PDA

View Full Version : A fast ball vs a heavy ball


Zachol82
01-07-2010, 10:45 PM
Just out of curiosity, is there such a thing as a fast ball and a heavy ball? Or is a fast ball automatically a heavy ball, and vice versa?

From my own experience, I do notice that there IS a distinction between a fast ball and a heavy ball. Although to be physically sound, a fast-paced ball will result in it feeling "heavy" on impact and to achieve this "heaviness," a ball must travel pretty fast in order to create this force at impact. Therefore, a fast ball and a heavy ball must be one and the same.

However, it's not. I clearly see a difference and have tested this with several of my tennis partners. We didn't measure it with some sort of instrument in any ways, it was just off of how it feels on contact, so please keep that in mind.

I have a partner who adopts the open-stance forehand(PARTNER1) and generates ball-pace through racket head acceleration, resulting in a fast topspin shot. I also have another partner who prefers the classic close-stance forehand(PARTNER2) and steps into his shot in order to generate pace and power; his shots are also fast and with topspin, just not as much topspin as my first partner but still a lot.

The result? Although their ball-pace is fairly similar, the ball that was hit by my partner using the close-stance(PARTNER2) felt A LOT heavier and has quite a longer stretch. Now I know that by hitting a close-stance forehand, he's transferring his body weight into the ball as well, but the pace of his shots are still about the same as my other partner(PARTNER2) with the open-stance.

I guess to sum it all up, what I'm asking is: why does PARTNER2's shot feel so much heavier than PARTNER1's shot, even though their shots are roughly at the same pace? The ball hit by PARTNER2 must have had more energy to release than the ball hit by PARTNER1, so why did it not travel significantly faster? Could I have been high when testing this out or something?

Blake0
01-07-2010, 10:53 PM
Does Partner #2 use a heavier frame? Or does he really plow through the ball?

If a ball with a lot of topspin and a flat ball is hit at the same speed, the topspin one will feel heavier.

It's easier to generate racket head speed with a lighter racket, to be able to brush up the ball more, but with a heavier racket you get the spin and heaviness through the plow through effect, by hitting through the ball.

Zachol82
01-07-2010, 10:56 PM
Does Partner #2 use a heavier frame? Or does he really plow through the ball?

If a ball with a lot of topspin and a flat ball is hit at the same speed, the topspin one will feel heavier.

It's easier to generate racket head speed with a lighter racket, to be able to brush up the ball more, but with a heavier racket you get the spin and heaviness through the plow through effect, by hitting through the ball.

PARTNER1 hits with more topspin than PARTNER2. I was thinking along the same line as you, a ball with a lot of topspin would feel heavier, but in this case the one with a lot of topspin was a lot "lighter" to return. PARTNER2 does use a close-stance when hitting forehands, which results in him stepping into his shots more and would probably plow through his shots more as well.

As for their frames, yes they are using different frames and that could be the reason. Still, shouldn't the "heavier" ball have more pace anyhow?

NLBwell
01-07-2010, 11:00 PM
My definition of a "Heavy" ball is one that feels like it is about the rip the racket out of your hand. This would be a ball with a lot of spin when it hits your racket (vs. before the bounce). I remember playing a senior guy when I was young who had an underhand serve (he was father to top junior players so he really knew the game). The first time I tried to hit this ball back it almost took the racket out of my hand. Even playing a whole set, I never really could return the serve - just couldn't compensate to get the ball to come off my strings in the right direction.

user92626
01-08-2010, 01:51 AM
Zachol,

Interesting setup, but I really doubt your human observation which is highly inaccurate. You need to have a speed gun to record the pace of both shots and go from there.

Assuming two shots have the same pace, one with topspin is carrying an additional force, ie spin, and your racket will need as much force to react to it.

