Poor hitters make you hit poorly

mightyrick

Legend
So I was out last night at the courts doing some work on serves and somebody I know wandered onto the court. They are (AT BEST) a low 3.0. Even though they've been playing for a long time. They asked me if I wanted to hit with them for awhile. I couldn't be impolite and turn him down -- so I did.

GOD is it horrible hitting with a poor hitter... my groundstrokes were terrible. He'd shank off a ball at me, and totally mess up my swing timing.

I'm far from a really good tennis player, but does anybody else hate hitting with people who almost can't hit? I haven't hit with a really bad player in a long time... but it didn't get any better. No matter how much better I get as a player... hitting with these people ruins my swing.
 

pkshooter

Semi-Pro
Same here, it completely screws me up too. Especially when i force an error and they lob it, i totally lose it. Whats even worse is when you play with a doctor chopper. I think its more of a confidence thing more then losing timing or rythm.
 

OldFedIsOld

Professional
I know the experience all to well, but it isn't just the other player's fault its also yours. Concentrate on the footwork and you won't ever mess up on bad feeds or shots.
 

TennisCJC

Legend
Played in one of the internet leagues a few years ago at 4.0 level and there was an old guy that chopped everything and would throw in a 20-25 foot lob whenever you hurt him or just as a change of pace. I was patience and bit him easily but he actually defeated a few guys who had much better strokes because they couldn't handle the poop he threw at them. The guy was a doctor and he would tell you all about his recent heart conditions and surgeries on the change over. I never knew if the heart issues were real or just part of his pysche you out game plan.
 

Jay_The_Nomad

Professional
Poor hitters give you inconsistent balls so you need to move forward and backwards.

But admittedly, sometimes there are some poor hitters that have really weird technique.

I remember just rallying with some middle age guy from one of the clubs and he had weird ground strokes that had side spin even though the swing looks like a normal driVe.
 

pvaudio

Legend
Likened to engineering, us middling players tend to be linear time-invariant systems: garbage in = garbage out. The better players are non-LTI systems with active feedback control loops: garbage in, adjustments for incoming garbage, improvement out, improvement then can compensate for the next garbage ball since it's learned to expect inconsistent inputs until the output is exactly as would be hit against a better player. :)
 

WildVolley

Legend
It really only screws me up when I want to be lazy and basically return the same type of ball from the same part of the court. If I'm willing to use my footwork like a madman, it can be great to hit against someone who doesn't have a consistent stroke as long as they can get it back over the net and basically in the court.

In that case, it causes you to have to really focus on the ball and your form and precisely aim the ball. After coaching mostly a bunch of a beginners for a few months, I gained much more precision and active footwork. I absolutely obliterated some pushers that used to sometimes give me trouble.
 

TennisDawg

Hall of Fame
Yea, I don't enjoy hitting with those types either. I hit for about 10 minutes and see if they want to play a set, if they don't, just tell them you want to work on your serve or hit the backboard! Playing a lesser rated player is far more interesting than working on your groundstrokes with them.
 
I think that "I played poorly because my opponent is a pusher" is an excuse. A really good player needs to beat every player and not just players that feed them balls into their strike zone.

even in the pros some returns and defensive shots are really slow and awkward and still they handle them. A pro would not make a single UE against such a low level pusher if he concentrated.

that is because he tracks the ball very well with his eyes and uses small steps to adjust.

some players think they are good because they swing big with solid mechanics.
but they are not, they are swingers and not hitters. a good hitter must always stand perfect to the ball no matter how hard or soft it is hit.

so if you play badly against pushers you are probably not as good as a player you think you are.

of course one solution would be to play only "solid players" who feed the ball into your strike zone with medium pace, height and spin. or you improve your footwork, ball tracking and adjustment abilities to actually become a good hitter.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not recommending to play pushers all day. In fact if you want to get better you need to try to hit with cleaner and bigger hitters as often as possible to get used to that level which you will face as you climb the ladder.

but as long you struggle against pushers and weak hitters you are simply not as good as you think.
 

ATP100

Professional
I know the experience all to well, but it isn't just the other player's fault its also yours. Concentrate on the footwork and you won't ever mess up on bad feeds or shots.
This is the main reason, also, you are not watching the ball, you are watching him.
 

