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View Full Version : Would like opinions on this ("Key Forehand Position")


Counter
09-27-2011, 08:43 AM
Hi all,

This relates to a little article I read at www.hi-techtennis.com. I'm taking the liberty to copy/paste this text below for the reader's convenience, but the source is http://www.hi-techtennis.com/forehand/buttcap.php , where the accompanying photo's etc. can also be found.

So what is this about? I've read many times (including on these boards) that in hitting a forehand (groundstroke) you should use a relatively vertical swing path in your forward swing, esp. with a view to creating topspin. Or as the article quoted below puts it: "An extremely popular "tip" is to get the racket two, even three feet below the ball to generate topspin."

According to the article, however, this tip "is an enormous misconception and causes all kinds of problems." Instead, the article asserts, "at this stage [?] of the forehand, the racket should be parallel to the ground and in line with the flight path of the ball (or just a few inches below the flight path of the ball)." It also says that at this point "the butt cap [should be] pointing towards the net" (the latter quote from a caption in a photo).

So basically, my question is whether the article is correct in its firm rejection of the vertical swingpath, and in the alternative it proposes?

Also, is this article's advice sound for all forehands? Or rather, only for "flat" forehands, as opposed to heavy topspin ones? That is perhaps the most pertinent issue.

(And perhaps as a bit of a side issue, is the butt-cap-pointing-towards-the-net advice considered valid even by those advocating a vertical swingpath? And if so, at what point exactly should the butt cap point towards the net?)

Very interested in your opinions!

Here is the article's full text (as I said, the accompanying pics, which are referred to in the text, can be found on the URL I mentioned above).


Key Forehand Position

You can't see this position with your eyes. If you watch a player hitting the ball, this moment in time is just a blur. High speed video, however, reveals a key arm/racket orientation at this moment that is shared by all top hitters. Let's look at this position carefully, and see what is entails. Then we will look at a 4.0 player, a 4.5 player, and a 5.0 player that I worked with to see how they look in this key position.

First, all these professionals have the butt cap of the racket pointing at the net when their hand is around their right hip. This causes the racket to be completely parallel to the side fence.

What is a bit surprising here is that the racket is level with the flight path of the ball. An extremely popular "tip" is to get the racket two, even three feet below the ball to generate topspin. [U]This is an enormous misconception and causes all kinds of problems. At this stage of the forehand, the racket should be parallel to the ground and in line with the flight path of the ball (or just a few inches below the flight path of the ball).

Not only do most people lower the racket too low below the flight path of the ball, they also drop the wrist and racket way below the forearm, causing the racket to tilt down towards the ground. This prevents them from driving through the ball properly. If the butt cap of your racket is a flash light, shine the light straight at the incoming ball. Don't shine the light up towards the ball.

skiracer55
09-27-2011, 09:15 AM
...I can sort of see what they're aiming at, but they're kind of mixing metaphors. I'm okay with the "butt cap pointing" and "racket parallel to the side fence" but you can do that hitting low to high as well as hitting with a level swing, then brushing up on it. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and if you want a treatise on the variations used in the so-called "modern forehand", just look at the swing paths of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovich...

TennisCJC
09-27-2011, 09:40 AM
Go to sites below to see pros swing path. I agree with your points in that for most forehands the pros do not drop the racket head more than a few inches below contact point. Especially true on balls thigh high or higher.

The butt cap theory is also true but there is a "gotcha" with this theory. Go to you tube and watch Fed and Agassi hit forehands in slow-mo. They assume pivot/prep position where racket stops or slows with the racket head above the hitting hand. Then they go into a "continous" loop down, forward, thru and wrap around in WW follow-thru. Yes, on the majority of forehands, the racket butt passes thru a section of the continous loop where it points roughly at the net or incoming ball. But, the key here is you should NOT prep your racket by point the butt at the ball and you should NOT stop or slow down the swing to point your racket butt at the incoming ball. This is just a transitional angle of the swing. In fact, on some occasions, the butt never gets to the point where it points fully at the net or ball - when pro takes a short swing to say half volley a ball or is on the full run and shortens backswing they may only get close to the angle where butt points at ball. But, when pros have time, generally butt points roughly or 90% forward during the loop.