Again, although they look the same to your eyes, I really doubt if a recreational player with the open stance could hit the same force as one with more neutral stance. Open stance gets power from leg and rotation which means a very strong core. In addition open stance produces angular impact which means less force than direct/linear impact of the neutral stance. My 2 cents.

sh@de
01-08-2010, 05:20 AM
The best definition I have come across for the heavy ball so far is a shot which hits your racquet at a high speed. Basically, I think heaviness is a measure of how much energy you need to exert to resist the motion of the incoming ball and hit it back to the opponent. Thus, a fast paced and flat shot can be heavy because it will hit your racquet at a high speed. On the other hand, a slower shot, but with more topspin, may still hit your racquet at the same speed because the topspin causes the ball to slows down less when it bounces. The two shots may have different pace, but their heaviness could end up being the same. Remember, the key thing about this definition is the speed of the ball as it hits your racquet, not the speed of the ball when it left your opponent's racquet. That is why Nadal's forehand, which isn't the fastest shot in the men's game, is incredibly heavy, because the spin on it means his shots don't decelerate much after bouncing, causing them to hit the opponent's racquet at a high speed. And Safin's shots, which don't have that much spin, can be just as heavy, because they're just him damn hard and fast and the slowing down after the bounce isn't enough to mean it becomes a 'light' ball.

Therefore, I have no idea why you think Partner 2's shots are heavier, because if they are hit at the same pace, the shot with more spin should be heavier as it will slow down less after the bounce and hence hit your racquet at a higher speed. The only reason I can suggest is that human error means that although you feel like both shots are hit at the same pace, they actually aren't. Either that, or your judgement of the spin is inaccurate.

And therefore to answer your question of whether there is such a thing as a fast and heavy ball: yes there is, in two scenarios:

1) Safin-esque shot. Fast, not much spin, but so fast, it's heavy.
2) Federer type shot. Maybe not as hard hit as Safin's, but still fast, and because there's so much spin, it hits the opponent's racquet at the same speed as Safin's shot, so it still ends up being heavy.

Nadal's shots are heavy, but I wouldn't classify his normal, loopy rally forehand as being fast. When he flattens it out, then yes, it's both fast and heavy because of the combination of spin and pace. Otherwise, he just hits a heavy ball, not necessarily a particularly fast one.

gameboy
01-08-2010, 10:34 AM
It is just simple physics.

A "heavy" ball is ball with a lot inertial energy due to its pace and spin. Spin holds a lot of inertia, it is very difficult to impart directional change when there is a lot of inertia. So, when you hit a ball with a lot of spin, it feels "heavy".

A "fast" ball with a light spin is going to feel different because it may not have as much spin on it and thus not as much inertia. If you are hitting it stright back where it came from, it is going to feel heavier, but if you are hitting it an oblique angle, it is going to feel lighter since you are not taking on the directional momentum head-on.

Bud
01-08-2010, 11:03 AM
Just out of curiosity, is there such a thing as a fast ball and a heavy ball? Or is a fast ball automatically a heavy ball, and vice versa?

From my own experience, I do notice that there IS a distinction between a fast ball and a heavy ball. Although to be physically sound, a fast-paced ball will result in it feeling "heavy" on impact and to achieve this "heaviness," a ball must travel pretty fast in order to create this force at impact. Therefore, a fast ball and a heavy ball must be one and the same.

However, it's not. I clearly see a difference and have tested this with several of my tennis partners. We didn't measure it with some sort of instrument in any ways, it was just off of how it feels on contact, so please keep that in mind.

I have a partner who adopts the open-stance forehand(PARTNER1) and generates ball-pace through racket head acceleration, resulting in a fast topspin shot. I also have another partner who prefers the classic close-stance forehand(PARTNER2) and steps into his shot in order to generate pace and power; his shots are also fast and with topspin, just not as much topspin as my first partner but still a lot.

The result? Although their ball-pace is fairly similar, the ball that was hit by my partner using the close-stance(PARTNER2) felt A LOT heavier and has quite a longer stretch. Now I know that by hitting a close-stance forehand, he's transferring his body weight into the ball as well, but the pace of his shots are still about the same as my other partner(PARTNER2) with the open-stance.

I guess to sum it all up, what I'm asking is: why does PARTNER2's shot feel so much heavier than PARTNER1's shot, even though their shots are roughly at the same pace? The ball hit by PARTNER2 must have had more energy to release than the ball hit by PARTNER1, so why did it not travel significantly faster? Could I have been high when testing this out or something?

A heavy ball has pace and spin... and is hit deeply into the court... usually within a couple feet of the baseline.

Hard flat balls have little spin and can push the racquet back on contact but they don't twist the racquet in your hand (which is what makes the ball feel heavier).

keepurpowderdry
01-08-2010, 11:49 AM
A heavy ball has pace and spin... and is hit deeply into the court... usually within a couple feet of the baseline.

