Toni Nadal: Power before consistency

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Attila_the_gorilla

Guest
Just started reading the book "Rafa" from 2011. For those who still like to view Rafa as a defensive retriever or similar, here's a somewhat unexpected snippet:

"He (Toni) had the body and he had the brains, but when he became a tennis professional and left home to try to conquer the Spanish mainland, he discovered that, while a steady player, he lacked the killer punch, which was precisely the quality he strove hardest to imbue in his young charges when he took up coaching. Boys whom he taught alongside his nephew recall that whereas other coaches highlighted the need to control the ball, Toni's emphasis was always on the aggressive cultivation of winners.
Toni himself cites the example of the golfer Jack Nicklaus saying once in a coaching video that his advice to young players was ''First, hit the ball far; then we'll think about getting it in the hole." Toni took the lesson to heart. His advice to his nephew, right from the start, when he was four years old, was "First, hit the ball hard; then we'll see about keeping it in.""
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
My kids have never played much tennis other than try it out for a short while in their younger days. However most of the advice I've seen on this forum from dads of kids who are playing at a high level is exactly what you're stating above. At the same time you wonder if that advice is also producing a bunch of robotic hard hitters while you lose out on those kids who might make much more of a mark with a finesse control oriented game.
 
A

Attila_the_gorilla

Guest
My kids have never played much tennis other than try it out for a short while in their younger days. However most of the advice I've seen on this forum from dads of kids who are playing at a high level is exactly what you're stating above. At the same time you wonder if that advice is also producing a bunch of robotic hard hitters while you lose out on those kids who might make much more of a mark with a finesse control oriented game.
In the modern big hitting game, finesse is still there, but it's situational. Even the biggest hitters use touch and finesse when in the right situation, around the net for example. I think that's why playing doubles can be somewhat helpful for singles players, if they have time and energy to fit a bit of it in their schedule.
 

scotus

G.O.A.T.
Just started reading the book "Rafa" from 2011. For those who still like to view Rafa as a defensive retriever or similar, here's a somewhat unexpected snippet:

"He (Toni) had the body and he had the brains, but when he became a tennis professional and left home to try to conquer the Spanish mainland, he discovered that, while a steady player, he lacked the killer punch, which was precisely the quality he strove hardest to imbue in his young charges when he took up coaching. Boys whom he taught alongside his nephew recall that whereas other coaches highlighted the need to control the ball, Toni's emphasis was always on the aggressive cultivation of winners.
Toni himself cites the example of the golfer Jack Nicklaus saying once in a coaching video that his advice to young players was ''First, hit the ball far; then we'll think about getting it in the hole." Toni took the lesson to heart. His advice to his nephew, right from the start, when he was four years old, was "First, hit the ball hard; then we'll see about keeping it in.""
Same philosophy as that of Bollettieri.

Hit it as hard as you can, and control will come later.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
This is no surprise to anyone other than the types that would classify Rafa as a moonballing pusher / topspin monkey (their words, not mine).

From what I gather, if you do not work on a developing player's power potential from a young age, you pretty much will never be able to get significant power once you've grown up.

Control can always be acquired through practice; power cannot.
 
This advice of focusing on power and harnessing control later is absolutely needed in order to be #1. You have to have that weapon that sets you apart from the Ferrers of the world that will win plenty with consistency, but to truly separate you need to have that element that often times can't be coached. You can't coach height and a lively arm and as a tennis/volleyball coach, I've slowly learned that I have to allow that lively arm/recklesslessness go unimpeded rather than focus on my initial coaching philosophy of an ideal biometric form or put players into an ideal player construct.

Again, emphasizing control will win you plenty of matches, but at the upper echelon of the sport where separation is by very small details, not harnessing players weapons -especially that of risky/low percentage arm speed, is something of a must.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
Toni himself cites the example of the golfer Jack Nicklaus saying once in a coaching video that his advice to young players was ''First, hit the ball far; then we'll think about getting it in the hole." Toni took the lesson to heart. His advice to his nephew, right from the start, when he was four years old, was "First, hit the ball hard; then we'll see about keeping it in.""
I am learning more and more about coaching, and these kinds of insights are always interesting to me. I am usually of the mindset of something between unabridged ball bashing with fixing it later and the idea that bad habits are harder to break than trying to initially develop better habits. But I know there is value in hitting hard to learn just how far a player can push, and to train the body physically to compete at that level. For younger players up through high school any time we hit there is always time devoted to power play. If for no other reason, EVERYONE love to just whollop a ball and it keeps up the fun of learning.

