Crucial Point & Games

In tennis, the latter stages of any game and any set, especially from the ninth game onwards, are critically important due to the scoring structure and the psychological dynamics involved. This phase of the set is pivotal for building or maintaining momentum.

And let’s not forget the drama of tiebreakers! And how to handle those pesky negative thoughts!!

We have updated our Psychological Strategy pages to include these key stages and games, ensuring you’re well-prepared for these crucial moments.

The Crucial Fourth Point

The Crucial Ninth Game

Tiebreakers

Goldfish Strategy: Overcoming Negative Thoughts

Thursday Ladies Badge Training Notes 11 Apr

Refresher training notes from Thursday Apr 11 posted.
PW required to access.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach Tim

The Tennis Whispherer is pleased to welcome Coach Tim!

Tim was born in Sydney but journeyed with his family to the United States in the late 1970s, where his passion for tennis blossomed in the competitive junior circuits of the Missouri Valley.

Throughout his collegiate tenure, Tim honed his skills at the Muir Tennis Academy, a cradle for top-tier US junior talent. Having returned to Australian shores, Tim’s zeal for the game remains undiminished. His dedication to teaching mirrors his commitment on the court, striving to unlock the pinnacle of performance in every student he coaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running Down Lobs

Running down a lob in tennis demands not just physical agility but also sharp mental acuity and refined technique. For advanced players like Axel and Anthony, who typically employ a semi-western grip for their ground strokes, integrating specific grip adjustments into their response to lobs can be crucial for maintaining both defensive resilience and offensive potential. Here’s how to masterfully run down a lob, with special considerations for players using a semi-western grip:

General Strategy for Running Down Lobs

1. Anticipate and React Quickly: The moment you discern a lob, swiftly evaluate its trajectory. This rapid assessment and movement towards, but not directly under, the ball are fundamental to positioning yourself optimally for the return.

2. Side Movement: Veer diagonally towards the side of the lob’s path rather than retreating straight back. This approach not only keeps the ball within your field of vision for better judgment but also mitigates the risk of the ball landing behind you—a common pitfall when running directly backwards.

3. Get Behind the Ball: Strive to position yourself slightly behind the baseline or where you anticipate the ball will descend. This setup, akin to preparing for a ground stroke, affords you greater control over your return by allowing for adjustments based on the ball’s speed and bounce.

4. Lift and Carry Through: Employ a low-to-high swing to propel the ball back into the air, ensuring a high finish to your swing. This not only facilitates a deep return, compelling your opponent into a defensive stance but also gives you time to reposition for the next play.

5. Aim High and Deep: Your lob return should aim to drive your opponent backward, complicating their aggressive shot-making. Achieving depth and height with your lob can be a tactical maneuver to reclaim point control, particularly against net-assertive opponents.

Special Considerations for Semi-Western Grip Players

For players wielding a semi-western grip, such as Axel and Anthony, Coach Tim outlined the essential adjustments to manage lobs:

1. Grip Adjustment for Lob Returns: The semi-western grip, while beneficial for generating topspin, requires modification for lobs. Slightly altering the grip or the racket face’s angle by using your wrist prior to the lob can make a significant difference.

2. Open the Racket Face: Prior to the return, ensure the racket face is moderately open to counterbalance the semi-western grip’s tendency to close the racket face. This adjustment is pivotal for getting underneath the ball, particularly from stretched positions or outside the usual striking zone.

3. Finish Skywards with Follow Through: Highlight a follow-through that ascends skyward, propelling the ball high and deep into the opponent’s court. Visualize the wrist action akin to “drying your fingers,” as in basketball, to facilitate the necessary lift and depth on the lob. This technique not only aids in depth and height control but also in buying crucial time for repositioning.

Incorporating these nuanced strategies and adjustments, particularly for semi-western grip users, enriches a player’s capacity to hit lobs effectively. It transforms a defensive scenario into an opportunity to regain and dictate the point, offering an offensive edge even from the back of the court.

Badge Draws

Saturday Men’s Team 4

Saturday Ladies Team 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where you stand on the doubles court really, really matters!!!