Hard flat balls have little spin and can push the racquet back on contact but they don't twist the racquet in your hand (which is what makes the ball feel heavier).

Very well put.. Thats why I wanted to jump in and ask you something. First off I am having trouble with hitting a particular shot that a player from my group hits to me. He hit's it medium pace and I think its side spin. It sometimes slides a little when it hits the ground.. When i make contact with it it slides of the face of my racquet and falls short into the net. Now I know to bend my knees and get low with the ball BUT WHAT KINDA SWING PATH DO i USE TO COUNTER THAT SIDE SPIN ?.. The ball Feel super heavy !!! Thanks for your time and OP I hope this answer will help you to..

Blake0
01-08-2010, 02:35 PM
PARTNER1 hits with more topspin than PARTNER2. I was thinking along the same line as you, a ball with a lot of topspin would feel heavier, but in this case the one with a lot of topspin was a lot "lighter" to return. PARTNER2 does use a close-stance when hitting forehands, which results in him stepping into his shots more and would probably plow through his shots more as well.

As for their frames, yes they are using different frames and that could be the reason. Still, shouldn't the "heavier" ball have more pace anyhow?

Well, you get a heavier ball when you hit through the ball and with spin. If you just brush up the back, the spin will feel light. It's easier to hit through the ball with heavy rackets, because you get the plow through feeling and the ball doesn't rocket out.

LeeD
01-08-2010, 03:21 PM
Heavy ball is the PERCEPTION of the returner!
Everyone is more or less used to extreme topspin, so they can hit those high incomers.
Some people have trouble with skidders or lower balls, thus HEAVIER for them. Maybe not to you or me, but to THEM.
That's why TommyHaas and Federer have sliced backhands incorporated into their normal groundie game.

apor
01-08-2010, 07:06 PM
yeah, ummm, as stated before, your "experiment" wasn't really that.
you'd need cold, hard accurate data to verify ball speed off the raquet, and probably ball speed after the bounce. then perhaps some impact measurements, then you have a study.

LeeD
01-08-2010, 07:12 PM
"heavy" ball just means the person cannot hit center, cannot get a handle on the incoming ball with precision and comfort.
A "heavy" ball is different for different players. Old farts who played 35 years ago find heavy topspin feels heavy and mishits happen all the time.
Young guns might find the shin high slices with sidespin "heavy", because they don't regularly practice with old farts who slice and dice.
Weaker players find every shot "heavy" when they play better, stronger players.
Everyone finds Nadal's shots "heavy".

Zachol82
01-08-2010, 09:38 PM
Everyone finds Nadal's shots "heavy".

I would really love to feel Nadal's balls :shock:

SplitStepper
01-08-2010, 09:53 PM
a ball with spin actually weighs more. literally. seriously, i read an article where scientist weighed a spinning top before and after spinning it. depending on how much spin there was determined how much it weighed.

Zachol82
01-08-2010, 10:07 PM
a ball with spin actually weighs more. literally. seriously, i read an article where scientist weighed a spinning top before and after spinning it. depending on how much spin there was determined how much it weighed.

That makes sense. A ball that is spinning is practically "whipping" at whatever it comes into contact with as well. A topspin ball weighs more probably because there's also that downward force involved?

Claudius
01-08-2010, 10:08 PM
a ball with spin actually weighs more. literally. seriously, i read an article where scientist weighed a spinning top before and after spinning it. depending on how much spin there was determined how much it weighed.

That does not make sense...weight is the force due to gravity and is dependent on two factors: mass and acceleration (9.8 m/s^2). Spinning something will alter neither of these.

ms87
01-08-2010, 11:29 PM
a ball with spin actually weighs more. literally. seriously, i read an article where scientist weighed a spinning top before and after spinning it. depending on how much spin there was determined how much it weighed.

lol crack an elementary physics textbook

papa
01-09-2010, 07:24 AM
Does Partner #2 use a heavier frame? Or does he really plow through the ball?

If a ball with a lot of topspin and a flat ball is hit at the same speed, the topspin one will feel heavier.

It's easier to generate racket head speed with a lighter racket, to be able to brush up the ball more, but with a heavier racket you get the spin and heaviness through the plow through effect, by hitting through the ball.

