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chrisdaniel
05-20-2007, 11:20 PM
this might be kinda long. Im a 4.5 level player, I have a great backhand. a decent solid serve with variety. Im fast, good footwork, but latley Ive been all mixed up with my forehand. Just wondering if anyone has had this problem, and how he or she overcame it

The problem is through the years my forehand has constantley changed, while my backhand is a short compact stroke capable of heavy spin and flat shots. On my forehand Ive used an extreme western grip, an eastern, a semi western which is where im at now. I think the problem is there is too much option and I just cant get grooved on one particular shot, which is great for practice, but in a set where you have to choose your shots, this can be confusing.

there are benefits to each shot Example :

Extreme Western= I can really hit out, with good power and a huge amount of spin, I return well with this grip. the problem is hitting flat can be a real pain in the but with this grip!!!

Semi Western= alot of variety, I can flatten in out, rolling spin,driving spin,you name it, but Im having alot of trouble keeping the ball down at the moment. Any advice here? should I match the form and stroke of my backhand? I should put video but dont have any at the moment.

its just a mess at the moment,which sucks cause everything else in my game is pretty solid. Dont get me wrong I can still play smart tennis and still win some matches. But I hate this problem Im having with my Forehand.
All I know is im sticking with Semi Western grip. I think : /

skiracer55
05-21-2007, 08:39 AM
this might be kinda long. Im a 4.5 level player, I have a great backhand. a decent solid serve with variety. Im fast, good footwork, but latley Ive been all mixed up with my forehand. Just wondering if anyone has had this problem, and how he or she overcame it

The problem is through the years my forehand has constantley changed, while my backhand is a short compact stroke capable of heavy spin and flat shots. On my forehand Ive used an extreme western grip, an eastern, a semi western which is where im at now. I think the problem is there is too much option and I just cant get grooved on one particular shot, which is great for practice, but in a set where you have to choose your shots, this can be confusing.

there are benefits to each shot Example :

Extreme Western= I can really hit out, with good power and a huge amount of spin, I return well with this grip. the problem is hitting flat can be a real pain in the but with this grip!!!

Semi Western= alot of variety, I can flatten in out, rolling spin,driving spin,you name it, but Im having alot of trouble keeping the ball down at the moment. Any advice here? should I match the form and stroke of my backhand? I should put video but dont have any at the moment.

its just a mess at the moment,which sucks cause everything else in my game is pretty solid. Dont get me wrong I can still play smart tennis and still win some matches. But I hate this problem Im having with my Forehand.
All I know is im sticking with Semi Western grip. I think : /

...are kind of a mirror image of those of one of my hitting partners, and I've tried a bunch of ways of trying to coach him through them. Here's some thoughts:

- There's a school of thought that says you have to choose one grip/one style. I don't; I use whatever works for a given shot; more about that in a minute.

- I use a semi-Western most of the time, and I have the same kind of variety you do. If you're having problems keeping the ball down, I assume you mean you're hitting it long. You have some choices: if you want to stay primarily with the semi-Western, basically, you need more topspin. One thing my coach had me doing last year when I had the same problem was to do what Sampras did on his forehand, which is to swing through the ball, going out, then up in the same line as the swing through. It looks like a big Ferris wheel, the snap does not go across the body (as Federer does, for example). You're really emphasizing the topspin this way, and the ball stays on the racket longer...less chance of an error caused by the kind of stroke where the ball just pings off the string, which is often what happens when the semi or full Western forehand goes off.

Along with that, however, make sure you're hitting low to high, as in really low to high. If you haven't done the drill where you put a badminton net or something similar on top of the tennis net; do it, because it'll get your height over the net back in place. And the weird thing is, when you get more height by hitting more low to high, you automatically get more top spin...the air just wants to spin the ball to pull it down into the court. Whenever I start hitting too flat, I imagine that the court isn't flat...it's a hill, and I'm at the bottom, and I have to hit up and over the top of the hill.

