How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

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knightrider
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How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by knightrider » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:59 am

Specifically interested in squash, but hope to hear from tennis and other racket sport experts.. I've been playing for 15+ years and have plateaued at a B level. Now I am 42 and am trying to see if I can give it one last push to get to A level ( 5.0+ in tennis rating )..

I am not interested in expensive coaching, even though I am sure it would help a lot. I have found that playing players just below me gives me time to work on my weaknesses. I generally don't improve by playing better players who just demolish me. I also think having consistent racket, strings and grip makes a big difference. I used to change this a lot and my game would regress each time. Now I plan to stick with the same equipment forever..

I am not a fan of playing tournaments since I usually play worse away from my "home-court" advantage. So I don't learn anything..

Other tips/experiences from top players?

KlangFool
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by KlangFool » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:02 am

OP,

Youtube. There are some pretty good youtube training videos on those sports.

KlangFool

bighatnohorse
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by bighatnohorse » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:03 am

YouTube - have you checked it out?

runner3081
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by runner3081 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:12 am

Ball machine.

Hit thousands of balls per day for tennis.

Not sure if there is anything like this for squash.

ThankYouJack
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by ThankYouJack » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:15 am

I would play players slightly better than you. So they can take advantage of your weaknesses and you're forced to get better or lose. You're also forced to learn their strategy and try to exploit their weaknesses.

Also, I know you said you don't want to spend the money, but a great lesson will go a very long way. A great coach will be much much better and faster learning than trying to learn from videos online.

runner3081
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by runner3081 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:17 am

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:59 am
I generally don't improve by playing better players who just demolish me.

I am not a fan of playing tournaments since I usually play worse away from my "home-court" advantage. So I don't learn anything..

Other tips/experiences from top players?
1) Hate to say it, but I wonder if this is a mechanical thing or a mental toughness thing?

The second sentence above clued me into that. You won't play tournaments? This is a big part of getting better, adding that additional stress will help your game and grow mental toughness.

2) If you don't learn something every single time you step onto the court, you are not paying enough attention.

As you are being demolished. See how they are attacking your game, what shot they hit from where, what spin, etc, etc. Back when I was in college, I was just okay, in between 4-4.5, but I was a sparring partner for many guys who would destroy me. I would never win. Maybe a game here or so, but I could hold up a few rallies along the way. I learned more in these matches then playing anyone my ability or worse.

chevca
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by chevca » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:25 am

I don't know much about tennis, but a B level player sounds pretty good to me already. So, get good? :happy

I agree with the Youtube thing, video learning, and practice.

No offense, but it sounds like you want to get better the easy way... play weaker players and only play at the home court. That's not going to make you better, only make you feel better. Do things that make you uncomfortable, like playing better players and away from home and tournaments. Maybe not against folks that demolish you where you don't even get to return the ball, but folks just above your level or at least the same level.

As I said, I don't know tennis. But, as a competitive sports loving person I know you don't improve by playing down.

livesoft
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by livesoft » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:29 am

Some people have naturally faster reaction times which is another way of saying that some basketball players are quite tall.

NBA players are tall and have naturally faster reaction times.

Have you seen a 300 pound lineman run a 40-yard dash in under 5 seconds? Some of that speed didn't come from training because it is about nerve firings.

My doubles racquetball team came in second in the university tournament. We played all the time and lost to a pair of coaches that played all the time, too. We also simply practiced quite a lot on fundamentals, so it wasn't just playing lots of games.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

nvambith
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by nvambith » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:34 am

I am also a squash player - not as good as you, but I have improved a lot since I started (not natural at sports).

I have found a few things very helpful.
- Go on a court by yourself. Hit the ball around, but try to predict exactly where each shot is going to land before you hit it. If it does not go where you intended, stop and try to understand why it did not pan out the way you thought it would. This will force you to pay attention to things that you may not even be aware of. The next level is to try to do this with a partner or in a game - of course you can't play 100% when you do this, but you do learn a lot.

- Watch other players (focus on just one player for a whole game), and try to understand what they do than you don't.

