What do you tell people after they do 1000 reps and still get it wrong?

Booger

Hall of Fame
You know the type. Very stubborn. Usually boomer aged, 3.5 tops, picked up tennis well into adulthood.

They crank out basket after basket of focused reps. Keep the wrist back, don't slap at it, again again...

But no matter what, they are 1000% determined not to change. Not interested in laying the wrist back at contact, only want to slap like a fish. What advice do you offer?
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
So they are topped out older players just trying to get in some exercise and keep whatever their current strokes are the best they can. Not sure why you are trying to tell them anything at that point. In that scenario it is probably almost as hard to get them to change as telling high school players they don't need to hit every ball as hard as they can. Do you mean in a coaching situation?
 

Booger

Hall of Fame
So they are topped out older players just trying to get in some exercise and keep whatever their current strokes are the best they can. Not sure why you are trying to tell them anything at that point. In that scenario it is probably almost as hard to get them to change as telling high school players they don't need to hit every ball as hard as they can. Do you mean in a coaching situation?
Yeah, in a coaching situation, I get asked occasionally for help. Someone is trying to improve, you tell them what to do, give them some drills, but they just can't break the muscle memory no matter how many practice reps they do.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
You can't make gold from sand.
And they probably don't have the swingspeed to take advantage od new strokes.
 

Kawasaki Kanagawa

Professional
You know the type. Very stubborn. Usually boomer aged, 3.5 tops, picked up tennis well into adulthood.

They crank out basket after basket of focused reps. Keep the wrist back, don't slap at it, again again...

But no matter what, they are 1000% determined not to change. Not interested in laying the wrist back at contact, only want to slap like a fish. What advice do you offer?
You need to decide if you want to work with that type of client or not.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
I have mentioned it before on this board, but Tennis Australia provides a smartphone app to assist with coaching technique. It's free for registered coaches, anyone else can buy it on the Apple/Android store for a couple of bucks.

You can take a quick video of a student on your phone, overlay/sync it with a reference video out of TA's technique library, then play it back with slomo/pauses. It's a pretty nifty quick-and-dirty tool for getting a student to focus on exactly what they are doing wrong.

Not sure if it is available outside Australia, but perhaps USTA offers something similar
 

Sir Weed

Professional
Personally, I wouldn't want to "keep my wrist back" because that would prevent wrist flexion to happen when swinging the racket face through the ball.

But I'd keep my wrist back when hitting a forehand slice, yes.

Communication is the key.
 

Dragy

Legend
Personally, I wouldn't want to "keep my wrist back" because that would prevent wrist flexion to happen when swinging the racket face through the ball.

But I'd keep my wrist back when hitting a forehand slice, yes.

Communication is the key.
You need to start somewhere. Getting tight people prevent their wrist from laying back during “drag from lag” phase, which corresponds with racquet major acceleration.

By doing so, they get exposed to bottleneck effect - their forearm muscles need to fight racquet head momentum. They can pass with it if swing acceleration is low, but with any decent level they just overload forearm muscles. It becomes inconsistent, wobbling, tiring and injury-prone.

Whether you let your wrist flex more or less coming into contact is next-stage concern. For example, using “fade” techniques one can go through only minor flexion move from full layback by contact:
 

Sir Weed

Professional
What advice do you offer?
I have a player who told me "I want to play harder and play more agressive" and that he grew up watching Thomas Muster. He played tight as hell.
After hitting ten minutes with him I asked him to play like totally bored so that people who watch him play might actually think he's bored. Ball speed increased from the first ball.
Later I asked him to play with a bored upper body and with full leg intensity. Breathing/relaxed upper body, etc.

Most of the cues worked and he was really happy with the ball he played but it took his whole concentration. I told him implementing this mental approach is a process that might take a while (weeks, months, years) and that he needs to be patient with himself.

Yes, well, many people lack patience thinking they can find shortcuts left and right so my advice often is to be patient and take your time to learn.
 
Find them a coach who knows how to teach technique.
Become a lefty and start from scratch;
Practicing the wrong thing, just gets you better at doing the wrong thing.
Take up pickle ball or driving race cars.
What's a boomer?
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Yeah, in a coaching situation, I get asked occasionally for help. Someone is trying to improve, you tell them what to do, give them some drills, but they just can't break the muscle memory no matter how many practice reps they do.
Tell them you aren't really a coach and can't help them.

Why waste your time searching online for someone else's answers if they can't be bothered to do it themselves?

