Are the WTA players not strong enough for the WW forehand?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by dominikk1985, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    The Advantage of the WW FH is of course that you can swing harder and still Keep it in. however you have to generate that RHS in the first place.

    I noticed that a lot of the WTA Players with "ATP FHs" often lack Penetration in their FH (like the italian and spanish Girls who all use the WW finish) and most hard hitting Girls use more of a swing through (against the other shoulder) finish.

    the only hard hitting WW women I can remember are henin, kuzneztsova and stosur. are women hitting flatter because they are not strong enough to hit heavy and hard? (obviously stosur and kuznetsova are strong enough but they are probably stronger than the average WTA Player).
     
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  2. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Henin does not seem like she has a ton of muscle. I think it's something else.
     
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  3. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    henin has a very strong lower Body and uses it well to generate Speed. if you just use the arm and forearm to generate RHS you Need more strength than when you use the legs.
     
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  4. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

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    ==========================
     
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  5. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    women run slower, so risk/reward favors hitting flat.
     
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  6. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    This is very true, i was noticing last night how weak the womens court coverage is.
     
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  7. TomT

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    I think women hit flatter (with an accompanying non-WW follow through) sometimes for the same reason that men hit flatter (with an accompanying non-WW follow through) sometimes. Flatter shots can be effective in taking time away from the opponent.

    I don't think it's true that WTA players are not strong enough for the WW forehand.
     
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  8. President

    President Legend

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    Yeah there's a reason only the really strong women hit a lot of topspin (Stosur, Kuzzy, even Serena). You need a lot of RHS and strength to hit a penetrating topspin ball, otherwise it will just sit up to be crushed (Schiavone). Even on the mens tour there's a reason the physically strongest players (Nadal, Verdasco, Andreev) always hit the most spin.
     
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  9. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    I'm not saying that they cannot hit it but they often lack Penetration.

    see schiavone. she basically uses an ATP FH (pronated Loop take back, across brushing with a closed racket face, ww finish)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_yc3lylsho

    but her FH is not really penetrating (on average, sometimes she crushes a ball). she is a small Person anyway so she is probably wasting her energy into spin (OK she still won a slam:))
     
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  10. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    You mean that maybe most don't have the strength (consistent explosive power) to consistently hit with enough topspin rpms to have the ball really take off after it hits the court? You might be right.

    You think she would have had better results if she had concentrated on a flatter forehand, a la Chris Evert?
    You might be right about that too. But Schiavone's game is game is pretty effective for clay I think.
     
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  11. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    We can certainly find instances of rather powerful and muscular human beings who manage to hit impressive ground strokes, regardless of their unusual technique. It is not impossible and it would seem contrary to various principles which modern psychology underlines. Certainly, you can get good at doing something wrong, bearing some limits which are imposed by physical laws and anatomical structure. The point is that there is a series of traits that a good forehand must present and it must be present at the right moment. How you manage to get them is not important, unless differences between methods happen to exist.

    Here, theories meet their practical applications. Certain ways of performing tasks make it easier to duplicate them consistently, which is a primary objective in tennis. Surprisingly enough, most professional players, including top pros on both the male and female tours, do not use the most efficient way to hit a tennis forehand. The most stunning fact of this narrative is not the relative scarceness of good forehand models that we may wish to emulate in great parts, but the relative obviousness which makes the difference between both.

    The key detail that I am referring occurs in between the take back and the forward acceleration; it occurs as the player first moves his racket forward. The better players pronate at this moment, whereas others supinate (that is, some of them point their palm down while others start turning their palm toward the sky). And, as usual with tennis, good technique gives you everything: more pace, more spin, more control, more consistency...

    Do you know why? Those who supinate at this moment cannot manage to get a specific type of muscular reflex force their forearm into a very violent pronation around contact; those who do pronate here, will manage to get it. And, as you might have guessed, both must meet the ball with roughly the same racket head angle (with a slight forward tilt). The player who benefits of the muscular reflex closes his racket of exactly the same amount every time, with exactly the same timing... the other one must actively force his forearm into pronating.

