Thursday, May 29, 2008

2nd serves?

As most of you know, my service is not my forte. In fact that was something my coach never really showed me how to do when I was a kid growing up. My 1st serve is a flat banger, I basically go for broke with power and I can usually land it about 40% of the time with that mentality. I have no 2nd serve and i'm embarrased to even call "it" a serve; I would refer to as a "Dink" serve. I know I should have a kick serve as a 2nd serve, but saying is easier than doing. I've been spending about an hour a day for a couple weeks working on it and thanks to Fuzzy Yellow Balls and some related threads on this forum, I'm starting to get the hang of it. I can land it in about 60-70% of the time now. It not great but its a start. My question is at what point do I begin to incorporate it as my 2nd serve. Crunching some numbers, at this current point with:

a 40% 1st serve and a 60% (worst case scenario) 2nd serve, I would be double faulting 24% of the time.

Assuming with due diligence I can get my 1st serve to about 50% and my kick serve into the 70% range that would yield only a 15% double fault %

...or should I wait until I hit a 60% 1st serve and a 80% 2nd serve for an 8% double fault %?

At what point should I be moving toward the kick serve as a 2nd serve? I understand most people will spout off things like "till your 2nd serve is 100%" or something but I'm a tad more realistic. I mean assuming I serving 5 times in a game (6-4 or 4-6) and each game has a mean of 7 points per game for a total of 35 serves in a set. with a:

double faulting 15%, I'd DF ~ 5 times in a set
double faulting 8%, I'd DF ~ 3 times in a set

The thought analysis is that if i'm serving 35 times in a set, should i give up 5 or 3 points automatically in order to have a better chance at winning the other 30-32 other serves (ie: not get crushed by throwing up a dink)?

Actually in the mean time I've toyed with the idea to do an underhanded topspin 2nd serve. I actually started doing these after seeing HR Kid's video of his drop ball forehands in his basement and I started doing the same on the courts to practice hitting against shots with no pace (which i sometimes have trouble with). I think that it would be a good replacement to my dink serve so my opponents don't crowd the service line and kill me on my 2nd serve.

These are just some thoughts and numbers I've crunched in my head since I get bored at work. Any comments and thoughts would be awesome. Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

5/13/08 Post Match Thoughts

Today was really tough to swallow. I showed up early to my match, got into a good groove with my serve. Made sure my FH slice was still timed ok, bc my opponent had a big serve. During our prematch rallies, I was hitting on fire. Everything was going in, where I wanted it to go, and which great spin and power. We proceed to the match and naturally I lose the 1st point (he serves 1st). Somewhere between all this my opponent remembers I can't shots with no pace and starts to slow play every ball. I'm over hitting, hitting into the net, its horrible. I lose my cool and my serve starts to be affected. I'm hitting double 1st serves to shut him up and force him to play but all that gets me is double faults. I fall behind, try too hard to come back by playing harder not smarter and continue to lose. I go on to lose the match 6 - 3.

Big lesson learned today. I've always had trouble controlling my emotions specifically my temper but today was ridiculous. I'm a mentally weak player which explains why I lose to people with inferior groundstrokes. I'm spending most of the day tomorrow analyzing my groundstrokes and what works for me. Pre-match I'm going to hit some drop shots and make sure I know what to do to hit those junk balls. I'm going to be hitting and placing my 70% power shots and only open up when I've given an opening. I also need to work on preventing my opponent from seeing my 2nd serve. I need to go into the match with no pressure and come out with a win.

My good friend David made some great comments on my game I will carry to tomorrow's match. My forehand set up is way late. In a lot of my videos I'm scooping low too much bc I'm not setting up early enough. I've also started rotation too much into my forehand instead of stepping in. Especially on those stupid junk balls, I need to drive my hips to supply my own power.

Something I read about serving caught my eye. I of course after making contact with the ball, my eyes follow the ball to the net and hopefully to the other side of the court. I read that I should continue to look up and at the blur of my racquet. Tilting your head down will break your shoulder rotation and cause the ball to go into the net. I'm going to try this next time. I'm aiming for a 50% 1st serve percentage. Also I need to analyze my opponent and formulate a strategy and stick to it. Don't let him take my head out of the game.

Well tomorrow, my opponent will most likely just tap the ball back and hope for me to make errors. Like most, his weakness is his backhand. I'm going to hammer his backhand. Only if he gives me the opening, will I open up and hit my deep topspin crosscourt forehand. He also has a tendency to stand in front of the baseline. I'll start off hitting low power, but if I see him come out of the baseline I will hit a penetrating deep shot. If things get desperate, instead of turning up the juice, I will chip and charge or serve and volley. I'm going to deliberately try to shorten the court and make him beat me with a passing shot. Tomorrow is redemption day... I will win...

5/10/08 Match Play

You know I'm pretty happy with the result. I've gotten the hang of my new racquet the Babolat Aeropro Drive. Started off slow which is my trademark but the next 4 straight points showcased alot of the finer points I've been working on. Despite the tired legs from Ultimate Frisbee in the morning, I had decent hustle in chasing down my some shots. The biggest improvement has to be my ability to hit that forehand slice. My reaction time is atrocious and when Luis can actually hit that 1st serve, I'm slow to react. I've never been able to hit a forehand slice, or any approach shot on my forehand side so that was a great improvement for me. When necessary I was able to hit DTL or cross court, but I was really more interest in keeping the ball in play so I could prolong the in game rallies. My 1st serve was better than on most days (even had a couple aces) but my 2nd serve is a joke. I'm putting learning the kick serve on hold until I can develop a decent 95% 2nd serve where my opponent isn't standing on the service line.

