Extreme Western Forehand

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by JHao, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. JHao

    JHao New User

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    I hate how I'm asking for help on my first post here, I've just been a silent spectator here for months.

    But it's off-season right now for school tennis and I've been thinking about developing a extreme western forehand, please don't discourage me from using it, as I DO know I want to use it. The trouble is, I can't hit deep enough, most of my balls land short in the service box or very shallow in the midcourt. Do I need more shoulder rotation or what?
     
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  2. Lucky57

    Lucky57 Rookie

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    with extreme western, you can really smack the ball as hard as you want (exaggeration) as long as you're adding a lot of topspin, which should be easy with the grip. also be sure to contact the ball more out in front.
     
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  3. JHao

    JHao New User

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    Yeah, I'm getting a lot of topspin but no depth, I'm not sure if it's because I'm not going through it enough or what
     
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  4. justsomeecho

    justsomeecho Banned

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    its because a pure western grip takes away pace (which puts the ball deep) for spin (which makes the ball come down faster), so you're balls are going to land shorter.
    just hit it harder, and more in front, and dont put too much effort or thought into putting in spin, the grip makes sure you have all the topspin you need if you have good contact.
    personally (i know you dont want to hear it) i would say you should switch to something less closed if your balls are landing short.
     
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  5. JHao

    JHao New User

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    So hitting the net and short balls are because of me not hitting the ball out far enough?
     
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  6. Lucky57

    Lucky57 Rookie

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    it's probably because you're not getting enough lift on the ball. don't be afraid to be a moonballer when you're learning the grip. make sure to get a good amount of net clearance so normally if you hit it flat, the ball would sail out. however trust the topspin to bring those high balls down to the ground.
     
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  7. BullDogTennis

    BullDogTennis Hall of Fame

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    make sure you hit the ball out in front! if you dont you'll end of getting really awkward shots with this grip. (you'll end up hitting short/net)
     
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  8. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Dude, I know you want to use a Western, but come on, if your balls are landing so short then you may need a grip adjustment. Don't try to use a certain grip just for the sake of using it, what works for others may not work for you.

    I know that the full-western is becoming more and more popular on the ATP tour, but you have to take into account just how hard those guys hit the ball.

    Hitting too short is a cardinal sin in tennis. It doesn't matter how much spin you put on that ball, if it lands inside the service line then your opponents will pound them for winners all day long.

    JMO.
     
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  9. EricW

    EricW Professional

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    The more extreme the grip the more physical the swing will become. If you cannot maintain depth, you could be suffering from a number of problems. If I had to guess, I'd say that your strength and coordination aren't at the level needed to handle the swing path change. Using the western is worthless if you cannot swing fast enough while maintaining control of your movement.

    If this isn't the problem, your swing path is most likely similar to your old swing path: Too flat for your current grip. You must have a steeper swing path with the western grip in comparison to less extreme grips. The more extreme the grip the steeper the path required to utilize the grip effectively, or the result will be a shallow spinny ball.
     
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  10. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    One idea is to do a shadow swing of your desired forehand grip. Starting from takeback and closing the racquet face, follow the stroke until the racquet head is square. Then stop. That should give you a good idea of where you need to make contact with the ball.

    Likely you're not setting up and swinging through at the right time (likely a bit late). Hopefully that bit of advice can help you out.
     
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  11. soyizgood

    soyizgood G.O.A.T.

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    Another thing is in your pursuit of topspin you might be brushing your stroke before making any contact with the ball. I've done this before and it results in unpredictable pace, spin, and control. For me, I decided to eventually flatten my shot. But in my opinion you're probably better off swinging through the ball and then finishing through the shot (let your stroke motion naturally generate topspin). You'll get good topspin as well as improved depth if practiced enough.

    OP, are you using a double bend forehand by any chance? Do you hit from a semi-open/closed/open stance mostly? Long/short/medium swing? Any info on your stroke will help you get better advice.
     
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  12. EricW

    EricW Professional

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    Read my previous post. Too flat of a swing path could be his technical error. Further flattening of the swing path will result in an even more shallow ball.
     
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  13. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Eric I am not jiving with your explanation. A steeper swing path?

    Before I post examples that might mellow out your explanation, I thought I would see if this just needed more explanation.

