Decent topspin with minimal high-to-low swing plane?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by mightyrick, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    So I'm working on developing my topspin stroke. I have an eastern grip. I've watched tons of videos of pros with eastern-ish grips and it seems to me after close observation that pros who hold eastern grips actually swing largely flat. That includes Federer. There is a small low-to-high swing plane, but it is still pretty flat. I observed that some don't even finish over the shoulder. They finish a bit to the side sometimes.

    Yet these guys still generate a good amount of topspin.

    So what I'm trying to figure out is how they do it. Is it just that since these guys have such high racquet head speed -- even though they have a minimal low-to-high swing plane -- that the racquet head speed generates enough topspin to keep the ball in play? Or is it pronation? Where maybe the racquet face is closing at the point of contact? Is it a combination of the two?

    During my practicing, I have been trying to have a really exaggerated low-to-high swing plane and it just isn't working. I send the ball long a lot. If I get really "whippy", I send it even longer.

    How do the pros with eastern grips do it? I know I'm missing some element, I'm just not sure what it is.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
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  2. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    You need to practice the motion of the windshield wiper, but I would only do this if you can hit clean shots consistently first.

    I think a lot of people now go straight to the WW and don't know how to hit clean. The only reason you want to hit the WW is to hit harder and keep the ball in. So first off stop trying to be whippy and all that other stuff and just focus on hitting the ball clean and solidly over and over. Don't try kill the ball, just hit nice relaxed strokes and see how much pace you can get from them.

    Once you get to that point, then you want to work on the WW stroke, which is learned by taking the racquet in your hand in your grip and going from right to left using your forearm. This will give you the proper wrist motion.

    Federer gets his wrist more laid back than most players I have seen and that really helps with his spin. I think it is not realistic for most people to think they will get that type of rotation.
     
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  3. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    ^^^Agree. Federer adds the spin with the doorknob turn of his forearm/wrist. It this that enables him to keep his swing plane somewhat flat and still get good spin, IMHO.

    The downside to this "plan' is that its freaking hard to do. Most tour pros instead swing a bit more high to low.

    I first noticed this watching the Warinka forehand compared to Feds. (they were playing right next to eachother) Warinka got significantly more low to high uppercut on his forehand DESPITE not using the low finish nearly as much. Also see Thomas Berdych...

    I feel personally its much easier to swing more low to high and finish OTS. This shot has alot less wrist 'action.' You will shank alot less balls then emulating Federer.

    I also agree that you should learn to murder the ball with the flatter forehand before trying to add in the WW. I didn't used to think this way - but after some experimentation myself I really see the wisdom of that approach.

    Why? Well the reason for me is that frankly a 'low racquet speed' WW forehand is one craptastic shot. So there is no reason to learn it early in your development. This is what I was commenting on in that other thread where that guy was learning a modern forehand.. Learn the driving forehand first because you can keep it in reliably and it has enough topspin. Its actually more reliable (IMHO) because your less likely to shank it..

    Will Hamiltion believes Federer forehand is rare on the tour - I think there is certainly some truth to this. No one else seems to have such a flat swing plane and use so much WW action - near as I can tell.

    The way I see it is that you factor in three 'variables' for the pros shots - extension/windshield wiper action/low to high arm angle - and this is how you get most of the various forehands and explains the various finishes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
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  4. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    Agree. I tried to pronate at contact like he does. I think I shanked 3/4 of the balls. It definitely didn't go well. I ended up shanking more balls if I varied my contact point.

    I can actually hit a flat forehand ball pretty hard now. However, I'm starting to hit so hard and fluid now that I'm sending balls long. That is the whole reason why I wanted to start figuring out how to add just a bit more topspin. I can't keep the flat forehands in anymore.

    My swing plane is very flat. I tried going more low-to-high, but I started sending more balls even longer. I think it is because the racquet face was opening up due to the increased swing plane angle.

    If a WW forehand is the next step, then so be it. Honestly, it feels like starting over, though. I must have shanked well over half the balls I tried to WW. Contact point is much more out in front. I was hoping I wouldn't need to make such a radical swing plane adjustment in order to get just a little more topspin.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    eForehand with a WW finish can work just fine, but it needs tons of practice to zoom in on the height of the ball going out.
    W forehand with higher rackethead speeds can work fine, if you can provide the rackethead speed everytime, and you loop the ball more with slower speed than eForehand.
    I like the repeatability of the W forehand, where your errors only occur by hitting too low. Hit high, it goes in. With eForehand, I made mistakes with long balls AND shot gonig into the net.
    And I tend to lean onto my backfoot like spanish style, which makes the ball want to leave the racket at an upward trajectory.
     
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  6. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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  7. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    You don't need to. If you get below the ball but don't open your racquet face with a OTS finish you will generate more topspin without hitting a lob.