    It doesn't mean that you can't play without it. In truth, most top pros who have even won hundreds of thousands in prize money do not do it and they could get better almost instantly by learning it. These players can manage to become good at doing something wrong: they have hours and hours of practice to force a good habit into a bad technical framework... But we're amateurs and time is counted. We can't fool around for years to get our top spin forehand under control... the quicker, the better. Players that hit their forehands properly including all of the current top four (without surprise, they're also hitting some of the biggest forehands ever) and players such as Berdych, Soderlign and Roddick. On the other hand, there are players such as Gonzalez (who's retired now, if I recall properly), virtually every women on the WTA tour and, for a clear example, Hewitt. I do have one example of a woman who hits it properly: Stosur. Sam Stosur's forehand is by far the heaviest thing you will find a woman hitting -- the William sisters and others may hit with as much pace, but Stosur has both pace and spin all the time.

    For curious reasons, there are flat hitters who use this trick, as noted. But they're consistently hitting great flat forehands... it's that spin is not unilaterally determined by one variable. Anyway, if you want to know why a WW forehand MAY result in more spin, it's this specific thing. What you see a "wiper" action at the end is actually a severe forearm pronation. For some players, it does work: they do get extra spin because of their beneficial muscular reflex (it's a stretch-shortening cycle, for wonks), others just fail to make it happen early enough and, so, they perform the whole thing once the ball is already gone.

    As for woman, it's a symptom of a whole generation, so to speak. Rare birds get the movement right -- it's not that it's hard, it's that you have to know it or to be very lucky. You, personally, could make it happen and use it -- and you could boast that your forehand has one element which is technically more efficient than that of a GS champion (Hewitt) and it's the stretch-shortening cycle of the forearm pronators.
     
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  12. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    I think you're just picking the cases that support your point, here.

    Look at Federer. He's hardly the most muscular guy out there, yet produces the 2nd most RPMs on tour. Don't you think it's more to do with technique, rather than strength?

    I think the point about differences in men vs women's movement sounds plausible.
     
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  13. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    Federer is a freak of nature. No point in bringing him up in these conversations.
     
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  14. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    Ash posted this a while ago, and I think it demonstrates perfectly the answer the OP is looking for.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Thud and blunder

    Thud and blunder Semi-Pro

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    It certainly demonstrates the phenomenon OP is talking about, but the question at hand is why?

    I accept that first strike tennis has better risk-reward in the WTA, but then retrieving seems to pay off well too (cf Radwanska, Wozniacki); it's the intermediate ATP style that doesn't seem to get any traction.
     
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  16. isilra

    isilra Rookie

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    It's about Fed's technique. He also doesn't have a regular ww motion. Federer gives so much spin with his eastern grip, flat trajectory and a glass cannon body by following a pronation-supination-pronation route. WTA players basically use a push stroke technique that doesn't allow to use these pronation things but depends on pure racquet head speed that created by the body torque and core strenght. Women are physically weaker and slower in legs compared to men and they spend the energy mostly to positioning than creating racquet head speed. That's why they need to hit flatter to make some penetrating shots.
     
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  17. corners

    corners Legend

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    I'm with Tennisfreak and isilra. The poster tricky has written a lot about the differences between the ATP and WTA forehand techniques. As Tennisfreak points out, the ATP technique uses the stretch-shortening cycle at the forearm and shoulder to generate greater RHS. RHS can be used to produce ball speed, ball spin, or both. The women generally have enough RHS to generate good ball speed and moderate spin. The men can hit the same speed with an extra 1000 rpms of topspin, or flatten it out and hit 100 mph winners. There is also something about the rapid pronation of the forearm that seems to generate "free" spin, especially for guys like Nadal and Federer, who, like isilra points out, use funky pronation-supination-pronation technique. The women tend to wipe by creating an arch with their elbows (internal shoulder rotation) while the men wipe from the forearm and wrist.

    Why don't more women hit like the men? Maybe it has something to do with grip strength as kids. To hit the ATP stroke there is a whip or lag in the transition between the takeback and forward stroke. This takes quite a bit of grip strength, especially in the thumb. It may be that little girls aren't strong enough to "whip" the adult size racquets they are given as children and must layback the wrist before the forward swing starts and use lots of trunk rotation to get that big racquet to come around with speed. Boys are stronger, especially in the wrist and shoulder, and so might find it easier to whip their racquets like they see the ATP players on TV do. They also are strong enough in the shoulder that they don't have to rotate the trunk so much and instead are able to harness the power of hip snap.

