View Full Version : Forearm pronation on FH....

03-26-2004, 03:48 PM
Is the forearm pronation contribution in the FH just TS, or is there a component of it that adds to pace?

Tx, -geo-

03-26-2004, 06:59 PM
it is both.

Bungalo Bill
03-26-2004, 11:54 PM
The forehand pronation should be slight as the ball is only on the strings in less then 4 milliseconds. In other words, if you force pronation you risk poor timing.

The slight pronation helps offset the torque on the racquet head from impact and increases racquet stability as you go up through the ball for topspin.

03-27-2004, 08:20 AM
BB, let me try to understand. When you hit a FH winner from close to the net with that fast wrist twist movement (mainly)... is that "pronation"?


03-27-2004, 11:15 AM
I disagree with BB on this. I think he is describing more traditional technique. However, with a certain type of new techniques, you use forearm pronation for a good deal of the power.

Bungalo Bill
03-27-2004, 08:57 PM
For the sake of not getting into an argument, my focus is on the rally not hitting a winner. My foundation for saying a light pronation vs. a more deliberate pronation is also focused on the player who is not a pro, and does not have hours on the court devoted to develop a more radical form of pronation.

Plus, the technique is not "traditional" it is timeless. I teach the modern forehand which has a lot of elements of "traditional" parts to it. If your talking about a Western grip and that kind of forehand used by the Spanish players well that is an entirely different technique. But it doesnt mean that the information I gave is traditional.

So maybe Thunnus can elaborate on what is meant by "new" techniques. The techniques I study and the film I study clearly indicate certain key elements that need to take place. I teach techniuqe that is used by players like Roddick and Blake. So I guess I dont understand what is meant by traditional.

Bungalo Bill
03-28-2004, 02:02 PM
Just food for thought: Most people on this board are not going to handle "new"techniques very well. The type of technique I have emphasized is used by major players such as Roddick, blake, and Agassi. And their forehands aren't too bad.

But buyer beware trying to force pronation. especially if your a recreational tennis player or at best a weekend warrior. Here is some information regarding injuries on these so called "modern" techniques. When I was up at the last USPTA certifcation I was talking to a very good college player from the University of Georgia. He used to use a Western grip before tearing aprt his elbow in the process. He used to have a strong windshild wiping motion and one hell of a forehand - that is until he got hurt. Below is an article on tennis injuries. Read it with a grain of salt before trying "new techniques" or so they are called. In my opinion, there is very few "new techniques" that were not done long ago. Most of these "new techniques" have been repackaged as we are able to disect players of today better with better technology. The pulling of the butt cap, the twohanded backhand, the windshield wiper have all been around prior to them becoming popular.


Medial tennis elbow occurs at the origin of the forearm flexors, especially the pronator and radial risk flexors. Techniques using wrist snap and forearm pronation, such as a forehand stroke that is hit late, use the wrist to compensate. Leaning back while stroking also tends to cause this problem. In addition, techniques which over stretch the medial elbow, i.e., a powerful serve, can also cause the problem. The technique that would correct this problem, would be a forward weight transfer in the forehand stroke with the wrist straight and firm and contacting the ball when the weight is on the forward foot.


the purpose of the step forward is not for more power as most people think. Vic braden has proved that the step forward adds minimal power into the ball - at the most 5 mph. The step forward has a little known and taught importance to it. It helps line the racquet face properly to the ball at impact and established a linear path within 4-6 inches of the ball for the maximum opportunity to make a clean hit. A clean hit is usually a more powerful hit and a hit that has less impact on the arm.

Full article at http://www.chiroweb.com/archives/10/24/23.html

03-28-2004, 08:27 PM
I think that the whole question is far-fetched. I think that actually this question would sound as "What should I do to add power for my FH?"...

This topic ( the pronation and the power) has been discussed here. And I still wait at least one argument that pronation can add power to FH. The fact that winners are hit by pros with a lot of pronation is not a proof to my mind. Because on these shots, pros not only add pronation but also implement other 'things'.

So, I still believe that pronation does not add any power. It only changes a position of the racket face at the contact and changes the resulting trajectory of the ball.

Bungalo Bill
03-28-2004, 10:24 PM

Your right on the mark.

03-29-2004, 05:59 AM
I respect BB for his knowledge and his conributions to this board. Let there be no doubt about that. However, I believe we are talking about apples and oranges here.
Also, I don't mean to disrespect any traditional methods here. I am just using that term for the lack for better word to distinguish it from what I perceive to be new techniques.

