Never be late again

#1
"be unit-turned and ready to strike BEFORE the ball bounces on your side of the court"

is this the single best piece of advice for rec players?

If you're never late, how can you lose the majority or rallies?


Maybe you could also say... to hit on the rise, you have to start swinging up the moment the ball bounces on your side of the court. A little before, maybe
 
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Curious

Hall of Fame
#2
be unit-turned and ready to strike BEFORE the ball bounces on your side of the court"

is this the single best piece of advice for rec players?
I believe so. One should do drills where they move around the court with that unit-turned position. Actually I was thinking of doing that but a bit worried I would look weird!:)
 
#3
I believe so. One should do drills where they move around the court with that unit-turned position. Actually I was thinking of doing that but a bit worried I would look weird!:)
I just did 200 forehand shadow swings in the living room focusing on going from my ready position "snapping" to takeback position with shoulders turned 90deg

It was a good workout for my core. I think you need fast twitch muscles in your core to unit turn fast
 
#4
The problem is simple. When you execute a forehand, you proceed by habit, so to speak. You treat the execution of a tennis shot as a single block of information after sufficiently many repetitions of the same thing. It is indeed the efficient thing to do: you need to free up your ability to focus from all the moving parts of a forehand to tracking the ball and picking the right reponse out of your bag of tricks to become a good player. However, when you do shadow strokes, there you mind about your form -- and it becomes even clearer when you slow things down.

If you want to get a professional-level form, you will need to do thousands of repetitions doing the right thing -- and as few as possible doing the wrong thing. So, I have a solution for you.

1) For the next week or the next few weeks, depending on how many repetitions you can get every day, you will not play a match or have a friendly hitting session. If you ever get to hit a ball in a live situation before having worked enough on your form, you will go back to your bad habit, so you need to stop it right now.

2) You will do at least one hunred forehands per day, slowly as shadow strokes in front of a camera or mirror. You should do most of them as if they were real forehands: that means you can only occassionally look at the mirror because you should practice looking at your contact point and tracking the ball with your eyes, as well. If you can do a thousand of those shadow strokes per day in the next week, do it. However, you have to realize that you do have to complete your transition over several days because sleep allows you to modify the paths in your brain -- which is what you want to do.

3) Once you have done this for a few days, you can get a bucket of ball and go to a court alone. You'll go on the court, position yourself at the baseline and you will be hitting off self-feed balls. You shouldn't worry about what your shot looks like: don't look where the ball goes for now. Moreover, you should be doing a full stroke: you start from the ready position and toss the ball up; you do a unit turn and adjust your position with respect to the ball by moving your feet; you take the racket back and extend your non hitting arm; you hit the ball and tuck in your non hitting arm; and you follow through properly. Also, try to AVOID hitting hard. You want to slow it down enough so you can pay attention to your form. If you wish, you can stand inside the baseline.

Moreover, before hitting a ball, shadow your stroke, say 50 times, then begin to hit. Between each ball, shadow it, say, 10 times. And, when you sent the whole basket on the other side of the net, you retrieve the balls, then do 50 more shadow strokes and go over the whole basket again (slowly, as well).

4) Once you have done this a few times (say, you have over 2000 shadows strokes and 300 or 400 slow forehands), you can start picking up the pace. You don't try to forcefully hit hard, but just allow yourself to rotate more violently into your shot. Film yourself and you'll see that your form will be neat. If you are satisfied, you can then move up to playing an actual person again.


I won't lie to you: it's annoying to do. You know you can hit good shots, you want so bad to hit hard, but changing what neuropaths are geared to instantly accomplish a forehand shot is an insanely long process and the more you are careful about it, the greater the quality of the end product. A great Russian academy gets kid doing shadow strokes and live feeds for 3 whole years before they even get to play a match -- and they aren't allowed to do it outside on their own either -- to make sure their form is irreproachable before they start thinking about how to adjust to match situations. I ask you to do this for just a week or two, depending on how much time you can afford to spend per week.
Just putting this here for how good advice it sounds like
 

Curious

Hall of Fame
#5
I think you need fast twitch muscles in your core to unit turn fast
It was also interesting for me when I was trying it. I noticed I couldn't turn really fast no matter how hard I tried. I bitterly realised there was a limit. Then I tried some other motions like getting up from a squat as fast as possible or bending forward etc.
 
#6
Noticed i was patting the dog on the forehand just before bounce the other day. I wasn't hitting too hard but the early prep seemed to give me time to direct better. Since then I haven't been that early, need to correlate with ball speed. Had the the machine throwing at 35, 42, 52 mph. Its amazing that a 3 mph difference is as noticible as it is.
 
