Practicing with bad players.

#1
Hey All!
On my Highschool tennis team, I am the number one. I play year round (which is hard to do considering I live in NH), play USTA tournaments, and even went to play in Nationals this past year. I have come a long way since freshmen year (I am a Junior now) when it comes to beating junk ballers/pushers. Mostly I just utilize the serve and volley as well as the chip and charge and that seems to work well. My team (besides our number two) is essential just athletic kids who have been taught to play tennis and find a way to win on our team. When it comes to practicing with them I have some real problems. Normally when I practice with other kids around my level I like to increase my net clearance and spin and really try to rip the top off the ball. The problem with doing that is that these kids are fast and athletic but they can't really read spin, so that ball really isn't likely going to come back, and if it does there is no way it's passing the service box. I want to be working on my real groundstrokes, and not just getting everything back, but I am a huge rythm player. I hate hitting one ball and being done. If I slow my racket head speed I'll lose consistency. I really want to utilize practice time and get the most out of it. But I don't know how to do so.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
#2
Hey All!
On my Highschool tennis team, I am the number one. I play year round (which is hard to do considering I live in NH), play USTA tournaments, and even went to play in Nationals this past year. I have come a long way since freshmen year (I am a Junior now) when it comes to beating junk ballers/pushers. Mostly I just utilize the serve and volley as well as the chip and charge and that seems to work well. My team (besides our number two) is essential just athletic kids who have been taught to play tennis and find a way to win on our team. When it comes to practicing with them I have some real problems. Normally when I practice with other kids around my level I like to increase my net clearance and spin and really try to rip the top off the ball. The problem with doing that is that these kids are fast and athletic but they can't really read spin, so that ball really isn't likely going to come back, and if it does there is no way it's passing the service box. I want to be working on my real groundstrokes, and not just getting everything back, but I am a huge rythm player. I hate hitting one ball and being done. If I slow my racket head speed I'll lose consistency. I really want to utilize practice time and get the most out of it. But I don't know how to do so.
personally if i were just playing with bunters like that, i've skip hitting my "normal" groundies (because they won't come back), and work on other things:
* dink and lob (touch and placement) - probably what i'd spent most of my time doing against folks that can't read my spin... kinda like dink'em but on a full court... and that allows me to practice against their strengths (eg. speed to run everything down)... channel your inner santoro, and see if you can make them run down 10 shots in a row. make a game to yourself to see how high you can hit your lobs and still land in the court.
* stand inside the baseline and try to hit everything on the rise (even this might not be enough of a handicap)
* hit everything with a continental grip, stand in NML or by service line (like dinkem, but you're focusing on hitting alot of half volleys)
in general, practice all those utility shots (half volleys, lobs, droppers, OH lob, underhand serve, bh OH, over the shoulder shot, tweener, etc...) that you typically don't get to practice.

in ny now, but i used to live in manch-vegas/nashua, belonged to executives (by the airport), and trained with a coach in bow... over 15y ago.

[edit] i'll also practice only hitting topspin/slice bh... while a consistent shot, usually not a weapon, and if placed to the strength/strikezone of my 3.5 training partner, they will be able to handle it decently.
 
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#3
Hey All!
On my Highschool tennis team, I am the number one. I play year round (which is hard to do considering I live in NH), play USTA tournaments, and even went to play in Nationals this past year. I have come a long way since freshmen year (I am a Junior now) when it comes to beating junk ballers/pushers. Mostly I just utilize the serve and volley as well as the chip and charge and that seems to work well. My team (besides our number two) is essential just athletic kids who have been taught to play tennis and find a way to win on our team. When it comes to practicing with them I have some real problems. Normally when I practice with other kids around my level I like to increase my net clearance and spin and really try to rip the top off the ball. The problem with doing that is that these kids are fast and athletic but they can't really read spin, so that ball really isn't likely going to come back, and if it does there is no way it's passing the service box. I want to be working on my real groundstrokes, and not just getting everything back, but I am a huge rythm player. I hate hitting one ball and being done. If I slow my racket head speed I'll lose consistency. I really want to utilize practice time and get the most out of it. But I don't know how to do so.
That is high school tennis in a nutshell. Right now our two top boys are actual tennis players with college potential, but ther rest, while playing well and being athletic as you mention, just are not at that player level. For practice we are lucky enough to have a few of the college players step in for their practices and we have three other coaches/assistants to work with the various level of kids. But then when you want to have team matches, there is always inequity. I remind the top boys to use the matches and practices with the team to work on specific goals. So set a goal for 75% first serves, or finding ways to use slice in rallies. Something they can then apply in regular matches or practices. Your coach should be able to work with you on those goals as well if they see things you need to improve or develop.