- Maybe get a goPro and film yourself in a game. I have been meaning to do this, but haven't yet.

Overall, in my experience, focusing on understanding pays much richer rewards than doing drills mindlessly, or "just playing" and hoping the improvement happens "somehow".

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knightrider
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by knightrider » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:35 am

runner3081 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:17 am
Back when I was in college, I was just okay, in between 4-4.5, but I was a sparring partner for many guys who would destroy me. I would never win. Maybe a game here or so, but I could hold up a few rallies along the way. I learned more in these matches then playing anyone my ability or worse.
I am curious how your game is improving if you are getting destroyed ? I understand playing someone better once to identify your weaknesses. Then you have to go back to the drawing board to improve your weaknesses.. For me that means playing weaker players whom I decide I will only try and beat with my weakest/riskiest strokes..

Topic Author
knightrider
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by knightrider » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:38 am

runner3081 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:12 am
Ball machine.

Hit thousands of balls per day for tennis.

Not sure if there is anything like this for squash.
Yes, they do have ball machines for squash.. Challenge for me is finding the motivation to use them.. That's why I like to play weaker players instead and use them a bit like ball machines.. Get my socializing in and improve my game at the same time.. But I agree using the machine would also be very good.

staythecourse
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by staythecourse » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:41 am

livesoft wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:29 am
We also simply practiced quite a lot on fundamentals, so it wasn't just playing lots of games.
Correct. The way anyone improves is through what they call "Deliberate Practice". You have to find your weaknesses and then practice focusing on just improving those weaknesses. In deliberate practice it is NOT supposed to be fun, but meant to improve your weaknesses. The point of having advanced coaching is to have them 1. Analyze WHAT those weaknesses are and then 2. Teach you drills to improve those weaknesses.

If I was you I would play better (experienced) players a few times and then ask them out for lunch. Ask them to give you feedback on your weaknesses. Then go and figure out how to improve on those weaknesses. If you are too slow then your practice may have NOTHING to do with a racket, but doing vertical jumps, broad jumps, and 10 yard sprints (for example).

For some reason folks think you get better just playing games. You don't. The usual story of learning any skill is... You first start and you find it interesting so you take a few lessons and start seeing some improvements which lead to playing more games which improves you to a certain point. Then you stall your development UNTIL you can improve your weaknesses. No different then playing chess, musical instrument, or a sport. Few folks like to focus on their negatives that is why most folks sort of stuck at a certain level forever.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

chevca
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by chevca » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:44 am

While working on your weaknesses is a good thing, learning what your best strengths are and what works for you against better players is likely better. Maybe work on your game so you avoid your weaknesses as much as possible, so they're only a rare shot you have to take once in a while.

Also, learning what the better players are doing by watching them, what they're doing against you to beat you, their strategy, their tricks, and so on.

chevca
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by chevca » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:48 am

knightrider, there's a common theme in your posts in this one that you like to play weaker players and think you will improve that way. Yet you're here asking folks how to get better and a main piece of advice is to stop playing weaker players and play better players. Do you see the disconnect?

playtothebeat
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by playtothebeat » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:52 am

I remember Federer saying that when he first started playing at a competitive level, he had a weak backhand. Rather than working on it at practice, he focused instead on honing his incredible forehand, knowing that better players will hit to his backhand in matches thus forcing him to hit more backhanders and naturally improving it.

I’m not sure I follow how you’ll truly get better by playing weaker players. They can’t exploit your weakness, can’t force you to do things that are uncomfortable etc.

I play tennis and find that my improvement comes from playing guys who are a tad better than me. Same with hockey and soccer - while it’s fun to score a bunch of goals against weaker guys, it simply doesn’t improve the skill set.

I also agree with the mental part of the game - playing in pick up games is vastly different than playing in tournaments (particularly if your pick up games are against mostly the same people over and over). Get out of your comfort zone!

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knightrider
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by knightrider » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:53 am

chevca wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:48 am
knightrider, there's a common theme in your posts in this one that you like to play weaker players and think you will improve that way. Yet you're here asking folks how to get better and a main piece of advice is to stop playing weaker players and play better players. Do you see the disconnect?
I used to play better players but it never did anything except get me frustrated :-( .. How am I going to work on improving my weaknesses when I am under pressure the whole time?