Going to have to get a copy of the book and read up.
 

spun_out

Semi-Pro
This advice of focusing on power and harnessing control later is absolutely needed in order to be #1. You have to have that weapon that sets you apart from the Ferrers of the world that will win plenty with consistency, but to truly separate you need to have that element that often times can't be coached. You can't coach height and a lively arm and as a tennis/volleyball coach, I've slowly learned that I have to allow that lively arm/recklesslessness go unimpeded rather than focus on my initial coaching philosophy of an ideal biometric form or put players into an ideal player construct.

Again, emphasizing control will win you plenty of matches, but at the upper echelon of the sport where separation is by very small details, not harnessing players weapons -especially that of risky/low percentage arm speed, is something of a must.
What you are saying sounds good, but this also crystallizes the idiocy of this forum. "Ferrers of the world"? This is no different than calling Top 100 players losers who will never make it (a common comment in the pro section). I'm sure Ferrer is a product of power first control later. You think he hits slow? Has no power? He is a top 5 player in the world...
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
I think for young players, the attitude of hitting the ball hard and controlling it later is good. My son was never like this. He's always been about hitting the ball in. As he grew older, the power has steadily come. But he lacks the killer weapons some of his opponents have. He tends to be a counter-puncher and grind out points. But his keep the ball in play style has got him a solid spot on the varsity team. But that's about his limit. Will not be going to any state or national championships.

My daughter has a different personality. She has a killer FH. It's a big windup and slapping FH that is flat with even a bit of backspin. It's her closing shot. So we just started to get some lessons for her. And the coach is not so much working on whether the ball goes in or out. But working on technique. I think there is a lot of potential to develop bad habits that are difficult to fix later on. But again, we have no intention of her playing any more than HS varsity.

My son's buddy has some killer shots and some trick shots. But what he lacks are some solid baseline strokes to take him to 20 hit rallies. His uncoached use of continental grip is making things really difficult in HS tennis. But he's finding a place in playing doubles.

I think what's really important is understanding what your goals are. If you're training a championship competitive, recreationally competitive, recreational player. There are different focus and path. My son lacks killer power, but as he grows taller and stronger, he is gaining power. But he plays recreationally competitive since he also participates in another sport.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
We've had some finesse players in the past like Mecir, Rosewall, Krishnan, Gilbert,..etc. We've had finesse players like Santoro and recently we saw Hsieh making a run. I'd argue that finesse didn't limit their upside as much as not having a big serve or not being physically fit (in Hsieh's case). I understand when your kid is small you want to train the body to adapt to having to play a certain way. However for the billions of kids who train to hit hard like Nadal only a handful become pros, and out of that precious few become legends. A lot end up as solid 4.5/5.0/5.5 players. Nothing wrong with that but any of those kids couldn't have made it to that level without focusing on power? Could some have made it much farther with a predominantly finesse style? Yet that advice of hitting hard is the best for all kids?

You need to be able to handle pace on the defensive end. If you can't you will never progress up the ranks. Apart from that let kids experiment and find their own style on offense, after devoting a certain amount of time to power shots drills too. I can hear the criticism that since I don't have any kids who were in the junior grind I don't know what I'm talking about. That's fine.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
We've had some finesse players in the past like Mecir, Rosewall, Krishnan, Gilbert,..etc. We've had finesse players like Santoro and recently we saw Hsieh making a run. I'd argue that finesse didn't limit their upside as much as not having a big serve or not being physically fit (in Hsieh's case). I understand when your kid is small you want to train the body to adapt to having to play a certain way. However for the billions of kids who train to hit hard like Nadal only a handful become pros, and out of that precious few become legends. A lot end up as solid 4.5/5.0/5.5 players. Nothing wrong with that but any of those kids couldn't have made it to that level without focusing on power? Could some have made it much farther with a predominantly finesse style? Yet that advice of hitting hard is the best for all kids?

