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View Full Version : I think extension is a myth.


HunterST
12-31-2011, 02:13 PM
It seems to be believed widely that, after shot (forehand for example) the arm should extend out towards the shot, making it almost straight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSWuA2MVEtA here's a pro making such a suggestion

Over the past few weeks, I've made a point of keeping the bend in my arm constant, and my forehand has gotten much more consistent and powerful. When we prepare for a shot, our arm has a bend in the take back. I think the shot becomes much simpler if that stays there throughout the stroke and follow through. There's a lot more ways for the shot to go wrong if a player is starting with a bend and straightening it out at certain points.

I began looking, and noticed most pros are keeping that bend in their arm like I have started doing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dihL0_w6IM&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0-P4QzNuz8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMji0Wq5BtM&feature=related


So, I think extension is at least misunderstood. Someone can probably explain how this method still achieves extension, though.

My advice, however, is to keep your arm bend angle consistent throughout the take back and stroke.

JohnYandell
12-31-2011, 02:41 PM
Hunter,

I agree with you. The problem I think lies in the understanding of the term itself.
Whatever the hitting arm structure, it tends to keep it's shape from the start of the forward swing until well out in the followthrough.

If the elbow is bent it tends to stay that way, if straight, the same. So if by "extension" you mean straightening the elbow that happens to some slight degree on some forehands, but it's not a core component.

In my work by "extension" I mean something else. Not the changes in the arm shape, if any, but rather the continuation or extenison of the forward swing in the outward dimension.

All swings are on a curve. The racket is moving forward, upward, and right to left. The amount of extension is a function of the shape of this curve.

More extension is associated with greater forward or outward movement toward the target. At the same time the racket is also moving across the body and upward. The point of maximum forward extension varies depending on ball height and shot intention. Harder, deeper, and relatively flatter drives are associated with great extension. Heavy spin, short angles, and low contact points are typically associated with less.

BevelDevil
12-31-2011, 07:44 PM
This term is often used when explaining the Federer/Nadal forehand, both of which are straight-arm. However, if you do not want a straight-arm forehand, you are correct.

Lsmkenpo
12-31-2011, 11:25 PM
Federer is able to extend so far out because of the way he generates his topspin.

Federer uses the tightest wiping motion on tour to create his topspin, and a more relaxed grip at contact. He hits more towards the bottom of the stringbed which turns the racquet head as he swings through contact, thus generating something of an automatic tight wiping motion

http://i44.tinypic.com/zv1mye.gif

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmmKlOFKqvE&feature=related



In contrast here is Ernests Gulbis who uses a much bigger wiping motion to generate topspin. You can see he doesn't extend very far out at all, and his upward wipe begins before he makes contact.


http://i40.tinypic.com/5r212.jpg


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlebgMBe7DQ

How far out a player can extend is a result of the motion they use to create topspin on their shot

JohnYandell
12-31-2011, 11:54 PM
Definitely that practice court forehand is hit below center, as some in real play are, but most are not.

If you look at around 100 Federer forehands, you see that a percentage are below center, but most are either on the center line or above. You see Federer having as much and probably more extension on more forehands than most all pro players and this is why his forehand is so effective as a weapon.

In my opinion, extension the way I've described, is a function of the intention of the player to hit through the ball.

Dellon
01-01-2012, 12:56 AM
Well, funny enough, just returned from the qualifying rounds of the ASB Classis in Auckland NZ. Because of the intermitent showers I wondered on a few side courts where tennis players were practicing ... Alison Riske was hitting with her coach, an old gentleman thatwas standing atthenet while shewas at the baseline ... I was watching him mainly as his volleys were rocksolid , just a block without much movement and theball was going back to her .. anyway, the coach was telling her to "cover the ball" more to get more topspin ... actual words ... I also have a friend coachthat was using the same expression which in other words is " release your wrist after impact" to produce spin ... to let the racquet have the wiper motion ... then again on another court other players were hitting massive groundies without much follow through ... contact, release thewrist and racquet around you body , higher or lower.... with the straight arm there is the illusion of extending through the shot but it only happens when players make contact really in front ... what happens after contact is the wrist release and that's it ... :)

Lsmkenpo
01-01-2012, 01:35 AM
Definitely that practice court forehand is hit below center, as some in real play are, but most are not.

