Forehand: Straight vs Slightly Bent

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by TimothyO, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    I've encountered both straight and slightly bent forehands in the form of online tutorials and in lessons from tennis pros.

    Is one better than the other? Why the difference?

    One pro told me to keep my arm relatively straight and almost fully extended through contact with the racket pointing into the court after contact halfway through the follow through. Another said bent with more wrist/windshield wiper effect looking at the court through the stringbed for follow through. Again, I've seen both in books and in online instructional videos.

    Your experience and preference?
     
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  2. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    both is correct. 20 years ago the coaches said the arm must be straight for the forehand.

    they said this is due to a longer lever.

    this was true of course for the style back then, when most of the force came from the shoulder.

    but today most force comes from the rotation and also the forearm, so the game has changed a little.

    most players play bent arm, but there are very sucessfull straight armers like federer, nadal or verdasco.


    I play bent arm, because it suits me better.
     
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  3. GetBetterer

    GetBetterer Hall of Fame

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    #3
  4. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    Interesting linked thread!

    It's pretty much in line with what I thought: purpose of straight arm is greater leverage/power.

    But when I tried it I felt less in control. My footwork had to be perfect to get the distance right so there was no margin for error. With my arm slightly bent I feel like I can adjust at the last moment if the ball takes a crazy bounce due to spin. As others noted in that thread a bent arm is a little more flexible (no pun intended).

    At least both are viable. We noobs tend to take a pro's word as gospel but this issue didn't seem so open and shut to me.

    Thanks!
     
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  5. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I eventually gravitated to straight arm technique. I also employ a whole lot of wrist. I am influenced big time by Nadal though. :)

    There are a few major differences. The wrist is one. After the arm swings and straightens, then comes the wrist to add more power. My former bent arm FH used less wrist and moved like you jab a boxer in the jaw!!!

    With the straight arm you have to be little careful. You don't want to swing hard and straighten your arm too early before the contact point. Repeatedly contacting a heavy shot with the arm straight and locked will give you some feel at the elbow, or your might throw your shoulder!!!
     
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  6. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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  7. enishi1357

    enishi1357 Rookie

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    I used both cuz lets face it guys not even fed can hit straight every shot.
     
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  8. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    I think straight FH is much easier to control. Look at Federer pictures.
    [​IMG]
    He is hitting inside-out FH. The geometry of the stroke is very simple. We shouldn’t care about racquet face orientation. It is constantly vertical. We just have to bring arm around perpendicular to the chest (last picture) and take care about the wrist motion. It travels around 55 degrees. To produce heavy topspin, we can apply pronation and internal rotation of the shoulder. These motions are very fast and are able to produce more than 3000 rpm. Nadal can construct 5000 rpm. In case of the bend FH, we have to control very carefully elbow position. If it goes upward, it closes the racquet face etc. There is too much freedom to generate mistakes. Also, we cannot use internal rotation of the shoulder, because it can close the racquet face and produce just flat component of the racquet speed. We have to use slow elbow flexion to generate topspin, tiw nobody is able to make 5000 rpm with bend elbow FH.:)
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2011
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  9. dlk

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    I use a straight arm out of natural instinct. Though it seems on lighter shots I may bend slightly for ease of control with tight aim.
     
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  10. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    This is why I've come to love tennis. There are SOOOO many little differences in opinion!

    Today my tennis pro said do NOT add wrist motion to the swing. After contact he wanted my arm straight. The only wrist movement he wanted was well after contact and only to decelerate the racquet head.
     
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  11. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    I can definitely see this benefit of the straight forehand. It reminds of golf from my younger days. Achieve consistency through an easily repeatable stroke.

    My challenge with a straight forearm is achieving a consistent distance from the ball! As we get older and slower it's definitely more difficult. It seems easier to adjust one's arm for distance to impact than to get one's body perfectly positioned.

    But as Toly mentions, with a bent arm there's more room for variation in stroke production and thus error.
     
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  12. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    About the wrist motions you can see my posts in the thread http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=365477&highlight=toly . I don’t think the pro is right. According to him/her, what should be the constant angle, during the arm swing, between wrist and forearm?
     
