Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by AM28143, Oct 1, 2007.
Is it possible for anyone to become good without lessons?
Absolutely. However, you must study the game and understand it within the context of proper stroke production, progressions, footwork, strategy and swing paths.
Also, you must be able to understand what your body is doing. In other words, you need to be conscious of how you move, swing, etc.
Having a video camera can help tremendously. Seeing what you are doing, then comparing it to that which you see the pros and skilled players doing.
With the amount of information on such sites as TennisOne.com, TennisPlayer.net, hi_techtennis.com, etc., there is ample opportunity to learn how to play the game today, by reading what good teaching pros are offering within such media.
All that said, I'm a teaching pro, and I can tell you that it is still rare indeed, for individuals to master the game without some advanced training with really good instructors. It is a good investment in time and money, to get some additional feedback in your game.
I stopped having a weekly lesson about a year ago now, I then switched to a different coach whom I have a lesson with whenever I feel I need to fix some kinks. He's a great coach and has improved my game a lot, but I've pretty much just been hitting with friends of the same level and in my eyes my game has improved more in the past year than it had any other year. Results are showing it too!
I think it is a good idea to switch teachers every now and again. Every teaching pro sees things a little differently. If you are honestly practicing what you're being taught and you feel you're stagnating, maybe getting a fresh look from a different pro would help.
I played 4.5-5.0 a few years ago after only 2 two years of playing tennis.
I never had any formal traning. However, I watch the pros on videos a lot, espacially the woman. Their swings are a little slower and not as fancy as the mens. I bought book and read a lot. My wife was basically my hitting partner. (She's a beginner)
I think after my first summer, I was probably hitting like a 4.5 but playing like a 3.0. My serve and ground strokes were better than most player at 4.5.
I think that the fact that I learnt the proper form right away by comparing with the pros, help me improve exponentially.
Of course, I was a pretty good athlete too. 5'9 for 150Lbs and very fast on the court. And I played competitive volley ball. So my serve is also my best shot as opposed to most club players.
Having a strong consistent serve help me a lot too.
So good luck...
yes, however it will take much longer, and may never happen
Learning Without Lessons
With such a wealth of information and graphic examples of good technique out there these days, you can learn a lot about the game of tennis on your own . . . and you should. However, it’s those little things you yourself won’t have the refined awareness or the detached observation to notice that will hold you back, and perhaps even take you in a negative direction altogether. The benefit of private lessons is that a knowledgeable pair of eyes can look at your strokes and determine exactly which of MANY (sometimes difficult-to-notice) components actually need attention.
There are also times when having too much information can create problems. On this forum you will often read a very detailed analysis of some aspect of the modern game, written by a well-meaning and insightful individual, but the offering is so ridiculously complex and cryptic that it truly only serves the writer’s sense of superior observation. On a real lesson court with a qualified and experienced instructor, far fewer pinpoint instructions can provide MUCH more benefit.
I’ve seen many players become “good” on their own, but I’ve never seen a single player who hasn’t had lessons (or “qualified” help) compete in a serious way at an advanced level. You can either pay up front and develop properly, or you can (as in real estate) build a shack, demolish and then rebuild later at a higher overall cost. The least you should do is go to a large tennis center and take some group lessons with a “real” pro.
Of course it is.....but it will be a very slow progress.... I still suggest to go through lessons for the reason that any bad habits could be corrected right away. I see is a lot of "wannabe" in public parks, they think they are good but they look awkward executing their strokes.
I disagree with the advice to change coaches for the sake of it. In the beginning, I had a whole lot of different pros instructing me. Mostly drill classes, but some lessons too. I got the weirdest advice. My favorite was the pro who thought the problem with my serve was that I wasn't lifting my left toe up as I tossed, which meant I wasn't transferring my weight backward before I transitioned forward. Uh, that was the least of the things wrong with my serve at the time!
I have made the most progress going with one guy who knows what he is talking about and doing what he says. I think there is a learning curve with the pro where he/she gets to know your game and is able to better spot what things need to be changed and when you're ready for the next level. Moving from coach to coach means you'll spend at least some money getting to know each other before anything helpful happens.