- The other thing you can do to get more top, is to use all of the above clues but use more full Western, at least until you get your semi-Western straightened out. As I said above, my base stroke is a semi-Western, where most of the time I'm trying to hit hard through the court and punch the other guy's lights out. My main hitting partner, however, loves that kind of stuff, so I'll throw in some Western with a lot of loop and topspin to keep him from homing in on my hard balls.

- Yep, it's often hard (not impossible) to hit flat with a Western or semi-Western. So next time you're out hitting, try hitting a few balls with an Eastern forehand grip and flatten out the stroke, too. You're experienced enough, you can handle that kind of experiment...so give it a whirl!

- Next, ain't nothing wrong with a Continental grip on the forehand...Fred Perry won 3 Wimbledons with it. I don't use Continental a lot on the forehand, but there are situations where it's invaluable...as in, you're run out of court wide to your forehand. I used to try to blast a winner...worked for Sampras, doesn't work very much for me. My coach had me try going to a Continental, block or chip the ball back like a volley to the middle of the court, and get back in position. So maybe there's nothing wrong with your base forehand, but you need some other options for difficult balls, as I just described.

I also a Continental chip forehand if I want to chip and charge, or on an approach shot where I either (a) can't get to the ball quick enough to hit over it or (b) purposely want to keep the ball down because the guy on the other side of the net loves blasting balls that kick up and hates dealing with low and away slice balls...

There are a couple of drills that can be real useful, too, that my coaches had me do to help me get out of the "great shot every 20th ball, errors on all the others" forehand problems. These are not really technique drills, but they will help enforce consistency and eliminate silly errors on the forehand:

- First, my coach back in 2004 was David Hodge, who was just off the ATP tour and was then Assistant Men's Coach at Colorado University in Boulder. One of the greatest serve and volley players I ever saw...but he could do what it took to win against a stubborn, steady opponent or if Dave was having an off day. I saw him in the semis of the Colorado Open, on a day when he couldn't hit a fat bull in the rear end on his 125 mph first serve, and his forehand, which is a rocket, wasn't dropping in. He won that match, in 3 sets, on the strength of his second serve, slice backand, and hustle.

So you won't be surprised when he subjected me to The Grind Drill. It's real simple. You and your opponent rally until somebody makes an error. That is, you can't hit winners, where a winner is defined as a ball that the other guy can't get his racket on. So you can hit as hard, or easy, as you want. The winner is the first player to 21 points. So I immediately went out and started pasting balls. The score? Dave Hodge 21, yours truly...2. It took me a whole summer before I could get up to numbers like Dave Hodge 21, Yours Truly 13. It taught me a lot about patience, and how much of an athlete you have to be to win a tennis match.

- The other drill, you've probably heard of, and this is also a Dave Hodge special. You start by setting a line of cones on the service line, and your job is to hit past the cones but inside the base line. Your hitting partner feeds you. You start by hitting right down the middle. Every ball you get in the zone, you get a point, every ball you hit short, long, or out, you lose two points. You win when you get to 11 points. Took me 3 sessions to get to 11 point. Once you get that down, the fun has just begun. Now you move the cones halfway between the service line and baseline; repeat the drill. Got that? Now move the cones to within three feet of the baseline. Got that? Now set the cones in an L-shape so you can only hit cross courts. Got that? Now set them in an L-shape so you can only hit down the line. You get the joke...

Good luck, and keep everybody posted on your progress!

smoothtennis
05-21-2007, 10:18 AM
Wow - I could have written your post. I have had the same problem with the forehand, after getting a very solid backhand working over the years.

I am a 4.0, but my One handed back hand, is my most advanced stroke. Compact, balanced, heavy spin, pace, or flat, or anything in between.

I started analyzing why it was so much more solid than my forehand, because, honestly, I used to not even be able to hit the one hander at all!