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  13. ci2ca

    ci2ca Semi-Pro

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    Straight arm is hard to time and you start to slap the ball and arm the ball more if your footwork isn't up to par. The bent or as I call it, "The double bend," forehand employs your core more than the straight arm. Since your elbow is closer to your body you tend to rotate with your body to hit that ball instead of just arming it. The double bend forehand also forces you to hit that ball in front of your body. Try touching your elbow to your body, where is your forearm and wrist? Out in front. Another plus of the double bend is it's alot easier to employ the windshield wiper forehand stroke. These are the reasons why my academy teaches the double bend forehand.
     
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  14. corners

    corners Legend

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    Interesting conclusion Anatoly. Most authorities are saying that the straight-arm is more difficult to hit consistently than the "double bend". The argument goes that with the double-bend the elbow stays tucked into the body and the stroke is therefore easier to reproduce, while the straight arm leads to a "floating elbow" making it more difficult to "slot" the swing in a repeatable fashion.

    But your perspective makes some sense.

    Also, people still say that the wrist isn't releasing into contact on pro forehands, but your measurement of 55 degrees of wrist flexion prior to contact contradicts that. On video this is obvious with both Fed and Nadal, especially.
     
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  15. only4theweak187

    only4theweak187 Banned

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    Straight arm is not "more difficult" for everyone.

    you need to yes have better footwork.

    what i'm seeing from people preferring the double arm bend is that they're lazy with footwork....

    you're all whining saying on some balls it will be harder to get to.

    nah, it's all footwork and speed buddy.
     
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  16. ci2ca

    ci2ca Semi-Pro

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    We're merely stating the advantage and disadvantages of both.
     
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  17. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    IMO, there are more important fundamentals than whether the hitting arm is straight or bent. The nuances that differentiate the straight arm from the bent arm will only obfuscate the real deficiencies that need to be improved or fixed for most players. However, we can dicuss this until doomsday since, after all, we all love tennis and want to understand what's going on here.

    According to my understanding and experience, there are two factors that will determine whether the arm is going to be naturally straight or bent. One is relatively simple to comprehend - namely, distance from the ball. The further away one is from the ball, the straighter the arm will be.

    The second is more subtle, and I am basing this on what tricky had posted some time ago. Basically, depending on how the arm is loaded, it may naturally lead to a straight arm or bent arm stroke. If the unit turn results in the racquet pointing up or forward (or in between) with the arm pronated (like Federer), one will tend to use a straight arm stroke. If the unit turn ends with the racquet pointing back (most WTA, many ATP), one will tend to use a bent arm stroke. There are probably other variations too, I am sure.

    IMO, one is better of doing what comes naturally and is comfortable. After trying a whole bunch of variations, I now make it a point not to think about it at all, and only concentrate on the cues that matter to me - and it's worked out very well, thank goodness!
     
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  18. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    Question: How should we swing the racquet to produce the most powerful flat forehand?
    Answer: In accordance with the lows of physics, the racquet string bed should be parallel to the axis of rotation. At the same time, the long axis of the racket and the radius of rotation ought to form the straight line.
    Hence, the wrist must be in neutral position (ϕ=0°). If during the arm rotation and impact, the wrist is bent (ϕ=90°) we mostly can create sidespin and small flat component of the racquet speed. It means double bend model cannot produce powerful strokes, unless we use linear motion like hit through 3-4 bolls, which is also slow motion and no pros use it anymore. I conclude, the wrist must move the racquet to generate dominant shot.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2011
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  19. ci2ca

    ci2ca Semi-Pro

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    Yes, the windshield wiper forehand is alot of wrist movement. But as you said no pros ever hit truly flat anymore. They all brush up on everything.
     
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  20. toly

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    But, what is "The double bend"? Should we keep the wrist locket in bend back position or no? What should be the magnitude of the angle between forearm and the hand during impact? Can you analyze first just pure flat FH, or it is not exist anymore? And I never said “no pros ever hit truly flat anymore”.
     
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  21. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Even the straight armers don't have the forearm and racket in line. even they have some angle between forearm and racket.

    so they basically hit a single bent forehand:
    http://www1.pictures.gi.zimbio.com/2009+Australian+Open+Day+14+-POOd2FOgpVl.jpg
     
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  22. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
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  23. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    right, but those are mostly on the run, where you need to extend the wrist.