I know I am in the minority on this, but I kind of think tennis lessons are similar to piano lessons. No one learning the instrument goes to a piano teacher and takes just one lesson. Yet tennis students think they should take one lesson and the pro should tell them what they're doing wrong, and that should make it all better. (I used to think this myself!)
I found it helpful to make a commitment to one pro, commit to work hard in the lessons, commit to practice, and then stop when your money runs out.
I think I'm going to take lessons this summer. I've been playing with my friends for 2 years now and I still suck. I just do not improve. I do not have any athletic talent, so I probably cannot get good unless I revieve lessons.
First of all about changing coaches.
I believe the best path to take is get a decent coach when you are starting out, someone with decent experience, but not a former international player or anything unless you are lucky enough to be able to pay for it. Usually someone who charges average is the best fit. Work hard, train hard, listen to all the advice and apply it to your game. Once you realise you've absorbed everything that coach can give you, find a truly excellent high end coach to work on refining details, tape your lessons and work super hard on applying his instruction to your game.
Can you learn the game yourself? Yes, definitely. It takes a talent in observation and a preservance with practice, but it's possible. It's always positive to expose yourself to new approaches to the game. I watch the pros play and pay attention to what they do as much as I listen to what my coach tells me. It's important to work hard and keep an open mind at the same time.
Maybe. But it's better to have lessons
Yes it is possible. Many good players are self taught. Ask all the good players you know and find out. Don't just ask here where you'll get the spit-back answer that is expected to be the one approved of here.
And it is very true that the most robotic strokes out there were acquired under a pro. People often do start learning a lot faster when they stop taking lessons. Gee I wonder why.
That said, most people have no motivation to go beyond mediocrity. Really. No matter how much they pretend to want to improve. In fact, that's why the obsess about form...to make it about that instead of the game (which they might lose). To teach yourself, you really have to be motivated and have to THINK for yourself and find resources. Good ones by sources who are themselves a cut above the popular-mediocre with all the standard 50-year-old cliches.
And as George Bernard Shaw said, few people think more than 3 or 4 times a year.
Yeah, i'm playing at the upper 4.0 level, and i've never taken lessons. All self taught with my trusty vid cam.
you need to know what the coaches know, so educate yourself.
You need to see what you're doing, so you MUST have a video camera.When you're hitting serves for example, you will have no idea what you're arm is doing whe it's behind your head.It is this perspective on the court that usually necessitates hiring a coach.Generally speaking what people think they're doing and what they're actually doing are two very different things, so geta video camera and cut out the middle man.
Again...yes, but you take your chances. I took three lessons when I was relatively new in the game, and it radicaly changed my game. Just some simple stuff I didn't know I was doing. I am self taught after than for many years, have hit right at 4.5 level, and have now found a pro for some more lessons.
I should have gone for the lessons years ago, but I was stubborn. I have fixed so many things since then, retooled many strokes, and made such remarkable disoveries, that I am now scared NOT to go to a good pro, and validate my current game and strokes.
Plus the one thing that cannot be overcome easily, and is the most difficult no matter how much you know. You cannot SEE what you are actually doing, you can only feel it, or be aware of it. You must have a good coach to see and adjust those things you are not aware of.
My belief as an intermediate, self-taught player is that a player can become advanced (maybe 4.5-5.0 level) without lessons, but would probably need to have lessons in order to advance higher than that. The reason being that most of tennis strategies and strokes can be learned from books, videos, and the TW forums. The key I think is to always know what you need to improve, and to always be willing to correct anything that you do incorrectly. Its easy when a teaching pro forces you to change something, but not so easy when you have to motivate yourself to change something.
I have a list of like 15 things that I know for sure need improvement. They may be stroke deficiencies or poor strategic decisions I often make when playing. Its really a matter of making sure I practice the right way to do something and ensuring that I do it right during match play. I don't need a coach to tell me that. I know what it takes to beat a 4.0, but I haven't gotten enough practice as to where I can execute what I know consistently yet, so I am yet to reach 4.0.