If one of my students asked me for help with their anatomy homework I would say "damnit Jim, I'm a tennis pro not a doctor," I wouldn't go searching online for how to fix their problems.

J
 

eah123

Semi-Pro
It’s very hard to break muscle memory. The player can feel just as frustrated as the coach. After a while, both should just give up and work on something else!
 
I love it when they say : "You can't teach that!"--If the coach is good enough--s/he can "teach that!"
 
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Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I know someone very well that is like the OP's client. Fact is, some people are recalcitrant learners. I'm not even sure it's as much stubbornness as lack of body awareness and lack of mental focus during practice.

I think the only thing you can do is show them video of themselves. That usually shocks them into some degree of "I didn't know I was doing that". But I'd not try to change anything unless they specifically agreed to work diligently on the fix because it's not going to take 1000 reps. It's going to take 10,000 reps for an adult learner with lack of body awareness. And video every 1000 reps so they can review their progress and make adjustments.

If they aren't willing to commit to that intensive an overhaul, there is no solution.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, in a coaching situation, I get asked occasionally for help. Someone is trying to improve, you tell them what to do, give them some drills, but they just can't break the muscle memory no matter how many practice reps they do.

Ah gotcha. Well that is the challenge with adult learners in everything they are being taught. Thay already have set experience and motor skills/habits, so it is a bit more ask than building a new player. To me it is always about finding ways to incrementally correct things, which might mean 10k balls. I know myself as an older adult in tennis, I can practice something in an isolated and controlled practice, do well, and even do well in some situational practice play. But when I get into pressure situations and match play, I regress to old habits. So a lot of it will be building trust in the process over the process itself. That is just general teaching, so how that looks in tennis coaching I guess is the challenge for you. Cheers.
 
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Mediocrity is a reality for many of us.
Nothing wrong with "mediocre"--most of the planet falls into that category on the mean curve.
Though thought of as a pejorative by some, to me mediocre just means average--one size fits most--most of us playing tennis start from there and probably will finish there, if we're still playing at 95 y.o. 3.5 gives us the most choices to play with--sandbag away.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Nothing wrong with "mediocre"--most of the planet falls into that category on the mean curve.
Though thought of as a pejorative by some, to me mediocre just means average--one size fits most--most of us playing tennis start from there and probably will finish there, if we're still playing at 95 y.o. 3.5 gives us the most choices to play with--sandbag away.
I'm fully able to accept my mediocrity. Sadly I play with a lot of people that think they can get better by "just playing more." My wife in particular wants to beat specific women at the club and thinks it will just magically happen. When I ask her how she plans on actually improving so she can beat said person, she cannot give one legitimate way to move forward other than "play more."

The key to learning is to be very self aware of your deficiencies and develop a solid plan to address them. Then decide if the effort required is something you want to commit to. If not, there is little point in starting down a path you are doomed to fail.

Everyone that learned anything remotely difficult knew what they didn't know, decided on a plan to develop the new skill, committed to it until the end.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
There's a lot of #$#$#a in life that we try repeatedly but never achieve. For instance, diet, fitness, becoming rich and successful.

Mediocrity is a reality for many of us.
That's because most people try to look for faddy quick fix temporary solutions to what is meant to be a permanent issue.

Keto this, Atkins that--all good for a sum total of 3 weeks and it's back to chugging beers with stale fries and peanuts, or mimosas with the girls over $20 eggs.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
After 5 years, muscle memory is permanent.
All top experts know this.
Utter BS. Not aware of any experts or studies that says this

I had played for 7 years in the 1970s and developed muscle memory with 70s-style strokes back then. In the late 80 (and early 90s), I switched from competitive badminton (as well as a lot of volleyball & some racquetball) back to tennis. I developed more 80s/90s-style tennis strokes at that time. They continued to evolve in the 90s as I moved from a 3.5/4.0 level to to a 4.5/5.0 level. The mid/late 00s saw another paradigm shift in my stroke mechanics. They continued to evolve for the following decade (until chronic injuries forced me to quit playing matches)

So much for crystallized / petrified muscle memory. Not all Boomers are stuck in the past
.
 
