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View Full Version : Tips to incorporate more hip action into the forehand


xFullCourtTenniSx
11-13-2012, 03:49 PM
Assume starting off with no (or minimal) hip rotation using standard unit turn.

I don't know if I am getting hip rotation on my forehand, and I have no camera with which to check. I can easily focus on getting plenty of shoulder turn into the shot, but I don't see using the hips as being nearly as easy and comfortable.

The only things I have found are

1) Sit and lift. Makes sense. Using this method, the legs can easily power shoulder rotation.
2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZGU4zjI4bpY Using the vertical life down through the shoulder as the center of rotation, using the rest of the body to hit the ball by rotating about that axis.

Is it always necessary to use a lot of hip rotation on bigger forehands? I notice that on some shots (high drives), Federer doesn't rotate his hips as much (from what I can see). Also, it's not possible to rotate on every shot (running forehands being a prime example), which would sap some power away and force the arm and shoulders to produce the power instead, which is I guess why we want our opponents on the run (so they can't set up and use their hips to unload their best shots on us).

Main question is what are some tips to incorporate or improve/increase the hip rotation on the forehand (or groundstrokes in general).

LeeD
11-13-2012, 03:59 PM
I do agree we should not be concerned with using shoulder/torso/hip rotation on every shot. Only for those we have time and inclination.
If your hips face the sidefence at the start of the forward swing, and end up facing the target at the followthu, you are using hip rotation.

boramiNYC
11-13-2012, 04:59 PM
Hip is for stability and balance. It should be well anchored to stabilize the fast and big motion of the upper body. This means while the upper body is coiled in backswing the hip should be well anchored to stretch that coiling and initiate the rotational pull and after the contact it should be well anchored to stop the rotational inertia. Legs are the helpers of the hip to achieve this. It's better to think more of the inaction or plantedness of the hip.

albesca
11-13-2012, 10:01 PM
Hip is for stability and balance. It should be well anchored to stabilize the fast and big motion of the upper body. This means while the upper body is coiled in backswing the hip should be well anchored to stretch that coiling and initiate the rotational pull and after the contact it should be well anchored to stop the rotational inertia. Legs are the helpers of the hip to achieve this. It's better to think more of the inaction or plantedness of the hip.
agree . you have to use a one hip joint pivoting of the trunk. . and . . to do that ..need to plant the feet on the ground and bend the knee.

user92626
11-14-2012, 08:17 AM
Bora gave a good explanation.

For me I don't really think about hip rotation and whatnot. What I think about is increasing the swing range which means coiling fuller, and easing my arm into contact which means everything else loads and leads first. To do that the proper foot, in my case the left, planting for pivoting and pushing off the ground, like a sprinter taking off, is important to initialize a strong swing.

sureshs
11-14-2012, 09:56 AM
Bora gave a good explanation.

For me I don't really think about hip rotation and whatnot. What I think about is increasing the swing range which means coiling fuller, and easing my arm into contact which means everything else loads and leads first. To do that the proper foot, in my case the left, planting for pivoting and pushing off the ground, like a sprinter taking off, is important to initialize a strong swing.

That is a great insight. It shifts the focus away from body rotation and towards a fuller swing which automatically brings the other elements into play without conscious action.

boramiNYC
11-14-2012, 02:43 PM
What I wrote above is what the hip does once it's set in position for the swing. I should add setting the hip in the correct position consistently is the difficult part and is the biggest factor in differentiating the levels of tennis skill. This is commonly referred to as the footwork, the main purpose of which is to set the hip in the best spatial position and orientation at the right timing.

For this skill, either by instinctive or learned coordination, one should know precisely where the best contact point is in relation to the hip and have well developed and conditioned (strong and flexible not muscular and bulky) legs muscles all the way from the toes to pelvis to place the hip there quickly and accurately.

If you want to improve the hip usage, first stretch the hell out all the muscles around the pelvis (which usually are terribly tight and shortened) and work on balances on each foot (even start by just standing on one foot and see how good they are).

