The many habits and traits of 2.5 and 3.0 players

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Just watched 20 minutes of mens' pro doubles highlights. No volleys from NML. I'm sure unintentionally it happens because sometimes your partner puts up a sitter and you get caught retreating as the opponent hammers it at you. But it's never a position you plan to be in. And certainly no coach has ever told me that was a position to play from.
I'm sorry, but I have to disagree.

I googled, and the first match that came up was Djokovic/Fognini v. Kubot/Melo, Indian Wells, 2019. I did not bother watching the Djokovic/Fognini service games, as I assumed they would not serve and volley. I watched one service game each for the other two, who S&V.

Most of the points were either missed returns or easy sitters where the incoming server stopped, bounced it, and pounded it for a winner.

For the approach volleys, though, there was not one time that the incoming server was closer than the service line when he made contact.


Check out, for example, 4:20 and 9:28. And if you care to watch closely for points where the return went into the net, you can see the server would not have been at the service line had the ball gone over.

For rec players, we are not as fast or as tall as these pros, so it is insane to think we can get all the way to the service line if the pros can't. I agree with you that you shouldn't normally park in NML. But you there is no reason to race forward, hair on fire, to get to the service line.

I was taught to play a quality, controlled approach volley from wherever you happen to be while you are on your way in.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
I consider a step in from the baseline as NML, not a step behind the service line.
Both those points the server was getting up to the service line as his spot to claim and hit the ball low one step behind it.

That is entirely different from what I’ve seen from women and seniors that serve or return take one step into the court and stand there, swinging volley the next shot, take another step in and swinging volley from 2 steps in. Rinse repeat.

The low volley and half volley from just behind the service line is absolutely something to learn. The swinging volley from 1 step into the court is not a men’s doubles thing.

And we rec players absolutely can get to the service line or just behind it because we serve and return slower than the pros. Our lower paced shots make up for our lack of foot speed. Half the time when I’m returning second serve I’m two steps from the service line. And again I’m talking this shot isn’t part of Men’s doubles below senior levels. Most men have no problem getting to the service line rapidly.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I consider a step in from the baseline as NML, not a step behind the service line.
Both those points the server was getting up to the service line as his spot to claim and hit the ball low one step behind it.

That is entirely different from what I’ve seen from women and seniors that serve or return take one step into the court and stand there, swinging volley the next shot, take another step in and swinging volley from 2 steps in. Rinse repeat.

The low volley and half volley from just behind the service line is absolutely something to learn. The swinging volley from 1 step into the court is not a men’s doubles thing.

And we rec players absolutely can get to the service line or just behind it because we serve and return slower than the pros. Our lower paced shots make up for our lack of foot speed. Half the time when I’m returning second serve I’m two steps from the service line. And again I’m talking this shot isn’t part of Men’s doubles below senior levels. Most men have no problem getting to the service line rapidly.
Ok. I certainly agree that pros are better at transitioning than rec players.

And if you want to define NML as something other than, well, NML, I will agree that pros do not stand a foot inside the baseline and volley.

I hope that we can agree that the goal when SV is not to get to a particular place on the court but is to split when the opponent is about to hit, even if you are not yet at the service line.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Ok. I certainly agree that pros are better at transitioning than rec players.

And if you want to define NML as something other than, well, NML, I will agree that pros do not stand a foot inside the baseline and volley.

I hope that we can agree that the goal when SV is not to get to a particular place on the court but is to split when the opponent is about to hit, even if you are not yet at the service line.
Where would you define as NML? I think NML is between a few feet inside the the baseline and a few feet behind the service line ...is that not how he described it?
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
NML is in front of the baseline and behind the service line. The area in which you often have to hit an approach volley.

As I understood it, he was saying you shouldn't volley from NML, and pros don't. I say they do, because they are often behind the service line when they hit their first volley.

As a general matter, I think there is a tendency among rec players and even some (not so good) teaching pros that you need to get to the service line ASAP. This causes people to run through volleys, to fail to split step, and to have such a head of steam moving forward that a ball just over their head will go unplayed.

