The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork. - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:14 PM Thread Starter
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Question The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

I have to ask because I constantly read posts here, and Blogs around the net claiming that Serena has "bad" footwork.

Sorry folks, but this fan just doesn't buy into the negative hype.

Now, I will admit that there are times when Serena's demonstrated 'sluggishness' during the onset of her matches; and then moving like the wind during the latter stages of a match. So maybe that's what people are mis-identifying.
Is this the bad footwork people speak of?

It should be noted that Serena's is usually wrapped when people make these statements, so maybe folks forget that legs injuries require more effort on the part of the athlete to get one's body positioned.

Let me put it another way...
In ANY sport, to excel at their craft, as Serena has done in tennis, an elite athlete must be able to move efficiently enough to place oneself in a position to adequately respond to an opponents [serve, return, volley, etc...). In fact, a champion MUST be able to move better than his/her opponent.
It's not as if Serena stumbles into a return and ...oops...it went over the net.

If Serena were suffering from "bad footwork" as is so often suggested, then how is she able to win so convincingly, and sometime, incredibly (as in being down several match points) to defeat her opponents?

Sorry, but this idea of bad footwork ranks up there with the many other fallacies incorrectly attached to Serena over a couple of decades.

So let's be honest here folks...
What about Serena's footwork makes it "bad"?

I need to understand the pure unadulterated technique and analysis involved here so that I can identify "good" footwork, as opposed to "bad" footwork.


Oh, and one other thing...
Serena clearly isn't as quick as she once was pre-knee surgery, but she still gets to the ball mighty fast and positions herself for the return nowadays. So what gives?
She's a half-step to a full-step slower than she demonstarted during her domination years, yet she plays better than she used to and has a higher winning percentage????

Sorry, but something is very wrong with this equation.
And some honesty, preferably from a tennis coach, would be greatly appreciated.

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Last edited by RVD; Feb 11th, 2010 at 09:28 PM.
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post #2 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:18 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

It's not so much that Serena has outright bad footwork.
It's that for a player of her calibre her footwork is left wanting.
Watch this space for examples...
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post #3 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunlop1 View Post
It's not so much that Serena has outright bad footwork.
It's that for a player of her calibre her footwork is left wanting.
Watch this space for examples...
Okay, this is partly what I'm looking for. Both a specific explanation and hopefully a full-blown example of "why" she has "bad" footwork.

However, you've already helped me understand one thing. Which is that Serena's footwork isn't "bad", but rather "could be better".

I will return often to check for examples and information on footwork technique.
Thanks.

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post #4 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:45 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

It's not about the speed. Venus is very fast, but her footwork is left wanting. She takes huge steps to get to the ball, but not the little mincing ones to make sure she's in precise balance and position to hit the ball perfectly. And this is often the cause of unforced errors, because you've to compensate by altering your swing slightly. On the other hand, Davenport is slow as molasses, but has very good footwork around the ball.

I think when people talk about poor footwork from Serena, they're comparing her to the likes of Henin (just like when people say Henin's serve is a weakness, they're comparing her to the likes of Serena).

Between Venus and Serena, I'm not sure whose footwork is "worse", but the difference between them is that Serena is much better at improvising and has better racket head control, so she can compensate better if she's not in perfect position. Serena also has very strong legs and upper body, which helps when she's forced to hit a shot off balance.

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Last edited by moby; Feb 11th, 2010 at 08:52 PM.
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post #5 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:48 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RVD View Post
I need to understand the pure unadulterated technique and analysis involved here so that I can identify "good" footwork, as opposed to "bad" footwork.
If you don't play tennis competitively or aren't a student of the game you may have trouble understanding the finer aspects of footwork that Serena lacks.

Best thing to do is to watch a match she plays against Henin or Clijsters esp on clay and see the difference in their footwork.
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post #6 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:49 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

Her footwork is poor for a top player, but her raw footspeed is usually enough to compensate for it. But with that said, due to her poor footwork, she often botches routine shots, or has to contort her body weirdly to make it - due to the fact the little steps have been so inadequate that she's been unable to get in the exactly right position.

Her footwork is particularly bad on clay. Honestly, in her R1 match at the FO last year, it was atrocious. I'd never seen anything like it from a top player.
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post #7 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:54 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

I'd also say that when Serena's about to go off, her footwork is the thing that goes first. Like Lena's backhand. (Her serve isn't always an accurate indicator, because it's been so bad for so long she can still pull matches out even with double-digit double faults. But when she starts dumping backhands into the net, it's time to turn of the TV and ).