Also, see that pros contact topspin forehand with a slightly closed racket face.

Look at some of the pictures on the site and you will see that on low balls the racket may actually drop a bit lower and the angle thru impact is a bit steeper to lift the ball over the net. Verdasco has a pic that shows a steep upward path on a low ball. Topspin lobs and reverse follow-thru used on wide, low running forehands also pull up more sharply where you follow-thru over the hitting shoulder rather than wrapping around the body to opposite shoulder.

But, in general for normal rally balls - angle is not that steep, racket head is only a few inches below contact at bottom of backswing, and racket face is slightly closed at contact. Racket hand in some case is about equal to contact point in some cases. Another controversial point is due to slightly closed face at contact, a high percentage of forehands are hit slightly below the center of the racket - say, racket is parallel to ground at contact; then ball will be slightly below the center line that divides the parallel racket in half. The sites have some interesting statistics on how much more topspin is generated with various contact points - above center, in center and below center.

http://blog.tennisspeed.com/2011/05/roadmap-to-hall-of-fame-forehand-part-1.html

http://blog.tennisspeed.com/2011/06/roadmap-to-hall-of-fame-forehand-part-2.html

dominikk1985
09-27-2011, 10:36 AM
You have to consider that pros often hit the balls on the rise or at the highest point. When their racket is at the same height as the ball a couple of feet away it will continue to rise.

It could easily rise another foot or so over the last 3-4 feet.

that means the racket actually is at the same height as the ball at the lowst point of the swing, but actually a foot or so below the ball because the ball continues to rise.

ever noticed that you need to get the RH much lower on a falling ball to generate topspin? here is your reason.

TennisCJC
09-27-2011, 11:41 AM
You have to consider that pros often hit the balls on the rise or at the highest point. When their racket is at the same height as the ball a couple of feet away it will continue to rise.

It could easily rise another foot or so over the last 3-4 feet.

that means the racket actually is at the same height as the ball at the lowst point of the swing, but actually a foot or so below the ball because the ball continues to rise.

ever noticed that you need to get the RH much lower on a falling ball to generate topspin? here is your reason.

The pictures on the sites trace the racket head path from low point, to contact, and thru follow-thru. In most shots, the racket head is less than a full racket head below or roughly a full racket head below the eventually contact point regardless of a rising or dropping ball.

Counter
09-28-2011, 05:01 PM
Thanks guys.

TennisCJC, I'm going to check out that site as soon as I have some time! And if you say that "when pros have time, generally butt points roughly 90% forward during the loop," this pointing forward indeed occurs approximately at the point where your raquet (i.e. right) hand is by your right hip, as the article says (in a caption)?


You have to consider that pros often hit the balls on the rise or at the highest point. When their racket is at the same height as the ball a couple of feet away it will continue to rise.

It could easily rise another foot or so over the last 3-4 feet.

that means the racket actually is at the same height as the ball at the lowst point of the swing, but actually a foot or so below the ball because the ball continues to rise.

ever noticed that you need to get the RH much lower on a falling ball to generate topspin? here is your reason.

Good point I think! I'll keep that in mind. Also, in my original post I more or less equated "coming below the ball" with a "vertical swing path", which may not be totally correct.

SystemicAnomaly
09-29-2011, 09:09 AM
I believe that the position and orientation of the racket relative to the incoming ball could depend on a number of factors -- height of ball contact, late/early contact point, grip employed and, perhaps, the speed of the swing. Another factor is one that has already been mentioned -- is the ball contacted at its peak, rising or falling?

Take a look at the forehands on the home page of Hi-TechTennis (http://www.hi-techtennis.com/). Some of these show that the racket head drops noticeably below the hand and the incoming ball.

dominikk1985
09-29-2011, 09:55 AM
You also have to keep in mind that not how much you get under but how steep you swing up is the deciding factor.

Since pros swing the RH up quite late (by keeping the forearm supinated till short before contact and then swinging up hard by pronating) they still get a lot of angle in their swing.