One of the best things happened in the past two months was that I found three (and hopefully four) guys who were able to play against me in the mornings. Two of them played definitely much better than me, but I can still manage to put up a fight. The mindset of playing against someone who is better is actually much simpler — just try best to win every single point. I should bring this attitude to all my matches.
My current game plan is to hit as many cross-court hits as possible, though down-to-the-line is so attractive. The latter one is so hard to control that it should be something that I can improve in the future but not right now. My current goals are:
- Decrease the number of unforced errors
- Have more directional control while driving the returns as deep as I can
- Have more consistent servings
- Have fun:)
Lesson with Donny
For both forehand and backhand:
- There are four steps: 1) place the racket (in front of the body) and turn the racket face, 2) prepare the racket and turn the body, 3) build the force while driving the racket from behind the body to the point before acceleration, 4) keep the racket face closed, and accelerate to the hitting point.
- The wrist should be relax from the beginning to the end, and accelerate right below the touching point.
- The drive-through is “hitting and then extending”, not “extending and hitting”. Then, let the force residual finish the rest of the movement.
- For the four steps above, the tempo is not just the fourth step, but for all four steps. My incorrect habit is to start early but stop in the step 2, then I would rush the 3rd step quite often. The correct way is to use prediction and positioning to get to the right place, and wait from the 1st step. It is really important to build the correct tempo from 1 to 4.
- The hardest part to take the four steps into action comes as adjusting the starting point according to different players — some of them have strong spins, while others might hit the ball fast and flat. Well, the timing is a big problem for me anyway. I struggle between under-reach and over-reach all the time
Especially for the backhand:
It is correct to turn the body in the 2nd step. But there is a hip lock in the 3rd step, so that the core is more stable as the wrist pushes force to hit the ball. Then, it is similar to the forehand — drive towards the direction of the destination, and the hip is actually turned by involuntarily followup just as the racket ends up at the upper right as the consequence of the hit-and-drive.
As following the rules above, I’m able to provide more elevation on the returns. The current hardest part is still the control of the tempo — I don’t want to rush it, as well as stuck it in one step longer than the others’.
Thank you, Bob!
Though it might be more beneficial to refine my techniques with Donny, I still miss my former coach:) It is enjoyable to hear the analogy between a tennis match and a chess game.
Maybe it relates with where I was standing, Bob put more emphasis on the general picture as well as foot works of a tennis match. He helped me understand that the tennis is about mental and psychological challenges as well as a physical competition. I appreciate it more as I play more games. It would be nice if I could have another chance to take some lessons from him.