hitting through the ball?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by ishiun, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    About your 4th point, this is something a head coach at my club pointed to me, a couple of years ago when he first saw me...He understood that I wanted to generate higher swing speed, but was adamant of me trying to go first through the ball more and only afterwards coming over the ball...

    He wasn't even sure if one should have a fully straightened arm at contact (although I think that it helps what the OP wants to achieve).


    You know what other minor factor might help imho?
    Using a heavier frame, i.e. I was watching closely (a while ago) someone with a K90 hitting against something with a very light frame and I think that the momentum alone of the K90 helped carry it more through the ball….
     
    #51
  2. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I use a 13 oz frame for that reason. Adults like me without proper fundamentals need to use higher weight to compensate for lack of swing speed and technique. But juniors are able to hit through as well as generate TS with a lighter racket due to proper control over their swing path, and that is the desired outcome in modern tennis, not the use of heavier rackets.
     
    #52
  3. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    I was going to say something similar. I was taught to imagine extending the racquet through the contact zone towards the target or direction in which you want the ball to go. Helps with consistency and control as well.
     
    #53
  4. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    I was never taught that, but that's exactly how I visualize.
     
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  5. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    I see, although whenever I try very light rackets, they feel woobley(during contact) when trying to swing fast...
    Something again, that was clear watching people hitting against each other, heavy frame vs light one. The amount of jarring the lighter frame does is astonishing, even if that player hits more often in the sweet spot then his counterpart. That's can't be good for your swing nor for your arm.
     
    #55
  6. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I was surprised to find that Filip Peliwo the junior Slams champion who posts on this board was playing with a frame which if I remember right was less than 11.5 oz strung. He will wipe out anyone on this forum. That means his technique is correct and the swing speed is high. Today's game is not about 15 oz frames as used by Don Budge. Moreover, pros used lighter frames as juniors and got control and high swing speed, before moving on to heavier frames for the pro game. The reverse is usually not true - people don't learn the modern game properly if they start with heavy frames.
     
    #56
  7. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    I agree. Most juniors use rackets that weigh less than 12 ounces strung because they get their power through swing speed and their control through heavy topspin and a proper modern swing path. My racket (Prestige Pro) is just over 12 ounces, which makes me kind of an outlier. BTW, you'd better watch yourself sureshs; you're starting to sound a bit like Wegner. :)
     
    #57
  8. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Blair Henley's video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJwS8m8naNc

    She calls it the 'hitting track', but its the same thing as what the OP was asking about.
     
    #58
  9. GuyClinch

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    +1. This. Think of an underhand throw - if you wanted to go higher over the net you would throw the ball with a more a straight up motion. If you wanted to throw the ball lower over the net with some zip - you would go to a more sidearm motion.

    So if you want a ball that goes lower over the net with pace - you will swing more across the body.. For more of a loopy topspin shot you emphasize the low to high aspect and finish up high with the racquet (could be OTS or Buggy whip).

    I tend to agree with some of the tennis gurus - like Doug King or Wegner - modern stroke - is through - sure but its also up and across. By controlling these three vectors - how much across, how much up and how much through we shape the racquet path and control the type of ball we want to hit.

    Its not that useful to think of just swinging through the ball - there is more to it then that. That being said its all unconscious for most players. They have learned this and incorporated into their game so that the flattening out or the adding of loft and spin is automatic. You just think about how you want your ball to fly -and your body seems to take care of the rest.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2013
    #59
  10. rkelley

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    I watched this video. What Blair seems to be advocating is a simplification of the fh. She's hitting through and up, closed stance (yes, past neutral). It looks like an 80's style fh. It works. You'll hit through the ball and get a bit of topspin. But it isn't a modern fh with all of the spin and power that is available with that stroke technique, and, despite what she says in her video, it's definitely not what Federer is doing. I also strongly disagree with this idea that only the top 1% of players can hit modern.

    To the OP, we'd need to see a video, but if you're basically hitting modern but not hitting through the ball much I'd guess that you're not driving the butt of the racquet to the ball while allowing the racquet to trail behind your hand. Like dragging a rope to the ball as 5263 said. But I'm just guessing without seeing something.

    I do know that if you're hitting a modern stroke properly you should be able to hit with good spin and power. You should not need to revert to a stroke like what Blair Henley is teaching, which is basically just an old school fh.
     
