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Marginal Gains: Are You a Right Side or Left Side Player?

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  • Marginal Gains: Are You a Right Side or Left Side Player?

    Let's discuss Nick Wheatley's article, "Marginal Gains: Are You a Right Side or Left Side Player?"

  • johnyandell
    replied
    A winning plan

    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    Great thread, great comments. I like the 'acting out' concept. I coached a very good junior a long time ago who had a passive mentally on court. The LTA took snapped him up and placed him on in what was then called the Rover Tennis Initiative, where he played full time at Cambridge. There was a 3 month changeover period where I continued to work with my player but would also ferry him up to Cambridge for the LTA's input. One of the things we worked on during that time was his passive mentality. We decided to counter it by videoing the player during matches while trying to get him to adopt a more 'warrior' type body language, with the theory being "I act the part therefore I become the part''. Rather like method acting...Brando style! It worked pretty well over a period of time, especially since we could use before and after video clips to show the differences. But you can do these things to great effect once you have a player training 20 hours a week, more difficult with players you see only frequently.

    Me, I like to rally deep cross court on my backhand, wait for a shorter one, then knife a sliced backhand down the line, leave a tiny carrot for the opponent to hit his forehand cross court, then punch a forehand volley (my favourite shot) away into the open court for a winner. How's that for a plan?

    Leave a comment:


  • nickw
    replied
    Originally posted by ten1050 View Post
    Hello Nick,
    Your observation that a tournament player can imagine himself as an actor performing a role is quite intriguing. Children are especially good at imitating their favorite players. And I have noticed that a number of the top players enjoy imitating each other. I have seen Federer imitate Wawrinka's serve perfectly. Do you believe it might be helpful for an introverted player to play a more risk taking style on occasion. That would take some real acting. It is true that many professional actors love playing tennis. Perhaps tournament tennis players should try and embrace acting.

    Norman Ashbrooke
    Thanks for your comments Norman. I often get my juniors to act out many things on the court, be it styles of play (aggressive player, counter-puncher), emotions (fired up, angry, very calm), and then they compare the roles to what they normally do, and think about how they can add to their on-court personality in a positive way. Certainly, an introverted player can be encouraged to act out an aggressive risk-taking player, and then they experience it, and can better judge if they would like to adopt changes towards taking more risks. It's a tough transition, and even the most well-intentioned plans can easily see the player revert to type when they next play a real match!

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by ten1050 View Post
    Hello Nick,
    Your observation that a tournament player can imagine himself as an actor performing a role is quite intriguing. Children are especially good at imitating their favorite players. And I have noticed that a number of the top players enjoy imitating each other. I have seen Federer imitate Wawrinka's serve perfectly. Do you believe it might be helpful for an introverted player to play a more risk taking style on occasion. That would take some real acting. It is true that many professional actors love playing tennis. Perhaps tournament tennis players should try and embrace acting.

    Norman Ashbrooke
    I like the idea of acting! Take on a new role and try something out of character. Then, I wonder if somehow we add to ourselves in some way.

    Leave a comment:


  • ten1050
    replied
    Hello Nick,
    Your observation that a tournament player can imagine himself as an actor performing a role is quite intriguing. Children are especially good at imitating their favorite players. And I have noticed that a number of the top players enjoy imitating each other. I have seen Federer imitate Wawrinka's serve perfectly. Do you believe it might be helpful for an introverted player to play a more risk taking style on occasion. That would take some real acting. It is true that many professional actors love playing tennis. Perhaps tournament tennis players should try and embrace acting.

    Norman Ashbrooke

    Leave a comment:


  • nytennisaddict
    replied
    Originally posted by arturohernandez View Post

    It's funny that we all experience this at some point. We have a way we like to play but if people catch on or we run into someone who neutralizes this style then it becomes a grind fest. So we adapt. Then the adaptation at some point can become our preferred way to play.

    At some point it is like the secondary patterns become primary. And the primary patterns are saved for important parts of the match or as the finishing shot in a sequence.

