Progression from 3.5 to 4.0

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by sgrv, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. sgrv

    sgrv Rookie

    Jul 28, 2008
    Yesterday, for the first time I got a chance to hit with a bunch of legit 4.0 players. They were doing tryouts for a team along with a coach. I told the coach I have no prior formal experience playing rated players and asked if could join. He allowed me to.

    In the end it was fairly clear that those players have quite advanced games. The coach told me I could fit in a 3.5 team. That was a good validation of my game :)

    I am wondering if you could provide suggestions on what it takes to advance one's game from 3.5 to 4.0. Following are observations from yesterday, which would provide more context about my game and potential areas for improvement. Plesae review and share tips.

    Areas where I could hold my own

    1. My forehand was fairly competitive. I could earn points and get unforced errors out of them
    2. My service was also ok. They were not able to attack it. The spins in the serves generated unforrced errors from them. I mainly tried topspin serves. As I mentioned in a previous post, I don't have a consistent flat serve, so didn't try against them.

    Their top strengths/Areas where I ran into problems

    1. All of them had more power and spin in their serves. Their service motion was so fluid that it didn't feel like they were working hard to generate such power. I would definitely love to add mphs to my serve. How should I approach it?

    2. Due to the extra speed and power in serves, I was not finding time to get in a good position to return. Often I got jammed. Also, they applied strategy to aim on my backhand which is significantly weaker than FH. How can I improve my reaction time? btw, I do split step and try to watch server's racquet at contact point.

    3. They had pretty consistent backhands. This is also a known weakness of my game. I am consistent with slices, but they don't win points. If I try too much with 2hbh, i make lot of unforced errors.

    4. Their volleying was far superior than mine. Infact this is one part of my game which I haven't practiced much, since there are other areas where I will get better return of investment if I improve.
  2. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

    Sep 18, 2009
    Akron, OH
    1. For serves, just work on your form. Make sure when you serve, you flourish your wrist more; that's what generates the racquet speed.

    2. Stand further back. Physics says that will increase your reaction time, even if it will make the serve no slower. V = D/T

    The time is the same, but the displacement is higher, thus more time to react.

    3. Again, it's all form. If you're not comfortable hitting 2hbh, slice away if the difference in the two is that great. Develop your 2hbh more and when you're comfortable with it, start implementing it into your game more.

    4. You're not obligated to volley to win. If you can hold your own with your forehand and your backhand slice, use them! Play defensively and make your opponents beat you. Don't constantly try to use weapons you haven't developed yet.

    The key to playing tennis is learning how not to lose. Maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, don't go for shots you aren't confident in, and play percentage tennis. Don't beat yourself! Hitting unforced errors and double faulting will contribute nothing to your game. Hustle for every ball and don't be lazy with footwork and always keep a positive mindset.

    Once you master that, then you can learn how to win. How to use placement and angles, how to pick apart your opponent's game and their weaknesses, adding spin and pace to your shots and developing a repertoire of shots you can turn to again and again. You want to run when you haven't really become good at walking yet, but once you walk, you have the foundation of skills in your legs to begin running.
  3. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

    Sep 28, 2009
    Learn to hit every shot you have into the court 30 times each. Then aim for 40 times, then 50 times, then 60 times, and so on.

    Work on footwork so that you split step, stay low when you move, and get a lot of steps in between shots to properly set up for each shot.

    Learn to volley solidly. You don't need to be a great one, just be able to finish off the easy and mediocre balls you see at net. If you ever see any hard balls at net, you shouldn't have been there unless they dragged you in kicking and screaming (which means you should start kicking and screaming while you run to get those drop shots).
  4. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation G.O.A.T.

    Oct 20, 2006
    I'll add that for your volleys, you need to learn sound technique. You can practice them a lot, but if your fundamentals aren't right, your volleys will never get too solid. If you take one lesson, get some guidance on your volleys and serves.

    On the practice courts, if you want to shape up that backhand, start running around your forehand - I'm talking about taking those "in between" balls on that wing instead of defaulting to your forehand like we often do in a match. Progressing toward the 4.0 level means getting more consistent and having fewer weaknesses than you do right now. That backhand won't get better during match play, so make the most of your practice workouts and actively seek more opportunities to groove that stroke.

    If you have a hitting pal, you can practice your return of serve by having them serve to you from up near his/her service line. A strong (I mean reliable, not powerful) return of serve is essential for overall improvement. It's the second shot of every point in the game, yet it's one of the least practiced. It's certainly good that you split-step and you also want to carry forward momentum into that split to save you from having to use much of a swing.

    A powerful flat serve isn't as valuable as a funky spin serve that you can land with placement. I recommend only using a flat heater once every game or two just to keep your opponents guessing... and maybe an extra step back. Keep your windup for your serves slow and un-rushed so that you're more "loaded up" and ready to swing when your toss is up there in your hitting zone. Rehearse that slow and loose tempo on the practice courts so that you can repeat it in your matches. Trying to muscle the racquet through the ball with a quick burst only creates tension that kills fluid motion.
  5. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

    Feb 17, 2005
    Big Canoe, GA
    As a 3.5 when I started playing against 4.0's, what I noticed immediately is that they were much more consistent than me in pretty much every way. They didn't serve harder, but they got more serves in. Their forehands were not bigger, but they could rally on the forehand side (hard) for more strokes than I could. Their backhand looked like mine, but again way more consistent. Some were younger and in better shape, but not all of them. They played smarter, going for high percentage shots longer before trying for a winner or to force an error.
  6. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Mar 31, 2008
    Learn where you need to hit your shot to in most every type situation.
    Learn the skills needed to hit the ball to those spots consistently.
  7. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

    Dec 9, 2006
    Sunny Va Beach
    It seems like you already have a game plan to improve, the 1 thru 4 categories on the bottom of your post seems to say it all. ;) Good luck! One thing I would say is concentrate on being loose, consistent, and on grooving your timing.
  8. Blake0

    Blake0 Hall of Fame

    Feb 17, 2009
    Learn a solid consistent backhand which you can rely on hitting cross court consistently and able to hit dtl fairly well. Then make your forehand a weapon, either by hitting harder, punishing short balls, learn to run around your backhand and hit an inside out forehand.
    Then work on your serves, as you know you'll need more mph and variety. You mentioned you hit topspin serves most of the time. It's a great serve for a change up first serve, but i'd recommend it mainly to be used as a second. Your first serve is used as a weapon to give you an upper hand while your second serve is to try to gain the advantage or atleast start the point off neutrally (thats what you should be aiming for on any level).

    After that practice volleys, they're very important, especially for aggressive players in my oppinioin. Make sure your volleys stay low and you know how to put away volleys.

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