    There also might be a coordination issue. The ATP forehand is a bit like a sidearm throw. The old phrase "throw like a girl" is often referenced when talking about teaching young girls or women to serve; this issue might be involved on the forehand too.

    But how to explain the case of Raonic? He's a big guy, and obviously has good throwing mechanics with that monster serve. But he's got a WTA-style forehand and can't generate enough spin to harness his considerable power. In his case, I'm not sure he will make it to the top 5 without retooling his forehand as Henin did. According to John Yandell, she and her coach hit the video archives, focusing on Agassi in particular, and managed to create an ATP-style stroke for herself. Don't see why Raonic couldn't do the same.
     
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  18. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    runners run, hitters hit.... couple examples dont make a trend :) .... and these 2 haven't won a major yet.

    in ATP there are more runners.... guys are fast... guys who can't run, big guys, raonic, delpo... these are hitters and they hit like WTA.

    in WTA there are more hitters (because them girls can't run), first strike tennis like you said.

    survival of the fittest.

    WW spinny stuff, pays off for the guys with legs... but often serve up mid court balls to be pounded in the WTA.
     
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  19. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    by the way.... in the past decade or so... in both leagues there used to be #1s who are mostly a hitter OR a runner...

    guys - hewitt a runner... agassi a hitter, safin a hitter
    girls - davenport a hitter

    but nowadays seems only the best of both worlds.. the 'hit n runners' dominate..

    the top 4 guys and the top 2 girls are all 'hit n runners'.
     
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  20. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    are you guys suggesting that women can't hit near the baseline with topspin?

    c'mon...
     
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  21. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    they can... but the shortest distance from A to B is a straight line.

    not possible in tennis with gravity, spin and all, but the closest proxy is a less curvy 'flat' ball.

    you send a curve ball over, the other girl can run there and hit a flat back, now YOU are in trouble.

    you send a flat one over, she maybe in trouble.

    risk/reward.

    not to mention the nature of the topspin ball - has a tendency to land shorter than a flat one, even if the aim is deep.
     
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  22. FrisbeeFool

    FrisbeeFool Rookie

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    I think a lot of guys at the club level could benefit by flattening out their forehands. The average person is not built like Andreev or Nadal. For us mere mortals that can generate only so much racket head speed, There's a choice about how much of that needs to go into spin to bring the ball up and down, and how much of it need to go into the flat penetrating aspect of the shot.

    A lot of guys at the club level hit short spinny balls that sit up waiting to be crushed and think they are copying what they see on tv.

    Look at a player like Davydenko. He's not the biggest guy in the world. He hits his ball a little flatter than some of the other guys. It allows him to play a very aggressive game.

    Everyone should find a playing style that suits them. That being said, some of the wta takebacks on their forehands are so ridiculously ugly. A lot of the younger women on the tour are not using the Sharapova/Serena style takeback. More of the up and coming players have more atp style takebacks.
     
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  23. Cheetah

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    Grip strength has nothing to do with it. Most of these guys have extremely loose grips.
     
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  24. FrisbeeFool

    FrisbeeFool Rookie

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    Raonic does not have a wta style forehand. That is laughable. Look at the picture TennisBalla posted of Sharapova and Nadal's takebacks. Then watch Raonic's forehand.
     
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  25. FrisbeeFool

    FrisbeeFool Rookie

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    Does Raonic have a problem hitting forehands long? His Forehand looks pretty textbook to me.
     
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  26. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    raonic has some things to sort out on his fh. he uses too much of the leg push into the shot. and too little of core rotation. I wouldn't call it a WTA style tho. just a little awkward looking. at his height he should look at isner's fh which is pretty solid.
     
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  27. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    i agree that most recs should hit flatter.... well i guess after the technique is somewhat solid, like high 4.0 ish...... (below which it's really not tennis lol)... it's more difficult to build foot speed.... genetics, fitness etc... requires lot of work.

    much easier to buy a powerful frame and play first strike.
     
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  28. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    yes.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E00gOiHbuoY

    he does slightly pronate at the end of his backswing just not much.
     
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  29. rkelley

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    I think strength, specifically upper body strength, is a very important factor between the men and the women. All things being equal, good form and all, a guy can swing a tennis racquet faster than a woman. For that matter a big guy and swing faster than a smaller guy.