    I have hit with several people that hit a pretty heavy ball and they don't use a WW finish. I have hit with others who use a WW finish - and they don't hit heavy. Spin is generated mostly from racquet speed..in that a regular finish hit with heavy racquet speed will create more spin then a WW hit with mediocre speed.
     
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  8. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLYCZJRb0IM

    This guy talks about adding some spin to an eastern forehand.. I know what some posters are thinking they could kill this guy.

    I on the otherhand think he is pretty awesome for a 60 year old guy and could beat a ton of players here.. Yeah its not flashy but basic forehand can have topspin.
     
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  9. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    It's an illusion that the WW swing is flatter and players brush somehow flat over the ball. it just looks like this because the racket gets closed after contact and finishes low.

    the racket face gets closed after contact, but is vertical at contact. they all swing up a lot.

    here is fed. his swing looks a little flatter, but he basically swings up half a meter from just before to just after contact (the brushing up is quite late, esp. with federer who doesn't have a real loop like roddick or so but rather drops the racket head before lifting it up a lot).

    [​IMG]

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us


    Players don't magically generate topspin by closing the racket or something. all the spin comes from the upward plane.
     
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  10. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    here is nole doing the same even on a high ball (where you usually swing a little flatter).

    if you just watch frame 1 and 3 it looks like he swings flat and the spin in generated by brushing flat over the ball.

    however if you watch the frame 2 before the ww goes down again you see that the racket is nearly over the head and he swung up at least 2 to 2 1/2 feet. spin comes from swinging up. the adcantage of the ww is that you can swing up very steeply in a short time because you use the forearm pronation. thus you need much less time and space to execute a heavy spin.

    [​IMG]

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us
     
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  11. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    It sounds like you're using the front of your shoulder muscle to give the arm a rising motion. Try using the side of your shoulder muscle to raise the arm, and contact the ball not quite so far in front of you.

    For an exaggerated idea of what I'm talking about, youtube a video of Rod Laver hitting his heavy-topspin continental forehand.
     
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  12. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Nice images - but I don't think you are following the conversation. I am talking about the uppercut of the swing - when is say it is flatter. This is what the OP is talking about too.

    Yes because of the doornob twist of the hand or the WW wipe action the racquet at the end of the swing moves up very quickly (and thus the shanks) on a Fed forehand but the "upper cut" of the swing is remarkably low on a Fed forehand. His hand does not drop that far below the ball.

    Fed's rally ball is remarkable because it has very little 'upper cut' and a ton of the WW effect - and of course its hit with almost an eastern grip..

    Most other pros use a slightly more western grip - upper cut more on a rally ball and then use the WW..

    No one thinks its magic - but the upper cut of Fed's swing is less. Yes the racquet moves violently near the end of the swing but that's because he is turning the racquet over. By twisting his hand he moves the racquet HEAD from below the ball to well above it - sure. But his hand was able to stay fairly close to the level of the ball.

    What you want to look at is how much lower his hand gets then the ball. This is how you can measure the upper cut of the swing.

    Just imagine you trace the movement of his hand and ignore the movement of his racquet. If it went way below the ball and finish way above - that's a very uppercut swing. You would be swinging more "up" and less "through."


    The racquet is moving up - sure. But his swing isn't that much of an uppercut. That's the whole point of this thread from the OP. <g>

    I don't think it's useful to think of that as 'swinging up' because Fed is swinging along a fairly flat plane (there is some uppercut to his swing) and then turning his hand over.

    Swinging up is better thought about when you get your HAND well below the ball and then swing up. The so called 'advantage" of the WW forehand is exactly what the poster is talking about..

    Your hand is moving through the court (the extension) a great deal on a Federer forehand. Yes the racquet head of course has to move from low to high to generate any topspin at all.

    But for the OP he can achieve more topspin by swinging through and more up (more of an uppercut) without using the twisting WW action if he likes.

    There is more then one way to skin a cat.. You can generate topspin with very little twisting action.. (albeit not as much as combining the WW action with an uppercut)..

    Pete
     
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  13. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    it doesn't matter if the arm moves flat or steep. you don't get more forward momentum because the arm travels more through the court.

    all that matters is the path of the sweetspot at the moment of CONTACT (thus it's not all that important to get really deep under the ball). Whether those vector is composed of a flat arm and steep racket swing or other way round doesn't matter.

    all that matters is the vector of the sweetspot in the moment of contact and that is steeeep:D. with federer as with every other player. I would asume that federers sweetspot will go up at least 35° if not more in the moment of contact.
     
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  14. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Ummm... because he is moving his racquet much faster than you?
     
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  15. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    It still matters. Yes the racquet head moves determines the spin potential. So physics is physics.

