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You Can Grip It
I was taught the continental on a wooden racquet as a kid. I had stayed with it because I was told one can play all strokes with it effectively. Many contend that the continental forehand triggers tennis elbow. One coach suggested I consider shifting to the eastern for forehands, but it felt uncomfortable, so I gave up without giving it a chance. OW suggests not making a major grip change as one could "lose your game" by doing so, but he does recommend subtle adjustments. So, I decided to shift to the eastern on my forehand and adjust my backhand (1 and 2-handed) by letting the racket rotate in my right palm a bit. I have retained the continental for my serve and for volleys. What an improvement! Much more topspin on the forehand and backhand, and no pain in my elbow. As Southerngirl said, proper technique combined with the continental for effective volleys is the key, I think. Here is a good link with photos and descriptions of the different grips:
Although it seemed intimidating at first, adjusting grips was not actually that difficult. Give yourself plenty of practice time to get the feel of it before taking it into a match, then you won't be reluctant to make the adjustment. I also tried going more extreme to the semi western, but that proved too advanced for now. With the serve the pros use the continental, correct? I believe what defines their serve technique most of all is the pronation of the arm at contact (and of course, the trophy position, which most club players do not emulate but probably should).
I just thought of something else. Oscar has a great drill with a slant board for volleys. It is illustrated in his DVDs. Can someone explain it for those who haven't seen them?
I have been looking at the very device you mention. Southerngirl answered perfectly. My philosophy is everything you do in life has an opportunity cost and the same is true in tennis. Different grips evolved as players realized each grip had strengths/weaknesses. When I let each student to feel their own grip for the groundstrokes, I suddenly got a lot of severe westerns where the back of the hand faces the net (knuckles up to the sky). I explained to them that grip would make it difficult to slice the low forehand but I trusted the student to choose their best grip within guidelines.
A 17 year old boy Pat chose the Nadal grip and quickly progressed to 5.0 strokes because no one could handle his spin and power given he attacked every ball with the edge, the strings almost parallel to the ground. He had no tournament experience and quickly found himself going against nationally ranked juniors who knew never to hit to his forehand and if they did, they sliced everything. Same happened my group of freshman "western' girls as they quickly rose to top positions in schools with severe spin and power, but had no real tournament experience. Against more experienced players with lesser groundstrokes, they were getting blown out. I learned using MTM you could make them look like a pro but to win like a pro against seasoned players was a whole different ballgame, but that's another subject.
Oscar then started explaining to me the concept of "dynamic" grips, that pros will hold the racquet very loosely with the fingers spread wide (especially the index finger) so as to make minute adjustments. Pat then started experimenting and came up with a very good slice with his severe western FH by just making minute adjustments. No one dared try to rally with his FH so he got lots of low slice FHs to practice with, lol.
Because OW has never written a lot of books, it's easy even for his proponents like me to have misconceptions, and I read other teachers because it's important that I find visual images to relay to my students, and Oscar leaves it to all other coaches to invent and create ways to teach top players. He claims the real true important fundamentals of the game are the three "find the ball, feel it, and finish the stroke" and claims things like "proper footwork, early preparation, and forward momentum of the racquet and body" hinder development. I notice my development of even advanced players accelerates by building on those three F Fundamentals. The other fundamentals, especially footwork, then fall into place.
You have to be careful when you introduce new ideas. Tennis is still filled with myths such as the idea of teaching students that the sweetspot is the best place to hit the ball. I coach very high level players and even they don't know that their best strokes are hit near the lower part of the strings near the ground, even on the one handed backhand, and they don't even know they are supposed to try to hit nearer the frame nor lead with the edge consciously. I coached a kid who came and spent a summer with me where I was Head Pro: Michael Hui. He was a super athlete who had been raised conventional and was ranked nationally with no open stance FH and hitting his one handed BH by leaning conventionally into every shot. Big game but he looked like the world champion from 1971. A perfect example of how great athletes can play using almost any system. That was the problem: only great or the most determined athletes can master tennis using conventional methodology. Anyway, Michael had hit a ceiling at age 13 and knew it as did his father. Then I asked him to try to hit like the pros and taught him to "wax on" "wax off" and then introduced what is now known as the Nadal FH, and though I told him he would lose for a while to lesser players, that was the opportunity cost. I also told him he would have to find a Wegner coach. They went back to San Fran and I wondered if I had crossed the line. I knew he would struggle changing his game, but I felt he had to do it and he was young enough.
