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View Full Version : What's easier? Adding 'muscle' or adding 'brain'


Volcana
Dec 5th, 2005, 11:38 PM
Take your proto-typical young-player-on-the-rise. 1.82m, 135 lbs, two-handed backhand, hit mostly flat off both sides, decent first, above average second serve. Strictly baseline, strictly hit-it-hard crosscourt unlrss the line opens up. Think a tall, young Myskina without the vision.

Is it easier to turn that player into a top-of-the-line baseline, power player, a la Davenport or Sharapova? Or is it easier to teach that player a variety of shots and strategies, so you get a ... well, there isn't a six foot tall player with that kind of game right now. (Serena and Amelie Mauresmo are middle-sized players.) But think Daniela Hantuchova, only with Patty Schnyder's game instead.

Actually, Hantuchova is a great example. Would it be easier to turn her into a crafty tennis p;layer? Or easier to teach her to REALLY hit hard?

ceiling_fan
Dec 5th, 2005, 11:55 PM
probably really hard

Derek.
Dec 6th, 2005, 12:07 AM
I think it's easier to teach them to hit hard. You can't really teach craftiness on the court, players kind of develop that on their own. Daniela is kind of in the middle.

No Name Face
Dec 6th, 2005, 12:17 AM
brain is sorta innate.

muscle is not.

Spunky83
Dec 6th, 2005, 12:18 AM
Just like in real life, I guess...adding muscles is easier.

saki
Dec 6th, 2005, 12:31 AM
I think it depends on the player. Some players have a natural aptitude and instinct for mixing their game up - see Patty Schynder who has been playing crafty tennis since she was very young. Some players find it difficult to muscle up - see Justine who has admitted to crying over her training sessions - and/or to really let rip on their shots but others do it naturally - see Monica Seles or Maria Sharapova.

controlfreak
Dec 6th, 2005, 01:01 AM
You can teach whatever, but in the heat of the moment the player will resort to their natural instincts, which could be blasting the ball or could be trying to hit a crafty shot. It would take many years of brainwashing to override these instincts and make them play a certain way. However, I think that in the long term, the power game instinct would be harder to suppress due to its aggressive nature and the logic that power wins matches. Thus, adding brains to a power player is possible (although their new crafty game will revert to power under pressure), but it's harder than adding power to a brains player (who will employ their newfound power whilst also using their brains to look for an opportunity to win a point craftily).

Dan23
Dec 6th, 2005, 01:01 AM
Its easy to say its muscle but some players struggle to add strength to their game especially at a young age. Cleverness oncourt often relies more on instinct, its hard to teach and develops more with time and experience. Theres always going to be exceptions though...

fammmmedspin
Dec 6th, 2005, 01:55 AM
Myskina is a lousy example - she is all about timing, anticipation and strategy.

Players can learn to play with more variety and imagination - Mary P might be a good example if you remember early Mary. Maria s shows some signs of going that way adding more to her game. Its finite though as you can't turn people into a Schnyder or a Myskina by practice and as someone says the less intelligent game is difficult to keep down.

Not sure you can add too much power to groundstrokes. Avoiding the uE is the skill to add for success. Serves are interesting though - some people and sometimes physically the most unlikely people) can add power to their serve (Henin, Schiavone) whilst other semingly just can't sort it out. Even the people who do work up a faster serve though still seem to lose it rather too often in favour of the DF or slow serve (Myskina, Dementieva, Schiavone, Henin)

Ryan
Dec 6th, 2005, 02:01 AM
Brain is a stupid term IMO. Can you teach someone to think like Hingis on the court? No. IF you mean like that, then brain applies. If you mean court craftiness and technique, then brain IMO isn't very apt.

I think it can be hard to add muscle to a player without having their game "funk" up abit. (Thinking of Shaugnessy here, who mini-slumped when re-tooling her game). Likewise, teaching someone to slice more, get better approach shots, think about constructing points etc. is hard, and even harder to apply in a real match.

I'd say "brain" or court sense is harder to teach.

Volcana
Dec 6th, 2005, 05:58 AM
--Not sure you can add too much power to groundstrokes.I stand as a living example that you can. Learning the open stance backhand as it's meant to be played, from the hip s to the knees and up to the shoulders and out to the hands, gave me an atomic finishing stroke. I hadn't had any idea I could make a bsll travel that fast and stay in the court.Brain is a stupid term IMO.So is 'muscle', the way most people use it.Can you teach someone to think like Hingis on the court?Yes. Or rather, by her own admission, Hingis couldn't think like Hingis on the court, against the top power player in 2001. To quote her 'It's all I can do to catch up with the ball and hit it.' So can I teach someone to think as well as Hingis when facing a hitter like Maria Sharapova? Sure. I can't teach them to think like Venus facing Lindsay Davenport. That requires a platform of physical skills most pkayers don;t have. When she's healthy, Venus doen't have to worry about whether or not she'll reach the ball. Hingis does. In other words, Venus doesn't have to manage the match so it stays within her physical abilities.

if a player is sufficientlt athletically gifted, teaching them the mental aspect of the game may NOT be the harder task. it takes a certain level of commitment on the part of bost coach and player. Look how long it's taken venus to go to net regularly despite the fact she probably has better net coverage than any player on tour.