Where you stand on the court to start the point in doubles really, really matters!!!
FOCUS: Positioning of the Returner’s Partner.
The Returner’s partner is by far the most challenging position to play on the doubles court. The other three players all get to hit the ball before they do. The Returner’s Partner will often react to what somebody else has done instead of attacking themselves.
When the server is hitting their 1st serve, it is imperative to be neutral or defensive with mindset and positioning. A quality first serve will pressure the returner and bring the Server’s Partner into play.
So, let’s look at the following scenario and pinpoint why the serving team won the point.
Herbert is serving, and his partner, Mahut, is at the net. Peers is returning, and his partner, Polasek, is positioned INSIDE the service box.
This is where the percentages immediately drop for the returning team to win the point – even before the first serve has been hit. Polasek is standing in a highly aggressive position with two feet inside the service line. That’s more acceptable when facing a second serve, but it’s rolling the dice against a first serve.
Why? Reaction time.
If this first serve goes in and Peers is under pressure, Mahut will be swarming the net and looking to put the ball right at Polasek because he won’t have enough time to react to hit the ball back over the net.
Herbert makes a quality first serve out wide to Peers. Now, Peers possesses an excellent backhand return, but look how his feet are together on this occasion, and he is reaching for the ball.
He has a tough shot. How do we know? Look at Mahut at the net. He is picking up on all the same signs and knows it’s tough for Peers to beat him down the line. So he is cutting to the middle of the court early to go and put the ball away.
Source: Brain Game Tennis

 

 

Rafter Would Chop Today’s Deep Returners

Pat Rafter Would Chop Today’s Deep Returners

I was sitting courtside in Miami last week watching Andy Murray battle Daniil Medvedev. Sitting next to me was Tim Henman.

Our discussion initially focused on Andy’s resurgence and how he is feeling better and better on court. Medvedev won the match 6-4, 6-2, pulling away from Andy after an even start to the match. We also chatted about the ultra-deep return position of Medvedev and other current players who like to stand a loooong way back to return serve.

The obvious counter-attack to that is serve and volley.

Tim (and I) felt confident that players such as himself and Pat Rafter would have a “field day” serving and volleying against current players that stand 5+ metres behind the baseline to return serve. We discussed how effective Rafter would have been hitting a heavy kick serve out wide in the Ad court and having so much time to get to the net before the returner even made contact with the ball.

It turns out Carlos Alcaraz completely vindicated Tim’s strategic sentiments just a few days later.

Alcaraz defeated Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-4 in the Miami final, winning all 11 serve and volley points he played. Ten of the 11 were heavy “Rafter-Esque” serves out wide in the Ad court. He ate Ruud’s lunch with this key strategy, oftentimes finding Ruud 6+ metres behind the baseline trying to counter Alcaraz rushing straight to the net.

Good luck with that!

The Hawk-Eye graphic below shows Ruud’s return location vs. Alcaraz in the final. Yellow dots represent 1st serve return hit points. Blue dots are 2nd serve return hit points.

2022 Miami Final: Casper Ruud Return Hit Points

Ruud made contact with one 1st serve return more than seven metres behind the baseline. It’s almost impossible to win the point from there against a serve-and-volleyer.

Source; Brain Game Tennis

 

Why Letting Go of Old Habits Can Boost Your Tennis Game!

Ever thought about shaking off those old tennis habits? It’s all about unlearning  those techniques, habits or even those little pep talks you give yourself that might be holding you back.

This unlearning idea is super important in tennis because sometimes the strategies or styles we’ve gotten cozy with aren’t doing us any favours as we try to step up our game against better opponents.

Letting go of these old ways can really open up your game and make the best of your personal skills.

Here’s a friendly rundown on how this whole “unlearning” thing works in tennis:

Tweaking Your Tactics

– Mixing Up Your Game Plan: If you’ve been sticking to one game plan (like all power, all the time), it might be time to mix in some new tricks, like getting creative with your shot placement or playing around with spin.
– Learning from Your Opponent: Forget sticking to a one-size-fits-all strategy for every opponent, every playing condition. Watch and learn from each match, and tweak your tactics on the go to suit the conditions and the opponent.
– Key Areas: Focus on changing up your court positions, choosing your shots wisely, and being ready to switch things up when the wind blows.