One thing I have been really grateful for is my pro's emphasis on being able to play the ball from anywhere on the court. Once you can confidently hit volleys from NML, you can do what the pros do: Move in, split, and volley, and if that means you make contact behind the service line (i.e. NML), that's fine.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
NML is in front of the baseline and behind the service line. The area in which you often have to hit an approach volley.

As I understood it, he was saying you shouldn't volley from NML, and pros don't. I say they do, because they are often behind the service line when they hit their first volley.

As a general matter, I think there is a tendency among rec players and even some (not so good) teaching pros that you need to get to the service line ASAP. This causes people to run through volleys, to fail to split step, and to have such a head of steam moving forward that a ball just over their head will go unplayed.

One thing I have been really grateful for is my pro's emphasis on being able to play the ball from anywhere on the court. Once you can confidently hit volleys from NML, you can do what the pros do: Move in, split, and volley, and if that means you make contact behind the service line (i.e. NML), that's fine.
Okay .... we are on the same page ....

When coming in yes the most important thing is not to simply come in willy-nilly ... but come in with a purpose, watching the play, splitting at opponent's contact with ball (or just before), reacting and moving forward (not back) to your volley.

I wonder if the biggest difference between a good volleyer and a poor one is the movement forward rather than backward.

Was watching the Giorgi/Linette match yesterday. The number of times Giorgi would make good contact on a short ball and then retreat behind the baseline rather than come in to the net was astounding. Then I watched the one time I saw her volley. It was So Bad ... no wonder she won't come to net!
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Okay .... we are on the same page ....

When coming in yes the most important thing is not to simply come in willy-nilly ... but come in with a purpose, watching the play, splitting at opponent's contact with ball (or just before), reacting and moving forward (not back) to your volley.

I wonder if the biggest difference between a good volleyer and a poor one is the movement forward rather than backward.

Was watching the Giorgi/Linette match yesterday. The number of times Giorgi would make good contact on a short ball and then retreat behind the baseline rather than come in to the net was astounding. Then I watched the one time I saw her volley. It was So Bad ... no wonder she won't come to net!
I think the difference between a good and bad volleyer is the split step. Without good balance and opportunity to see and react, all the forward progress in the world won’t help you.

I think approach volleys are one of the toughest shots in tennis. A lot of things you need are not intuitive, and you are punished mightily for not doing them. But getting to a place where you are not terrified oh NML is huge.

My biggest mistake Is not moving through the volley but instead volleying from a static position. I’m working on it so all of my volleys will be more penetrating, not just some.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
I played with a 4.0F for a 7.0MXD practice. She shared a couple observations with me that really helped.

She knows I have a good FH. So she mentioned that I should hit my serve and back up to get ready for a FH cc battle. It's so easy to get caught in NML after my serve. And I typically won't move toward the net until after the 2nd or 3rd baseline shot. It was her nice way to say, "back up and get back into baseline rally position".

Another tip was our opponent male likes to hit his ROS BH slice with a sharp cc angle. But his FH, he doesn't hit a sharp cc; either near the strap or DTL. So if I see a serve to BH, then make an aggressive move. But if it lands to the FH, then cover the DTL. She saw the pattern a lot sooner and clearer than I did.

I'm sure those eyes come with experience.
 
NML is in front of the baseline and behind the service line. The area in which you often have to hit an approach volley.

As I understood it, he was saying you shouldn't volley from NML, and pros don't. I say they do, because they are often behind the service line when they hit their first volley.

As a general matter, I think there is a tendency among rec players and even some (not so good) teaching pros that you need to get to the service line ASAP. This causes people to run through volleys, to fail to split step, and to have such a head of steam moving forward that a ball just over their head will go unplayed.

One thing I have been really grateful for is my pro's emphasis on being able to play the ball from anywhere on the court. Once you can confidently hit volleys from NML, you can do what the pros do: Move in, split, and volley, and if that means you make contact behind the service line (i.e. NML), that's fine.
NML is in front of the baseline and behind the service line. The area in which you often have to hit an approach volley.

