Publish "Your Game"- Compare Your Strokes to the Pros!
Last week we introduced TennisOne 2.0, our next-generation technology platform and website featuring video sharing and self-publishing. The major change is the addition of a massive video wing to our site, the TennisOne Video Network (TVN) . Among the many new features, now you can upload videos of your own strokes and compare your strokes to the pros. View sample video comparisons to see the stunning power of this new technology. Parents, get feedback on your juniors' game from the best minds in the game (Take Online Lessons). Pros, you can use this technology to Provide Online Lessons to a worldwide market. These are just the first phases of some amazing new capabilities rolling out on TennisOne 2.0--join us today.
Overview of TennisOne 2.0 - How to Upload Videos - Become TennisOne Member
The Art of Seeing
This phrase "The Art of Seeing," works in so many ways. As a player and now a teacher I have been on both sides of this concept. Years ago as a player working on the “Stow conk.” I used Aldous Huxley’s The Art of Seeing as well as the materials developed by William Harrison in Vision Dynamics. In both cases, the concepts and feel were about how to use one’s eyes, how to “preview” what might be coming down the pike, and how expectation (Huxley) and balance (Harrison) influence visual acuity.
Now before we go any further, for those of you re-evaluating how well you see the ball, how still you hold your head, issues about holding your head level to improve binocular vision, and much more, these two books provide an excellent starting point. But now as a teacher, the art of seeing takes on a much different meaning. As I study how players process feedback and enhance tennis skills, it appears that some use a visual channel, others an auditory channel. Said another way, some see how to do things while others are told (for better or worse) how to do those same things. But somehow, the more I wrestle with this as a teacher, the more I believe the visual channel may be the least resourced and most valuable. Want to get better? Spend more time with the information you can see. But equally, if not more importantly, train your eyes to look to the critical elements.
So I am encouraging you to reevaluate how you use your eyes, whether you truly attempt to learn by watching, and if so, are you aware of the salient aspects of a particular performance.
I once found research that showed how “master coaches” tended to look at the core, at balance and rhythm, whereas “neophyte coaches” were more prone to look at peripheral issues. Meaning, when evaluating a performance, the maestros looked at the body, the rookies looked at the arms and hands. Though both views provide information, if the veteran coaches looked in a certain area, it might be a good idea for you and me. The core, the big picture, macro rather than micro (if you will), concerns balance and rhythm, simply how the body moves and the rhythmic aspects of the performance. But, and this must be said, because of racquets, grips, and an unfortunate fixation on the swing, most players pay more attention to the micro, to the hands rather than the hips, to the stance rather than the tempo, and to the result (in or out) rather than the performance (effortless or effortful).
I was tutored extensively in the teaching craft by Don Kerr. On his many visits to Seascape in Destin, he would ask, “What do you see (with a particular serve for example)?” After my often lightweight and unfocused answer, he would stun me with an insight that at first I couldn’t see. Yet once he showed me, it became completely obvious. So much so, that I would wonder why I didn’t see it myself. So let me become a second generation Don Kerr, ask you first what you see, and then compare your observations with mine.
In the following side by side comparison of the serve, we see Aaron, a promising junior and Roger Federer. Before reading any further, take a few moments to observe, compare and contrast. Move the videos forward to the key reference points by clicking on the play and pauses button and look for areas where they “match” and areas where they “diverge.” Imagine you were asked for advice on how to practice and grow this young man’s serve. And note, he has a pretty good motion as it is, but not at all like Roger’s.
Federer and Sharapova
Now for a comparison of Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova. There are many serves on the pro tour that are bigger then Fed’s, but I believe the hallmarks of his serve are consistency, disguise, and the ease of his motion. (Note Federer has not as yet suffered any particular injuries, whereas many of his contemporaries have had multiple shoulder surgeries, presumably from their service motions.)
Click photo: With Maria’s massive ground game – imagine a scenario where her serve was the best part of her game.
Sharapova, known more for her ground game than service delivery, has had shoulder problems, and occasional patches where her serve has gone off, particularly in the 2007 Australian Open final where Serena teed off on nearly all of Maria’s second serves. So again, before reading any further, take a few moments, moving Sharapova's video back and forth, then go back to the Federer video and look for similarities and differences. Certainly Maria is not looking to you and me for a second opinion, but play along, and imagine just that.