One of the most important part of tennis skill won't come easy however and will require a significant commitment for improvement (lots of time and effort) to see good results.

user92626
11-14-2012, 03:02 PM
That is a great insight. It shifts the focus away from body rotation and towards a fuller swing which automatically brings the other elements into play without conscious action.

Exactly, nobody learns to walk or run efficiently by paying attention to where he places the feet or swing the arms. It's actually very dangerous to do so because you're interfering with what should be natural. Instead, what you should do is focus on a goal and sort of let your body work itself out!!!!!

sureshs
11-14-2012, 03:06 PM
Exactly, nobody learns to walk or run efficiently by paying attention to where he places the feet. It's actually very dangerous to do so because you're interfering with what should be natural. Instead, what you should do is focus on a goal and sort of let your body work itself out!!!!!

I am not sure about this one - the hip rotation coming naturally due to a fuller swing I can live with.

When I started out, I would not even put my outside foot out towards the ball. I had to consciously learn it. Same thing with the knee bend on serve - it is not 100% instinctive yet.

I think eventually the best people can discover the correct things to do on their own, but the rest could do with a bit of guidance.

user92626
11-14-2012, 03:29 PM
I am not sure about this one - the hip rotation coming naturally due to a fuller swing I can live with.

When I started out, I would not even put my outside foot out towards the ball. I had to consciously learn it. Same thing with the knee bend on serve - it is not 100% instinctive yet.

I think eventually the best people can discover the correct things to do on their own, but the rest could do with a bit of guidance.

We all need guidance and insights and my insight is to trust my body's natural movement to start with. That's the core, the first foundation. For me it has been much easier to learn from that than to start with hip rotation, etc. That's my point.

Frankly I don't know which foot is called the outside foot. I learned my hitting stances by figuring out what a stable stance is, loading/unloading by rocking the body back and forth, ie momentum means power.

We're not playing terribly high level of tennis that we need to go to sport science or pay attention to nitty gritty details as if to extract every ounce of efficiency :) At this level you just need to be a little suave with natural body movements and you already grap most of the socalled techniques. At least this is a great place to start from.

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-15-2012, 02:25 AM
Hip is for stability and balance. It should be well anchored to stabilize the fast and big motion of the upper body. This means while the upper body is coiled in backswing the hip should be well anchored to stretch that coiling and initiate the rotational pull and after the contact it should be well anchored to stop the rotational inertia. Legs are the helpers of the hip to achieve this. It's better to think more of the inaction or plantedness of the hip.

So I should just stick to what I've been doing and just get racket head acceleration using shoulder rotation alone with the hips to keep me balanced? O.o

Bora gave a good explanation.

For me I don't really think about hip rotation and whatnot. What I think about is increasing the swing range which means coiling fuller, and easing my arm into contact which means everything else loads and leads first. To do that the proper foot, in my case the left, planting for pivoting and pushing off the ground, like a sprinter taking off, is important to initialize a strong swing.

Increasing the swing any further is a bad idea. I'm compacting my swing more because I hug the baseline like Agassi. If I increase my full swing to be any bigger, it will be erratic. I've seen the negatives of oversized swings. For a player as aggressive as I am, it's not a great choice.

That is a great insight. It shifts the focus away from body rotation and towards a fuller swing which automatically brings the other elements into play without conscious action.

Swing can't really get any fuller unless I get nervous and tense up. If I'm swinging out, it's a pretty full swing.

We all need guidance and insights and my insight is to trust my body's natural movement to start with. That's the core, the first foundation. For me it has been much easier to learn from that than to start with hip rotation, etc. That's my point.

Frankly I don't know which foot is called the outside foot. I learned my hitting stances by figuring out what a stable stance is, loading/unloading by rocking the body back and forth, ie momentum means power.

We're not playing terribly high level of tennis that we need to go to sport science or pay attention to nitty gritty details as if to extract every ounce of efficiency :) At this level you just need to be a little suave with natural body movements and you already grap most of the socalled techniques. At least this is a great place to start from.