#9
"be unit-turned and ready to strike BEFORE the ball bounces on your side of the court"

is this the single best piece of advice for rec players?

If you're never late, how can you lose the majority or rallies?


Maybe you could also say... to hit on the rise, you have to start swinging up the moment the ball bounces on your side of the court. A little before, maybe
In general, I think it's great because most people, myself included, are late rather than early.

Where I see it failing miserably is when people, especially those with a 2HBH, dogmatically stick to that while trying to run down something at the outer reaches of their range: it doesn't matter squat how prepared you are if you can't reach the ball before the 2nd bounce. Yet I see people trundling along in their perfect take back position, ready to hit a great looking BH, and losing the point because the ball bounced twice.

It's likely their coach's fault for not pointing out this exception. It would seem unlikely that an uncoached player would make this mistake because that person would intuitively realize that reaching the ball trumped good form [which they may lack anyway].
 
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Fintft

Hall of Fame
#11
I wanted to reply something among your lines, b/c it's not only about early preparation but timing your split step well and either having to get to the ball or having to get out of the way (if you are jammed and you need a couple of adjustments steps to make space?):


In general, I think it's great because most people, myself included, are late rather than early.

Where I see it failing miserably is when people, especially those with a 2HBH, dogmatically stick to that while trying to run down something at the outer reaches of their range: it doesn't matter squat how prepared you are if you can't reach the ball before the 2nd bounce. Yet I see people trundling along in their perfect take back position, ready to hit a great looking BH, and losing the point because the ball bounced twice.

It's likely their coach's fault for not pointing out this exception. It would seem unlikely that an uncoached player would make this mistake because that person would intuitively realize that reaching the ball trumped good form [which they may lack anyway].
 
#13
Depends upon the return coming back. IMO anticipation and judgement of where the ball will land is much more important than some theoretical advice to do unit turn first. Most incoming balls you have to run at what you judge to be the most optimal angle to get to the ball, stop and then do an unit turn. For eg, if you're running forward at an angle, I guess you can call it an unit turn, but there's still another more proper unit turn required once you reach the ball.
 

Curious

Hall of Fame
#14
Depends upon the return coming back. IMO anticipation and judgement of where the ball will land is much more important than some theoretical advice to do unit turn first. Most incoming balls you have to run at what you judge to be the most optimal angle to get to the ball, stop and then do an unit turn. For eg, if you're running forward at an angle, I guess you can call it an unit turn, but there's still another more proper unit turn required once you reach the ball.
So you believe there is such a thing as too early prep/shoulder turn?
 

Curious

Hall of Fame
#16
Every ball is different. It's a running sport. Do what it takes to get to the ball as quickly as you can first and foremost. If turning your shoulders by following some rote instruction impedes you in that, then it is the wrong thing to do.
That's true but rec players tend more to jam up than be too far away from the ball during the shot.
 
#17
That's true but rec players tend more to jam up than be too far away from the ball during the shot.
Only on shots near them where they don't have to run much. Most rec players seem to have an issue with running and getting to the ball than getting jammed up. Even on the jammed balls it's more an issue with footwork than anything else.
 

Curious

Hall of Fame
#18
Only on shots near them where they don't have to run much. Most rec players seem to have an issue with running and getting to the ball than getting jammed up. Even on the jammed balls it's more an issue with footwork than anything else.
Interesting point. I will watch some rec tennis match videos
 
#27
Every ball is different. It's a running sport. Do what it takes to get to the ball as quickly as you can first and foremost. If turning your shoulders by following some rote instruction impedes you in that, then it is the wrong thing to do.
Maybe its just a matter of getting used to it? Seems to work for Kei Nishikori. I think there are two seperate movements too... unit turn, then the "down to up" arc of the racquet which actually goes into the ball. You can combine them but i think it makes your chances of being late higher
 
#28
Maybe its just a matter of getting used to it? Seems to work for Kei Nishikori. I think there are two seperate movements too... unit turn, then the "down to up" arc of the racquet which actually goes into the ball. You can combine them but i think it makes your chances of being late higher
I agree with your overall point...be focused on your movement and not just stare at the ball (as a lot of us are guilty of doing). Tomaz (and I know many here don't like him) has a drill where as soon as the ball is approaching the net, the student has to say loudly what shot they're going to hit next, so as to start rotating their shoulders immediately. I think drills like that will help you not just stare at the ball and forever be late on prep.

However, there are also drills for you to know if you have to play a defensive shot or an offensive shot and be ready to move forward or backwards depending upon your judgement of where the ball will fall.