Some of newer players (male and female players) produce a phenomenal combination of both pace and topspin and their technique allows them to hit with more pace AND consistency than previously possible. This is because they utilize the new technique that helps them produce very fast racquet head speed. This type of racquet head speed is generally not possible to produce unless you utilize your forearm pronation to add to other factors (legs, hip, shoulder, etc.) that help produce the additional velocity. Of couse, pronating helps in closing the racquet for topspin as well.

I agree, as I have mentioned before, with BB that this technique is not advisable for most recreational players because it requires precise timing and great footwork, not to mention the demand it puts on your body. To be truly comfortable with this technique, it probably will take literally thousands of hours of court time with very good instruction. Therefore, it is not something that you can switch on and change overnight.

Again, if somebody had told me what I am talking about one year ago, I would not have bought it. But, after being taught and practicing it myself for a year, I strongly believe that forearm pronation is a very important part of the new forehand swing (windshield wiper swing that many spanish players practice) and it helps add power as well as topspin. Again, if you are not using this technique, I agree that forearm pronation is not the part of swing that add any significant power.

Bungalo Bill
03-29-2004, 07:41 AM
Thunnus can you explain the technique to us? I am interested in hearing about it. I didnt take it as you were challenging me, but really want to know.

From what I have studied, the pronation in the forehand is slight before the relaxation period where it is more pronounced on the followthrough. The "slight" pronation allows the player to stabilize the racquet head on impact in case of an off center hit, etc. In other words, there is a high chance the racquet will wobble backward thus opening the face and produce numerous errors.

Once the ball is struck, the forearm relaxes but continues in its pronation in the followthrough. However, from what I studied there is not a soul on this earth that can actually manipulate the ball so precisely on contact.

So please explain the technique I would like to understand it.

03-29-2004, 06:23 PM
me too.

03-30-2004, 06:25 AM
OK. I am probably not qualified to coach others how to do this Spanish forehand swing yet because I am just getting comfortable with it. But, I will give it a try.

In many ways, it is similar to other modern forehand technique in that you generally use strong semi-western or full western grip starting with open to semi-open stance. The main difference IMHO is that your legs and forearm play much greater role in this swing. You also take a big loop as you take back your racquet, and as you do this you load your legs in a step-out position by bending your knees.

Depending on the ball height, time you have, and court positioning, and other factors, you can hit while pushing off both legs with both feet on the ground, or you hit it off your right leg while counter balancing with your left leg. Sometimes, you come off the ground a little, but it is like any other forehand swing.

For a rally topspin shot, as you start your forward swing, you drop your racket well below the ball, as you make that big loop, which is normal for a topspin forehand. However, the biggest difference is that you stop rotating your shoulder as it come to the square position and let your forearm take over by accelerate rapidly using your forearm. The other thing to remember is that here instead of swinging up with your arm and finishing around your left shoulder, you pronate your forearm through to hitting zone in a very active fashion and finish around your left hip. You want to be sure to swing through and not bend your arms in prematurely. On a lower ball, you would swing up a little more for more height and topspin. On a higher ball or a sitter, you don’t get under the ball as much and hit it flatter while still pronating actively with your forearm.

As I mentioned, the leg push off and rapid whipping of your forearm generate a good bit of power. The difficult part is, as least for me, is the footwork and timing to position my feet while timing my leg push off and the forearm whipping on a incoming ball that has a lot of pace and topspin. The other part that is difficult for me is that I tend to try to generate power by rotating my upper torso too much and too fast instead of letting my forearm do the last part of swing with square shoulder, probably due to many years of swing my forehand in the old fashion way, generating power with upper body rotation.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of the leg push-off, because it contributes a lot to the final racquet head speed. So, basically here is how the kinetic chain works for this swing.

Leg Push-off>torso rotation>rapid forearm acceleration as torso come to square position

In my mind, there are three model players to look at to model this swing after. They are Ferrero, Kuznetsova, and Nadal. Kuznetsova, though not a Spanish player, hits exactly like my coach wants to me to swing my forehand with square shoulder through the impact and follow-through with great balance. Ferrero is interesting in that he can generate incredible amount of pace and spin when he has time from anywhere in the court with very strong leg push-off from both legs (I am told he is a really strong guy even though he doesn’t look like it). Nadal does something a little different that I can’t quite finger with his forehand, but nonetheless, it is basically the same Spanish forehand. You can find the video clip on his forehand at www.vamosrafael.com . I recommend you watch his forehand. I haven't had much luck finding video clips for other players using this swing.