I had done, all three grips you mentioned too. Here are my findings, and maybe something will apply to you, it just takes some anaylisis, and awareness. I learned first and foremost, that I was not hitting out fully in front in the proper contact zone. I was close, but slightly behind, causing the ball to fly long, and worse, causing leverage to be comprimised, and when that happens, more muscle is involved in the stroke mechanics at *ball contact*, which causes arming of the ball, and tightness of muscles.

Be aware, the various grips, can cause that contact point to change slightly, so the timing my be a little different depending on your grip choice, which is why you need to stick to one until it is comfortable. Also, your footwork setup, can affect you your time the ball considerably. Open vs. closed will be a little different.

You want consistency, so I would work on one piece at a time. Stance, then grip, then contact zone.

What I did to re-find, regroove my forehand, was go out to a wall with the goal of finding the exact *feel* of where I contacted the ball well out front, in balance, and that the ball really flew off my strings, with very little muscluar effort on my part. I did find after a week, a *zone* where I could strike the ball with relaxed ease, and the ball would really fly off my racket.

I played yesterday, and the forehand was not just back, it was the best forehands I have ever hit, so it was a breakthrough for me. I did not muscle or power the ball, I just worked on the timing. Hey, but to do all that, I had to keep one grip, one setup, one method. Now there are situations where you have to hit open vs. closed or use a different grip, but I mean the rally ball, where you have time to set up on your terms.

So you know, mine was so bad that I even commited to myself that I would never hit a winner, or a hard shot again if that was what it took. However, once I was catching the ball cleanly in the proper contact zone, the ball was exploding off my racket, without a lot of effort, so I was able to crush some balls, even though I commited to not hitting hard. It was very surprising.

Good luck, because it can be daunting when one of our strokes goes off like that.

smoothtennis
05-21-2007, 10:23 AM
SkiRacer - excellent post.

skiracer55
05-21-2007, 10:38 AM
SkiRacer - excellent post.


...I had forgotten how important contact point is, and why it's usually different depending on the stroke/grip...next time I have a problem with my forehand (there's always a next time, isn't there?), I'm gonna try your suggestions...

smoothtennis
05-21-2007, 11:33 AM
...I had forgotten how important contact point is, and why it's usually different depending on the stroke/grip...next time I have a problem with my forehand (there's always a next time, isn't there?), I'm gonna try your suggestions...

Thanks --- I'll confess, my suggestions I took from a book entitled Breakthrough Tennis. It is not a classic book on mechanics, but when my soup-bag of mechanics had me in flux, I wanted to try something that involved feel.

The author dramatically improved his balance and timing due to a tennis elbow injury, and had big breakthoughs after correcting his contact zone and timing. When he finally found out what positions kept his elbow from hurting while hitting, he had obtianed vastly imporoved timing and structure at contact. Hey...always good to read a new perspctive/experience, even if I only pick on one useful thing from it.


(there's always a next time, isn't there?),



LMAO - and yes---there is ALWAYS a next time!

skiracer55
05-21-2007, 11:44 AM
Thanks --- I'll confess, my suggestions I took from a book entitled Breakthrough Tennis. It is not a classic book on mechanics, but when my soup-bag of mechanics had me in flux, I wanted to try something that involved feel.

The author dramatically improved his balance and timing due to a tennis elbow injury, and had big breakthoughs after correcting his contact zone and timing. When he finally found out what positions kept his elbow from hurting while hitting, he had obtianed vastly imporoved timing and structure at contact. Hey...always good to read a new perspctive/experience, even if I only pick on one useful thing from it.




LMAO - and yes---there is ALWAYS a next time!

...does it say anything useful about not having a nervous breakdown because you're a tennis player? Tennis, IMHO, is worth it in comparison to, say, golf ("a good walk ruined"...is what somebody called it). Tennis, however, is almost as bad as my wintertime obsession, Masters Alpine ski racing, where if you screw up, you not only lose, you usually take a trip to McDonald's and where if you win, you're only as good as your last turn. Hey, I used to be a bike racer, which goes to show how smart I am...come to think of it, if you want a really good laugh, go to the "Odds and Ends" subforum, where I will shortly post the story of my first ever criterium, at Lime Rock Park sports car track in Connecticut, no less...