    Tennis is really like chess!
    exactly!
    i've had many conversations with folks where i mentioned that every hitting session has a purpose (ie. something specific i'm focusing on)... even every match (against folks even with me), i'll change playing styles (ie. aggressive baseliner, s&v'er, c&c'er, dink&lobber, etc....)... ie. i don't always play every practice match solely to win... while i want to win, and try to win, i try to evolve secondary and tertiary patterns of play... specifically for when i run into players where my primary pattern of play is just not effective.
    Last edited by nytennisaddict; 01-11-2020, 12:03 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by nytennisaddict View Post
    interesting article, thx.
    something i've learned about in my own game is that i'm very left sided (although before the article, i didn't label it that way).... my favorite shots:
    * fh io
    * fh dtl
    * bh cc
    problem is that my regular opponents mostly know that... or if i run into someone bettter at those particular shots, i have to fall back to a secondary... to that end, i've been focusing on
    * fh cc - this has really been helpful prevent folks from just camping on the ad side... i've never had a great cc fh (ie. that lands deep and penetrates)
    * fh ii - this prevents folks from just running to the ad side when they give me a short ball... again, my fh-ii never felt comfortable, and often drifted wide
    * bh dtl - mainly as a change of direction when the bh cc is getting too comfortable for my opponent... throwing in a bh dtl (slice short, moonball deep, hard drive) can change the momentum of a match to my favor, particular when it's becoming a bh cc grind.
    It's funny that we all experience this at some point. We have a way we like to play but if people catch on or we run into someone who neutralizes this style then it becomes a grind fest. So we adapt. Then the adaptation at some point can become our preferred way to play.

    At some point it is like the secondary patterns become primary. And the primary patterns are saved for important parts of the match or as the finishing shot in a sequence.

    Tennis is really like chess!

    Leave a comment:


  • nytennisaddict
    replied
    interesting article, thx.
    something i've learned about in my own game is that i'm very left sided (although before the article, i didn't label it that way).... my favorite shots:
    * fh io
    * fh dtl
    * bh cc
    problem is that my regular opponents mostly know that... or if i run into someone bettter at those particular shots, i have to fall back to a secondary... to that end, i've been focusing on
    * fh cc - this has really been helpful prevent folks from just camping on the ad side... i've never had a great cc fh (ie. that lands deep and penetrates)
    * fh ii - this prevents folks from just running to the ad side when they give me a short ball... again, my fh-ii never felt comfortable, and often drifted wide
    * bh dtl - mainly as a change of direction when the bh cc is getting too comfortable for my opponent... throwing in a bh dtl (slice short, moonball deep, hard drive) can change the momentum of a match to my favor, particular when it's becoming a bh cc grind.

    Leave a comment:


  • nickw
    replied
    Originally posted by arturohernandez View Post

    Do you ever find that there is some hidden part of a person that comes out in their game? And that hidden part might actually be a little different than what they are like off the court? Kind of like Federer who is very gregarious. But on the court he almost changes. Maybe with him he had to learn to be less risky and flashy. He also had to learn to control his temper.

    Then there is the Spanish idea of suffering. Being uncomfortable is not bad, it is part of the growth process. My family is Catholic so maybe this is something we kind of believe.

    In any case, thanks for the series and I would definitely enjoy your thoughts on the idea of getting people to push themselves in a direction that is not as natural to them. Also, on the idea that parts of them might appear in their game on the court that go counter to who we think they are.
    More good discussion topics for sure!

    You're definitely right that you can often see a different version of someone, that only appears when they are a tennis player (ie on court competing). Personally, I think this it is less about a hidden part of them coming out, and more about them consciously taking on a different persona in order to acheive what will serve them best on the court. This is much the same as an actor playing a role that is different to who they are, and I often encourage players to adopt attitudes that don't come naturally, by looking at is as acting. You can often see players almost morph into their match personalities when you see pre-match footage in the tunnels ect, Nadal a classic example as he prepares to 'suffer'. Though some players don't seem to do it, and often pay the price when negative habits come out and hinder them during the match.