To my eye three areas jump out on Maria's video. First as to rhythm, note how Maria’s motion starts quickly and then hesitates as her arm and racquet swing up into the so called “trophy” position. Further, she moves her feet during this windup, and though she obviously regains her balance, I find it interesting to note that three of the games best servers, Sampras, Federer, and Roddick, do not move their feet during the delivery, and for my money simplicity always trumps extra motion. Finally, at and just after impact, it appears that Maria hurls herself into the court, while Roger explodes up more than forward, and lands much more balanced. When the elements combine together, Maria uses more effort and gets less ball speed, while Roger really uses less effort, with better rhythm and balance, to achieve more ball speed.
So as you take your new found awareness of the Art of Seeing to the court in the next few days, compare notes with a friend as you watch a forehand, backhand or serve. Ask them what they see, not in a critical manner, just simple observations. Take your own notes, and see how yours match up or diverge with theirs. But as always refer to the basics – evaluate the balance, evaluate the posture, evaluate the rhythm, and finally evaluate the efficiency – that is how much effort was exerted and how much ball speed was produced. The better you learn to look for these things in others, the more aware you will become of these same things in your own game.
Just as watching the Wimbledon final on television, then going out to hit balls that afternoon, somehow enables us to play just a little better (and this is a well described motor learning phenomenon), the same thing occurs in reverse. That is, if golfing with an inexperienced foursome, a problem occurs if after 10 holes you have witnessed 150 or even 180 unusual swings, such that the viewer may actually start to play worse. One would be advised to look away in such a situation, to avoid any contamination from the effects of seeing such a multitude of inexpert swings.
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.
Understanding Momentum Shifts
Momentum in tennis can be described many ways by many people. But to Dave Smith, it is a distinctive sense of a how a match will end and who will be victorious. When a player or team has the momentum, the players with the momentum have a sense of confidence that can be considered at times, inversely proportional to the sense of dread by the team or player who does not have the momentum. So, how to establish it and how to keep from losing it, that is really the question.
Developing a Healthy Attitude to Competition
Yogi Berra once said about baseball, "Ninety percent of this game is mental, and the other half is physical." As wacky as that sounds, it applies to Tennis as well. There are many coaches, parents, and sports psychologists who understand, to different degrees, the ideal mind-set athletes must develop in order to perform at their optimum level. The real issue is ‘how we transfer this information to the player. Happy Bhalla is one of the most profound and original thinkers on this subject.
A Dollar for Every Step
Tennis is a game of movement. Observe closely the next time you're watching a professional tennis match. Pros take between ten and twelve steps between strokes. Count them. College players take about eight to ten steps but by the time you get down to the club level, 3.5 players are only taking about four or five steps - they are barely moving at all. Pat Dougherty, of the Bollettieri Tennis Academy, has come up with a creative way to get juniors to move their feet. He tells them they are going to get paid a dollar for every step they take. Surprisingly enough, it works.
TennisOne Video Network HD Channel -- Jelena Jankovic
Jelena Jankovic has crashed the party, so to speak and this Serbian has all the tools to continue her ascent in the rankings. Topspin off both wings, two fisted backhand, Jelena plays well within the mold of the big hitting baseliners and is one of the best movers in the game. 2005 was considered Jankovic's breakout season yet in 2006, she had a horrific start to, losing ten straight matches before righting herself. Since then she has accumulated wins over Mauresmo, Hingis, Vaidisova and has reached a career high number three in the world. See her strokes on the HD Channel on the TennisOne Video Network.
ProStrokes Gallery - Marcos Baghdatis' Backhand
Marcos Baghdatis, now a veteran at 23 years old, continues to be a threat on hard and grass courts, but he's also a player looking to recapture the energy and promise of his 2006 Australian Open tournament where he lost a competitive final to Roger Federer. His game is more about using pace rather than creating it and about anticipation and sensing an opponent’s options. In this light he is comfortable playing from well behind the baseline on defense or well inside the baseline, moving forward to finish a point. Check out Marcos Baghdatis' game in the TennisOne ProStrokes Gallery. New this issue, the Baghdatis Backhand.
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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