Refreshing Your Mindset

– Busting Through Mental Blocks: It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of negative thinking (“don’t double fault”), especially after a few tough games. Time to shift to a growth mindset where it’s all about effort and learning.
– Keeping Your Cool:� Work on letting go of those knee-jerk emotional reactions to slip-ups or high-pressure moments. Try some mindfulness to stay chill and focused.
– Mind Matters: Dive into the basics of tennis psychology (breathing, rituals, life skills)

Sprucing Up Your Techniques

– Spot the Not-so-great Moves: First up, figure out which parts of your game aren’t exactly your strong suit. Sometimes, you need a fresh set of eyes, like your coach’s or even a video replay, to catch these.
– Out with the Old, In with the New: Found a stroke that’s not cutting it? Time to gently push it aside and bring in a better technique. Practice makes perfect, so work on those strokes until they feel like second nature. BUT be patient — focus on small improvement rather than radical improvements!
– What to Watch: Keep an eye on improving your volleys, serves, and strokes.

Making Unlearning Work for You

Jumping into unlearning can feel like a leap into the unknown, and you might even see your game dip a bit as you replace old habits with new ones. Here’s how to make the transition smoother:
– Baby Steps: Small changes can lead to big improvements. No need to overhaul everything at once.
– Practice Practice Practice: Keep up with regular training sessions focused on nailing down those new techniques and tactics.

Embracing change in your game isn’t always easy, but it’s a powerful way to unlock new levels of play and enjoyment on the court.

HOW IS YOUR UTR RATING CALCULATED?

How is it calculated?�

For each match, the algorithm calculates a match rating and a match weight for each player. A player’s UTR Rating is the weighted average of up to 30 of their most recent match ratings. Only matches within the last 12 months count toward a player’s UTR.�

Calculating Match Rating

Two factors are considered when calculating the match rating. The first factor is the UTR Rating difference between opponents. The second factor is the competitiveness of the match, as determined by the percent of total games won.

Given the UTR Rating difference, the algorithm expects a certain percent of total games won. The player who performs better than the algorithm’s expectation will see their match rating go up while the other player’s match rating will go down. When one player’s match rating increases, the other player’s match rating decreases by the same amount.�

Note: If the two players have a different number of matches counting toward their rating, the overall UTR Rating may not increase or decrease by the same amount.

Calculating Match Weight

The following factors are used in the match weight calculation:

Format – As the match format increases in length, more weight is given. A match with a three-set format receives more weight than a match with an eight-game pro set format.

Competitiveness – As the UTR Rating difference between players increases, less weight is given. For example, imagine a player with a UTR of 6.00. A match played against an opponent with a UTR Rating of 5.00 or 7.00 receives more weight than a match played against an opponent with a UTR of 4.00 or 8.00.

Reliability�– As the reliability of the opponent’s UTR Rating increases, more weight is given. A match played against an opponent who competes often and thus has a reliable UTR Rating receives more weight.

Time Degradation�– As prior matches get older, less weight is given. Since the algorithm is a representation of the current form, it gives more credit to matches played within the last few months.

Source: https://support.universaltennis.com/support/solutions/articles/9000151830-understanding-the-algorithm-complete-summary?utm_source=education&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=algo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghost Line’s Got Some Serious Mojo!

Ah, the magic of the Ghost Line in tennis! This isn’t something you’ll find painted on the court or mentioned in the rulebook, but it’s a concept that can seriously elevate your game strategy.

Imagine there’s an invisible line running through the back of the court, parallel to the baseline. This mythical line helps us decide when to attack, play it safe with neutral shots, or go into full defense mode. It’s like having your own strategic compass right there on the court!

How to Find Your Ghost Line

Here’s a fun and practical way to locate yours on the court. Start at the tee at the service line, and gradually walk backward towards the baseline. Keep an eye on the top of the net as you move. When you reach a spot where the top of the net aligns perfectly with the opposite end’s baseline in your vision, voilà, you’ve found your personal Ghost Line. This spot is unique to you and will serve as your strategic marker during play.

So, next time you’re warming up or have a moment on the court, take the time to find your personal Ghost Line. This simple exercise not only helps you tailor your game strategy to your physical attributes but also deepens your understanding of how to navigate the court more effectively. Whether you’re tall, short, or somewhere in between, mastering the use of your Ghost Line can make you a more formidable and strategic player.