    In his normal winners federer usually has that angle between racket and forearm:
    http://lealidellafarfalla.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/federer-forehand.jpg
    http://img07.beijing2008.cn/20080805/Img214506440.jpg

    I think that most of that angle, doesn't come from opening the wrist, but rather from the western grip.

    with a more closed (continental) grip the forearm and racket form a line with neutral wrist, while you never get that line with neutral wrist with a western grip (you already grip at an angle).
     
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  24. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    On the run we don’t have the luxury to use torso rotation to produce additional power. We only can rotate the arm and the wrist. We are forced to apply special forehand routine which could produce maximum power with restricted resources. Hence, we have to realign arm and racquet to form straight line, ϕ=0°. It can be done with any grip, at least Nadal, Verdasco etc., and even I can do it with semiwestern/western grip. But this technique has very big drawback. We cannot use arm pronation to produce topspin. If ϕ=0° and we pronate, we just close the racquet face completely. But, if ϕ=90° we can apply pronation in the most efficient way, because in this case arm pronation cannot change the orientation of the racquet face with respect to ground (cannot close the racquet face). Nevertheless, this racquet positioning will significantly decrease flat component of the racquet speed, and hence the ball speed. Under normal circumstances we can use legs, core etc. to rotate the racquet and we don’t need very big flat component without topspin. Tiw, Federer, Nadal and etc. usually maintain ϕ angle in range 30° < ϕ < 55°. They sacrifice some amount of the ball’s speed to get topspin. I’m not sure you can completely understand my russian english explanations, but good luck.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2011
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  25. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    I try to understand:D.

    which is the axis of rotation, and why must the string bed be parallel to it?
     
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  26. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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  27. toly

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    It is obvious that any rotating object has an axis of rotation. For example, if we rotate the straight arm (and ϕ=0°) in horizontal plane by using shoulder joint only, the axis of rotation would be perpendicular to the ground. And this axis passes through the shoulder joint is perpendicular to the ground and the upper arm. If the string bed is parallel to the ground (perpendicular to the axis of rotation) we can produce just brushing motion (top spin) and ball would get almost zero forward speed. If the racket is semi closed, 50% of the racquet’s kinetic energy will transfer to topspin and 50% to the ball’s forward speed. But, if the racket bed string is parallel to the axis of rotation, all 100% of this energy can be transferred to the ball forward speed and 0% to the spin. And we can create the most powerful (flat) shot. This is magnificent example of the almost pure flat FH, where ϕ=0° and string bed is parallel to the axis of rotation. :)
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
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  28. AndyFitzell

    AndyFitzell New User

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    Interesting

    Interesting analysis...inaccurate, but interesting. where did you get those photos of Roger Federer?
     
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  29. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    What is wrong with my analysis? I’m open for negative comments about this stuff and I will really appreciate if you can provide any. These pictures I copied from video, which I believe you posted on internet. Thank you very much for this great video. Then I applied PowerPoint job to measure angles.
     
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  30. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    don't argue with the russians on physics. they know their mathematics:D.
     
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  31. AndyFitzell

    AndyFitzell New User

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    Toly, It's close enough...Justing giving you a hard time for not giving the source of your photos :). Yes, it is my research. Vic Braden and I are launching a web site soon called "Tennis Analysts" where we will be showing the [B]EXACT[/B] Kinematic Data and doing personal video analysis for players. To my knowledge we are the only people in the world doing 3D Kinematic Research on the top players in live match-play...Keep up the good work!....................Andy
     
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  32. onehandbh

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    This would be correct, if we assumed that the arm & racquet was a solid
    structure like a baseball bat, but it is not. In some positions/angles between
    the wrist/forearm and racquet, it will be in a weaker position and the
    collision of the arm/wrist may be less elastic. So basically some of the
    energy of the energy is lost/absorbed. You can also probably look at it in terms
    of how much mass is behind player swinging the racquet in the particular position
    his body/racquet is in at the moment of impact.
     
    #32
  33. corners

    corners Legend

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    Hey Andy, great stuff with the skeletons! Hopefully you guys can work the wrist into your models when you launch "Tennis Analysts". Do you have a launch date?
     
