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  1. #1
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    How to swap Power for Technique

    Patience is a virtue. Tennis truly demonstrates this. To work the point to one's advantage, takes {among other things} skill, creativity, and most importantly patience. This is why we like to play tennis. Leave out any one of those at the profressional level, and tennis would go the way of myspace.

    The whole reason for this post is more related to the title, but I felt that was a good prolougue. Recently, I've been trying to use less effort (and even reduce the power) with all of my strokes. The reason for this: It is very difficult to self-study technique and to adjust to the proper technique while playing full pelt. I've found it somewhat 'easy' to take a little off groundstrokes and volleys, but the serve is another story. I'm so trained to explode up into the ball while serving that any adjustment to my current techinque wreaks havoc entirely.

    Now I have been able to slow it down a little. Some things I made sure to do was to bring the racquet up with the toss, so I'm not forced to catch up with the toss. This is the "down together, up together" rule. Another practice is to not serve until you have completely prepared. In other words, don't just toss the ball and swing without a purpose. If you do, that is an easy way to lose all the progress you have made. Any other tips, ideas, or thoughts related to this topic would be helpful.

    In closing, ultimately, nobody wants to permanently trade power for technique. What we really are looking for is more consistency, purpose, and power from technique.

  2. #2
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    I recently have been concentrating on serve technique over power, mainly because it's darn cold in MI and I don't have anyone to play. I worked on the down together, up together thing and I really slowed down my ball toss and concentrated on getting it in the same place as much as possible. For some reason I used to toss it really fast, and it's just not conducive to hitting a consistent serve.

  3. #3
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    The down-up together method works well if done correctly. Make sure that your racquet hand is near your ear on the up portion of the exercise. When throwing a football or baseball, players with good technique throw from the ear area. Same with the racquet. Throw the racquet at the ball and vary your spins by the way you meet the ball and your grip on the racquet. Keeping your hand near your ear until you explode into the ball will keep your arm in a consistent spot and give you a good reference point when you feel like your swing is getting away from you. (I am not saying touch your ear either, just find a comfortable spot in that area that feels good to you when you get to the up spot before the explosion upward into the ball.) Watch Ivan Lendl, Jay Berger, Goran Ivanisevic, or Boris Becker hit their serves. Their racquet hand settles for just an instant near their head/ear before they explode into the ball.
    Toss the ball only with the shoulder and use a straight arm. No elbow, no fingertips, nothing. Try to knuckleball the toss up and use only your shoulder to do it.......
    Last edited by tennisking1; 11-30-2009 at 11:04 PM.

  4. #4
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    ..er, isn't down together, up together basic 3.0 stuff for serves?
    And I can hit 100 mph flat serves alternating with 60 mph flat serves. Takes different timing, that's all.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeD View Post
    ..er, isn't down together, up together basic 3.0 stuff for serves?
    And I can hit 100 mph flat serves alternating with 60 mph flat serves. Takes different timing, that's all.
    It is, but that is where most players (including the better ones) go awry. They develop hitches and bad timing just like amateurs. I have watched Nick Bollettieri take numerous pros back to the very basics when they have issues with a stroke. I have no problem cranking 120+ mph "flat" first serves, but the reason I can do that at 37 years of age is because of good technique. To be honest, had I had someone like Nick keeping my technique sound while I was on tour, I probably would have made a lot more money and played longer than 3 years. Even as a 6.0 (Open) player, I still revert back to these basic things to work on my game.