You need to be able to handle pace on the defensive end. If you can't you will never progress up the ranks. Apart from that let kids experiment and find their own style on offense, after devoting a certain amount of time to power shots drills too. I can hear the criticism that since I don't have any kids who were in the junior grind I don't know what I'm talking about. That's fine.
Yeah, even among the competitive kids locally, there are many that play tennis well. But few that are championship caliber. The #1 player on my son's varsity team is a finesse player. He loves drop shops and lobs. He loves changing the pace on his opponents. He loves taking away their weapons. He only lost 2 matches during the season and one of them was against another good finesse player and the other will most likely win #1 state singles. But our team went undefeated except for one match that was out of league play.

Even my son (#3 singles) currently plays against 4.0 and 4.5 adults. He just stepped up to 16U champs tournaments and getting his butt kicked. He has 3 more years of HS left. I'm sure that if he wants to play as an adult someday, he will be a good 4.0-5.0 player and enjoy the sport. I don't think he'll be playing for a college team. And certainly has no thought of going pro. But right now, he is having fun and will keep playing and training and that's all we can ask for.
 

rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
I think it all depends on the player. There are kids who never start getting the ball in hitting hard. But if enough practice and if matched with the physical attributed for a big game absolutely this works. I would say 99% of the top players in 18s juniors and D1 college can crush the ball. And all pros can. It's only adults and kids that don't practice enough that have issues with keeping the ball in the court. Trained players at a certain age can bash all day and not miss. That's why tactics become important.
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
On ATP it is also possible to make a living without killer shots. However more often than not it is not enough to reach the finals, QF tops.

The young gen seems to smack it back and forth till either hits it out. Had one not the ability to counter with pace, they usually suffer, when changing to counter punch or hit a tactically wise, yet poor, even a touch off slice in between three - four hard placed rally shots, usually opens a slot for the other one to put the ball away.

That kind of pace cannot be developed later in life, if you haven’t had practice in other sports to max out your potential. And it is a handicap to live with and settle for not making more than probably a couple of titles.

In coaching I think we should start by teaching people, how to hit with pace rather than control in the beginning. And divert towards trick-shots and finessing the sliceing or bunting, if that woun’t work. Which would spell optimizing your game by your abilities.


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On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
As a follow up, also people with throwing sports (racket, batt, stick and throwing sports) background may be taught power first, cause they have the required understanding and kinetic chain of motion in their nerves system.

And for the young, that should allways be the first initial, where you can allways dial down, if it will not work.


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On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
His advice to his nephew, right from the start, when he was four years old, was "First, hit the ball hard; then we'll see about keeping it in.""
Agassi's dad supposedly did the same with young Andre.

Had him practice hitting the ball as hard as he could. Then, as he grew older, worried about control.
 
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Hansen

Semi-Pro
you develop power not through hitting as hard as you can, but through working on your technique . often crafty players have to play the way they do, because they simple lack the power/technique to simply dominate with their weapons (Radwanska etc.)
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
you develop power not through hitting as hard as you can, but through working on your technique . often crafty players have to play the way they do, because they simple lack the power/technique to simply dominate with their weapons (Radwanska etc.)
Apples and Oranges.

However, you develop power by swinging the racket as fast as you can. Matter of how we understand the words ”power”, ”hard” and ”fast”.


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On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 
What you are saying sounds good, but this also crystallizes the idiocy of this forum. "Ferrers of the world"? This is no different than calling Top 100 players losers who will never make it (a common comment in the pro section). I'm sure Ferrer is a product of power first control later. You think he hits slow? Has no power? He is a top 5 player in the world...
Intent was not to devalue a Ferrer or other top 100 player (they are in the upper eschelon and among the best in the entire world/universe!)