    When pushing someone to do something that doesn't come naturally, I would ask the question of whether it is necessary to suceed.

    A few examples - To suceed:

    Do I need to keep better control of my emotions? YES (Federer from old days)
    Do I need to fist-pump after winning points? NO (I call such players 'quietly confident')
    Do I need to be an agressive risk-taking player? NO (I can suceed by being an excellent counter-puncher)
    Do I need to discipline myself to arrive early to training, and prepare properly on matchdays? YES

    Obviously, some people's opinions may differ on the YES/NO answers, but I'd just say ask the question, and think carefully to get the answer that is true to your philosophies. It's very difficult encouraging players to do things that don't come naturally to them, so best to limit this to things that are truly essential for on-court success.

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by J011yroger View Post
    FWIW Nadal says he hits the ball a ton in practice and everyone says he should play bigger in matches but he says he goes more conservative because he is nervous.

    J
    I read something similar for Andy Murray and maybe for all players. Even at the top of the game, players hold back in matches compared to practice.

    The interesting thing is that when Nadal does attack the net, he seems to relish it. He may be nervous but he can be very aggressive and attack if the ball is short.

    I guess its all relative.

    Leave a comment:


  • J011yroger
    replied
    FWIW Nadal says he hits the ball a ton in practice and everyone says he should play bigger in matches but he says he goes more conservative because he is nervous.

    J

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by nickw View Post
    Thanks for the post, don't mind long ones! The main question you have is indeed very clear, and well worth discussing.

    Thirdly, it does very much depend on the player as an individual. An aggresive player may be better suited to going after riskier shots more often if they feel confident to do so. Our different personalities can often be a very big influence, and how we play tennis is often an expression of our personality. An extrovert will more likely be drawn to a higher-risk game-style (Kyrgios is a classic example!), whilst an introvert may well have the most success by getting really good at playing the percentages, and sticking to that 80-90% of the time. What I've certainly learned over the years, is working with what players feel most comfortable and happy with, always has the best results, even if as a coach you may not feel it makes the most sense.

    I think the series will address this question further as it develops, when we look at managing risk, and adjusting to what your opponents style of play is. The next article, working out your own game-style, will also slot in another piece of the puzzle, and may make it easier to decide how best to get the right balance.
    Thanks for the long response. I really look forward to the rest of the series. I really like your discussion about developing shots that might be a bit risky with the idea that they will catch the opponent by surprise. And that surprise might tip the match in one's favor. Even one shot can then make the opponent think or lead to a couple of other points where the opponent hesitates.

    I think tracking her matches is starting to make sense at this point. There is a lot going on and it is hard to keep track of what adjustments can be made. In terms of personality, my daughter is definitely on the risk averse side. She is not super aggressive and HATES to miss. One time she watched Thiem miss a shot on TV and said it hurt to see him miss.

    That being said, she actually likes coming to the net and has very good volleys. This is helped by a one handed backhand topspin shot. She decided on her own to hit it at 11 and it has paid off in terms of her volleys. Her private coach asked her how her volleys were and she stated that they were okay. Then he asked to see them and said they were very good. He says she should come in at least once a game.

    Why is her volley okay in her mind? Because she gets lobbed or passed a lot when she comes in. Her overhead is improving but the anticipation needed to cover the court is not quite there at 14.

    She tends to be on the quiet side even though she is definitely not an introvert. She gets along very well with people and is usually the only one to organize get togethers in her group.

    Sometimes I feel that tennis is a way to develop other parts of us that can help in life. In the case of my daughter we have been trying to get her to be a bit more expressive. I have even told her to let out a few "come ons" when she plays. And when she does, she plays much better.

    Nadal is extremely risk averse. But he seems to relish coming to the net. His overheads are bombs. He never holds back. And his backhand overhead is world class. To me, he is at his best when he is being aggressive. But my sense is that this had to be developed and dragged out of him in some way.

