Standing like a pole in matches and other things

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ballsboy, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. Ballsboy

    Ballsboy New User

    Dec 30, 2008
    Rosario, Argentina
    Hello, everyone. I'd like to be told what I could do to improve in these following aspects which usually cause my downfall in tourneys:

    NOTE: Let me state some things clear, I've practiced for 4 years. I know the only thing that I can do to deal with this is practice, but once a wise man told me: "It doesn't matter how much you practice an specific part of your game, it won't improve if you practice it wrongly". Plus, drills intended for that purpose may (or may not, as nothing certainly works for everyone) make those "parts" improve faster. I said I was looking for improving acceleration on nº 4 because I want to generate a bit more of power, but not swing 100% faster. In nº 2, I was referring to the fact that it is a lot easier for me to swing faster off the bh wing than the fh wing. Finally, I know I might be answering myself, but something that worked for someone else as a solution for these problems might help me.

    1.The fact of ocassionally standing like a pole in matches, regardless of me focusing on footwork. Of course, I don't obsess myself about this one.
    2.Getting as much acceleration on my forehand as my backhand (I'll explain it better later)
    3.The bad habit of stretching 2h backhands out of laziness in matches.
    4.Improving arm acceleration in every hit
    5.Consistency problems in matches, which are directly related to balance, footwork (not transferring the weight correctly, falling on back foot, etc) and mentality.

    1. This is one of my main sources of UE's :(. I don't know why, it must be out of nervousness or inexperience in matches, but it doesn't happen in any occasion in particular, it just does, once, twice, or any number of times every time I compete with someone. I try to focus on positioning correctly, yet I commit the error to hit approach shots while moving laterally (I don't know how you call it, but it's the same movement you do to return to the center of the court after a cross-step) when I should be running to catch up with it, not sprinting for drop shots, or not moving back on high and heavy spun balls, etc. My coaches taught me how to move in the court, but I still seem not to get it properly unless I force me to do it. I think only practice might solve this one, but if anyone can lend a hand to help progressing here, you're welcome.

    2. I could never accelerate in my forehand as much as I could in a backhand (I know that in a 2hbh you have 2 hands on the handle, and the left one, which does most of the stroke, is choked up on the grip). Although people say it's mostly easier to hit harder off the forehand, that's not my case. My rivals prefer targetting my forehand on serves because I almost always miss when I hit with an abbreviated motion. OK, here's the deal. My forehand backswing was GIGANTIC, the racquet face was paralell to my head and the fence. I said it was OK. Big mistake, I always shanked a lot (like 15 unforced forehand shanks in a 3-set match). I just changed it and I'm having a really tough time generating racquet head speed when in a fast rally or in returns to catch up with the ball. I can't meet the correct contact point nor keep the racquet face straight like they say pros do (I'm not going to discuss that because there are mixed opinions about pros' contacts with the ball). This generally results in my opponent taking the point from an easy putaway at the net due to a short ball on my part. I think the solution here is to just rally or receive serves, I found that alternate solutions might be practicing mini tennis to build a contact point and keep hitting the ball with a high frequency or practicing swing-volleys (forehands without bounce).

    3. Has anyone got any drills for this one? Perhaps asking someone to feed some wide inside-out balls from the service line to my backhand wing, then returning to the middle and so on? This happens 90% of the time it does in some kind of tournament, and I would be glad to get rid of this one for good.

    4. Well, there has been a lot of debate in how to get more acceleration. Strengthening muscles, involving your whole body in the stroke which contributes to the so called kinetic chain (I try to do so, especially when I'm comfortable), staying relaxed throughout the whole stroke and finishing it, that you mustn't do it wildly, etc. One of the most remarkable things I was told is that I must keep the stroke mechanics simple (that's why I shortened my fh backswing recently) and efficient (tennis is a sport of efficiency, isn't it? :)), which takes me to think that I should be able to move the rival around the court without putting lots of energy in every hit. I've done a bit of reading and the things I got are that the racquet must be swung in a straight-upwards (but not in a "roundhouse") way, that acceleration begins a long way before contact, that the weight of the body plays a vital role in the speed of the shot, but haven't got a clear conclusion.