Ferrer may very well subscribe to the power first mindset, I don’t know, (but there is a tendency for players who primarily developed their game in clay to favor consistency/control - but I digress). My point is that to be the very best, a #1 in the world, he is lacking that weapon that can finish points. His strength is primarily control - of which the #1’s of the modern era (Fed,Rafa,Djoko) also have in spades, but IN ADDITION, they have a weapon...hence their ability to separate and be #1.
And when excellence at the highest level is minuscule percentage points of difference, sometimes that weapon shouldn’t be harnessed at a young age, as it’s tough to get back when it’s trained out due to repetition and emphasis on control.

I think it’s much more evident in Golf with using a driver. Kids that are too focused on keeping their drives on the fairway and end up throttling back for the sake of control often can’t access that higher gear later after years of conditioning.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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5263

G.O.A.T.
Apples and Oranges.

However, you develop power by swinging the racket as fast as you can. Matter of how we understand the words ”power”, ”hard” and ”fast”.


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On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
I think most of the confusion here is trying to put one over the other, when Dual Objectives is the way to go on this. Some aspects of technique tend to help generate power and some aspects of technique enhance control. The 2 objectives that really must be developed in tandem all along the way are both power and control. Parts of practice may focus on power and parts of practice may focus more on control, so you don't have to work them at the same exact moment....but you can't just go spend a year seeing how hard you can hit with no regard to the court or technique or you won't have anything close to a tennis stroke at the end of the year. Going for power only would not yield a useful tennis swing at all. The proper technique for a good stroke will be developed by balancing these 2 fundamental objectives as the player develops. With AA and Rafa as well, I'm pretty sure what they are saying is don't just learn control, but always continue to develop power during the process. That control with little power is not so useful at the higher levels.

All that said, I developed my sons as massive servers with a near complete focus on technique, and the technique was designed to maximize power AND control. I almost never focused on having them hit hard, but with the good technique they were using, the power mostly just came on it's own out of excellent technique.
 
A

Attila_the_gorilla

Guest
Toni's point has nothing at all to do with neglecting technique. It's simply about maximizing ball speed. Obviously don't be hitting it over the fence.
 
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Attila_the_gorilla

Guest
Basically controlled aggression
The way I understand it is that in his view, a developing player is better off playing a lower percentage game, go for a lot of winners, despite the higher risk. Obviously use proper tennis shots with topspin, don't just be flailing wildly at the ball, but try to hurt your opponent with pace. Keep playing that way, don't be discouraged if you overhit. With time and practice, you will learn to minimize the errors, by improving your accuracy and use of topspin, without giving up the quest for power.
 

Spanglish72

Rookie
My Daughter is 13 years old and can hit really, really, really hard & usually wins against other aggressive players her age who will make some errors.

When she comes up against a moonballer it's over, The other girl will take the air out of the ball and just float them back and wait for errors.

At what age do the retrievers stop winning all of the junior trophies lol.

Should I play my Daughter up in a higher age group with less moonballers??
 

Postpre

Rookie
My Daughter is 13 years old and can hit really, really, really hard & usually wins against other aggressive players her age who will make some errors.

When she comes up against a moonballer it's over, The other girl will take the air out of the ball and just float them back and wait for errors.

At what age do the retrievers stop winning all of the junior trophies lol.

Should I play my Daughter up in a higher age group with less moonballers??
The really good girls are not losing to moonballers by age 13-14. If you can't beat a moonballer, then you have holes in your game that you must address. My daughter is a 5 star recruit 7th grader (12 years old). She can also hit big and thrives on pace. She struggles more against high level moonballers, but only because they bring out relative weaknesses in her game.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
At what age do the retrievers stop winning all of the junior trophies lol.
Well given I've seen retrievers winning all the adult 3.0-4.0 trophies I'd assume it happens when the junior is better than a 4.0. Not sure what age that happens for females. We have a top junior at our club who at 15 won the ladies club championship in singles (which means beating some 5.0 ladies) and routinely plays 4.5 guys and takes sets off them. So I definitely think the moonballer issue settles down around 14 for girls.
 

Curiosity

Professional
Same philosophy as that of Bollettieri.

Hit it as hard as you can, and control will come later.
Bolletieri once said, "the first thing to teach young players is to swing fast. If they can't do that by age 12, they probably never will."
 
