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View Full Version : Is a shortened backswing actually effective against big hitters?


Rickson
12-28-2008, 02:54 AM
I used to think it was, but I'm starting to rethink it because of players like Gonzalez and Moya who big swing every single forehand. What's the concensus on a short backswing against big hitters? Personally, I prefer a bigger than short backswing against big hitters because that short backswing seems so ineffective.

go13illy
12-28-2008, 06:37 AM
Everyone seems to think so on this board but i don't think so either. :)

I feel like you have more pace to work with and generate more power with a big takeback when playing big hitters

ronalditop
12-28-2008, 06:42 AM
in general you have to shorten the swing a little against a fast ball cause you dont have too much time to do a normal takeback against a very fast shot.

Charlzz
12-28-2008, 07:59 AM
in general you have to shorten the swing a little against a fast ball cause you dont have too much time to do a normal takeback against a very fast shot.

The time to hit a long stroke is there. The pros demonstrate you can have really long strokes even with the hardest hitters in the game.

Several things make it difficult. First, is positioning. If you are struggling just to get to the ball because of its pace, it's hard to swing fully. The pros have this problem too, but one thing that makes them pros is they can reach a lot more balls than you can. Working on footspeed and reaction time will give you more time to prepare.

Second, your reaction time. If it takes you a fraction of a moment longer to realize a ball is coming very fast, you would prepare late, and that may force you to hit late. Indeed, it's only a fraction of a second between hitting the ball where you should hit it, and hitting it late.

I'd suggest, if you want to get the reaction time better, either get a good ball machine that can fire out fast balls or hard hitting steady partner whose willing to practice, and just work on taking fuller strokes. You always have the shortened strokes to fall back on.

One pitfall of taking shorter strokes is that you think you don't have the time to hit it (and sometimes you're right), but if you only start practicing it, you may find you had more time than you thought, and you had been taking short strokes all along.

I started to notice this with my return of serve where I felt I didn't have time and blocked shots without a follow-through a little like a volley. However, I did have time, at the very least to hit a follow-through, so I was shortchanging myself by not swing fully on returns even when the serve was fast. It's true I have less time, but with more practice and recognition, it can get better.

Fedace
12-28-2008, 08:09 AM
I used to think it was, but I'm starting to rethink it because of players like Gonzalez and Moya who big swing every single forehand. What's the concensus on a short backswing against big hitters? Personally, I prefer a bigger than short backswing against big hitters because that short backswing seems so ineffective.

Gonzo and Moya are pros and we are not. we don't have the racket head speed these guys have. so if we play big hitters, it would be wise to shorten up the backswing and make sure we meet the ball out in front. and i always found that i can use their power against them as long as i hit the ball out in front..:)

Lejanius
12-28-2008, 08:37 AM
I used to think it was, but I'm starting to rethink it because of players like Gonzalez and Moya who big swing every single forehand. What's the concensus on a short backswing against big hitters? Personally, I prefer a bigger than short backswing against big hitters because that short backswing seems so ineffective.

I think it depends on if you have time to set up or not.
For me I don't change my swing much against big hitters if i am set, although it takes me a few minutes of game time to get the timing down. If I can't set up properly or am hitting on the run I shorten my swing.

against big servers I shorted my swing but only on the serve

tenzinrocks
12-28-2008, 10:05 AM
I prefer short-medium on fast balls because there's not enough time and if you make too big of a swing on a fast ball, then you're going to hit net

Rickson
12-28-2008, 10:13 AM
Gonzo must be an anomaly.

mordecai
12-28-2008, 10:15 AM
It has more to do with the pace of the ball into your contact point than the pace of the ball leaving their racquet. If you're stepping back to handle their big shots then yes you should take a large backswing and let it rip. If you don't want to sacrifice court position and you're taking their shots on the rise, it's alright to abbreviate the backswing and just redirect the ball.

Djokovicfan4life
12-28-2008, 12:13 PM
Gonzo must be an anomaly.

Gonzo's forehand back swing is immense, and should not be copied by 99% of the tennis playing population. It's similar to Gasquet's backhand. Those huge swings may work for them, but we mortals are best off sticking to our shorter back swings. At our level the power will come from clean contact and good timing, not from a longer swing.

SystemicAnomaly
12-28-2008, 12:30 PM
Gonzo must be an anomaly.

No, that would be moi -- the anomaly inherent in the system.

