Flat Forehand (put aways)

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by rk_sports, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. rk_sports

    rk_sports Hall of Fame

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    I struggle with hitting a flat ball when I get a sitter which is above the net (near NML/service line or when someone floats a defensive ball)

    As of now, I just try to go for angle to get another shot ball except this time the opponent is out of position and I hit another angle the other side to win the point.
    But as you can see, this makes me hit 2 shots and assuming the ball coming back is shot (sometimes its not the case)

    (Funny thing is I use SHB and have no trouble hitting flat balls off it)

    When I try to hit with a flatter trajectory, either I hit into the bottom of the net and on correction, hit them out :confused:

    I play with a semi-western grip and would like some pointers to hit a flat ball. Also, looking for ways to practice it..drills etc.
     
  2. David Backhand

    David Backhand New User

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    I have the exact same problem! In fact i have so little confidence in that shot that i hardly go for it at all. When i get a sitter i will most likely hit a short topspin to one of the corners and go to the net.

    But last wednesday i had a practice session with my pro and i asked to work on that shot specifically. Here's what worked for me:
    1. Do not change grip (i also play semy western)
    2. Take the shot higher (around shoulder or a little below)
    3. Dont rotate your waist. Keep chest towards the net. (I wear an "adidas" shirt - he said he wanted to be able to see the "adidas" logo on the chest throughout the shot)...
    4. Move forward through the shot. (That also helps to finish your shot standing closer to the net in case your opponent does get to it.)
    5. Do not try to hit it too hard. (I used to try to "blast it" - no control)

    After practicing those for a while, he started making me hit the same shot - but this time as drive volleys. Surprisingly, they weren't any harder to hit than regular putaways.

    Practicing all those things - i was able to hit putaways consistantly by the end of the session. Of course, next time i play a match - i'll miss them again, but thats the way it works, isnt it?
     
  3. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    To hit a flatter stroke, you need two things to happen:
    1) lowering the net clearance (because a flat ball doesn't fall as fast down);
    2) reducing the spin rate.

    You should also be able to hit a slightly faster shot because less of your energy is expelled in producing top spin.

    You achieve (1) mostly by flattening out your swing path. In other words, if you get your racket too low bellow your tennis ball, you'll make the ball climb too high in the air for the spin you intend to put on it. If your racket moves too vertically, so will the ball...

    For (2), you'd need to lessen the forward tilt of your string bed (make the racket less forward tilted at impact so that you hit more of the back of the ball and less of the upper edge). There are two main ways to do this.

    That can be done by altering slightly your preparation. As your forearm supinates (that opens the racket face gradually) naturally during the acceleration phase of your stroke, you should end your take back with the racket face parallel to the ground to get a closed faced at impact. If you want to get it less closed, say, almost to the point of being perpendicular to the ground, you can simply close it less in your take back. That's solution 1. The other solution is to alter your follow-through.

    If you have a high level forehand, you probably get your wrist joint involved in your stroke. To be very clear, what people call a "wrist lag" is what I have in mind. If you watch Federer, Nadal, Verdasco, Del Potro, or any other big forehand on the tour, you'll notice that this lag enables them to let their hand go around impact -- it's the nice late movement fans call the "wrist snap." That movement has the nice advantage of forcing your racket to stay further closed and to accelerate the ball even more. However, you can exaggerate components of it to get a loopier or a flatter ball, as desired -- and you do this by changing your follow-through. If you draw a nice rainbow (the usual WW forehand), you'll be increasing how vertical the ball flies once it leaves your strings, as well as its spin; if you finish your stroke more leveled with your contact point, the ball will fly more horizontally.

    If you watch how pros hit their shot, you'll notice no two shots are the same. However, their follow-through can be grouped in generally similar groups and each group corresponds to a different shot and a different intention. If you want to alter your shot, try to see how a player with similar strokes to you ends his shot when he hits the ball you want to hit -- and aim to end in a similar position... doing so will change how you swing at the ball without you having to worry about it.
     
  4. rk_sports

    rk_sports Hall of Fame

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    thanks for the tips guys, will try them out this week and see how it goes..
     
  5. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    I'm no teaching professional, but I'll share my experience with you.

    When striking a ball, you're exchanging kinetic energy with the ball and your racquet. To simplify things, imagine you have 100 units of energy and can apply them to two categories:
    1. Pace
    2. Spin
    Maybe for a rally ball, you want a nice balanced shot: 50 Pace and 50 Spin. Sometimes my swing path will be way too steep and I'll accidentally put like 90 into Spin and almost nothing into Pace and the ball doesn't even make it to the net ... other times I'll put too much Pace and not enough Spin and the ball flies long.



    [Let's assume your aim is true, obviously that's a factor too.]


    You've probably played Billiards before, right? Imagine the sweet spot on your racquet is the tip of the cue stick and the tennis ball is the cue ball. The path your racquet takes through the ball will determine the amount of pace and spin it has. If you want a really flat ball, drive through the middle of the ball like you would with a cue stick. I know for me, with so much going into footwork, prep, and the swing, I can sometimes forget the importance of the moment of impact, and the path I'm striking through the ball.