In past six months I've made some improvements to my game after many years of plateau.. I feel it's because I am playing weaker players with a specific purpose..

quantAndHold
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by quantAndHold » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:57 am

Do you know what your weaknesses are? Work on them. Systematically. Find a practice partner who’s about at your level and has your desire to improve, and do drills. Also do drills by yourself. If you spend an hour 3-4x per week drilling your weaknesses, you will improve.

Read Brad Gilbert’s “Winning Ugly.” He’s a tennis guy, but a lot of the concepts transfer. The mental aspect of he game is as important as the physical.

How fit are you? Get fitter.

And consider coaching. Not week in week out, but every month or two, to get help identifying weaknesses and getting ideas about what to do about them. A good coach *will* speed up your progress. Especially if you’ve plateaued.

chevca
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by chevca » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:01 am

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:53 am
chevca wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:48 am
knightrider, there's a common theme in your posts in this one that you like to play weaker players and think you will improve that way. Yet you're here asking folks how to get better and a main piece of advice is to stop playing weaker players and play better players. Do you see the disconnect?
I used to play better players but it never did anything except get me frustrated :-( .. How am I going to work on improving my weaknesses when I am under pressure the whole time?

In past six months I've made some improvements to my game after many years of plateau.. I feel it's because I am playing weaker players with a specific purpose..
If you've made improvements, go try playing better players again.

While playing better players, work on avoiding your weaknesses and not letting them exploit them.

Your argument is not good in this one. In case you haven't noticed, you are the ONLY one saying playing weaker players and staying comfortable will improve your game.

If you want to stay where you are and comfortable at your home court, that's perfectly fine. If you want to get to the A level, like you say, you're going to have to change your ways. Simple as that.

JBTX
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by JBTX » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:04 am

I took tennis lessons as a young kid. But never played competitively much. When I got to college and early work years I'd play people who I thought I was better than fundamentally but more often than not they would win. To a degree, if you' want to get better competitively you need to play more competitively , and against better players you are only as good as your weakest point. With me that was playing the net.

I'd play better players too and we could have enjoyable casual rallies but they'd kill me when we actually played a set. However, occasionally I'd figure out by trial and error how to use a different strategy and I'd do better. Such as try to cross more when opponent came to net, I'd instinctively go line. Or one player gave me fits with a kick serve. Only after waiting a year and playing him later I tried attacking the kick serve with a lot of overspin and I did better.

It would be good if somehow you could get instruction on how to make your game tactically better. Chances are just a few things will make a big difference.

runner3081
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by runner3081 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:13 am

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:35 am
runner3081 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:17 am
Back when I was in college, I was just okay, in between 4-4.5, but I was a sparring partner for many guys who would destroy me. I would never win. Maybe a game here or so, but I could hold up a few rallies along the way. I learned more in these matches then playing anyone my ability or worse.
I am curious how your game is improving if you are getting destroyed ? I understand playing someone better once to identify your weaknesses. Then you have to go back to the drawing board to improve your weaknesses.. For me that means playing weaker players whom I decide I will only try and beat with my weakest/riskiest strokes..
Look, if you want to stay where you are at now. Play weaker players. If you want to improve, play better players.

Who cares if you get demolished? Are you playing to win and boost your self esteem or get better?

The cliche about playing down to your opponent is a common saying for a reason.

There is nothing wrong with playing weaker players, but just know it doesn't match with your goal of getting better.

chevca
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by chevca » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:30 am

OP, look at it this way... You're 42, I assume have played tennis for a while, and it's unlikely you're going to turn a weakness into a great shot.

As I said, I don't know tennis, so I'll just use the backhand. Let's say your backhand is a weakness. At age 42 and however many years into this, do you feel it will be better to spend years now working on that backhand, or spend more time working on avoiding your backhand? I'm going to say it's better to stick to your strengths and avoid your weaknesses at this point in life. If better players just exploit your weaknesses over and over, stop letting them do that. You likely get frustrated because you just keep trying to use your weakness and hope that improves.