As I understood it, he was saying you shouldn't volley from NML, and pros don't. I say they do, because they are often behind the service line when they hit their first volley.

As a general matter, I think there is a tendency among rec players and even some (not so good) teaching pros that you need to get to the service line ASAP. This causes people to run through volleys, to fail to split step, and to have such a head of steam moving forward that a ball just over their head will go unplayed.

One thing I have been really grateful for is my pro's emphasis on being able to play the ball from anywhere on the court. Once you can confidently hit volleys from NML, you can do what the pros do: Move in, split, and volley, and if that means you make contact behind the service line (i.e. NML), that's fine.

wow. i wish i played wioth YOUR pro. my pro's head explodes when anyone hits a volley from NML, regardless of the result (in/out) or the effect (win / lose the point). He sticks fully to the dogma, unfortunatlely.
 
Socializing while playing.
Like trying to have a conversation while rallying.
Are you kidding me?

Talking about pro players while hitting.

Using mismatched balls.
Using balls found on the court.
This drives me nuts.
ONLY use the 3 from the can.

Not students of the game.
You'd be embarrassed telling them you've taken lessons.

This all adds up to "3.5 hell" purgatory
They are just in a totally different place than a developing player.
@Cawlin you need to stop playing with anyone like this ASAP.
The mindset is just so antithetical to being in the mindset of a developing player.

I appreciate my circle of "serious 3.5 players" very much
when I experience the realities of true "social tennis"
It is a totally different vibe on every level.
 

stapletonj

Professional
the real joy of doubles is serving and coming in behind it, split stepping, and cracking that first volley deep back to the returner's feet. (and hopefully getting the "wounded duck" reply...
 
Jesus sounds like brutal stuff down in the 2.5 trenches. I didn't even think a level of play so low even existed outside of children learning the game.
 

kylebarendrick

Professional
You usually go down to 5.0.as you age from a higher level. So it's nothing to sneeze at. Stay on your gimp courts bunting the ball and missing and let the men play tennis.

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If you're not playing for money then it's all fun and games. No point demeaning someone else who is also playing for fun and games. Particularly if they are bigger and stronger than you...

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rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
If you're not playing for money then it's all fun and games. No point demeaning someone else who is also playing for fun and games. Particularly if they are bigger and stronger than you...

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I was making fun of the phrase, "serious 3.5 adult tennis players"

You don't think that is funny? I have not met a serious 3.5 adult player except on here. Most 3.5 are hacks. Case in point. This forum.

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Dartagnan64

Legend
wow. i wish i played wioth YOUR pro. my pro's head explodes when anyone hits a volley from NML, regardless of the result (in/out) or the effect (win / lose the point). He sticks fully to the dogma, unfortunatlely.
I'm probably in agreement with your pro. My head explodes when I see people step one step in from the baseline and hits knee high swinging volleys. Until they prove to me they are good at it. Otherwise it seems an unnecessarily high risk low reward shot.


Essential Tennis has a video about hitting from NML
and that it is a n00b myth that you "never go into NML"
NML is mostly a transition zone. You have to enter it if you want to get to the net. You shouldn't hang out there. That being said it's a perfectly legitimate place to hang when facing pushers with flat strokes and lobs. It'll get you killed if you linger against good groundstrokes.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
I was making fun of the phrase, "serious 3.5 adult tennis players"

You don't think that is funny? I have not met a serious 3.5 adult player except on here. Most 3.5 are hacks. Case in point. This forum.

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So there's no room in your universe for a player who picked up the game as an adult, maybe was a high school or college varsity level player in another sport, perhaps higher, and is now "serious" about advancing their tennis game, but is at the 3.5 level presently?

Seems an awfully narrow view of the world.

There are plenty of "serious" 3.5 level adult players, and there are plenty of 3.5 level "social" players.

I think the reasonable "goal" for players who took up tennis as adults (post 30 mostly) is an achievement of 4.0 to maybe 4.5 (if you picked it up under 30)...

I don't think 5.0 is within the reach of anyone who didn't start playing as a kid or teenager with fairly immersive serious coaching. Perhaps someone who started playing at age 25 who had a lot of money and unlimited time to spend on coaching - trust fund baby types...

