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Last updated on 24-Jun-2008 10:55:49 AM
I've been having a lot of success in tournaments and pennants finally, but I'm still not happy with my game. I remember 20 years ago the feature of my game was my loops off both wings. Now my game can be best described as push-push-smash. Almost no topspin at all.
When rallies start it usually involves pushes from both sides and I wait for a high push and then try and smash it. What I need is a dependable, spinny loop shot that I can hit off backspin/floaty no spin shots to initiate the attack. So far, every time I try one, it ends up being hit way too long.
After some self-analysis these are my thoughts on my problem and how to overcome it - and I would be grateful for your expert comments.
1) I notice that I hardly move my forearm from the elbow when I hit forehands. I move my entire arm (with the 90 degree bend) as one fixed unit. I think I need to concentrate more on whipping the forearm through from the elbow for extra speed during contact.
2) I notice I often tend to kind of lunge at the ball at the last second when I go for the drive. I think this means my footwork is crap and I need to move myself closer to the bounce of the ball and hit it at the top of the bounce.
3) I think I read someone else say their coach recommended making contact with the TOP of the ball. I guess this is something that you can only do if you get it at the top of the bounce (or earlier) so the bounce of the ball can counteract gravity and press it against your rubber
4) What do you think about bending your wrist at 90 degrees? I usually see people do this with backhand blocks, but it sometimes seems to work quite well with forehand loops.
5) Any advice on how to get spinny topspin backhand loops would be much appreciated. In the recent NSW Country Championship, I played two people with spinny backhand loops. One had a shot which popped up, and I handled it with no problem. But the other had a shot which skimmed low, and it took me two sets to adjust. It would be great to have backhand loops that could both jump up AND skim so you could alternate. What is the principle behind achieving these different effects?
Finally...on a different topic...is it worthwhile to make a DVD on returning serves? Or is it something that involves a few principles and lots and lots of practice so doesn't really suit a DVD format?
Let me attack these one at a time.
Firstly look at the lesson on topspin again. Notice the start position and the finish position. Sounds like your start position isn't quite right, but your finsih position may be ok but one doesn't work without the other.
Secondly with your footwork, sounds like a lot of set drills may do you good. Just practice the movement in a set pattern, where you know where the ball is coming to you each shot. This will help you to practice the movement and get your body used to the movement and also hitting the ball form the sorrect position in relation to your body. Another way to think about it is you need to hit the ball from the same position in relation to your body. Find a position that feels right and make sure you get your bady into that position each time.
The contact of the ball does need to be a brushing action. You can brush up the back of the ball or the top whichever you feel works best for you. This will give you two different effects that you talked about with your backhand. Brushing up the back of the ball will give you a slower higher spinnier topspin. Brushing the top of the ball will give you a flatter, lower trajectory.
Bending your wrist at 90 degrees just has a different effect on the ball. It works OK for a backhand block but not so well for a forehand topspin. With the forehand topspin it will mean you get a sidespin on the ball. This can be effective as a changeup but it isn't a strong standard shot. It is too difficult to generate speed and consistency.
Thanks also for the DVD topic suggestion of Return of Serve. This something we have on the list. I think we can explain the general principles but you are right, it then takes a lot of practice to get it right.
Thanks again for your interesting questions.