    Man, do we make the Western grip a mystery to players. If the Western grip needed all of this strength and coordination, why would we ever put children in these grips.

    The Western grip also draws energy from the ball hitting further in front. I am getting a bit spun around because of all the years I have seen various grips, instruction, uses of the grip, swing paths, etc... Please go on.
     
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  14. [ GTR ]

    [ GTR ] Semi-Pro

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    If you're using a more steeper swing path with a western grip, wouldn't you shank all day? I thought it was less extreme grips which need a more steeper swing path for topspin..
     
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  15. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    I have an Extreme Western - been using it for over 20 years - in addition to some of the suggestions above, make sure you are using your legs - when my balls land short I am often just swinging with my upper body
     
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  16. Pet

    Pet Semi-Pro

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    I donĀ“t know why make a western forehand with flat swing if you could get same or better results with an eastern or semiwestern grip and more loopy swing.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
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  17. JHao

    JHao New User

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    Thanks for your help. Yeah, I'm using a kind of double bended forehand, there's not severe bend in my elbow though. I hit from an open stance and I have what you could say a "medium swing". Should where I follow through on my left side determine anything?
     
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  18. EricW

    EricW Professional

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    Actually, many players who switch to the western find it natural to use a very small double bend angle, resulting in a contact point less out in front then the normal contact point for various other grips used correctly. This is not to say that you can't have a western that's hit extremely far out in front (Nadal, Verdasco), but this requires a straight arm. In my experience, I've seen mostly very small double-bends with westerns, and the occasional close-to or completely straight arm double-bend. There's many more variables, but the most important for contact point are double-bend angle and grip.

    As for the steeper swing path: Next time you're rallying with someone, try making your grip more extreme but at the same time keep all other aspects of your swing constant. Because of the more closed face of the racquet, the ball will have more spin and land more shallow in your opponents court. You must use utilize a steeper swing path, get under the ball more, get more lift, however you want to say it in order to maintain depth with the western in comparison to a less extreme grip. What makes the western attractive to many players is that it almost locks you into this steeper swing path, making it easier to maintain form and create heavy topspin. If you change your grip and nothing else, all you're doing is closing the face more. The reason why different grips produce such different responses is the swing path and many other things that must change with each grip change.

    Although I partially disagree with it, children are taught the western grip so they can handle a normal rally ball which is around shoulder level for them. When you watch someone around 10 or 12 using a western they will generally still be hitting with a flat swing path around shoulder level. If they stick with the game, by the time they're of adult height they should be strong enough to handle the western correctly.
     
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  19. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I always though the Hawaiian grip was "best" for clay courts where the ball bounces really high.

    If you adopt the Hawaiian, you might want to use the continental (the other side of the racquet face) when you don't have time to setup, such as hitting service returns or taking very low balls.
     
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  20. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I shortened your post because I largely don't buy it. I think you are making mountains out of mole hills. The western grip has several variations in swing paths depending on the height of the ball and what the player is trying to do. Are you saying the Western grip is married to one swing path, otherwise it is wrong?

    I have difficulty in seeing how a steeper path increases topspin and depth without other major considerations in technique. I have trouble seeing how a closed racquet face produces more topspin that is more material then other aspects of the swing. I am seeing that the lift of whatever is more important then the lift contributed from your legs. I am of the camp that as a player progresses, variation of the swing path will emerge allowing a player to do different things with the ball for various reasons.

    I thought I would post some videos for clarification. Please tell me what your are seeing.

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid901758450?bclid=900747051&bctid=900672399

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8AJYfkJ4hc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVTmGJ7pFzU&NR=1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_jLn6zN3cA&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQxsL6qs2r0&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lzWl1TZQzU&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zE5TuMcFtI&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbQPwqJTXCo&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0L1L6Aqqwg&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_2M2nd1ZHA&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IumE7ItXqC8&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVu9-c_sH98&feature=related
     
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  21. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Some other people in this thread have suggested hitting with a straight arm, which isn't a bad idea if you can pull it off (hit the weight room!). That will allow you to hit through the ball more / generate more pace. John Yandell alludes to this point in this article about Nadal's forehand.

    What hitting arm position do you use?
     
