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View Full Version : Keeping the racquet head up on FH?


ShooterMcMarco
10-07-2009, 03:32 PM
One of my friends who is an ex-college player mentioned to me that part of the reason why Federer's forehand is great is because he keeps the racquet head up for a long time during his preparation. When he told me this, I became aware of this aspect with my forehand and I noticed that I tend to drop the head too early. In other words, I get to the "pat the dog" position prematurely.

Here is a video of Roger hitting from the front:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONp2-AREFbw&feature=player_profilepage

Even on the low balls (0:30 mark), the head stays above the wrist for a while prior to swinging forward.

Same trend on high balls:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVNia4A9BTM

My question to you guys is: what can I do to prevent myself from dropping the racquet too early? It seems like the benefit of keeping the head up longer is that the transition from backswing to forward swing seems more fluid. If you get to the pat the dog position to early, it's like you break the kinetic chain and end up with an inefficient stroke (like Serena).

boojay
10-07-2009, 04:58 PM
Gold star for you. I made this discovery recently and it's helped my game tremendously. I haven't been able to make it a habit yet, but keeping the racquet head up makes it easier to handle high balls, hitting through the ball, and reduces the number of shanks.

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-07-2009, 05:09 PM
I think you guys are looking a bit too much into this. You should at one point in your takeback have the buttcap pointed downwards if you want to hit the modern forehand. Or maybe just a topspin forehand in general... I don't look too far into the 90s or even before that.

Doing this allows you to have a better loop swing. Basically it's more fluid and you get a little bit of free racket acceleration thanks to gravity. I seriously doubt it increases your ability to hit through the ball, handle high balls, or reduce shanks. Hitting through the ball requires having your shoulder follow the shot more and stepping into the shot. Handling high balls will probably be easier if your racket head started below the wrist unless we're talking dip drives here, in which case the racket has to be above the ball so you can drive it flat and into the court without producing excess topspin. And reducing the number of shanks... I think it might send you the opposite way, though if you practice and get the loop swing mastered it'll be worth working that kink out of your system.

Wes_Loves_Dunlop
10-07-2009, 05:36 PM
you dont have to point the buttcap all the time. you do it in the begenning to get the habit going. but alter you can do it unconsciously. just remember to lay your wrist back early, i have done this and it helps so much. start to lay your wrist back while taking your racket back.

LeeD
10-07-2009, 05:39 PM
True, the modern Men's Pro forehand is a loop mostly.....but...
Since I don't match up to well with them, I see lots of great forehands with a straight takeback, western grip, full closed racketface, and head slightly down from the wrist and arm.
Those are mechanical forehands, but they work great for us not so great players.

ShooterMcMarco
10-07-2009, 05:48 PM
Gold star for you. I made this discovery recently and it's helped my game tremendously. I haven't been able to make it a habit yet, but keeping the racquet head up makes it easier to handle high balls, hitting through the ball, and reduces the number of shanks.

What kinds of things did you do to correct it?

darthpwner
10-07-2009, 06:07 PM
I know. It makes the racket more stable. Whenever I hit like that, I could hit the ball deep effortlessly

LeeD
10-07-2009, 06:10 PM
I can hit the ball too deep effortlessly with any takeback, loopy or straight and low. Just need to aim higher over the net....:):)

aimr75
10-07-2009, 06:54 PM
Ive noticed this also, but didnt think there was much relevance to it, but will give this a try, see if it helps

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-07-2009, 07:05 PM
you dont have to point the buttcap all the time. you do it in the begenning to get the habit going. but alter you can do it unconsciously. just remember to lay your wrist back early, i have done this and it helps so much. start to lay your wrist back while taking your racket back.

Bolleteri teaches most everything with pointing the buttcap and leading with the buttcap. It's a good, simple thing to focus on.