Pusher
05-21-2007, 12:11 PM
Good discussion.

My son (17) is a ranked junior but lately he has had consistency issues with his forehand. I think I know what his problem is but I would like to verify.

He has a habit of waiting on the ball to come to his forehand: he sets up early, bends his knees and then lets the ball drop to about his knee level. He hits up and out which produces a lot of topspin and the ball generally lands at about the service line. Some times he will net the ball when he springs up too early or leans back as he comes up. I've been trying to get him to take the ball earlier so that it doesn't drop as much but I'm thinking that the real issue is the contact point. Does it really matter whether he takes the ball early or late as long as the contact point is correct (about waist high)?

He is really in love with topspin and I think that is why he is having problems. Thats a lot for any replies/advice.

JCo872
05-21-2007, 12:59 PM
Good discussion.

My son (17) is a ranked junior but lately he has had consistency issues with his forehand. I think I know what his problem is but I would like to verify.

He has a habit of waiting on the ball to come to his forehand: he sets up early, bends his knees and then lets the ball drop to about his knee level. He hits up and out which produces a lot of topspin and the ball generally lands at about the service line. Some times he will net the ball when he springs up too early or leans back as he comes up. I've been trying to get him to take the ball earlier so that it doesn't drop as much but I'm thinking that the real issue is the contact point. Does it really matter whether he takes the ball early or late as long as the contact point is correct (about waist high)?

He is really in love with topspin and I think that is why he is having problems. Thats a lot for any replies/advice.

Pusher,

You are absolutely correct. The ball should always been contacted at least waist height. If he generates topspin by letting the ball drop to his knees, then he is not generating topspin correctly. I have seen many people generate spin this way (by letting the ball drop low) and it is not a technically sound stroke. He will never be able to drive through the ball this way, and the topspin he generates from this technique will not be the heavy topspin that wins points. Also, by letting the ball drop, it gives his opponent more time to get back in position. Letting the ball drop this low is a killer on so many levels.

Hitting in front of the body is absolutely essential as well. It gets you the crucial leverage needed to hit hard.

Great job identifying this problem with your son's forehand. My suggestion is to show him where the pros contact the ball by looking at video of pro strokes.

Check out this clip of Nadal, one of the biggest topspin generators out there:
http://www.hi-techtennis.com/video_sample/index.php?movie=nadal_front.swf&size=normal

His contact point is out in front and wasit high.

Good luck!

Jeff

Pusher
05-21-2007, 03:49 PM
Pusher,

You are absolutely correct. The ball should always been contacted at least waist height. If he generates topspin by letting the ball drop to his knees, then he is not generating topspin correctly. I have seen many people generate spin this way (by letting the ball drop low) and it is not a technically sound stroke. He will never be able to drive through the ball this way, and the topspin he generates from this technique will not be the heavy topspin that wins points. Also, by letting the ball drop, it gives his opponent more time to get back in position. Letting the ball drop this low is a killer on so many levels.

Hitting in front of the body is absolutely essential as well. It gets you the crucial leverage needed to hit hard.

Great job identifying this problem with your son's forehand. My suggestion is to show him where the pros contact the ball by looking at video of pro strokes.

Check out this clip of Nadal, one of the biggest topspin generators out there:
http://www.hi-techtennis.com/video_sample/index.php?movie=nadal_front.swf&size=normal

His contact point is out in front and wasit high.

Good luck!

Jeff

Thanks a lot. And thats a great video of Nadal taking ball at the correct point.

paulfreda
05-21-2007, 09:18 PM
My best shot with my SW is back near my body and below my waist.
I simply drive forward with my forearm while suppinating.
Very powerful and consistent shot for me.
I was taught that closer to your body in the long direction of the court means more power. You do not want the frame decelerating which it must do if hit too far out front.