I've had the natural body movement for a while. But now I want to optimize the shot to minimize effort even further if possible, which will hopefully help under pressure since an easy tip to rotate the hips is easier to get a full swing than using the shoulders, which in turn is easier than using the arm and so on.

At this point, I don't feel like my backhand will get any better (in terms of technique), because the technique is so simple. The only way it will get better is by hitting thousands of balls against high quality hitters, and strengthening my body to be able to hit a harder backhand (not weight lifting, since I need to improve my twitch muscles).

However, although my forehand is strong, I feel like the technique can still be improved upon, because there are so many places the forehand can go wrong (too much or too little elbow bend, too much wrist, too much arming, etc). The forehand has a greater range of movement and therefore a greater chance of deviation from the ideal swing (which also gives you more options when you CAN'T hit the ideal swing).

Before my shoulder injury, though my backhand was a weakness, it was a shot I was comfortable rallying with all day long. Why? The motion was clean and simple, I wasn't very likely to miss unless you're being very aggressive against it. You basically had to hit through that side. My forehand on the other hand, was a weapon but also the first shot to break down if things went wrong. I want to simplify and optimize the technique as much as possible so that it will never break down under pressure.


Using the second method that I posted in the OP, I noticed a significant increase in easy power whenever I could easily execute it.

Using the first method (sit and lift), it was more versatile, but it felt noticeably weaker than the other method. However, there was still plenty of easy power.

Metalica
11-15-2012, 02:41 AM
I don't think hip rotation is important. Like you said Federer doesn't rotate his hip on most forehand and he even does things to isolate his shoulder and hip (i think) such as the head turn and the footwork thing he does ( i can't explain it). As a result Fed has very good balance on his forehand. I feel hip turn actually leads to overturning and a loss of balance and that leg drive and shoulder turn is much more essential to generating power.

Cheetah
11-15-2012, 11:23 AM
I don't think hip rotation is important. Like you said Federer doesn't rotate his hip on most forehand and he even does things to isolate his shoulder and hip (i think) such as the head turn and the footwork thing he does ( i can't explain it). As a result Fed has very good balance on his forehand. I feel hip turn actually leads to overturning and a loss of balance and that leg drive and shoulder turn is much more essential to generating power.

Fed doesn't rotate his hip on most forehands?? He isolates his shoulder? Fed's 'head turn' is to help make good contact and maintain balance. the head weighs 30lbs so keeping it still is optimal. Nothing do with 'isolating the shoulder'.
Can you show me a video of Fed hitting a rally ball where he doesn't rotate his hip?

A 'full swing' does not mean 'bigger swing' or 'longer swing' and is not related to being 'not compact'. A full swing means you have a takeback, you swing and then you have a full follow through and finish around your body or above your shoulder etc.
A 'compact swing' refers to the takeback mostly and not the 'swing' necessarily.

I wouldn't recommend the method in the vid in the first post unless you have an injury or something. He's using a neutral stance, he's 'pointing at the ball', no coil in his hip and he's hitting off the front foot. Sure they might be some situation where that would be used but it's not something you want to base your regular swing on.

sureshs
11-15-2012, 01:15 PM
Increasing the swing any further is a bad idea. I'm compacting my swing more because I hug the baseline like Agassi. If I increase my full swing to be any bigger, it will be erratic. I've seen the negatives of oversized swings. For a player as aggressive as I am, it's not a great choice.


I had the same thoughts when I read "fuller swing." I think he did not mean a longer swing, but a more coiled action which can release more energy.

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-15-2012, 03:37 PM
Fed doesn't rotate his hip on most forehands?? He isolates his shoulder? Fed's 'head turn' is to help make good contact and maintain balance. the head weighs 30lbs so keeping it still is optimal. Nothing do with 'isolating the shoulder'.
Can you show me a video of Fed hitting a rally ball where he doesn't rotate his hip?

A 'full swing' does not mean 'bigger swing' or 'longer swing' and is not related to being 'not compact'. A full swing means you have a takeback, you swing and then you have a full follow through and finish around your body or above your shoulder etc.
A 'compact swing' refers to the takeback mostly and not the 'swing' necessarily.