If you look at around 100 Federer forehands, you see that a percentage are below center, but most are either on the center line or above. You see Federer having as much and probably more extension on more forehands than most all pro players and this is why his forehand is so effective as a weapon.


In my opinion, extension the way I've described, is a function of the intention of the player to hit through the ball.

I know Federer has said before that he hits many different types of forehands, it would be a very interesting question to ask him if he sometimes purposely hits lower on the stringbed.

In one of the TW professors recent experiments he found that surprisingly shots hit lower on the stringbed generate more topspin than those hit in the center or above.

Your probably the man that would know more than anyone, do you think this is a mishit or something he sometimes does on purpose? Seems that whenever I see him hit a high forehand he contacts lower on the stringbed, but maybe it is just a coincidence from a small sample of video.

I understand the extension and hitting through the ball, but it seems like Federer extends though the ball and still gets massive spin without a steep arc, ditto with Fernando Verdasco.

Dellon
01-01-2012, 02:02 AM
^^ I don't think it's a mishit ... it's a function of the wrist release I believe ... it's something that has been perfected through repetition because you cannot possibly see what' happening in that fraction of a second ... that's were "feel" comes to play ... I remember Federer used to frame a lot his forehand before becoming who he is now (and still does!!! ) I do believe his backhand is more solid (apart from Nadal's high topspin shots ) as it doesn't have anything fancy, it's a good old technique , whereas his forehand breaks down more often if footwork or timing is not perfect ... because of the straight arm structure which is more prone to error than the double bend ... one funny thing is that I haven't or don't recall Nadal framing lots of forehands, so for some reason his timing is better than Federer's ... it could be his more extreme grip which ofers him more suport or his high finish? I don't know ... but apart from being too short sometimes, I would choose Nadal's forehand over Federer's in terms of reability (I'm talking for my level of tennis) although Federer's is thebest looking stroke I've ever seen ... it just flows

tennis_balla
01-01-2012, 02:43 AM
Definitely that practice court forehand is hit below center, as some in real play are, but most are not.

If you look at around 100 Federer forehands, you see that a percentage are below center, but most are either on the center line or above. You see Federer having as much and probably more extension on more forehands than most all pro players and this is why his forehand is so effective as a weapon.

In my opinion, extension the way I've described, is a function of the intention of the player to hit through the ball.

Well said.

5263
01-01-2012, 07:26 AM
It seems to be believed widely that, after shot (forehand for example) the arm should extend out towards the shot, making it almost straight.


Very cool to see you realize these things on your journey into better tennis!
You have hit on one of the biggest problems concerning traditional instruction.
It has nearly always taught as you mention in bold above, to extend your shot
out towards the shot and target. Also as you mention, to do this requires you
you to make intricate and unnatural adjustments with your arm. This is also what
can lead to stepping into your shot, as that helps to extend down the shot line as well,
along with depth control problems.

Once one realizes clearly, as you have, that you can hit a more consistent modern
stroke by not altering the swing in that unnatural fashion, it will help your stroke greatly.
Knowing that the stroke is up, out and Across the shot line, really lays a foundation to
build a more consistent and powerful shot.

Ash_Smith
01-01-2012, 07:42 AM
Out of interest would anyone describe the motion here by Nalbandian as "extension"?

http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh157/AceOnTheLine/nalbandian.jpg

Contact is on frame one and by frame three the racket has travelled significantly forward in line with the contact before starting to pronate in frame 4. Thoughts?

cheers

Geology_Rocks!
01-01-2012, 08:19 AM
That federer video is a clear shank. He does not create topspin by ''rolling his wrist'' over the ball as many ppl on this board belive. He creates topspin by keeping the string bed perpendicular to the back of the ball during the wiping action. Just like the Gulbis clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmhvKafCYsk this is his regular forehand.

Back on topic, I'm also confused about the extension on forehand, on slow motion videos most of the arm movement seems to be upward and not much forward.

5263
01-01-2012, 08:20 AM
Out of interest would anyone describe the motion here by Nalbandian as "extension"?

http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh157/AceOnTheLine/nalbandian.jpg

Contact is on frame one and by frame three the racket has travelled significantly forward in line with the contact before starting to pronate in frame 4. Thoughts?

cheers

Not sure where you are going with this and know you understand it inside and out but,

the key here is the hand, not the racket face. We control our hands and thru that the racket face is a result.
It takes a vid from above to see how the hand starts to come back inside the target line of the shot, prior to contact.
This will result in the racket face extending out to the ball for contact due to momentum and change in hand position.
While what I stated is generally true, even the pros must make compensations at times,
so just looking at one Fh will tell us little if it not standard.