    Ostensibly, you can do this with any grip. The primary variable is the angle of the racquet face / relative to your swing path. Eastern is a little more open (making a high ball put away slightly harder, imo), SW is more closed (making a high ball put away slightly easier, imo). Alter your swing trajectory through the ball with the intent to flatten it out.


    I get the feeling like everything I just wrote is too abstract and might be toeing the line of worthlessness ... I'm going to stop talking now.
     
  6. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    I usually lift my racket shoulder and drop my off-shoulder so that my arm points more upward. Instead of brushing up on the ball, the topspin motion produces side-spin (the same kind as an opposite-hand sliced serve). Side-spin helps the ball travel more level, and gives a lower bounce that either skids or jumps to the side. That's for the down-the-line. For the cross-court, I do the same but "open" my racket face a bit. With a level racket that would send the ball up; with a raised arm it sends the ball cross-court.
     
  7. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    When I bowl I can only throw curve balls, never a straight ball. Same on my forehand no flat balls even if someone had a gun to my head. For years I struggled with the same shot but now I love hitting those floaters.

    I dont hit them flat ( did I mention the gun to my head??) but can still nail them. Call me crazy but I need some top to get them in.

    The trick is something I picked up from tennis channel and Roger Fed. Kind of combined the 2.

    On the show I think they called Tennis Academy or something like that they featured Nick Bolleteri and he was talking about the forehand and the follow through. Basically you drive forward with the wrist. Cant find the exact episode, but here is a vid that does mention what I am talking about as the 3rd followthrough. Also see the students hitting putaways in the background and they are hitting a bunch of spin:

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

    The other thing with the follow through is to use Feds trick of trying to see the ball through the strings at the back of the racket.

    Those 2 together feed each other and you get a controlled drive like flattening out the ball but with spin to bring it in the court.

    Maybe this is what you have in mind?

    Also I agree with Frank, there is a sidespin component to the modern forehand anyhow and that is what I hit on most forehand shots...top with sidespin. I get that with my sw grip on both forehands and backhands (which are mostly heavy spin though I do sometimes hit the backhand flat by accident)

    Said another way if you are hitting in the net or out maybe you need some spin to get those long shots to bounce in.
     
  8. infonoob

    infonoob New User

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  9. SuperDuy

    SuperDuy Hall of Fame

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  10. mntlblok

    mntlblok Professional

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    Sidespin

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mentalblock/6975688810/in/set-72157629554703374

    This pic from last year's Savannah Challenger resonates with me. I can see that combination of sidespin and topspin that happens on that high, short sitter. I see the racket face traveling in that same plane (of the racket face), going from something like 2 o'clock to 1 o'clock (at a very rapid rate) - generating more sidespin than topspin, but also with the face being considerably more "closed" than one could ever otherwise get away with, as it will drive the ball "downward" so much. But, since the ball is so high, and so close to the net, "downward" is exactly what one wants, no?

    And, with that more "right-to-left" path of the racket head (than low-to-high), and with the racket face still facing the target that late in the "circle" of the swing path (rather than facing to the left), the finish will certainly *be* like what Salzenstein describes in the video. And, the ball *will* have plenty of left-to-right curve in the air because of the spin generated around the "vertical" axis of the ball.

    The best video description of this type of shot that I've seen on line is Brett Hobden's "dip drive". (He also has some of the best stuff available on volleying, in my opinion). He might be a pretty bright guy. :mrgreen:

    Anyway, I think it's all just pretty simple physics, with "swing path" and "racket face angle" being the two primary determinants of trajectory.
     
  11. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    That's Robby Ginepri in the picture isn't it? He looks like a boss there, does't miss many of those I bet.

    Im have to say I still feel a more comfortable to letting it drop a little bit and then rip through them with some topspin trying to get as much body weight in those as possible, stepping though those balls as well. When i take them above shoulder height, somehow i messs up too many.
     
  12. mntlblok

    mntlblok Professional

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    Pic

    Certainly more than one way to skin a cat, but I figure the higher you can catch a ball, the more angle you have to work with (the ball can "see" more of the court).

    Robby was in the process of losing to Brian Baker in that match. Had never heard of Baker at that point. Also have some pics of both their girlfriends (lookers), as well as Robby's dad (a really nice guy), in the stands from that match in that Flickr "set".

    And, speaking of dads, I got to play against Baker's dad in a tournament earlier this year. Big ole intimidating rascal. :mrgreen:
     
  13. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    Yes Robby has gone a long way, from almost a USO finalist in 2005 to losing to Brian Baker in a 2013 challenger.
    Also, he once took out Andre Agassi out at Wimbledon in impressive fashion. Back then I expected he would be more of factor but may be he's too laid back to be a top player.

    Good stills from the tournament I have to say, there's something about the challenger atmosphere I like that most of the bigger tourneys miss.
     

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