I wouldn't recommend the method in the vid in the first post unless you have an injury or something. He's using a neutral stance, he's 'pointing at the ball', no coil in his hip and he's hitting off the front foot. Sure they might be some situation where that would be used but it's not something you want to base your regular swing on.

Already have a full follow through. Had one since I saw Nadal's forehand.

Really? You don't like the forehand? Hmmm... It's been the one that has given me by far the most easy power. I noticed that when I see a ball that comes in a little short and slower in my strike zone, I step into the ball and hit basically that exact shot and either get a winner or get a massively aggressive position in the rally.

I had the same thoughts when I read "fuller swing." I think he did not mean a longer swing, but a more coiled action which can release more energy.

Can't get much more coil from the upper body either. That's why I'm focusing on the lower body load.

Cheetah
11-15-2012, 04:23 PM
Already have a full follow through. Had one since I saw Nadal's forehand.

Really? You don't like the forehand? Hmmm... It's been the one that has given me by far the most easy power. I noticed that when I see a ball that comes in a little short and slower in my strike zone, I step into the ball and hit basically that exact shot and either get a winner or get a massively aggressive position in the rally.

Can't get much more coil from the upper body either. That's why I'm focusing on the lower body load.

Good. Any player over 4.5 most likely has a full follow through.
Well, I didn't say i didn't like it. I said 'I' wouldn't recommend it. Neither would anyone else on this board (for a rally ball). He's demonstrating it correctly. He has good form. That kind of forehand is 100% valid. You can get power with it.
However, and i don't know what kind of players you usually meet, but that kind of forehand is definitely at a disadvantage when matched up with a 'modern fh'. I'm not going to get into what that means as you can find that info here on your own. If you are referring to short balls then yes it is stepped into using neutral or closed. But short ball attack and rally balls are different.

What do you mean 'can't get much more coil'? Do you mean you can't? or do you mean the guy in that video can't? If the latter than I disagree because that guy has zero coil in that video. He's rotating, not coiling.

user92626
11-15-2012, 04:59 PM
I had the same thoughts when I read "fuller swing." I think he did not mean a longer swing, but a more coiled action which can release more energy.

I'm pretty sure that I like many others can set up more completely (when times allows) or we can be lazy and not get in a good position and just swing with arm and abbreviately. I think the open stance tends to promote laziness :) I can turn my upperbody minimally and still able to hit a shot.

You know your swing is too long when it's disconnected with the contact point.

tricky
11-15-2012, 07:47 PM
Main question is what are some tips to incorporate or improve/increase the hip rotation on the forehand (or groundstrokes in general).One foot drill helps with this. I've introduced this a few times, but here's an unique variation.

For a rightie FH, put your left foot on a stool (or low chair), while keeping your right foot on the ground. Practice swinging a few times, always making sure you swing through an imagined contact point. Then, swing normally with both feet on ground.

You'll notice that your weight transfer is better, and that your pelvis turns more forcefully. This teaches you to move your weight forward through the shot, which is what you are really trying to accomplish with the hips.

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-15-2012, 08:34 PM
Good. Any player over 4.5 most likely has a full follow through.
Well, I didn't say i didn't like it. I said 'I' wouldn't recommend it. Neither would anyone else on this board (for a rally ball). He's demonstrating it correctly. He has good form. That kind of forehand is 100% valid. You can get power with it.
However, and i don't know what kind of players you usually meet, but that kind of forehand is definitely at a disadvantage when matched up with a 'modern fh'. I'm not going to get into what that means as you can find that info here on your own. If you are referring to short balls then yes it is stepped into using neutral or closed. But short ball attack and rally balls are different.

What do you mean 'can't get much more coil'? Do you mean you can't? or do you mean the guy in that video can't? If the latter than I disagree because that guy has zero coil in that video. He's rotating, not coiling.

I can't get more coil (at least from the upper body).

