Thursday, July 19, 2012

Excellent Use Of The Drop Shot

 tennis coaching tennis drop shot drills Last week, I played in the provincial doubles in my age group.

I'll be adding an analysis of my matches over the next few weeks, but to cut to the chase --we lost 6-3 in the third to the provincial champions.

It's the second year in a row that my doubles partner and I have lost 6-3 in the third set, to the eventual champions. We like to think we're getting closer each year to winning the title. We've identified a number of areas that can be improved, and I'll be discussing those over the next few weeks.

But, there's another very real benefit to playing in the provincial championships.

I get to see the best players in the province in all the different age groups, and its an opportunity to learn from a lot of superb players, many of whom have represented Canada internationally.

The finals of the men's 50's showcased two excellent players. Both were extremely quick  and talented, and took most balls, on both the backhand and forehand, on the rise.

The winner has an exquisite drop shot and often used it to end points. For example, he would get  a short ball that would seem to cry out for a deep approach shot, and he would feather a gorgeous drop shot winner.

Of course, his technique and disguise were superb. From a purely visual point of view, he seemed to be carving the shot with a long swing instead of bunting the ball as a lot of club players do.

Since then, I've been practicing this shot off both the forehand and the backhand.

I feel that one of the keys is to keep very loose and soft hand,s and then gently carve the ball with a fluid swing that is shorter than a ground stroke, but longer than a bunt.

Here are a couple of links that I've found for you on the drop shot.

The first highlights coaching by Gilad Bloom, a former pro player, who focuses on disguising the drop shot.
Just click on the link and then scroll to the video in the middle of the page on the right side.

Tennis Drill To Learn Disguise On The Drop Shot

Here is another drill by top teaching pro Brent Abel on how to practice the short game. The key here is to use the continental ( volley grip ) and not to use your topspin grip.

Short Court Drop Shot Tennis Drill

And, finally a clip of a somewhat talented, and well-known pro, hitting a drop shot winner from the baseline.
I'm being facetious because the clip is of the great Roger Federer. Watch though, the position of Fed's opponent when he hits the backhand dropper. The opponent is in the deep backhand corner and the front court, up the line dropper, is very far from  him.

Federer Drop Shot
Until next time,

Glenn Sheiner M.D. - author of Insider Tennis Strategies Champion Seniors Tennis Players Using Drop Shots guaranteed to make you a smarter tennis player and take your tennis to the next level. Also, check out the world's top tennis humor screensaver
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Monday, June 11, 2012

Interesting Experiment Using Ball Machine

 tennis coaching tennis tips and strategy I like to use the ball machine at my club.

It's funny, but many of my tennis buddies don't go near the ball machine, and I'm not sure why. I find it both relaxing, and a great way to work on specific parts of my game.

There's a muscle memory argument in favor of using the ball machine, but I also think there's a psychological argument. I need to hit hundreds of whichever shot I'm working on, to begin to gain a little confidence. And, as we all know, in tennis confidence is critical.

 I always play with the ball machine controls, as I suggest that you do, if you use a machine. On most machines, you can adjust ball speed, ball height, ball spin, ball location, and the interval between shots.

You can practice hitting crosscourts on the run by setting the machine up to feed balls to the backhand corner, and then the forehand corner, forcing you to bust your gut. Or, you can set the machine to produce high, soft, mid-court balls so that you can practice your aggressive forehand.

You're only limited by your imagination.

Last week, I decide to have some fun with the machine.

I wanted to see what kind of ball the highest settings would produce. So, I cranked up the spin and speed to the max. I had to keep the height set to just over the net, because these babies were flying over the net like a Jimmy Connors forehand.

Then, I rushed over to the opposite side of the net to see if I could return these bullets with my forehand and 2 handed backhand. The first few were a disaster. I couldn't time the ball properly, and if I did, I mishit most of the balls.

Gradually, I sped up my trunk rotation in the set up, so that by the time the ball landed I was finished my backward core rotation. Then, I focused on minimizing any wrist and arm rotation, and just tried to rotate my core back towards the ball and through the ball, so that I finished with my back shoulder now underneath my chin as I looked forwards.