Biggest thing I see though is that when there is no preceived challenge, the footwork all but stops. So be very keen about keeping up the footwork no matter what you decide to practice.
 
#4
personally if i were just playing with bunters like that, i've skip hitting my "normal" groundies (because they won't come back), and work on other things:
* dink and lob (touch and placement) - probably what i'd spent most of my time doing against folks that can't read my spin... kinda like dink'em but on a full court... and that allows me to practice against their strengths (eg. speed to run everything down)... channel your inner santoro, and see if you can make them run down 10 shots in a row. make a game to yourself to see how high you can hit your lobs and still land in the court.
* stand inside the baseline and try to hit everything on the rise (even this might not be enough of a handicap)
* hit everything with a continental grip, stand in NML or by service line (like dinkem, but you're focusing on hitting alot of half volleys)
in general, practice all those utility shots (half volleys, lobs, droppers, OH lob, underhand serve, bh OH, over the shoulder shot, tweener, etc...) that you typically don't get to practice.

in ny now, but i used to live in manch-vegas/nashua, belonged to executives (by the airport), and trained with a coach in bow... over 15y ago.

[edit] i'll also practice only hitting topspin/slice bh... while a consistent shot, usually not a weapon, and if placed to the strength/strikezone of my 3.5 training partner, they will be able to handle it decently.
No way! My coach is Alan! We are actually hitting at his court today! I’ve been going there for private’s / groups for about a year! Small world!
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
#5
No way! My coach is Alan! We are actually hitting at his court today! I’ve been going there for private’s / groups for about a year! Small world!
one of the best coaches ever!
his kids used to kick my butt back in the day :p
i always hoped he'd write a book, or start his own yt channel... he has a wealth of info...
honestly, if you see him regularly, you should be asking him these questions... he'll have some really good ideas.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
#6
No way! My coach is Alan! We are actually hitting at his court today! I’ve been going there for private’s / groups for about a year! Small world!
tell him my sig, see if he remembers me :p.


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#8
Nothing wrong with venturing outside of your team/tennis circle for more challenging practice partners. At some point, practicing with non-challenging/inconsistent players feel like you're providing them a service than a practice, and that's no fun at all.

(Sorry for such an elitest mindset. But if the practice session has nothing in it for me, no thanks)
 
#12
I wouldn’t expect to get much out of a high school tennis practice. Sounds about right as there are usually one or two kids who play tennis seriously and the others are somewhat athletic or not interested in going out for baseball or lacrosse.

Practice taking the ball on the rise as mentioned earlier and slice backhand. And be nice. Realize that tennis is a growing sport and many kids haven’t taken lessons outside practicing with the team.


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IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#15
Hey All!
On my Highschool tennis team, I am the number one. I play year round (which is hard to do considering I live in NH), play USTA tournaments, and even went to play in Nationals this past year. I have come a long way since freshmen year (I am a Junior now) when it comes to beating junk ballers/pushers. Mostly I just utilize the serve and volley as well as the chip and charge and that seems to work well. My team (besides our number two) is essential just athletic kids who have been taught to play tennis and find a way to win on our team. When it comes to practicing with them I have some real problems. Normally when I practice with other kids around my level I like to increase my net clearance and spin and really try to rip the top off the ball. The problem with doing that is that these kids are fast and athletic but they can't really read spin, so that ball really isn't likely going to come back, and if it does there is no way it's passing the service box. I want to be working on my real groundstrokes, and not just getting everything back, but I am a huge rythm player. I hate hitting one ball and being done. If I slow my racket head speed I'll lose consistency. I really want to utilize practice time and get the most out of it. But I don't know how to do so.
I was also #1 on my HS team back in the day, so can relate.

If I were you, I would take it as an opportunity to improve your net skills (since you won't get much from baseline rallies due to skill differences).

Just come in on anything/everything. Kind of like John McEnroe used to do. S&V, chip/charge all their 2nd serves, maybe even try to chip/charge their 1st serves.

You'll get tons of reps at the net that way, and lots of overhead practice as they'll inevitably lob you often. You'll also have to hit some tricky volleys since you'll be coming in on less-than-ideal approach shots sometimes.

Then you can apply those net skills to your other HS opponents, who won't be used to seeing someone attack them at net...
 