    If you're just hitting through the ball then there's an upper limit on rhs that going to make a difference. After a certain point you're just going to hit the ball long. For most tennis shots anyone, man or woman, can get to that point. After that if you want more pace, or more margin, you have to have more rhs that will go into generating topspin.

    The men have that extra strength to maintain, even increase the pace and still add loads of spin. Watch these guys hitting their shots. Does it look like they're holding back much? The women are going to have a harder time doing this. It seems like the woman generally are making the trade-off to go with more pace and less spin because they have to have the pace to hang in the rallies with the top players.

    Note that these are all generalizations. I do think there are technique differences that make a difference, even among top pros. I think a guy like Federer is probably getting more pace and spin that someone else his size could because his form more efficiently focuses the energy his body creates right on to the contact point with the ball.

    I wonder if anyone's made measurements of racquet head velocity (magnitude and direction) throughout the swing. I would be interesting to compare a profile of racquet head velocity between different players.
     
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  30. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    From what I see Raonic is still hitting through the ball quite a bit. He has a nice WW follow through, but at the contact point the racquet has a very large component going through the ball. What happens after contact won't affect the ball.
     
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  31. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    it only makes sense.

    Raonic can't run, so risk/reward determines he'd rather take more risk in hitting flat.

    all the big guys hit like this.... if you can't run, you have to hit for penetration.
     
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  32. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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  33. corners

    corners Legend

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    Well, I'm not sure what your definition of a WTA forehand is, but Raonic's technique is much more similar to Kuznetsova, Clisters or DelPotro than it is to Fed, Nadal, Berdych.

    Yes, he keeps the racquet on the right side (toward the right fence) rather than taking it behind him like Sharapova and many of the women, but there are some subtle differences that fall under the definitions I use for WTA vs. ATP forehands. Notice the high takeback with racquet tip pointed to the sky. The men usually take back lower with the racquet tip pointed toward the net. Notice that he is flexing the right knee over the toes as he loads up the backswing and then "strides" in the shot using a lot of quad action. Federer and Nadal load their right heel and sit "back", and then rotate out with a lot more hip snap, which comes from the glutes and hamstrings more than the quads. They might still stride forward on some shots, but the main power source is hips rather than thighs. Notice how his non-hitting arm tends to point toward the ground. The Men almost always keep the non-hitting arm at shoulder level. Notice how his hitting arm is bent more than most men who use a similar grip, this is also a feature of the WTA style. Also, notice how his hitting-arm elbow is very high, coming up almost to eye level, during the follow through. The men typically have the elbow coming around at or blow shoulder level, especially Fed and Nadal, with a very tight wrap. Finally, the men usually have a lag, where the racquet head snaps behind their hand and lags behind their shoulder as they swing forward. The racquet then slings forward and contact is made further forward then where most women and Raonic hit. In order to allow the racquet to catch up, Fed and Nadal in particular stop the movement of the hips at some point, which sends the energy up the kinetic chain to the shoulder and out through the arm, like a whip. As a consequence of this, their weight is squarely on their front foot much earlier than the "striding" WTA style has it. (Although this clearly doesn't apply to shots hit off the back foot.)

    All these observations come from posts by "tricky" who has analyzed this stuff in detail. It's all opinion, though, but I happen to buy it.

    I actually think his forehand most resembles DelPotro, but DelPotro has much better depth control.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
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  34. corners

    corners Legend

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    Maybe, but I can tell you with certainty that the thumb is crucial to the ATP style. Try hitting like Fed or Nadal while keeping your thumb off the handle entirely. Then wind up like Sharapova. You'll find that thumbs aren't necessary to hit like Sharapova but essential to hit like Fed or Nadal.
     
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  35. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I see most of the younger WTA players use a stronger grip, more W, and a full WW finish.
    That doesn't seem to be true for most of the top 20 WTA players, but some do use a W grip and do turnover the finish for a WW effect produced by the strong grip.
     
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  36. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    While details are important we should not make the error to invent reasons why certain movements are important. Of course I can say spreading the pinky of the non hitting arm pre stretches the forearm for a more effective pull back, but that doesn't make it true:).

    just because a lot of players do something it doesn't mean that it also has a function.

    there is absolutely no proof for example that a federer like pronated take back is more effective than a DP like takeback. I'm not saying there is nothing to this but just because someone says so this doesn't mean that this movement must be beneficial.

