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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-15-2006, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Hi guys

I've been playing tennis for a little over a year and even though I reckon I've made a few improvements, there are a lot of shots that I can't seem to deal with.

If anyone here familiar with tennis shots and how to execute them, please help me out here

First question.

How do you execute hard flat shots?

When I started out, I'd rely more on wrist action, which produces loopy shots that can sometimes be a top spin or a lob.

This creates a lot of unforced errors and this (as well as my serve) is usually what loses me points.

I'm told that with flat shots, you "hit through the ball", which I take it means you rely more on your arm action rather than wrist action.

With returns that are in my comfort zone (i.e. when the ball's bounce height is between my knees and waist), then it's not too much of a problem. But it gets impossible when the ball bounces above that comfort zone. I try to return a deep flat shot, but I end up hitting the ball downwards, which causes it to sail into the net.

I think my problem here is:
1. My timing - I hit the ball at the wrong bounce height;
2. My tennis grip - is it better to use the Eastern Forehand Grip or the Western Forehand Grip?

Can you guys give me a few tips on producing deep, powerful flat shots?

Many thanks!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-15-2006, 01:20 AM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

I am assuming you're using a western grip if loopy, wristy shots are occuring all the time? Flat shots can still be executed fine with this grip, so I'd keep it.

To hit it flat you simply swing straight out. You don't brush up on the ball, or slice through it. Don't flip your wrist over for topspin. I'm assuming you know this based on your post, but it basically is it.

What's your level? If you're beginner to intermediate then you don't really have to worry about taking the ball on the rise which is nice for flat(ish) shots. Flat shots are bad news if you try to execute them with the ball being too low, or high for that matter (but high is I suppose a little easier than low).

If you're advanced and you have good timing, eye-hand coordination, and strokes then you can take the ball on the rise which means what it says. You pretty much short-hop the ball. It's very good to do on returns, such as kick second serves. It takes away time from your opponent quite nicely.

Timing and footwork are pretty much everything in tennis as long as you're stroke technique isn't fucked.

Andreev - Cilic - Dolgopolov - De Bakker - Djokovic - Gulbis - Haase - Hrbaty - J Johansson - Kucera - Kuznetsov - Russell - Simon - Sweeting - Thron

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-15-2006, 01:24 AM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Erm btw, there is a forum for help with your tennis game here on MTF.

Andreev - Cilic - Dolgopolov - De Bakker - Djokovic - Gulbis - Haase - Hrbaty - J Johansson - Kucera - Kuznetsov - Russell - Simon - Sweeting - Thron

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-15-2006, 01:25 AM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

well i HATE tennis sometimes. today i hit my forehand like crap even though recently its gotten so much better. but just out of the blue, i shanked forehands left and right. perhaps i shouldnt have tried out the eastern grip cuz now my semiwes is dyinggggggggg....i'd like to think it was b/c i was practicing kick serves for 30 minutes and was tired before some random 40yr old asked me to hit and i shanked, lobbed, or barely hit over a thousand forehands.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-15-2006, 01:32 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jole
I am assuming you're using a western grip if loopy, wristy shots are occuring all the time? Flat shots can still be executed fine with this grip, so I'd keep it.
I think I use the Eastern Forehand grip - the one where the index knuckle's placed on the third column of the racquet handle (starting clockwise from the top).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jole
To hit it flat you simply swing straight out. You don't brush up on the ball, or slice through it. Don't flip your wrist over for topspin. I'm assuming you know this based on your post, but it basically is it.
I have a problem here as well - I find that the only way I can do it is when my body's positioned side-on (i.e. left-foot in front of the right-foot). But when I'm playing matches, I don't have time to position myself that way. Usually, I have an open-body stance when hitting the forehand, and it's then that I find "hitting through the ball" difficult to execute.

How to I solve this problem?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jole
What's your level? If you're beginner to intermediate then you don't really have to worry about taking the ball on the rise which is nice for flat(ish) shots. Flat shots are bad news if you try to execute them with the ball being too low, or high for that matter (but high is I suppose a little easier than low).
I'm at intermediate (well, low intermediate), but I really need to make some drastic improvements because my win-loss ratio heavily favours the loss side

Big problems I've got:
- Flat shots;
- Timing and technique of my one-handed backhand
- Slices (I can't differentiate between making a drop-shot and an slice)
- Serve (my biggest problem: direction of throwing the ball and knowing at what height I have to hit the ball).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jole
If you're advanced and you have good timing, eye-hand coordination, and strokes then you can take the ball on the rise which means what it says. You pretty much short-hop the ball. It's very good to do on returns, such as kick second serves. It takes away time from your opponent quite nicely.

