Are there advantages to firm wrist on the forehand?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by TennisKid1, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. TennisKid1

    TennisKid1 Semi-Pro

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    Ok so i watched this video of Andre Agassi hitting and he keeps his wrist firm throughout his forehand stroke. Then I saw a video of federer hitting forehands and his wrist was fairly loose. Does a firm wrist have more control than a loose wrist which generates more power?
     
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  2. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Agassi does not keep his wrist firm in the stroke. When he came on the scene, he was the one that helped popularize what is known as the "wrist release". Which was later coined (though unpopular) the "educated wrist".

    Agassi did not stiffen his wrist release. When he swung, his hand went back on the forward swing and then propelled forward as it approached contact and into the followthrough. The movement his hand makes forward is very slight and happens just before impact making it very difficult to see on film at full speed.

    At Braden's Tennis College, we had to study Agassi's forehand a lot and we were able to reduce it to Stick Figure form for further study.

    Agassi left the game best known for his relentless attack on his opponent's conditioning, the simplicity in his strokes, and his emphasis on conditioning (which IMO is a good recipe for success for any tennis player).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXWks8yvRJQ&feature=channel
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
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  3. TennisKid1

    TennisKid1 Semi-Pro

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    Oh i think i understand then. But do you think that a firm wrist would help more on service returns?
     
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  4. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    That is a preference area. Some players choke up on the racquet handle to firm up their swing for the return. If you feel that you need to firm up your grip, that is something you have to decide.

    Some of the ways to tell that your grip is too loose is if you spray the ball a lot, mishit, frame balls, or just sort of slap the ball, your racquet twists too much, or has a sloppy feel to it when you hit the ball.

    Technically, a decent grip is to hold the handle like you would hold a bird in your hand. Not too tight to kill it, and not too loose so that it flies away. I should be able to tug on your racquet and pull your racquet out of your hand after a couple of tries. Go from there as your guide.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
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  5. sir_shanks_alot

    sir_shanks_alot Rookie

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    I think a firm wrist is a good idea on the return, unless you plan to generate pace. The racquet works more like a backboard.

    You might try a tighter on the first serve and looser grip on a second; blocking vs swinging.
     
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  6. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Firm is an excellent word in this case, as some of the definitions for FIRM fit better than others, but it may be the best English word to define the wrist in tennis strokes, as in firm grip or firm mattress. In these cases it clearly does not mean rigid or immovable. Agassi had a nice Firm wrist thru parts of the stroke where that is best, with with some give at a certain point in the stroke, much like a firm mattress will not be like concrete, but have some give at a given stress or pressure.

    This firmness also lends itself to storing energy of the stroke with the ability to return that energy at a point in the swing, as a firm fishing rod would when casting. It should not be confused with a firm grip, as these are 2 dif issues. The narrow view of the word firm has led to quite a bit of misunderstanding on the contribution of the wrists in tennis strokes which you can see in some of the above posts.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
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  7. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    :mrgreen:Wow, this is really wrong. A firm wrist is not the best way to describe the function of the wrist in tennis because it implies a person applying stronger pressure on the handle to reduce the elasticity in the wrist area for it to function properly.

    There have been numerous presentations in this area and the best way to describe it is through the term "Educated Wrist" which is commonly accepted by many people that actually reviewed and studied Agassi's forehand. Obviously, you weren't there nor have you studied Agassi's forehand!!!

    Elasticity in the wrist is also an excellent term to use because it describes how the hand is to function in the forward swing, through contact and into followthrough.

    Actually, Agassi didn't have a firm wrist when you study film. A firm wrist implies that the hand can't move forward and it does not automatically imply rigidness.

    What? Do you even know what the anatomy of the wrist is? It is just a bunch of tendons. These tendons are controlled by the hand and in order to create a "firm wrist" you have to have a firm grip!!!! LOL!!!

    When a player moves his racquet back through the backswing and into the downswing, elasticity is what the player wants to maintain in the wrist area and have it function like a hinge. You do not want the wrist firm otherwise you lose the elasticity in this area. You want to grip the handle just enough to maintain control of the racquet head but also keep the elasticity in the wrist.

    What people want in their wrist is elasticity. When a wrist is firm it means it doesn't allow the hand to move.