Anyway, I have two mantras regarding adult rec tennis:

1) This means nothing and it means EVERYTHING!
2) If it's supposed to be "just for fun" why the fk are we keeping score? (this one's been in my sig for a while)
 

rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
So there's no room in your universe for a player who picked up the game as an adult, maybe was a high school or college varsity level player in another sport, perhaps higher, and is now "serious" about advancing their tennis game, but is at the 3.5 level presently?

Seems an awfully narrow view of the world.

There are plenty of "serious" 3.5 level adult players, and there are plenty of 3.5 level "social" players.

I think the reasonable "goal" for players who took up tennis as adults (post 30 mostly) is an achievement of 4.0 to maybe 4.5 (if you picked it up under 30)...

I don't think 5.0 is within the reach of anyone who didn't start playing as a kid or teenager with fairly immersive serious coaching. Perhaps someone who started playing at age 25 who had a lot of money and unlimited time to spend on coaching - trust fund baby types...

Anyway, I have two mantras regarding adult rec tennis:

1) This means nothing and it means EVERYTHING!
2) If it's supposed to be "just for fun" why the fk are we keeping score? (this one's been in my sig for a while)
Yea there is room for 3.5 tennis in my world. Of course.

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rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
But it is by definition, not a "serious" pursuit, in your world, yes?
Yes. No real goal to reach any higher level of play. Otherwise they would not be a 3.5. And if they had aspirations of higher levels they wouldn't call themselves serious 3.5 level players. They would put their head down and practice. Not talk about their serious 3.5 game.

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Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Yes. No real goal to reach any higher level of play. Otherwise they would not be a 3.5. And if they had aspirations of higher levels they wouldn't call themselves serious 3.5 level players. They would put their head down and practice. Not talk about their serious 3.5 game.

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So they would call themselves a "serious player"... and when you ask them what level they're at, and they say 3.5, you say "you're not a serious player", yes?
 

rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
So they would call themselves a "serious player"... and when you ask them what level they're at, and they say 3.5, you say "you're not a serious player", yes?
No. I don't ask people their ntrp. I don't care. The good players know who they are. Its only the hacks that care about this.

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Dartagnan64

Legend
Yes. No real goal to reach any higher level of play. Otherwise they would not be a 3.5. And if they had aspirations of higher levels they wouldn't call themselves serious 3.5 level players. They would put their head down and practice. Not talk about their serious 3.5 game.

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You rarely see adult beginners start at 4.0. So everyone has to go through the progressions which will include at least some time spent at the stopover of 3.5. Serious 3.5's won't spend much time there. But they do have to move through it as they progress.

Seriousness is not level restricted. Serious is a mind set. Some people are serious about their hobbies and some people are laissez-faire about their hobbies. Most people are in between.

I've met the odd serious 3.0-3.5 player. They usually cap out at 4.0-4.5. I've seen some of them stay at 3.5 because they just aren't athletically gifted enough to make the next step despite lots of effort.

I think any athletic male who is serious can be a 4.5. Any average male can get to 4.0 if serious. And below average guy likely gets stuck at 3.5 even with a ton of work.
 
I know many very serious 3.5 players.

They pay for lessons, they are very fit, they play 5x a week, they have solid strokes, and they have 10-20 years of playing experience.
They pay for indoor court memberships, and play year round.

As I've started in another thread, it is virtually impossible to get bumped up to 4.0 unless you double bagel your matches.
And very few people hitting big can double bagel anyone, since hitting big also means making lots of errors.
The best way to move up is to play up, but most 3.5 bashers don't realize 4.0 are bunting grannies, and think they don't hit hard enough to play up.

3.5 friend went 16-2 this season. Rating went from 3.32 to 3.39
 
Perhaps someone who started playing at age 25 who had a lot of money and unlimited time to spend on coaching - trust fund baby types...
Trust fund baby types do not ever get serious about tennis dev as adults.
Tennis development as an adult is brutal work.
 

