Fun match with a buddy on a rainy day, I was up 6-3, 5-1 then we got bumped. We'll look at some of the things I was doing and right and learn from some of the things I was doing wrong. Video below!
Let's start with the good.
1. Served with a plan
Took some off the first serve today to work on placement, so I didn't have many big serves but the good news is I only hit a few second serves the whole match - so the extra first serve percentage felt good. Continued to practice this mental strategy on the serve and I'm loving it.
2. Work their weakness
When I could get a decent inside out cc fh I could dictate the point from there with progressively wider fh's, so I just kept patiently working the opponents weakness on that side. It can be risky stepping around for that first one, but you'll notice the balls coming back on that side had a ton of air on them and time to set up for the next fh, which is why I just kept doing it!
3. Low tension
First time I ran this racket on 40lbs tension from my normal 45 lbs and loved it (Ai98 on TB Soft 17@40lbs). Poly just comes ALIVE at lower tensions and just feels better and better, not to mention the instant free power you get on the serve. Didn't feel like the launch angle was that much of a difference. I did sail a few long but for other reasons (#3 below) we'll talk about next.
1. Sluggish movement and slow racket head speed
Took me a while to get going. Maybe it was the constant rain and weather outside, but I just felt like taking it nice and easy today. If anything, it was a low stress session and sometimes that just feels great. You'll see the footwork starting to progress and more small prep steps about halfway through the match.
The slow racket speed doesn't always mean playing it safe. In fact most of the balls we send long are actually because you DIDN'T take a full stroke on the ball. When you think you're playing it safe and take a half, truncated stroke - you better believe that ball will be sailing long because it doesn't have the finish and spin to suck it back down into the court. Instead of trying to hit it hard, we need to take a full stroke on the ball and watch the spin do its magic.
2. Don't play the middle.
I've been told from higher level players that I hit too much down the middle. It's a bad habit from just wanting to get it in. So I'll be working on recognizing these incoming balls early and picking a more offensive target.
3. Jumping backwards off the open stance forehand
Although you CAN pull this off when taking these deep rally shots because you are far behind the baseline and the ball will probably go back in because of the spin, it's a bad habit that causes other problems. The biggest problem is bad balance and the position it puts you in.
I need to think more forward - forward posture in ready position, weight going forward, more attacking body position, and looking to moving in more forward in general. You can see how a habit of falling back goes against all of these things.
And the biggest problem it presents for me is - falling back opens your chest to the sky, titling your stroke upwards, and causes the ball to launch into outer space.
4. The other issues
He hit a few good winners, but when reviewing them in slow motion I saw the my split step timing off or too early to react to the shot. Poor approach slice decisions, and running into the short balls instead of properly setting up the shot like a real tennis player.
I now have a clear set of things to work on, and we'll include these into the training plan and improve. What are you all working on? Shoot me a message on insta, youtube, or email right here and let me know your thoughts!