transition to red clay

gflyer

Professional
After almost 10 years playing on HC i moved to europe.
only red clay here.
on hc i play very aggressive baseline game. try to hit winners whenever i see openings. 4.5/5.0 level

on red clay i am going through hell.
i feel i am always out of position, my timing is messed up, i lost all my control (especially in terms of direction).
I am trying to adjust but it will take some time.

I writing here to ask some tips to help to speed up my transition, in terms of technique, strategy, racquet customization, string tension etc.

I've seen some threads, in particular this where they talk about racquet customization for clay.

my customized pst is ~9pts HL, i guess i should make it a little less HL?
moreover, how about tension? Go lower or higher?

Any suggestion is very appreciated.
cheers
G

PS before somebody suggests it, of course i am already planning to spend some time with a pro.
 

FedExpress 333

Professional
First off, you need to be a bit more defensive with your game. Do not try for winners as much, but go for safe, solid shots with heavy topspin. Do not be as aggressive, stay at the baseline more. Try hitting with more topspin, maybe shift FH and BH grips into more western type grips, and keeping the ball in play as your #1 priority, not being aggressive. Go for more spin and higher 1st serve percentages rather than aces. Be more fast about your footwork, always look out for bad bounces. Learn to slide ASAP, as it will help tremendously.

Your gear is probably fine, more open patterns work better on clay, as do poly strings.

This is just my opinion, I have never even played on clay before, but this is (I think) a good general guide. Maybe an experienced clay courter could verify this list.Good luck!
 

halalula1234

Professional
if you can see the lines its easier to adapt if you cant then it will give you hell :p thought i share cus i've never been more frustrated than when playing competition on a bad quality clay court. and i did find that i am out of position a lot too.

However if its good quality you should have an easier time adapting.
Slide a bit more into some shots and when you're getting around, you will need it. and the ball will bounce higer so u'll need to construct your points more carefully with some top spin to move people around then a flat winner if you like..but against fast guys you will have to hit a LOT more balls back which is annoying in a way :p
 

mikeler

Moderator
Your gear is fine, you just have to be more patient on clay and learn to slide. Points are going to last longer unless you want to go out in a flurry of unforced errors. Higher looping topspin shots are great and then when you get the short ball that is the time to pull the trigger and be aggressive.
 

tennis_balla

Hall of Fame
Lower your tension, try by 5lbs and then go from there. It depends a lot on how the courts are maintained and when you play. After some rain it can get fairly slow and the ball pick up a lot of clay and really slow down.

Use your legs and don't rely on reaching with your racket which you can get away with on hard courts. Always have your feet under you and your balance/center of gravity in the middle. I hope that makes sense. Learning to slide at least somewhat will be beneficial. Playing with your feet wider apart and moving this way as well helps a lot.

A lot of people talk about angles, opening up the court while playing on clay and so on. Thats great and all but the #1 thing to do is good net clearance and keep it deep. If your trajectory is low the ball will bounce around the service line and sit up like a duck waiting to be punished. Keep it deep, keep it higher and pin your opponent back, force a short ball then go on the attack.
 

dozu

Banned
topspin is name of the game on clay.

if it lands deep, you pin the opp back.... even if you land short, as long as you put a lot of action on the ball, it will still bail you out, because it's risky for him to take early due to possible bad bounces.... it's pretty much a battle of who gives up the first short sitter.... drop shots and drop volleys work very well also as they bounce lower than on hard court.

equipment - like balla said lower the tension a bit, or go a tad less head light, because you need that heft to pound groundies... conditions vary more on clay, after a rain it can be rediculously slow.... but during dry days ball can really kick up.
 

86golf

Semi-Pro
Biggest issue most of the time is that you will set your feet too early. Do you remember the dynamic footwork video that fuzzyyellowballs posted on youtube? That is a great drill for slow red clay bc, you need to play a bit further back expecting a high bouncing ball, but you have to be ready to move forward into your shot since the ball doesn't skid as much on clay.

Start by moving back a couple steps and use the walking step drill for your ground strokes. This will help with your timing. We have red clay and some like it, but most of the hard court guys abhor it.
 
Court positioning is key when playing on dirt. You need to camp a fair distance back from where you hit on a hard court. I'd also suggest using some spin-friendly strings also. BTW if you're going for minimal net clearance and hitting hard from the baseline on clay don't expect to win. Also hit kick serves and come in as you've got more time to do so.
 

gflyer

Professional
guys,
all great suggestions!!!
I think I already have a few things to work on now.
In fact reading your posts helped me already to identify some problems.
In particular:
1. i am staying too close to the baseline
2. I am poorly using my footwork (setting up too early)
3. Hitting hard and too low over the net

I will also lower a bit tension of my strings.

I have my checklist now ;-)
Thank you so much to all the posters.

cheers
G
 
T

Tenisfan

Guest
guys,
all great suggestions!!!
I think I already have a few things to work on now.
In fact reading your posts helped me already to identify some problems.
In particular:
1. i am staying too close to the baseline
2. I am poorly using my footwork (setting up too early)
3. Hitting hard and too low over the net

I will also lower a bit tension of my strings.

I have my checklist now ;-)
Thank you so much to all the posters.

cheers
G
These are great points to focus on. You can find a lot of useful information in Play Better Tennis In 2 Hours which is free online at www.tennisteacher.com/ebook. The data concerning finding the ball, waiting and imparting topspin in this book is especially well-suited for clay court tennis.
 
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