    :cry:Wow, this is probably the most off advice I have read on these boards. First off, the wrist doesn't lay back, the hand does. Second, having a narrow view of what a firm wrist is has not lead to misunderstanding. That is completely false. Explainations such as yours has led to misunderstandings.

    In case you haven't seen what takes place in the "modern" stroke, the hand remains relaxed through much of racquet prep, the backswing and the down swing. Light pressure on the handle is applied simply to not allow the racquet to wobble around through the forward swing. Slightly more pressure is applied automatically at impact to brace the collision.

    During this whole time, the hand does not grip the handle firmly to cause the wrists tendons to tighten up. They allow the wrist to remain elastic so that during the forward swing, the sudden change in direction forces the hand back as the arm is thrusted forward. The stored energy is created only at the time of the sudden change in direction and is RELEASED as the arm and rotation begin to slow down.

    HENCE WHAT IS KNOWN AS THE WRIST RELEASE AND LATER, THE EDUCATED WRIST. ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I got the worst forehand in the world, and I hold a loose, almost limp wrist.
    My volleys are pretty good, and I really tighten up for higher putaway volleys, and loosen up but stroke thru for low volleys.
    Maybe I need to tighten up on the SW forehand, but the loose wrist sometimes works good.
     
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  9. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    BB wrote:

    When a player moves his racquet back through the backswing and into the downswing, elasticity is what the player wants to maintain in the wrist area and have it function like a hinge. You do not want the wrist firm otherwise you lose the elasticity in this area. You want to grip the handle just enough to maintain control of the racquet head but also keep the elasticity in the wrist.

    What people want in their wrist is elasticity.
    When a wrist is firm it means it doesn't allow the hand to move.

    -------
    The description and the word elasticity by BB is all good stuffs. I would say try to create as much elasticity as possible to promote whippiness. However, anytime you detect a slight pressure at the wrist, you're going too far and you will end up with a wrist pain if you keep it up.
     
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  10. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    You got it! That is what players want to do. And players will be different here.

    You want to create as much elasticity in the grip to allow the hand to move freely. Some players like that whippy feel. I never have. However, there is a balance, we also don't want the handle/racquet wobbling in our hands either which causes the racquet head to move around improperly as well.

    Also, another thing a player can do is move the heel of their palm against the butt of the handle (for what it was designed for). This allows a player to maintain a similar grip but it steadies the racquet in the hand more. This coincides with "choking" up on the handle. The heel acts as a brace.
     
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  11. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    I'm having a problem right now on my forehand and it's steadily getting better by me keeping my wrist firm throughout the stroke.
     
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  12. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    BB,

    I like the whippy feel. Sometimes the racket head lags behind so much that I am even amazed at how it could catch up to the contact point on time at all. Yeah, I learned the hard way that there's a balance to how much you can push the range of elasicity of the wrist. :)

    "Also, another thing a player can do is move the heel of their palm against the butt of the handle"

    For that I bulged up the butt with extra electrical tape underneath the overgrip. hehe. I also like to feel the flatness of the sw bevel fully lining up inside my palm. That way my palm drives the racket with the strongest part.
     
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  13. Blake0

    Blake0 Hall of Fame

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    Agassi has a fairly loose wrist. Federer has a very loose wrist. Only time you need a firm wrist is in returns, volleys, or some special occasions, which you don't need to worry about.
     
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  14. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Really?? A bunch of tendons? :shock:
    Wow, you need to give a call to one of you buddies like Brian Gordan and let him 1st explain to you that the Wrist is JOINT area
    (Anatomy-The wrist is a more complicated joint, which uses ligaments to stabilize the joint)

    2ond ask him about the muscles that control the wrist, which are in the FOREARM and primarily attach to the hand via tendons.
    (Movements and muscles-The extrinsic hand muscles are located in the forearm where their bellies form the proximal fleshy roundness)

    Maybe hearing it from a Phd will help.

    I won't even bother with how bad hinge is to describe the good wrist action, as a hinge flops freely with NO elasticity from the supporting structure, unless of course you add a spring or cylinder, which would then FIRM up it's action, just as the tendons do from the muscles in the forearm which attach to the hand. The muscles in the hand operate the hand and fingers, not the wrist. lol.

    Elasticity?? you want to stretch the wrist and make it longer? How do you elongate a joint? Dislocate it? lol

    Educated wrist? I guess I don't mind this personally, but since so many have problems with the term muscle memory, thinking that muscles don't remember, I would think they would have a cow over this idea of a wrist getting an education and retaining it; so I would avoid this term.