5263
01-01-2012, 08:23 AM
Back on topic, I'm also confused about the extension on forehand, on slow motion videos most of the arm movement seems to be upward and not much forward.

And if you have a vid from above, you can really see how the hand starts to move across the shot line more than forward as well, as you mention.

Dadof10s
01-01-2012, 09:06 AM
And if you have a vid from above, you can really see how the hand starts to move across the shot line more than forward as well, as you mention.

I third this opinion. The poster who said extension is more forward and designed to hit through the ball seems to be off the mark.

JohnYandell
01-01-2012, 10:48 AM
It a great question whether the players try to move the contact point to different points on the string bed. I looked at a few hundred high speed forehands of Fed, Nadal, and Djok and found that there wasn't a tendency to hit more below. About a third were center line, a third above and a third below.

What was interesting though that there was a tendency to hit closer out to the tip, especially by Djok. Obviously the racket head and stringbed torque if you hit much above or below the center line. Hard to believe that this is as efficient a collision or produces the same amount of spin, but then I haven't actually tried to quantify that.

As for Fed's spin with the flatter more extended swing plane--that in my opinion is all about his tremendous ability to wiper and vary that to create the spin he wants. He's using the upper arm segment rotation and that is a big power source.

As for across versus out, we've debated this extensively. You can find plenty of videos where the right to left movement is very sharp and early, and others where it is less and happens later. The right hand--except sometimes in the reverse--always comes across to about the left edge of the torso prior to or in the early stages of the various wraps. It's not either or--it's a continuum based on the situation, the incoming ball and the outgoing shot the player hits. Again the swing is on a curve and the shape of that curve varies almost infinitely.

West Coast Ace
01-01-2012, 11:46 AM
Rafa non-buggy whip FH:

http://i43.tinypic.com/34gvka1.jpg

Off The Wall
01-01-2012, 01:17 PM
What was interesting though that there was a tendency to hit closer out to the tip, especially by Djok. Obviously the racket head and stringbed torque if you hit much above or below the center line. Hard to believe that this is as efficient a collision or produces the same amount of spin, but then I haven't actually tried to quantify that.

In my experience, there is added power toward the tip of the sweet spot.

Lsmkenpo
01-01-2012, 03:02 PM
Gulbis uses a western grip and a bent arm structure so he doesn't have the arm extension.

Federer uses an extreme eastern/weak SW grip and a straight arm.

As the arm moves away from the body there is less leverage and stability,
to get stability with an extended stroke a player needs more racquet head speed to win the collision with the ball. With a bent arm and less extension the racquet is more stable and less racquet head speed is need to stabilize through impact.

If a player doesn't hit with extreme racquet head speed the forehand with less extension and a bent arm structure will be more stable and consistent.













That federer video is a clear shank. He does not create topspin by ''rolling his wrist'' over the ball as many ppl on this board belive. He creates topspin by keeping the string bed perpendicular to the back of the ball during the wiping action. Just like the Gulbis clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmhvKafCYsk this is his regular forehand.

Back on topic, I'm also confused about the extension on forehand, on slow motion videos most of the arm movement seems to be upward and not much forward.

No, it isn't a shank, it is simply lower on the string bed. He isn't close to hitting the frame.

I disagree with your assertion that your video clip is is his normal forehand stroke, that ball is low.
you can see his shoulders are way out of level on the stroke and he has to lift the ball to get it over the net. He doesn't do this at all on a ball that is in a normal strike zone, and never on a ball at chest height like we see in the Gulbis clip.

I think it becomes obvious to anyone that has seen Federer hit live and up close something else is going on to give him so much spin with an extended and less extreme swing plane through contact. He has the pace of a flatter ball striker but with nearly double the spin.

The action on his ball doesn't seem possible using a conservative grip and a swing plane through the ball. He hits more spin than the majority of the players on tour off the forehand side, and hits through the ball.

sureshs
01-01-2012, 03:12 PM
In my experience, there is added power toward the tip of the sweet spot.