    I'm not saying that fed does random moves but often moves result from something further upstream. We should not lose the focus for the importan parts.
     
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  37. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    My experience is the opposite though. Majority of rec players hit too flatish and frequently into the net or long. Think about this: tennis seems to be meant to be played frequently with many long rallies and point ended with a winner or difficult shot. That's what pros show us. Rec players do the opposite, frequently bashing the ball out for no reason. :)
     
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  38. Cheetah

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    I do. everyday. My thumb doesn't grip my racquet at all on the fh and I don't swing like Sharapova. I get a lot of power and a lot of spin. And during my takeback I apply pressure on the racquet with my 3rd and 4th finger only. The racquet just lays in my hand. Almost no pressure.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
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  39. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
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  40. 2ManyAces

    2ManyAces Rookie

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    based on the picture, simply observe that each player is taking the racquet back at different points.

    Rafa is taking it back quite noticeably less than Sharapova. This means he can use more time to calculate the shot etc, and then use his sheer muscle to bring the racquet around.

    Sharapova needs to bring the racquet back slightly farther than Rafa because she simply does not have the muscle mass that Rafa possesses.
     
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  41. Cheetah

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    The point of that picture, which comes from virtualtennisacademy.com, is to show that Sharapova takes the racquet back behind her back and rafa keeps the racquet on the same side of the body and in line with ball. It's not an issue of strength. It's technique. Rafa will use ssc and lag etc to generate rhs and spin and sharapova uses her arm mostly.

    Many women today have atp type forehands. Li Na is one for example.
     
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  42. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    so pova arms the ball? lol
     
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  43. 2ManyAces

    2ManyAces Rookie

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    I doubt it's all arm.
     
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  44. Cheetah

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    I said mostly and If you don't think think she is using her arm then why the big take back? How do you think the racquet catches up to her rotation? magic? Watch her in slomo. You can see her arm moving forward faster than her torso. That means she's using her arm. As opposed to rafa who's racquet lags behind until he slow his rotation and the arm rips around.

    And i said she 'uses her arm'. i didnt say she 'arms it'. there's a difference.
     
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  45. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2VYJ_uIxyg

    from the end of the backswing, to about when the ball gets to the baseline, the arm/torso relationship is the same...... then she stops the torso and let the arm go forward by itself.

    pause the video and go frame with the right arrow on the key board.

    so the arm never had to 'catch up'.... it is always in sync (by design anyways), then at the last moment it goes ahead of the core.
     
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  46. Cheetah

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    the arm is moving slightly. she's using arm. she's not arming it. there's a difference. if it were no arm there would be lag. that's why the atp guys have a lag. the guys rotate and the racquet stays back until it's pulled around.
     
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  47. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    tomayto tomahto
     
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  48. Cheetah

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    no. arming it is not the same as using your arm.
     
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  49. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Their stance is somewhat different, you don't know the speed of the ball in each case, you don't know what the intent is, etc. You cannot just compare two still photos.
     
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  50. rkelley

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    There's definitely a technique difference. A lot of the women are taking the racquet way back on the backswing like Sharapova, But I think there is a strength component too.

    With the big take back the racquet's being accelerated from way behind the body. By the time it gets to the contact zone the racquet's going through the ball. This basically makes it impossible to get much of a swing path up and across the ball to generate the big spin. You can't redirect the swing path to go up once it as all of that momentum going forward.

    There's definitely a lot of core rotation going into generating the power, but most of it is going forward into the ball.

    The men and a few of the women, in contrast, keep the take back more or less in front and to the side. Their swing path is has a huge vertical component. They use their legs and core to load up energy in their arm and wrist in supination and extention. All of this energy then unloads onto the ball in pronation, which produces the spin, and flexion, which drives the racquet through the ball.

    Where strength can come into this equation is that you have to be strong enough to load up and store all of that energy. Try swinging a baseball bat with modern ATP forehand technique. It's hard. A very big, strong person might be able to do it, but most people aren't strong enough to whip a baseball bat. I would think most guys could do that with a tennis racquet. Bigger, stronger guys will have an even easier time than smaller, weaker ones. Most women . . . I don't know. It's going to be harder for them.

    If you can't whip it like an ATP forehand, the other choice is a simpler swing right through the contact zone - like a lot of the women use.
     
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