A Resource I Wish I had Back Then!
David W. Smith, Senior Editor TennisOne
I’m sure I am not alone in this wish: but I wish I knew what I know now when I was a younger tennis player.
“If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?” Vince Lombardi
I imagine it would be a safe assumption that most of our TennisOne subscribers and readers are looking to improve their games. And, I suspect a large number of them would like to be not just better players, but "Champions" at the sport. This could include a Club Champion, Tournament Champion, School Champion, or perhaps a League Champion. The good news, no one is too old to set goals and learn new things. Everyone has the potential to become a better player. Becoming the best tennis player within our potential is a goal that will provide those who seek it the greatest self-satisfaction and reward that can come from this sport.
The legendary Green Bay Packer coach, Vince Lombardi once said, “If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?” And though that may be true on the professional level, I’m not so sure it is applicable to life at the local club, nor should it be. To me, it doesn’t always matter if you win or lose (although, I have to admit that winning does seem a bit more fun at the time). There is great reward in just knowing you played well, within your ability, and you enjoyed the contest because of the quality of play.
I don’t know about all of you, but I love tennis because every point offers the opportunity for me to hit a great shot, to be involved in a great rally, or to finish a point with an “exclamation point!” It is a little like golf in that every shot has the potential for disaster and the potential for success. I have always enjoyed looking at every point as a chance to shine!
The use of the Stroke Comparison Engine is a fantastic tool to compare similarities as well as player idiosyncrasies. What can you compare between Blake and Federer?
All of this relates to a players' sense of goals and what they hope to achieve in the game. Generally, players who set goals in tennis not only look at the game in a positive light, but they are usually successful in reaching those goals. (In fact, they usually have to set new goals in many cases!)
I had similar goals when I was a teenager; mine was to become the best tennis player in my city. While I was successful to a certain degree, I would have benefited greatly by having a resource such as TennisOne to help me understand my sport as well as give me guidance as to the ways and means of reaching my goals and becoming a champion tennis player.
Riding my bike to the nearest tennis courts when I was thirteen, with a five-gallon bucket of tennis balls on each handlebar, to practice my serve and hit on the concrete racquetball wall to work on groundstrokes, I couldn’t even begin to dream of having such a tool as this web site to steer me in the right tennis direction! (Heck, we didn’t even have video tape then!)
The point I’m trying to make is that we had no resource short of books in the public library to help us learn the game. We could, and did; however, study the top players anytime we played a tennis tournament. There were guys I looked up to in our area; Dave Bohannon, Roger Hillie, Mike Federly, and Craig Harter to name a few. I would try to emulate each of these open players; their styles, serves, and strategies.
I had to rely on my visual memory when I got to the practice court with my buckets of tennis balls. We had no Internet or video recorders to review, no ProStrokes or slow motion videos to study. It is understandable why so many tennis teachers and players of the day had no idea what was really happening in terms of stroke production or techniques. We are light-years ahead in terms of technology and understanding of bio mechanics and efficient stroke production, thanks to both the technology we have as well as the study of that resource.
Click photo: Using the super Slo-Mo clips, you can see every element of a player's stroke, footwork, and racquet control. Watch Mary Pierce's split-step, grip, and form on her forehand volley.
Unfortunately, many players do not take ownership of their progress and improvement through these available channels of study. Many believe they can "figure out" proper tennis techniques on their own. How apparent it becomes when we see many of these players out on the public and club courts, trying to execute skilled tennis strokes…and not coming close! More apparent to me, is the high number of players who stagnate at lower levels than their potential would otherwise deem, because of the way they learned to play tennis.
Today, we have this incredible resource that demonstrates the actual movements of the top players. We can see their “foundations” as well as their idiosyncrasies. I always tell my students, “Hey, you have two arms and two legs just as any pro” to get them to quit thinking that the pros are some sort of superior human race. No, they went through the learning process just as any player did. However, somewhere along the line, they practiced different strokes, grips, and footwork patterns so they could eventually hit more effective shots with consistency.
Nearly everyone can pursue tennis with this type of outcome (although, to be sure, very few will make it to the highest levels). But, one must be clear on the methods in which one should practice. And, being a teaching pro of more than 30 years, two things are very clear: Most players learn tennis within strokes and grips that are "familiar" instead of ones that will allow them to eventually become more effective, and two, most players play tennis in this same "familiar" way. They revert to more comfortable strokes and grips when they want to win. These two elements will prevent most players from developing their game to the highest levels of their potential.
As for me, I hope you all reach your own dreams!
(Click link to purchase Dave Smith's Book Tennis Mastery, at tenniswarehouse.com.)
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
Rounding-Out Drills: Part II
A player’s ability to diversify and create variety in the game can, and should, be practiced with regularity. There are many creative ways to improve the ability to hit with more finesse, touch, angle, spin, and depth. Here Dave Smith shows you more of his favorite "Rounding-Out Drills as they relate to topspin and slice shots as well as a few more volley drills he incorporates regularly in his academy’s clinics and lessons.
Rafael Nadal's Forehand
Vic Braden puts Rafael Nadal's huge topspin forehand under the microscope. Using the Ariel Performance Analysis System (APAS) which captures actual match play by stationing three cameras on
the court, Vic and his technicians are able to digitize each body joint on
each frame, which results in a skeletal figure. After studying this skeletal figure, what they discover about Rafa's forehand may surprise you.
Ball Control - Height
In his series of articles, Wayne Elderton has repeatedly stressed the importance of ball control. After all, manipulating the ball is the essence of the game. In this article, through his Game-based approach, Wayne explores the concept of height.
Tactically speaking, height is a major aspect of consistency and controlling the height of the ball is critical to performing well and a key to successful tennis play.
ProStrokes Gallery: Nicole Vaidisova's Serve
Nicole Vaidisova has it all going on. At seventeen years old she appears to have a big time career ahead of her. Groomed by Nick Bollettieri, she has all the usual ingredients. Huge forehand, big though not at all that flowing on the backhand side, serves well, and moves well, but to my eye what stands out is her competitiveness. Nicole has not shown too much interest in defense. - she goes for her shots. I do not see doubt or restraint in her backcourt rallies. It's offense from all corners. New this issue - Vaidisova's serve.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
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