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  22. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    We discussed this a little bit in the windshield wiper forehand thread. I agree with you 100% that a grip is NOT married to a particular swing path (and there is plenty of evidence, much of which you have provided, to prove this point), but is it safe to say that, given a specific grip, X swing path is more natural / comfortable than Y swing path? That's essentially my position.
     
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  23. EricW

    EricW Professional

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    It doesn't really, I was simply correcting your assumption that all westerns are hit farther in front in comparison to less extreme grips. In my experience, for the majority of sound forehands I've seen, westerns are hit slightly closer to the body than other less extreme grips. (Assuming the technique is modern)


    Comparisons must deal with one variable at a time or they become worthless.

    The windshield wiper forehand is the steep swing-path I was talking about. It's much more pronounced with the western.

    Uncharacteristically flat forehands from Nadal. Yes you can do that but then what's the point of hitting with a western grip?

    I'm just talking about the normal rally forehand, obviously it's different with shoulder level forehands. Whens the last time you saw someone try to windshield-wiper a shoulder-height forehand and not shank it 10 feet long?
     
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  24. EricW

    EricW Professional

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    I agree, saying I believe that each grip is married to a particular swing-path is an example of the straw-man logical fallacy. Misrepresenting my position as more extreme and thus harder to defend.
     
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  25. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Man, lately posting here feels like work. I might have ot put in for a two-week vacation. Maybe it is me. Maybe all the information I have learned over the years on tennis is all make believe.

    I post a guy hitting in the open stance in frickin 4500 BC, with little to no camera technology showing the Western grip, the open stance, the rap around the neck, and I get "so this is your example? This is what you are basing your opinion on?"

    Ahhhhhhh, yeah?

    It is just amazing how we can over complicate an already complicated sport! If players would just concentrate on increasing the value they are getting at the contact point, they would increase their enjoyment of tennis tremendously.

    The main part of the swing is not the finish. It is the four foot (give or take) area before and after contact with the ball. Two feet in front of contact and two feet after contact. Obviously, the better you get the more refined that distance can be and the more you can do with the ball.

    The purpose of the step into the ball is to lengthen this or stabilize this one area to increase your chances in meeting the ball cleanly and on time.

    When a player breaks off their stroke too soon in this short distance with such a fast swing, you dramatically increase your chances of hitting a dud for a shot.
     
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  26. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    So are you saying I read it wrong? Or maybe you just dont explain yourself so clearly. How am I suppose to read this? Are you expecting me to read your mind?

    Where is the steeper swing path? I want you to tell me. Is Nadal locked into a steeper swing path?

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid901758450?bclid=900747051&bctid=900672399
     
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  27. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    In response to the original post, I would think that like, Nadal, you could flatten out your stroke to hit more depth/pace, even using a western grip, or you an really loop the stroke to get a heavy stroke - if you want it loopy, why don't you hit higher over the net for more depth.
     
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  28. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Er I meant my evidentiary comment as a compliment. I was trying to say you had done your homework and that I agreed w/what you had to say.
     
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  29. EricW

    EricW Professional

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    Bill,

    When you choose the western grip for your forehand, you most definitely are not marrying a windshield-wiper motion. You can vary swing path, forearm pronation/supination, and many other aspects of the swing in order to change the result. However, the only sensible reason to choose to hit with the western grip is if you plan to hit the majority of forehands with the the windshield wiper swing path. Calling it a "steep" windshield wiper swing-path would be redundant because it is steep by definition. The more extreme the grip the more pronounced this motion becomes.

    Again, you can find 1000s of examples that back up your claim that each grip isn't married to a particular swing-path; but, what would you be accomplishing? I agree with you, and this is how people add variation to their game without constantly switching grips. However, the only reason to pick the western grip is if you plan to hit the majority of your forehands with the steeper motion characteristic of the western grip.

    If you want to drive straight through every forehand, it would be advisable to stay away from the western. If Nadal hit all his forehands in that fashion, would he be using the western grip?
     
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  30. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Ahhhh, now we are getting somewhere. Now, is it the swing path (low to high, static racquet head position) or the extra acceleration of a rising racquet face contributing to more topspin? We have acceleration from the low to high swing path with a somewhat static racquet face, and now, we introduce an upward rotating racquet face. Two vectors coming together against a ball.