To my amazement, I began to make very solid contact. I began to suspect then that my standard forehand didn't have enough core rotation, and actually relied too much on wrist and arm motion.

Of course, this type of swing is a return of serve type of swing against a big serve. But, as I mentioned above I think it's a great way to get a sense of the control and the stability that you can get from good core rotation.

Here are a couple of videos which might help explain a little bit. The first video is a very basic instruction about arm swinging versus core swinging. You can skip the ad of course.

The next video shows the full forehand on a regular ball with great core rotation. In the full forehand, there is, of course, a big backswing and lots of arm and hand rotation, but I suggest you focus on the core rotation.

So, get out and use the ball machine if you have one available. Crank it up and work on your core rotation. Until next time,

Glenn Sheiner M.D. - author of Insider Tennis Strategies Using The Ball Machine To Improve Your Forehand guaranteed to make you a smarter tennis player and take your tennis to the next level. Also, check out the world's top tennis humor screensaver
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Tennis Lesson With the World's Top 60 year Old Player

I've written my last few posts on the play of Larry Turville. Larry is the number 1 player in the United States in the over 60 category and was number 1 in the world in 2010.

So, while I was planning my Florida vacation, I decided to google Larry and see where he lived, and if he was still teaching. Turns out he lives in Naples, which is a 2 hour drive from Miami, where I was going to attend a medical convention. And, it turns out that he still does a little teaching.

So, I set up a 2 hour lesson with Larry and hoped that it would turn out to be a nice day since we would be training outdoors of course.
Here is a photo of Larry and me. Remember its not that I'm that short (about 5' 10") but Larry has legit NBA height!
The day of lesson came and the weather in Miami was cloudy at 10 am as I took off in my rental car to drive to Naples. The drive to Naples from Miami is fairly dull if you take the main highway but, as I was driving, the weather was getting better and better. By the time I arrived in Naples, it was a gloriously sunny day. I had a quick bite, stretched, and drove to the address where Larry had told me to meet him.

The meeting place was a private driveway in front of a large private home. When Larry arrived, we introduced ourselves, and Larry took me around to the back of the house where it turns out, there were 5 beautiful clay courts.

He later introduced me to the owner, a nice fellow who apparently in addition to being in real estate, runs a tennis camp of sorts on his private courts.

We ended up having a great 2 hour lesson and I got a chance to get to know Larry a bit. He's giant, about 6 foot 8, and walks and talks with a slow, graceful attitude.
He'd been on the tour in his younger days, and owns a win over Vilas and Tiriac in doubles. After that, he was the head coach at Rice University for 17 years, and now he runs a seniors tennis tour in Florida in the winter.

We had a chance to work on a lot of different things in those 2 hours. Of course, lessons revolve around the needs and desires of the student and I had some specific questions for Larry.

I quizzed him on his slice backhand and how he used it in the lethal pattern which I have described in previous posts. The pattern, to review, is a couple of deep crosscourt slices, then an inside out slice up the line.

He showed me his technique and how he used a slightly different technique to hit the cross court slice as compared to the inside out slice.The main differences had to do with how open you are atacontact ( more open for the inside out slice) and the contact point (lower for the inside out slice).

I was able to get a good sense of this pretty quickly, and have been using the inside out technique since I've come home. I find that its good on approach shots up the line as well.

We also worked on moving left and right for groundstrokes. Larry plays a lot on clay and likes to teach a gentle sliding technique into the ball. I had never done this and found it quite difficult. However Larry was very efficient with this technique and I could see how mastering it could prove to be really valuable. Larry told me that he's available for the occasional lesson in Naples. I've already referred a friend of mine from Toronto who winters in Naples, and he had a great lesson as well. Larry can be reached at

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Consistency And Depth Of Groundstrokes

 tennis coaching tennis tips and strategy This is the second post commenting on the 2011 US Hardcourt National Championship that was won by Larry Turville in the 60 year old category.

