Newbie Alert – The Adventures of a Clueless Player

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by WoweeZowee, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. WoweeZowee

    WoweeZowee New User

    Jan 22, 2012
    Hello all,

    I’ve recently caught the tennis bug and want to get out there and play. I used to hit balls with my dad when I was 8-13, but that was about 20 years ago. I’m now in my early 30’s and haven’t been on a court since the Clinton Administration. My excitement to play seems to be running into a few barriers, though. Do you guys have any advice to help me get into the swing of things?

    I just went out and bought a fancy new racquet. The salesperson who helped me pick it out was incredibly helpful and set me up with a nice beginner/intermediate racquet. So that is checked off the list, but I think I’ll need help with just about everything else.

    I want to meet new people and to have fun. I’d also like to get myself back in shape. I’m a little bit concerned about finding people to play with, because I don’t know any tennis players in the area. I’m sure I will be terrible the first few times out there, and I don’t want to waste someone else’s time as I slap 80% of my shots into the net. How should I go about finding partners who are also new to the game?

    Finally, do any of you have quick tips that you think beginners should know for their first few times on the court?

    PS: Bonus points for anyone in the Sarasota/Bradenton area with local suggestions.
  2. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

    Oct 14, 2009
    The Peak of Good Living
    As someone who also picked up the game in his early 30s, and has slowly progressed from truly awful to kinda awful, I have a couple thoughts:

    --Consider spending some time hitting against a wall, or with a ball machine if feasible. You'll spend less time picking up and chasing after balls that way, and a ball machine will be able to give you more consistent and more challenging shots than a novice practice partner will. Of course you should hit with other people too, but solo practice can help you get to the point where you can keep a rally going.

    --Watch a lot of tennis. I think it helps.

    --There are some free instructional websites that you may find useful. Many people swear by Fuzzy Yellow Balls. Essential Tennis and Lock and Roll Tennis also seem good.

    --Be careful with your body. I overdid it a bit and ended up dealing with some niggling knee and shoulder issues.

    Have fun!
  3. esgee48

    esgee48 Legend

    May 30, 2010
    SF CA
    Check with your local park and rec dept. See if they have group lessons. You'll learn the game with others in the same boat.

    A more expensive option is to join a club and obtain lessons and players from there.

    Just enjoy the game as you learn it.
  4. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

    Jun 10, 2010
    Meet people? Have fun? What? Maybe you should try Arthur Murray. You can meet people and have fun there. "Tennis is not a matter of life and death, it's much more than that." -- Unknown
  5. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

    Mar 29, 2011
    San Diego
    watch the videos at
    watch the videos at
    find a wall to work out stroke mechanics
    commit to getting better and take at least 2 lessons from a GOOD coach. it will be worth it.
    shadow swing at home to lock in muscle memory
    play with people better than you
  6. Chyeaah

    Chyeaah Professional

    Sep 23, 2011
    Imo shadowswinging is so useless. You get the correct technique but when you try to apply it, it falls down.

    Go to a practice wall and try to nail your technique. Watch FYB first lesson on the forehand and try to nail all those 7 elements. It would be good if you had a smartphone or tablet where you could load the videos and watch them when your practicing against a wall so you don't forget the 7 steps.
  7. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

    Mar 24, 2010
    Every tennis facility in our area runs beginner clinics. I would contact a tennis center and inquire about beginner clinics. I do not know what the cost where you are is but at a local club here you can pay for an 8 week session, get an hour of indoor tennis time per week and meet other beginners for about $250.00.

    Nothing will progress you game as quickly as finding someone in a similiar situation that would like to meet regularly practice.
  8. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

    Nov 30, 2005
    New York City
    Read The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey. It teaches you to innately understand how to play the game so you can basically teach yourself.
  9. samarai

    samarai Rookie

    Jun 23, 2011
    1. get some beginners lesson with a group of people at a local club or recreation park. You need to do this so that you can find some hitting partners that are within your level. Most average players at your park are gonna avoid you like the plague because they dont want to chase after your balls. After your good at rallying from baseline, take some individual lessons to hone your skills. You could also look at some instructional videos at this point .
  10. WoweeZowee

    WoweeZowee New User

    Jan 22, 2012
    Okay... a little update.