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  11. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Well I'll join the guys talking about lighter frames too. I have a frame that was roughly 300gr unstrung. Added a shrink sleeve and a thicker grip because the handle was too small and a protection tape on the hoop (4gr). It brought it up to 340gr with OG. Usually I like heavier frames, but it became sluggish if I ever was late, or especially on serve. It was hard to let the frame do the job at some points, especially when you get tired after a long session.
    Removed the tape and shaved some of the sleeve leaving just enough of it for my one handed both sides style. Down to 331gr. Have a second frame of the same model on which I did similar modifications both ways. I know that one is a bit lighter by 3-4gr and 0.5cm more HH, and frankly I don't care. But 330gr or under strung, OG and w/ dampener seems fine (depending of SW). In the 320's would be ideal, but not willing to have a tinier handle for that to happen.

    FWIW, Murray frames are about 345gr strung w/ OG, Nadal, Paire and Tsonga are a bit lighter too, even if the Spaniard most likely has an enormous SW. Seems SW and bringing the frame up to speed is more important than static weight nowadays. The same way we don't need to string over 55/60lbs to have control.
     
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  12. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

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    Yes, I noticed.
     
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  13. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

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    I have the same problem putting too much topspin on the ball, consequentially my balls land short on the other side of the net. My coach has pointed out that I need to loosen my arm more when hitting the ball. Its kind of contradictory - loosen up to hit with more power.

    Something Ive read is a good exercise is to get a stringless racket, have your coach feed you balls and focus on keeping the arm loose as you can.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
    #63
  14. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Fed hits forward through the contact point in the same way. You're not hitting through the ball unless you're going forward through it.
     
    #64
  15. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

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    What about adding some lead to the head to make it more head heavy? This is what Im looking at doing. Would this help?
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
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  16. rkelley

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    Here are a couple of Fed fh videos. The first one shows Fed hitting some fhs in practice. Good for seeing the basic form.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ImeQaAyFPc

    This other video is a super slowmo from a match where he's going for a pretty big hit.

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

    In both cases note that as he's swinging the racquet into the ball how the butt of the racquet is basically pointing at the ball and that he's dragging the racquet into the ball. During this time he does not have the racquet squared up to hit the ball, his palm is not pointing at the target, and he could not make contact anywhere in the 1.5 foot long section of his swing path as Blair is showing in the video.

    Only near the end of the stroke, right before contact, does the racquet come around and square up to the ball, having both a through and an up component to the velocity. Allowing the racquet to lag behind and then whip into the contact zone is one of the key components of how a modern fh generates high racquet head speed.

    So what Blair is teaching and what Federer does are not the same thing.

    In terms of hitting a modern fh, one of the things that can help is that as you're dragging the butt of the racquet to the ball, think of your racquet hand going to the contact point. It doesn't really, but that imagery helps time the motions.

    BTW, on contact point I understand what she's trying to teach. She's teaching a stroke that is fairly tolerant to variations in contact point. That's fine. I think perhaps a better method might be focus on figuring out where the contact point is going to be as you're watching the ball come to you, then focus your eyes on that contact point and swing for it. You'll be amazed at how quickly you'll learn to estimate where the contact point will be, and make adjustments at the last moment to hit a clean ball.
     
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  17. Torres

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    ^ Fed's still hitting through the ball and through the point of contact. Blair Henley exaggerates the length through the contact point simply to illustrate the point. Once a player gets a better sense of timing and technique, the exaggeration isn't needed. But exaggeration is useful in letting the player get a feel for hitting through the ball and through the point of contact, particularly if they're not doing that currently. It's a progressive system of learning as its unrealistic for a player to simply go from shaving the back of the ball in an upward motion to hitting through the ball like Fed does. At the end of the day, you can't hit through the ball, unless you're actually hitting through the ball!
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
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  18. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yeah man
     
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  19. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    In one sense we're talking about degrees, but in another sense we're talking about two fundamentally different stroke techniques. Something to remember is that the ball is in contact with the strings for something like 5 ms. Whatever the racquet's doing at contact is all the ball is ever going to see. It is physically impossible to hit then lift to get topspin. If the racquet doesn't have an upward component before contact, it's not going to have one at contact.

    Watch Blair's video. Even she has an upward component to her swing before contact. That's where the topspin is coming from. But with her technique you will never get to the kind of topspin that a pro level swing will generate.
     
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  20. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    I would asume that a Player with a more vertical racket face hits more across the ball and a Player who uses a closed face and shallower path like fed would hit less across and extend more through the ball.
     