#18
Hey All!
On my Highschool tennis team, I am the number one. I play year round (which is hard to do considering I live in NH), play USTA tournaments, and even went to play in Nationals this past year. I have come a long way since freshmen year (I am a Junior now) when it comes to beating junk ballers/pushers. Mostly I just utilize the serve and volley as well as the chip and charge and that seems to work well. My team (besides our number two) is essential just athletic kids who have been taught to play tennis and find a way to win on our team. When it comes to practicing with them I have some real problems. Normally when I practice with other kids around my level I like to increase my net clearance and spin and really try to rip the top off the ball. The problem with doing that is that these kids are fast and athletic but they can't really read spin, so that ball really isn't likely going to come back, and if it does there is no way it's passing the service box. I want to be working on my real groundstrokes, and not just getting everything back, but I am a huge rythm player. I hate hitting one ball and being done. If I slow my racket head speed I'll lose consistency. I really want to utilize practice time and get the most out of it. But I don't know how to do so.
I'm actually in the opposite position, I hit with a bunch of people better than me. One thing that I think helps them is that I'll bring a basket of balls for racket feeds. You can alternate some hitting/feeds until they are good enough to handle your pace. The feeds will give you time to work on getting into more of a rhythm swinging out. Not as good as live hitting but /shrug
 
#19
It would make sense to use a ball machine. As you describe it you want your shot returned and these guys can’t do it, a ball machine doesn’t care what you hit.
 
#20
I was joking that he was not tall enough to post on the "tall people only" thread :)
Haven’t been following this board for a few weeks. Clicked the Tips link by accident and found myself in this thread where the most recent post at the time was talking about nyta deleting his account.
 
F

FRV

Guest
#21
It would make sense to use a ball machine. As you describe it you want your shot returned and these guys can’t do it, a ball machine doesn’t care what you hit.
This. I wasn't as good as you are, but boy would I have benefitted from a ball machine in high school. Practicing with my team and playing matches were like different sports because no one on my team could hit with pace. With the ball machine you could try and emulate the pace and spin your usual opponent is hitting.
 
#24
The problem isn't them, it is you. If you can't maintain your stroke mechanics at a slower pace, then you need to work on your strokes.

Personally I love practicing against players like the ones you describe. Rallying with someone with poor stroke mechanics, who bunts the ball into different places and still putting it back into exactly the same spot every time takes skill. It is a good way of becoming a human wall and nobody likes playing someone who can get the ball back into play 20-30 times in a row.
 
#25
I used to be one of those athletic kids on the high school team with no groundstroke skills. I had to serve and volley and charge the net against the nationally ranked kids for the opposite reason - just to give me chance!
 
#26
The problem isn't them, it is you. If you can't maintain your stroke mechanics at a slower pace, then you need to work on your strokes.

Personally, I love practicing against players like the ones you describe. Rallying with someone with poor stroke mechanics, who bunts the ball into different places and still putting it back into exactly the same spot every time takes skill. It is a good way of becoming a human wall and nobody likes playing someone who can get the ball back into play 20-30 times in a row.
Hahahahah, I love it when people don't know what they are talking about. When have you ever seen a pro or top junior slow there swing speed? Your swing speed should always be constant, or as constant as you can make it, and you should always be swinging out 100%. If you have trouble being consistent you increase spin and net clearance, not slowing your swing speed. Even if you are compensating for increased pace, you just want to shorten your backswing not slow your stroke.
 
D

Deleted member 120290

Guest
#27
Been away from tennis for 5 months. Didn't pick up a racket, didn't post, didn't watch any tennis except the tail end of AO and IW 2019.
I am seeing numerous threads about playing/practicing with Bad Players, Lower Level Players, Atrocious Hacks, etc.
It's comforting to know this forum has only those who are the Better/Higher/Elite Level Players who are also never the Pushers.
 
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#28
Been away from tennis for 5 months. Didn't pick up a racket, didn't post, didn't watch any tennis except the tale end of AO and IW 2019.
I am seeing numerous threads about playing/practicing with Bad Players, Lower Level Players, Atrocious Hacks, etc.
It's comforting to know this forum has only those who are the Better/Higher/Elite Level Players who are also never the Pushers.
People get better when they play with better players, so they won’t be asking for help.
 
#29
Hahahahah, I love it when people don't know what they are talking about. When have you ever seen a pro or top junior slow there swing speed? Your swing speed should always be constant, or as constant as you can make it, and you should always be swinging out 100%. If you have trouble being consistent you increase spin and net clearance, not slowing your swing speed. Even if you are compensating for increased pace, you just want to shorten your backswing not slow your stroke.
You and @zaph are talking 2 different things: he's talking about maintaining mechanics independent of swing speed and you're talking about not slowing down.

