Ever felt that there was something missing when you were learning something? You see how it's done, you know you can do it, and yet over and over you just can't and you don't know why. And then something clicks, and all of a sudden, you've got it, no prob.
This happened to me when I was learning the "dinky serve", that fall back serve where you throw up the ball and tap it into the other court. The first time I tried it, I couldn't get it to go consistently into the other court. It totally messed me up mentally. Then, several sessions later, I tried it again and couldn't figure out why I'd had such a hard time in the first place. I just got it. Couldn’t question why so I just accepted it happily.
Another thing I'd been having trouble with from the beginning was my forehand. It was always off. I could hit the ball, sure, but it made an awful thunk instead of a nice crisp pop.
We tried various things, like how fast I swung, or the angle of my swing, or if I broke my wrist or not. Nothing seemed to work. Finally, we figured it was my footwork - I wasn't anticipating properly so I wasn't in the proper place to hit the ball right.
Today, we worked more on my footwork with some drills and then good old rallying. My footwork was pretty much the same during ouor rally but my forehand got mysteriously worse. I couldn't even hit it the way I used to, which had been awkward but it worked. Whatever little connection I’d made in learning the forehand had disappeared. So I went back to the beginning – my grip. I asked my informal instructor how he held the racket and he showed me. I adjusted my grip slightly and lo and behold, when I hit the ball, it seemed there was an instant improvement. When I mentioned it, my instructor took a serious look at my grip and adjusted it precisely, showing me how to tell if it was correct by how straight it was when I broke my wrist.
It felt really weird initially – I couldn’t even hit the first ball. “Brush it.” I was told earlier in our session. Now I could make sense of the term. It did hurt where the racked rested against a bone just under my index finger (that part felt the force of the hit), but my stroke was definitely better with the new grip. Now it’s all a matter of getting used to it. Maybe then I can start perfecting other basics, like the cursed footwork!