    Well... I know this is going to sound dumb, but I have not been able to find a suitable wall to use. I thought it would be easy to find an outdoor racquetball court somewhere in town, but I've been to a few parks with no luck and my google'ing talents seem to be failing me.

    Luckily, there are plenty of actual tennis courts around, so I went to one to try serving. I basically tried to copy the steps from the fuzzy yellow balls guide. Here are a few things I noticed:

    1. I had a surprisingly hard time balancing myself when I first started. It took me a good 15 minutes before I felt like I found a stance that remained stable throughout the swing.

    2. Once I found a comfortable stance, I realized that I was doing a lot better when I started tossing the ball higher. When I was tossing it lower, I felt like I would panic swing at the ball and generally rushed things. After I started getting more height on the toss, I had time to steady myself and take a good swing at the ball.

    3. My butt muscles were sore the next day from making sure I was bending my knees :)

    I spent about 1.5 hours on the court just serving 3 balls back and forth. By the time I left I felt like I had made a lot of progress. I was getting about 2/3 of my serves in, and I started hitting the ball harder over time. The biggest issue I seemed to have was mental. There were a lot of times I would make a good ball toss, but I just wouldn't swing at it for some reason. At other times, I would make a bad toss but would swing anyways and put it in the net.

    One thing that I thought about after I got home was that I really don't have a second serve. Is this something I should just not worry about for now? Should the second serve be significantly different from what I'm doing now?

    On another note, I've started looking into group lessons. Hopefully, I'll find something that works with my schedule and budget.
  11. zapvor

    zapvor G.O.A.T.

    Jul 27, 2006
    tennis courts
    i would get private lessons first since you are a beginner
  12. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

    Oct 18, 2010
    Lessons are really important to get a base and play the right way. It frustrates me to see so many hackers who have played the wrong way for years and never progress.
  13. athiker

    athiker Hall of Fame

    Dec 2, 2009
    I was in a similar situation 3 years ago...I could run down balls...but it wasn't pretty. My suggestions are...

    1) Group Lessons - To both improve and meet people of similar skill to play with.

    2) Fuzzy Yellow, YouTube and other online resources - to rebuild you strokes from the ground up b/c whatever you have from 20 years ago probably isn't worth keeping unless you were very good back then. Amazingly helpful resources for me.

    3) Shadow swinging - I actually think this is very important. Stand up from the computer every once in a while after watching a video and swing...see how it feels, commit not only to mind memory but muscle memory. No it won't be exact when you get to the court but rinse and repeat and you'll get closer and closer over time. It may not be important to those that already have good strokes, but if you are like I was and willing to scrap your old strokes and build new ones from the ground up it was downright necessary IMHO (just move the furniture/lamps if necessary!).

    4) Read up on some strategy...both singles and doubles b/c they have some different elements to them. Re-building strokes can take some time but you can learn strategy fairly quickly. This will go a long way in helping you find people to play doubles with. If you are in the right spots in the right situation you make your partner happy and you have a better chance at success even with not so great strokes. Take advantage of being a newbie and ask your doubles partners for advice during play on where to be and go when...this will also make your partner happy and give you a grace period that won't be given if you are stubborn, defensive and unwilling to learn.

    5) Smile :) - Yeah, it's fun to beat someone who is cursing and yelling at themselves in frustration once in a while, but even that gets old. It gets real old fast if they are your partner. Tennis is pretty social so don't agonize over every one expects you to be perfect so don't pretend you are or should the person others want to spend some time around.

    Coming back to tennis has been great for me in terms of health, socially and to feed some of my competitive need. The fun thing about starting where you are now is seeing yourself improve...enjoy it...that (and meeting new people) has been one of the most fun things for me. Good luck.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012

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