    Do you ever find that there is some hidden part of a person that comes out in their game? And that hidden part might actually be a little different than what they are like off the court? Kind of like Federer who is very gregarious. But on the court he almost changes. Maybe with him he had to learn to be less risky and flashy. He also had to learn to control his temper.

    Then there is the Spanish idea of suffering. Being uncomfortable is not bad, it is part of the growth process. My family is Catholic so maybe this is something we kind of believe.

    In any case, thanks for the series and I would definitely enjoy your thoughts on the idea of getting people to push themselves in a direction that is not as natural to them. Also, on the idea that parts of them might appear in their game on the court that go counter to who we think they are.

    Leave a comment:


  • J011yroger
    replied
    Originally posted by nickw View Post

    Thanks for the comments. This series is specifically targeted for players to 'work with what they've got'. Lower level and recreational players may never have had the opportunity to test for eye and leg dominance, and will have spent years developing their game-style without that information. Practically many rec players don't have the time to invest in making fundamental changes to their game, should eye and leg dominance tests suggest that's whats needed. However, all players should be able to use the info in these articles to improve the effectiveness of the skills they already have.

    I would simply say that for advanced players, hopefully they have acquired the knowledge regards eye and leg dominance, and that has already contributed to the development of their skills and strengths.

    Lateral movement will also naturally push players towards developing strengths, so someone who doesn't move as well to the right side, will probably find their strengths have naturally developed on the left side. I believe everyone can improve their weaker side with enough desire and opportunity, but yes it will probably always remain their weaker side, so this series is more about working with that, not trying to change it.
    That makes a lot of sense.

    Thanks!

    J

    Leave a comment:


  • nickw
    replied
    Thanks for the post, don't mind long ones! The main question you have is indeed very clear, and well worth discussing.

    I would start with the following two points:

    Firstly, there is an obvious benefit to developing the ability to regularly hit a risky shot successfully, and that is the opponent won't be expecting it! They may also not be great at counter-acting it as a result. Tennis matches can often become wars of attrition, and sometimes a few unexpected plays can make all the difference, if executed successfully. Yes, down the line is riskier, but there's no reason a player can't become skilled enough to use it more often, and make it pay off, as you have found in the past with your down the line backhand.

    Secondly, find out just how effective your risky choice actually is, by tracking the outcomes in a match. You probably won't find an app that will do it, but you could easily set up a manual tracker, where you perhaps choose your daughter's inside-in shot, and track the following: Every time she has a chance to hit the inside-in, make a note of what happened. It should be one of these options:

    She went for it, and it won the point (worth noting whether it was her winner, she forced the error, or opponent hit an unforced error)
    She went for it, and the point continued (worth noting whether she remained in control, or her opponent gained control)
    She went for it, and opponent hit a winning shot (likely to the open space)
    She went for it, and missed
    She chose to go inside-out (and you could even track the outcome when she chose this option)

    It's simple to get this data, which will then give you an idea of whether it's paying off or not, and more importantly why it's paying off or not. That data can then be used to fine-tune the strategy, and the long-term goal of how much time to invest in getting good at this play.

    Thirdly, it does very much depend on the player as an individual. An aggresive player may be better suited to going after riskier shots more often if they feel confident to do so. Our different personalities can often be a very big influence, and how we play tennis is often an expression of our personality. An extrovert will more likely be drawn to a higher-risk game-style (Kyrgios is a classic example!), whilst an introvert may well have the most success by getting really good at playing the percentages, and sticking to that 80-90% of the time. What I've certainly learned over the years, is working with what players feel most comfortable and happy with, always has the best results, even if as a coach you may not feel it makes the most sense.

    I think the series will address this question further as it develops, when we look at managing risk, and adjusting to what your opponents style of play is. The next article, working out your own game-style, will also slot in another piece of the puzzle, and may make it easier to decide how best to get the right balance.

    Leave a comment:

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