know one of the mistakes I tend to make is open up early when hitting a fh, this causes me problems when I wanna go crosscourt, and Ive been working on staying still, closing my stance a bit and not opening up while hitting, while I keep my eye on the ball.

    Heres the interesting part: he insisted that, when I go for a forehand, based on my left-eye/left foot dominance, I SHOULD split step, step forward diagonally with my right foot, then bring my left foot forward of my right foot (leaving me with a semi open stance, but closing my stance with my shoulders), hit and pivot with my left foot (sounds just about right), bringing my right foot in front, and then return to my initial position making a cross step with my right foot in front and across my left leg, while going back.

    Okay, I see the point: I tend to go for that same forehand stepping with my left foot first, this would make use an extra step, or half a step to get to the same ball. But apparently I've been doing this forever, and I do this because I step with my left leg first, I start running with my strongest, left leg.

    I consider that my footwork is one of my strenghts, Ive been playing sports my whole life, I played soccer since I was a little kid, played a lot of basketball during my teens, and was fairly good at both, I do cross step when Im pulled out wide to return to the court, and I never considered this a difficult thing to do. Im very fast with my feet. My point is: I'm 37, I wanna make the BEST out of my strokes, working on repetitions, racquet head speed, tinkering with technical errors I might have, using leg power more, etc etc.... Whats the point on teaching me how to move my feet "correctly"? Im not a big believer on workin on footwork at such high detail (I do believe its necessary for people who have TERRIBLE footwork, who arent very athletic and dont have much sports background), I believe that an ATHLETE (yes, Im considering myself as an athlete) just moves great naturally, I think that, making me move a certain leg at certain times in a certain way just ADDS information to the equation, and maybe even useless information! After hitting hand fed balls, I was rallying crosscout with someone, and it was very hard, just one more thing to think about while trying to hit.

    Still not sure, of course it was the first lesson, I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt of course, be a good student and listen, and try new things, but I dont know, to me, working on footwork is not that important, or at least in a manner where youre trying to teach yourself what foot to move first and how. Working on footwork, to me, should be about doing speed excercises (step-in/step out...) etc.

    What do you guys think? Am I being short sighted?
     
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  2. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ^^^ good pun the last sentence based on the eye dominance issue.

    I am right eye dominant and a rightie, so the only adjustment I make is to try to get a deeper turn on my one handed backhand and focus more on the ball on that side with both eyes.
     
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  3. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    In a word, yes.

    Personally, I think great footwork is foundational [ie 3Fs = footwork, focus, fitness, and spacing].

    You may well be gifted athletically and have good footwork due to that and soccer and BB. However, I'd keep an open mind [as you said you would] with this coach and see what he has to offer: perhaps he can turn your good footwork into great footwork. Maybe this might also help smooth out some of your large ups and downs.
     
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  4. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think he is making you look at the ball squarely with your dominant left eye on your forehand (like I mentioned I do the opposite for my backhand with my right eye).
     
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  5. styksnstryngs

    styksnstryngs Professional

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    Nah, footwork is always something that needs fine tuning. High level players do a lot of footwork drills, it seems natural because it is ingrained.
     
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  6. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    Right dominant here.
    I spent a lot of time on my 2hbh footwork (still do):
    *split
    *step out with left (I’m really planting with my right and pushing off (ie gravity step))
    I too used to cross over as a first step,... it’s a slower move which is fine if I have time... but too slow for things like ROS

    Thx for sharing OP
     
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  7. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    Hard to say without seeing you hit, but if your spacing to the ball is appropriate then I would be paying attention to how your head moves when you swing. A lot of good players, I do this myself very often having built up a bad habit for many years when I first started playing because I didn't know any better, will move their head during the stroke before contact. This takes your eyes away from the contact and also changes your stroke. When you move your head it tends to move the whole upper body along with it.

    So try to keep your head still after contact and only look up to see where the ball went after you're well into your follow through.
     
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  8. Dave Mc

    Dave Mc Rookie

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    Very interesting. I've been playing for over 40 years, and when I think about my strokes, and which shots are more natural for me and which aren't, and which changes I've made to my strokes that were successful and which weren't, your dominant eye explanation actually fits perfectly.
     
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  9. Knox

    Knox Semi-Pro

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    I recommend asking your coach how long it's gonna take for you to become unconsciously competent at the new movement technique, ask him about the progressions you will be using along your development path.

    If he's not confident in his answer, he's BSing you, hip firing your lessons, and doesn't have a mastery plan for that skill.


    If he does have a confident answer, does have a mastery plan, does have a progression series, then he's almost certainly legit and it's all up whether or not you wanna go through with it all.
     
