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View Full Version : 2HBH lefty FH misnomer? Straight-Arm or Bent Arm?


DavaiMarat
11-18-2009, 10:54 AM
Hi guys,

I've taken a recent interest in the 2handed backhand. I'm a 5.0 former college player but for instructions sake I started to break down all the 2HBH instruction I found in books, video and web. It's a very complicated shot actually with a myriad of grip combinations, right and left arm dominant styles so I found it a interesting case study.

One of the common trend I see is the how most instructors try to make the 2HBH a one handed lefty forehand. I feel this is a bit of a misnomer. In a properly leveraged forehand should incorporate a double bend structure to allow the mass of the body to move into the shot. However, it's more commonly accepted to keep the left arm straight throughout the show until the top of the follow through.

Now what's more interesting is the fact that some women and smaller players use a bent arm in their 2HBH. This oddly resembles the a modern left handed (dbl bend) closer then the straight arm example that a lot of instructors tote. It's seems to provide more body leverage yet requires more torque from the larger muscles in the waist, legs and hip. Is this because smaller players lack natural arm strength?

More confusion arrises from the follow through position. Most 2HBH end up following thru above the shoulder yet with the common day forehand (windshield wiper style), the follow through end up mid chest or even down ay the waist.

I understand why instructors are trying to convey. The left arm drives the 2HBH. However this isn't necessarily the case. Only in the some grip combinations this is true (Eastern/Eastern or Eastern/Continental) but there are grips that act more like a 1handed backhand where the left arm is stabilizing/guiding.

So I guess I'll start with the questions.

What are the advantages of the bent arm 2handed backhand versus the straight arm?

Is calling the 2HBH a lefty Forehand really a misnomer?

Who wants to debate biomechanics? Will, Buffalo, Tricky?

I'm interested in your views.

5263
11-18-2009, 10:58 AM
this should be interesting.

LeeD
11-18-2009, 11:38 AM
I think grip has a determining factor.
Short guys Solomon and Dibbs used western grips on their 1HBH's, with Dibbs closer to EFH off hand while Solomon closer to full W's. Both bent arms.
Connors tended to conti or conti with slight twist for his 2HBH, so straighter arm.

W Cats
11-18-2009, 11:48 AM
"In a properly leveraged forehand should incorporate a double bend structure to allow the mass of the body to move into the shot."

I'm not positive but, isn't this grip dependent? In that the double bend is biased towards the semi and full western grips and the elbow does not tuck in as much on an eastern. If this is true does the left hand grip then also affect the swing path on the 2HBH side as well.

Just throwing out there to see if I really know what I know.:-?:-?

DavaiMarat
11-18-2009, 12:00 PM
"In a properly leveraged forehand should incorporate a double bend structure to allow the mass of the body to move into the shot."

I'm not positive but, isn't this grip dependent? In that the double bend is biased towards the semi and full western grips and the elbow does not tuck in as much on an eastern. If this is true does the left hand grip then also affect the swing path on the 2HBH side as well.

Just throwing out there to see if I really know what I know.:-?:-?

This is true to an extent. I guess what I'm looking at is a professional forehand which are all mainly SW/W grips (minus rare exceptions like Pete Sampras etc). With a eastern forehand or a continental (rare) it's more difficult to create the dbl bend especially at the wrist junction. Possible but harder. These are more old school forehands which are next to obsolete in todays game.

I saw a student the other day trying to emulate a windshield wiper on his 2hbh and this sparked the whole debate in my head. If I told the kid to hit his 2HBH like a left handed forehand yet most forehands of juniors are of the wind shield wiper variety. Isn't this creating the wrong imagery for kids?

Obviously you don't want them to torque the racquet across their body. It jams the right arm and doesn't promote extension. The 2HBH is limited in it's freedom of rotation compared to a FH. Hence you can't simply whip across it like a forehand. It's a more levered shot where the energy has to come more from the hips.

Moreover, I'd teach the FH from the open stance from all parts of the court however for the 2HBH I'd tell students to hit from the square or neutral position. So again different from the modern forehand.