Nadal hits out front and high because the Western grip demands it in order to get the face squared up from the naturally closed position of a Western takeback. Plus Nadal closes the face even more which is why his swing is like an uppercut punch. He needs to get that face squared up.

smoothtennis
05-22-2007, 06:54 AM
Good discussion.

My son (17) is a ranked junior but lately he has had consistency issues with his forehand. I think I know what his problem is but I would like to verify.

He has a habit of waiting on the ball to come to his forehand: he sets up early, bends his knees and then lets the ball drop to about his knee level. He hits up and out which produces a lot of topspin and the ball generally lands at about the service line. Some times he will net the ball when he springs up too early or leans back as he comes up. I've been trying to get him to take the ball earlier so that it doesn't drop as much but I'm thinking that the real issue is the contact point. Does it really matter whether he takes the ball early or late as long as the contact point is correct (about waist high)?

He is really in love with topspin and I think that is why he is having problems. Thats a lot for any replies/advice.

I agree, great observation. All the things you mentioned are common with guys moving up the skill ladder on a forehand at some point. I personally, had every issue you mentiond at some point, and had to concentrate on correcting those things over time.

It is always important to contact the ball out front, and to get the racket moving in time to hit that out front position so that the body is at the optimal skeletal leveraged position. When you are out front at the right point, there should not be the need for a lot of muscle, but rather, your skeletal structure is very solid when the joints are lined up and out front. So...the result is that the muscles can be very relaxed while accelerating (no protagonist/antagonistic muscles in competition) through to that zone. That produces a very powerful, fully structured stroke that is key to a good consitestent and aggresive forehand.

Sometimes techincal suggestions don't work with people. What you might ask your son to try, is to always be *aware* of where the appex of the ball is when coming up off the court. He should start to see the ball's height naturally, and be aware of it. Then he can pick his preferred ball hight to strike the ball. He has information to make a decision on at that point. Then it becomes a natural place to strike the ball, and you don't conciously think about such things.

The coming up and leaning back at contact time, is another problem altogether. IMHO, if he sees the ball hit the strings (or close), he will be keeping his head down naturally, and hense, his weight will have to stay centered to do this. This little trick can help him stay down and with the ball through contact.

Good luck with your son's development!

smoothtennis
05-22-2007, 07:12 AM
Paulreda said:

I was taught that closer to your body in the long direction of the court means more power. You do not want the frame decelerating which it must do if hit too far out front.


Are you saying the less out front you hit, the more powerful the ball? That stikes me as odd at first glance.

Everything is relative. There is always a place, when we talk about contact point, that is either too far out front, or too close to the body for our given structural capacity. Too far out front can mean a lot of things. In general, as I understand it, you are too far out front, when your balance is negatively affected by the swing or you can no longer maintain the racket face at the proper angle.

It is my understanding, that the further out front you contact the ball, the more power you have, due to two things. The first is structural integrity or optimization of your muscular/skeletal position. The second, is that, in general, the further out front you are, the more forward energy you have going into the contact point.

It is true, that the more western grip demands a very out front strike, and semi-western, a bit less, eastern even less, and so on down to Contenental. But all of those grips can be well out front from what I have seen.

The main advantage I think you personally have the way you described striking the ball, is consistency. That is because if you are hitting the ball closer to your body, your racket head will naturally stay in the direct linear hitting path of the ball for a longer period than say a WW type stroke, demanding less timing but compromising some power.

I hope I am not off my rocker with my understanding, lol.

Pusher
05-22-2007, 08:12 AM
I agree, great observation. All the things you mentioned are common with guys moving up the skill ladder on a forehand at some point. I personally, had every issue you mentiond at some point, and had to concentrate on correcting those things over time.