It's like telling the doctor it hurts when you do something and the doc simply says, don't do that. :happy

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knightrider
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by knightrider » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:49 am

chevca wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:30 am
Let's say your backhand is a weakness. At age 42 and however many years into this, do you feel it will be better to spend years now working on that backhand, or spend more time working on avoiding your backhand?
I think it will be best to work on that backhand. It doesn't need years. Just a few weeks/months of deliberate practice should be enough.

michaelingp
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by michaelingp » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:50 am

My brother and I met the best pickleball player we'd ever encountered. Finally, my brother asked, "How the heck did you get so good?" Sounded to me like a stupid question, but the answer was, "I hit 500 balls a day." So, I'd recommend the ball machine.

I also agree with the others. You HAVE to play better players. Avoid weaker players because they will make you think you play better than you do. Actually, I'm a little surprised by your reluctance to play better players. All the good pickleball players I know that want to get better are desperate to find and play with better players.

chevca
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by chevca » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:54 am

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:49 am
chevca wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:30 am
Let's say your backhand is a weakness. At age 42 and however many years into this, do you feel it will be better to spend years now working on that backhand, or spend more time working on avoiding your backhand?
I think it will be best to work on that backhand. It doesn't need years. Just a few weeks/months of deliberate practice should be enough.
Why didn't you think of this years ago then??

I'm not sure why you came on here to ask us how to get better if you have it all figured out....

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knightrider
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by knightrider » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:56 am

chevca wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:54 am

Why didn't you think of this years ago then??
Because I was following all the wrong advice of just hit with better players... :D

ThankYouJack
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by ThankYouJack » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:59 am

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:49 am
chevca wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:30 am
Let's say your backhand is a weakness. At age 42 and however many years into this, do you feel it will be better to spend years now working on that backhand, or spend more time working on avoiding your backhand?
I think it will be best to work on that backhand. It doesn't need years. Just a few weeks/months of deliberate practice should be enough.
Since you don't want to play better players and lose, how about playing someone who's equal to you, but has different strengths. Then you can help elevate each others game. I had a tennis partner who's strength (backhand) was my weakness. She would try to hit non-stop to my backhand, but my speed and forehand would keep me in the match.

I also had a weak serve (especially 2nd serve). But when I played good returners who could jump on and hit easy winners off my serve, I quickly had to improve.

daheld
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by daheld » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:03 am

My brother wants to learn to fly fish. He bought a fly rod and accessories. He called a guy who owns a fly fishing shop and offers lessons. On the owner's advice, he's taking one lesson to learn basics and fundamentals. Per my brother, the owner told him, "I like to give people a good foundation to teach proper technique and keep them from developing bad habits. Then, they just need to go practice casting thousands and thousands of times."

I think this is good advice in your situation. Pay someone for one or two lessons on fundamentals to avoid bad form/technique. Then practice a lot.

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knightrider
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by knightrider » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:06 am

michaelingp wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:50 am
Actually, I'm a little surprised by your reluctance to play better players.
I don't like getting demolished and feeling frustrated.. Also good players are rare. They are not dime a dozen. And they have the same misconceptions that playing weaker players will ruin their game..

So even if I wanted to exclusively play better players, practically I can't..

chevca
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by chevca » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:07 am

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:56 am
chevca wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:54 am

Why didn't you think of this years ago then??
Because I was following all the wrong advice of just hit with better players... :D
No, you failed to adjust and improve. :wink:

chevca
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by chevca » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:10 am

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:06 am
michaelingp wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:50 am
Actually, I'm a little surprised by your reluctance to play better players.
I don't like getting demolished and feeling frustrated.. Also good players are rare. They are not dime a dozen. And they have the same misconceptions that playing weaker players will ruin their game..

So even if I wanted to exclusively play better players, practically I can't..
Sounds like a tournament where you play at a certain skill level would be perfect for you to see where you're at then? I assume they go by skill level? But, you don't want to do that....

That's not a misconception by the good players.