    5. Well, I must admit that I'm not very consistent myself. My high-speed rallies usually end in like 8 balls or less. I can't improve it pretty much at lessons unless I slow my shots dramatically with the ones who I practice with who move even less than me when I look like a pole. I miss a lot, but that is because of bad habits: not watching the ball, letting it ball, falling on the back foot when I'm supposed to land on the front one, positioning really far from the ball and stretching to reach it, nerves (again), impatience. The only way to achieve consistency is through repetition. Once again, I think the cause for this is inexperience and nerves. My coaches told me to go to a wall, but I don't know which drills I could do. Maybe hitting as many forehands as I can, then backhands, then mixing it up. First with mini tennis strokes, then full ones. Some tips to aid me ditch away those bad habits will be appreciated.

    Thanks to whoever can contribute with some helpful advice.

    PS: I know you must have answered what I posted somewhere and before and I'm sorry if I didn't use the search button well :oops:.
  2. ucrctennis

    ucrctennis Rookie

    May 29, 2006
    I can almost guarantee that you are "arming" your forehand. The power and racquet speed on your forehand come from your hips and your legs. Do medicine ball tosses to get your hip driving through on your forehand.

    Practice trying to get to 100 balls in a rally, regardless of the speed. It's going to be a lot easier to make your balls heavier than it is to make them more consistent. Be patient, consistency will come.

    Practice your footwork a ton, it'll make everything better
  3. Ballsboy

    Ballsboy New User

    Dec 30, 2008
    Rosario, Argentina
    Thanks for your response, ucrctennis.

    It's not that it happens the whole time, but when I'm arming my forehand the ball either doesn't cross the net because of the spin (I don't use to hit flat balls because of the low margin of error), or sails long from opening the racquet face only a little bit without wanting to do it because of rushing the stroke, but I'll get around that one myself. I usually try to involve all of my body in the forehand, and most importantly, When i'm in position, to transfer the weight to the front foot to guarantee that it will reach the other court, but when I'm in matches I occasionally feel like a rock unless I force me to do so.

    Today, my strokes were quite consistent, but I still struggled to keep my forehand in the court if I didn't put lots of spin on it. I double-faulted 14 times in 59 games :).

    Off-topic: Also, I enjoyed watching a futures tournament at my local club, for the interest of some, its name is Gimnasia y Esgrima Rosario, GER. I found that their footwork was really sound and that they hit with lots more of spin (and less depth) than what I thought, so, I decided to make my strokes a bit more spinny later and it worked great. BTW, we saw Guillermo Coria and his brother was playing, then he was harassed by the girls who played hockey :-|. I saw 3 matches. Tomorrow I might go see the next round, but I don't have a good camcorder (my friend has, so, go tick him off instead of me), so, don't expect me to record a match.

    On-topic: After the tournament ended for today, I played with a friend for 3 and a half hours, it started like a normal match, he won the first set and then we decided to make another one with an advantage of 2 games, I tried some of the things I saw in the tournament, I double-faulted around 14 times in the whole match. Note that we ended 6-7 24-22 and then played a mini-tiebreak to 5 points which had nothing to do with the past sets. I noticed a really great improvement in my strokes and positioning (maybe I was in the zone?), but I had to swing faster to hit them as I wanted.

    PS: My problem in consistency comes when I'm trying to hit balls at a high speed, if I don't hit with speed, then it's easy to maintain a long rally, but that's not going to be of any use against the 126 player in my category and country (who beat me 6-0 6-0 last week) because he'd just beat me to a pulp.
  4. volusiano

    volusiano Hall of Fame

    Oct 22, 2006
    I only have a suggestion to your title "Standing like a pole in matches". You may want to check out the AP Belt (google it). It can help keep your posture and movement down low in an athletic stance so you won't be playing upright like a pole.

    The rest of your post is too long for me to read, although I'm guilty of writing long posts myself. It may be more effective to break up your several points into different threads and make them shorter. Otherwise, long posts tend to scare people away and you may not get as much response. But then I may be wrong...

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