My Daughter is 13 years old and can hit really, really, really hard & usually wins against other aggressive players her age who will make some errors.

When she comes up against a moonballer it's over, The other girl will take the air out of the ball and just float them back and wait for errors.

At what age do the retrievers stop winning all of the junior trophies lol.

Should I play my Daughter up in a higher age group with less moonballers??
Does your daughter let the moonballs bounce every time? If so, it would be in her best interest to continue playing moonballers until she gets good at sneaking in and volleying moonballs out of the air.

Otherwise, moving up in age group won’t help because the experienced girls will just give her moonballs too when they see that as an easy way to beat her.

An easy way to sneak in is to reply to the moonball with one of her own to back her opponent up toward the fence, giving more time to sneak in under the next moonball for the attacking angle volley or swinging volley.

The moonball is a tried and true effective tactic against hard hitters who are afraid of the net.
 
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tlm

G.O.A.T.
I think most of the confusion here is trying to put one over the other, when Dual Objectives is the way to go on this. Some aspects of technique tend to help generate power and some aspects of technique enhance control. The 2 objectives that really must be developed in tandem all along the way are both power and control. Parts of practice may focus on power and parts of practice may focus more on control, so you don't have to work them at the same exact moment....but you can't just go spend a year seeing how hard you can hit with no regard to the court or technique or you won't have anything close to a tennis stroke at the end of the year. Going for power only would not yield a useful tennis swing at all. The proper technique for a good stroke will be developed by balancing these 2 fundamental objectives as the player develops. With AA and Rafa as well, I'm pretty sure what they are saying is don't just learn control, but always continue to develop power during the process. That control with little power is not so useful at the higher levels.

All that said, I developed my sons as massive servers with a near complete focus on technique, and the technique was designed to maximize power AND control. I almost never focused on having them hit hard, but with the good technique they were using, the power mostly just came on it's own out of excellent technique.
Exactly right you can’t just focus only on power. Just go watch a lot of high school players, they can all blast the ball but very few can hit hard and keep the ball in the court. I know the top high school players can do both but the average high school guys are all about grip n rip.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
Just started reading the book "Rafa" from 2011. For those who still like to view Rafa as a defensive retriever or similar, here's a somewhat unexpected snippet:

"He (Toni) had the body and he had the brains, but when he became a tennis professional and left home to try to conquer the Spanish mainland, he discovered that, while a steady player, he lacked the killer punch, which was precisely the quality he strove hardest to imbue in his young charges when he took up coaching. Boys whom he taught alongside his nephew recall that whereas other coaches highlighted the need to control the ball, Toni's emphasis was always on the aggressive cultivation of winners.
Toni himself cites the example of the golfer Jack Nicklaus saying once in a coaching video that his advice to young players was ''First, hit the ball far; then we'll think about getting it in the hole." Toni took the lesson to heart. His advice to his nephew, right from the start, when he was four years old, was "First, hit the ball hard; then we'll see about keeping it in.""
this makes sense. Power brings spin, and more RPM you have More control you will have too
 

FiReFTW

Legend
this makes sense. Power brings spin, and more RPM you have More control you will have too
Yes, the faster you swing the more spin anc control you have contrary to what some people think, but of course you have to have the right technique and all, if your bunting the ball this is not true, but if ur producing alot of spin with a modern technique it works like that.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
Yes, the faster you swing the more spin anc control you have contrary to what some people think, but of course you have to have the right technique and all, if your bunting the ball this is not true, but if ur producing alot of spin with a modern technique it works like that.
isn't being Genius wonderful ? kids in here have no clue
 

Curiosity

Professional
Toni's point has nothing at all to do with neglecting technique. It's simply about maximizing ball speed. Obviously don't be hitting it over the fence.
It has been said, and I agree, that the contemporary top forehand technique trends to a somewhat less-step approach angle, but maximizes ability to absolutely rip the the ISR into the hit. Fed often comes up at roughly 30 degrees, Rafa often at 40-45º, and both show intense ISR. This is actually flatter than 30+ years ago, e.g. Lendl, Edberg, and others. The flatter approach obviously enables some choice of shape just into contact, as well as ability to react to a surprising trajectory on the incoming ball's bounce. I have no idea whether this has affected high-school play. Probably not. Lots of windshield-wiper finishes without, actually, the ISR.
 

user92626

Legend
Obviously Toni's approach works for Nadal.