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  10. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    If you can spend $10, this book has some interesting things to say. Look at the table of contents. He doesn't talk about dominant and non-dominant eyes, but he does spend a good deal of time talking about visualizing.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1549673122/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I do own and have read the book. Several times. It is worth $10 IMO. His perspective is quite interesting and unique among tennis books.
     
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  11. Dartagnan64

    Dartagnan64 Legend

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    I'd love to have a coach that focused on footwork. So many coaches work on stoke production but I find all that goes to hell if you are not in the right spot with the right spacing.

    Clearly the coach sees something that could make you better so I'd advise listening to him. Work on making the changes and see if it helps. If not then you can move on.

    But nothing ventured, nothing gained.
     
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  12. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    Yes. One of the biggest differences between good and great players is footwork.
    "Tennis is all legs." -John McEnroe.
     
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  13. dennis

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    Is your coach saying players use different footwork patterns depending on eye dominance?! I don't see how you can 'lose sight' of the ball; you can turn your head to track it with both eyes.

    My opinion is if you can see pros all using the same footwork pattern for a particular type of incoming ball, eg they all split then step right and then left for a similar short ball to the forehand side, and you do something different then I would think about changing it. Can you post a video?
     
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  14. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    +1
    good book


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  15. Crocodile

    Crocodile Hall of Fame

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    As a coach I wouldn't get too bogged down with this stuff. Yes I understand all about eye dominance but really it's only one small part of the equation.
    The reality is that you don't actuslly watch the ball right on to your racquet snd by trying to do this you actually lose focus of other more important things such as watching your opponent to get cues of what type of ball you are about to receive, then getting yourself into position, loading up, rotating snd releasing your shot. One need to be more peripheral if one is to be more coordinated rather than too internally fixated.
     
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  16. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    I'm of the opposite opinion: my fundamental problem is not concentrating on the ball meeting the strings and straying in my focus to peripheral matters. If I can't consistently make clean contact, who cares where my opponent is or what he's doing? That's secondary.
     
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  17. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    I have not heard of the dominant eye issue before on strokes.

    Do you have amblyopia (lazy eye)?
    https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/amblyopia.htm

    For the dominant eye issue, I would study that using high speed video. Can you find any ATP players with your stance that appear even to be doing the footwork fix?

    My first thought is that you should be looking at the ball impact region with both eyes well enough aligned that you should not 'loose sight' of the ball. Study your ball watching in video and head orientation. View your eyes as the ball comes in to impact.

    Duane Knudson in his book on biomechanics and tennis strokes has a section on watching the ball. He said that high level players watch the ball and then at some point switch to the impact area. He describes this ball watching in more detail. I can't say that I've seen that in detail looking at high speed videos but it may not be an easy thing to observe. But when I look at slow videos carefully I do see most players with a quick head turn to the ball for impact.

    I see Federer as exceptional at ball watching and may even often be looking through the back of the racket at impact. That would depend on stances and where the ball is impacted. ??

    I have noticed in pictures that Djokovic may be looking forward of ball impact. I have not done statistics on player's ball watching techniques or variety. If you see this in your own video you may not be seeing the ball with the dominant left eye with your current stroke. (Zimbio picture.)
    [​IMG]

    I had poor ball watching habit. It is much better in recent years. When I miss, for feedback I ask myself, 'What did the racket look like striking the ball?' Often on bad shots, I can't recall a picture.

    You should take a video showing how - because of your stance and foot position - you 'lose sight of the ball'. In other words, when is your head not pointing at the ball well enough. I don't believe that the difference should be hard to see, it should be obvious in videos as in the Djokovic picture.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018 at 9:13 AM
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  18. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Footwork is massively important. A slight change alone can be the difference in shot quality between a 4.0 and 4.5. If you move to the ball slightly faster, or can cover more distance without losing balance, then you have a massive edge over your opponent.

    Also, I regret looking at this thread. I feel like I've opened a whole can of worms with this whole eye dominance thing.
     
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  19. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    What do you know about it?



    [​IMG]
     
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  20. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Where's the cover story I get? Like I didn't read anything to deal with eye-dominance and instead I read something about a post-modern forehand serve twirlybird and that you will never get beyond 3.5 NTRP without it?
     
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  21. StringSnapper

    StringSnapper Professional

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    Can you help me understand this right:

    Im left handed, left footed, right eye dominant. Does this mean open stance forehands suit me, and neutral or closed backhands suit me?

    For you its the opposite are you saying, neutral or closed forehands suit you, and open stance bhs suit you?

    Because it gets our dominant eye more in on the action?
     