ShooterMcMarco
10-07-2009, 07:10 PM
I think you guys are looking a bit too much into this. You should at one point in your takeback have the buttcap pointed downwards if you want to hit the modern forehand. Or maybe just a topspin forehand in general... I don't look too far into the 90s or even before that.


Yeah I understand what you're saying, but the problem for me is that I get to the position where the buttcap is pointing too early, which prevents the swing from being fluid.

boojay
10-07-2009, 07:55 PM
What kinds of things did you do to correct it?

Well technically I haven't fixed it yet, I only know that it feels better and effortless when I do it properly. I'm able to improve my timing, contact point, and produce a cleaner hit. I concentrate on not physically forcing my racquet to drop. As I have it pointed up (and out) and am completing my backswing, I kind of just let it sit/float there and let the racquet naturally drop due to its own weight by keeping my wrist loose. After my body begins rotating I initiate my arm swing just before my racquet head drops to about level with the ball. Then I focus like hell not to let the racquet deviate from it's path.

If the ball's too low though, I have no choice. I can only bend my legs so much so I let the racquet drop well below the ball.

tricky
10-07-2009, 08:00 PM
This might help you guys:

When you separate your left arm from the racquet, see if you can do this with the left elbow joint still somewhat pointing to the ground.

This will force the left hand to come forward rather than up during separation. The above is subtle, but this causes your takeback to concentrate on shoulder turn rather than to make a circular loop. See if it makes a difference with the racquet head.

ShooterMcMarco
10-07-2009, 08:56 PM
This might help you guys:

When you separate your left arm from the racquet, see if you can do this with the left elbow joint still somewhat pointing to the ground.

This will force the left hand to come forward rather than up during separation. The above is subtle, but this causes your takeback to concentrate on shoulder turn rather than to make a circular loop. See if it makes a difference with the racquet head.

Any pictures to help illustrate this? I'm having trouble visualizing what you're trying to say. It seems like the elbow should naturally point downwards. I typically hold my racquet at the throat with my left hand as I turn my shoulders and feet. But from there its like I do a straight takeback and drop the head too early.

tricky
10-07-2009, 09:10 PM
It seems like the elbow should naturally point downwardsInitially the elbow points downwards. However, if you lift the racquet with your left hand in order to separate the racquet from your arm, then your left elbow will start pointing toward the net before the racquet is separated. Now, if you separate the left arm from the racquet while trying to keep the elbow pointing well toward the ground, then your left hand has to come "forward." As a result, the left arm is set up well in front of you.

Essentially, the non-hitting arm helps to sequence the kinetic chain of your hitting arm's takeback.

When you do the former (where the left hand lifts the racquet to separate), you're telling your hitting arm to elevate, then turn the shoulder. This creates a circular loop motion. That circular loop motion naturally keeps the racquet face "down" toward the 2nd half of the takeback. This kind of takeback primes you to swing with an over your shoulder. You can still swing across the body in WW fashion, but there's a mechanical compromise.

When you do the latter (where the left hand moves forward from racquet to separate), you're telling your hitting arm to turn the shoulder, then elevate. This creates a straighter takeback, where the racquet stays "up." This kind of takeback primes you to swing in true WW fashion. You get a longer line of shot, and your strike zone per grip gets expanded.

I typically hold my racquet at the throat with my left hand as I turn my shoulders and feet.

When your non-hitting arm is fully set up, is the upper arm right over (or slightly behind) your left hip, or is it in front of your left hip?

boojay
10-07-2009, 09:25 PM
I know exactly what you're talking about, tricky. I will give it a shot, thanks. I've never thought about which direction my non-hitting elbow is pointing during takeback/release before.

edited: Agassi does it a bit, doesn't he?

ShooterMcMarco
10-07-2009, 09:40 PM
Initially the elbow points downwards. However, if you lift the racquet with your left hand in order to separate the racquet from your arm, then your left elbow will start pointing toward the net before the racquet is separated. Now, if you separate the left arm from the racquet while trying to keep the elbow pointing well toward the ground, then your left hand has to come "forward." As a result, the left arm is set up well in front of you.