What's Federer's coach's approach for Federer?

Djokovic's case?




Nadal isn't the sole top player.

Djokovic is currently #1 and Federer has the most achievements. Don't their approaches count?
 

Spanglish72

Rookie
Does your daughter let the moonballs bounce every time? If so, it would be in her best interest to continue playing moonballers until she gets good at sneaking in and volleying moonballs out of the air.

Otherwise, moving up in age group won’t help because the experienced girls will just give her moonballs too when they see that as an easy way to beat her.

An easy way to sneak in is to reply to the moonball with one of her own to back her opponent up toward the fence, giving more time to sneak in under the next moonball for the attacking angle volley or swinging volley.

The moonball is a tried and true effective tactic against hard hitters who are afraid of the net.
Yes my Daughter has holes in her game (she's 13 lol), especially in the front court. She's working on her volleys & swinging volleys, so she can end the moonball debacle. You said to return a moonball after you receive a moonball & then sneak in for a volley, but what about when the first moonball takes you into the back fence or tarp and you can't make a play on it? Is it possible to take a moonball on the rise and hit a moonball back? Is it better to just learn to take everything on the rise and never back up? Thanks for the insights people.
 

dnguyen

Hall of Fame
Toni should invite Stefan Edberg to play against Rafa tonprive his theory right but mine should prove wrong as tactic is important to win the match.
 

Acegame

New User
The way I understand it is that in his view, a developing player is better off playing a lower percentage game, go for a lot of winners, despite the higher risk.
I think you are right. Let compare it to racing. A racing car driver needs to search for the ultimate boundary of where they have grip. If they don't, they probably won't crash but will be too slow. I think that goes for tennis as well. If you're playing too carefull (so you can consistently keep the ball in play) you will not develop your game. When you're consistent and you want to level up you need to search for more pace/control, which will lead to less consistency. Then try to become more consistent again. And so on.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
Yes my Daughter has holes in her game (she's 13 lol), especially in the front court. She's working on her volleys & swinging volleys, so she can end the moonball debacle. You said to return a moonball after you receive a moonball & then sneak in for a volley, but what about when the first moonball takes you into the back fence or tarp and you can't make a play on it? Is it possible to take a moonball on the rise and hit a moonball back? Is it better to just learn to take everything on the rise and never back up? Thanks for the insights people.
During the JTT Nationals, my son played MXD. They were really struggling against their opponents. But the opponents had the upper hand with more aggressive play style with the boy being very active at net.

One advice the coach made during the 2nd set that finally kicked in was to have the girl lob deep. She was trying to hit through the boy at net and it wasn't pretty.

Basically, she would start the moonball rally and push the other girl to the fence. From that position, it's difficult to hit a good return lob; especially with a boy that can hit OH. My son struggles with OH at that time, but he was still able to direct the ball cleanly to the open court or the net person's feet to take control of the point. This was the game changer. They went on to tie the 2nd set and then win in super tie. And it was this single tactic that changed the flow of the match.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
I think you are right. Let compare it to racing. A racing car driver needs to search for the ultimate boundary of where they have grip. If they don't, they probably won't crash but will be too slow. I think that goes for tennis as well. If you're playing too carefull (so you can consistently keep the ball in play) you will not develop your game. When you're consistent and you want to level up you need to search for more pace/control, which will lead to less consistency. Then try to become more consistent again. And so on.
Since you mentioned racing...my buddy and I used to track our cars all the time. He was the better driver with more experience, but I was catching up to him. I would spin out more than he did in order to test the lines. He just knew the lines and stayed very much in control.

So my risk taking helped to improve and close the gap. But if we were in a race, I would fall too far behind because each mistake I made cost me. And the only way I could come back is if he made a huge mistake like going off the track.