Timing and footwork are pretty much everything in tennis as long as you're stroke technique isn't fucked.
Thanks a lot for your help!

I do find that when I take the time to use proper techniques and not rush into a shot (i.e. get caught up ini the heat of the moment), I usually make less errors.

But, I've gotten accustomed to bad habits, and that makes using the right techniques and timing of the shots difficult to do at all times
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-15-2006, 01:46 AM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

This is semi-western. A little more extreme will be western. I have never purposely used an eastern forehand grip so I cannot comment much, but I am pretty sure Sampras used it. It's very difficult to get below balls. I am pretty sure my favorite player, Dominik Hrbaty, now uses a fucked up eastern forehand grip, it's really bad. He used to use a western grip when he was a clay courter.

http://img68.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0047qm4.jpg

The only other grips I have used in ten years is continental for volleys and a some serves, and an eastern backhand for other serves.

I personally think semi-western is the best grip for the forehand, but I am bias. Use what you're comfortable with.

Andreev - Cilic - Dolgopolov - De Bakker - Djokovic - Gulbis - Haase - Hrbaty - J Johansson - Kucera - Kuznetsov - Russell - Simon - Sweeting - Thron

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-15-2006, 01:58 AM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hokit
I think I use the Eastern Forehand grip - the one where the index knuckle's placed on the third column of the racquet handle (starting clockwise from the top).



I have a problem here as well - I find that the only way I can do it is when my body's positioned side-on (i.e. left-foot in front of the right-foot). But when I'm playing matches, I don't have time to position myself that way. Usually, I have an open-body stance when hitting the forehand, and it's then that I find "hitting through the ball" difficult to execute.

How to I solve this problem?



I'm at intermediate (well, low intermediate), but I really need to make some drastic improvements because my win-loss ratio heavily favours the loss side

Big problems I've got:
- Flat shots;
- Timing and technique of my one-handed backhand
- Slices (I can't differentiate between making a drop-shot and an slice)
- Serve (my biggest problem: direction of throwing the ball and knowing at what height I have to hit the ball).



Thanks a lot for your help!

I do find that when I take the time to use proper techniques and not rush into a shot (i.e. get caught up ini the heat of the moment), I usually make less errors.

But, I've gotten accustomed to bad habits, and that makes using the right techniques and timing of the shots difficult to do at all times

Regarding your stance, flat shots can be executed with an open or closed stance np. Basically it comes down to what you're comfortable with. Closed requires better footwork and isn't as flexible. Some people can do either , but I'm sure a lot of the time they don't even think about it.

Tennis pretty much comes down to muscle memory. You have to pick how you want to do it and conciously do it everytime that way when you are picking it up. Over time it becomes habit and you don't even think about it.

With backhand timing, all I can say is a one-hander requires in my opinion much better timing, balance, etc. than a two-hander. It just comes down to using good technique and practicing over and over. Eventually if you can get comfortable with a nice fluid stroke, have a strong forearm, then you can have a pretty sweet backhand that most people wonder how is possible. Watch Gaudio, Gasquet, whoever. They've been doing it that way for the last 15 years of their life which is the main reason it's so good.

If slices become drop shots then you just have to swing further out with a more pronounced follow through. Don't chop really high to low tho. Make it a nice smooth stroke starting high and going through the ball at a nice downward (not too steep) angle. A drop shot will be less follow through and often a little more under/sidespin.

Service toss? No matter how good everything else about your serve is, if the toss is bad it really doesn't matter. Practice it over and over. Hit serves by yourself. Have yourself taped and watch what you're doing. Typically if you're hitting a kick serve you hit the ball a little lower than anything else. This gives your swing more room to swing up and out/through the ball to create the spin.