The bottom line is there are many things you have to combine to not be late or be in an optimal position to hit the ball. There is no one easy fix. The main thing that will help is running and footwork drills. The higher level players have a fluidity to their movement and their strokes that is greater than the sum of the individual parts of those movements and strokes. For improving your overall mobility, the base is just ladder and speed drills.
 
#29
I agree with your overall point...be focused on your movement and not just stare at the ball (as a lot of us are guilty of doing). Tomaz (and I know many here don't like him) has a drill where as soon as the ball is approaching the net, the student has to say loudly what shot they're going to hit next, so as to start rotating their shoulders immediately. I think drills like that will help you not just stare at the ball and forever be late on prep.

However, there are also drills for you to know if you have to play a defensive shot or an offensive shot and be ready to move forward or backwards depending upon your judgement of where the ball will fall.

The bottom line is there are many things you have to combine to not be late or be in an optimal position to hit the ball. There is no one easy fix. The main thing that will help is running and footwork drills. The higher level players have a fluidity to their movement and their strokes that is greater than the sum of the individual parts of those movements and strokes. For improving your overall mobility, the base is just ladder and speed drills.
Its funny people dont like Tomaz. I watched one of his serve videos again last night... it looks like he has really good technique. He also breaks it down well.

But yeah, if you unit turn but forget to move to the ball it wont help.
 
#30
Its funny people dont like Tomaz. I watched one of his serve videos again last night... it looks like he has really good technique. He also breaks it down well.

But yeah, if you unit turn but forget to move to the ball it wont help.
Who specifically doesn't like Tomaz? I think he's got fantastic material and always patiently explained.
 
#31
@mcs1970 is right. You turn when you are ready to initiate the swing, and of course [slightly] early is better. But when you have to run to get to the ball first, you really can't turn. You gotta do running first!!! LOL

Different players have different problems and need specific answers to the problems. I don't know if there's anything such as "single best piece of advice" for everyone. If there's one, it's actually increase your stamina and speed.
 
#34
People are late because they are afraid to “take the racket back early” - they think that’s old school teaching. Get the racket back calmly and wait for the ball - is the correct idea. Or you can follow modern advice and end up with a take back that is as fast as the forward swing. There should be no effort used in reversing the direction of the racket - backward to forward.
 
#36
I believe you may still be late if you try to run first then turn. In other words it's still quite possible not to turn properly even when you ran and got to the ball in time.
If you don't first run to a ball that's 10 feet away, all the unit turning in the world won't help you hit the ball. No?
 
#38
@mcs1970 is right. You turn when you are ready to initiate the swing, and of course [slightly] early is better. But when you have to run to get to the ball first, you really can't turn. You gotta do running first!!! LOL

Different players have different problems and need specific answers to the problems. I don't know if there's anything such as "single best piece of advice" for everyone. If there's one, it's actually increase your stamina and speed.
Not necessarily, for example someone like Kei Nishikori ive often seen him run while unit turned... in my books he's one of the top baseliners in the game.

Coaches have often talked about separating the top half from the bottom half in tennis. No one runs to a tennis ball like a sprinter does running 100m. For a start theyre carrying a racquet, so that motion isnt really possible
 
#40
I believe you may still be late if you try to run first then turn. In other words it's still quite possible not to turn properly even when you ran and got to the ball in time.
No you have it backwards, there is a good chance that you will be late getting to the ball if you waste valuable time worrying about turning instead of immediately getting to the ball and then doing unit turn.
 

Curious

Hall of Fame
#41
No you have it backwards, there is a good chance that you will be late getting to the ball if you waste valuable time worrying about turning instead of immediately getting to the ball and then doing unit turn.
How about this? Get to the ball in time and make sure your chest doesnt face the net when you start your forward swing. That's my aim anyway.
 
#42
How about this? Get to the ball in time and make sure your chest doesnt face the net when you start your forward swing. That's my aim anyway.
That sounds good and much more correct than worrying about doing unit turn first. I’ve noticed this when I practice with my wife, she is trying to become better at doubles after being mostly a singles player.

I get a basket of balls and start feeding her shots she can volley and lobs so she can work on overheads. So many times she is late or miss times her shots because instead of stepping first to get in the right spot she starts reaching first.

You can really see this when feeding balls to a player. Like on a lob I notice she try’s to get the racket up right away and she ends up being late because she didn’t get to the right spot first and then get racket ready for hitting overhead.
 
#44
"be unit-turned and ready to strike BEFORE the ball bounces on your side of the court"

is this the single best piece of advice for rec players?