Yeah, I agree that the video forehand is overall disadvantageous in a varied rally. It's strong against a specific variety of shots, but those shots are generally weaker shots. It's not versatile enough to be used effectively or comfortably on every single groundstroke, though if it could, I'd argue it'd be THE technique to use. But due to the lack of versatility, there must be a better or equally powerful technique?

One foot drill helps with this. I've introduced this a few times, but here's an unique variation.

For a rightie FH, put your left foot on a stool (or low chair), while keeping your right foot on the ground. Practice swinging a few times, always making sure you swing through an imagined contact point. Then, swing normally with both feet on ground.

You'll notice that your weight transfer is better, and that your pelvis turns more forcefully. This teaches you to move your weight forward through the shot, which is what you are really trying to accomplish with the hips.

Hmmm... I'll try this.

boramiNYC
11-15-2012, 08:37 PM
So I should just stick to what I've been doing and just get racket head acceleration using shoulder rotation alone with the hips to keep me balanced? O.o


if what you have been doing is using just shoulder rotation to generate rhs i believe there's quite a bit more you can do to improve but rotating the hip more to increase rhs is not one of them. try counter rotating the hip. this is usually done in the air for jumping fh to balance out the upper body rot inertia. it is one of the stopping mechanism by lower body including hip. think fast cars have much larger brakes. or due to the braking power you can drive fast. otherwise it's injury and your body knows that and wont allow it to happen even if your brain tells swing faster.

Cheetah
11-15-2012, 08:50 PM
I can't get more coil (at least from the upper body).

What do you mean here exactly?

boramiNYC
11-15-2012, 08:54 PM
You'll notice that your weight transfer is better, and that your pelvis turns more forcefully. This teaches you to move your weight forward through the shot, which is what you are really trying to accomplish with the hips.

for the modern FH I would be cautious about emphasizing the forward weight transfer. it can be over done and can mess up the stroke. I believe roddick was this case.

Metalica
11-15-2012, 09:32 PM
Fed doesn't rotate his hip on most forehands?? He isolates his shoulder? Fed's 'head turn' is to help make good contact and maintain balance. the head weighs 30lbs so keeping it still is optimal. Nothing do with 'isolating the shoulder'.
Can you show me a video of Fed hitting a rally ball where he doesn't rotate his hip?

A 'full swing' does not mean 'bigger swing' or 'longer swing' and is not related to being 'not compact'. A full swing means you have a takeback, you swing and then you have a full follow through and finish around your body or above your shoulder etc.
A 'compact swing' refers to the takeback mostly and not the 'swing' necessarily.

I wouldn't recommend the method in the vid in the first post unless you have an injury or something. He's using a neutral stance, he's 'pointing at the ball', no coil in his hip and he's hitting off the front foot. Sure they might be some situation where that would be used but it's not something you want to base your regular swing on.

This is what I mean when i say he doesn't rotate his hip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkDIFP4SK9Q
Notice how his right leg moves backward preventing his hip from rotating too much? I realize my wording is probably wrong when I say he doesn't rotate his hip. What i meant is that he doesn't rotate his hip a lot apart from some shots. You also corrected me about the his head turn.
I still think that you don't need to consciously think too much about roating your hip. I concentrate more on turning the shoulder; torso and hip turn can be a by-product of that but I don't think it's too important so long as you turn your shoulder a lot.

tricky
11-15-2012, 09:34 PM
for the modern FH I would be cautious about emphasizing the forward weight transfer. it can be over done and can mess up the stroke. I believe roddick was this case.

Most people don't realize this, but the modern FH comes in both flavors. It changes the shape of the takeback and the nature of the WW action in the forward swing.

The drill itself works well with both FH, whether your ground reaction force goes angular/up or forward.

enishi1357
11-15-2012, 09:35 PM
great footwork = hip rotation. Know your close stance, extreme close stance, open stance and you should be good

Cheetah
11-15-2012, 10:29 PM
This is what I mean when i say he doesn't rotate his hip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkDIFP4SK9Q
Notice how his right leg moves backward preventing his hip from rotating too much? I realize my wording is probably wrong when I say he doesn't rotate his hip. What i meant is that he doesn't rotate his hip a lot apart from some shots. You also corrected me about the his head turn.
I still think that you don't need to consciously think too much about roating your hip. I concentrate more on turning the shoulder; torso and hip turn can be a by-product of that but I don't think it's too important so long as you turn your shoulder a lot.