 

When to Attack (Green)

You cross into the realm of aggression when the ball lands short of the Ghost Line, tempting you to step in and take control. This is your cue to unleash those ground strokes with a bit more zip or approach the net to finish the point. The ball’s position invites you to step into the court, dictating the pace and direction of the game. It’s like the ball is daring you to come forward and show what you’ve got. And who are we to refuse such an invitation?

Neutral Territory (Orange)

Now, if the ball is dancing around the Ghost Line, you’re in neutral territory. It’s not quite an open invitation to attack, but you’re not being pushed back into the defensive either. This is your chance to maintain a rally, look for an opening, or perhaps try to outmaneuver your opponent with depth and placement. Playing neutral is like being in a chess match, where each move is calculated to set up for a future advantage without over committing.

Defensive Mode (Red)

When the ball pushes you well behind the Ghost Line, it’s time to buckle down and defend. Your main goal here is to stay in the point, use high loopy shots to buy time, or slice to keep the ball low and awkward for your opponent. Being pushed back doesn’t mean you’re out of options; it’s about resilience, making it tough for your opponent to hit a winner, and looking for that opportunity to turn the tables. Defense isn’t just about survival; it’s about setting the stage for a comeback.

Who should get the credit for the name! The clever term “Ghost Line” was coined by none other than Pam after one of our sessions. Her insightful contribution to tennis strategy has given players an invaluable tool for visualizing and executing their game plans more effectively.

Understanding and visualizing your Ghost Line can transform how you approach each point. It’s not just about hitting the ball back; it’s about making smart choices based on the ball’s position relative to this invisible strategic guide.

So next time you’re on the court, remember the Ghost Line. Let it guide your decisions, and watch as it adds a new layer of strategy to your game. Play smart, play with intention, and let the Ghost Line be your unseen ally in battle!

 

The Six Crucial Eye Muscles Powering Tennis Success

The six eye muscles play a crucial role in sports vision, especially in tennis, where tracking a fast-moving ball and anticipating its trajectory are essential skills!

 

These muscles are responsible for controlling the movements of the eye, allowing an athlete to maintain focus on moving objects, adjust their position according to the ball’s speed and direction, and make quick strategic decisions.

In tennis, the effectiveness of these muscles can significantly impact a player’s performance in several ways:

1. Tracking: The ability to smoothly follow the ball’s movement across the court is essential in tennis. Effective eye muscle function allows players to keep their gaze fixed on the ball, enhancing their ability to hit the ball accurately.

2. Depth Perception: The coordination of the eye muscles helps in accurately judging the distance and speed of the ball, which is critical for timing swings and positioning correctly for shots.

3. Peripheral Vision: Strong eye muscles contribute to a wider field of view, allowing players to see a broad area of the court without having to move their heads excessively. This is particularly important in doubles play, where being aware of multiple players and their positioning is key.

4. Focus Switching: Tennis requires players to quickly shift their focus from near to far objects, such as looking at the ball and then at the opponent’s position. The agility of the eye muscles facilitates this rapid change in focus, helping players to anticipate the opponent’s moves and respond effectively.

5. Eye-Hand Coordination: Efficient eye muscle function is fundamental to coordinating visual information with physical movements. This coordination ensures that players can accurately gauge the ball’s path and speed, adjusting their movements for precise shot-making.

6. Visual Stability: During intense physical activity, keeping a stable visual field is challenging. The eye muscles help stabilize the vision amidst the rapid head and body movements, ensuring that players maintain focus on the ball and make accurate judgments about its trajectory.

Enhancing the strength and responsiveness of these eye muscles through specific visual training exercises can improve these aspects of sports vision.

For tennis players, incorporating such exercises into their training regimen leads to better performance on the court by improving their ability to track the ball, judge distances accurately, and react swiftly to their opponent’s actions.

Whisperer Notes Update

The three (3) key foundation elements: Watching, Balance and Rhythm on our Whisperer Notes page are now explained in more detail.

Watching the ball is essential in tennis for precise timing and positioning, leading to better control over the direction and power of shots. Balance and rhythm further contribute by ensuring stability and fluidity in movement, respectively, enhancing the execution of strokes and adaptability in play.

Click here –>