  6. #6
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    I've recently been trying to fix my technique. I used to go to an "Academy", where the coach messed up technique, so it's been really hard for me to go back. I'm working on my footwork and everything, but i was just wondering.
    Is the best way for me to relearn a stroke is to have some1 feed me balls constantly until I hit it perfectly, then go to consistency, then try to kill the ball> ball machine?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeD View Post
    ..er, isn't down together, up together basic 3.0 stuff for serves?
    And I can hit 100 mph flat serves alternating with 60 mph flat serves. Takes different timing, that's all.
    By different timing, does that mean you are not employing the down together, up together for certain serves? I find that by using the exact same technique, my ball toss seems to fall right into the sweet-spot of my racquet.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tennisking1 View Post
    I have no problem cranking 120+ mph "flat" first serves, but the reason I can do that at 37 years of age is because of good technique.
    I thought the serve was one of those things that got better to a certain older age. I've played with a man almost aged 60 years who smacks aces as much as any 4.0 dude in their 20s.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lawn Tennis View Post
    By different timing, does that mean you are not employing the down together, up together for certain serves? I find that by using the exact same technique, my ball toss seems to fall right into the sweet-spot of my racquet.
    Keep doing what you are doing. The only way to get good at it is to be repetitive and keep your form good. You will develop your own look and style with your service motion eventually, but at first, it is best to do the basics right the first time. Look at what Alabama just did to Florida in the SEC game. Nick Saban knows about the basics and his players are taught them correctly from the very beginning. They don't beat themselves. Strong basics do that for you. Down together, up together is just a solid timing drill that will let you develop a consistent motion and thus a consistent serve. It will help you when you are having an off day. It also helps you to have less bad days and many more good days. Don't be too robotic with it though. Try little things to improve power and spin, but do it with some measure of control.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tennisking1 View Post
    Keep doing what you are doing. The only way to get good at it is to be repetitive and keep your form good. You will develop your own look and style with your service motion eventually, but at first, it is best to do the basics right the first time. Look at what Alabama just did to Florida in the SEC game. Nick Saban knows about the basics and his players are taught them correctly from the very beginning. They don't beat themselves. Strong basics do that for you. Down together, up together is just a solid timing drill that will let you develop a consistent motion and thus a consistent serve. It will help you when you are having an off day. It also helps you to have less bad days and many more good days. Don't be too robotic with it though. Try little things to improve power and spin, but do it with some measure of control.
    Thanks for the reply TK. You are so right. Repetitive practice, while sometimes boring, pays big dividends. Ya know what pro's first serve I try to imitate? Roger Federer's. He doens't really serve much faster than average, but his placement and variety are impeccable. On rare occasion, will his serve let him down (like the US Open '09 final). Of course, my motion is different as everybody's is, but it's actually pretty close for my skill level especially. Did you ever try to imitate someone's serve?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lawn Tennis View Post
    Thanks for the reply TK. You are so right. Repetitive practice, while sometimes boring, pays big dividends. Ya know what pro's first serve I try to imitate? Roger Federer's. He doens't really serve much faster than average, but his placement and variety are impeccable. On rare occasion, will his serve let him down (like the US Open '09 final). Of course, my motion is different as everybody's is, but it's actually pretty close for my skill level especially. Did you ever try to imitate someone's serve?
    At first, Lendl. Then I really took a liking to Thomas Muster and I replicated a lot of his game. The guy was an animal on any surface, but his knee injury limited his ability to play on hard courts and indoor surfaces. He did play them though and did quite well. Before his knee injury, he made it to the final of the Lipton Player's Championships (it was the biggest tournament outside of the Grand Slams at the time) and Halle indoors as well as some other indoor tournaments. I use a lot of movement and heavy spin on my serve and rarely hit the crusher. I find that when I hit the serve with a variety of spin and good placement, my recovery is better as the ball hasn't come back so quickly, and I also usually get a pretty weak response. However, when there is someone who can crack the ball consistently at 130 mph, and keep it in, they are tough to beat. But I usually have no problem blocking those huge serves back. The players who repeatedly practice good form, know what to do when they have a bad day. They are so used to doing it, it becomes second nature and when the bad day comes, they usually know where the problem is. If you had ten different motions for one shot, would you really know what to choose to do when you had a bad day with your motion and timing?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by tennisking1 View Post
    At first, Lendl. Then I really took a liking to Thomas Muster and I replicated a lot of his game. The guy was an animal on any surface, but his knee injury limited his ability to play on hard courts and indoor surfaces. He did play them though and did quite well. Before his knee injury, he made it to the final of the Lipton Player's Championships (it was the biggest tournament outside of the Grand Slams at the time) and Halle indoors as well as some other indoor tournaments. I use a lot of movement and heavy spin on my serve and rarely hit the crusher. I find that when I hit the serve with a variety of spin and good placement, my recovery is better as the ball hasn't come back so quickly, and I also usually get a pretty weak response. However, when there is someone who can crack the ball consistently at 130 mph, and keep it in, they are tough to beat. But I usually have no problem blocking those huge serves back. The players who repeatedly practice good form, know what to do when they have a bad day. They are so used to doing it, it becomes second nature and when the bad day comes, they usually know where the problem is. If you had ten different motions for one shot, would you really know what to choose to do when you had a bad day with your motion and timing?
    I had to google Muster. Ivan Lendl is awesome.

    I'm going to guess that the only time you would crush a serve would be when you had a good grip on the match... if not, when?

  13. #13
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    Remember too, that consistency breeds confidence. And, confidence often breeds "confident power"...that is, as one gains more control of their stroke and hence shots, they naturally (almost), progress to hitting the same shots harder. This must be understood that it is a dichotmy of sorts in that, if one trys to hit too hard, their stroke usually changes and mistakes then occur. This breeds the opposite of confidence!

    When players work on effective form first, effective power usually follows. However, I've seen where many players, because of their personality, simply choose to remain consistent and not add more power. This is fine too. There are many players who place balls so well and get so many balls back that they are effective without power. Obviously, however, the ultimate effect is consistency with power when power is the optimal shot. There are more cases where finesse or angles, or slices pay off. Thus, the optimal player has all effects at their disposal.
    Dave Smith
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10s1 View Post
    Remember too, that consistency breeds confidence. And, confidence often breeds "confident power"...that is, as one gains more control of their stroke and hence shots, they naturally (almost), progress to hitting the same shots harder. This must be understood that it is a dichotmy of sorts in that, if one trys to hit too hard, their stroke usually changes and mistakes then occur. This breeds the opposite of confidence!

    When players work on effective form first, effective power usually follows. However, I've seen where many players, because of their personality, simply choose to remain consistent and not add more power. This is fine too. There are many players who place balls so well and get so many balls back that they are effective without power. Obviously, however, the ultimate effect is consistency with power when power is the optimal shot. There are more cases where finesse or angles, or slices pay off. Thus, the optimal player has all effects at their disposal.
    I couldn't say it better myself. With good form and making sure you use it even in the most stressful and pressured situations, you will see tremendous gains in both consistency and power. It takes some time. I also say this. when you play tennis, rally WITH your opponent. When you get into higher levels of tennis, you will not be able to just knock someone off of the court. It will take patience and you should learn to "love the battle". When I was a junior, I could hit many players off of the court with no problem. When I got into professional tennis, that became a thing of the past. I had to learn to work points more and be prepared to hit one more ball. Think consistency first and power second. The power will come with practice. However, do not sacrifice your technique to get it. Rather, strengthen you legs, torso, and upperbody. Breathe out when hitting. Practice accelerating the racquet through the contact point and put your hips and shoulders into it.

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