Arm passive during FH forward swing?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by zic, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. zic

    zic New User

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    Hi all,

    I'm trying to figure out whether the arm plays a passive or active role during the forward swing of the double bend FH.

    i.e. I've done my unit turn, taken my racket back and locked in the double bend.

    Now, do I shut down my arm and fling it at the ball using body rotation only?

    Or do I deliberately swing the arm as well?

    Thanks in advance,

    Rob
     
    #1
  2. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Upper body rotation initiates the forward swing. The arm starts to move independently of the body a little bit after your body starts to turn back toward the net.

    If you watch this forehand, at about 1:35 in Frank's arm starts to swing independently of his body. What you may notice is that this forward swing with the arm occurs pretty much right after he locks into the double bend.... and, somewhat besides the point but still worth mentioning, that his upper body starts to turn / he begins to transfer his weight before he gets to the double bend.
     
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  3. baselinerT

    baselinerT Rookie

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    It is sort of like a controlled jerk of your torso from being sideways and then your arm will sort of be like a whip so you get raquet head speed too.
     
    #3
  4. zic

    zic New User

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    Thanks for the responses.

    So, do you consciously move or swing your arm at all?

    Or do you focus 100% on rotating your upper body and trust that your arm will come round by itself?
     
    #4
  5. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    You consciously swing your arm. It won't get into position otherwise.
     
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  6. zic

    zic New User

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    Is there a specific part of the body you engage/contract/jerk or whatever first to get the forward swing started?

    E.g.

    Hand
    Wrist
    Elbow
    Shoulder (of hitting arm)
    Chest
    Hips
    Legs

    ?
     
    #6
  7. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Watch that video I posted. The upper body and legs start the forward swing. The upper body begins to rotate back toward the net and the weight transfers from the back foot to the front. The arm doesn't start swinging independently of the body until the hitting arm is established.

    Watch the upper arm. During the backswing, the upper arm is in line with the shoulders... they are on the same plane. You could draw a straight line (bird's eye view) from the elbow through the upper arm to the opposite shoulder. You can tell when the arm starts to swing independently of the body when the upper arm is no longer in line w/ the shoulders. Again, after the upper body begins to turn back to the net / weight xfers.
     
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  8. JesseT

    JesseT Rookie

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    I miss the old "head only" racquet covers; ones that exposed the handles?

    It used to be a GREAT drill just to swing with the racquet cover on. With this, you can *feel* the whipping motion and then learn the correct torso/elbow/arm combo.

    Thing is, unless you're slinging a 5lb+ weight, it's not physically obvious to most people that you're whipping the arm.

    I started leading up my racquets, not because of arm/control ideas (although I later learned that was icing), but because I just wanted to feel the tug.
     
    #8
  9. zic

    zic New User

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    Thanks, that description is right on - I see exactly what you mean.

    So, what does it actually feel like to hit a FH this way?

    I mean, currently my FH is either too army or too wristy.

    I figure it's because when I pull the trigger on a ball, I'm either going for a whippy wristy feel (if I'm feeling "confident"), or a rigid army feel (if I just need to get it back!)

    Both plain wrong I know! Hence why I want to dial in this rotation stuff.

    Seems like I should be going for the feeling of pushing through my legs while whipping my upper body into the path of the ball, almost as if I wanted to slam my hitting shoulder and chest square into it.

    Does that strike any chords?
     
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  10. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    Both, because it is a coordination chain which starts (blends) from ground up.
     
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  11. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Oh no, you definitely don't just slingshot your arm. Federer uses a lot of arm in his forehand and some say he has the best forehand today.
     
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  12. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Using your entire body is important, but don't think that your arm is just along for the ride, it DOES play a huge roll in your strokes.
     
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  13. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    What makes a mess of my stroke is when I wait to initiate my forward move/turn through the ball and I need to use too much arm to rush the racquet around. When good footwork gets me to the hitting zone ahead of the ball, I feel as if I'm swinging in slo-mo until the ball comes in and I can comfortably release it on time. I want my arm to do only a little work instead of a whole lot of rushed effort.

    A conscious effort to really load up my legs and get a deliberate weight transfer and turn through my shot makes it feel like my arm is doing almost nothing at all. My lower body is what really energizes my stroke when I set up correctly and drive - even more so with my new one handed backhand. Do what you can to stay ahead of the late rush to the ball.
     
