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Hey TF!

While waiting for the new season to come around, I been watching a lot of Venus highlights. One of the biggest things I've noticed is how her strokes have changed over the years:
1997-1999 : She and Serena had nearly identical closed stance, textbook strokes.
2000-2012 : Very wristy strokes.
2013-Today: Not so much wrist involved in strokes.

I know it's common for service motions to change over the years, but is the same true with groundstrokes? I can't recall too many people whose strokes look drastically different over the course of their career (except maybe Seles). I've really been interested in the mechanics of groundstrokes lately. Can you guys name any other people whose strokes look completely different over their career?
 
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I guess there's a number of factors for it, but it is interesting. The only player I really followed closely enough through her career to notice such changes was Dementieva, and there were some definite alterations in her groundstrokes - especially the backhand.
 

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Do you think those are conscious decisions?
Oh yes, definitely. Her forehand was a bit of a weakness in her early career, often timing it too late against the big hitters because of the huge backswing. So she gradually shortened it while trying to maintain the same power. Her forehand peaked in 2007.
 

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Do you think those are conscious decisions?
For sure. By the time she reached her peak in 2007, her FH was one of the biggest weapons not just in her game but in women's tennis.

Similarly, Justine's service motion changed throughout her career, too.

For how underrated she is on this forum, her game was one of the most versatile the game has ever seen. She and Carlos were consistently and constantly tweaking it.
 

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What do you think coaches are for? At some point, it‘s about the little details and tweaks to technique. Radical changes happen but are more seldom.
 

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It's definitely not something that happens by accident or unintentionally (except maybe in very rare cases).

Even for me, a formerly sorta competitive junior player who stopped playing at 17 and is now trying again years later, it's extremely challenging to change my strokes.

The serve is a bit easier to tinker with, probably because it's the only shot that you have full control over (the ball isn't coming at you). I change my serve all the time because I have shoulder/wrist/elbow/knee issues.

My forehand is stuck in an extreme western grip that worked well for me when I was about 13 or 14. Now I'm 188cm tall and it sucks. I struggle so much with short balls unless they're really high, and I just can't get enough penetration on my forehand when I really need it (especially crosscourt). The worst part is how much effort I have to put into my timing - I feel like players with less extreme grips can much more easily deal with the ball because their racquet face is more open. Mine is so closed that I have to really get under and over the ball, and if I don't, I completely miss my timing and shank it. FML.

I've tried with my coach to get less western. It's so hard. I feel like I'm going to break my wrist, and even when I don't, I have absolutely zero control - it just flies. Especially if I try to get any kind of power or someone hits really hard to me.

I know that if I spent hours and hours on it I could probably get somewhere, but who knows what my forehand would actually be like then?

I feel like a lot of players do change their strokes, but not unintentionally. It takes time and a lot of effort and even risk.

Rafa's forehand and backhand have changed through his career - his forehand seems less western and his backhand is more aggressive (haven't checked out the mechanics in enough detail to see if there was a change in technique or not though).

Angie's strokes have very subtly changed too. I feel like her forehand used to be closer to her body. I should check it out in further detail though.

Serena has changed her forehand I feel, but I can't exactly pinpoint how.

Konta I think changed her forehand too, as did Bacsinszky and Niculescu.

Niculescu used to hit with so much variety: she could hit a two-handed topspin forehand, one-handed topspin forehand, slice forehand, two-handed topspin backhand etc. Now she basically just uses the slice forehand and two-handed backhand.



Also, maybe the most interesting forehand technique on tour - Ernests Gulbis. His forehand changed dramatically.

 

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with groundies, i don't think there's a really good example of someone completely retooling over their career. but for serve, there are a lot of examples, esp on wta imo. like maybe with henin FH or dementieva BH, they tweaked here and there, but i feel the philosophy behind the technique is still the same
 

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I got injured and couldn't push off my tight leg on my backhand very well so my coach made play open stance backhands with my shape over the net.

Sharapova injured her shoulder and he service motion changed

Some people have shit technique but it is effective, a coach may alter that technique to make it more compact or direct.

As @ishgiver said sometimes it is just drilled into you and changing technique after a long time will seem almost impossible. I think it's like learning to speak without an accent though. Change little bits (foot placement, grip, preparation) and then compile it all together.

P.s, when are we to play @ishgever?
 

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Li Na had changes under Carlos. More spin from 2013 on FH. Even BH take back was more fluid and compact. Serve also changed.
 

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I mean look at Federer himself. His strokes have changed a lot as well. He's adapted to the times, what with the courts becoming more swamp like these days, by using more of that buggy whip FH for more control instead of his liquid whip, he's changed up his BH and takes it much more early, assisted by his larger racket size, and so on. Tennis means continuously adapting to the times. (or else you get left behind)
 

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I think so. For example in Sharapova's early career she played mostly flat but had good spin and mixed in loopy shots every now and then. Then she got injured and started hitting more flat consistently. Then recently, she changed a bit since her comeback...mostly flat but also with more spin.

Roger is the same too. His strokes changed to deal with the increase in spin from his main opponent, Nadal. He changed his racquet to a bigger head, added more weight to his racquet...all pros change here and there throughout their careers. Look at Coco Gauff...hits a loopy forehand...I promise in a few seasons or less, that forehand will be flatter and stronger.
 

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Regarding Venus, that she doesn't play with the wrists much anymore may be related to pain she feels in the wrists if she does that. She could stand it at the best of her physical condition (20s-30s), but towards her 40s, the pain may be more hard to stand, so she deliberately or instinctively avoids that now. Just assuming. That or she's lest quick than before and just doesn't find the time to use those "wristy shots" since she's not well placed enough. My logic says that the reason is physical anyway. Thing is, as an athlete I think she's very physical and accomplished, and could say she just can't play her best as she used to. Same goes for Serena or any other aging player. Though I would say Serena upon aging maximized her groundies to avoid relying as much on movement.
 
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