I think it really depends on how much time you have and what your goals are. In the middle of the HS season, we don't do anything to alter my son's game too much. We'll talk about strategy and focus on the mental game. But we don't do too much with his mechanics. But during the off season, we'll take a look at what was lacking during the season and see if we can work on that. He'll work with his coach and change some things around.

Oh, you mentioned playing too careful. It's funny. My son and his doubles partner entered a tournament. They were up against the #1 seed opponents. They played doubles very well against two strong singles players. But they were up 6-2 for a pro-set and they let their foot off the gas and started playing cautiously. Boom, their opponents came roaring back and took the match for 8-6. They had a healthy lead so they could have afforded to make some errors while playing closer to the edge and try to run away with it. But their switch to playing conservative lost them that edge.
 

Acegame

New User
Since you mentioned racing...my buddy and I used to track our cars all the time. He was the better driver with more experience, but I was catching up to him. I would spin out more than he did in order to test the lines. He just knew the lines and stayed very much in control.

So my risk taking helped to improve and close the gap. But if we were in a race, I would fall too far behind because each mistake I made cost me. And the only way I could come back is if he made a huge mistake like going off the track.

I think it really depends on how much time you have and what your goals are. In the middle of the HS season, we don't do anything to alter my son's game too much. We'll talk about strategy and focus on the mental game. But we don't do too much with his mechanics. But during the off season, we'll take a look at what was lacking during the season and see if we can work on that. He'll work with his coach and change some things around.

Oh, you mentioned playing too careful. It's funny. My son and his doubles partner entered a tournament. They were up against the #1 seed opponents. They played doubles very well against two strong singles players. But they were up 6-2 for a pro-set and they let their foot off the gas and started playing cautiously. Boom, their opponents came roaring back and took the match for 8-6. They had a healthy lead so they could have afforded to make some errors while playing closer to the edge and try to run away with it. But their switch to playing conservative lost them that edge.
So you did come closer because you were searching for the limits, with the risk of making mistakes. You got faster, but were not consistent enough to handle that speed. Exactly my point. Maybe it's not the best comparison though, because a mistake in racing probably has bigger consequences :giggle:

Also becoming too carefull when you're in front in an important match is human. I see this happen so often. Also at the pro's. You're in the lead and don't want to hand it over by making mistakes. Instead you give them the initiative to take control or even make more mistakes by holding back.
 
Yes my Daughter has holes in her game (she's 13 lol), especially in the front court. She's working on her volleys & swinging volleys, so she can end the moonball debacle. You said to return a moonball after you receive a moonball & then sneak in for a volley, but what about when the first moonball takes you into the back fence or tarp and you can't make a play on it? Is it possible to take a moonball on the rise and hit a moonball back? Is it better to just learn to take everything on the rise and never back up? Thanks for the insights people.
The biggest downside to backing up to field a moonball is the risk that your opponent will sneak in to the net to take control of the point.

If your moonballing opponent is not a threat to take a ball out of the air, then you will not be punished for backing up.

There is one major underappreciated advantage to fielding the moonball from the back fence - if you return your own moonball, your ball can be hit higher while still hitting the ball on a trajectory with safe and controlled depth. This higher moonball will in turn bounce higher and push your opponent back even deeper, creating a much more effective opportunity for an offensive attack to the net.

You are thus using gravity as a weapon to create a heavier ball.

Despite the longer distance you need to cover to get there, the odds of success for a moonball-and-charge net attack go up if your moonball approach starts deeper in your own court. This is of course the opposite of what happens for a low-over-the-net approach. So in effect, the tactic sort of turns conventional wisdom upside down.
 

Dan R

Semi-Pro
That's interesting Toni might have misunderstood what Nicklaus was saying. Jack was long, but he was not a risk taker - Palmer was. He was a conservative control golfer, who managed his game well, and many of his major championships came from others faltering. Jack finished 2nd or 3rd in majors almost twice as often as he won.
 

user92626

Legend
I think you are right. Let compare it to racing. A racing car driver needs to search for the ultimate boundary of where they have grip. If they don't, they probably won't crash but will be too slow. I think that goes for tennis as well. If you're playing too carefull (so you can consistently keep the ball in play) you will not develop your game. When you're consistent and you want to level up you need to search for more pace/control, which will lead to less consistency. Then try to become more consistent again. And so on.
Might be ok for tennis but that approach seems dangerous and counterproductive for car racing.