First thing that you notice is that he feeds the ball by pronating his forearm. The other thing that you might notice is that he seems to be hitting off his back foot. This is quite common for rally shots and especially when you are hitting cross-court forehand. Sometimes, you lift your front leg high and out to counter balance. Nadal makes it look pretty easy but it really takes good footwork and timing to time the ball and hit it way out in front with a big whippy swing. Like all other swings, you want to swing relaxed and fluidly while generating a lot of racquet head speed.

Japanese Maple
03-30-2004, 08:22 AM

Before I can respond to your posts, what is your definition of
fh pronation. To me, fh pronation would be as you make contact
with the ball with a vertical racquet head, you would rotate your
forearm so that your thumb points toward the net and the racquet
head rotates from behind the ball to over the top-is this what you
mean? You had said that fh pronation is simply the windshield
wiper motion without talking about any forearm manipulations.

03-30-2004, 09:33 AM

By forearm pronation, I mean rotating forearm. The kind of forearm pronation that I am talking about in hitting forehand is the active kind that makes your right thumb point down with your elbow up at the end of your swing. It is kind of like making a whipping swing with a wet towel.

I don't want it to get mixed up with other types of forehands that are loopy. I am talking about the kind that utilize active forearm with flatter swing arc. Surely, it is not just the forearm doing the work and there are certainly other parts (arm/shoulder) involved, but the kind that I am talking about involves a strong whip action as you strike the ball.

Japanese Maple
03-31-2004, 09:06 AM

One more point for clarification-with your wrist set back as you
approach the ball,as you make contact do you use wrist flexion(moving you fingers toward the net as you flip your wrist forward)
as an added source of power and then rotate your forearm with
the thumb pointing down and elbow up with the racquet by your
hip after contact,or is the forearm rotation part of your contact-I
would think the forearm rotation comes after contact and with
the ball already off the strings.

03-31-2004, 11:57 AM

With this swing, the forearm pronation is very much part of the contact, and the pronation happens before, during, and after the impact. To make it work, you have to get your elbow in front your body and hit the ball very early with western grip. As for wrist, I keep firm wrist and my forearm is what provides that final whip on the ball.

Japanese Maple
04-02-2004, 08:59 AM

With this swing, the forearm pronation is very much part of the contact, and the pronation happens before, during, and after the impact. To make it work, you have to get your elbow in front your body and hit the ball very early with western grip. As for wrist, I keep firm wrist and my forearm is what provides that final whip on the ball.

Thunnus, after reviewing several articles from tennis magazine,
including Ferrero's fh by Rafael Font de Mora,2/2002, and viewing
live video on TennisOne of several pros fh including Safin(who
trained in Barcelona) I do not believe the forearm rotates (pronates) before and during contact. As the pros approach the
ball on contact the racquet and hand form a 90% angle with their
forearm and the racquet is vertical at contact and as they extend
out through the ball towards the net. It is after this extension with
a vertical racquet head that you will see a pronounce forearm
rotation as they follow-through to their side hip area with the elbow pointing up and the racquet tip downwards. Rafeal says
about Ferrero's fh that he extends his right arm all the way through
the hitting zone, which gives him good depth and consistency. He
goes on to say in the follow-through by his side rather than over
his shoulder,this new, more abbreviated follow-through produces
tremendous racquet-head speed for pace, yet still gives him adequate spin for control. John Yandell had an excellent article
and video on TennisOne about the set wrist through contact and
the full extension with a vertical racquet head before wrapping
the racquet around in the follow-through. He proved that without
slow motion video of the pros fh,it appears that they are using
forearm rotation before and during contact but in fact they are not.
So it still comes down to driving straight through the ball with
full extension and a vertical racquet head ,with no forearm rotation
until well after contact.What you do prior and after contact does
vary from player to player but what does not vary is what they
all do during contact as they extend towards the net. One might
have the sensation that they are using their forearm before and
during contact but when you see a live video in slow motion you
will see otherwise.

04-02-2004, 11:11 AM

You are right. The racquet head actually does not roll over before the contact. I probably wasn't clear on this. My point, however, was that it is the forearm that is doing good bit of work at this stage. I guess I am still not quite sure how to explain this.

Regardless, what others may say about what is taking place in some pros swing at any given point, I have learned this stuff in person. I, in fact, get yelled at for not using my forearm enough in my swing. It took me a while, but I now get the feel. It is the forearm that does the bulk of the work at this point in this swing.

In those slowmo videos, it may look as if the pros in question don't rotate until their forearm after the ball leaves, but my guess is that that motion (forearm rotation) had already started before the impact. It may look somewhat deceiving because of strong western grips that these players use. Just put two and two together: why do these newer spanish players' (and South American players) forehand mechanics look so different from the traditional strokes?