This past summer, Michael Hui wrote me that he was at the Jose Higueras Academy, thanking me because Jose loved his game (and Jose praised Oscar's ideas, too), that he was hitting with top juniors like 15 year old Coco Vandeweghe of San Diego (who also uses the severe Western grip, by the way), just named to the Junior Fed Cup team yesterday, and he now beat players he used to lose to regularly. Michael told me he had gotten a Wegner coach and finally the concept of "waiting" to explode across the ball just clicked and he started rising through the NorthCal rankings and that he will never forget where he learned to really play tennis. My gamble had paid off. That is a case where you have to weigh the risk. Make the changes as soon as possible while they are young. Tennisparent is a smart guy. He tests the data and looks at the results. Also, if your daughters are in SoCal ever, let me know. You never know, even Oscar might like to help them with a lesson or two if he happened to be in the area (hint?). I have a good idea who southerngirl might be and I feel honored she would join our forum.
Now question for Southerngirl. I have a 4 year old boy who appears to be a phenom after three weeks of teaching him. Right now I don't worry about teaching him a continental grip (he can barely grip the raquet and regularly rallies 20 ball rallies from both sides racing back and forth from sideline to sideline. I've only been with him three weeks and even I'm hesitant to teach him the continental because serve is not very important at this age I want him to develop his tricep plus he is so good he wants to serve (another Jan Silva?). Should I just keep him just pushing the ball up and over the net focusing on the hand and the triceps? I would ask Oscar but he's over in England teaching their top juniors for a few weeks. I didn't use to believe in teaching 4 and 5 year olds because when I taught conventionally it just was babysitting and making it "fun" and there was no real 'technique" taught, just letting them smash the ball around in the name of "fun" and of course, 90 percent never played tennis again a few years later after they realized how difficult the game was and they were ruined by footwork. Now, with MTM, almost any age walking can hit a ball over the net by touching the ball and bending the arm over the shoulder even a 3 year old in my experience. I get five years to play like a pro regulary, but 4 year olds is pushing it for me in terms of feeling confident.
Regarding Wegner coaches who have misconceptions, even I misunderstood the windshield wiper and how you use the bicep and generally "find" the ball in front of you or very close to your body when starting to teach MTM. I therefore came up with the "play like you have a glass plate window in front of you, and the idea is as you swing your racket, not to break the glass. Then, as you start attacking the ball, and pulling the edge across from right to left (or left to right), you then push the glass forward from the top (I call it the inverted glass) to an angle more like a car windshield. Then you pull the edge along that plane. Shorten your backswing and simply take the ball on "three" or "two" as Oscar says after the bounce and pull across it with leading with the edge along the now inverted windshield.
I think I could learn a lot from you, Southerngirl, especially if you are who I think you are. Tennisparent, I enjoyed your observations before on the site, and I do think you pointed out how there are a lot of unqualified coaches, even OW coaches, who though they may find great results across a broad range of players like they never did before, still have a lot to learn. That is why I joined this forum. I can teach how to hit a ball exactly like the pros, but I still have a lot to learn and create and invent and steal from other coaches or do whatever it takes for me to be the best tennis coach I can be. What a great job! I make kids smile and I make adults feel like kids. But even better, I make supposed non athletic kids feel like athletes, and I use tennis to teach them that they can dream in life, not only in hitting a shot like a pro but in feeling natural and graceful on the court, owning their athletic potential, not being turned into tennis robots (Sharapova's current problem). I cringe when I watch USPTA clinics where they have everyone like robots "loading and exploding" and doing their footwork patterns perfectly. I know emphasis on the feet takes students out of the zone and into their mind where their tennis suffers. Tennis must be played naturally and instinctually as Agassi, McEnroe, and Sampras all told Yandell in the Myth of the Tennis Tip. That interview alone is worth thousands of dollars in lessons, as I believe Oscar's DVDs are. I'll send the article to anyone if asked
I just have one basic rule in teaching tennis. Don't do anything the pros don't do with Ocham's razor attached as a reminder. I heard from a student who took a lesson from Carlos Rodriguez (Henin's coach) that even he teaches count to five after the bounce and taught the same things MTM did. But if you think a great tennis coach is going to let out his secret to the competition, think again. My agenda is different. I'm not looking for "the next great thoroughbred" to quote Rick Macci. I can teach nearly everyone of any age to Play Like a Pro in form and efficiency of movement. Me, I just want tennis to be simple and fun for everyone and the game to grow. I can't help but feel no one does it better than Oscar in getting people to play their best at lightning speed. But I will learn from many others also, but it's a lot of work to separate the wheat from the chaff. With MTM, it's hard to find anything that doesn't work when UNDERSTOOD properly.