And, as I mentioned in the previous post, Larry was also the 2010 world champion in the 60's.

If you haven't read the previous post here are the links to the finals:
2011 US Hard Court Tennis Championships Part 1

2011 US Hard Court Tennis Championships part 2

These clips were put up on Youtube by Brent Abel

What you'll notice is how little Larry has to move to cover most of the court. But, watch very closely at the little steps he takes after hitting the ball. These little steps enable him to get into an excellent location on the court as he anticipates his opponent's next shot.

The key here is that Larry calculates his best optimal position just after he hits the ball and BEFORE ( caps intentional --its that important) his opponent actually hits the ball.

Most club players watch their shots and then react. Better players automatically adjust their position as part of the recovery footwork.

Watch here how the great Ilie Nastase moves after hitting the ball. In this video, he's playing Arthur Ashe who possessed a wicked serve. Ashe would often serve wide in the ad court to Nastase's backhand and serve and volley behind the serve.

Ilie Nastase versus Arthur Ashe US Open Finals 1972

You don't have to watch the whole 7 minute clip, although it may be one 7 fabulous minutes if you really enjoy the mastery of old time greats. And, as an aside, can you name 5 other players who played with the brilliant athleticism of Nastase?

Anyway, if you watch the 2 points starting at 39 seconds, you'll see what I'm talking about. Ashe is serving in the deuce court first and serves to the Nastase forehand. Nastase blocks back a forehand return and then immediately bolts to the center of the court.

The next point, Ashe serves to the Nastase backhand in the ad court and Nastase blocks a backhand return and then again bolts to the center of the court to anticipate Ashe's next shot.

Even though Nastase didn't win either of these points, he put extra pressure on Ashe and often made him hit another ball.

So, train yourself to recover to the optimal spot as soon as you've completed your stroke. Don't wait for your opponent to hit the ball before you move.

Until next time,

Glenn Sheiner M.D. - author of Insider Tennis Strategies Champion Seniors Tennis Players guaranteed to make you a smarter tennis player and take your tennis to the next level. Also, check out the world's top tennis humor screensaver
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Have You Ever Wondered How Good The World's Number One 60 Year Old Is?

 tennis coaching tennis tactics Ok, this post may not be for any younger players who still want to play every shot like Federer and be known as Rog the Second at the club.

But, if you've ever watched high level competition in the 55's and over, the game shifts from being a primarily physical battle to one of tactics, placement, endurance, and smarts.

The game is still physical, but you see less jumping on the groundstrokes ( if you see any), and less running around the backhand for example.

So, to get the conversation started, here is a link to the beginning of the 2011 US hardcourt finals in the men's 60 year old division.

The clip was posted on Youtube by Brent Abel, an ex-national champion, excellent instructor, and tennis entrepreneur.

Brent has posted tons of great free stuff on youtube.

This clip is the first of 3 of the men's 60 final. One of three interesting things is that the man who won, Larry Turville,was also the world's champion in the 60's in 2010. So, if you ever wanted to know what type of player can be a world champion in the super seniors, then study this tape.

There's so much to learn here and I'm going to use this match as the focus of my next few blog posts.

First of all, Larry Turville is 6 foot 8 inches tall!  I don't know about your experiences, but at our club there is an elite player who is also 6 foot 8. Like Larry, he sort of moves in a way that looks slow, but covers the court in one step most of the time.

And, like Larry, his serve comes in from a different angle so seems to bounce higher than a serve from a shorter guy.

And, like Larry, you think there openings on the court, but then with one large step, the openings are covered.

But, I'm going to start with Larry's bread and butter shot -- the slice backhand. As Brent points out in the commentary, Larry's backhand is consistently extremely deep, landing within 12-18 inches of the baseline with regularity.

Most of the time he seems to go crosscourt and, it must be pointed out, that Larry is right handed and he was playing a righthander in the finals, so a crosscourt backhand would go to his opponent's backhand.