If you're new and constantly looking for the ultimate boundary, your chance of crashing is very high and won't live to develop and race more. No?
 

Fintft

Legend
Tracy Austin's coach (forgot his name) used to say the opposite: "that if one had to give something up between power, precision and consistency, one should give up power ( b/c it will come once one masters the other two)".

I'm a power player myself and leaning more towards Pete's opinion:

On ATP it is also possible to make a living without killer shots. However more often than not it is not enough to reach the finals, QF tops.

The young gen seems to smack it back and forth till either hits it out. Had one not the ability to counter with pace, they usually suffer, when changing to counter punch or hit a tactically wise, yet poor, even a touch off slice in between three - four hard placed rally shots, usually opens a slot for the other one to put the ball away.

That kind of pace cannot be developed later in life, if you haven’t had practice in other sports to max out your potential. And it is a handicap to live with and settle for not making more than probably a couple of titles.

In coaching I think we should start by teaching people, how to hit with pace rather than control in the beginning. And divert towards trick-shots and finessing the sliceing or bunting, if that woun’t work. Which would spell optimizing your game by your abilities.


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On pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter subject to disclaimer
 

Kevo

Legend
You said to return a moonball after you receive a moonball & then sneak in for a volley, but what about when the first moonball takes you into the back fence or tarp and you can't make a play on it? Is it possible to take a moonball on the rise and hit a moonball back? Is it better to just learn to take everything on the rise and never back up? Thanks for the insights people.
I think you have to tailor your approach to the moonball based on the particular opponent. For me, usually I like to move back and return an even better moonball. I practiced topspin lobs a lot when I was in high school and if I have a good moonball feed to hit off of I can hit a moonball back that will be unreturnable unless it's hit off the bounce. So my first response is usually to hit a better moonball to a moonballer. Lots of height and lots of spin.

Sometimes the moonballer is good enough that you can't back up because the ball will be out of reach. In that case you have to hit it off the bounce. You really need to practice this because it's a bit tricky at first. But basically you give yourself room and use the feet a lot and look to hit the ball right after it bounces well inside your strike zone. Make sure you cover the ball enough so you can get the angle you want coming off the strings so it doesn't get away from you. It's not that hard once you practice it. My usual strategy is to run around if necessary and take it on the forehand side and hit it as strong as I safely can inside out or cross court. That will force the moonballer into working at an angle, and if the shot is strong enough you can get a weaker moonball that you can smash.
 

Spanglish72

Rookie
I think you have to tailor your approach to the moonball based on the particular opponent. For me, usually I like to move back and return an even better moonball. I practiced topspin lobs a lot when I was in high school and if I have a good moonball feed to hit off of I can hit a moonball back that will be unreturnable unless it's hit off the bounce. So my first response is usually to hit a better moonball to a moonballer. Lots of height and lots of spin.

Sometimes the moonballer is good enough that you can't back up because the ball will be out of reach. In that case you have to hit it off the bounce. You really need to practice this because it's a bit tricky at first. But basically you give yourself room and use the feet a lot and look to hit the ball right after it bounces well inside your strike zone. Make sure you cover the ball enough so you can get the angle you want coming off the strings so it doesn't get away from you. It's not that hard once you practice it. My usual strategy is to run around if necessary and take it on the forehand side and hit it as strong as I safely can inside out or cross court. That will force the moonballer into working at an angle, and if the shot is strong enough you can get a weaker moonball that you can smash.
Thanks for the advice.

I have no problem with moonballs myself, I just hit them right off the bounce. My younger Daughter is the one struggling with them.

We have started taking about 15 minutes every practice & I feed her only high loopy moonballs that she has to hit right off the bounce, she does not enjoy it at all and has lots of shanks. She prefers returning my hard lower topspin shots.

Do you think her grip could be the problem? My older Daughter & myself hit Semi-Western grip and can return moonballs on the rise all day long, but my younger Daughter hits Western grip and really struggles with hitting moonballs off the bounce.
 
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