Really the best use of a coach for intermediate players are 1) a paid drilling partner, 2) someone who can detect flaws in your game and 3) someone who can save you the trouble of learning the inner game of tennis on your own.
As a self-taught player with lots of tennis partners, the only real thing I'm lacking is #2. However I get compliments on my strokes all the time so I can't be that far off. Also I am continuously seeing improvement in all aspects of my game, so its not like I am not improving. I think I will stop improving once I stop finding things wrong with my own game.
You know one thing that convinced me that taking lessons was necessary for me?
There was a *huge* discrepancy between my fitness/athleticism and my ability to keep a tennis ball on the court. I could run down anything, but it was a total crap shoot on what would happen when I got there.
Losing to people with the footspeed of a manatee was a wake-up call for me!
Heck, if I had been able to get better by just playing or trying to develop on my own, I would have done it. Tried it. Didn't work. For me.
Go for it I say. Your interpretion of your shots may well be better than the PROs. I have had lessons by highly respected PRO's, coaching instructors even, then I find out a few years later they've changed their views because the coaching manual has changed.
there is a big difference between people who take lessons and people who dont. I am a tennis pro and i work with lots of people. im also a assistant coach for a D2 school. and i know that alot of the guys on my team have not had lessons like what i do for a living and it shows. they are horrible. i could bring out 11 year old and have a hundred ball rally by the third ball. these guys are lucky if they can get 30. it makes a massive difference learning the technique and the reasoning behind it. now if you watch the pros you will see some of the worst shots of all time to copy.
Look at this http://www.playerdevelopment.usta.com/pdmediabooks/players.asp
look at Rogers forehand now if you are tryin to copy this you are a fool, surely anyone can see why
I have to disagree. The difference is not between taking lessons VS Not taking them. The difference is between people who have "Basics" and who dont.
I know and played with players who didnt take any lessons but have excellent basics and can give any one (rated ~4.5-5.0) a run for their money.
I also know players who took lessons and play like crap.
Taking lessons greatly increases one's chances of engraining the basics but it is not Automatic.
I forgot to disclose onething. The two players i was referring to are excellent Badminton players representing their Universities.
Fair enough. I definitely should have added I have also received great advice from experienced tennis coaches which I have greatly appreciated. This advice has even lead to me doing some coaching (Although I'm not registered.)
One question though. What is it about Federer's Forehand you think we shouldn't copy?
ive meet 2 people ever who made 4.5 level tennis with no lessons. and yea there are people who are no good who have lessons. but those people either dont listen or cant physically handle the desired level say what you want to say about a few diamonds in the ruff but the fact is there is no exception to lessons.
That video is a bad example, since he was out of position and it was a reaction. He has the best forehand in the game, and there are a lot of things about it worth emulating. You just need a better video. I see your point though if someone thought that was how you should hit a normal forehand, since that video NOT one of Roger set up and in position.
I have also seen examples of self taught like Tennis Monk. Also there are many examples like Ivanisovics serve and Aggassi's fh, if they had been taught by the manual they may not have achieved what they did. Go bak to the last British Wimbledon winner. He was a table tennis player and self taught. No Brit had one since.
Having said that, obviously coaches are vital. If I didn't think so I wouldn't coach. Still sometimes they could be more open to other training options.
I have been self taugh for 4 years with no coach and the way how i started to play is by the long way learning from mistake and knowing how to get the most power and spin. Here's some tip for you:
Remember each shot that you hit really good, like where's the ball was at when you hit it. Take it slow, dont rush in cause your never get good that way. Same goes to everything like serve and volley and etc...
For serve, one way that help serve good is when you toss the ball make sure the hand that you toss the ball up is still in the air when the ball come down that's help you know where's a good spot to hit it, like two inches above your arm or something like that. Keep doing it to get the right height for you to hit.
As for topspin and slice, just try to brush the ball and groove off with it until you feel comflyable with it.
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