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Old Dec 5th, 2005, 11:38 PM   #1
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What's easier? Adding 'muscle' or adding 'brain'

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?
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Old Dec 5th, 2005, 11:55 PM   #2
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probably really hard
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 12:07 AM   #3
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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.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 12:17 AM   #4
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brain is sorta innate.

muscle is not.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 12:18 AM   #5
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Just like in real life, I guess...adding muscles is easier.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 12:31 AM   #6
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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.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 01:01 AM   #7
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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).
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 01:01 AM   #8
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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...
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 01:55 AM   #9
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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)
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 02:01 AM   #10
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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.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 05:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fammmmedspin
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.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan
Brain is a stupid term IMO.
So is 'muscle', the way most people use it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan
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.
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Last edited by Volcana : Dec 6th, 2005 at 06:40 AM.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 10:03 AM   #12
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easier to add muscle
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 01:05 PM   #13
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Neither
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 01:08 PM   #14
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if they learn to hit flat and hard, its because its easier
crafty players like Conchita or Patty are veru rare nowadays
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 01:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Volcana

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.
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