MichaelChang
11-18-2009, 12:08 PM
I think today many players use a slightly bent arm in the 2HBH. Not straight arm but not too bent. Example: here is Davydenko, Murray, Djokovic:
http://blog.taragana.com/sports/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/nikolay-davydenko.jpg
http://www.olympics.org.uk/BEIJING2008/images/athlete/Andy_Murray_350x350.jpg
http://thetennistimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/novak-djokovic.jpg

For comparison, Nadal, in this picture, is using a straight arm 2HBH:
http://cornedbeefhash.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/tsonga-nadal-shirtless.jpg

LeeD
11-18-2009, 12:08 PM
Solomon hit open stanced western gripped 2HBH topspins, so it can work.
The more W the grips, the more open the stance can be.
The more closed the grips, like conti, the more closed the stance and the straighter the arms.
I don't think you should limit any technique that provides a powerful, replicable, don't hurt the body shot. If they WW a two hander, if it works, encourage it.
You don't pass the guy in front of you by following in his tracks.

MichaelChang
11-18-2009, 12:11 PM
Also for comparison, Safin, for example, is more of a straight arm 2HBH:
http://thetennistimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/marat-safin.jpg

W Cats
11-18-2009, 12:22 PM
IMO teaching the 2HBH like a forehand does resemble the drive and extension of an old school forehand when the 2HBH is performed from closed or neutral stance. The double bend of the left arm on the 2HBH comes into play on an open stance shot where the forearm path does resemble more of the w/w path.

Again the line between what I know and BS can vary on a given day.

DavaiMarat
11-18-2009, 12:25 PM
Very informative Michael and LeeD but again is it really a modern lefty forehand. I say no because most of these follow thru end up high above the shoulder. Meanwhile, though some forehand shots end up shoulder high a lot more end up across the waist and mid torso. You can say it's because it grip difference since you don't see too many Western or even SW left hand grips in the 2HBH. However this doesn't disprove that modern forehand is in fact 'not' like the modern '2HBH'.

What are the advantages of each? I know the open stance allows quicker recovery into the court yet promotes hitting off the back leg more. Safin's backhand, regarded as one of the best is straight arm yet Murray's is bent, who also has an excellent backhand. I've also seen Murray hit straight arm as well. Maybe it has something to due with height which they are receiving the ball as well.

I don't really know. I guess I need to do a video analysis of some of juniors.

High Tech Tennis teaches the different backhands as two separate techniques all together. However it doesn't go into the pros and cons of each.

W Cats
11-18-2009, 12:25 PM
My Bad. Just read what I wrote and it didn't sound right. I meant the first half of the w/w path where the tip of the racquet reaches the highest point.

DavaiMarat
11-18-2009, 12:36 PM
Just to add to the confusion here are some shots of the above players hitting with a straight arm.

http://www.australianopen.com/images/pics/large/b_tsonga_22_01.jpg

http://d.yimg.com/i/ng/sp/empics/20090417/19/1918774426-tennis-atp-world-tour-masters-nikolay-davydenko-v-andy-murray.jpg

http://z.about.com/d/tennis/1/0/I/E/10.jpg

It seems situational. When the proper distance and the ball isn't too high on them they seem to straight arm it.

When it's higher and they to try to incorporate more rotation from the waist because they can't swing the arms as forcefully high in the strike zone.

MichaelChang
11-18-2009, 12:39 PM
Maybe it has something to due with height which they are receiving the ball as well.


That is probably true, together with their stance.
But it seems they (Murray and Djokovic) do not lock their elbow knuckle with hitting in a "almost straight arm" 2HBH. By comparison it seems Nadal would lock his elbow. I am not sure.

DavaiMarat
11-18-2009, 12:41 PM
IMO teaching the 2HBH like a forehand does resemble the drive and extension of an old school forehand when the 2HBH is performed from closed or neutral stance. The double bend of the left arm on the 2HBH comes into play on an open stance shot where the forearm path does resemble more of the w/w path.

Again the line between what I know and BS can vary on a given day.

Interesting. However the WW path of the racquet head follows a elliptical shape (like and infinity sign) end down near the waist. The 2HBH ends up high like an U or steep C.

Here's another odd question. If someone was able to create the same across the body racquet head acceleration, why not finish the 2hbh near the waist. Of course this would from an open stance. I've never seen it but it doesn't mean it hasn't been done.

papa
11-18-2009, 01:37 PM
There are many variable here but basically the left hand does the pushing and the right hand the lifting. However, it does depend on the grip used which also effect where the racquet finishes. Its somewhat similar to the forehand side, the more extreme the grip the lower the finish but there are so many exceptions to this statement also. Hitting from a open vs closed position also effects the whole situation also.