But, watch enough of the match and you'll see how Larry will hit a down the line slice that tails away from the court. So, after forcing his opponent into the backhand corner, Larry will then hit this up the line slice with sidespin that tails away. Even if his opponent can get to it, the odds are that he won't be able to do much with the ball, and Larry will really be set up to do some damage with the next ball.

It's a devastating pattern but one that must be executed with precision. If the down the slice veers to much to the center, then you would be giving your opponent an easy forehand --a cardinal mistake at almost any level.

That's lesson one --try and see if you can incorporate that pattern into your play.

Until next time,

Glenn Sheiner M.D. - author of Insider Tennis Strategies Champion Seniors Tennis Players guaranteed to make you a smarter tennis player and take your tennis to the next level. Also, check out the world's top tennis humor screensaver
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rediscovering The Slice Serve

A big win for me last week at my club!

I played the number one player on the club's ladder, someone who I haven't beaten in a few years.

As usual, I'm giving up about 20 years and these younger bucks tend to have two handed backhands and good returns off the backhand side.

Of course, this is a problem for me as my favorite weapon is the big serve to the backhand side, hoping for a winner or at least a weak return.

What's been happening the last few years is that guys have been standing way back to return my serve similar to the way clay courters like Nadal return. And, unless you can hit the perfect spot, everything is coming back.

I recognized this a few years ago, and started working on my slice serve in both the deuce and ad court.
It's not as easy as it looks if you want to hit it with good direction and good disguise. Experience has taught me that if you make a mistake and hit a mediocre slice serve, you might get a blistering forehand return back at your feet.

You can play with your toss by moving it a little to the right and see if you're opponent is observant enough to notice this. If he isn't then you can just hit more slice by tossing further to the right, but ultimately you'll want to hit the slice off the same toss that you hit your flat serve with.

And, now back to the match.

As I went up to serve, I noticed as usual that my opponent was standing way back to help him return off the backhand side. But, as he positioned himself, I could see that he wouldn't be able to cover a good slice serve especially in the deuce court.

So, I began hitting every first serve to his forehand in both the deuce and ad court. I moved my toss a little to the right and was very conscious of hitting the right side of the ball without opening up too early.

I also served and volleyed behind it to take away any floating returns.

I probably won about 80% of the points in the deuce court which made it pretty easy to hold. That put a lot of pressure on his serve and , even good players get tight, when they feel like to have to hold because they're not going to break.

As I've said the trick is to try and hit the slice with the same toss and same motion as the down the middle serve in the deuce court and the wide serve in the ad court.

Here is an incredible video of Pete Sampras hitting a slice serve ace in the deuce court. Notice where the ball crosses the net ( about halfway between the center and the sideline) and where the ball hits the court ( a couple of feet up from the interestion of service line and sideline)

Sampras Slice Serve

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Staying Observant During A Match

 tennis coaching tennis tactics Sometimes, you just have to be observant during a match.

Usually, when I play someone with a big forehand and a less powerful backhand, I'll tend to serve to the backhand and avoid the forehand.

But, I would say that there are many players, especially those with two handed backhands, who have more technically efficient returns on the backhand side.

So, although they may generate more power on the forehand side with a much bigger loop, they actually may make more errors.

In a recent match, I was playing one of those tall, young guys with a big semiwestern forehand and a two handed backhand --the norm for young guys these days.

Early in the match, I hit a second serve kick to the forehand and I paid the price as a winner whizzed past me.

A little later, I made another mistake serving to the deuce court, and hit a slice kick to the forehand. This serve made my opponent move to his right and he hit it way wide.

This miss made me wonder if I had found a little treasure to mine for the rest of the match.

So, I went back there with similar good results. And, I kept going back, even on first serves. Turns out that, on this day at least, my opponent didn't have good footwork when forced to move to his right on the return. He became off balance and netted a lot of returns, even though he hit them hard.

So, always keep your brain working during a match. even your mistakes may bring you dividends.

Until next time,

Glenn Sheiner M.D. - author of Insider Tennis Strategies Serving To The Forehand guaranteed to make you a smarter tennis player and take your tennis to the next level. Also, check out the world's top tennis humor screensaver
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