Grip It Good
"I have been looking at the very device you mention." Hey, studentoftennis, are you referring to the slant board volley device or the Power V Grip that tennisparent mentioned? I am interested in hearing more about both of them if anyone cares to explain. Specifically, I have 2 questions about the Power V Grip (I checked out the website as suggested): #1 - how much does it increase the size of the grip (we have another discussioin about grip size and tennis elbow going on in another forum) and #2 - is it to be used temporarily while the student is learning new grip positions then taken off later, or is it a permanent fixture on the racquet? I have never seen anyone with such a device on the grip. Also, has anyone tried out the Babolat Smart Grip - if so, what are your impressions? http://www.babolat.com/english/tenni...gecle=&techno=
Last edited by tennislucy; 09-26-2007 at 08:58 PM.
To all, thanks for your responses. Now, isn't that better? I knew that if both sides toned it down a bit, we could get somewhere.
Southern girl/TennisP-thanks for the advice about my grip. I was avoiding the obvious answer and frankly, it is not that easy trying to make the transition. I was reading on the other board and there are some discussions as to wether the continenetal grip is the only way to go with the way Rafter volleyed cited as an example.
I have heard a lot about the PV Grip, as for the Babolat grip Southern Girl mentioned I have demoed a racquet with this installed and it doesn't do much for me. But for ten bucks I'm going to check out the PV grip for sure. It sounds promising.
You are welcome. I hadn't been in this forum for a long time, just popped in to check things out, I was surprised to see activity here. I can't overemphasize the importance of acquiring proper grips and techniques. There is a fine balance between learning to play by feel and also acquiring technically correct strokes, both are equally important. Case in point, the local OW coaches here that I observe seem to teach the serve only by having kids serve over a fence and by counting to five on the ball toss. Of course the poor kids proceed to do so using forehand grips. This is what happened to my daughter at their camp. The results are that of hundreds of kids that have been through their camps instructed in the OW method, not one has advanced past the B level in my observation. I am sure that there are competent instructors that start by first identifying good grips, ball toss and serve mechanics. I am certain with their great experience, none of studentoftennis or southern girls juniors are instructed without the basics. It is when OW's philosophies are substituted as a shortcut for the basics that bad instruction occurs. I happen to be in your camp as one of those that take a very skeptical but amused look at all of Oscar and his followers claims. As a practical matter however, I think that many of OW concepts if taken with a grain of salt are not harmful as supplemental instruction to those of us who have already acquired the fundamentals. StudentofTennis, I know this is contrary to your assertion that OW method is not compatible with other methods, but it's my observation based on what I have seen in first hand and I hope you respect that opinion. I just came posted after a long hiatus to respond to Cannondale and don't want to get pulled into another fracas. Been there done that. By the way if you are who I think you are hello, and thanks for the neat conversations and tips we exchanged last year. Take it easy.
Originally Posted by Cannondale
Last edited by TennisParent; 09-27-2007 at 12:25 AM.
Hi TennisLucy, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the great response you will get if you pose these questions directly to Ed, the inventor of the PVG through his website. He answers all questions in great detail with much patience. It does increase the grip size, but you can use the same size grip as the PVG locks your hand in a strong, stable position on the handle which you can't do otherwise. Re-Question #2, the device is meant to be used past the training stage. I think you may find that the superior traction and stability provided by the PVG will make it difficult to go back. But I don't see why you could not use the PVG simply as a training tool. All a matter of preference. But then again, there are those who don't like the feel of the grip at all, so to each his own.
Originally Posted by tennislucy
I think anyone intending to develop modern strokes could potentially benefit from the PVG, particularly those who use the stronger under the handle grips of today.
Thanks for the nice complement, studenoftennis. I think formus like this our wonderful opportunties to share ideas and experiences so WE all can learn from each other. I'm always happy to share and express my oppinion.
As far as your 4 year old goes... congrads. Working with this age group (munchkins or little tennis) is one of the most important things tennis pro can do to "grow the game." I agree that most pros spend their time babysitting (playing games) instead of really teaching fundamentals and teaching them how to play tennis. When pros teach kids how to rally, they absolutely love it. Then, you can use different games or activities to supplement their learning. As far as teaching the kid to serve I suggest that you:
1. First teach them how the throw the ball (with their racquet hand) over the net from somewhere in the serves boxes with regular balls. Have him up close enough so he doesn't hurt his arm or shoulder.
2. Then show him how to throw the ball into the proper box how where the kid is standing. Move them from oneside to the other. This teaches the concept of serving and the beginning of how to control their hand to a particular direction.
Both 1 & 2 are helping the kid develop control, feel as well as strength (triceps) and flexiblity. I would intregrate these activities into your lesson as a change of pace when you are done working with groundstrokes (nice mental break).
3.Then shoe the kid how to pronate (don't use the word, way over their heads). Show the kid a "high five" with the palm of the (racquet) hand next to the ear. As the kid reaches towards your hand, leading with the pinky finger first, have the kid then touch you hand flat. Do this until the kid gets it.
