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STROKES ARE BASED ON 'FEEL' NOT MECHANICS!
Remember the basic principles for learning tennis with my system is to develop a 'feel' for different strokes along with developing mental skills through REPETITION. Repetition of simple procedures create that 'feel' NOT an over emphasis on the technical skills and mechanics. Click here for an article that I wrote on 'feel' vs 'mechanics' in April 2001
Tom's Online Tennis Lesson
Conventional Wisdom or Tennis Adventure?
Most players who are taking traditional tennis lessons (which emphasize many techniques) have assumed the top pros have learned tennis the same way. But have they? As I have mentioned many, many times, the top pros have hit millions and millions of tennis balls to reach their level of proficiency. They have not learned the same way you are attempting to learn. They did not just study books, read magazines, watch videos, take lessons then hit the courts and play magnificently. Instead, at a young age, they hit ball after ball after ball until their own unique style developed.
Top pros have learned more from repetition and imitation than from exact mechanics. You, on the other hand, are most likely attempting to learn by techniques and mechanics. Why? Because that is the conventional wisdom. That is what most books, videos and instructors teach! Why is the traditional technique lesson so rooted in the tennis industry today? I offer three reasons below.
Reason #1: WHAT ELSE ARE INSTRUCTORS TO TEACH?
This is without a doubt the number one reason for the traditional tennis lesson. If instructors do not give you mechanics like bend your knees, keep your eye on the ball, keep your wrist firm, take the racket back, etc., what else are they supposed to teach their students? Hit thousands of balls and see me next week? This is just not going to happen because players want a diagnosis and a prescription for a miracle pill to make them play better. So instructors, magazines and videos are always coming up with new techniques and training mechanics for the magic bullet that will entertain the players and hopefully improve their game.
Below is an excerpt from an article written by Dr. Barry Lotz at golfindustryonline.com. Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. He is also a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the California Golf Writers Association. The title of the article is "The Reality as to why the Pros are Pros, and we are not." Just replace the word "golf" in the article with "tennis" and the principles are exactly the same. I was shocked when I found this article! Dr. Lotz was right on the money!
"Understand that the top golfers [tennis players] were not "taught" to play golf [tennis] the way you are most likely trying to learn. It is safe to say that no top golfer [tennis player] ever learned the game from books or videos. They played first, learned how to hit the ball by observation and imitation and repetition. When, by virtue of lots of ball striking and playing -- and some talent -- they became top golfers [tennis pros], their methods were analyzed so others could perhaps learn from them.
But note the fundamental difference between them and us: Top golfers [tennis pros] learned first and analyzed afterwards. Paradoxically, all books and magazines and videos aimed at weekend golfers [tennis players] take the opposite tack: they want you to study the movements first, hoping you will then learn afterwards. Of course, this process is antithetical to the way all top golfers [tennis pros] learned to play the game. But what else can modern instruction offer today's struggling adults? Instructors can't very well say: "Mr. Jones, quit your day job, move to a golf course [tennis court], hit 500 balls a day, copy what the good golfers [tennis players] around you do, play 5 times a week, then come back to me and we'll discuss your game." So instead, instructors (in all media) tell you or show you what top golfers [tennis pros] do to hit the ball well in most situations, and assume that you will learn from this information."
Reason #2: TRAINING CORRECTLY IS HARD WORK
Setting up a weekly training program to hit just 300 to 1000 balls a week is hard work. Who wants to do that? Answer: Players who really have a desire to learn. The traditional tennis lesson offers a simpler way to learn and without all of that hard work. Take two techniques and call me in the morning!
Reason #3: LEARNING TAKES TIME AND THERE ARE FAILURES PILED UPON FAILURES
When you learn to play tennis you will fail. You will fail often and you will fail regularly for years! This is just the nature of learning any sport. You will have your share of successes but failures will definitely outnumber the successes for quite a while. Inevitably, to speed up their progress, most players begin to seek out a quick fix. They go on a frantic search for a technique to make their dreams come true - the magic forehand, the magic backhand, the magic serve, the magic volley or the magic overhead. The traditional tennis coach steps in to help this type of player find that dream technique.
Put these three reasons together and you have the Disneyland of the tennis industry that will continue to self-perpetuate the illusion. The traditional tennis lesson is here to stay; there is no changing it. If you are taking lessons, continue them of course, but for the new year add a weekly training program where you hit a minimum of 300 to 500 balls each week. You will see the difference if you keep it up.
If last year in your play and practice you have not hit a minimum of twenty to thirty thousand balls, you are not improving at a fast enough rate. This year, add a few more weekly repetitions and separate yourself from the rest of the pack.
Do not be a victim of the technique mystique. Train like a Tennis Warrior and I guarantee you will reach your peak!
Your tennis pro,
Thomas, Thomas, Thomas,
We have come a long way together - has it been 10 years? I remember reading your articles and not understanding a word. "Feel the Strokes "? "You Too Can Hit Like a Pro"? What has this guy been smoking? What kind of witch oil is he selling? I had come back from an accident and had 2 heavy metal knee braces. I would stand in one position and hit balls to the ladies.
Thomas, this 62-year-old dude has come a long, long way. Today after a hit session a guy came up to me and invited me to join the club's singles league this spring. Most of those dudes are young 4.0 players.
In April 2007 I decided to put down one of your tapes and practice what I was hearing. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. You can never hit too many balls. Hit thousands of balls and the "Feel of the Stroke" will come.
I have had many people attempt to teach me the Tommy Haas' one handed backhand and Rafter's and Pete's first volley. It wasn't until I hit thousands of backhand volleys that one day I hit a backhand slice volley down the line and the ball skipped and rolled on the baseline....Thomas, that's what I'm talking about. It came automatically. I didn't think. I just looked at that fast forehand coming at me and all of a sudden S-L-I-C-E down the line.
I got serious after listening to one of your tapes for the 200th time. Coach, we have come a long way. Your tapes and articles have kept me on the straight and narrow.
Jared Kent, The Tennessee Tennis Warrior
ADDENDUM: I teach a total system of thinking in regard to stroke production and mental attitude which I cannot explain in one email. Although each lesson can stand alone you will derive tremendous physical and mental benefit by understanding the total philosophy. These emails, my web site, books, and tapes are part of a course in tennis, not just isolated tennis tips. They all fit together into a system. A system that once understood can help you not only learn tennis at a faster rate, and develop mental toughness, but also give you the knowledge necessary to help guide you and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process.
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