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  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    :shock::):shock:
    TIGHTEND up the squeeze when trying to hit through the ball, for a flatter shot.
    Loosen up the grip to get higher RHS to hit more topspin on the ball.
     
    #71
  22. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    I think you're both right. Federer hits many many different shots.

    Blair is right that many coaches don't teach how to make good contact and many players don't think about how to make good contact. A few months ago I was playing on local courts when two blokes pitched up and were playing on the court next to us, the sound of them hitting the ball was so different to ours. I have come to realise that this is down to the contact you make on the ball. A friend has helped my work on getting better contact and the techniques are to recognise that there are 4 components of the forward motion of the racket:
    1. Swing to contact
    2. Engaging the wrist (slightly) to maximise what Blair calls the hitting track
    3. Utilising the shoulder to further maximise the hitting track
    4. Follow through.

    I'm slowly bringing this into my game and am finding I'm getting much fuller, deeper balls. I get a fair bit of topspin on shots bit I can flatten them out as well.
     
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  23. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    Andy Murray plays using with a flatter game.
     
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  24. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    I've recently been trying to hit through the ball a lot more, especially after I started using a lower powered racket. And also when you're playing into the wind, you need to hit harder.

    So far I've been grooving this with a ball machine, with a fixed speed/spin and direction, just to practice the timing.

    In the past I used to let the ball start dropping before I hit it, unless I was forced to make early contact. Now that I'm trying to hit flatter and harder, I've started making contact with the ball at its highest point, just when it stops rising. As I watch the ball, that's what I'm looking for, as soon as the ball stops rising, I swing.

    Of course this only applies when the top of the bounce is at a comfortable height for you. But the point is it's very hard to hit through the ball once it starts to drop, because: 1.it's harder to time, 2.it may be too low and you have to hit up to clear the net, and 3.hitting a falling ball adds topspin to your shot, so again you need to hit upwards to clear the net.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
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  25. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Here's Murray in super slomo hitting some fh:

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

    I'd guess that Murray is generating something like >2k rpm of topspin on an average fh. Even Del Potro, a guy who is hitting really hard and relatively flat compared to his contemporaries, is still generating 2k rpm of topspin. Yandell was here a while back and had done the measurements.

    Like Fed, and Nadal, and every other male pro (and some of the female pros) Murray's dragging the butt end of the racquet to the ball and hitting up and across. Of course there's a component of the velocity of the head of the racquet through the ball, but there's a substantial component up and across too.

    Here's the Lock and Roll tennis video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMNtq393tvo

    It's an excellent and concise explanation of a pro level stroke.

    At the rec level there's nothing wrong with hitting more through the ball like Blair is teaching. You'll get a nice, solid hit and heaven knows that probably helps us all. But don't kid yourself that what Blair is teaching is a pro level stroke. It's not. It's a simplified fh that focuses on getting good contact. Also, if you're willing and able to put in some practice time, and you don't have any joint injuries that prevent full range of motion in your wrist, shoulder, and core, then almost anyone can learn to hit a pro level stroke. It's not just for the 1% as Blair says.
     
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  26. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    They're all hitting through the ball and hitting through the contact zone. All of them, including Blair Henley. You do realize that she's a former pro? As I've said previously, all she's doing is exaggerating the racquet path to illustrate a principle. She's not teaching different FHs from start to finish.
     
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  27. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    The pros need to hit with a lot of topspin, because of their massive swingweights. With lower swingweights at the rec level, you don't need much topspin to keep the ball in play, especially when you flatten out a ball above waist height. You need to adjust your swingpath to your equipment.
     
    #77
  28. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Completely untrue. Give a pro a 300 swingweight racket, and he will hit with the same amount of topspin. Give a rec player a 350 swingweight racket, and he will hit flat as ever. Where the heck did you hear this?
     
    #78
  29. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    I don't need to hear it from anywhere because it's common sense.

    The amount of topspin a player should employ depends on the power of the racket. Higher swingweight=more power. Ie you need more topspin to keep the ball in play.

    If Nadal was using his extreme topspin swingpath with a flexible and 300 swingweight racket, the ball would rarely cross the net.
     
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  30. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    ^^^^^
    I'm with Topspin Shot. Topspin, or any spin, is determined primarily by the swing path of the racquet.

    The weight of the racquet affects how easily it is to get moving. A heavier racquet will be harder to accelerate. Not good when you're trying to accelerate it, but good when the ball hits the racquet and the heavier racquet plows through the ball. Generally, swing the heaviest racquet that you can comfortably swing.
     