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  34. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Andy. I’m very sorry that I didn’t give the sources of the photos. I’m relatively new to this forum and still learning how to behave properly.:confused: I look forward to seeing your latest achievement.:)
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
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  35. corners

    corners Legend

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    Anything on Youtube is in the public domain, so you can use it however you wish. But giving credit is considered polite.
     
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  36. AndyFitzell

    AndyFitzell New User

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    Thanks Corners, we should have the site up within the next 30 days. People often ask about the "floating hand"...the wrist and hand are digitized, but not the fingers...so often times it looks like the hand is not attached :). Anyway, first stroke on the site will probably be Justine Henin Topspin Backhand..................Andy
     
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  37. AndyFitzell

    AndyFitzell New User

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    Toly, no worries...really...I'm glad people are enjoying the videos and using them...I hope to get them seen more world-wide with all the information...I do believe in giving credit where credit is due, so that is always appreciated............Andy
     
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  38. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Andy. Second stroke should be Roger Federer 1HBH, because your old version cannot be compared with new software, which is very impressive!:)
     
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  39. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    Thanks corners. That is very important information for me.
     
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  40. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    What do these pics have to do with TS Fh technique? These are all compensation shots when caught in a bad spot.
     
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  41. toly

    toly Hall of Fame

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    These pictures have nothing to do with TS, because these guys are trying to hit practically “pure” flat FH.
     
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  42. rkelley

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    This thread has gotten kind of complicated and I don't believe some of the information is correct.

    To the OP, the first replies that you received seem about right to me. The first pro is giving instruction on an older fh swing path. Go watch youtube videos of Laver, Rosewall, Stan Smith and John McEnroe. There's even a video of Sampras when he's 10 hitting that type of fh. It's not wrong really, but fh technique has evolved into what the second instructor told you. This modern fh technique allows you to hit the ball with quite a bit of topspin by pronating the wrist as you swing through the ball. Pretty much every pro currently on the tour hits this way.

    Within the modern technique there are a couple of important variations. One of those variations is whether or not your elbow is bent or straight at the point of contact. Federer hits with a straight arm at contact (I think Fish does too). However I would say the majority of pros hit with a bent elbow (aka double bend - a bend at the wrist and elbow). You can hit a world class forehand with either technique.

    The straight elbow is not the same thing as the older swing where the racquet points into the court (a la Laver et al). Watch Fed's forehand and you will still see the basics of the modern, WW fh.

    There's been some other posts about hitting forehands with no bend in the wrist as well as the elbow, so the racquet and the arm form a line, and that this is effective in hitting flat forehands. Other than deperation situations where you're just trying to get your racquet on the ball, I wouldn't hit a fh like that. The shot will generally be weak, errant, and you might hurt your shoulder. Again, go to youtube and see if you see any pros hitting like that. The pictures that were posted to support this idea of a straight racquet/arm look to me to mostly desperation shots, as others have said. I'm not trying to diss anyone and I mean no disrespect, I'm just giving my opinion.

    To the OP, look at some pro fh's on youtube. John Yandell posted a nice fh tutorial a couple of months ago. Dave Smith has a great book that I'd recommend, Tennis Mastery. Also fuzzyyellowballs videos are good.
     
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  43. Mahboob Khan

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    On the FH, bent arm is better (but I am against too much bend), as you come into contact your hitting arm will maintain a slight bend, you will hit through, and follow-through.

    Roger Federer and Nadal: In the backswing thier arms are bent, just prior to, during, and after contact, their hitting arms are straight, and then bent on the follow-through. In their case it is: bent-straight-bent.
     
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  44. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I think these are some good points above.
     
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  45. akamc

    akamc New User

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    Toly, you often use "tiw' but I am not familiar with that abbreviation. What does it mean?
     
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  46. Clay lover

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    The first pro is a classic eastern/continetal flat hitter, the second pro is an advocate of mordern top-spin strokes. Nothing to do with the modern SA vs BA technique. Yeah, as someone pointed out the modern SAFH is only straight at contact but not any time else, whereas with the classic SAFH your arm remains straight throughout the whole stroke. the advantages of the modern SAFH includes greater extension (into the ball), great reach, and greater spin potential.
     
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  47. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    I prefer bent.
     
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  48. toly

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    Tiw = That is why. Sorry. I’ll never use it again.:(
     
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