“Winning Tennis for the Overweight and
Hopelessly Out of Shape”
Message from Vic to Me about the college:
May 13-15, 9am to 5pm each day. All strokes are covered. I personally videotape each person’s strokes and do an individual analysis for each person. We also take their photo with me and the staff. I also like to stay in touch with them to see how they are progressing. We cover both the physical and mental side of making meaningful changes.The course is at the Coto Valley Country Club in Coto de Caza, CA. The cost is 510.00 per person.
They can call 949-589-5000 for reservations. Or, they can call me at 949-257-9863, or email me at email@example.com for reservations, or more information…
I say go. This legendary coach has meant wonders for tennis and for tens of thousands of players just like you and me. ….Remember what he did for my serve in only 1 hour……increase of 30 MPH…..unbelieveable.
Check it out.
When I was at Vic Braden’s tennis college Vic said that on my forehand I was not extending out to the target enough. He said with my brain makeup that was a common error. He also said that watching tennis on TV and video contributes to the error……Hmmmmm. How so, I thought?
Vic has done an enormous amount of high speed videotaping / filming ….sometimes 10,000 frames per second … which allows super slow motion playback of strokes. With normal video things happen so fast the human eye and brain cannot see what “really” happened during the stroke so the brain skips things and just sees the beginning and end of a stroke and not what happens in between.
With the circular followthroughs over the shoulder or around the waist on the forehand it looks like the stroke goes from backswing to contact to over the shoulder directly. Things happen so fast our eyes and brain don’t see the pronounced extension toward the target that the best pros use. We just see a backswing and windshield wiper and most club players try to emulate that….usually with poor results…..
Why are the results poor?
The reason the results are poor is that going from the backswing to the windshield wiper directly gives only a few inches of margin to hit the ball cleanly. If you have excellent timing, then you can hit fairly consistently when balls come at you consistently. The trouble comes with slow balls or fast balls that throw off your timing. With only a few inches to be perfect on the strike zone this causes shanks and hits that fly all over the place.
Vic videotaped Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro and found that when you really watch in slow motion Roger’s strike zone for a clean hit is (I’m just going from memory here) is 4 feet and Del Potro’s is even longer. Both have world class forehands.
Their swing speed is so fast all we normally see is the backswing and the over the shoulder follow through and we never notice this extremely pronounced strike zone. It’s no wonder they are so great when they have 4 feet to hit the ball cleanly and most of us only have a few inches.
What Vic did with me?
Since it was raining a little he took me in the gymnasium and Andy, one of his top coaches fed me forehands. I was supposed to hit them to the other end of the gym right into the center of the padded wall behind the basketball hoop. I wasn’t even supposed to follow through at all. I was supposed to catch my racket way out in front toward the target. I was also supposed to hit the ball way out in front with a totally cocked back wrist throughout the stroke.
When it quit raining we went back to the courts and got the ball machine out. I was supposed to take what I learned in the gym, pick targets and hit forehands. I did not shank one forehand and most of them had depth and accuracy.
Since this is so new during practice I’m consciously thinking about extending toward the target more on each forehand and I’m sure if I keep this up over time this will become natural and fast…So when you see me on video you’ll see the backswing and the windshield wiper but you’ll know I snuck in a pronounced extension toward the target.
This morning I told you about getting lucky enough to get a lesson with a top hundred player. Little did I know how darn lucky I was because he seems like a pretty humble guy and I didn’t really know about all his accomplishments.
Rick Meyer was a career high of 85 in singles, but in the low 50s in doubles. Check out the note he just sent me telling me about the people he beat:
“I beat Nastase twice. Also Adriano Panatta, who won the French and Italian. He was #1 in Italy and 3 or 4 in the world. I beat Fibak, he was 5 or 6 in the world. Roger Taylor, semi finalist at Wimbledon and a top ten player as was Mark Cox. Both were #1 in England as was John Lloyd who I beat. Bill Scanlon top in the world. He beat McEnroe in 1983 to get to the semis of the US Open. Brian Gottffied and Ramirez when they were the #2 team in the world. Beat them in the French Open.
I also reached the round of 16 at The Australian Open in 1983.”
Is that awesome or what?
Wow! did I get a tennis thrill yesterday. I was in New York speaking and a speaker friend of mine Jane Ubell who just happens to be married to a former top 100 player Rick Meyer arranged a tennis lesson for me. Rick has beaten some of the all time greats like Ilie Nastase and others that I’ll put in this post as soon as I get their names.
Here’s what Rick told me after working with me for an hour:
- He likes my forehand but he emphasized never missing. He told me to have a consistent game to hit the ball from 6-12 just about every time to get good net clearance and depth.
- He likes my topspin backhand, but again he wanted me to never miss. By the end of the lesson I did not miss one top spin backhand. He again mentioned hitting low to high with plenty of net clearance. He said you can’t win consistently smashing the ball flat.
- He did not like my slice back hand at all. He said I’m leading with my elbow and popping the ball up and putting mostly side spin on the ball.. He said I was pretty much hitting the ball flat and he wanted pronounced underspin.There were various other things he didn’t like about it that I can’t remember. What I do remember is that he said I must lead with the racket head …. not my elbow. He said its a very slow stroke and even though my upper arm is moving slowly the racket head will be moving much faster since it’s at the end of the lever. He said to picture a table top in front of me, turn very much to the side and hit down the table top.
- He did not like my overhead. I shanked quite a few. He said it was because I was focusing on the outcome not the process. He said when he gets an overhead in his mind he is saying thank you to the opponent because the point is over. He said he does not care where the opponent is and he has absolutely zero focus on the other side of the net. All he focuses on is the ball contact. He showed me that he even switches to what looked to me like a 9 year old’s pancake grip to make sure he hit the ball perfectly in the center of the racket. He said he can hit hundreds in a row without missing because he focuses on the process, not the outcome.
- He didn’t really like my volley. He said it’s more like a high five motion and by the time he was done with me he was cranking some pretty fast pace that I was able handle because of the high five motion to simply get right in front of the ball with the racket. He also emphasized keeping everything out in front with the racket head up.
- He did not like my serve at all. This was a little perplexing because I had just come from Vic Braden’s training where I was doing darn good and added a ton to my speed, but I hadn’t had any practice with my new method learned at Vic’s since getting home so I looked pretty pitiful. Mostly what he didn’t like was my ball toss. He filled up a glass of water and made me go through the tossing motion with a full glass of water… luckily we were on clay where a little spillage doesn’t hurt We ran out of time, but before we did I cranked some pretty good serves but I obviously have a lot of practice in front of me with my new found speed and two methods to wrestle with.It is pretty cool though when you’re standing next to a guy like Rick who can effortlessly crank a hundred mph serve pretty much nonchalantly while he’s talking to me.
Overall this was a thrill of a lifetime to get a lesson from someone who has “been there and done that”.
Oh, by the way. Rick promised to give me a blog posting with a pros viewpoint on the approach shot. Watch for it.
In this final part of my interview with legendary tennis coach and tennis researcher Vic Braden Vic talks about Keeping it simple, the value of education, and he mentions Chevy Chase, Tim Conway, Ronald Reagan, The Bryan Brothers and Tracy Austin
In part III Vic talks about how soccer can help your tennis, how he increased my serve speed by 30 MPH in only one hour, his two new books, his innovative junior tennis ambassadors and elementary school doctors.
Hear Vic Braden talk about Bobby Riggs and his antics, hitting with depth and brain research.
I had the chance to do an exclusive interview with legendary tennis coach and tennis researcher Vic Braden.
Here’s Part I