Written by Ian Westermann
Singles Strategy — 24 May 2012
Podcast #204: Copying Pro Styles

Watching the pros on TV is no doubt exciting and inspiring for our own tennis games, but is it wise to then head out onto the court and try to copy them? That’s the question asked of me in this episode of the podcast and I really enjoyed discussing it. Find out when you should infuse (if ever!) some of the styles and personalities that you see on TV from ATP and WTA professional tennis players.

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  1. really enjoy your pod casts ian.

  2. Hi Ian
    My opinion is that it helped me to get my strokes to the next level by copying the pro's.
    In terms of strategy or what shot is clever or not the commentary of the matches helped me a lot.
    You were speaking about luck and a lot of tennis players believe in luck or bad luck but according to me there is no such thing as luck or bad luck. Bad luck = Lack of Skill or Practice

    I play with a lot of juniors that get coaching but I see a lot of flaws in there technique and I try to advise them and I refer them to your site because I believe that by watching the pro's in slow motion like the video's you provide is the best teaching tool. Let me explain if I show them how to play the shot and when they watch a video of Roger playing the shot they take notice.
    In the same way you can take play's and strategy that the pro's use to teach and they will see the secrets in the game which they normally overlooked.

  3. I’d have added a few more pros to emulate. For example, Wozniacki provides the female counterpart to Ferrer that many of both sexes could benefit from emulating. In fact, the typical club player probably should look more into the women’s pro ranks for styles to copy before moving up to the powerful men’s ranks.

    Personally, I’m more of a Isnerpova type player — play the diagonals a bit for show but just go for it as soon as anything is there… Uh, does it work? Sure, when I can stay focused enough to juggle good core technique with safe execution of killer shots. Like that happens consistently, or not… Maybe if I quit the day job?

    Speaking as the typical club bozo, I’d love to have the additional ability to multitask a safe setup and finish game, but as soon as I toss that extra thought process into my mix, my feeble brain fumbles some other basic skill set like footwork, shot prep, core balance or something.

    Are there drills that help develop more solid multitasking abilities so us bozos can clear the hump to actually add pro emulation to the mix? Like patting your head and rubbing your tummy while dancing a jig and reciting Mary had a little Lamb?

  4. Ian,
    I think the recognition of shot sequences, and the response, will be key for getting singles players to improve greatly. I recall when I was taking Son in Sandy Eggo to his lessons, the pros would go through a number of three or four shot sequences. If he missed the first or second shot of the sequence, the would stop, and begin the drill over. Note that “miss” didn’t just mean that the ball had to be in the court, but it had to to hit in the right place, with the right pace and spin appropriate to make the sequence work in a match situation.

    I also remember one time when the pros had the kids sitting down on the court and they were quizzing them on how to break the sequences they had learner if (when) an opponent uses them.

    Very chess-like.

  5. Hello Ian,

    this podecast opens my eyes why I am loosing so much matches!
    I have skip that “boring tennis” and I am trying to play aggressive with lot of winners but I am not able to play more than 3 or 4 shots in the row. I am playing 3 years but I am loosing with consitent guys who are playing only 1-2 years.
    I play with 90-100% speed of strokes and in the good day I am dangeours for better players but it is really seldom. I can not play especially slower shots I can use only full stroke.
    So what do you recommend to me to be better player?
    I think I should start to learn to play “boring tennis”, should not I?


  6. I have to admit that nothing is more fun than blasting a ball full power for a kill feels great. Do you think this copying style also applies to a certain pro’s form/rituals?

    Happy Birthday Ian!

  7. Very solid topic and response from Ian

  8. Hi Ian,

    Today I listened to podcast # 204 and I agree and disagree with you at the same time. I mean, development in tennis is like an onion, you have to develop the core first and then start putting layers on top of the core. I agree with you that it is not a good idea to try to imitate any top 100 if you still have not learned the core, the basics, if you still are not able to hold a rally with someone at your level. In the other hand, I think that it is a good idea to improve your technique imitating the technique of a top 100 that plays like you and then accelerating the learning of the core, the basics. For me a top 100 that plays one handed backhand it is a good example.

    What do you think about that?

    Regards, Fernando

    • I mean, usgin myself as an example, a top 100 that plays one handed backhand it is a good model to improve my technique.

  9. Great Podcast!

    Who is the female version of “David Ferrer” ?

    Would it be Carolin Wozniacki ? who though she, can hit winners, and tries to do this from behind, her main strategy seems to be hit the ball back and wait for a mistake from the opponent
    and this got her to number one in the world?

    Question – What about doing a show on, the websites and videos you use to improve ?
    Say you wanted to improve your level.
    So if your 5.5 what would you have to do to get to 6.0 ?
    Or if your 5.0 what would you ahve to do to get to 5.5 ?

    What is your highest ever USTA ranking based on that scale ?
    And what is the highest level player you ever beat in an actual tournament game, either singles or doubles ?

  10. Hi Ian,

    In 2012 I became a regular listener of your podcast. I started downloading the episodes into my phone and now I have all episodes since # 140.

    I would like to suggest a follow up to podcast # 181, one of the best podcasts of all time. I have all the strokes and a game that is based more on consistency than power. Usually I work the point until there is a chance to attack. I live in Rio de Janeiro, train at night after work and compete on the weekends.

    If my opponent has more power with less consistency than me, then I am fine. However, if my opponent has less power than me and returns EVERY ball, then I am in trouble. I try to stay relaxed, but sooner or later I get tight. This impacts much more my forehand than my backhand, but also troubles my serve, return of serve and net game.

    After listening to the podcast # 181 I know that I need to consistently attack the slow balls from my opponent. What are the drills that can help me developing this capability?

    Thanks in advance, Fernando