Tennis used to be game where yoiu had to learn strategy ad tactics to succeed. So almost everybody learned those things. In 1968, Hingis'game would not have stood out as so exceptional.

matthias
Dec 6th, 2005, 10:03 AM
easier to add muscle

tennisrox
Dec 6th, 2005, 01:05 PM
Neither

*Jool*
Dec 6th, 2005, 01:08 PM
if they learn to hit flat and hard, its because its easier
crafty players like Conchita or Patty are veru rare nowadays

Ryan
Dec 6th, 2005, 01:42 PM
if a player is sufficientlt athletically gifted, teaching them the mental aspect of the game may NOT be the harder task. it takes a certain level of commitment on the part of bost coach and player. Look how long it's taken venus to go to net regularly despite the fact she probably has better net coverage than any player on tour.

Tennis used to be game where yoiu had to learn strategy ad tactics to succeed. So almost everybody learned those things. In 1968, Hingis'game would not have stood out as so exceptional.


You could say the exact opposite about Henin-Hardenne. From 1999-2002 she had tons of variety and shotmaking abilities, but wasn't fit and wasn't strong enough. From 02-03 she made HUGE leaps in her fitness and beefed up her serve and groundstrokes. She always had the mental aspect, and it wasn't impossible to teach her 'muscle' or give her the athletic gifts she needed.

And Venus took so long to come to the net because she wasn't willing to, and because her coaches didn't care.

spencercarlos
Dec 6th, 2005, 02:00 PM
Working with the mind is a much more complex task than working out your body. Working out methods are the especific and they work as long as you do the effort. But to teach a player how to react to certain situations in a match, there are tips but they can work differently from one person to another. It not that easy.

vwfan
Dec 6th, 2005, 02:13 PM
all depends on the commitment of a player. when Hingis left the game she was crafty as a fox, but refused to add more power to her game and go on the aggressive. Venus came whacking the mess out of the ball and had even crafty hingis scurrying all around the court; yet her game, while less explosive that when she originally came to the game, is certainly more evolved and strategic. she likes forcing her opponents into difficult corners and positions and then hitting winners. she commited to developing a game that used power, but did not rely solely on it and her clay court winning percentage is a testament to that.
any player can move in any direction if they get the proper assistance and commit to an added/new strategy. these are professional athletes and the best athletes continue to improve their game in whatever direction ensures that they will be winning!

spencercarlos
Dec 6th, 2005, 02:23 PM
if a player is sufficientlt athletically gifted, teaching them the mental aspect of the game may NOT be the harder task. it takes a certain level of commitment on the part of bost coach and player. Look how long it's taken venus to go to net regularly despite the fact she probably has better net coverage than any player on tour.
The muscle is tangible while the mind is not. You can meassure how you are improving phisically on your body, but not mentally. Remmeber that on the court you can make tons of decisions in seconds, and you face a bunch of situations like bad calls, etc, that can affect how you respond mentally to that, sure you can have tips but they can work as same as they can't work, not to mention the fact that mentally not everybody reacts the same way, there are many variables involved, the mental part has a lot to do with innate gifts that you were born with. While to build up your body its all about your effort to do the training and to eat carefully, and that makes the job done in most of the cases, unless phisically you have a certain problem.
There have been players sufficiently athetically/technically gifted like Novotna, Sabatini, Mauresmo, Martinez, Mandlikova, Pierce among others, but they were not as tough mentally and that is why they were not as successful.

timray
Dec 6th, 2005, 05:11 PM
The ideal thing is to built up both, of course you can give up on one thing or the other but if she’ll have both it will make her better.

To built up muscle, is a common knowledge.

To built up brain is more tricky,
1- because you’ll have to find someone with the knowledge and experience

2 – the persons who have the knowledge and experience possibly knows less than the player, so the player have to be wise to choose the right person to the job.

3 – that person who have the knowledge and experience and know better, have to be open enough to listen to the player and to her field experience.

4 – the most important thing is that the player has to have the will to learn.

5 – if the player is intelligent enough, she won’t need anybody, she can learn alone, but she has to be highly motivated to do so. But most of the players shouldn’t think that they are like that.


But to build up brain is not as hard as physics, with the right guidance it’s possible.

Shenay La Soul
Dec 6th, 2005, 05:19 PM
Easier to add muscle because less thinking is involved. They're going to be parked on the baseline 95% of the time so teaching the power game will be tremendously easier. Changing up, moving in, staying back, serve and volley, drop shots takes so much longer to develop.