Surecatch

Semi-Pro
As a solid 3.5er in his early fifties, there are two things I always make sure I'm diligent about......I act like I'm playing a competitive endeavor when I am playing a match, and I for godsakes know the score. I may not ever be able to develop a world class forehand, but I can remember the score just by actually paying attention.
 
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Traffic

Hall of Fame
Cause a serious player even at 3.5 will look at the 3.5 crowd and know he/she is better than that :-D:-D:-D
I've seen this a lot. Player is top of 3.0-3.5 in-house flights. Looks down at players in the "lower courts". And I'm thinking, "you guys are freakin' 3.5". Not like you are 4.5 or anything... :rolleyes:
 
I've seen this a lot. Player is top of 3.0-3.5 in-house flights. Looks down at players in the "lower courts". And I'm thinking, "you guys are freakin' 3.5". Not like you are 4.5 or anything... :rolleyes:
Yes, but there are many serious 3.5 players who have heavier strokes than bunter 4.0 and even some weak junker 4.5. It make sense that they would have big egos. They can crush the ball and many at the club are jealous. Except the smart pushers. They just laugh
 
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Traffic

Hall of Fame
There is no way some average person will be stuck at 3.5 with a ton of work.
So I played in-club flights last night. New session. I got knocked down to one of the "lower courts" because I couldn't serve worth beans last week. A 3.5 sub, 2 - 3.0 players and me. 8 games, then rotate partners. Play 3 sets.
The 3.0s play consistently and they take lessons off and on. They have been about the same level for 3 years now. Meanwhile, they were all better than me when I started and now I've passed them up. We are all about similar age.

After one very hard fought point, our opponents were behind the baseline and my partner was at baseline and he rips the ball to the top of the curtain. I said, "good try" to cheer him up. He said, "I tried to give it that little something extra on the ball". And I was thinking, our opponents were behind the baseline on defense because of some very good ball play, he was at baseline with an easy ball, all he had to do was put the ball into play and I'm all over the net. Even if he ripped a clean FH, it's not a one shot; one kill opportunity. Most likely they will hit the ball back into play and we have to do something. But if the ball doesn't go back into play, we are done.

I think it's more than just mechanics or the ability to hit a 100mph FH. It's the mentality and maturity to play smart. These players I played with last night have good enough mechanics. But they are stuck on strategy. It's always about how to hit a winner rather than how to win a point.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
So I played in-club flights last night. New session. I got knocked down to one of the "lower courts" because I couldn't serve worth beans last week. A 3.5 sub, 2 - 3.0 players and me. 8 games, then rotate partners. Play 3 sets.
The 3.0s play consistently and they take lessons off and on. They have been about the same level for 3 years now. Meanwhile, they were all better than me when I started and now I've passed them up. We are all about similar age.

After one very hard fought point, our opponents were behind the baseline and my partner was at baseline and he rips the ball to the top of the curtain. I said, "good try" to cheer him up. He said, "I tried to give it that little something extra on the ball". And I was thinking, our opponents were behind the baseline on defense because of some very good ball play, he was at baseline with an easy ball, all he had to do was put the ball into play and I'm all over the net. Even if he ripped a clean FH, it's not a one shot; one kill opportunity. Most likely they will hit the ball back into play and we have to do something. But if the ball doesn't go back into play, we are done.

I think it's more than just mechanics or the ability to hit a 100mph FH. It's the mentality and maturity to play smart. These players I played with last night have good enough mechanics. But they are stuck on strategy. It's always about how to hit a winner rather than how to win a point.
My take is that those people who got stuck don't know how to practice. Of course, there's is a ceiling but that ceiling should be pretty high for a normal person.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
After one very hard fought point, our opponents were behind the baseline and my partner was at baseline and he rips the ball to the top of the curtain. I said, "good try" to cheer him up. He said, "I tried to give it that little something extra on the ball". And I was thinking, our opponents were behind the baseline on defense because of some very good ball play, he was at baseline with an easy ball, all he had to do was put the ball into play and I'm all over the net. Even if he ripped a clean FH, it's not a one shot; one kill opportunity. Most likely they will hit the ball back into play and we have to do something. But if the ball doesn't go back into play, we are done.

I think it's more than just mechanics or the ability to hit a 100mph FH. It's the mentality and maturity to play smart. These players I played with last night have good enough mechanics. But they are stuck on strategy. It's always about how to hit a winner rather than how to win a point.
I agree with this... in particular - this thing took me a while to get sunk into my head. When I started everyone kind of encouraged me with my FH in particular - it was solid and had decent topspin and pace, and against other beginners, when I would hit that forehand IN, I would often get "winners" out of it because nobody could handle the pace, they might get a racket on it, but it was coming too hard and fast for them to really do much with... as I advanced a bit into the 3.5 ranks, I found that most of us can hit a decent paced forehand sometimes in, sometimes not, and it took me a while to get it through my head that I didn't have the EXCEPTIONAL pace and weight on my FH relative to this level to enable me to hit THROUGH the other players at this level like I had been doing with other beginners... I was better off placing the ball and working the point and getting them out of position and THEN executing a nice, crisply hit FH to a place where they weren't - not bashing the sh*t out of it hoping to overwhelm them or force them into an error, but just placing it with ENOUGH pace wherever they weren't... I can smack the sh*t out of the ball, but it's a crap shoot whether or not it will be in... and that's just not a playstyle that I can live with... I focus on just enough pace to keep my mechanics solid with good margins for error.

Also, the critical thing for me was to never hit a shot EXPECTING it to be a winner - always assume they'll get it back and play accordingly... takes the pressure off of trying to hit the ball through the opponents, and keeps your head in the point in case someone makes a great get.

I may NEVER get the extreme pace and weight of FH that allows me to hit through players relative to my level, I probably needed to start playing tennis at 7 years old, not 47 years old for that I think...
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Well there's a difference between "crushing/bashing/ripping" the ball and placing it with just enough pace in a good spot. Neither are "bunting" the ball or "dinking" or whatever, but it only makes sense to hit the ball just as hard as you need to but only as hard as you can and still maintain your margin of error - i.e. I hit only as hard as I have confidence that I can put good TS on a forehand that will let me keep it in, and still clear the net. This can vary by the day for me... some days I can really rip it... other days, not so much. I try not to ever resort to hitting just a flat ball because I'm having a bad day and my mechanics are FUBAR... but hey, it's 3.5-land, and some days my mechanics are FUBAR... on those days, I try to back off the pace and focus on just putting good contact and spin on the ball.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
There is no way some average person will be stuck at 3.5 with a ton of work.
That's why I said "below Average". Trust me I know plenty of unathletic guys that would struggle to get to 3.0 in tennis. No hand eye coordination what so ever. Never played sports as kids.

An average guy could get to 4.0 with effort but likely would struggle to get to 4.5.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
Well there's a difference between "crushing/bashing/ripping" the ball and placing it with just enough pace in a good spot. Neither are "bunting" the ball or "dinking" or whatever, but it only makes sense to hit the ball just as hard as you need to but only as hard as you can and still maintain your margin of error - i.e. I hit only as hard as I have confidence that I can put good TS on a forehand that will let me keep it in, and still clear the net. This can vary by the day for me... some days I can really rip it... other days, not so much. I try not to ever resort to hitting just a flat ball because I'm having a bad day and my mechanics are FUBAR... but hey, it's 3.5-land, and some days my mechanics are FUBAR... on those days, I try to back off the pace and focus on just putting good contact and spin on the ball.
I feel like there are a lot of 3.5 players with questionable form. However, they have learned that keeping the ball in play got them out of 3.0. To get to 4.0, need to keep the ball in play even smarter and have better court positioning and know how to set up the point...with no real significant improvement to their form.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
I feel like there are a lot of 3.5 players with questionable form. However, they have learned that keeping the ball in play got them out of 3.0. To get to 4.0, need to keep the ball in play even smarter and have better court positioning and know how to set up the point...with no real significant improvement to their form.
I agree with you totally, and I believe that this is how you see so many pushers and bunters at 4.0 - they can't really hit a "proper" shot with consistency, but they just play "one more ball" and force the eventual error from the opponent. That should take longer at 4.0 than vs. a 3.5 opponent, but still, it's not like 4.0 is getting ready to hit the challenger tour either - they're still going to hit a LOT of UEs if they're trying to hit "good" strokes.