Yeah, don't think it has anything to do with racquet weight but topspin is certainly a factor especially on shots inside the service line or on a volley.

LeeD
01-09-2010, 08:35 AM
Not only topspin, but underspin or some sort of sidespin component.
A heavy topped ball is hard to volley, but so is a heavy sliced ball. Both, you need long contact point and forward moving rackethead with firm grip and purpose to your volleys.

Netspirit
01-09-2010, 11:37 AM
Not only topspin, but underspin or some sort of sidespin component.

A shot hit with underspin usually floats slower than a shot with topspin, so the ball has less kinetic energy overall and does not feel as "heavy".

But yep - any pace and any spin adds to "heaviness" (when everything else is equal).

LeeD
01-09-2010, 02:38 PM
Gotta remember, you haven't played 5.0 players with good hard, low slices.
I can hit a slice from 3' behind the baseline, it goes 2' over the net, and lands within 3' of the baseline pretty consistently. And I don't consider myself having a real good slice compared to some players I've come up against in the past. And those guys were A or Open players.
Typical slice is a high floating backspin with no pace. The one's I see move about the same speed as excessive topspin, about the same as medium speed flat shots, but hit with as much spin as top level topspinners.
The reason you can slice hard is that the high to low stroke is easier to replicate over and over again, and height control over the net is easier than topspin groundies.

marosmith
01-09-2010, 04:14 PM
Not only topspin, but underspin or some sort of sidespin component.
A heavy topped ball is hard to volley, but so is a heavy sliced ball. Both, you need long contact point and forward moving rackethead with firm grip and purpose to your volleys.

With a top spin shot the returner has to change the direction of the spin on the ball to impart top spin of their own. The process of changing the direction of the rotation on the incoming ball makes the shot more difficult, or heavy. The best solution is to slice it back, using the same rotation the ball already has.

But everything I have read has stated the more spin, the heavier the ball feels.

LeeD
01-09-2010, 04:40 PM
Not so sure...
I'm an old school slicer/dicer.
Against modern SW or W gripped hard topspin groundies, it's actually harder to slice effectively, easier to play their game and topspin it back.
Changing the spin direction takes consistent strong shots. We can do that.
Using underspin against high bouncing strong topspin balls sometimes make for inconsistency due to the ADDED spin of the ball when you try to hardslice a topspun ball. Try it! For me, it's easier to slice the first one or two, then just play the topspin game after that.

larry10s
01-10-2010, 05:55 AM
back to the op to me the "heavy" ball is the is the ball that pushes you back . it can be a super hard flat ball think blake.vedasco 100 mph forehand, but more often its the rapidly spinning topspin that "jumps " at you with pace and spin that when you try to take it early it pushes you back. if you move back 5 feet and let the spin and pace dissipate and hit it on the way down its lost its "heaviness". to me the extremely spinning slice is not "heavy" but a very difficult ball in its own way. i especially have trouble vollleying those and really must concentrate on following thru the volley.

fps
01-10-2010, 06:07 AM
a heavy ball is the one you can't redirect or control, heavily topspun, coming quicker than you thought because of that spin, the one that takes more physical strength than you expected to return it, that you can't middle because of how it's moving.

In D Zone
01-10-2010, 09:52 AM
best comparison is when you play clay and hard surface courts. I noticed the ball on the clay court has lot more action to it when it kick up from the dirt. The ball felt much heavier - due to the spin of the ball as it bounces quicker on clay than hard court.

At least from my experinced- took me awhile to get use to the heavier and pace of the ball on clay since I am used to playing on hard surface

chico9166
01-10-2010, 09:59 AM
Example: Many could serve with the velocity of Sampras, but Sampras's ball carried this velocity with a higher spin rate. Equivalent forward ball velocity with higher spin rate equals a heavier ball.

Ballinbob
01-10-2010, 10:00 AM
i usually think of a heavy ball as a ball that has heavy spin, as those feel heavier returning.