Larrysümmers

Hall of Fame
if they can keep a rally going, im happy. i dont care how they do it, slice, pushing, lobbing, etc. but its those people who cant keep the ball going two shots of a casual rally. then it feels like a waste.
 

pkshooter

Semi-Pro
It's really weird for me though because if I play someone good first the a junk ballerina, then my level of play cn be at its Normal levels
 

PrinceMoron

Legend
Against anyone 4.0 or lower, just play double handed both sides or with your left hand, assuming you are right-handed.

I also like to use a wooden racket, makes you focus a little. But to be honest, anything different from what you normally do, so after hitting you can just put it all away in a corner of your mind and forget it.

What you must not do is mirror them - everyone has a tendency to mirror the behaviour they see. The last thing you want to be doing is mirroring poor technique.

Same reason why paper scissor stone very often ends in a draw

'Paper, scissors, stone' shows we can't help but copy
Playing paper, scissors, stone results in a draw more often than chance would dictate because people subconsciously mirror their opponents' actions, a study has found.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/...issors-stone-shows-we-cant-help-but-copy.html


If chance was the only factor then a third of games should end in a draw, where both players make the same shape with their hands. But in reality more do so, found experimental psychologists at University College London.

They asked volunteers to perform two versions of the game: once when both were blindfolded, and again when only one was.

In the former the draw rate was 33.3 per cent - exactly as predicted by chance - but in the latter it was significantly higher, at 36.3 per cent.

Participants were promised money if they won their series of matches, so even though they were trying to win they could soemtimes not help but imitate their opponents.

Richard Cook, the lead author of the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, explained that imitation was hard-wired into the human brain.

He said: "From the moment we’re born, we are frequently exposed to situations where performing an action accurately predicts seeing the same action, or vice versa. Parents seemingly can’t help but imitate the facial expressions of their newborns – smiling, sticking their tongues out and so on.

"This experience causes the impulse to imitate to become so ingrained it is often subconscious, for example when one person starts tapping their foot in a waiting room it is not uncommon for the whole room to start tapping their feet without thinking."

He added it was "well established" that imitative responses happened faster than controlled ones, so people were carrying them out without being conscious of them.
 

NLBwell

Legend
Think of each ball coming at you as a completely independent problem and really work on trying to place your return to a spot with the speed and spin so that the person can easily hit the ball back to you. This is a quite difficult problem since you are getting balls coming at you from odd angles with odd spins. Making the problem a difficult one you must focus on will keep your mind and body engaged.
 

mightyrick

Legend
Think of each ball coming at you as a completely independent problem and really work on trying to place your return to a spot with the speed and spin so that the person can easily hit the ball back to you. This is a quite difficult problem since you are getting balls coming at you from odd angles with odd spins. Making the problem a difficult one you must focus on will keep your mind and body engaged.
This sounds interesting, but MAN that is so hard.

I mean, the guy already can barely keep a rally going. So he's launching balls all over the place. Sometimes he gets them back to me, but most times I'm chasing launched balls that are flying wide... trying to hit them on the first or second bounce.

I've tried slowing my pace down severely... to lure him into a slower swing tempo... but when the guy sees a slow sitter... he just crushes it. and it flies whereever. I've thought about talking to the guy about it, but I guess I just didn't want to hurt his feelings.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Mighty,

You're in good company. Even Fed commented that first round of a slam (not this Wimby) was a bit tough for him because of all the inconsistency.

Yeah, poor players give poor hitting/games in which you're a part. So of course your hitting will be poor, too. You may win points but that doesn't mean quality.

Don't look for quality when you play with low level players. Play them for karma as you were in their position once. Or maybe you won't feel so embarrassed if you run into very good players who think the same thing about you. :)
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Mighty,

You're in good company. Even Fed commented that first round of a slam (not this Wimby) was a bit tough for him because of all the inconsistency.

Yeah, poor players give poor hitting/games in which you're a part. So of course your hitting will be poor, too. You may win points but that doesn't mean quality.