4. Then have the kid do the same thing, but this time change where your hand is. Move your hand so the kid has to full pronate (turn their hand completely over.
5. Once the kid has this, I would lift the ball for him/her and have them do this with their hand over the net (have them stand pretty close to the net).
6. Then you can introduce the racquet (by now, enought strength & flexiblity has been accquired that it should be easier to have them in a continental grip). The main thing is you need to consentlly be aware that their arm & grip is lose so their can turn and rotate (not muscle it which it will cause injuries).
There is more info after 6, but I can tell you are an experience coach and I'm sure you can more that handle that from there. I have do my best to keep it simple. Always remember, when deal with kids you need to get into their world or reality. Find out what they like and relate it to that. It makes it more memoriable, fun and easier for them to get the point. Hope this helps.
Power V Grip
using some some popsicle sticks-don't laugh at me-glue and 3 wraps of overgrip I fashioned a makeshift power v grip on one of my spare sticks based on the pictures on the website. I went to hit some balls tonight with a friend and can see the benefit of the concept. It does take some getting used to, but the larger side bevel does help you lock in your grips better as you reported. Particularly, my forehand grip feels much stronger than before. It will take some experimentation, the continental grip feels downright strange right now. I may just order the real thing.
Good Lord you are going to give yourself a blister with those popsicle sticks! One of the benefits of the PVG is the shock absorption properties of the sorbothane material it is made of. Just order it, stop being so cheap. LOL.
Originally Posted by Cannondale
Last edited by TennisParent; 09-28-2007 at 11:52 AM.
To Tennisparent, thanks I will order the grip. I was not being cheap tho, just really curious about the device and wanted to experiment.
To Lucy Listen, we have been terribly uncivil to each other. This is sometimes the nature of the internet unfortunately, who knows if we belonged to the same club or knew each other personally, maybe we would have been friends. I mean what I said to you in the other thread, let's keep the discussions about TENNIS and agree to disagree about the merits of Oscar Wegner. Unlike Tennisparent who has shared to me the terrible details of how he and his kids were treated by Oscar's followers, I don't really have any personal reason to dislike OW method, I joined these forums to read about tennis and am an avid student of the modern game, I am not a USPTA pro who is threatened by Oscar by the way, just someone who loves the game. When people just sign on to post spamlike on this forum, it's darn irritating and frankly just struck a nerve. Frankly, some of the posters are just plain suspicious, almost like planted advertising-not you of course, you have posted multiple times and have something to say. The positive comments on Amazon you quote have the same flavor, just like people who post on Amazon who praise L Ron Hubbard's work. Nobody who is here to learn is helped by Oscar's axe to grind against the USPTA and what he believes is the tennis establishment. Doesn't matter to most folks. Nobody is helped by the way he sets up a strawman of conventional/everyone else/bad teaching vs. the Wegner/Good method. I know I am not alone on this. It seems that Oscar wegner either inspires love and devotion or for those of us who don't care for his marketing methods, intense dislike. I mean, go over to the wherehouse message boards and do a search on Wegner---whew. Makes our little spat seem like a lovefest. This is why I much prefer to learn from the work of folks like John Yandell, Dave Smith or Jeff Counts who just present their case as is instruct, and don't feel the need to thump their breasts and toot their horns excessively. Their instruction stands on it's own merits. Sincerely, I really think there is something for you guys to learn on this.
Racquet Tech Info
Here's a very interesting site about tennis racquet specs, how to choose a racquet, tennis elbow, etc.:
Lucy Thank you for the site. Very informative, I have suffered from TE in the past and have found ProKennex racquets in general as well as nice soft synthetic string to be really beneficial. I have noticed that some of the guys at the club who are using the modern kevlar type strings like Luxilon BB in conjunction with certain racquets seem to suffer from TE.
I did a ton of research (including www.racquetresearch) before I bought a ProKennex 7g, and I can say after using this racquet 4 to 5 times a week since mid-July, it does exactly what ProKennex advertises. Even on badly framed shots, shots that my old racquet would have really rattled my arm, I hardly feel the vibration. It still has a little more power than I need, but I have since gone to a full Western grip and now shots that used to barely go out are going in with tons of topspin.
The Western grip is not as comfortable as the SemiWestern that I was using, but it is more effective for me. I originally learned using the Eastern.
I am still trying to transistion from my classic style to MTM, and as long as I "find, feel, finish" AND keep my head down and eyes on the ball, I have really improved. I have to force myself not look up until the racquet finishes over my shoulder (depending on the ball location).
Sorry about taking over this thread.
I have already made some points about OW's advice about tennis elbow on other threads, so now I'd like to concentrate on the "racquet research" site info.
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