........................................
Why not start by seeing what top 100 ATP players are doing? Watch a few videos of match play. Time the turn back relative to the bounce, before, at bounce or after bounce. Look at a few players to see some variety.

Turn back timing must depend on pace.

Hint - does anybody know what a 'rec' player is, is doing or should be doing regarding the turn back. Nada....

Some instructors may know but I have not seen instructions that claim to be intended for the 'rec' player. (Exception - Pat Dougherty Hammer that Serve.)

Turn back twists the spine, OK for rec players?
 
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#45
Coaches have often talked about separating the top half from the bottom half in tennis.
Agreed but I think it's more applicable to running like crazy to get to a ball and still having enough touch to hit a drop shot, for example. People who aren't good at separating the two will invariably, if they clear the net, hit it out, because since their legs are pumping hard, their arms are pumping hard also.

No one runs to a tennis ball like a sprinter does running 100m. For a start theyre carrying a racquet, so that motion isnt really possible
I try to do precisely that: to run as if I was sprinting. The more successful I am, the more ground I can cover.

To say it's not really possible is to ignore, for example, 400m relay runners who are carrying a baton. If you edited out the baton, wouldn't they look like any other 400m sprinter?

IMO, the most important thing is to get to the ball before the 2nd bounce. If you can't do that, nothing else matters. If you can and you have time to get the racquet back early, bonus! But I'd rather have late racquet prep and reach the ball than early racquet prep and not reaching the ball. And the problem I sometimes see is players concentrating more on early racquet prep than sprinting efficiently, probably because of coaching dogma ["Get your racquet back!!!"].
 
#46
there is the late prep and late hit... yes early turn can make you prep early.

but late hit is a bigger problem. most recs try to swing/accelerate thru the impact. that doesn't work... need to release the racket and put the follow-thru on the ball.
 
#47
Why not start by seeing what top 100 ATP players are doing? Watch a few videos of match play. Time the turn back relative to the bounce, before, at bounce or after bounce. Look at a few players to see some variety.

Turn back timing must depend on pace.

Hint - does anybody know what a 'rec' player is, is doing or should be doing regarding the turn back. Nada....

Some instructors may know but I have not seen instructions that claim to be intended for the 'rec' player. (Exception - Pat Dougherty Hammer that Serve.)

Turn back twists the spine, OK for rec players?
i do watch pro tennis lol. Yes they all seem to be turned before the ball bounces in most situations, or at least at the bounce.

Tomaz from feel tennis is an instructor for the rec tennis player, and he said to try and turn before the ball bounces.
 
#48
Agreed but I think it's more applicable to running like crazy to get to a ball and still having enough touch to hit a drop shot, for example. People who aren't good at separating the two will invariably, if they clear the net, hit it out, because since their legs are pumping hard, their arms are pumping hard also.



I try to do precisely that: to run as if I was sprinting. The more successful I am, the more ground I can cover.

To say it's not really possible is to ignore, for example, 400m relay runners who are carrying a baton. If you edited out the baton, wouldn't they look like any other 400m sprinter?

IMO, the most important thing is to get to the ball before the 2nd bounce. If you can't do that, nothing else matters. If you can and you have time to get the racquet back early, bonus! But I'd rather have late racquet prep and reach the ball than early racquet prep and not reaching the ball. And the problem I sometimes see is players concentrating more on early racquet prep than sprinting efficiently, probably because of coaching dogma ["Get your racquet back!!!"].
Yes obviously getting to the ball is number 1. If really stretched, i just chase it down with a conti grip and slice it back.

By "never being late" i mean a ball thar is hit at you or near you that you intend to return with a normal stroke (which uses a unit turn) but maybe due to the pace of the ball, you're late on your swing.

Otherwise i would have called this thread something like "never be too far away when chasing a ball again"... for me they are two different scenarios
 
#49
there is the late prep and late hit... yes early turn can make you prep early.

but late hit is a bigger problem. most recs try to swing/accelerate thru the impact. that doesn't work... need to release the racket and put the follow-thru on the ball.
I like this comment. Its like the lag hits the ball, it hits by itself

I guess the new question is... when do you release? This is probably just something you learn by experience and have to judge differently on each ball
 
#50
Djokovic Championship Highlights at Wimbledon
video removed

Djokovic forehand has started turn back around ball going over net. For balls bouncing around 1/2 way past service line he is turned back at the bounce, maybe racket is high. If he has to turn body to shoulder's line turns early.....?

He uses off arm acceleration to get the ice skater boost.

It is easy to count frames. On Youtube press the "." and "," keys.
 
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