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  31. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    Exactly. That's why when you hit with a higher swingweight, you need to adjust your swingpath. Otherwise the ball will go long.

    This is the number one difference between the pros and rec players. Pros can create good topspin with high swingweight rackets. So they get the benefit of both good power and good jumping topspin. Most rec players can't do this and they need to pick one, either spin or power.
     
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  32. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    As I've said there's a component of the racquet's velocity that goes through the ball, but there's also a substantial component that's going up. There's often a component going in or out of the screen as well. Pro type shots can have quite a bit of side spin on them too.

    We're going to have to disagree about Blair's teaching. The videos of Federer and Murray looked like the stroke that Blair was teaching to you? Well, they don't to me.

    Blair hits the ball well. She's obviously played a lot. But a pro - like a touring pro? Well then, I have to say her backhand needs some work. She doesn't turn her shoulders enough in prep. When she turns into the ball she's too open at contact. Her racquet head prep is also too low. She doesn't get any stretch/shortening by the head dropping down and then whipping back up through the contact zone so that's going to limit the amount of topspin that she's going to be able to get. It's not a bad stroke overall and as I said she hits it well, but I think it could be better. Of course, YMMV.
     
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  33. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    An alternative argument is that low swingweight leads to more spin because you have to swing faster to get the same power, and by swinging faster, you get more spin. Regardless of which argument is correct, the effect of swingweight on topspin is much smaller than the effect of technique. The reason the pros hit with so much power and spin is because they have near perfect modern technique plus tremendous amounts of practice time and physical conditioning. The supposedly expert posters on the TT racket forum seriously overrate the importance of equipment and to make matters worse tout ridiculous high weight or swingweight setups that are most likely detrimental to a player's game.
     
    #83
  34. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    Topspin Shot, you are not arguing the point at all. I'll try to dumb it down a little if I can.

    Nobody is saying that swingweight affects spin. In fact I'm saying the exact opposite. If your racket head speed is constant, then swingweight only affects power.
    What swingweight does affect, is how much spin you SHOULD apply to the ball to get the best results. Is this clear?

    Here are two scenarios. Let's assume that you can hit a topspin forehand:

    1. You have a racket with a swingweight of 300. You hit a forehand from the baseline with a good amount of topspin, let's say the ball leaves your racket at 1500 rpm. The ball clears the net and bounces just before the baseline. Great shot.

    2. You add a good amount of lead to the same racket. You hit the exact same forehand with the exact same swingpath and swing speed. Again, the ball leaves your racket at 1500 rpm.
    This time the ball clears the net and bounces 2 metres beyond the baseline.

    Why the difference? Because of the added power due to the extra swingweight. The spin hasn't changed, but the ball still flew long.

    This is how the swingweight affects the amount of topspin a player should employ. Hope this is clear enough.


    I totally agree, IMO a comfortable swingweight is very important for the development of your strokes. With time, you will naturally go higher, but always within your comfort zone.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
    #84
  35. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    I get where you're coming from. There are two issues I see though. One is that you're assuming the player will get the same swing speed with the higher swingweight racket. Two is the idea that he'll get two meters more depth with the higher swingweight racket even if he does get the same swing speed. I just don't think swingweight matters that much.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
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  36. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    Well you know that players add lead to their rackets for extra power. That's all about swingweight.

    And you're right, the higher the swingweight, the harder it is to provide the needed topspin. That's why pros use such exaggerated topspin swingpaths. For rec players with lower swingweights, a flatter swingpath is needed to achieve good depth and power.
     
    #86
  37. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    Doesn't look like Blair hits the way she coaches... anyway, I disagree with her instructions.

    In the arm action (internal shoulder rotation and forearm pronation), there is a certain amount of "through" action that is built-in along with the up and across motion. If the forward swing starts higher (more level with the ball) there should be more through action, along with more across and less upward motion. A lot of the through action also comes from the shoulder, as it is loaded and catapulted by the push off the ground and hip rotation.

    The bottom line is, if one pushes the hand through the ball as Blair suggests, the ball will have very erratic spin, power, and accuracy. Best to execute a composite action that includes all the motions, and vary them with adjustments to the swing based on the need of the moment.
     
    #87
  38. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    What if you give a rec player a higher swingweight racket or a pro player a lower swingweight racket? Will their hitting styles change? Because if not, then the real difference lies in the ability levels, not the rackets.
     
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  39. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    Their hitting styles would have to change, if they wanted the same depth as before.