No offense, but your posts and attitude show you are content to stay right where you're at skill wise. That's just fine. But, realize this last push for A level isn't likely to be completed the way you're going about things.

GT99
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by GT99 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:14 am

runner3081 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:17 am

1) Hate to say it, but I wonder if this is a mechanical thing or a mental toughness thing?

The second sentence above clued me into that. You won't play tournaments? This is a big part of getting better, adding that additional stress will help your game and grow mental toughness.

2) If you don't learn something every single time you step onto the court, you are not paying enough attention.

As you are being demolished. See how they are attacking your game, what shot they hit from where, what spin, etc, etc. Back when I was in college, I was just okay, in between 4-4.5, but I was a sparring partner for many guys who would destroy me. I would never win. Maybe a game here or so, but I could hold up a few rallies along the way. I learned more in these matches then playing anyone my ability or worse.
I agree with this post, but most importantly the last paragraph. One of the best tennis coaching tips I ever got was from a book (can't remember if it was Jimmy Connors or Andre Agassi). In short, after every point, you should ask yourself "who did what to whom in that point?" I think it seems obvious when you hear it, but I think very, very few players actually do this (I never did until I heard it - I always did a post match mental recap, but not each point). Totally applicable to squash. The more conscious you are of the details of what's happening, the more trends you'll see, and the more you'll identify what to work on.

chevca
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by chevca » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:28 am

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:53 am
chevca wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:48 am
knightrider, there's a common theme in your posts in this one that you like to play weaker players and think you will improve that way. Yet you're here asking folks how to get better and a main piece of advice is to stop playing weaker players and play better players. Do you see the disconnect?
I used to play better players but it never did anything except get me frustrated :-( .. How am I going to work on improving my weaknesses when I am under pressure the whole time?

In past six months I've made some improvements to my game after many years of plateau.. I feel it's because I am playing weaker players with a specific purpose..
Here's the thing... you have improved your weaknesses some, and that's a step in the right direction, but it's against a weaker shot or player. That's not going to help against better players unless you continue to step it up and work on these things against the better folks. You will simply reach a new plateau that still isn't at the A level you hope for. You have only improved your weakness to the level of the weaker player your trying this against.

TN_Boy
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by TN_Boy » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:58 am

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:06 am
michaelingp wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:50 am
Actually, I'm a little surprised by your reluctance to play better players.
I don't like getting demolished and feeling frustrated.. Also good players are rare. They are not dime a dozen. And they have the same misconceptions that playing weaker players will ruin their game..

So even if I wanted to exclusively play better players, practically I can't..
I do not play squash, but I have competed in various types of competitions, and I have to echo some of the other posters, it doesn't sound like you are thinking about this the right way. How bad do you want to get better? "It would be sorta nice," or "I REALLY want to get better!"

Here is my take on your general situation (others may differ ... it's based on competing in some very dissimilar types of events; I got pretty good in one of them, though it was not a racket sport ... but advice on how to get better in sports has a lot of common themes)

1) Most of your matches should be against people *approximately* your level. Ideally, most of them against slightly better opponents. It's absolutely okay to play somewhat weaker opponents at times, but not often. If squash is like most racquet sports, I'm guessing that playing weaker opponents will train you in how to play slow -- the game will always seem too fast against better players.

2) I would occasionally seek out a substantially better player, do the best you can while getting drilled, and then see if they have any thoughts on your game (beware that better player does not necessarily mean able to coach ... but you might get some ideas on where your game can now be exploited). I do agree that getting routinely wiped off the floor is usually a bad idea.

3) Figure out how to work on fundamentals -- footwork, stroke etc. And work on them. This is where a lesson or two might be helpful -- you may not realize where the low hanging fruit is. And then work on grooving the simple fundamentals.

4) Tournaments are a reality check. Your opponents are liable to be playing their hardest. If you really want to improve, you need to play competitively. In any sport I've ever been near, people who compete in tournaments, even at a lower level, generally are miles better than those who don't.

5) I assume your fitness level is not an issue. If it is, you might look at that.