You asked a question and when he gave a suggestion, you wrote it off. Bottom line is that you swinging out 100% will not produce a ball that you can rally with lower-level players. If you can't modify your shot, you will never solve this problem [because it's unlikely your hitting partners will magically improve in the short-run]. I guess it boils down to how much you want to change.
 
#30
People get better when they play with better players, so they won’t be asking for help.
People don't only get better when playing better players. People can also improve playing peers [maybe by testing your consistency] and worse players [allows you the chance to attack and forces you to deal with perhaps non-traditional shots. If you don't like the non-traditional shots, you can either improve your response or ignore them and then have a rough time when you run into an opponent like that].
 
#31
Hahahahah, I love it when people don't know what they are talking about. When have you ever seen a pro or top junior slow there swing speed? Your swing speed should always be constant, or as constant as you can make it, and you should always be swinging out 100%. If you have trouble being consistent you increase spin and net clearance, not slowing your swing speed. Even if you are compensating for increased pace, you just want to shorten your backswing not slow your stroke.
Not even Federer, Djoko and Nadal swing out 100% at all times. All pros temper their swing based on the situation. And, pros rarely swing with 100% effort. Normal rally ball is probably 70% effort and they probably go up to 80-90% effort if they have a sitter. And, they drop down a bit and elevate the ball if they are on the defensive. Roddick used to play against a friend who played college tennis but couldn't really challenge Roddick. Roddick would hit all underspin shots and his friend could hit topspin or any type of shot in groundstrokes games.

Roger Federer slows his swing speed on many shots in every match I have ever watched him play. I think only adolescent teenage hot shots try to play 100% all the time.

When hitting with weaker players, you can get a good workout. Try this:
1. hit to their strength. if they have a good FH, then hit at least 2 balls to their FH before going anywhere else.
2. work on new skills: try S&V or attacking the net. you can also combine this with hitting to their strength. For example, hit an approach shot to your opponents stronger FH in the hope they will hit a good pass that will make you work to hit a volley.
3. keep the ball down the middle more and don't hit to the outer 1/3 areas of court. this will allow opponent to hit more shots on balance.
 
#32
Been away from tennis for 5 months. Didn't pick up a racket, didn't post, didn't watch any tennis except the tale end of AO and IW 2019.
I am seeing numerous threads about playing/practicing with Bad Players, Lower Level Players, Atrocious Hacks, etc.
It's comforting to know this forum has only those who are the Better/Higher/Elite Level Players who are also never the Pushers.
Welcome back to the Lake Woebegone of tennis, where all of the players are above-average.
 
F

FRV

Guest
#33
I don't see anything wrong with what OP asked. I get that some people think he should just play with his teammates and adjust. That's fine. That's what I did in high school. But that shouldn't be the only thing he does or else he might fall behind.

And yes, I'm another person saying he was better than some of the people he played with. But I was worse than my competition. I'm not saying I am an above average player. My high school was very weak in tennis.
 
#35
Hahahahah, I love it when people don't know what they are talking about. When have you ever seen a pro or top junior slow there swing speed? Your swing speed should always be constant, or as constant as you can make it, and you should always be swinging out 100%. If you have trouble being consistent you increase spin and net clearance, not slowing your swing speed. Even if you are compensating for increased pace, you just want to shorten your backswing not slow your stroke.
And you misunderstand my post. I wasn't talking about the pace of the racket, I was talking about the pace of the ball. A top pro would have no problem hitting different paced balls and placing them where they wanted. if you asked a quality player to rally with a newbie player, they would have no problem placing the ball in the right place everytime and they have enough control over the spin to make sure the other player could handle it.

Coaches do it all the time, if you can't do that, your technique isn't as good as you think it is.
 
#37
People get better when they play with better players, so they won’t be asking for help.
So did the players, who you were blasting winners against, get better? If so, you should have no complaints. If not, you need to re-evaluate the statement you have made above.


One gets better if the better player is not way better than them. Even if so, if the much better player is not intent on showing off his greatness and can tone his game down a bit so that both could get something out of it, then it’s ok. Else it is a waste of time.
 
#38
And you misunderstand my post. I wasn't talking about the pace of the racket, I was talking about the pace of the ball. A top pro would have no problem hitting different paced balls and placing them where they wanted. if you asked a quality player to rally with a newbie player, they would have no problem placing the ball in the right place everytime and they have enough control over the spin to make sure the other player could handle it.

