In my last match, I really noticed some bad habits that I have accumulated for so many years. They were hard to notice when I was winning matches, and I was satisfied with my game. After playing higher level players, I noticed the flaws.
And I decided to start from scratch to improve those flaws.
I learned about a guy who has tennis drills for everyone from beginners to advanced players about four days a week, so at 11 AM today(Sunday), I went there for the first time.
There was six people in total, including the trainer. Three beginners and three advanced players. The three beginners were all female, and all had contrasting personalities. One dressed like she took Chris Evert's 1975 Wimbledon dress collection, one just put a pair of shorts and a T-Shirt on, and one was a good looking brazilian who made sure you noticed what she wore. I've seen many of those type of girls come and go, but at least this one took an interest in the game.
The trainer starts with volleys, and I was happy because I have accumulated so many bad habits on my volleys over the years. I know all of the techniques necessary for a good volley, but I always used my height and wingspan, and little to no knee bending. Well, I found out how NOT used to the correct method I was. First two times the trainer hit the ball to me, I volleyed in my old style out of instinct and placed them perfectly. Then when I realized what I was doing, I go for the proper technique and airmail the sucker to the back fence. I swung the racket too far in front of me.
After a couple more opportunities, it started to gel and I was even placing the ball where I wanted, which is something my old technique never allowed me to do. I was still coming up short on a couple, and even airmailed a couple more, but at least I had an idea what to work on.
Next was forehands and backhands. On the forehands, I didn't think I had too many problems. The majority of my winners are always crosscourt forehands. I knew that I sometimes have too many UEs on the forehand side, but that's part of the game, right?
Nope. I had some real good forehands, and a couple good rallies with the trainer, but I still hit a couple out. My mistake? I never follow through on the shot 100%, and I start the shot at way too high of an arc, which makes the shot low percentage. Once again, it was never perfect because it takes time to get out of bad habits, but I noticed more torque on my forehands, which was awesome.
Backhand? Other than a few winners I've had lately, that's been my weakest shot. It always feels like I'm playing desperation tennis when I hit the backhand, like I just want to keep it in play. My problem there(and I never realized this at all)? The grip. It almost looked like I had a western grip on my backhands, and the shot would go all over the place.
Finally, we start playing points, and I finally understood, for the first time, how even the best pros in the world can make mistakes against lesser opponents. I had a lot of errors, but also a lot more winners. I was what I hate the most...safe. I played way too damned safe, and waited for others' mistakes. Easy when you play lesser opponents, but not good when you play great technical players.
As I get used to doing things correctly, I'll cut down on my errors. Right now though, I'm enjoying attacking instead of being on the defensive all the time. That's more of my real life personality anyway.
Now if only I can get a consistent second serve...
Addendum: The pilot is almost finished, and I should be able to link it in 7-10 days. Things are looking really good with this project.