Essentially, the non-hitting arm helps to sequence the kinetic chain of your hitting arm's takeback.

When you do the former (where the left hand lifts the racquet to separate), you're telling your hitting arm to elevate, then turn the shoulder. This creates a circular loop motion. That circular loop motion naturally keeps the racquet face "down" toward the 2nd half of the takeback. This kind of takeback primes you to swing with an over your shoulder. You can still swing across the body in WW fashion, but there's a mechanical compromise.

When you do the latter (where the left hand moves forward from racquet to separate), you're telling your hitting arm to turn the shoulder, then elevate. This creates a straighter takeback, where the racquet stays "up." This kind of takeback primes you to swing in true WW fashion. You get a longer line of shot, and your strike zone per grip gets expanded.


After watching a few slow-mo clips of pro forehands, I think I'm starting to understand your explanation. I can see it well in Roddick's forehand:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpocoSPRkMA&feature=player_profilepage#

It looks like he is lifting the racquet upwards then when he is finished prepping his shoulders, his left hand extends out while coming forward.


When your non-hitting arm is fully set up, is the upper arm right over (or slightly behind) your left hip, or is it in front of your left hip?

I'd say right over the hip or slightly in front.

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-07-2009, 09:46 PM
Yeah I understand what you're saying, but the problem for me is that I get to the position where the buttcap is pointing too early, which prevents the swing from being fluid.

This is why I'm against the saying of always get the racket back early... When people do that, their swing loses fluidity when they get it back TOO early. This type of thinking was meant for the old linear swing. It doesn't work for the loop swing. People should get their racket back early, yes. But how early depends on the pace of the incoming ball.

tricky
10-07-2009, 09:50 PM
edited: Agassi does it a bit, doesn't he?He lifts his racquet as he separates, which is fine since he finishes over the shoulder. A lot of players lift the racquet to separate (thus creating a circular loop), then swing across the body. Usually those folks have a strong double-bend at contact point. Even if you try straightening out the loop, the loop is still essentially circular. The racquet face will tend to stay "down" and you'll still hit with a strong-double bend.

It looks like he is lifting the racquet upwards then when he is finished prepping his shoulders, his left hand extends out while coming forward.Yup, Roddick is a good example. A lot of players, such as Roddick, Hewitt, Blake, and so on, abide by this. In other words, most top American players.

Basically the idea is that when you separate the racquet, the left hand should essentially be defining the angle of your intended shot, by moving forward in the line of the intended shot.

It's a little bit like throwing a football. When you separate your left arm from the football, your left arm starts to move toward the line of your throw. Granted, the left arm of a forehand is not as extreme. You still eventually set up the non-hitting arm like you've seen in many clips.

I'd say right over the hip or slightly in front.Ideally, when you finish setting up the non-hitting arm, the upper arm should be well in front. However, you don't need to force this.

aimr75
10-07-2009, 10:00 PM
tricky, with the OPs post, regarding the racquet head remaining above the wrist (even in the pat the dog position).. is there a benefit as stated.. i know federer does this from what ive seen

tricky
10-07-2009, 10:16 PM
regarding the racquet head remaining above the wrist (even in the pat the dog position)..I feel it's more a symptom of the takeback itself. (This may change later. ;) ) When the head is "up", that means your takeback began in the order of turn, then elevate. You get a turn-based takeback, which is optimal for a finish around the body. When the head is "down" your takeback began in the order of elevate, then turn. You get a circular loop this way, optimal for over-the-shoulder finish.

ShooterMcMarco
10-08-2009, 06:10 PM
So I tried some of the techniques discussed and it worked on some shots, but on others I was hitting moonballs. On some shots, it felt like I kept the head up longer but when I swung forward the position of my racquet in relation to my wrist felt awkward.