A compact loop/backswing worked very well against big hitters for Agassi. This undoubtedly made him one of the best serve returners of all time. Most players would do well to emulate this or use a moderate backswing rather than an exaggerated one. Moderate & compact loops are much easier to time against fast or deep balls than a much fuller one.

ronalditop
12-28-2008, 12:37 PM
Gonzalez bends his arm a lot, thats why he can swing fast even when facing fast heavy balls.

Morrowreze
12-28-2008, 12:38 PM
It could also change if they are a big hitter who hits it flat, or one who hits a big, heavy, spinny ball. If they hit flat it seems you would have to shorten your stroke more often, but with the heavier ball you would have a little more time and be able to take a good swing at it.

Charlzz
12-28-2008, 02:42 PM
No, that would be moi -- the anomaly inherent in the system.


A systemic anomaly if you will?


A compact loop/backswing worked very well against big hitters for Agassi. This undoubtedly made him one of the best serve returners of all time. Most players would do well to emulate this or use a moderate backswing rather than an exaggerated one. Moderate & compact loops are much easier to time against fast or deep balls than a much fuller one.

Maybe I misunderstood the OP's post. I thought the OP meant he hit his normal swing most of the times, but hit much shorter strokes if the hitter hit hard, much like one might do on a return of serve. Even Agassi shorten his already compact strokes if he's way out of position. This is why I wondered whether addressing footwork might not be a better solution.

But what you're saying is different. You're saying the OP might have really long strokes, and that he'd be better trying to hit more compact strokes as a rule. It would be useful to know just how compact the OP's compact strokes get. I get the feeling it's quite short, rather than Agassi short. Your suggestion would still be valid, but might take a while to implement.

Tennisguy777
12-28-2008, 03:54 PM
It has more to do with the pace of the ball into your contact point than the pace of the ball leaving their racquet. If you're stepping back to handle their big shots then yes you should take a large backswing and let it rip. If you don't want to sacrifice court position and you're taking their shots on the rise, it's alright to abbreviate the backswing and just redirect the ball.

+++ yes a compact backswing is sometimes critical on monster serves to your backhand it is the only way to put the ball in play in most of these types of situations.

downdaline
12-28-2008, 07:50 PM
A shortened backswing may not necessarily be effective against big hitters. You also have to lean more into the shot to compensate for the smaller swing, or else your short wont cross the net.

Ballinbob
12-28-2008, 09:20 PM
As a S&V player I love big hitters. They supply all the pace, I just put the ball into the corner. Sometimes I don't even have to step into the volley, they just blast it so hard all I have to do is stick my racket out. As a baseliner though, I would think that it would help just because it makes timing easier. A short swing is alot easier to time, and when playing someone who blasts it you need to get into position and time it so you hit it in front and block it back deep. Other than that I don't think it would help much.

Don't take my word for it though, I don't know much about baseline play. That's what I would guess though

baseline08thrasher
12-28-2008, 09:45 PM
it depends on what you want to do with the ball!
hello??

Redirect
or more pace.?

Balance it out yourself
it depends on what kind of player you are


AGGRESSIVE?
then hit harder.

PUNY AND WEAK?
shorten it up. =]

futuratennis
12-29-2008, 02:54 PM
if you have the time, a bigger backswing will make a better shot, but against a big hitter, sometimes you just dont have a choice, you have to go with the short backswing, as you dont have sufficient time to take your racquet back far enough

LeeD
12-29-2008, 03:20 PM
Not worried about speed of the ball as much as the depth.
Deep hard shots against you, you gotta get ready sooner, so shorter backswing gives you more consistency.
That fast ball that is short, starting around 8' inside the baseline, you have time to set up, so a longer backswing will allow you to hit with more penetration hopefully forcing a short ball again from your big hitter.
Basically gotta adjust all the time, as every shot hit at you is slightly different.
Watch some really top level players with big backswings, and they all have an emergency chop or block when the ball comes slightly too fast or too into the body.
Once again, there is no ONE way to prepare for an incoming fast shot. It depends on many factors and the one reasonable answer is that you have to ADJUST to the varying pace and depth with different preparations.

bad_call
12-29-2008, 04:29 PM
if you have the time, a bigger backswing will make a better shot, but against a big hitter, sometimes you just dont have a choice, you have to go with the short backswing, as you dont have sufficient time to take your racquet back far enough

yeah...no time so just get your racquet on it.