    A player is more able because of the leverage they have with their palm more under the handle to rotate the racquet face up giving them the ability to increase spin on the ball. However, this has nothing does not translate to more depth. A low to high swing produces collision and topspin, a rotating racquet face increases the spin on the ball. Steeper does not translate to farther necessarily. I would put more money on the low to high vector that is needed to improve depth then the rotating racquet face up the back of the ball that certainly increases spin.

    A player with a Western grip can swing pretty darn close to a player with an Eastern grip concerning the swing path of the racquet - low to high. Most players, no matter the grip, come from below the ball and swing up. This will produce a certain amount of topspin without considering other variables.
     
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  31. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    That is why the Western grip is not as versatile (so they say) compared to the SW.

    The SW grip gives you the best of all worlds to a point. I can swing a traditional low to high swing (swing path) and extend. That will produce a good ball with plenty of top and pace.

    I can also add a windshield wipe up the ball along with my low to high swing to increase spin. The SW grip is less vulnerable to a low ball and slightly more vulnerable to a high ball especially if I dont use the wiper motion also.

    What I am allowed to do is vary the spin I give my opponents on different balls. Mind you, I might not be able to get as much extra spin compared to a Western grip. However, that isn't my goal.

    My goal is to mix spin and pace.

    Now, that we clarified what you meant by swing path, I agree. Still though we have our depth issue. Adding a rotating face does not automatically mean more depth. It is the low to high vector that contributes more to this.

    For the case of lift, it is a combination or timing, legs, and a rotating racquet face that will aid the lift category. However, I believe it is more in the legs then anything else as it uses angular momentum.

    So I think we are clearing this up and coming into agreement.
     
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  32. EricW

    EricW Professional

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    What exactly do you mean by "Adding a rotating face"? Do you mean forearm pronation during the swing and through contact?
     
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  33. JHao

    JHao New User

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    So in short:

    Focus on contact point?

    Or did I just completely miss the whole arguement
     
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  34. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yes. That is what I meant.
     
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  35. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    Hey BB, didn't you post some stills of little Bill Johnston's full western forehand from the 1920's?I went back to the windshield wiper thread and I can't seem to find them?
     
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  36. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    But, but, but, but.......... we need to know what's better, Bill, one handed or two handed backhands? :)
     
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  37. EricW

    EricW Professional

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    I didn't say adding the pronation meant more depth. In fact, I completely agree with everything you said here. As a result of the extra pronation, you must add more of the low to high vector in order to maintain depth. This is what I meant by a steeper swing path. Try hitting straight through a forehand with this forearm pronation and the best you could hope for is a shallow ball, but more likely a shot into the bottom of the net.
     
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  38. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Hi JHao, sorry we forgot about you. :) Kidding. Yes, your contact with the ball is the most important part of the swing. Without appropriate contact (what you are wanting to do), the ball will do things you aren't expecting it to do.

    If you are going to use a Western grip, you can learn how to swing the racquet with a low to high swing and add a rotating face on top of that. Getting the racquet to go through the ball with whatever grip you choose will give you the ability to hit with depth. It is the plow through part.

    The neat thing about the Western grip is you can also increase the spin on the ball on top of what you can get from just a low to high swing. This means from a topspin perpective, you have options. The Western grip also gives you more opportunity to do things to a high ball.

    Because you have great leverage to introduce two vectors of a swing into a ball using the Western grip plus your ability to hit the ball more in front, this grip had the nickname (although I dont hear it often anymore) as the POWER GRIP and rightly so.

    Your contact point and angle of your swing path needs to go through the ball more for more depth. You can swing pretty hard through the ball by adding that rotating face up the back of the ball called the windshield wiper technique. Using both in combination should help you.
     
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  39. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Perfect, we are fine.
     
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  40. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    Nothing wrong with the Western grip, allows you to hit with an amount of topspin you just can't with other grips, but keep in mind, your 'athletic height', (ie, the height at which you stand while playing tennis), is going to be very low indeed, because bending your knees is the only solution to low skidding balls with that grip, see Djokovic, hewitt and Nadal for example.

    While this can be tiring, the upside is that you get even more potential spin.
     
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  41. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Oh definetly. I can get a much better windshield wiper motion going with a Western then a SW only because my palm is more under the handle. We are very much in agreement with that.
     
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  42. JHao

    JHao New User

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    Ah. I see, thanks for the great input. So merely the low to high motion with plow creates depth?
     