    Firm is clearly one of the better terms given several definitions in normal use for the word like the examples I've already cited, which show the ability to allow a controlled flex or movement, without giving the unrestrained flop of a hinge which would also denote movement in only one plane, which is far different than a wrists varied planes of rotation.

    Will be fun to watch you try to BS thru these gaffes. While we often disagree about modern tennis, I really thought you understood the body better than this.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2009
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  15. Maverick16

    Maverick16 New User

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    Personally, I feel that the more wrist you can incorporate into the stroke the more racquet head speed and thus a more powerful shot.
    I used to hit my double backhand by taking the racquet back and just using one constant motion and swing through the ball using little wrist and my shot was very weak.
    I now take the racquet back in a high arc then let the racquet drop and then use my wrists to whip the racquet through the ball, and now I am generating much more power.
    Just remember the more wrist action=more whipping action and much more power. Think racquet head speed.
    Look at how much wrist action these 2 gents use.
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=FYB2007#p/u/134/-Rl0fwXTrr8
    Major whipping action.

    Compare this to John McEnroe's almost wristless forehand, and thus powerless forehand. He almost looks like he is pushing the ball back.
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=FYB2007#p/u/16/19gmJilFKlI
    wrist action=power
     
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  16. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Some people like that feel. When the racquet lags back like that it is like pulling back farther on a sling shot. Eventually, when your elbow moves in front of the body plane and your arm slows down it will cause the hand to move forward real fast. And it doesn't take much at all to transfer good energy into the ball from such a little motion.

    Yes, I learned too. I actually am going a bit the other way. Instead of firming up the hand, I now place the butt of the handl against my heel for leverage.

    So far I like it because it tapers my power and helps my improve ball control.

    Not a bad idea.
     
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  17. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, I like the term Firm as well. I can see why some don't like it though, as they take that to mean more rigid or stiff, but seeing firm in some of its other more supple definitions; it fits better than most words I've seen. Wrist is a very complex joint, so no surprise that finding a single word to describe it is a challenge.
     
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  18. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    :) The wrist is a VERY COMPLEX joint? Haven't you clamoured about keeping things simple?

    What is complex? The wrist is bones and tendons. What is complex about that? Your grip pressure a player has on the handle stiffens the wrist. What is complex about that?

    The bottom-line is using the word FIRM comes from the 1970's and it goes against everything you have promoted concerning the MODERN FOREHAND.

    There is no complexity here. The wrist needs to remain elastic. A player needs to find the balance they need to maintain control of the racquet head and allow the hand to still move. This is very easy to find out and takes at most several feeds for the player to decide. All a player needs to know is the pros and cons about various grip pressures.

    There is nothing else to know except for a player to figure out how much pressure they want to place on the handle of the racquet.

    Bottom-line is your above post is nowhere near what a modern forehand is about.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
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  19. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Not complex, LOL.

    Quote below-

    http://www.eorthopod.com/public/patient_education/6607/wrist_anatomy.html

    Introduction
    The anatomy of the wrist joint is extremely complex, probably the most complex of all the joints in the body.

    Nice try though, lol.
    Like you said, you will just say anything to try and make your points, regardless of how untruthful!
     
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  20. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    It's the strokes that can made simple, but the body is a very complex thing.
    Can you see the dif?

    your quote-
    "The bottom-line is using the word FIRM comes from the 1970's and it goes against everything you have promoted concerning the MODERN FOREHAND."

    Unlike you, I don't have to throw out the baby with the bath water. I can keep what works for me if it is not false data.
     
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  21. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    On a return of serve a bit firmer wrist will help because at times you will be forced to make a minimal back swing with firm contact and follow through.

    However, on the forehand ground stroke, the wrist should be relax so that it is laid back prior to contact so that "educated" release of the wrist occurs.
     
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  22. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    So this is an area where you have departed from your main Mentor, Vic Braden, who speaks often is his book about how the wrist stay fixed thru contact in his high speed video and uses the term "firm"?
    Didn't you believe his high speed footage?
     