Veritas
Dec 6th, 2005, 05:19 PM
Depends on what style of game play you prefer, I guess. Adding 'muscle' is pretty hard because it demands constant self-discipline (I should know - I'm a joke in this category): you can't afford to slack off; getting 'less fit' is always a temptation and it's easy to fall into.

Adding 'brain' can be hard, but then again, I think it's sort of a knack for certain players. I think it can be something that you keep building as your game matures: you add little bits and pieces to refine your game play and you correct any flaws you might have as well. And from what I've heard with some people, 'brain play', once developed, stays with you and won't be forgotten so easily.

Anyway, what exactly is 'brain'? Who determines what type, style or level of game play should be considered 'smart'? Federer's been called 'smart', but his style of tennis doesn't look that much unique compared to others.

What I never got about Martina was why people called her game 'brainy'? I could never pick out what part of her game makes it a distinctive part of the sport...

Craigy
Dec 6th, 2005, 05:55 PM
It's easier to add muscle I'd say...

LH2HBH
Dec 6th, 2005, 06:02 PM
I would have to say add muscles - but you still have to add brain to that too. If you are going to be hitting the ball harder you may need to add topspin to keep the ball in the court and you have to be sharp enough to put the ball away when you get a weak one. Either way you need a combo of them both.

Volcana
Dec 6th, 2005, 06:21 PM
And Venus took so long to come to the net because she wasn't willing to, and because her coaches didn't care.Her coaches have been telling her to go to net more since 1999.
There have been players sufficiently athetically/technically gifted like Novotna, Sabatini, Mauresmo, Martinez, Mandlikova, Pierce among others, but they were not as tough mentally and that is why they were not as successful.Calling Mary Pierce 'not as tough mentally' is a error. Injuries lessened her from 2000-2004. And Mandlikova did win four slams.

QUEENLINDSAY
Dec 6th, 2005, 06:40 PM
Neither are easy!!! Its all about talent! whichever comes naturally to you.
Lindsay can'nt move fast, so she learns to strike the ball excellently to overcome that weakness, she cannot think like Hingis, because she cant move like Hingis, but she can hit and serve better than Hingis so she should think differently.

I think, these thread applies only to players of the same natural talent and capabilities. Lets say Justine Henin and Martina. Martina learns to play smarter game while Justine prefers to adapt herself to power game and both became successful.

Bottomline, a player can only do things she can do according to her natural ability.

Cybelle Darkholme
Dec 6th, 2005, 08:01 PM
Neither are easy but both can be achieved with motivation and direction and commitment.

spencercarlos
Dec 6th, 2005, 08:23 PM
Her coaches have been telling her to go to net more since 1999.
Calling Mary Pierce 'not as tough mentally' is a error. Injuries lessened her from 2000-2004. And Mandlikova did win four slams.
It seems you forget Mary reached the top ten in 1993, and by 1994 she already had a grand slam final. She won the Australian Open 1995. Her carreer did not start in 2000. Not because she is mentally stronger in 2005 does not means that her whole carreer she was. I can name at least 10 important grand slam matches where Pierce beat herself not because of lack of tecnique but because of her mental part.
Pierce of 2005 remmembers me a lot of Andre Agassi post 1999 full mentally into tennis.
Mandlikova had the talent to be the best and could have won much more grand slams.

controlfreak
Dec 6th, 2005, 11:24 PM
Sticking with the Venus/Hingis angle:

Hingis is known as the great tactician. If she went on a 6 month power lifting course and became muscle-bound, and added 30% speed to her hardest shots... she would be a fearsome player, and she would still play a tactically strong game, using her power only on high percentage shots and to finish points.

Venus was one of the original power hitters, able to thwallop the ball into the corners at 10 million mph. Over the years she was taught to use more variety, winning points with angled short balls and net approaches. But under stress, she would revert to blasting at it from hopeless positions.

Based on this example, it is more effective to add muscle to a naturally shrewd player, than to teach tactics to a naturally powerful player.

QUEENLINDSAY
Dec 6th, 2005, 11:32 PM
Players think according to what they can do. If a Williams or Davenport can hit 110 mph service on a consistent basis, why do you need to think of your next shot? Should you just smash hit a weak return?

spencercarlos
Dec 7th, 2005, 02:24 AM
Players think according to what they can do. If a Williams or Davenport can hit 110 mph service on a consistent basis, why do you need to think of your next shot? Should you just smash hit a weak return?
Judging your comment, you have no idea how smart Lindsay Davenport is.

cartmancop
Dec 7th, 2005, 03:13 AM
Muscle. I think players are either born with great tennis intelligence or not. You can improve tactics, but strategical smarts like Hingis in her prime for example are not taught.

QUEENLINDSAY
Dec 7th, 2005, 07:25 PM
Judging your comment, you have no idea how smart Lindsay Davenport is. :rolleyes: