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View Full Version : Braden Question for Tennismastery and Andy Fitzell?


jmoore1
08-25-2006, 05:42 AM
Hey Guy's:
I have been playing for 20 years and have used the Braden books and videos as gospel for most of them. I don't want to discredit Vic Braden because I believe many of his teaching techniques are solid. However, I would like both of your opinions on two primary Braden techniques that have really limited my game. Number one...Braden advocates switching grips (Eastern forehand to Eastern backhand) when volleying? Virtually no top pros do this?? I changed grips at the net for many years and always had a weak net game until finally working with a pro who convinced me to use a continental grip...years later my net game is very strong and I have much more confidence at the net. How do you both feel about this issue?
Number two...Braden advocates a "fixed wrist" when hitting a topspin backhand. I don't believe this is bad advice per say...but what screwed me up was the insistence that you keep the wrist fixed and never let the racquet head drop below the wrist when driving up through the ball?? Vic says to only get under the ball by bending the knees?? However, with the advent of so much high speed footage of top pros hitting topsin backhands...its clear to see that virtually all of them allow the racquet head to drop below the wrist as the explode up through the ball when hitting a topspin backhand. The new pro I've been working with taught me to relax the wrist more and allow the racquet head to drop below the ball...and I'm now hitting topspin backhand that explode up off the court and drive my opponents crazy! How do you both feel about this issue?
Again...I don't want to bash Vic, but some of his teaching techniques don't fit the modern game and can slow the progression of getting to advanced levels.

Bungalo Bill
08-25-2006, 05:54 AM
However, I would like both of your opinions on two primary Braden techniques that have really limited my game. Number one...Braden advocates switching grips (Eastern forehand to Eastern backhand) when volleying? Virtually no top pros do this??

Braden is also a prononent of the Continental grip as well. Nearly every pro makes slight adjustments for their grips.


Number two...Braden advocates a "fixed wrist" when hitting a topspin backhand. I don't believe this is bad advice per say...but what screwed me up was the insistence that you keep the wrist fixed and never let the racquet head drop below the wrist when driving up through the ball?? Vic says to only get under the ball by bending the knees??

This will always be a staple tip. Players can get fancier and do more athletic things, but if a player simple mastered this tip, they would be fine.



However, with the advent of so much high speed footage of top pros hitting topsin backhands...its clear to see that virtually all of them allow the racquet head to drop below the wrist as the explode up through the ball when hitting a topspin backhand.

Many beginner and intermediate players do not have sufficient racquet head control as a pro does. Can you surf 30 ft. waves? Then why do you think you should do everything a pro does? Braden is about fundamentals and granted some of the fundamentals are now obsolete but he is still about fundamentals.

Also, you forgot one thing, Braden was a heavy proponent about lifting from your legs through the shot. Maybe you just aren't doing things right.

The new pro I've been working with taught me to relax the wrist more and allow the racquet head to drop below the ball...and I'm now hitting topspin backhand that explode up off the court and drive my opponents crazy!

A fixed wrist position is not a rigid wrist position. A fixed wrist helps control and stabilize the racquet head. There is no doubt that too loose wrist is detrimental - I have been around the game way to long to hear you are the only one that is achieving success on a consistent basis. However, most people confuse a fixed wrist with a tight, rigid nearly inflexible wrist.

Again...I don't want to bash Vic, but some of his teaching techniques don't fit the modern game and can slow the progression of getting to advanced levels.

Well, Braden has his things that I dont agree with and that he remains stubborn about. But the fixed wrist, the rising through the shot, volleying with the Continental grip are all things he is a propnent for. If a player that starts to learn tennis and grows by using these tips, they will play well.

JCo872
08-25-2006, 06:51 AM
Hey Guy's:
I have been playing for 20 years and have used the Braden books and videos as gospel for most of them. I don't want to discredit Vic Braden because I believe many of his teaching techniques are solid. However, I would like both of your opinions on two primary Braden techniques that have really limited my game. Number one...Braden advocates switching grips (Eastern forehand to Eastern backhand) when volleying? Virtually no top pros do this?? I changed grips at the net for many years and always had a weak net game until finally working with a pro who convinced me to use a continental grip...years later my net game is very strong and I have much more confidence at the net. How do you both feel about this issue?
Number two...Braden advocates a "fixed wrist" when hitting a topspin backhand. I don't believe this is bad advice per say...but what screwed me up was the insistence that you keep the wrist fixed and never let the racquet head drop below the wrist when driving up through the ball?? Vic says to only get under the ball by bending the knees?? However, with the advent of so much high speed footage of top pros hitting topsin backhands...its clear to see that virtually all of them allow the racquet head to drop below the wrist as the explode up through the ball when hitting a topspin backhand. The new pro I've been working with taught me to relax the wrist more and allow the racquet head to drop below the ball...and I'm now hitting topspin backhand that explode up off the court and drive my opponents crazy! How do you both feel about this issue?
Again...I don't want to bash Vic, but some of his teaching techniques don't fit the modern game and can slow the progression of getting to advanced levels.

The "fixed wrist" is, as BB mentioned, not a death grip. You can see this wrist move forward a bit. It is flexible. Same thing on the forehand. But to get clean contact the racket face has to stay back as you move through the ball. Also a stable wrist allows you to use your arm and hand as a "lever" through contact.

As for the racket head dropping below the ball, it does, but it is slight. Just enough to get under the ball. See how this player does it here:

http://www.hi-techtennis.com/onehander/videos/example.php

Also, I'm not sure when Vic Braden first started teaching tennis, but I'm sure it was years (decades?) before great high speed frame by frame video came out. Before we had these video resources, it was very hard to get good definitive answers on pro technique. I think we were all "driving blind" a bit before the digital video movement was launched.

Jeff

jmoore1
08-25-2006, 08:50 AM
Bungalo Bill...I've been reading your threads on this site for a few months now and really believe your feedback is right on target 99% of the time...even most of what you said in this thread. But what's with the "Can you surf 30ft waves? Then why do you think you need to do everything a pro does" Give me a break, we're talking about hitting tennis balls here...not surfing a wall of water that could break your freakin neck! In addition, Vic Braden was a pioneer in including slow motion video of pros (ala Roscoe Tanner for low toss/fluid motion) for all of us to emulate. And let's get real...there isn't a reasonably athletic, competative tennis player out there who doesn't look to the top pros for tips in improving their games...30ft waves...come on!

Bungalo Bill
08-25-2006, 10:08 AM
Bungalo Bill...I've been reading your threads on this site for a few months now and really believe your feedback is right on target 99% of the time...even most of what you said in this thread. But what's with the "Can you surf 30ft waves? Then why do you think you need to do everything a pro does"

Thanks, I guess 1% that you do not agree with is okay then! lol

Give me a break, we're talking about hitting tennis balls here...not surfing a wall of water that could break your freakin neck! In addition, Vic Braden was a pioneer in including slow motion video of pros (ala Roscoe Tanner for low toss/fluid motion) for all of us to emulate. And let's get real...there isn't a reasonably athletic, competative tennis player out there who doesn't look to the top pros for tips in improving their games...30ft waves...come on!

Here is your break. The anaolgy is that some things a pro can do doesn't mean an amateur like you can do. Some pros simply have talent that you don't have and all the pros have spent hours and hours in deep fundamental tennis training. Their timing is near perfect, their conditioning is superb, and they have the ability to utilize all of it to do things we can't or at the very least will take time in developing.

The surfers that surf those big waves have spent time perfecting their technique and have hours and hours honing in their fundamentals.

nickybol
08-25-2006, 10:12 AM
A famous quote:

You must first master the fundamentals before you can deviate from them.

TennisAsAlways
08-25-2006, 10:33 AM
What was there not to get about that 30 ft wave "analogy"? Of course surfing is entirely different than tennis, but obviously, Bungalo had a good reason for providing that "analogy".

Bungalo Bill
08-25-2006, 10:34 AM
A famous quote:

You must first master the fundamentals before you can deviate from them.

Confuscious says: Grasshopper must first learn to stand up, learn how to handle the wind rolling up the face, learn how to see and feel the wave with water in eyes, and learn how to handle the bumps, before trying to ride big wave... :)

maverick1
08-25-2006, 11:07 AM
The anaolgy is that some things a pro can do doesn't mean an amateur like you can do. Some pros simply have talent that you don't have and all the pros have spent hours and hours in deep fundamental tennis training. Their timing is near perfect, their conditioning is superb, and they have the ability to utilize all of it to do things we can't or at the very least will take time in developing.

The surfers that surf those big waves have spent time perfecting their technique and have hours and hours honing in their fundamentals.

I still think jmoore1 has a point.
A Tennis analogy to surfing 30 foot waves(I assume that is something only professional surfers can do) is hitting 130mph serves. We don't expect to do that. But we do expect that the fundamental motions that Pete Sampras employed in his serve are fine to copy as accurately as possible.

OK, I can accept that there may be exceptions to this, but if that is the case, the coach is should flat out say that this is a technique that only works if you have certain level of ability.

Bungalo Bill
08-25-2006, 11:18 AM
I still think jmoore1 has a point.
A Tennis analogy to surfing 30 foot waves(I assume that is something only professional surfers can do) is hitting 130mph serves. We don't expect to do that. But we do expect that the fundamental motions that Pete Sampras employed in his serve are fine to copy as accurately as possible.

OK, I can accept that there may be exceptions to this, but if that is the case, the coach is should flat out say that this is a technique that only works if you have certain level of ability.

Geez, is it this hard to understand the point? If I said 10ft waves would that make a big difference? If I said 2 foot waves would that make a difference? You still need to learn to stand up Einstein.

Could you duplicate the same thing as a professional skier by watching them? do you think they may be a little more to it to remain that consistent at a high level of play? Hello? Then why in the world would you think your pathetic game could duplicate the consistency, timing, finesse, and flambouyancy of a professional tennis player's game without development?

You run out and do something a pro is doing and wonder why your game sucks.

The comparison is just and reasonable even though you don't get it. You personally can not hit on a consistent basis time and time again, at the professional level using all of the techniques a pro does. Niether can an amateur surfer that is surfing three foot waves take on a 30 footer BECAUSE HE WATCHED A PRO DO IT. Get it? Comprende? Understand?

The point is professional technique is developed. You have to walk before you run. You have to learn basic math before you move into algebra, is that making sense to you? Please don't tell me the lights are not on.

Should I say if a little tiny baby needs to crawl before they can walk so they can develop their muscles and the movements to walk is that okay Einstein? Geeeez, get with it!!!!! LOL

jmoore1
08-25-2006, 11:20 AM
My sentiments exactly Maverick1:) In the end...I may not be able to crank 130 mph serves or rip topspin backhands like Fedx...but that doesn't mean we can't make significant improvements in our games by adapting some of the key techniques of the top pros.

Bungalo Bill
08-25-2006, 11:22 AM
My sentiments exactly Maverick1:) In the end...I may not be able to crank 130 mph serves or rip topspin backhands like Fedx...but that doesn't mean we can't make significant improvements in our games by adapting some of the key techniques of the top pros.

LOL, well can you crack a 115 mile an hour serve? DUH!!! Geez, man wake up!

You still have to learn the fundamentals before moving into advanced techniques! Quit changing the subject and moving into fundamental areas. It is obvious that there are things to learn from pros but THEY ALL NEED TO BE DEVELOPED. LOL

jmoore1
08-25-2006, 11:39 AM
Bungalo Bill:
Can I hit a 115 mph serve? Yes...and have, numerous times on a speed gun...if I could only get in the service box once in a while I'd be on the tour:)

Bungalo Bill
08-25-2006, 02:17 PM
Bungalo Bill:
Can I hit a 115 mph serve? Yes...and have, numerous times on a speed gun...if I could only get in the service box once in a while I'd be on the tour:)

LOL, fair enough. :)

AndyFitzell
08-25-2006, 07:40 PM
Jmoore,

Glad to here your net game has improved and you are feeling more confident. The issue on which grip to use on the volley is a long standing debate and will probably continue until the earth is destroyed and will most likely continue on another planet somewhere. :)

There are advantages and disadvantages to both grips. Vic often advocates using the eastern grip because it allows a player to use the palm of the hand as a guide. It is very stable for higher balls and is easy to hit the ball in any direction. Using the continental grip the strings tend to point to the left making it difficult to hit down the line especially when forced to reach. It is also less stable on higher volleys. The continental grip does allow a player to use the same grip for both volleys without a change and can make a low volley easier because the racket face is already open slightly. Those are a few basics for both grips.

My advice to you would be to do some tests and see what results you come up with. Practice hitting to different areas of the court from different positions( high, low, deep, short) and see how accurate and consistent you are. If you feel you are able to hit the shots you need to hit under pressure at the level you are playing then you are all set. No matter what grip you use, you must gain a feel for the linear swing of the racket without losing control of the racket head. Without that, it doesn’t matter what grip you hold. Once you have that control over the swing then you can vary the grip and see what feels the best.

Many pros use a composite or hybrid grip for there volleys to make the forehand more stable and to make the switching of grips easier. I made a questionnaire for players in a pro futures event in Florida a little while back and one of my questions was “do you use the same grip on volleys? I got about 60 players to fill it out and about 40% of the players said they do NOT use the same grip. So there are pro players out there that are switching grips on the volley, it just takes practice like anything else.

As far as the backhand goes, are you talking about a one hand or two hand backhand? If you use a two handed backhand then you can let the racket head drop below the wrist as the racket falls, as many players do. Be aware however that players are reporting injuries in the right wrist (for a right-handed player) due to the position it is put in by doing this. If you use a one handed backhand I would not recommend dropping the racket below the wrist purposefully for the same reason. Most one handed players work very hard to get low with the legs to avoid dropping the head of the racket too much. Look at Federers backhand in this months Tennis magazine and you will see a great example of getting low. The fixed wrist you are after is during the hitting zone. Because the tennis court is only 19.1 degrees wide in singles you don’t want to fiddle around with the wrist much because doing so can change the angle of the racket face dramatically or cause timing issues with not a whole lot of room for error. I hope that answers your questions and good luck with your game.

-Andy

Tennismastery
08-26-2006, 07:44 AM
Hey Guy's:
I have been playing for 20 years and have used the Braden books and videos as gospel for most of them. I don't want to discredit Vic Braden because I believe many of his teaching techniques are solid. However, I would like both of your opinions on two primary Braden techniques that have really limited my game. Number one...Braden advocates switching grips (Eastern forehand to Eastern backhand) when volleying? Virtually no top pros do this?? I changed grips at the net for many years and always had a weak net game until finally working with a pro who convinced me to use a continental grip...years later my net game is very strong and I have much more confidence at the net. How do you both feel about this issue?
Number two...Braden advocates a "fixed wrist" when hitting a topspin backhand. I don't believe this is bad advice per say...but what screwed me up was the insistence that you keep the wrist fixed and never let the racquet head drop below the wrist when driving up through the ball?? Vic says to only get under the ball by bending the knees?? However, with the advent of so much high speed footage of top pros hitting topsin backhands...its clear to see that virtually all of them allow the racquet head to drop below the wrist as the explode up through the ball when hitting a topspin backhand. The new pro I've been working with taught me to relax the wrist more and allow the racquet head to drop below the ball...and I'm now hitting topspin backhand that explode up off the court and drive my opponents crazy! How do you both feel about this issue?
Again...I don't want to bash Vic, but some of his teaching techniques don't fit the modern game and can slow the progression of getting to advanced levels.

While I differ from Andy's teaching of the volley from a foundation standpoint, (I teach the continental as the foundation), I agree with him that most all pros have subtle diviations from this foundation. What I have seen in my experience is a commonality from players like yourself: they started with the eastern grips and found as they advanced, there were elements of their net game that had to change. This type of situation where the player must change a particular grip or swing element is what I call 'manditory' change. What I have found over the years is that the continental foundation promotes what I call 'evolutionary change'...that is change that naturally occurs when players become profiecent. It is like subtle changes in the way any two profiecent piano players play a song. They 'embellish' their foundation.

And, while the continental grip obviously points the racquet face more left for a right-handed forehand, this is no different that a player whose racquet face points more right using an eastern forehand grip. The problem I have seen is that when a player uses the eastern grip, when they create the unit turn or shoulder turn, this brings the racquet back too far pointing well to the right...meaning they will then have to 'swing' the racquet forward to get the strings back on the desired line. This creates a dichotomy of problems: having to decelerate the racquet so-as to not hit the volley too hard; and timing the return of the racquet to contact so as to not be late or early. In either case, a player will need to adjust the body or the racquet to accomadate the vector of trajectory desired.