It is always important to contact the ball out front, and to get the racket moving in time to hit that out front position so that the body is at the optimal skeletal leveraged position. When you are out front at the right point, there should not be the need for a lot of muscle, but rather, your skeletal structure is very solid when the joints are lined up and out front. So...the result is that the muscles can be very relaxed while accelerating (no protagonist/antagonistic muscles in competition) through to that zone. That produces a very powerful, fully structured stroke that is key to a good consitestent and aggresive forehand.

Sometimes techincal suggestions don't work with people. What you might ask your son to try, is to always be *aware* of where the appex of the ball is when coming up off the court. He should start to see the ball's height naturally, and be aware of it. Then he can pick his preferred ball hight to strike the ball. He has information to make a decision on at that point. Then it becomes a natural place to strike the ball, and you don't conciously think about such things.

The coming up and leaning back at contact time, is another problem altogether. IMHO, if he sees the ball hit the strings (or close), he will be keeping his head down naturally, and hense, his weight will have to stay centered to do this. This little trick can help him stay down and with the ball through contact.

Good luck with your son's development!

I agree with all you say.

Its like its 2 steps forward and one step backward for my son's game. His forehand used to be solid and his backhand was weak but now his backhand is more consistent than his forehand. It really frustrates him as he figures once he learns a stroke it should always be there but that just isn't so.

He hits his forehand so hard that he broke the strings on 2 racquets within 10minutes at a tournament last weekend. I initially thought it was a string issue and it may have been at least partially but I really think his forehand technique is the major culprit. Letting the ball drop low and swinging up at full strength has to be very hard on strings. He's hard-headed and not as coachable as he needs to be but he'll work through it. He actually started to make progress yesterday as he began to take the ball earlier on his forehands when he wasn't rushed. He cracked them hard and deep with plenty of topspin.

Thanks.

Pusher
05-22-2007, 08:17 AM
My best shot with my SW is back near my body and below my waist.
I simply drive forward with my forearm while suppinating.
Very powerful and consistent shot for me.
I was taught that closer to your body in the long direction of the court means more power. You do not want the frame decelerating which it must do if hit too far out front.

Nadal hits out front and high because the Western grip demands it in order to get the face squared up from the naturally closed position of a Western takeback. Plus Nadal closes the face even more which is why his swing is like an uppercut punch. He needs to get that face squared up.

Isn't the correct contact point, at least horizontally, all about the point of weight shift? With almost any swing in any sport (baseball, golf) it seems you want to make contact as your weight shifts forward.

z-money
05-22-2007, 08:28 AM
this might be kinda long. Im a 4.5 level player, I have a great backhand. a decent solid serve with variety. Im fast, good footwork, but latley Ive been all mixed up with my forehand. Just wondering if anyone has had this problem, and how he or she overcame it

The problem is through the years my forehand has constantley changed, while my backhand is a short compact stroke capable of heavy spin and flat shots. On my forehand Ive used an extreme western grip, an eastern, a semi western which is where im at now. I think the problem is there is too much option and I just cant get grooved on one particular shot, which is great for practice, but in a set where you have to choose your shots, this can be confusing.

there are benefits to each shot Example :

Extreme Western= I can really hit out, with good power and a huge amount of spin, I return well with this grip. the problem is hitting flat can be a real pain in the but with this grip!!!

Semi Western= alot of variety, I can flatten in out, rolling spin,driving spin,you name it, but Im having alot of trouble keeping the ball down at the moment. Any advice here? should I match the form and stroke of my backhand? I should put video but dont have any at the moment.

its just a mess at the moment,which sucks cause everything else in my game is pretty solid. Dont get me wrong I can still play smart tennis and still win some matches. But I hate this problem Im having with my Forehand.
All I know is im sticking with Semi Western grip. I think : /

i agree with that choice because it gives u a blend of both. You just need to give yourself a small loop leave your elbow down (no crazy elbow pointing to the sky junk) and turn the shoulders after that you should be able to get what you want. visualize the shot you want and how to hit it then do it