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  14. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I dont want to say passive or active. Let's just say it takes a role in using the energy provided by your shoulder rotation and the kinetic energy you provided from your body to bring the racquet into the ball.

    Your shoulder takes a more active role and once the arm is moving and the racquet is coming forward, your arm should be reasonably relaxed bringing the racquet through the ball.

    Watch Blake,

    The shoulder rotation is what plays the major role. His arm goes for the ride until it needs to use the energy provided by the kinetic chain to allow the arm to accelerate in front of the body plane.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaUH9Bevnew&feature=related
     
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  15. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    The reality is that the arm holds the racket and the racket hits the ball; thus, arm speed is an important element. The arm IS active because it is possible to put the ball over the net using only arm speed without involving body. When all the hitting elements (coordination chain) coordinates and blends into each other, a great forehand is produced. In the modern forehand even the wrist is used and the wrist is part of the arm!
     
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  16. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    Great video. Even this video illustrates that the hitting arm IS active; it is NOT passive.
     
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  17. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    I've actually been thinking about this a lot recently, I've developed a theory and I'll post it here tomorrow so BungaloBill can rigorously proof it as only he can.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2008
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  18. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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  19. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Hi wihamilton,

    Your videos & instructions are very professional and easy to follow. They are one of the sources which I learn from. Thanks.
     
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  20. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Well if it is anything like the way to think on the serve. I am sure it will be excellent. Looking forward to learning!
     
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  21. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Nice video. I happen to like your site as well. Very good idea on the use of cameras and filming to "blow" things up so you can see it better.

    Coming back to whether the arm is passive or not. I think we can all agree that the arm is active in the swing. However, it isn't dominate over other aspects such as rotation, etc...The arm portion of the swing needs to use the energy it is given so that the effort it puts into the stroke coincides with the entire stroke.

    In other words, the arm doesn't try to "muscle" its way through. It is a blending.

    The timing of the forehand is very subtle and very difficult to really see. On the film that I have studied, the movement of the arm from when it is going down to the precise moment of the butt cap going forward, is where the arm is active. This is just before the shoulders take over in rotation. When the shoulders take over, the arm is not active as far as the swing is concerned. However, it resumes more of an active role as it moves in front of the body plane, taking the racquet into contact, and then diminishes again in the followthrough.

    This is key in understanding why it is not good for players to swing using their arm only. Most of the problem lies in the transfer of "dominance" to the rotation of the shoulders. The lack of a shoulder rotation or the lack of allowing the shoulder rotation to take a more dominant role in the forward swing when it needs to leads to "arming" the ball. In this case, the arm is not only too active but it is also too dominant.

    Finally, all of this, as you indicated in your video of this sort of happening as one motion, is triggered by the bounce of the ball. Knowing where the ball is going to bounce, making sure you are in the proper position considering spin, speed, etc...and timing this drop and forward swing to the bounce is critical. No bounce, no forward swing concerning groundstrokes.

    Preparation as you pointed out needs to happen before the bounce so that the racquet is ready to drop (gaining moment and positioning the topspin swing) and go forward.

    Good job on the videos.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2008
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  22. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    As always BB, very nice analysis / insights. The active / passive / active / passive roll of the arm is a nice way to describe what's happening. I suppose you could throw in another "passive" at the beginning if you include the pivot and shoulder turn starting the racket takeback.

    We were discussing, when filming this video, of comparing the way the arm moves to an uppercut punch. What do you think of this comparison? We ended up not including it b/c I don't know enough about boxing :). But I think the swing is initiated by the shoulders and then the arm takes over as well.

    This is somewhat of a tangent, but how would you describe the footwork related to the location of the ball (we're working on footwork now)? I haven't given this approach a ton of though but your analysis of the forward swing / ball location got me thinking.
     
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  23. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Absolutely.

    That is some of the issues I go through at times. Even if I know a sport and want to provide an "ahha!" to players, I won't say anything because it may lead to incorrect form and other problems. I am a believer in creativity to the point that it doesn't lead a person, if left alone, down the wrong path.

    On these boards, we don't have the luxury to "stay with the players" to make sure they are doing what we meant. You might be able to do this via video though. Why don't you come up with something, and send it to us or me before posting it if you want for a critique.

    It is broken down into a couple interdependent relationships.