I know as a 3.5 that my form is questionable (to say the least) but when I'm having a rough day, I still try to use proper form (or at least as proper as I can), rather than resorting to just bunting the ball.

There is room to discuss what comprises a "good" stroke - first and foremost, any stroke that consistently goes out is not a good stroke - if your form is "perfect" but you hit it long/wide or into the net every time, who cares how good it looked with stop motion photography at the moment of contact? On the other hand, if you consistently get a flat/neutral ball back into play and just make your opponent keep on hitting until they make an error, it's hard argue with the outcome, no? This is again why I thikn so many pushers live in 4.0 land - they're at or near the ceiling for this style of play, and in order to get better at pushing, they need to ACTUALLY hit better strokes while still keeping the ball CONSISTENTLY in play.

"One more ball is a valid strategy all the way up until the top 200 of the ATP" - Paul Annacone

There's a ceiling on the "bunting" style of pushing tennis and that's probably somewhere in the low 4.5 zone - by 4.5, you need pace and spin (weight) on the ball because at that level, without weight, your shots are just rally ball/coach feeds... meanwhile, pushing in general (being a backboard, rarely hitting winners, running your opponent to death) can last well beyond what most adult rec players will ever see in terms of level progression - the key to it is to not necessarily be able to rip/blast/crush winners, but to hit a shot that just can't be attacked too readily.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
I agree with you totally, and I believe that this is how you see so many pushers and bunters at 4.0 - they can't really hit a "proper" shot with consistency, but they just play "one more ball" and force the eventual error from the opponent. That should take longer at 4.0 than vs. a 3.5 opponent, but still, it's not like 4.0 is getting ready to hit the challenger tour either - they're still going to hit a LOT of UEs if they're trying to hit "good" strokes.

I know as a 3.5 that my form is questionable (to say the least) but when I'm having a rough day, I still try to use proper form (or at least as proper as I can), rather than resorting to just bunting the ball.

There is room to discuss what comprises a "good" stroke - first and foremost, any stroke that consistently goes out is not a good stroke - if your form is "perfect" but you hit it long/wide or into the net every time, who cares how good it looked with stop motion photography at the moment of contact? On the other hand, if you consistently get a flat/neutral ball back into play and just make your opponent keep on hitting until they make an error, it's hard argue with the outcome, no? This is again why I thikn so many pushers live in 4.0 land - they're at or near the ceiling for this style of play, and in order to get better at pushing, they need to ACTUALLY hit better strokes while still keeping the ball CONSISTENTLY in play.

"One more ball is a valid strategy all the way up until the top 200 of the ATP" - Paul Annacone

There's a ceiling on the "bunting" style of pushing tennis and that's probably somewhere in the low 4.5 zone - by 4.5, you need pace and spin (weight) on the ball because at that level, without weight, your shots are just rally ball/coach feeds... meanwhile, pushing in general (being a backboard, rarely hitting winners, running your opponent to death) can last well beyond what most adult rec players will ever see in terms of level progression - the key to it is to not necessarily be able to rip/blast/crush winners, but to hit a shot that just can't be attacked too readily.
I have a fellow 3.0 club-mate. He has very pretty form FH and OHBH. He has a nice serve as well. But he will not "stoop" to hitting ugly shots just to get the point. So he has .500 record. He is considered a very good player (relative to 3.0/3.5) but I'll be curious to see if he gets bumped to 3.5 in December. If he does, he may be doomed in league play unless he can change his game. He and I are somewhat similar in that we both have pretty decent strokes and we hit with our teenage sons. So we are no stranger to pace. But hitting against a ball machine with good pace, TS, and repeating the same shot over and over is a lot different than the land of slice and junk of 3.5 league play.