I agree with Andy on the wrist issue on the backhand. However, I think he left out one item; with a one handed backhand, using a strong, eastern backhand grip the racquet head naturally drops below the wrist. Like Henin-Hardenne, Guga, Fed, and most of the great one-handers, you will see the racquet head naturally drop below the ball. The use of the legs is improtant, as Andy said, to get below the ball. Using a weak eastern to continental grip on the backhand topspin does require the wrist 'tilt' to get the racquet below the ball. You often see beginners or intermediate players 'flick' the wrist from this position to try and create topspin. This indeed strains the extensor muscles and tendons of the wrist to the point of pain or injury. Two-handers can get away with this more because the non-dominant hand usually becomes the dominant hand on two-handed backhands. (Which is why many pros label the two-handed backhand a left-handed forehand, for right-handers.) That is, the left hand on a right-handed player usually provides the force within the contact zone.

Bungalo Bill
08-26-2006, 08:40 AM
While I differ from Andy's teaching of the volley from a foundation standpoint, (I teach the continental as the foundation), I agree with him that most all pros have subtle diviations from this foundation. What I have seen in my experience is a commonality from players like yourself: they started with the eastern grips and found as they advanced, there were elements of their net game that had to change. This type of situation where the player must change a particular grip or swing element is what I call 'manditory' change. What I have found over the years is that the continental foundation promotes what I call 'evolutionary change'...that is change that naturally occurs when players become profiecent. It is like subtle changes in the way any two profiecent piano players play a song. They 'embellish' their foundation.

And, while the continental grip obviously points the racquet face more left for a right-handed forehand, this is no different that a player whose racquet face points more right using an eastern forehand grip. The problem I have seen is that when a player uses the eastern grip, when they create the unit turn or shoulder turn, this brings the racquet back too far pointing well to the right...meaning they will then have to 'swing' the racquet forward to get the strings back on the desired line. This creates a dichotomy of problems: having to decelerate the racquet so-as to not hit the volley too hard; and timing the return of the racquet to contact so as to not be late or early. In either case, a player will need to adjust the body or the racquet to accomadate the vector of trajectory desired.

I agree with Andy on the wrist issue on the backhand. However, I think he left out one item; with a one handed backhand, using a strong, eastern backhand grip the racquet head naturally drops below the wrist. Like Henin-Hardenne, Guga, Fed, and most of the great one-handers, you will see the racquet head naturally drop below the ball. The use of the legs is improtant, as Andy said, to get below the ball. Using a weak eastern to continental grip on the backhand topspin does require the wrist 'tilt' to get the racquet below the ball. You often see beginners or intermediate players 'flick' the wrist from this position to try and create topspin. This indeed strains the extensor muscles and tendons of the wrist to the point of pain or injury. Two-handers can get away with this more because the non-dominant hand usually becomes the dominant hand on two-handed backhands. (Which is why many pros label the two-handed backhand a left-handed forehand, for right-handers.) That is, the left hand on a right-handed player usually provides the force within the contact zone.

TM, you are always fine in my book. One of Vic's "beleifs" was that the twohanded backhand was hit much like a forehand on the weaker side. ;)

maverick1
08-26-2006, 10:07 AM
What I have seen in my experience is a commonality from players...

What I think is the greatest feature on your website tennisone.com is that some of your videos teach the COMMON aspects of top pros' technique in playing a specific shot. You also do a good job picking the pros who are especially known for that particular shot.
I credit this site for my BH. My backhand was very weak last year. I developed a 2hbh as close as I could make it to what is taught in TennisOne video. Now I get compliments from players; last week one guy kept the ball on my forehand all match.

I don't know why more coaches don't teach that way(commonalities of pro technique) instead of having their own beliefs that other coaches disagree with.

The idea of learning the common elements of pros while ignoring the idiosyncrasies of each one is so powerful. I feel you can't beat this coaching system. By definition it has been proven to work at the highest level.

You gentlemen should pay attention feedback from guys like me, NOT because we know Tennis, but for almost the opposite reason - we are not good but WANT to get better. We are the object of all your efforts.

Bungalo Bill
08-26-2006, 10:55 AM
You gentlemen should pay attention feedback from guys like me, NOT because we know Tennis, but for almost the opposite reason - we are not good but WANT to get better. We are the object of all your efforts.


:confused: , I thought that was what we are doing around here. :confused:

maverick1
08-26-2006, 12:02 PM
:confused: , I thought that was what we are doing around here. :confused:
You are right, of course. I am not sure why I said that. I apologize.