Vee's forehand or TOB's or Dinara's serve are also things that a dead giveaways things are heading south.

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post #8 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:55 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

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Originally Posted by miffedmax View Post
I'd also say that when Serena's about to go off, her footwork is the thing that goes first. Like Lena's backhand. (Her serve isn't always an accurate indicator, because it's been so bad for so long she can still pull matches out even with double-digit double faults. But when she starts dumping backhands into the net, it's time to turn of the TV and ).

Vee's forehand or TOB's or Dinara's serve are also things that a dead giveaways things are heading south.
I love how you make every post about Elena
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post #9 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:58 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunlop1 View Post
It's not so much that Serena has outright bad footwork.
It's that for a player of her calibre her footwork is left wanting.
Watch this space for examples...
Quote:
Originally Posted by moby View Post
It's not about the speed. Venus is very fast, but her footwork is left wanting. She takes huge steps to get to the ball, but not the little mincing ones to make sure she's in precise position to hit the ball perfectly. And this is often the cause of unforced errors, because you've to compensate by altering your swing slightly. On the other hand, Davenport is slow as molasses, but has very good footwork around the ball.

I think when people talk about poor footwork from Serena, they're comparing her to the likes of Henin (just like when people say Henin's serve is a weakness, they're comparing her to the likes of Serena).

Between Venus and Serena, I'm not sure whose footwork is "worse", but the difference between them is that Serena is much better at improvising and has better racket head control, so she can compensate better for not being in perfect position.
Both of these, especially the bold part in moby's post.

Serena is very fast. It's her footwork AROUND the ball that isn't spectacular, pretty much the only facet of her game that isn't.
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post #10 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 09:00 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

I don't think anyone would seriously say that Serena has outright 'bad' footwork. If they do, they are misguided. She has inconsistent footwork, but that's not the same as bad footwork. It's particularly inconsistent on clay, which goes with the territory, but it has good moments as well.

Serena can go from point to point, game to game, with completely different footwork. She frequently doesn't NEED to take the little tiny steps as much as others do, largely because she can hit the ball pretty well from a lot of similar positions and locations, and her timing and hand-eye coordination are so good that she maintains a fairly consistent contact point without always needing the little steps. She can hit off-balance shots better than just about anyone I've ever seen. The trade off is, she can get a little lazy and not want to take the tiny steps in matches when she really, REALLY needs to (vs. Azarenka for a set and a half comes to mind).

But look at Serena at her most devastating, it's all about the little steps. Part of what made her able to devour the tour in 2002 was the fact that she took those tiny steps in every single match. When someone describes Serena as sluggish, it's not that she's slow; it's that she's not quick off the mark, and that's a function of being in stride-it-out mode rather than baby-steps mode.

Some players (Henin comes to mind) have virtually perfect footwork. I've almost never seen Henin off-balance, and it's because she takes those little steps all the time. Serena can get off balance and compensate for it against lesser players. Against her fellow top 10ers, it's a little more complicated.
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post #11 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 09:01 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

actually Serena has the best footwork in the game. she always takes the necessary "little steps" before hitting a shot, which is why she's able to hit such amazing winners. Her footwork is reminiscent of Monica Seles, who anticipated the ball well and also always set up by taking little steps to get into the perfect position before hitting the groundstroke.

Also, like Seles,Serena is not the best mover. She tends to lunge for the ball now instead of leaping toward the shot like she used to. frankly, at her age and with her physique, i don't blame her. she is limited now in those areas. however, in terms of pure footwork, setting up for the shot, and positioning, she's the best in my book.
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post #12 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 09:02 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

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Originally Posted by RVD View Post

If Serena's were suffering from "bad footwork" as is so often suggested, then how is she able to win so convincingly, and sometime, incredibly (as in being down several match points) to defeat her opponents?

Serena's a superior player/athlete than the others with immeccable footwork. It's another credit to Serena that she can overcome this slight hinderance. At the end of the day when you're as good as Serena, you need something bad to harp on.

Venus might as well get her mail forwarded to Serena's shadow. She's going to be there forever!
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post #13 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 09:06 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

Haters gotta realise Serena does not have any big glaring weaknesses nor are any departments of her game should be described as simply "bad".

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post #14 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 09:11 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

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Originally Posted by tonybotz View Post
actually Serena has the best footwork in the game.
lol.

No.
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post #15 of 170 (permalink) Old Feb 11th, 2010, 09:11 PM
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Re: The myth about Serena's "bad" footwork.

You can see that when she is on the run and hits the forehand she is most of the time off balance, that's the only significant footwork problem I've seen from her.

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