I have to work on my heavy ball. I have fast groundstrokes, but they're not heavy at all and can be blocked back easy. Thats the difference between a heavy and fast ball- the amount of effort you have to put in to return that ball

LeeD
01-10-2010, 10:01 AM
Perception of the individual player !!
A claycourter thinks hard court play is heavy.
A hardcourt player thinks grass court bounces are heavy.
All perception.
WE think DavidFerrer hits a heavy ball. Guess what? He does, but Federer and Nadal don't worry much about it.

larry10s
01-10-2010, 11:07 AM
Equivalent forward ball velocity with higher spin rate equals a heavier ball.

good equation

Steady Eddy
01-10-2010, 12:08 PM
One of the first books I ever read on tennis explained it this way; a fast ball that looks like it's going fast doesn't surprise you. But a ball that's coming in faster than it looks, due to the player transferring their weight into the shot, looks like it's going slow so when you hit it the impact surprises you and the ball feels "heavy". That's the best explanation I've heard.

Frank Silbermann
01-10-2010, 02:35 PM
Tennis balls cannot violate the laws of physics. A shot's kinetic energy is what it is. Others on this board disagree with me, but I believe a heavy ball is one that comes at you harder than you think it will.

When your friend with the classic strokes hits, you see the racket rising almost as fast, but you cannot gauge the speed of the racket's forward motion. (I mean, what are you going to see at contact -- the racket face gradually growing larger as it moves closer?). Chances are, it's moving forward much faster than your other friend's racket head moves forward at contact.

So you see the racket's moving up and across and comparable speeds and you expect the balls to arrive comparably fast, but one guy pulls his punches while the other guy doesn't.

Bagumbawalla
01-10-2010, 03:38 PM
There are two aspects to the concept of a "heavy ball". One is the actual force of the ball as it strikes the racket- and that is most likely the lesser of the two elements.

The other is the psychological side. Here is an example: I have a friend who has a daughter playing college tennis. She is maybe 5' tall (if that). It does not look like she could do all that much with the ball, but it seems to pound on your racket when you make contact. I doubt that she hit harder than some of the guys I play with all the time-- but there is the psychological element. It is hard to adujst to her pace since it seems to come out of nowhere. It is difficult to set up and time her shots and get your racket on them solidly (well, at least, at first) so they seen comparitively "heavy".

LeeD
01-10-2010, 03:50 PM
Ain't science, it's tennis, a game.
PERCEPTION is the only determining factor. Some find Ferrer's shots normal. Most find it heavy.
Same with every human matchup.
Ball could be topspin, sidespin, or underspin and combos of any.
Speed could be fast, slow, or moderate.
PERCEPTION of the returner determines whether he thinks the ball is heavy or not.

NLBwell
01-17-2010, 08:54 PM
I am having trouble with hitting a particular shot that a player from my group hits to me. He hit's it medium pace and I think its side spin. It sometimes slides a little when it hits the ground.. When i make contact with it it slides of the face of my racquet and falls short into the net. Now I know to bend my knees and get low with the ball BUT WHAT KINDA SWING PATH DO i USE TO COUNTER THAT SIDE SPIN ?.. The ball Feel super heavy !!! Thanks for your time and OP I hope this answer will help you to..

One method is to go with the spin. Just put more sidespin in the direction the ball is spinning. You can move your racket outside-in across your body if the ball is moving away from you (of course you have to aim more toward the middle of the court since the ball will curve toward the outside of the court) on either the forehand or backhand. If the ball is curving into your forehand, you can "hook" it (buggywhip a la Newcombe), hitting around the outside of the ball and have the ball curve back in the court. It is tough to "hook" a backhand, though.
Another is to just have a heavy racket that will plow through the ball.

Nellie
01-17-2010, 09:25 PM
I believe that that a fast spinning ball is like a gyroscope with a bunch of angular momentum and, therefore, carries a lot of energy.

defrule
01-18-2010, 01:52 AM
When I play a beginner, their groundstrokes have nothing on them especially after the bounce.

For better players, it feels like they have a lot more on the bounce.

Sometimes you see pros landing balls short but seems like they have enough on it to keep it from being attacked.

papa
01-18-2010, 06:24 AM
Tennis balls cannot violate the laws of physics. A shot's kinetic energy is what it is. Others on this board disagree with me, but I believe a heavy ball is one that comes at you harder than you think it will.



Well true, but your forgetting the effect of spin as its applied in physics and also in tennis. An object that is spinning, in this case topspin, will push down "more" on the racquet.