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  23. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Main Entry: 1elas·tic
    Pronunciation: \i-ˈlas-tik\
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: New Latin elasticus, from Late Greek elastos ductile, beaten, from Greek elaunein to drive, beat out; probably akin to Greek ēlythe he went, Old Irish luid
    Date: 1674
    1 a of a solid : capable of recovering size and shape after deformation b : relating to or being a collision between particles in which the total kinetic energy of the particles remains unchanged
    2 : capable of recovering quickly especially from depression or disappointment <my elastic spirits revived — Wilkie Collins>
    3 : capable of being easily stretched or expanded and resuming former shape : flexible <an elastic bandage>
    4 a : capable of ready change or easy expansion or contraction : not rigid or constricted <an elastic concept> b : receptive to new ideas : adaptable <an elastic mind>

    J
     
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  24. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    My wrist isn't any of that stuff...

    J
     
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  25. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Maybe that guy on the fantastic four? eh
     
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  26. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Dunno about a forehand, but he could probably cover the net real well.

    J
     
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  27. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    should be good at overheads, lol.
     
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  28. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    He could play mixed with the invisible woman, you would never know when she was poaching.

    J
     
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  29. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    If I see my student is swinging from his wrist (his wrist is like jelly fish), I tell him/her to keep his/her wrist fixed or locked. I often have him/her choke up on her handle so that wrist is trained. From one extreme to the other and the problem is solved. As the loose wrist problem is solved, a proper laid back wrist is then developed. It all depends in which context the coach is speaking.
     
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  30. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    sounds reasonable.
     
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  31. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    I used to think keeping the wrist firm was the way to hit a forehand. And my forehand never got very good.

    More recently, I've discovered that it's better to let the wrist joint bend freely, and let the racquet carry the hand with it. If the racquet can't keep up and get around quickly enough to maintain a a near-constant plane angle through the contact point, it means my racquet is not balanced properly. This can be easily fixed with a little lead tape on the handle. Adding lead tape is much easier than retraining my biomechanics.

    My forehand is pretty good now.
     
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  32. mucat

    mucat Hall of Fame

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    I think a lot of the time different terminology can help different player. Everyone think differently and everyone visualize differently. Personally, I think of my FH wrist as firm but not tight, My wrist need to at least firm enough I don't get knock around. And I don't think I need to consciously think about it. When I get a soft sitter, my wrist can and will loose a little bit. When I get something heavy coming my way, I have to hold it firmer.

    I think there are some super slow motion videos on youtube.
     
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  33. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    Note that even though Federer has a relaxed wrist at the beginning of his swing, at the moment of contact the wrist is straight and firm.
     
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  34. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    The shock/force/anvil of the hit makes the wrist firm at contact.
     
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  35. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Originally Posted by OrangeOne

    NB. I know nothing about the author, Bill Mountford, but he is doing the Q&A role for USTA.com.

    http://www.usta.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=377488

    Q. In regards to the question about PTR or USPTA instructors not teaching the "modern way" (10/25), it raised a question. Does the "modern way" require a higher level of skill in order for it to be performed properly? I remember a study done by Vic Braden on Agassi's forehand. Andre swore he used his wrist, but the study showed in fact he did not. It seems to me that the techniques required in the modern way could be easily misunderstood or applied resulting in poor execution, even with an instructor’s help (i.e., watching a player like Agassi and seeing him use his "wrist"). ......
    ...Many players associate a “firm wrist” with squeezing the racquet handle too firmly, and this is not ideal, so I am careful about ever offering that suggestion. The study of Andre Agassi’s own perception of his forehand is interesting. He certainly cocks his wrist back before contact (putting his forearm muscles “on stretch”). After he finishes the follow-through, Agassi’s wrist is inarguably in a different position. His logic is easy to follow: that the wrist “snaps” through the hitting zone. Vic Braden was able to break down that Agassi’s wrist was, in fact, still (if not locked) throughout the milliseconds of contact during the forehand. However, if you were trying to teach/coach the Agassi forehand and were to insist that a student keep his wrist firm throughout the swing, then it would not likely look at all like… the Agassi forehand.


    – Bill
     
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  36. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    I used to hit the forehand the old fashioned way with a firm wrist but started doing it the way of Fed lately. The beauty of using the wrist is that while the arm is accelerating the wrist is accelerating as well adding to increased racquet speed at impact. The way I hit is to make impact at the same point when the wrist is straight. Whether my wrist is firm because of the impact or because I lock it, I am not sure. But, I do know for sure that my wrist is fixed at impact and remains fixed as my forearm pronates through the WW motion.