Andreev - Cilic - Dolgopolov - De Bakker - Djokovic - Gulbis - Haase - Hrbaty - J Johansson - Kucera - Kuznetsov - Russell - Simon - Sweeting - Thron

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-15-2006, 05:39 AM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hokit
- Serve (my biggest problem: direction of throwing the ball and knowing at what height I have to hit the ball).
One thing that's helped me to produce more consistent service tosses, is raising my racket at the same time I toss the ball. And hold the ball with as few fingers as possible.

also, if you're only low intermediate, then you should just concentrate on using topspin for now.

Flat shots require better aim, and work best when in your strike zone. If don't have enough time to set up the shot properly then it's useless.

Last edited by Dusk Soldier; 09-15-2006 at 05:42 AM.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-20-2006, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jole
This is semi-western. A little more extreme will be western. I have never purposely used an eastern forehand grip so I cannot comment much, but I am pretty sure Sampras used it. It's very difficult to get below balls. I am pretty sure my favorite player, Dominik Hrbaty, now uses a fucked up eastern forehand grip, it's really bad. He used to use a western grip when he was a clay courter.

http://img68.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0047qm4.jpg

The only other grips I have used in ten years is continental for volleys and a some serves, and an eastern backhand for other serves.

I personally think semi-western is the best grip for the forehand, but I am bias. Use what you're comfortable with.
Thanks for your input jole

To be honest, I've gotten progressively worse these past few weeks. I have two lessons a week (an hour per lesson) yet I haven't made much progress - and I've been taking lessons for over a year. How do I know where my level's at? Well, I still lose nearly all my matches to beginners

I really don't know what to do. I paid almost $200 for the lessons, yet because my "intermediate" class has so many people, I end up rallying more than receiving advice and help from the coaches.

I know I should use what I'm comfortable with, yet I'm frustrated because I've been given different advices. Coach A tells me to do this, and Coach B tells me another technique: when I listen to one and then listen to another, I end up starting all over again. Any "progress" I've made has already gone down the drain (when I start over, I forget what I had previously done).

One of the coaches suggested that when I strike a forehand, I should position myself side-on so I can hit flat shots easier. If I'm at an open stance, I tend to lean backwards and don't have enough time to have a good swing at the ball - this is all attributed to my crap timing, crap eye coordination and crap positioning. Yet the other coach says that an open stance is OK, as long as I put more weight on my right leg when positioning myself to hit a forehand.

Practice is good, but when I don't have anyone "good" to practice with, I end up doing the wrong techniques and developing bad habits.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-21-2006, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusk Soldier
One thing that's helped me to produce more consistent service tosses, is raising my racket at the same time I toss the ball. And hold the ball with as few fingers as possible.
That's what I've been doing as well Instead of doing the whole 360 degree racquet movement before striking the ball, I already have my arm bent behind my back.

Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I've noticed that with a lot of players, they can smack a good serve even if their ball toss isn't perfect. For example, there's a guy in my class who throws the ball more to his left (rather than to his right) and manages to put a lot of spin and pace on his serve.

I take a lot of time because I make sure my ball toss isn't retarded. Unfortunately, people get impatient and since I concentrate so much on the ball toss, I do end up hitting the ball in the wrong direction

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusk Soldier
also, if you're only low intermediate, then you should just concentrate on using topspin for now.
Could you give me a few tips on hitting aggressive topspins?

Actually, before you do that, could you explain to me what a topspin actually is? I have an idea, but I'm afraid it may not be the right one

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusk Soldier
Flat shots require better aim, and work best when in your strike zone. If don't have enough time to set up the shot properly then it's useless.
O.K. thanks for that
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-21-2006, 11:30 AM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

I have a big forehand more about power than precision (can be off some days!) and a one handed slice backhand.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-21-2006, 07:24 PM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hokit
That's what I've been doing as well Instead of doing the whole 360 degree racquet movement before striking the ball, I already have my arm bent behind my back.

Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I've noticed that with a lot of players, they can smack a good serve even if their ball toss isn't perfect. For example, there's a guy in my class who throws the ball more to his left (rather than to his right) and manages to put a lot of spin and pace on his serve.

I take a lot of time because I make sure my ball toss isn't retarded. Unfortunately, people get impatient and since I concentrate so much on the ball toss, I do end up hitting the ball in the wrong direction



Could you give me a few tips on hitting aggressive topspins?