The biggest glaring weakness, which is where Luis started coming back was hitting shots with no pace. I'm overhitting, or overspinning. This has always been a big problem for me.

Some 1st serves actually got in!
+ Only 1 double fault!
- 2nd serve is a joke
- Need to still improve consistency on 1st serve.

Good power, good control when employed
+ Consistent, not too many unforced errors after the 1st set (other than on junk balls)
+ Forehand slice was hit!

It didn't unravel my game
+ Slice was very consistent
- No Backhand winners, need to rely on 2 hander not slice
- Not much directional control

+ Able to hustle when needed
- Lazy, didn't get back to center, didn't have mental focus
- no lateral steps, all running, if he double backed me, i would of been stuck

4/13/08 Groundstrokes vs Ball Machine

I'm pretty happy with the level of play today, but then again with 5 hours on the ball machine, I better have developed some consistency. A good mix of running shots and just tweaking my groundstrokes here. I feel I have good contact and transfer of energy on my power shots and I'm getting the hang of my directional control. My slice is becoming more reliable which is a big bonus for me. Footwork was off and on... I was happy with my speed but I noticed that I totally didn't employ a split step like I usually do. Too much stuff to remember.

Good shoulder and hip rotation
+ Excellent power and contact in front of the bod
+ Consistency and ability to hit a softer shot is also coming along
- Low balls, still not bending at the knees
- On a couple Kill shots, getting lazy and swinging with reckless abandon

Consistency is developing
+ Backhand slice is now a legitimate shot to employ especially when out of position
- Off and On with starting racquet head low
- Must elongate stroke, still to short of a motion

+ Light on feet, good foot speed
- No split step
- As fatigue creeps up, losing mental focus

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

4/2/08 Groundstrokes and Rallies

I'm clearly developing my forehand into being more consistent, well at least when it warms up. I think this has to do with the fact that I'm now able to slow down my stroke and hit at a slower pace. Since I took a about 4 years off, I have muscle memory of how to hit a hard forehand, but the slower ones well... yeah. I know its weird. What worries me most is how my backhand has deteriorated. I'm learning to hit a slice on my backhand side for running shot purposes. I'm getting the hang of directing my forehands at least, they go left and right when I want, but not necessarily in bounds. My footwork is also coming along ok, much lighter on my feet, but I need more bending at the knees to set up my shots.

consistency is getting there
+ able to hit the ball with less pace.
+ able to hit high and low balls finally
- midcourt forehand needs work, FH slice maybe, but windshield shot needs improving
- running forehand needs work
- low balls go over, but lack knee bend
- directional control, yes; directional control with ball being in, no

trying to slice, don't know if i have any positives here
- consistency is deteriorating
- must remember to dip racquet head down on set up.
- starting to slice more instead of using the 2 hander, since i don't rush the net this is not a good idea

light on the feet, able to get to the ball
- being still lazy and not moving back to center after hitting the ball
- should work on longer strides to get to the ball, short steps only when setting up
- need work on reaction time after ball is hit, not waiting for it to bounce to make a move

Monday, May 12, 2008

3/26/08 Groundstrokes

Ok the big thing about this vid is that if you noticed, my swing speed has decreased, but my ball velocity remains the same if not faster. I'm making more solid contact with the ball. The footwork is getting there, but still needs work. You can really see my weight transfer from the back foot to the front foot clearly. I threw in a few 1 handed backhands for fun to mixed results. Still need to dip the racquet head down and swing through on those 2 handed backhands.

+ They look much better, more complete. Consistency is much better.
- Footwork on low balls could use more leg bend. Directional control will be my next big focus.

If in a pinch or in the need of a reach the 1 hander can be deployed. The slice is becoming a rock in terms of consistency for me now
- My 2 handed backhand needs overhauling. No spin, bad form, just needs retooling.

Much more lively on my feet.
- Ready position needs to be more bent, a little too jumpy at times

3/19/08 Groundstrokes vs Wall

Ok so the biggest thing I've been working on is working on my contact point. I'm pretty happy with where I'm making contact with the ball now, but I'm still in need to work on loading power in my legs. The wall is a good yet difficult learning tool. It acts like an unbeatable opponent at the net. so yes every ball comes back, but your reaction time is halved. My footwork is atrocious but so long as there is improvement, I am happy.

Things to work on:
- Reaction time
- power loading in the legs
- smoother stroke
- footwork!

3/12/08 groundstrokes

Ok this in these vids i'm just banging away while being fed. Things I learned from watching myself:
- not extending the left arm for aiming purpose
- this results in hitting the ball at my body instead of by my lead foot
- too much jumping, i'm not using my legs to load up power, its all arm
- my racquet speed is way fast, but i need a smooth transition to use it appropriately
- my backhand motion is excessively short and flat, i need to drop my racquet head down and develop a full stroke

A lot of work ahead of me but it'll be fun...

Back in the swing of things

Ok well the tennis bug has bitten me again and I'm determined to increase my level of play to the point where I can dominate matches. I've always been a fairly good rallying partner but have stunk at match play. I'll be chronicling my exploits into tennis with vids and drills I'm working on. If you got comments, they're greatly appreciated!