Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by TonLars, Nov 7, 2011.
I've been following this advice since I was quite young.
That was a little TMI dude!
...my philosophy exactly. If the situation allows it, why let the ball bounce if you don't have to?
I was wondering who would post this first, and had predicted it would be you.
I have a problem with the "Play WITHIN yourself'" philosophy as applied to tennis.
Yes, it is often the winning strategy. Right now! As opposed to .. in the future.
You know the difference. Be all you can be NOW, or later. Playing within yourself right now means you delay your tennis improvement for later.
Playing just outside your comfort box brings more improvement to your game (if there CAN be), but leaves you losing to more than you should.
Playing quite well outside your comfort/skill box might allow for the most improvement LATER, but your current game is the worse possible, looking at results.
Since tennis pays some penalty for losing, and some penalty for mistakes, but not a terrible penalty like injury or death, we should push our limits more often in tennis as opposed to ......Indy car racing, motocross, or WW11 airplane racing.
There's always that balance that we need to find for ourselves. Should we play the nice save and conservative, thos effective game, or should we push some limits to see what we really CAN do, and suffer the mistakes in the process?
Me, in windsurfing, I stay within my limits.
In surfing, I tend to push just a hair.
In motocross, I stupidly pushed the limits more than a hair, as I did in road racing (motorcycles). Hence all the injuries.
In snowboarding, I stay within my limited skill set.
In table tennis, I stay within to win, but rather play all out going for all my shots.
In road biking, I'm a timid terry.
In tennis, I learned from surfing, so rather go for the shot than play safe and winning more often.
good points Lee.
and in the emperor's case, that was exactly what has been going on in the past couple of years...... too comfy just sitting back and pushing along... almost never lost against kids that were still very rough and old dogs who have some swing flaws.... and the emperor barely improved for a couple of years, because of always playing within.
nowadays finally some incentives are coming.... old dogs are getting better, the juniors are more mature... simply playing within becomes more and more tedious to win.... actually recent results are getting close (instead of the usual lopsided), so the throne is in danger here.
this situation has forced the emperor to do more, chip n charge, hitting over the bh more etc....... but the rust is certainly there as these areas are not often practiced.
In practice, it is good to integrate things you need to work on, hitting shots that you havent mastered and are out of the comfort zone. That could be anything depending on the level of the player, ranging from simply hitting with more spin and pace and being aggressive on shortballs for a 3.0 player, to using the serve and volley more, or short angle shots, or changing direction of the ball/going for winners for an advanced player.
But if you dont play within yourself and often hit shots that you arent capable of making consistently during a match with the goal of winning, you will most likely beat yourself, and lose. The most important thing in tennis is consistency, and so a player must first do what is necessary to keep the ball in play. Consistency is the foundation for one's game, while depth, accuracy and power are developed around it, in that order.
Tony you play at such high level that you'll never imagine what the community park king has to go thru.
old dogs working on swing flaws, or trying to get a work-out in after long day at office, even with a blown elbow.
The king has to sit back, and feed 'em balls to the spots where they can work on the flaws, or feed 'em to the side so that elbow wont hurt.
other than that, when the scoring is on, the king is in the 'play within' mode, just to defend the throne.
now when am I gonna work on serve and volley again? lol.
Again totally agree, with the addition of "while maintaining good form." Tony, I think you mentioned this in your original article too. If you you start breaking form and just push the ball over to achieve consistency then that's a bad thing. That's the road to hacker city. You're building a foundation on sand, not rock (to use a Biblical metaphor, because we're an educated group here on Talk Tennis). You will limit your growth as a player.
But if you're using good form while hitting more softly, the same form that you'd use if you were going to rip the ball, then you building a stroke foundation that will allow your game to grow. As you start to hit harder, and deal with harder shots from your opponent, that good form will be ingrained and it will allow you to add pace while maintaining consistency.
Certainly there has to be a place where you can test your limits and push yourself. Like Lee says the penalty in tennis is pretty minimal, so there should definitely be practice time where you're playing beyond your current limits in an effort to grow.
Tony, thanks so much for your contributions here. It's great to hear from someone who's playing on a pro level.
That's why I advocate a practice routine that reflects your game plan. If you spend time doing cross court drills with an emphasis on hitting deep with proper shot execution, and at the same time keeping the ball in play as long as possible, that will come naturally in match play as well.
Definitely! Your post above regarding cross court mentality was probably verbatim what I would have written for bread and butter singles strategy.
I was thinking about your post this morning when I was working with the ball machine. I usually practice about 2/3 of my shots cross court and 1/3 down the line. You're right that tennis is a percentage game, but what's tactically the high percentage shot might not be the strategic high percentage play. For example, assume that your down the line backhand is a 75% shot and your cross court backhand is 85%. If you're in a rally with a lefty and you simply kept hitting the higher percentage tactical shot (i.e., the highest percentage shot for this particular stroke), you'd be stuck in indefinite backhand to forehand rallies and eventually you'd lose most of the points. The higher percentage play strategically (i.e., considering what's the highest percentage play for the entire point rather than just this particular shot) might be to hit the backhand down the line to change the direction of the rally.