Presintense
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by Presintense » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:02 pm

knightrider wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:59 am
Specifically interested in squash, but hope to hear from tennis and other racket sport experts.. I've been playing for 15+ years and have plateaued at a B level. Now I am 42 and am trying to see if I can give it one last push to get to A level ( 5.0+ in tennis rating )..

I am not interested in expensive coaching, even though I am sure it would help a lot. I have found that playing players just below me gives me time to work on my weaknesses. I generally don't improve by playing better players who just demolish me. I also think having consistent racket, strings and grip makes a big difference. I used to change this a lot and my game would regress each time. Now I plan to stick with the same equipment forever..

I am not a fan of playing tournaments since I usually play worse away from my "home-court" advantage. So I don't learn anything..

Other tips/experiences from top players?
Have you read the book The Inner Game of Tennis?
Performance = Potential - Distraction

123
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by 123 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:37 pm

A few sessions/lessons from a professional coach could be invaluable at your level. You might want to try a couple of different coaches. A coach/instructor will have insights and observations about your play and style that you likely have not figured out yet, as well as specific strategies to improve. While there is a certain honor in having mastered (figured out ) a skill yourself it can take far more time and effort than some professional guidance. Guidance from a coach can also trigger a deeper appreciation and commitment to a sport rather than the disinterest that can result from having reached a plateau and eventually sensing that you just can't improve further (or you then lack the motivation for further effort).
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

onourway
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by onourway » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:38 pm

I will echo the sentiments that you need to play people better than you to improve. Not orders of magnitude better than you, but enough better that you are frustrated a bit but can keep yourself in a game. In theory, this is exactly the kind of competition a tournament should provide. I suspect that you are not getting beat as badly as you are telling yourself you are, but you seem unwilling to tolerate being beaten at all. That tells me there is likely a large mental component to your plateau. (Your fear of leaving your home court is further evidence of this weakness). At the highest levels of any sport, the differences between the top players and the rest of the field is nearly always the mental part. Overall skill levels become nearly indistinguishable.

I will also challenge your lack of interest in hiring a coach. Where does this come from? How many hours of your life have you devoted to this sport? (and how much do you value an hour of your time at?) How much have you spent on equipment, court time, travel, and so on? Given that, why are you unwilling to spend a tiny fraction of a percent of your overall spending budget on this sport on the one thing that is nearly guaranteed to make you significantly better?

ks289
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by ks289 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:06 pm

You are already good if not exceptional if you're pushing to that level. I'm not familiar with squash, but reaching 5.0 in tennis at age 42 would be truly phenomenal (attaining the level of a former Division 1 player in the top 125 now in their 40s).

https://www.usta.com/content/dam/usta/p ... elines.pdf

I think that you are better equipped to give advice to us than the other way around! Even most tennis teaching pros are not currently 5.0 rated players, which doesn't mean that they wouldn't be able to help your game of course.

Here's my two cents:

1. youtube lessons for your level may be insufficient. Even your random instructor may not be particularly helpful. You'll have to ask around to find someone who works with higher level players.
2. I've read some of the books that have been mentioned (Inner Game of Tennis, Winning Ugly) and they're slightly helpful for the mental aspect. I do agree that you'll get more benefit from addressing this aspect of your game if your strokes are already great. Simply being able to maximize your skills under pressure may be enough to substantially elevate your game.
Last edited by ks289 on Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rbaldini
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by rbaldini » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:11 pm

I don't know anything about squash, so take this with a grain of salt, but... if you're not 5.0 (or whatever) by the time you're 42, you'll never be. I realize this doesn't help answer your question, but I say it to perhaps help you consider spending your time and efforts more effectively. My apologies for being a bit presumptuous.

I hope you prove me wrong. Let me know.

Topic Author
knightrider
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by knightrider » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:29 pm

ks289 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:06 pm
You are already good if not exceptional. I'm not familiar with squash, but 5.0 in tennis at age 42 is really phenomenal (roughly the level of a former Division 1 player in the top 125).
A lot fewer people play squash then tennis. So getting to 5.0 in squash is a lot easier ( less competition )..

lernd
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by lernd » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:30 pm

Long time tennis player here...