He rotated his hip about 90degrees there. that's a lot. plus he was coiled. Normally he rotates even more than that even but that shot was a 'specialty case: aggressive winner'.
Also his hip stops rotating when it faces the net (from leg kick) causing the racquet to whip around which wouldn't happen at the degree it does on his fh's without that rotation.
rotating the hip after contact has no effect on the ball.
The hip is not a by-product in the kinetic chain. It's an early step in the kinetic chain which comes before shoulder rotation. If you swing the way you are describing then the chain is short circuited and arming the racquet is likely to occur and you won't get anywhere near the rhs you would be able to w/ hip rotation.
power comes from the ground up starting w/ the legs, then hips etc.. If the hips aren't rotating then there's a lot lost right there.
The same principle applies to the serve, golf, baseball, and any other throwing sports.

that music is funny. and appropriate

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-16-2012, 12:20 AM
What do you mean here exactly?

My hips get turned, but all I focus on for the legs and lower body is to bend my knees and positioning myself to hit my shots. On the upper body, I focus on a full turn and I can't really get any more turn than I already am.

if what you have been doing is using just shoulder rotation to generate rhs i believe there's quite a bit more you can do to improve but rotating the hip more to increase rhs is not one of them. try counter rotating the hip. this is usually done in the air for jumping fh to balance out the upper body rot inertia. it is one of the stopping mechanism by lower body including hip. think fast cars have much larger brakes. or due to the braking power you can drive fast. otherwise it's injury and your body knows that and wont allow it to happen even if your brain tells swing faster.

Counter rotating then hip sounds painful. I need some sort of visual example or a drill or a different explanation.

Of all the air forehands I hit (and used to hit), the only injury I've ever gotten was a mid-air cramp (which is normal for me, the cramping I mean, but I've gotten a lot better at managing it) and my shoulder popping out of my socket once or twice for a split second. I was moving back as I hit the shot while also trying to extend as far through the ball as possible.

Cheetah
11-16-2012, 02:05 AM
My hips get turned, but all I focus on for the legs and lower body is to bend my knees and positioning myself to hit my shots. On the upper body, I focus on a full turn and I can't really get any more turn than I already am.

Simply turning the hips is not coiling. Coiling is having the shoulders turned at a greater angle than the hips are turned, like a wound spring. A wound spring stores energy. It's part of an efficient kinetic chain. With no coil you have a weak link in the chain.

Look at the hips and shoulders in the vid posted earlier. no coil. I'm assuming you look similar.

Compare that to the following
http://www.optimumtennis.net/images/federer-forehand-stroke.jpg

boramiNYC
11-16-2012, 05:18 AM
Counter rotating then hip sounds painful. I need some sort of visual example or a drill or a different explanation.


when the stance starts out more open and finish more closed the hip counter rotated. most often jump in open stance and land in neutral stance weight transferring toward front in the air. Tsonga does this most regularly and almost all pros do this.

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-19-2012, 04:12 PM
Simply turning the hips is not coiling. Coiling is having the shoulders turned at a greater angle than the hips are turned, like a wound spring. A wound spring stores energy. It's part of an efficient kinetic chain. With no coil you have a weak link in the chain.

Look at the hips and shoulders in the vid posted earlier. no coil. I'm assuming you look similar.

Compare that to the following
http://www.optimumtennis.net/images/federer-forehand-stroke.jpg

Actually, unfortunately, all I hear is that I look exactly like that. :wink:

Also pretty sure my shoulders are more rotated than the hips.

But I don't have a camera to check. :?

when the stance starts out more open and finish more closed the hip counter rotated. most often jump in open stance and land in neutral stance weight transferring toward front in the air. Tsonga does this most regularly and almost all pros do this.

Hmmm... In that case, I probably do this more than I think. It seems like something you would do naturally.