I know that as you are learning, your UE will go way up in order to develop the next evolution of form. That's fine for my 12y/o daughter who will play consistently for the next 3 years until her freshmen HS tennis season. But for most adults, that kind of commitment is not practical. And even with that commitment, my daughter might be able to play 4.0 level after HS which is 5yrs. So it's not like an adult 3.0, will get to 4.0 in 3yrs. That would be exceptional. Not out of the question if you are very athletic. But for an average person, would be very difficult.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
I agree with you totally, and I believe that this is how you see so many pushers and bunters at 4.0 - they can't really hit a "proper" shot with consistency, but they just play "one more ball" and force the eventual error from the opponent. That should take longer at 4.0 than vs. a 3.5 opponent, but still, it's not like 4.0 is getting ready to hit the challenger tour either - they're still going to hit a LOT of UEs if they're trying to hit "good" strokes.

I know as a 3.5 that my form is questionable (to say the least) but when I'm having a rough day, I still try to use proper form (or at least as proper as I can), rather than resorting to just bunting the ball.

There is room to discuss what comprises a "good" stroke - first and foremost, any stroke that consistently goes out is not a good stroke - if your form is "perfect" but you hit it long/wide or into the net every time, who cares how good it looked with stop motion photography at the moment of contact? On the other hand, if you consistently get a flat/neutral ball back into play and just make your opponent keep on hitting until they make an error, it's hard argue with the outcome, no? This is again why I thikn so many pushers live in 4.0 land - they're at or near the ceiling for this style of play, and in order to get better at pushing, they need to ACTUALLY hit better strokes while still keeping the ball CONSISTENTLY in play.

"One more ball is a valid strategy all the way up until the top 200 of the ATP" - Paul Annacone

There's a ceiling on the "bunting" style of pushing tennis and that's probably somewhere in the low 4.5 zone - by 4.5, you need pace and spin (weight) on the ball because at that level, without weight, your shots are just rally ball/coach feeds... meanwhile, pushing in general (being a backboard, rarely hitting winners, running your opponent to death) can last well beyond what most adult rec players will ever see in terms of level progression - the key to it is to not necessarily be able to rip/blast/crush winners, but to hit a shot that just can't be attacked too readily.
Are you saying that there are not so many pushers and bunters at 3.5? :cool: :cool:
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Are you saying that there are not so many pushers and bunters at 3.5? :cool: :cool:
One of the reasons "pushers" are so reviled is that they win - and they do it without hitting a lot of "winners" in general. Typically they make their opponents make the mistakes. Pushers need to be consistent above all else and get the ball back in play. This is something that most 3.5s generally lack above all else with respect to their tennis game. If you can simply keep the ball in play at 3.5, you're going to win - A LOT, and subsequently aren't likely to be stuck at 3.5 for too long.
 
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I have a fellow 3.0 club-mate. He has very pretty form FH and OHBH. He has a nice serve as well. But he will not "stoop" to hitting ugly shots just to get the point. So he has .500 record. He is considered a very good player (relative to 3.0/3.5) but I'll be curious to see if he gets bumped to 3.5 in December. If he does, he may be doomed in league play unless he can change his game. He and I are somewhat similar in that we both have pretty decent strokes and we hit with our teenage sons. So we are no stranger to pace. But hitting against a ball machine with good pace, TS, and repeating the same shot over and over is a lot different than the land of slice and junk of 3.5 league play.

I know that as you are learning, your UE will go way up in order to develop the next evolution of form. That's fine for my 12y/o daughter who will play consistently for the next 3 years until her freshmen HS tennis season. But for most adults, that kind of commitment is not practical. And even with that commitment, my daughter might be able to play 4.0 level after HS which is 5yrs. So it's not like an adult 3.0, will get to 4.0 in 3yrs. That would be exceptional. Not out of the question if you are very athletic. But for an average person, would be very difficult.
That's a textbook 35.

The key to getting to 4.0 is to slice
and know when not to go for it.

3.5 basher just crushes every ball, even if it's a running BH DTL hero shot.
Or an approach. They hit it twice as hard as pros, who gingerly place the ball lightly.
The fact that their "practice" consists of 100% rallying only reinforces this idiocy.
 
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