Coaches do it all the time, if you can't do that, your technique isn't as good as you think it is.
How would you control pace of a ball withought slowing down swing speed? You can change the angle in which you attacked the ball, which would lead to higher net clearance and more spin, but I would argue that doing that is worse then just hitting normal pace because the kids I was referring have trouble reading said spin.
 
#39
So did the players, who you were blasting winners against, get better? If so, you should have no complaints. If not, you need to re-evaluate the statement you have made above.


One gets better if the better player is not way better than them. Even if so, if the much better player is not intent on showing off his greatness and can tone his game down a bit so that both could get something out of it, then it’s ok. Else it is a waste of time.
Rarely is there ever a difference between players that would lead one play to “blast winners” every time. I never claimed to be able to do that nor would any body be able to if you were hitting crosscourt or down the line. I’m merley saying that they can’t return the ball consistsntly. Practicing is about a lot of rhythm, and when you go 3 balls from your partner withought them getting it past the service box, that is a problem.
 
#40
How would you control pace of a ball withought slowing down swing speed? You can change the angle in which you attacked the ball, which would lead to higher net clearance and more spin, but I would argue that doing that is worse then just hitting normal pace because the kids I was referring have trouble reading said spin.
Were have you got this bizarre idea that you can't adjust the pace and spin on the ball? Top pros vary the pace and the spin on the ball, that is why they are top players.

I don't know why you think you have to swing the racket at exactly the same speed for every ball, you don't and that isn't what pros do.

Coaches at my club can hit with proper stroke production at a low pace that learners can handle. Are you seriously trying to claim that a coach at local tennis club has better racket control than an ATP player?

You need to stop making excuses, the thread you have posted has been written by others in a thousand different forms. I can't play/practice with worse players than me, they ruin my game.

Sorry that simply isn't true, the problem is with you, not the person you are practicing with.
 
#41
Rarely is there ever a difference between players that would lead one play to “blast winners” every time. I never claimed to be able to do that nor would any body be able to if you were hitting crosscourt or down the line. I’m merley saying that they can’t return the ball consistsntly. Practicing is about a lot of rhythm, and when you go 3 balls from your partner withought them getting it past the service box, that is a problem.
No it isn't, you are equipped with these things called legs, use them to move forward.

I practice with people who do what you describe all the time, in fact with some of them the ball could pretty much end up anywhere. Running it down and have the control to hit the ball back to them is good practice and I can manage far more than 3 in a row.

I am a crap player, I don't know, 3.5 level at best and I can do it. It isn't that hard.
 
#42
I change my stroke when I'm hitting with players who can't hit hard, because if you do that, they will probably dislike you because the ball is probably too spinny, and they can't hit back that hurt their ego.

So I always ask if I hit too hard or too spinny, and fortunately to maintain their ego, they will always say no it is alright, then I proceed to spin bash them :)
 
#43
I was also #1 on my HS team back in the day, so can relate.

If I were you, I would take it as an opportunity to improve your net skills (since you won't get much from baseline rallies due to skill differences).

Just come in on anything/everything. Kind of like John McEnroe used to do. S&V, chip/charge all their 2nd serves, maybe even try to chip/charge their 1st serves.

You'll get tons of reps at the net that way, and lots of overhead practice as they'll inevitably lob you often. You'll also have to hit some tricky volleys since you'll be coming in on less-than-ideal approach shots sometimes.

Then you can apply those net skills to your other HS opponents, who won't be used to seeing someone attack them at net...
#1 (y) ... I was #6, and took another 7 years to get close to the level of our #1. Our #1 was good ... the rest of us were NOT. ;)
 
#44
Two words: Cooperative Rally. And if they’re your teammates you should be helping them get better so you can beat other TEAMS, not whining that you’re too good for everyone.


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TnsGuru

Professional
#45
See if your coach will let you bring in someone that can play at or above you're level to practice with. Maybe a friend you know, personal coach or if this isn't a possibility you can get the best of what you have on your team and hit two on one. You will hit against two players with drills of some sort. Lots of players hit two on one drills for a more intense practice session.
 
#46
Just practice parts of the game that you are deficient in when you play against people that you outclass.

As for what to do to practice your normal game...there isn't much you can do other than to find a hitting partner or get a coach to play with you regularly.
 
#48
Two words: Cooperative Rally. And if they’re your teammates you should be helping them get better so you can beat other TEAMS, not whining that you’re too good for everyone.


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I never said or implied I was frustrated or upset with the level differential as you have implied.
 
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