Don't look for quality when you play with low level players. Play them for karma as you were in their position once. Or maybe you won't feel so embarrassed if you run into very good players who think the same thing about you. :)
It can affect the rhythm and such, but your strokes should stay solid.
 
Welcome to the world of the club coach!

Actually, as others have said, this kind of thing is terrific for your footwork and timing as every ball will be different and often in quite unexpected and atypical locations. As someone else said, work on returning all their balls to specific locations.

It's good for your tennis, honest!
 

DeShaun

Banned
When I'm hitting with someone whose skills are clearly beneath mine, I am actually quite patient with them but I also volunteer suggestions for their improvement without them soliciting my advice and if they don't like that then I usually move along and leave them alone after cracking a few balls past them that they can only watch whiz by. Otherwise I will aim to find out and feed them the type of ball they seem most comfortable moving towards and hitting, in order to observe their strokes and habits for the sake of commenting on the same.
 
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user92626

G.O.A.T.
It can affect the rhythm and such, but your strokes should stay solid.
Hmm..your strokes depend on "rhythm and such", so when rhythm and such are crappy, your strokes will likely suffer.

Saying "your strokes should stay solid" regardless is like saying your strokes should be the same against a grandpa or against Fed. No such thing.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Hmm..your strokes depend on "rhythm and such", so when rhythm and such are crappy, your strokes will likely suffer.

Saying "your strokes should stay solid" regardless is like saying your strokes should be the same against a grandpa or against Fed. No such thing.
Maybe thats a groove or mental thing for you, but my strokes are very grooved and
are not affected much at all by what I'm facing. I may not do as well, but it's not
my strokes. No reason for a rookie to hurt my strokes like Fed could do with big
power, but even then my strokes held up fine with Mal Washington, Vahaly, several
gold ball winners and a host of D1 players I've hit with a played.
It's harder to break down the timing enough to hurt modern strokes.
What breaks down there is my ability to track down their big pace.
 
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samarai

Semi-Pro
Poor hitters help to expose your weaknesses. Played an older gentleman Sat and this guy has been playing forever, has good technique and can blast the ball from the baseline with forehand or backhand. However, his net game and movement is suspect. So what do I do, dropshot him to death.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, poor hitters expose your weaknesses, but that's only the beginning. After your weaknesses are exposed, what do you do? If you're like 99% out there who have no formal training, no coaches monitoring to correct bad techniques, you're doomed to re-inforce your weaknesses.

So it's not a surprise that your hitting, not so great in the first place, goes down by the minutes.

Watch Nadal's training vids on Youtube. He still has Uncle Toni and other people showing him how to motion the backhand.
 

dman72

Hall of Fame
I've seen it from both sides...I was playing pretty regulary with a high 4.0 borderline 4.5 guy a few years back..I think he'd come out because I could hit big serves and forehands even though I'm inconsistent. We'd play sets and my serve would at least keep it close.

Another friend I hit with only plays occasionaly so he can't really keep up, especialy when it comes to serving, so i just modify the rules (he has unlimited faults or I play with only one serve) and it makes it at least more competitive.
 
Maybe thats a groove or mental thing for you, but my strokes are very grooved and
are not affected much at all by what I'm facing. I may not do as well, but it's not
my strokes. No reason for a rookie to hurt my strokes like Fed could do with big
power, but even then my strokes held up fine with Mal Washington, Vahaly, several
gold ball winners and a host of D1 players I've hit with a played.
It's harder to break down the timing enough to hurt modern strokes.
What breaks down there is my ability to track down their big pace
.

yes. the modern strokes are a little harder to learn but once you can execute them properly they are extremely easy to repeat.

this is also why tennis is now such a war of attrition and we see all those grinders and ball bashers.

we now have 150 guys with basically the same strokes so the games are decided by who can hit harder, run faster and run longer.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
yes. the modern strokes are a little harder to learn but once you can execute them properly they are extremely easy to repeat.

this is also why tennis is now such a war of attrition and we see all those grinders and ball bashers.

we now have 150 guys with basically the same strokes so the games are decided by who can hit harder, run faster and run longer.
Good post.. I agree, and
think they are even easier to learn
with the right instruction and especially if you learn them first.
I think some who learned traditional tend to struggle with the
switch to modern.
 
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