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  22. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    I'm not knowledgeable at all about eye dominance but here's my attempt at puzzling it out:

    It seems to me the worst thing for your situation is a closed stance on the BH side because you will be relying the most on your non-dominant left eye. A neutral or open stance would seem better.

    Therefore, the opposite might apply to your FH: the best is a closed stance because you're able to rely the most on your dominant right eye.

    OTOH, will this cause your right eye dominance to grow in magnitude? I hope not.
     
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  23. Jamesm182

    Jamesm182 Semi-Pro

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    I'd compare this something similar to athletics, and the way hurdlers approach hurdles with certain patterns of footwork to enable the best and more effective jump/land/accelerate process.
    I see what this coach is doing is not really about focussing on pure footwork , he's trying to help organise your feet and coordinate you in order to help improve your forehand.
    I'd agree you are being a little short sighted, if he gave you some advice which focussed more on technique or more racket related it sounds like you would be more open to it.
    I don't think he is saying you are a bad mover or have poor footwork so I would not be offended. Glad to see you are giving it a go , and you can evaluate afterwards. I always do the same with my player and try to get them to appreciate what sometimes may seem like a small improvement or suggestion can make much larger waves down the line in relation to your game
     
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  24. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    This coach may have something valuable to say but in general, be wary of teaching pros who try to inject Physics or Biomechanics into their lessons. Most of them just know some terminology and try to impress their students, nothing more.

    Same thing with pros who try to give tips which are contrary to usual teaching - they want to impress the student by passing on a secret which supposedly destroys a myth. I once took a lesson from a "famous" coach in Maui (only way to get court time in the busy season) and his secret sauce was that all serves, first and second, should be served with an Eastern backhand grip.
     
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  25. dennis

    dennis Rookie

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    Is there any evidence to support the theory?
     
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  26. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Enough with the footwork craze.

    Most adult players play immobile doubles, and at our courts triples, where most of them cannot place the ball very well. Meaning, all the time they simply try to hit the ball over the net, to the opposing players, to see who screws up first. These types of shots do not require much moving -- thus footwork -- and the players get to the shot seemly comfortably but yet they hit the ball into the net, into the fence, you name it.

    You can go to Youtube and view recreational matches and see players commit most errors while they are at the ball!!!

    My point is...footwork has its place. It's just one component. There are a dozen different important things. Good players develop them all equally.
     
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  27. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Where does footwork rank in your list? And does this list change depending on who your opposition is? And if it's low on the list when playing immobile doubles/triples, what do you do when playing a highly mobile and consistent opponent? Can you just turn on great footwork like a light switch? I know I can't.

    For me it's very high on the list [3Fs = Footwork, Focus, Fitness, and spacing]. I play highly mobile doubles and also singles.
     
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  28. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    @S&V-not_dead_yet

    footwork is one of the fundamentals just like the rest of other fundamentals. It doesn't rank higher or lower, just like one's arm doesn't rank higher than one's leg when you need both for a complete body! LOL.

    Do you ever hear pro's say for this match I should focus more on footwork or increase the rpm of the FH?

    Many good players can "turn on" whatever they need at the moment and it doesn't have to always be one thing. It's called stepping up or having a higher gear. It really depends on one's level.
     
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  29. pabletion

    pabletion Hall of Fame

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    Yes. This is what I got from the lesson, that, depending on which ones your dominant eye (and legs too), you should play tennis a certain way. I've NEVER heard such a thing before, I've been playing for 20 years now, and I do like to learn about proper technique, drills etc etc... but I have never come across an online tutorial or youtube vid from teaching pros that dig into this. Im very skeptic about this, I'm going through this with an open mind, though, wanna see how it goes, plus I've only taken one lesson (tomorrow will be my 2nd).

    I'll try and post a vid.
     
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  30. pabletion

    pabletion Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for your imput. I'm a very practical person, I'm not a coach nor am trying to become one, I'm an engineer so I've a very scientific curiosity about things, I like to learn about the mechanics and proper techniques about tennis but I dont think it should be that complicated, that elaborated. I would agree that going into it at such detail is not worth it, and just adds up unnecessary information to the equation, Im practical and I like practical ways of teaching tennis (hey, its not rocket science!). Like I said, Im very skeptical about it but willing to give it a try... My 1st lesson was very confusing and I noticed how much slower I became while trying to rally crosscourt, I was just thinking about stepping with my right leg first and all of a sudden the ball was all over me.

    What I'm wondering is WHERE did he get this from, Im assuming he read it somewhere, maybe out of a tennis book, or out of a seminary or something of the sorts, and he got fixated on this, I dont know.