Actually, before you do that, could you explain to me what a topspin actually is? I have an idea, but I'm afraid it may not be the right one



O.K. thanks for that
Topspin on a groundstroke is where you brush up the "back" of the ball from low to high. This creates the topspin and gives you greater margin for error than with a flat shot. When your shot hits your opponents side of the court it bounces much higher than a flat should would, and this can be very problematic for some people. Think Rafael Nadal.

Western grips are the easiest to use to apply topspin, but I'm sure Eastern works. Be careful not to get too crazy with the topspin and simply go from low to high. All this will do is put pure topspin on the ball and it will be very weak and slow. A good, reliable topspin forehand should be thought of swinging up and out. Up as in swinging from low to high to create the topspin, and out (from your body) to give the ball speed and power. Both rely on you creating adequate racquet speed. You can swing extremely hard and fast, but if you have plenty of topspin on the ball it will stay in and be a very effective shot.

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-19-2006, 05:15 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jole View Post
Topspin on a groundstroke is where you brush up the "back" of the ball from low to high. This creates the topspin and gives you greater margin for error than with a flat shot. When your shot hits your opponents side of the court it bounces much higher than a flat should would, and this can be very problematic for some people. Think Rafael Nadal.

Western grips are the easiest to use to apply topspin, but I'm sure Eastern works. Be careful not to get too crazy with the topspin and simply go from low to high. All this will do is put pure topspin on the ball and it will be very weak and slow. A good, reliable topspin forehand should be thought of swinging up and out. Up as in swinging from low to high to create the topspin, and out (from your body) to give the ball speed and power. Both rely on you creating adequate racquet speed. You can swing extremely hard and fast, but if you have plenty of topspin on the ball it will stay in and be a very effective shot.
thanks for your help one thing that really helped with the flat shots is when i get a high ball and i hit it when it's at a high trajectory.

one more question: what about aggressive top spins? how do i execute them and how can i tell the difference whether they're aggressive top spins or simple lobs? i noticed that players like, say, dirtballers tend not to fare as well on faster surfaces (grass ) because the top spin shots they hit resemble a lob, which is why guys who have a flat game are able to finish their returns off relatively easily.

thanks
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-20-2006, 02:10 AM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Tennis is a game of errors not of winners, topspin is the best solution to reducing errors. By using a low to high swing you guarantee hitting the ball over the net, and with the execution of topspin the air pressure pushes the ball back down toward the court, therefore completing the safety factor of the stroke. MARGIN FOR ERROR IS HIGH.

Flat strokes have a low margin for error because gravity is the only force being imparted on the ball toward the court. Therefore if you are losing to beginner players it is due to your lack of consistancy which comes with repitition and high percentage tennis. Think about the court, its longer cross court and lowest in the middle of the net, therefore a greater margin for error, therefore a safer play. You only need to worry about how to flatten out strokes once you are competant at controlling topspin (or slice) strokes.

Increased spin comes with increasing racquet head speed, if you hit it too far then you need to hit less of the ball (ie accelerate upward not forward), don't lose the racquet acceleration because you wont get the spin, if you are dumping too many balls into the net then you need to get a better racquet drop.

but most of all have fun
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-25-2006, 01:21 AM
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Re: Need advice on problems with tennis shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hokit View Post
thanks for your help one thing that really helped with the flat shots is when i get a high ball and i hit it when it's at a high trajectory.

one more question: what about aggressive top spins? how do i execute them and how can i tell the difference whether they're aggressive top spins or simple lobs? i noticed that players like, say, dirtballers tend not to fare as well on faster surfaces (grass ) because the top spin shots they hit resemble a lob, which is why guys who have a flat game are able to finish their returns off relatively easily.

thanks
Aggressive topspin is executed simply by swinging faster from low to high. More racquet speed generates more spin which makes the ball dip heavily over the net and have a larger bounce. They're good when someone is at the net and you can dip the ball at their feet, or when you're going for a short-ball winner you can often really go for the ball, but keep it in nicely because of the extreme spin you are applying for margin for error.

The difference between an aggressively struck groundstroke and a topspin lob is basically just that a lob is going to travel higher over the net. It may or may not travel as quick or with as much topspin as an aggressively topspun groundstroke.

Andreev - Cilic - Dolgopolov - De Bakker - Djokovic - Gulbis - Haase - Hrbaty - J Johansson - Kucera - Kuznetsov - Russell - Simon - Sweeting - Thron

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