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Landsdorp: Is he right about U.S. academies and the USTA programs?

Here is the blog entry in its entirety:

 Opinion of the Famous Tennis Coach Robert Lansdorp about American Tennis

Most coaches in this country don’t know much at all about coaching. They are just horrible. They know how to talk a great game and people believe them. You don’t know who is great and who is not.

The USPTA is for quantity, not quality any more. Anybody is a coach these days. If you can poke a ball over the net and get a basket of balls, you are a coach. If you can talk a great game you must be great. So many times the parents are smarter than the ” PRO ” and know more. IT is not the PARENTS!

Another thing that is happening in this country is that every body has Academies!! Academies don’t create Champions. THEY DON’T !!!

But people don’t want to believe me. Every club in the US has “Academies” and if the coach has one pretty good player he will start an ” Academy “! It is more money in his pocket.  So the “One on One” has left this country.

Name me one top tenner that has come out of the Chris Evert Academy in the last 10 years? Name me one? Even top 30 player? I like Rick Macci, but who came out of his Academy in the last 10 years? And all these so, and so,  Academies in clubs don’t develop players. If in the past the kids were in Academies, it was always a family member running the show. They were in control.

I am at fault a little. My rates have gone up to $200 an hour.  Not outrageous, like some pro’s but too expensive for a lot a people. So, the “One on One” is disappearing!

“Academies” are popping up all over the place and now comes the second problem. Everybody and I mean everybody is in hitting lots of topspin and hitting “Academy” balls. High over the net with lots of topspin. Then you look at the top pro’s and they are all hitting the hell out of the ball. Very hard,  fairly low over the net, not much higher than 2 1/2 feet over the net, AND CONSISTENT! Consistent, because they have been doing it since they were young.

This Academy ball is a big problem in getting Champions. Because of the Academies, you are losing the “One on One” teaching and there goes the DISCIPLINE! Now you are in real trouble! No discipline…. No Champions!

Also, the attitude of people has changed after the Capriaty debacle. Let’s just go to college! Nothing wrong with that, but no Champion will develop with that attitude. And don’t bring up Isner!

Probably 99% of the world class players hardly went to high school and never went to college. Combining the two does not work. Going to a hard private High School is the death in becoming a great player,  forget becoming a Champion.

On top of all this you have a bunch of money hungry people running the USTA Junior “Development” Program. Nothing good will come out of the USTA Junior Development. They are just stealing players from other coaches and then messing them up and forgetting them. What a great organization!

There are hundreds and hundreds of very talented youngsters in this country, but they don’t get developed into Champions. Making of Champions is an art and a gift!

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Okay, Landsdorp's diatribe is almost as inane as the utter garbage masquerading as technique advice to be found in Tennis Magazine, or that annoying email magazine, Tennis 15-30.  I say almost because I agree that a tennis academy enures more to the benefit of the owners and coaches than to the students.  So what!  Who doesn't understand that group lessons and group think are/is less effective than a one-on-one relationship with a qualified coach?  However, Landsdorp's characterization of the "academy ball" as a pejorative is incompetent.  He's still living, and apparently teaching, in the era of natural gut strings, which, although more powerful, cannot produce the spin that polyester strings produce.  There is no rational argument against the premise that tennis is a percentage game, and that a higher arching ball trajectory is a higher percentage shot with more clearance over the net and a steeper descent creating a larger potential landing area.  It is also universally agreed that a ball that bounces up with a steeper trajectory is more difficult to handle than a ball with a flatter trajectory. You either have to take it on the rise, a more difficult shot to time and hit cleanly than taking it at the peak, or retreat well behind the baseline surrendering court position.  So what if World class players hit with a lower trajectory than lower level players.  They have to because they hit harder.  It's a sliding scale.  It's not as if, as a player improves and hits harder, he/she can't hit lower.  It's not that complicated. 


Returning to the issue of Tennis Magazine and Tennis 15-30, as a typical example, I invite anyone to read the lesson on Maria Kirilenko's backhand and decide if ANY of it is of any practical use whatsoever.


PS: Sorry for the rant, but, I just read the Kirilenko article and couldn't help myself. 

One of the hardest to hit ball is a fast heavy topspinner with a depth within inches on the baseline and pushing out at an angle. I'm sure the goal nowadays is that, rather than the fast low clearing ball with little to moderate angle.

The most used weapon on the men's tour is that inside out forehand with heavy topspin, pushing outwards over someone's backhand. And who is the best practitioner of that shot? Nadal. Who's the second best? Djokovic.

I agree!!

Yes, hitting on the lower face of the stringbed on a kicker seriously lifts the ball high. Just make sure not to turn the face outwards too much or you get a lower hoop shank. Wait too long to open the face, you get the leading edge shank. Toss location dependent too.

I don't agree that anyone, the top pros or anyone else, hits a majority of their groundies below the centerline of the racquet face, intentionally or otherwise. 

That seems to be a real debate right now.  I just don't think that anyone would need to be that precise with ball location; they are basically thinking "center" and then live with it if it is an inch off in any direction.  To consciously think, "I need to hit this 2" below center" just does not seem realistic to me.

Glad you think that, Mark and Paul. Exactly my suspicion regarding the Wegner theory. Low margin for error, esp. shanking.

In any case, I have been able to hit very high looping kickers that bounce a foot over the returner's head. I believe it is when the lower racquet face is allowed to go on the bottom back of the ball. The ball descends and I pronate up and out. Since the lower racquet face is lower than the upper, those strings have more vertical movement possibility than the upper strings.

No one in the modern game is that precise.  It's not possible with the kind of upward trajectory and racquet head speed used today.  Heavy, old school racquets had a sweet spot about the size of a tennis ball, and old school pros could hit it almost every time with slower, more level swings.

Read between the line. He's saying coaches stink because they don't coach the way HE recommends.

The art of hitting flat line drives!


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