    Like I said, I consider mysielf to have good footwork, of course it can be even better and there must be tons of excercises to improve/work on it, but Im really not seeing the logic behind changing how I move my feet based on what eye. Just wanna see how it all pans out from a couple of lessons. If we dissagree, I'll have to stop taking lessons with him.

    I like the basics: watching the ball, keeping eyes on the ball (head still), whole unit turn, racquet head up on takeback, contact in front, using legs and torso for power, smooth loose grip...

    I have actually learned a couple of "techy" things from pros, like the crossover step to get back into position, I saw a pro once working on it with an advanced junior, and tried it. Those are the important things to teach, in my opinion, things that actually help and work, that maybe, even if you have the best of footworks, if you havent been taught, you wouldnt think of using.
     
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  31. pabletion

    pabletion Hall of Fame

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    I dont have lazy eye, but I do have all sorts of issues with my eyes... I have myopia (nearsighted), use contact lenses (dont really see perfect with them anymore), and I have a bit of glaucoma on my left eye (DOMINANT EYE!), and a hereditary nerve issue that, had I not detected and began preemtive treatment, couldve eventually developed in loss of field vision (my dad lost about 80% of one of his eyes because of this, I checked early and am still fine, and will be, as long as I check it regularly and treat it).

    I agree with the schoolf of thought that the important thing is to keep your head fairly still during contact, since this will prevent you from opening up early and falling off your rotating axis.....

    I agree also that you dont really "see the ball" when youre attempting to see it during contact, but it keeps you in a proper position and transition. And yes, you can get away with not having your eyes fixated on contact, a lot of pros get away with it but because they have great motions.

    Moving "away" from your shot is a very common amateur flaw, maybe VERY commong,and I do work to improve this on my game. I think its more pronounced on my fh, I open up way too early and sometimes even hit on my back foot. It think this is the point my coach is trying to make, just not sure how relevant my whole "dominant eye" thing is, regarding this mistake. Anyways, willing to try, and let you guys know...
    If youre left handed, left eye dominant, according to him, you can hit open stance fh, because you wouldnt loose sight with your dominant side......
     
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  32. pabletion

    pabletion Hall of Fame

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    Yeah I agree. This pro is a really great guy, I've known him for about 15 yrs (he's been that long at my club), but I'm sure he's not the most educated of pros, mostly self-taught. He was a great player (even played some Davis Cup at some point) and he's got some ITF level certificates Im sure. Im assuming he got this theories from someone else or a book or seminary... Im gonna ask him where did he get all of this from.

    He does try to push biomechanics into his lessons, like I said, Im very skeptic, Ive played long enough to know a thing or two about techniques and specially about "nonsense" theories... Still not sure about this one though, we know each other enough for me to just call him on it and say "you know, I dont believe in this, I dont see it or maybe its just not for me".

    Its an interesting approach, maybe Im just more curious than anything and wanna see where it goes.
     
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  33. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    I'm a former coach, head pro, director, MRT, and a hitting partner... and on court standup philosopher. I think it is really important for all teaching pros to keep learnding, and show how different they are from the typical "watch the ball, bend the knees, that'll be $80 please" teaching pros. And have a cool accent, preferably Aussie, or South American. Fake some Davis Cup cred, if possibru! That way you can charge moar.

    Secondary signs of a good pro:
    Starting sentences with "So,..." and ending them with, "yo.", using words like reverse forehand, eye dominance, brain typing, modulation, shot tolerance, periodization training, and hydrating...
    I tellin you, Scro.... at the end of the day, these are total game-changers, yo. So like....you bring to the lesson experience, some Major WOW factor, leading to multiple AHA moments and lots of paradigm shifting. Like use tons of gender neutral pronouns while managing to account for a client's ovary and or testes dominance, and be ready to make the tough politically incorrect bodytype assumptions, without making too big a deal of it on instagram or reddit. This is both an art and a science. Subtle. Bold, yo.

    The best pros need to be equally adept at quoting Match Play and the Spin of the ball, as well as the Inner Game of Tennis. But they also gotta be good disruptors of the industry if they wanna make a good Living and drive a Porsche like the pros of the tennis boom of the 70s and 80s.
    So, at the end of the day, ultimately, it may not be rocket psyence, but....it's a balancing act. Shake it up, rock the boat, if it ain't broke, break it!
    But as the hippocratic oath sez, first do no harm, yo.
    But also strengthen the strengths.
    Eliminate the weaknesses, yo.
    And stay in the moment.
     
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  34. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    Yeah ... this one doesn't pass the engineer :D test. Our head tracks the ball ... head points to ball to contact. Both eyes working together ... doing their dom, non dom thing. Open stance, closed, split step, no split step, lean, good spacing, late ... head does it's pointing toward the ball thing.
     
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