BTW, I find that a moderate pace slice backhand down the line is the most effective way to change the direction of the rally. My opponents almost always hit that shot back cross court (I think the slower pace and backspin cause them to hit the shot earlier, and therefore further in front, than normal). Of course, when I hit this shot, I'm playing within my ability because I've hit it about a thousand times over the past year against the ball machine.
this has been discussed in another thread.
at the rec level, I don't care about directionals....most people have sucky backhands and thats where I pound all day, regardless where I am.
try it, you'll be happy with the wins.
rec players, ALL have glaring swing flaw(s), just a few examples among all the old dogs and young bucks I have played, and these are former / current college / varsity type of players, good recs.
cannot handle high FH
cannot generate pace on FH
cannot handle low slice on FH
cannot handle high kick to the BH
cannot handle low slice to BH
all I need is 1 flaw, and these good players usually has 1 or 2.
not to mention 90% of the people here are not even at this level, and prolly have 3-4 flaws each.
now tell me why I still need to worry about cross court.
You raise a good point, but, I think you misunderstand what I mean by high percentage tennis. High percentage refers to every aspect of the game from keeping the ball in play, to knowing when to attack, to maintaining court positioning and making it as difficult as possible for your opponent to attack you.
So, for example, if you are in a cross court battle and your opponent hits a deep cross court shot with pace, for you to then try to redirect the ball down the line is a low percentage play for several reasons. First, you have a shorter court with a higher net. Second, there is natural tendency for a cross court ball with pace redirected dtl to ricochet off of your racquet and go wide (Wardlaw's directionals), for an UE. Third, if you don't hit the dtl shot for a winner, you are going to be badly out of position and your opponent will either hit a winner cross court in the other corner, or, at minimum you will be on the run and in a weak position. Most commonly, if you are able to keep your dtl shot in play, it will be because you have compensated for the ricochet by aiming closer to the middle of the court INTO your opponent making it all the easier for him to hit a cross court winner in to the other corner.
The issue of getting a bad matchup such as a lefty with a big forehand attacking a righty's weak backhand changes none of the low percentages inherent in trying to redirect a cross court shot dtl. It's up to the righty to try to keep play between his strength and the lefty's weakness if he can. For example, he can keep the ball in play and wait for an opportunity to run around his backhand and hit an "inside-in" forehand for a winner or at least to change the matchup to his forehand against the lefty's backhand. If it's not a winner, then the lefty will either have to hit cross court to the righty's forehand where the righty can hit cross court and attack the lefty's backhand, or go for the low percentage dtl backhand to the righty's backhand and put himself out of position for a cross court winner, or at minumum, be put on the run and out of control.
I hope this helped.
Yeah. The biggest mistake with younger people is looking good, which usually means hitting harder because hitting hard looks cool (especially if it goes in for a winner). Few people accept that you can actually hit winners without hitting hard and still play a beautiful looking point (if you make the right choices and set up the point properly). All you need to do is play consistently long enough to find that opportunity to shine and make it all worth it. In the end, it's even better, because you'll make things look easier whereas the basher will look like he's trying to smash a car. I don't know about anybody else, but I'd rather look like a slower version of Federer than a slower version of Roddick.
Probably advice i should have listened to when i was a little bit younger
For the players TonLars goes against this is true enough. But again for the average joe out here on the east coast the opposite is usually the problem.
A good example is the serve. I see tons of people at the 3.0 - 3.5 and even 4.0 levels with crappy serves. But honestly they aren't even TRYING. They have a 'bad' technique they use in matches that is 'safe.' And another one that their pro tries to teach them.
But when they get in matches it always the safe one - so they never really improve. You can't really improve using the same bad technique over and over. So honestly for many players playing within yourself is not going to work.
This is almost like one of those articles about 'overtraining' sure its can be a problem for some athletes. But let's be honest most suffer from undertraining..and or not working hard at all.
Thought I'd bring this thread up because I think I display the opposite problems that the kid Tony wrote the email for exhibits.
Once I'm in matches, I get so scared of missing that I start limiting my racquet head speed, dropping balls short, and missing (I assume due to decreased spin from lack of RH speed). Of course, then I think "I need to be aggressive" and I end up hitting the low percentage shots that are being discussed in this thread.
I guess we have to find that balance where we're playing within ourselves, but still hitting confidently. It's tough to do.
It's totally tough to do. It's a hard balance to strike to be reasonably aggressive, to have the courage to take your real swing at the ball and not chicken out and push it over, but also to not try to rip some Federer-like winner that you're unlikely to make.
Reread the rest of the thread. There are some really good suggestions about how to practice so that you're practicing what you would really be doing in a game.
This advice is very level appropriate for juniors, DIII, much of DII, and for "true" DI below #4, from 5-8. Pro tennis is frequently style of play match-ups on particular court surfaces, besides the fact that most players can hit their way out of trouble, so at that level, this advice is not advisable, unless you want your nice rally shots to be put away as winners.
I would advice to hit hard but up and across, for more spin, so you get a nice curve that brings the ball in the court, no matter how hard you hit it.
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