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jga111

Hall of Fame
Utter BS. Not aware of any experts or studies that says this

I had played for 7 years in the 1970s and developed muscle memory with 70s-style strokes back then. In the late 80 (and early 90s), I switched from (primarily) competitive badminton (and some racquetball) back to tennis. I developed more 80s/90s-style tennis strokes at that time. They continued to evolve in the 90s as I moved from a 3.5/4.0 level to to a 4.5/5.0 level. The mid/late 00s saw another paradigm shift in my stroke mechanics. They continued to evolve for the following decade (until chronic injuries forced me to quit playing matches)

So much for crystallized / petrified muscle memory. Not all Boomers are stuck in the past
.
+1

One needs to learn how to undo - to relax muscles that we don’t even realise we use. Yoga is perfect to compliment that, video footage to ensure you’re on three right path, dedication and training.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Tell them the same things in different ways, until they understand?
This

I learned decades ago that you cannot take a cookie-cutter approach to teaching students -- young or old. There's a number of different learning styles for students. If your usual approach results in a little or no progress, you find another approach. You might need to try a 3rd approach or more -- until you find something clicks / resonates with them. It's a lot like detective work. Or (hardware) troubleshooting -- my career prior to teaching tennis
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
After 5 years, muscle memory is permanent.
All top experts know this.
I played tennis until I was 50 with slice and flat shots and had never hit a topspin shot in my life. Joined a tennis club and worked on a SW FH topspin shot and developed a top spin FH.

My serves were flat dinks because of shoulder issues as a youth. I built up my shoulder and developed a more technically correct serve motion although still a little WTE in it. All at age 50. Even now I'm working on adding some new muscle memory to my FH (higher elbow takeback) and serve (more depth on racket drop).

You can change muscle memory but it requires concerted effort and a lot of suckitude. I shanked so many FH's for the first 6 weeks of learning the topspin stroke I couldn't beat a 2.5 player. When developing the serve motion I made more double faults than I had in a decade. But I ate my ego and persisted.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
You can change muscle memory but it requires concerted effort and a lot of suckitude. I shanked so many FH's for the first 6 weeks of learning the topspin stroke I couldn't beat a 2.5 player. When developing the serve motion I made more double faults than I had in a decade. But I ate my ego and persisted.
Some of us are able to change muscle memory fairly quickly -- even in our 40s, 50s & 60s. Have revamped my tennis stroke several times in the past 5 decades. In my 50s, added a SW Fh to my arsenal that I mastered in a matter of minutes.

Also able to adapt new muscle memory, in short order, when I switched over to badminton and racquetball. Many players are able to develop smaller changes in muscle memory, pretty quickly, when switching over to a tennis racket that is a significantly different from the one they've been using for quite a while
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Some of us are able to change muscle memory fairly quickly -- even in our 40s, 50s & 60s. Have revamped my tennis stroke several times in the past 5 decades. In my 50s, added a SW Fh to my arsenal that I mastered in a matter of minutes.
Took me 6 weeks to get that SW grip FH down but it was a big shift since my FH was straight out of the McEnroe continental school. I'm also a pretty mediocre athlete that swings above his weight class with quick wits.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Took me 6 weeks to get that SW grip FH down but it was a big shift since my FH was straight out of the McEnroe continental school. I'm also a pretty mediocre athlete that swings above his weight class with quick wits.
I had used a multitude of different grips, both long grips and short (chocked-up) grips in competitive badminton in the 1980s. Keenly aware of grip bevels and racquet face orientation at all times and the necessary changes needed for swing path -- kind of an extended proprioception. This seemed to have carried over to tennis afterward.
 

ubercat

Professional
Haha asking your wife for a plan. Different mode of thinking. Get her to play socially with better players so she s the worst in group. Then get her coaching so you don't end up with poison in your soup.
 
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nyta2

Professional
You know the type. Very stubborn. Usually boomer aged, 3.5 tops, picked up tennis well into adulthood.

They crank out basket after basket of focused reps. Keep the wrist back, don't slap at it, again again...

But no matter what, they are 1000% determined not to change. Not interested in laying the wrist back at contact, only want to slap like a fish. What advice do you offer?
IME, it's not about being stubborn, they just have an old motion so ingrained often over decades, they don't know anything else
i have one older student, that has an inefficiency in his serve motion where he bends his elbow acutely (eg. 45 degrees vs 90), and kept his elbow close to his rib cage.
meanwhile he has an *amazing* throwing motion from his days playing baseball
but he couldn't translate the throwing motion to the serving motion
basically had to work slowly backwards from contact, through many different progressions, and stop him any time he went back to his old motion.

while he's just one example, i have many students that have similar ingrained habits that they have difficulty breaking.
i have to interrupt their habit by either stopping them mid motion (and correcting them), guiding them, going through different progressions or drills, etc... usually giving them various tactile (sometimes auditory (ironically not many visual - cuz they can't step outside themselves and view their entire body)) checkpoints that they can feel along the path of whatever new swing we're working on.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Haha asking your wife for a plan. Different mode of thinking. Get her to play socially with better players so she s the worst in group. Then get her coaching so you don't end up with poison in her soup.
Done all that.