The 90 series he uses already has its sweetspot higher compared to larger frames, as 90 frames have higher sweetspots in general (from the geometry) - for a total length of 27 inches, a smaller head means it is also higher. On top of that (no pun), he adds lead under the bumper at 12.

Limpinhitter
01-01-2012, 03:47 PM
That federer video is a clear shank. He does not create topspin by ''rolling his wrist'' over the ball as many ppl on this board belive. He creates topspin by keeping the string bed perpendicular to the back of the ball during the wiping action. Just like the Gulbis clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmhvKafCYsk this is his regular forehand.

Back on topic, I'm also confused about the extension on forehand, on slow motion videos most of the arm movement seems to be upward and not much forward.

It's a mishit, but, it's not a shank. He doesn't hit the frame.

Geology_Rocks!
01-01-2012, 04:35 PM
Yeah, not a shank but I highly doubt he did it on purpose.

FedMex
01-01-2012, 05:20 PM
I hit with Fed's grip and I am almost completely straight at impact and also get a turn on the racquet from the impact generally. If I need to top the ball more, I keep a bit of a longer lean on my back foot and mildly alter the swing path. If I'm driving the ball and leaping or moving forward into the hit, the acceleration is naturally faster and I get enough top to bring the ball down after it cross the net. The straight arm is awesome because as the ball bounces higher, the stroke automatically adjusts the plane of the shoulders (giving the across the body finish) and flattens out to perpendicular at impact.

When I go to a pure semi-western and hit off the back foot, it feels alot like the verdasco forehand.

enishi1357
01-01-2012, 06:56 PM
i think its something to do with his shoulder that made the extension possible.

ho
01-02-2012, 05:17 AM
i think its something to do with his shoulder that made the extension possible.
Absolutely, extension of the arm rely on extension of the right shoulder, not the configuration of the arm,
Extension of the right shoulder rely on the the way you move your left hand: If your left hand drop to your chest, it will act as a brake, it stops the free movement of the left shoulder, by then it will launch your right shoulder forward into the shot.

fuzz nation
01-02-2012, 05:37 AM
Extension is only a term. If a player is hitting with a bad move, improper swing path, restricted swing radius, etc., it can be useful to introduce the idea of extension to help with developing better mechanics. Some of the sluggers I see who more consistently use a WW forehand probably wouldn't benefit from that idea.

86golf
01-02-2012, 05:39 AM
Imho: More spacing=more extension

I think this is one area that you can compare to golf, in that the key is your swing path, face angle and racquet head speed. Keeping your racquet head square as long as possible to give you a bigger hitting window will help with consistency. This is achieved with the shoulder turn, proper spacing and foward swing to contact.

Most rec players (including myself) prep too late and this impacts the ability to get a proper shoulder turn back, spacing and get good forward extension.

I think extension is important, but in the right context.

ho
01-02-2012, 05:50 AM
Imho: More spacing=more extension


Absolutely, most ATP with pull stroke hit ball far out to have a good extension, but by then you only hit with with the arm, the small weight of your arm will not compress and bounce out your ball as solid and powerful as you hit on your side: body and arm as one unit.

5263
01-02-2012, 06:20 AM
Extension is only a term.

I agree it is just a term, but extension in traditional instruction has primarily delt with extending the stroke down the target line. There are extensions in mechanics that can be beneficial, but using extension for those aspects probably needs amplifying info to be more specific. Just throwing out the term "extension" is often going to carry the wrong connotations.

5263
01-02-2012, 06:23 AM
Keeping your racquet head square as long as possible to give you a bigger hitting window will help with consistency.

Maybe square in respect to hand position, but not square as long as possible to contact or target line.

86golf
01-02-2012, 01:47 PM
Maybe square in respect to hand position, but not square as long as possible to contact or target line.

Could you please expand on your comment above?

tlm
01-02-2012, 03:53 PM
That federer video is a clear shank. He does not create topspin by ''rolling his wrist'' over the ball as many ppl on this board belive. He creates topspin by keeping the string bed perpendicular to the back of the ball during the wiping action. Just like the Gulbis clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmhvKafCYsk this is his regular forehand.

Back on topic, I'm also confused about the extension on forehand, on slow motion videos most of the arm movement seems to be upward and not much forward.

This is no shank, the racket rolling over the ball is exaggerated but it is not a shank. It is much better to see feds forehand in match play than in practice, but i have seen many of his forehands in slow motion that do show the racket rolling over the ball.