Playing players not quite as good as you is a recipe for not improving. Weaker players will not take you out of your comfort zone enough to improve in areas such as tactics/shot selection, and will not give you enough challenging shots to help you gain comfort handling pace/spin/depth. Subsequently, you will fall into "B" level habits and those get reinforced. You are fooling yourself if you think you can "practice" higher level shots/tactics against these players. Sure, on less meaningful points, perhaps, but on a meaningful point (using tennis as an example: a break point, or deuce point), you'll be inclined to fall into habits that work against a lesser player. A player who challenges you on every point, or every shot, forces you to raise your game at all times to improve. Your mistakes or "B" level shots will be capitalized on and therefore you not be rewarded for making them.

Tennis clubs often have "ladders" for players of varying levels. Can you find some players who are a little better than you to hit with?

Racquet sports are highly technical. It might be worth it to have a hitting session or two with a pro to see if there are any "holes" in your swing or mechanics that would otherwise limit your improvement. Some things may be hard to evaluate yourself - for example: are you taking the ball late (limiting your available shots, allowing opponent extra time)? Are you planting your feet to early? Another set of eyes on your game (you can't be watching yourself as you play) can sometimes prove useful (As an alternative, can you video tape/record yourself play for better self analysis - some Tennis courts have this ability)

yosh99
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by yosh99 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:47 pm

I don't play squash, but I have played a lot of tennis for many years. Is technique as important in squash as it is in tennis? I can't imagine anyone being a seriously good tennis player without a good top spin forehand, backhand slice, overhead, volley, and various serves with spin. All of those skills require a specific technique that take a lot of effort to learn and master. You can hit balls all day, but you'll never beat another player who also hits balls all day AND knows the fundamentals.

I'm sure it's possible to self-teach some of it, but I'd think a few pointers from a pro would be worth the cost.

randomguy
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by randomguy » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:49 pm

rbaldini wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:11 pm
I don't know anything about squash, so take this with a grain of salt, but... if you're not 5.0 (or whatever) by the time you're 42, you'll never be. I realize this doesn't help answer your question, but I say it to perhaps help you consider spending your time and efforts more effectively. My apologies for being a bit presumptuous.

I hope you prove me wrong. Let me know.
It doesn't matter if you get to 5.0 or not. There is no reward for achieving it that is remotely valuable. It is all about having an enjoyable journey.

If you want to get better, you have to figure out your weaknesses. I am guessing your technique is probably about as good as it will get at 15 years. Things like strategy are probably where your low hanging fruit are and sometimes a coach is the best person to point out when and why you are getting out of position or hitting the wrong shot. Physical conditioning might also be a place where you can gain some edges.

But as other people have said, you have to play better people and accept that you will lose. Don't get some guy that beats you without breaking a sweat but one that punishes your mistakes is critical. To some extent the higher levels of the game are just "faster" and the only way to get used to playing at the speed is to do it.

GlennK
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by GlennK » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:51 pm

runner3081 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:12 am
Ball machine.

Hit thousands of balls per day for tennis.

Not sure if there is anything like this for squash.
+1 on the ball machine.

I bought one 3 years ago, used it heavily over the summer and it significantly improved my baseline game. Will be taking out this summer to work on volleys.

halfnine
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Re: How to get good at a racket sport without coaching?

Post by halfnine » Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:14 pm

You are never going to be a great racket sport player by just practicing and perfecting technique. Not in singles. It's a one v one competition and styles of the players matter as well as the mental aspect. With that out of the way, I have a few tips.

Visualize the serve and return. Just prior to serving visualize exactly the serve you plan on executing. The return is a bit more complicated as you do not have control but you can come up with a strategy or two and visualize how you plan to execute.

Scout the competition. Find their strengths, weaknesses and tendencies.

Videotape yourself practicing. It will be easier to see any fundamental flaws in your techniques.

Watch other peoples lessons.

Videotape your matches so you can learn from your mistakes.

Footwork and conditioning. The downfall of many an otherwise great player.

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