    I could build a machine that uses a total eastern grip serve that pancake serves the ball 150mph. That doesn't tell the player HOW to serve correctly though.

    The serve features the racquet cutting through the air sideways and then pronating just before contact..

    No its not all that matters. What matters is how you achieve a Federer like forehand. From a descriptive standpoint how would you tell someone to hit a Federer forehand.

    It's not accurate to tell them to swing up at the ball - the normal person would get their racquet well BELOW the ball and swing straight up at the ball.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVNia4A9BTM&NR=1&feature=fvwp

    Look at how Fed's hand barely gets below the ball..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wtrk-y24hNY&feature=relmfu

    Serena's swing features far more uppercut and far less turning the hand over..

    Can you see how Fed's swing looks "flatter" then Serena's? This is a different issue then if the racquet head moves in a violent upward path.. It of course DOES to generate the topspin.
     
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  16. Sreeram

    Sreeram Professional

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    Guys, I use lot of wrist in my FH for topsin. I am very consistent and can hit deep or shot based on my wrist motion. I hold SW grip. I have strong wrist. But I still feel using a wrist for topspin is not right, and I am trying to hit topsin by low to high action nowadays keeping my wrist still.
    Do you think at 3.5 I need to stop using wrist? I dont know why I am trying to cut my wrist movement but I feel if I can learn to produce same spin by low to high movement then I can get more power and put my full swing on the ball.

    I take big swing at the ball but somehow I feel my wrist is taking away that swing when it comes into action for inputing topsin.
     
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  17. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I'm with this take on it.
     
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  18. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    BTW
    I would not teach anyone federers or nadals FH. both are very extreme moves (lot of wrist, straight arm, extreme spin) which need perfect timing and footwork or you will have shanking galore (see fed now when he gets a little slower).

    I would teach a more simple version like novaks or davydenkos FH. you still get a fantastic FH which is much easier to do.

    I mean this discussion "which FH would you recommend for me" comming from 3.5 players is an absolute joke. does it really make a difference for a 3.5 player?
    get some fundamentals first.

    that discussion like "novaks FH sucks you need feds FH to win your 3.5 tournament would be the same as discussing whether you upgrade your prius with a ferrari or a laborghini motor.

    You could give a 3.5 player the exactly same strokes of nadal or federer and he would get double bageled by santoro because the foundation (in case of the prius the chassis and in case of the tennis player the footwork, balance and athleticsm not even talking about tactics and mental toughness here).
     
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  19. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Ok, he lost me here.
    Other than the straight arm being a little tougher, IMO both Fed and Nadal's Fhs are very simple and straight forward, with the shanks and mistakes coming from facing tough balls without giving in at times. You take a full cut when facing a monster shot and you will miss from time to time.
    No reason you can't hit your Fh very sim to either of the guys, relative to your level.
     
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  20. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Nah don't agree at all...two points.

    1) Fed's forehand has an unsually straight swing path for a WW forehand. Will Hamiliton will admit this - and considers Fed to be an exception. Most players who use a WW forehand will hit it with a STEEPER swing path - so they kind of 'swing into" the WW motion.

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

    Look near the end of the video where he explains the swing path bit. Fed's swing path is not very steep..(4:40) Many Agassi style forehand users use a steeper path then Fed does, IMHO.

    2) Hitting heavy topspin is just harder in general then hitting a flatter ball. Whether you just use a steeper swing path from the start OR use the WW motion to really make your racquet move steeply up at the end of it - its harder to do then hitting the ball fairly flat and solid.

    This is because the relationship of where your hand is and the ball is more direct with a flatter forehand, IMHO. So adding topspin makes your shots more reliable when they are well struck - but they are harder to strike until you get the hang of it. Will believes that it will take a while till get it down - I tend to agree with him.

    Where I disagree is that I think WW and the regular forehand are on a continumn. Much like a kick or flat serve you can dial up numerous variations between the two. Most "flat' serves have a degree of slice and top on em - and you hit very spinny slow moving serves or pretty quick kick serves that have more top then normal flat serves (actually you can make a case that Pete Sampras did this)..
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2011
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  21. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    I agree that 'wrist' action' in Fed's forehand is very tough. It's much easier to rainbow the racquet using mostly your shoulder.. Fed does both of course (as does every pro I think) but Fed is using alot more wrist and wrist flexibility then normal guys - hence the flatter swing path before he really begins the WW action..
     
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  22. spun_out

    spun_out Rookie

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    Is there a special reason why you want to hit a WW fh with an eastern fh grip? It would be much easier with a sw grip. What Federer does makes perfect sense, at least the way I understand it: the combination of eastern fh grip and WW fh enables him to still take the ball early, unlike Nadal, while getting lots of spin. More extreme your grip gets, the further in front the wiping action takes place, making it much harder to take early the ball that bounces near you.
     
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