    With a low-swingweight, low-powered racket, a pro would need to hit through the ball more to achieve good depth/power.

    If, on the other hand, I was given a pro racket, I would really need to focus on brushing up on the ball for loads of topspin cos with my current swingpath all my shots would hit the fence on the fly. Or I would need to slow down my swing.
     
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  40. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    To my mind, the above makes sense... but raises the question of how Leed is generating heavy topspin with a relatively horizontal swing path?

    I believe that wrist action is not a major contributor to topspin, (as pointed out in FYB's videos) -- one cannot, as LeeD is suggesting, roll his wrist over the ball and generate heavy topspin with a horizontal swing path.

    Thoughts/Comments?
     
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  41. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    You don't generate topspin with a horizontal swingpath. The only thing that creates topspin is a vertical swingpath. The amount of topspin you get is based on a combination of how vertical the swingpath is and how much racquet head speed is being generated.

    That's all there is to it.

    That being said, every player likes to think they create topspin and has a heavy ball. Although my experience is that most players I play against have a _minimal_ amount of topspin. So minimal that it really doesn't give the hitter any advantages at all.
     
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  42. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I agree with this, though I'd clarify to say a vertical component to the swing path. It doesn't have to be all up, just an upward component. The faster the upward component, the more topspin. It's not rocket science.

    No disrespect intended towards anyone, but if you're swinging horizontal, there's not going to be topspin. Now if you swinging horizontal and pronating your wrist at the same time, then you'll get topspin. But in that case the path of the racquet head isn't horizontal anymore. It has an upward component from the pronation of the wrist, so we're back to the original statement.

    Another thing I can add is that the in coming ball can have an effect too. Hitting a ball on the rise will not result in quite as much topspin as hitting a falling ball. This is because for topspin the thing that really matters isn't the absolute speed of the vertical component of velocity of the racquet, but really the speed of the racquet relative to the ball.
     
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  43. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    I wanted to also make sure to get an additional firing shot off before someone starts posting videos of Tomic, Berdych, Blake, and Del Potro.

    Those guys are top pros with a nearly completely horizontal swingpath. But they generate such unbelievable racquet head speed and hit so far out in front that when their wrist releases, they get massive topspin.

    But let's be completely clear... at the recreational level *nobody* hits with that level of perfect technique, mechanics, and speed. Nobody.

    If you are a recreational player and want to create good topspin, the highest percentage way to do that is to swing as vertically as you can. Rely more on the swingpath versus the wrist release.
     
    #93
  44. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    Berdych is not a topspin player (generally).
     
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  45. HoyaPride

    HoyaPride Semi-Pro

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    This is the only post in this thread that comes remotely close to making any type of sense.

    My recommendation...

    Hit the wall.
     
    #95
  46. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2010
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    2,384
    All the male pros hit with a lot of topspin. Again, Yandell measured Del Potro's fh and was still getting numbers like +2k rpms. That's low relative to his contemporaries on the tour, but it's still a lot and it's not flat.
     
    #96
  47. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    675
    Take a look at this video. Its quite representative of this thread.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38nSZrQRItE

    3 forehands, each of which is quite different.

    The first is flat.

    The second is a WW forehand with lots of (maybe even heavy) topspin.

    The third is somewhere in between.
     
    #97
  48. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
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    I'm willing to say that technically, you're correct. However, I think technique>>>swingweight in generating power. The pros also need more topspin because they know how to generate more power through technique and physical strength than rec players. So swingweight is a factor, like you're saying, but a small factor.
     
    #98
  49. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Joined:
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    35,041
    LeeD probably uses the wrong technique of last-instant abrupt wrist motion to add top spin. I play against one person who does that and he is very effective. He said he tried to use his body and entire swingpath, but failed, so he relies primarily on the wrist at the last minute. As with many older club players, he has grooved into it and it works for him. He ain't moving up into the pro scene, but then neither is LeeD or me.
     
    #99
  50. Torres

    Torres Banned

    Joined:
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    The last thing you want to be doing is to be having to make last moment adjustments in order to hit a clean ball. Not only is it more tiring but it leads to greater inconsistency.

    The videos are all very well and good, but how are you going to progress the OP from where he is now to hitting that like that? What are your progressions? Do you think its realistic for you to show him some slow motion Murray video and tell him to copy him?

    You think that more than 1% of the tennis population can hit like this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDO3m52wbpw

    His racquet is still going forward through the ball and through the point of contact.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2013

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