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  43. Pet

    Pet Semi-Pro

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    Bill, do you think that generally a western forehand needs less loopy swing path?
     
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  44. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    To keep things simple, yes. Just make sure you are not brushing too much if you want depth. So your swing path will be in essence flatter. If you want to put more spin on the ball, pronate the forearm/hand to raise the racquet face across the back of the ball.

    When you get good at it, this will produce that reasonably arched ball with a diving topspin affect.

    I actually touched on (although I am a bit apprehensive to dive into it) using the more concave swing path with a windshield wiper motion. When done right (body motion involved), the flight of the ball is a flatter arc (not to flat just a little less), has a dive down affect as usual for topspin, however, instead of hopping up, it behaves like a slice and skoots or shoots off the court. Wicked shot if you can put that in your topsin mix. A lot of players think the ball hit a pebble or rock on the court and have this puzzled look thinking it was going to come off the court higher.

    I remember a guy I played with frequently would belittle me because the ball didn't do what it should have done. He would walk around the spot where the ball bounced looking for a twig or rock or something. Then look at me as if it was a lucky shot. The next time I gave him that ball, he would say "how do you do that, that is impossible given this and that, you're not doing something right." I was cracking up inside.

    :) Maybe another day.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
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  45. Pet

    Pet Semi-Pro

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    Could make the pronate forearm an inconsistant forehand?
     
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  46. EricW

    EricW Professional

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    The only way to hit a windshield wiper forehand is to pronate the forearm. Pick up a racquet and do a shadow swing and you'll understand.
     
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  47. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    Just wondering, don't take this the wrong way, but do you understand what pronate means?, (There is a lot of confusion over all the jargon we use in tennis).
     
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  48. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    You are the man!!!!

    I gathered you figured out that two vectors coming together on a collision course with an object might need some timing. Yes, it is just a matter of practice.

    Now, others may not agree with me, nevertheless, when I teach the forehand, I do not introduce the windshield wiper until their is some strength in the arm and until they properly go through the ball and hit out in front. The swing is much like Nadals swing above when he is practicing. Very natural, very relaxed, use of the body, footwork, semi-open and open stance, etc...

    Once I feel a player is getting it, I bring in the windshield wiper technique. Now, we are trying to increase the revolutions of the ball for a heavier ball. Couple that with better balance and a stronger swing and we got the makings of a very strong forehand.

    But yes, consistency can be an issue at first.

    The windshield wiper affect is performed like this:

    1. Stand in front of a wall facing it.

    2. With racquet in hand, and your hand layed back, move the racquet up straight in front of you with the face of the racquet that would hit the ball facing the wall. The racquet is held up like you would a stop sign facing the wall.

    3. Now, pronate or turn your palm towards you. That is the windshield wiper. You can exagerate this by supinating first and then pronating to bring it back. A low to high swing with that produces a lot of topspin when timed right. soe players crank it down through supination and then bring it back across the ball through pronation. I would wait till you get stronger for this though.

    Be careful of the tendency to over do it. You dont need to torque it so hard with all your might. A little goes a long way, so try to do it through a little force just above relaxation. If you torque it too much for your strength, you can really screw up your arm.

    In fact, when I was taking my USPTA test, several x-college players told me how bad the torquing hurt their arms. One had tohave surgery. Doubt you will ever go that far but yournever know. Just be reasonable, you dont need to torque it that much.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
    #48
  49. Pet

    Pet Semi-Pro

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    #49
  50. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
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    No it did not...on second thought...the beginnings of pronation happened near contact with the majority of pronation happening after contact. When we say pronate, we are saying that this is the direction you should go in to execute the windshield wiper technique. Not that you should be in full pronation.

    Watch the racquet head. It starts to rotate upward prior to contact. It is this short and small amount of rotation that I am talking about. That is why you dont need to torque it. We are not talking about how far up as in distance. We are talking about the direction. As it goes up it is gaining momentum and that momentum and the 4 milliseconds the ball is on the strings are are all you needs to put extra top on the ball.

    You do not need to do much. Dont get confused the after affects and its contribution to the ball.

    Here is a different look:

    http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=p3iWVRe9NKY&watch_response

    Remember you can control this with more or less to get a different effect out of the ball.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
    #50

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