I am worried about the poison in my soup. Starting to reconsider the 100% spousal death benefit on my pension. No reason to keep me around once i retire.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
People like to talk about not being able to retain good habits (techniques), but that's rather misleading.

Rec players can't even retain bad habits consistently either. If they could, there wouldn't be 3.5s with bad days and good days!

Simply put, for anything (whether good or bad) to stick and become consistent, people have to put in time and effort but a recreational hobby like this is just not important enough.

About so called good habits (strokes and whatnot), it's just advance stuff that demands higher physical ability which average rec players do not possess. Most people tend to rate themselves much better than they really are, physically. If they accept and play "down" a level or two, below the level where they struggle, there'll be no more struggles or any needs for constant seeking for unattainable strokes.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
In tennis there is always someone better than you (unless you are Djokovic) and always someone worse than you. Fussing about strokes has little overall relevance since all it does is move the slider a little bit on the scale of mediocrity.

There is no necessity for any rec player to improve his technique because he can always find a competitive match at level where the techniques are similar and the determinant of the win is based on competitive desire and will to win. Plus a few fortunate bounces here and there.

Only a tiny fraction of players have the true desire to really commit to improvement and embark on that journey. Good for them. But I would never denigrate someone who just likes to compete at level and enjoy that challenge without feeling obligated to maximize his technique or equipment.
 

Fintft

Legend
There is no necessity for any rec player to improve his technique
While it might not be necessarily, that's one of the main reasons some of us picked tennis (otherwise we'd be jogging or doing cross country skiing).
It's fun to try to improve technique and physical conditioning alongside it, but the latter is often an afterthought.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
I think the whole deal of improvement and progress is based on the attitude and philosophy of the players, and these things are very different for individuals.

For many it's about pride and work ethics. They want to do it well if they can help it.

And for others it's mostly about exercise, spending time outdoor for fun and whatnot.
 

Fintft

Legend
I think the whole deal of improvement and progress is based on the attitude and philosophy of the players, and these things are very different for individuals.

For many it's about pride and work ethics. They want to do it well if they can help it.

And for others it's mostly about exercise, spending time outdoor for fun and whatnot.
Yeah, but your first category should be split in more than one, as there are some people focused on results, not improvement per say.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
While it might not be necessarily, that's one of the main reasons some of us picked tennis (otherwise we'd be jogging or doing cross country skiing).
It's fun to try to improve technique and physical conditioning alongside it, but the latter is often an afterthought.
I agree that there are those that pick up sports to build skills and those that play for social/competitive reasons. I find the former are more prone to burn out once they plateau and the latter tend to keep playing as long as they can find competitive and social matches. Of course the best is probably to be a bit of both. Excited to learn skills but still find the game rewarding from a competitive/social standpoint once you've plateau'd.
 

slipgrip93

Semi-Pro
hmm, I'm no expert, but how about for another idea, to have them hit reps with with a heavier racquet (whether their own, or loaned to them during the session) > 13/13.5oz (hehe), that they can't easily wrist slap around. Maybe it can force or encourage him to start exercising the muscles and movement needed in the "kinetic chain".
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, but your first category should be split in more than one, as there are some people focused on results, not improvement per say.
Not sure I follow what you mean.

I mean, people who improve tend to be kinda serious about their doings in everything. They're not casual. They want to do well in everything.

I'm leaning toward this group. But sadly when it comes to tennis, it's more detrimental than beneficial. For example, when my peers lose to me they reverse to claiming they're not "serious". Whatever that means. LOL.
 

Fintft

Legend
Not sure I follow what you mean.

I mean, people who improve tend to be kinda serious about their doings in everything. They're not casual. They want to do well in everything.

I'm leaning toward this group. But sadly when it comes to tennis, it's more detrimental than beneficial. For example, when my peers lose to me they reverse to claiming they're not "serious". Whatever that means. LOL.
Some people are in need of glorification so they:
1. Always play way down
2. Take shortcuts and don't think long term (including improvement)
 
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