At impact, the racquet head will be either square or slightly closed. However, the important thing to remember is that before the impact, you take a full loop with your arm and forearm. What happens here is that your forearm drops your racquet head below the impact point and starts accellerating the racquet head in a strong whipping action. Yes, the racquet head will be close to the square position at this stage, but because the western grip and the fact that the impact takes place well in front of the body, you can rotate your forearm during your swing AND hit through the ball with relatively flat swing arc with your arm almost fully extended.

04-03-2004, 01:52 AM
So. The pronation helps to spin the ball. And the pace appears due to hitting through the ball with flatter swing (and not due to the pronation)
Just like I thought! ;-)

04-03-2004, 04:29 AM
Like I said, it all depends on what kind of swing you have.
Just think about forearm pronation in serving, your forearm starts to pronate (rotate) before the impact and continues to rotate after impact. So, when does the pronation begin? Does forearm pronation add power? Like in forehand, it all depends on the kind of technique you use. If you don't use active forearm, you will feel like you pronate after the impact.

Japanese Maple
04-03-2004, 05:58 AM
As you approach the ball any forearm rotations/manipulations that
may take place before contact is to simply get the racquet head
in a vertical position on contact and in the extension through the
ball. Since your wrist is set throughout of course the forearm
is critical to accelerate the racquet. I still contend, that nothing
really has changed during contact but styles of different players
vary on what they do before and after contact. Sampras had
a more traditional fh versus the South Americans and Spaniards
but I'll quarantee you that these players would love to have his
power-its considered one of the best fh's ever. My only problem
with Sampras's fh as compared to lets say Federer, is that he
only could drive the ball low over the net with a small margin of
error,where Federer can not only hit flat but also hit heavy,loopy
topspin. The famed coach of Sampras,Austin,Davenport,Myskina
ect.,Robert Landsdorp feels that all this heavy,loopy topspin
is hurting kids today because they fail to realize that to attack
and win in big time tennis you have to flatten the ball out and
drive through with full extension and not simply lift up applying lots of spin and wrap
the racquet around the side.

04-03-2004, 04:32 PM
As you approach the ball any forearm rotations/manipulations that
may take place before contact is to simply get the racquet head
in a vertical position on contact and in the extension through the

I strongly believe that we are talking about two different things here. Just look at the success that Spanish and South American players have had in recent years. They clearly have developed different techniques especially in forehand side. I rarely see any American players playing like them. I am not saying one technique is superior to the other, but at least we must recognize that it is a legitimate technique and that it can be highly effetive on hard court as well as clay cout.

Even with this active forearm technique, you can still flatten out or hit a ball with a good deal of penatrating power. It is not the same old topspin technique that produces loopy high bouncing balls but heavy balls with strong foreward kick that can give flatter hitters plenty of trouble.

The reason why Federer can hit that hard ball with nasty topspin is because the strong whip (racquet head speed) by his active forearm through the contact. For him and many others who have perfected this technique, this is a high percentage shot.

You keep playing the same way that you deem correct technically to play. All I am saying is here that there are other ways and for us with enough curiousity and inclination actually are working with those who have perfected this and are trying to get there ourselves. I personally think it is funny that you think this is not something that exists, even though I am doing it everyday and many touring pros have been doing it for many years now.

Japanese Maple
04-03-2004, 10:57 PM

We are splitting hairs here-I can assure you that the South Americans and Spaniards do not have the inside track on the new
modern fh-what have they won on the hardcourt or grasscourt
tour? As I had said before whatever happens before or after
contact with the rotation of the forearm will vary from player to
player and country to country. What doesn't vary is the racquet
is vertical on contact and through extension. I have looked at
slow motion video, frame by frame of various pros and there is
no forearm manipulations during contact and through extension.
Look at the William sisters , they drive through the ball with no
fancy forearm rotations and the same goes for Sampras, Agassi,
and Roddick. Who has a better fh than Sampras? His fh has
allowed him to win 14 grand slams and is clearly one of the best
fh in the history of the game! Check it out on TennisOne.

04-04-2004, 07:48 PM
did I visualize your words correctly?
Somebody has used this analogy with boxing. For example, you want to hit your opponent into the ribs. You have your elbow close to your body. Your forearm is parallel to the ground and your palm looks up (that means your forearm is supinated). Now, you begin a forward swing. You move your fist linearly forward and simultaneously pronate your forearm in such a way that at the contact with the ribs your palm looks downward (and the forearm is pronated).
Now you have a racket in the western grip and do the very same motion. THe W grip will allow to have a vertical string bed during the whole movement. It will allow you to hit through the ball and impart the topspin due to pronation.

Is it what you say? Or did I get it completely wrong?