I certainly like the bent arm position on the 2HBH and feel for most, it like the forehand, is the way to go. Straight arms, on both wings, is certainly more difficult. With your background, maybe not.

What the 2HBH brings to the table is that its easier to learn, requires less strength, is much more consistent, provides excellent topspin and so forth. I've actually tried to teach the straight arm two hander but had fair to poor results - I was my conclusion that way too much wrist action immediately got into the equation.

Its also my contention that if the left hand doesn't control the show that the racquet instead of being pulled forward at the start of the forward swing, starts to rotate was too far back.

However, I like the left handed forehand mindset and think the stroke is probably 80/20.

W Cats
11-18-2009, 01:48 PM
Why doesn't the finish end at the waist? One reason could be; I think maintaining your grip with the right hand at the finish (waist) of our fictional 2HBH W/W shot, is limited by how much that right wrist can articulate in that awkard position before having to let go.

papa
11-18-2009, 01:51 PM
Why doesn't the finish end at the waist? One reason could be; I think maintaining your grip with the right hand at the finish (waist) of our fictional 2HBH W/W shot, is limited by how much that right wrist can articulate in that awkard position before having to let go.

Well, with extreme grips it does in most cases. If you watch pros today, many finish around the waist.

LeeD
11-18-2009, 02:15 PM
And 2HBH WW finish was seen on Courier and some of Agassi's shots. Both used compact strokes, and finished opposite side mid shoulder to chest.
I thought when you mean't straight elbows, you meant the strong side hitting arm. Those pics are lefty forehands for rightie players.
JimmyConnors was an example of straight left arm (he was lefty) and bent right back arm.

Ehh
03-13-2013, 02:42 AM
I saw a student the other day trying to emulate a windshield wiper on his 2hbh and this sparked the whole debate in my head. If I told the kid to hit his 2HBH like a left handed forehand yet most forehands of juniors are of the wind shield wiper variety. Isn't this creating the wrong imagery for kids?

Both Jim Courier, and now, Rafael Nadal hit with a windshield wiper finish on their 2hbh;

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

Both these players are said to have a rather right-hand-dominant 2hbh, however. Courier's right hand grip on his 2hbh was actually a right handed eastern one-handed-backhand grip, so significantly further around than the continental right hand grip used on the right hand of most 2hbh's.

fuzz nation
03-13-2013, 05:40 AM
Cool topic.

While there's certainly a lot going on with this style of backhand, I'll offer my take on the action of the left arm in the case of a right-handed hitter. I've tried to figure some of this mystery out myself because I primarily hit a one-hander, but have to teach and coach players who predominantly use the two-hander.

Look at each of the pictures that are already posted here. Each one of the pics with guys with a bent left arm are "pre-contact", while the straight arm examples are either at contact or just after the hit. I believe that the arms can drive the racquet really well with this style of backhand when the trailing arm - left arm for a righty - starts with a mild bend and straightens out through contact. Probably not universal, but this has been the more helpful approach for me.

When that trailing arm effectively lengthens by going straight out, that helps the trailing hand pass the leading hand and compound the release of the racquet through contact. The triangle formed by the hitter's two arms along with the plane of his/her shoulders makes for some very solid, strong geometry, but the stroke also needs some dynamics so that the racquet can move well through the ball. I think that variable is the trailing arm.

Taking the left arm (again, for a righty) from bent out to straight is great for driving the racquet head past the hands, but I think it's important to have a little looseness in the leading arm. As the trailing arm drives out straight, the objective is to leverage the racquet through contact as the trailing hand rolls over the leading hand. If the arms remain at the same length through the hitting portion of the forward stroke, I think it's much harder for the hands to naturally "turn over".

The left-handed forehand idea is good for helping a player to find the drive to power the racquet through the ball, but it doesn't have the leverage that comes with the two-hander, so it's certainly not the same. Because that leverage component is inherent with the two-handed backhand, I think that the straightening of the trailing arm is at least an essential consideration.

I'm going to make more coffee now - hope that was halfway coherent...