Elbow bend in forehand

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by bolgao, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. bolgao

    bolgao New User

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    Hey everyone. I just watched a video from VTA that Heath just put out. In the video, Heath says that on the forehand your arm should be completely straight. He says that any bend in the elbow on the forehand will cause you to hit it late and behind the body - he does a demo of this. And then he says that a bend in the elbow on the forehand is like doing a bicep curl - which he can curl about 45 pounds. But that a straight armed forehand is like a bench press - and he can bench over two hundred pounds.

    Does this make sense to you guys? Is a bend in the elbow on the forehand really like "curling 35 pounds" while a straight armed forehand is like "benching 200 pounds?" And do you all think that every forehand you hit with a bend in the elbow will be late?

    Just curious if this makes sense to people and if anyone else had seen the video.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    Don't have a VTA account, but it sounds like he's talking about hitting the ball in front of you (i.e. getting the racquet into the correct contact zone.) If you're late, your arm is going to be cramped. If you're hitting the ball properly in front of you, then your elbow will be springing into the ball.
     
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  3. paulfreda

    paulfreda Hall of Fame

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    This is a clear overgeneralization. I do not know what idea he is trying to teach, but a bent elbow is part of nearly all pro FH technique today.
    Two points;
    1/ The straight arm FH was very popular 40 yes ago when the grips used were Continental. Then hitting away from your body was good technique.
    And you can still do this with a W or SW but it is not as effective.
    2/ Hitting late has the advantage of being able to impart more power as near the body you get the weight of your body more in to the shot. Think about a punch. If his face is just in front of your shoulder, you will likley knock him out. Farther away, the arm must be decellerating because it must stop once the arm is straight.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2007
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  4. bolgao

    bolgao New User

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    Thanks for the reply. I have the same take on it as you (more body weight into the shot with a bent elbow), which is why I was confused. And the bicep curl/bench press analogy makes no sense to me, while your "punch" analogy makes perfect sense to me.

    In the VTA video, Heath shows how he is transforming a bent arm pro player into a straight arm player, and how the bent arm caused him to hit it late every single time. I thought it strange because Djokovic, for example, has a very bent elbow on the forehand but hits it well out in front through torso rotation.
     
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  5. Messarger

    Messarger Hall of Fame

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    Another analogy.

    When you slap someone, your elbow is usually bend. Try slapping someone with a straight arm, it feels awkard and un natural.
     
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  6. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    It sounds like a bad analogy to me, but you can get more power with extension of the arm. However, whether you hit with a bent arm or straight arm *at contact* has nothing to do with whether or not you are late. There is plenty of video of pros hitting with bent and straight arms. Many pros do both. One thing pros don't do which some recreational players will is straighten their arm out on the backswing.
     
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  7. paulfreda

    paulfreda Hall of Fame

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    Ok, after thinking about this a little more and tinkering on the wall with some hits I understand what idea your coach/advisor/teacher [Heath] is trying to impart.

    Tennis is a complex game and hitting a ball well has several components to it.
    For example, to get power there are at least 4 ways to do it; frame weight, frame stiffness, lower tension, and the player's swing. Advanced players like to be in control so the 4th one is what they try to emphasize using low power frames [flexy, high tension, and headlight].

    For topsin in recent decades the mantra has been strong [SW, W, etc] grips and swinging fast low to high. Many have added lots of wrist and a windshield wiper style using a bent arm. But another way which is highly instructive is to nearly straight arm the shot with the frame beginning very low, face slightly closed, way way back and swinging forward going low to high very gradually. If done well it will generate very good top. This isolates the contribution low to high has in topspin generation and shows that wrist, forearm motion or even a fast swing is not needed to generate topspin.

    This is a nearly flat swing and one reason it works well is that it compresses the ball [rather than brushing up behind it] and thus grips it to give more friction and thus resulting in good top.

    Try it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2007
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  8. ho

    ho Semi-Pro

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    true, it's called PUSH stroke, it does not need to do a lot of forearm pronation to create topspin, since the ball stay "LONGTIME" on the string bed, a mild pronation works as well as lot of movement of wrist and foream as in the PULL stroke. Most of PUSH stroke generated by using a nearly fixed straight arm, from the begining to the end. Sure with straight arm, you do not have fast core rotation, hard to control as with bend arm, but with a core rotation as the WHOLE UNIT (body and arm), you can generate more power and easier to control than pull stoke.
     
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  9. ananda

    ananda Professional

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    if i am not mistaken, at the point of contact, if you are contacting in front of body, then the elbow will be fairly (but not completely) straightened out, with wrist co*ked.
    I have recently started hitting the ball in front of me (after studying fuzzyyellow videos), and the elbow is straightening out at contact .

    I just checked with videos of Fed. Quite straight.
    I also checked a video of Gonzales. It shows more bend, but its still relatively straightened out at contact.
    Possibly, Fed was hitting flatter, and Gonz more topspin. Or Fed was hitting further out.
     
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  10. ho

    ho Semi-Pro

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  11. habib

    habib Professional

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  12. tricky

    tricky Hall of Fame

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    What Ho said. :D
     
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  13. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    The straight arm doesn't seem crucial to the modern forehand. Federer tends to hit with a straight arm a lot, as does Nadal. But not all the time. Guys like Djoker are hitting a dangerous modern forehand with the double-bent arm.

    So the two top players hit with a straighter arm, but I don't really think that's the key to their success, though it might play a small role. I think the straighter arm allows you to take the ball a little earlier and get a little more racquet head speed, but I'm not sure that it is worth the timing tradeoff for a lot of people.
     
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  14. bolgao

    bolgao New User

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    Interesting. On VTA Heath says that any bend in the arm will cause you to hit the ball late. He says the difference between a straight arm on the forehand and a bent arm is the the same difference as bicep curling (maximum 40 pounds) and bench pressing (200+) pounds.

    I find it hard to believe that Djokovic is hitting late on every forehand because of a bent arm, but Heath is a coach on the tour and he says that any player who hits with a bent arm is hitting late and losing tons of power.
     
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  15. jasoncho92

    jasoncho92 Professional

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    Agassi *cough*
     
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  16. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I'll give Heath the benefit of the doubt. There's more than one way to hit the forehand. Perhaps Heath believes you maximize the power when the arm is straight at contact using the technique he's teaching. By this definition, if you hit it before your arm is straight, you're late.

    On the other hand, there's no question that many of the top 50 players in the world hit with the double bend. As mentioned, Agassi had/has a great forehand, and he hits the traditional double-bend. It's impossible to test the hypothetical that he would have been even better if he learned to straighten his arm out on contact.

    I say try out a technique if it makes sense to you. At the least, Federer and Nadal show that very high level forehands can be hit with the arm almost straight on contact.
     
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  17. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    there are 5 guys in the owrld who hit straight arm forehands:

    federer
    Nadal
    srichipan
    philipoussis
    verdasco

    now here's a list of players who don't

    Tursunov
    Gonzales
    Sampras
    Agassi
    Djokovic
    Davydenko
    Safin
    Blake

    pretty much everyone else in the world

    This Heath guy is just pursuing a private vendetta against Jeff Counts, (JCo872), owner and operater of Hi-Tech Tennis:


    as you can see if you read through this thread:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=112159&page=5

    ^^^^^
    this BTW is the greatest thread of all time, all the owners of various sites who regularly post here just laying into each other, so much fun to read through ;)
     
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  18. ananda

    ananda Professional

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  19. bolgao

    bolgao New User

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    Hilarious!! A Battle Royale of the heavyweights.
     
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  20. ho

    ho Semi-Pro

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