Federer loses to NadalHere are a few tennis notes to myself, following up on a match that I lost 6-0, 6-0 on Friday. Hope springs eternal.

–Whatever the virtues and drawbacks of the backhand slice, I need to have one when I'm in a defensive situation. However, my slices too often end up being either high floaters or direct dispatches to the bottom of the net. In retrospect, I think I need to close up that racquet face. Federer's slice (video on subscription site www.tennisplayer.net) uses just an ever-so-slightly open face. Tonight I was practicing with a nerf tennis ball in the basement, and that does seem to improve things.

–I have ongoing indecision about whether to try to hit forehands with the Western/semi-Western grip or with a Continental, McEnroe style. The Continental grip seems so relaxed and smooth, with my body motion so in tune with the swing. (See McEnroe vid) My stroke with a western grip too often feels like a flail, and I sometimes frame it. I can't even get a good mental image of what the western forehand "should" feel like. The Continental shot, however, is difficult if the ball is high, and furthermore my coach tells me that it doesn't have as much on it. The Eastern grip is sort of in-between these two alternatives, so it should be a reasonable compromise, but for whatever reason, I tend to hit the ball way too high, and out, with it.

–Sweat! Despite using a sweatband, towels, and brand-name overgrip, my palms was profusely sweaty, which did nothing for my confidence. After the match I bought all the anti-sweat paraphernalia that I could find– the Prince Grip Plus Enhancer, a Gamma Tacky Towel, and a rosin bag. I don't yet have any data on whether these will help.

–The Serve. The serve was problematic. Oh heck, it was awful. The serve is the hardest shot of all. The crazy thing is that the ball is above your head, but you need to hit it with topspin. Often the textbooks say things that can't possibly be correct, such as "Hit the ball at the highest point of your racquet's arc." At the highest point in its arc, the racquet's vertical component of velocity is zero by definition, and so you'd never impart any topspin to the ball if you did that literally. Several times during my tennis life I got to the point of having a good or even very good serve, but if and when I ever stopped playing for even a few weeks I always lost it and had to totally, painfully rediscover it.

Nick White comments:

Two interesting points…it seems grip is foundational to everything. What's the starting grip in the market? Could we call it approach (ie, quant, fundamental, ta etc)

Second point: in the link for Winning Ugly, Google Books also recommends Michel Foucault– an interesting suggestion, though not as oblique as it first seems. I presume this association comes from the foundational premise that if one wishes to improve their game, one must first prove the ball actually exists.

The more frightening recommendation was "Marxism and Psychoanalysis". Either the algorithms need some serious tweaking or the programmers have a sense of humour.

Kevin Depew adds:

I believe your "market grip" is your capital relative to your ability to defend it; hence, the ghetto slang word "grip," what you're holding of value which Dr. Dre, for one, intends to take by "jacking little homies for they grip." But that's just one man's interpretation, obviously. 





Speak your mind

3 Comments so far

  1. bravochico on July 20, 2010 11:38 am

    A few random thoughts from a socal rookie who gets stuffed by teenagers getting ready to hit atp tour:

    a. Ball machine
    b. Today’s racquets have more power than you/I will ever need. If you muscling the ball, something wrong. You should be flexing arm muscle no more than 70%. If

  2. vic on July 20, 2010 2:51 pm

    from a personage who witnessed the match under consideration— what the professor needs is practice with a hopper of balls each day for the serve. the problem with the ground strokes is you cant rush the net with a ball going 20 miles an hour and clearing the net by 3 feet and expect not to be passed. so what you are tryiing to do is wrong and you have the worst of all worlds in that even if it does exactly what you want, you’re guaranteed to lose the point against a reasonable player. one would recommend some skiping around the court for you, and much less arc. stop paying attention to your racket, and pay more attention to the way the 4 year olds hit the ball, with pace. vic

  3. Rufus Round on August 3, 2010 4:55 am

    “it seems grip is foundational to everything”

    I would say a higher priority is stance - or footwork, positioning.

    The parallels between the correct positioning on the tennis court with respect to opponent, incoming ball, next shot etc and your position in the market with respect to risk, volatility, correlations etc are so numerous there is probably a book in it somewhere.


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