    The Mind
    Thought needs to take place when someone needs to move to the ball. When this happens is where instruction comes into play. Ideally, players need to recognize the ball off the strings of their opponents racquet. However, this is impossible. If a players does not understand the intent of this, they may give up trying.

    Repeatable easy cadences (see HIT-BOUNCE-HIT below) that can be incorporated in ones game starts the training. Players need to recognize and move to the ball BEFORE the ball crosses the net. Since the ball goes from one side of the court to the other in about a second, unless you have incredible focus ability, you need to train yourself in this area. A cadence is a perfect way to do it, it doesnt cost anything, and can easily be worked into practice.

    We can go on about this but that is a start. I say this because hitting a ball is part of a circular phase consisting of preparation, hitting, and recovery. Surrounding this is balance, movement, and focus.

    The Feet
    Once a ball is recognized, moving to the ball or being able to move to the ball effeciently is paramount. If we move the wrong foot first, we will have to use more energy to get into position. If we are out of shape, we may move too slow even though we recgonized where the ball will bounce. Using the fundamental footwork patterns available should be plenty for players to use. Getting to the bounce is a matter of using good footwork patterns and using adjusting steps when we arrive in the vicinity. Adjusting steps must happen with purpose and not because we are caught off guard or late to the ball.

    Hit-Bounce-Hit
    Sounds rather silly that we need a way to get better in seeing the ball sooner. What most players don't realize is they are seeing the ball late! Which contributes to all kinds of problems! Hitting the ball starts through the eyes! It does not start with the stroke itself.

    The first hit, helps us focus on the ball coming off the strings of our opponents racquet. It is very difficult if not impossible for players to really do this. However, practicing this helps a player get a jump on the ball before it comes over the net or when it is over the net. This is miles away from club players finally moving to the ball when it is past the net on their side! So we get a lot of lunging, late swings, jams, off balance shots, poor recovery, short points, inconsistent shots, and on and on.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2008
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  24. zic

    zic New User

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    Thanks all for the pointers, and to Will for another excellent vid (your site is awesome!)

    I've gotta say, reading through the thread again, the following quote from fuzz nation really strikes a chord with me:

    So I hit the court today for a bit of a knock around, trying to incorporate the various tid bits I'd picked up over the last few days (with wildly varying success!)

    At a couple of points during the session, I think I came close to experiencing what fuzz nation so lucidly describes above.

    My feet would get me to the ball in good time (for a change), I'd set up a decent unit turn (by my standards) get my racquet back and lock in the double bend. I could even feel my wrist laying back.

    Then, instead of lunging at the ball as I usually do, I found myself literally watching that fuzzy yellow thing right on to my strings. Just as it made contact, I'd instinctively jerk my shoulders round and see the racquet face flash up the back of the ball.

    It felt sublime, and every time I did it I'd look up and watch the ball drop in, fairly deep with lots of spin. Could've used a bit more pace, but thinking about it I wasn't really hitting through the ball, more up the back of it.

    But still, does this sound like a step in the right direction? Can anyone relate to what I'm describing - i.e. watching the ball right on to the strings and accelerating the racquet almost as a reflex to what you're seeing?
     
    #24
  25. zic

    zic New User

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    Also, it felt like I had so much more time than usual. The swing was relatively slow and relaxed right up to contact, at which point I found myself reflexively accelerating up the back of the ball (though not quite through it - yet).
     
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  26. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Bill,

    Do you know where I can read up on the fundamental footwork patterns? thanks.
     
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  27. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    Here you go, from tennismastery, (dave smith of tennisone.com)


     
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  28. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Start with these. I wouldnt start right away with the gravity step because you need to coordinate and strengthen the weaker side and the gravity step does not do that as well. I think it is irresponsible teaching and direction to do so.

    1. Step-outs: Step out with the foot closest to the ball. This will build up both sides so that you will lessen your tendency to want to crossover on your first step - especially to your backhand side. This usually turns you body sideways too much.

    2. Shuffle Steps: These help you move laterally. I think you know what these are.

    3. Split-steps: This sets up other footwork patterns and is a timing pattern used for groundstrokes, volleys, approaches, returns, etc...

    There are other footwork patterns like shifting your feet in one move if a ball is coming right at you. Or the gravity step which is really a modified form of the step-out and split-step.

    You can also get books on tennis footwork as well.
     
    #28

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