    The whole idea here is sort of like a kinetic chain. The arm and wrist accelerating combined with a forearm that is starting to pronate puts a lot of energy into impact and results in a ball with a lot of pace and topspin, and all this is made with relatively little effort.
     
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  37. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    If your wrist is straight at impact, how do you hit the ball forward? If you are hitting with a straight arm (ala fed), and your wrist is straight, this would mean for your to hit the ball directly forward, your contat point will be nearly behind your torso.

    If your contact point is in front (as it should be), then your wrist would have to be laid back (not straight) at contact.
     
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  38. sir_shanks_alot

    sir_shanks_alot Rookie

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    Agree. See post 5.

    This is like the chicken or egg debate. I don't think the hit makes the wrist firm. I believe its learned/taught. I used to have a very whippy FH. It still is from time to time.

    What causes me to "firm up" near and through the hit is observation of the results. Too loose causes a greater mishit and loss of power. Firmer provides more control and cleaner contact. At least it it appears this way.

    The only negative I see with a firm wrist is loss of power/racquet speed. That's an essential part of my stroke because I prefer lots of spin. There is a lot of lifting for me, not much face manipulation unless I'm taking the ball early.

    In general, I would say too loose causes timing issues and loss of control. You will feel it too because the racquet will want to move in your hand.

    Imagine volleying with a limp wrist. Unless the ball lands perfectly on the racquet, it lands short and twists the frame.
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Wrists should be laid back somewhat during contact.
    EFH users sometimes firm up the wrists for more consistent, but softer blocking effect on the ball.
    SW and W users need to whip the rackethead, so looser wrists can gain rackethead speed.
    Surprisingly, conti topspinners use a loose wrist to allow the racketface to close during the forehand swing, or rather, it's true service pronation.. :shock:
     
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  40. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    LeeD you are right. The hand (not the wrist) will be laid back somewhat at contact (do to the sudden thrust of the forward swing) because the arm hasn't slowed down too much to allow the hand to come forward too much yet. However, in the followthrough the hand folds over.
     
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  41. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    I don't think my arm is straight, as in locked at the elbow. I would say the elbow is bent at about a 45 degree angle. I also us an extreme eastern grip and make contact with the ball about a foot in front of my front foot.

    What I wanted to say is that whether I use a firm wrist or a wrist that starts back and then accelerates to straight, I always hit the ball always at the same point in front of me. The only difference is that the wrist started laid back and then quickly returned to the same point to where I would be if I kept a firm wrist.
     
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  42. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Points to note.

    A laid back wrist can be back and still be firm there.
    Also with SW or western grips, the grip can be firm, and the racket face lag, without laying back the wrist.
     
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  43. sir_shanks_alot

    sir_shanks_alot Rookie

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    A thread like this makes a good Christmas present. Lots of good posts.
     
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  44. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Man, I love your nickname. It just cracks me up whenever I see it. Classic.
     
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  45. sir_shanks_alot

    sir_shanks_alot Rookie

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    Thanks. I'd like to give credit to Federer, but it occured to me after a windy practice while watching Monty Python.

    King Arthur: [after Arthur's cut off both of the Black Knight's arms] Look, you stupid ______. You've got no arms left.
    Black Knight: Yes I have.
    King Arthur: *Look*!
    Black Knight: It's just a flesh wound.
     
    #45
  46. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    For the longest time ive always had a pretty firm wrist on my forehand, not by choice, i just tended to tighten up whenever id get on the court, but have been working on this aspect lately.. here are a couple stills of me initiating the forward swing to the ball

    [​IMG]

    the funny thing is that i wasnt really aware of it until i saw it.. i have a bit of a feeling the racquet whips more, but its not an overwhelming sensation
     
    #46
  47. CHOcobo

    CHOcobo Professional

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    deleted post
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
    #47
  48. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Looks pretty nice. Love the straight arm FH.

    J
     
    #48
  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Not that I have a forehand...
    Man, that's one wrist whippy stroke with stature of liberty stiff legs.
     
    #49
  50. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Really? Looks pretty clear to me that he is transferring his weight from right foot to left, and lifting into the ball.

    Maybe you are looking at a different picture.

    J
     
    #50

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