hitting through the ball?

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

  1. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I watched the video. What I saw were three fhs that all had the same basic parts. Specific to this conversation, the butt of the racquet was being dragged into the ball with the racquet trailing behind, and then the racquet whips into the ball with both an upward and forward motion. Berdych is not swinging into the contact zone on the “ground stroke hitting track” as Blair was showing in her video.

    The first fh is flatter than the other two, but it still has topspin. His forearm and upper arm still create about 180° turning of the racquet in the ccw direction, the motion which creates most of the topspin. Berdych is taking the ball up by his shoulder so it’s going to be harder to get pure topspin on it. Sometimes those higher balls can start having some significant side spin on them because at the point of contact the arc of the WW motion is not going straight up but has a component to the side. The ball will go R to L on a high fh for a right handed player from the perspective of the player hitting the ball. But I don’t see that on this shot. Also that higher ball is a good ball to go flatter (not flat) on since the height will give margin for error.

    The other two shots are lower and do have more topspin, but the basic motion of the stroke is the same.

    One thing to remember is that these guys are hitting freaking hard. It gets pretty difficult, often physically impossible, to hit that hard and still keep the ball in without some topspin. Also the top and side spin give the ball more action as it flies and when it bounces. It adds an extra dimension to the shot that the other player is going to have to deal with. Nadal uses this in the extreme, but they all use it.
     
  2. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    So you'd rather not make the adjustments and miss the ball entirely?

    Maybe this shows why I'm not a pro, but I don't always estimate the contact point correctly (understatement of the year). Sometimes I miss judge the amount of spin or pace on the ball and it jumps more or less then I expect, and the ones with side spin can sometimes kick back in other direction like an American Twist serve and even if I know it's going to kick back it's really hard to know exactly how much. Add pace to this whole equation so you have less time to react and yah, keep your eye on the ball and react to the unexpected.

    Reasonable question, though one I never attempted to answer. There are progressions to be sure. I guess I'm not convinced that hitting the way Blair is discussing is a road to an advanced stroke. It seems more like a road to a simpler time, with good solid contact but less spin and pace, where Americans ruled tennis, and the sun is always shining.
     
  3. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    While I don't totally disagree with user92626, I think it's important to remember that you can use any grip between an E and a W to create a modern swing path. Federer uses an E. grip and Djokovic a weak W. and both of those guys can hit with similar amounts of topspin. Admittedly the topspin comes a bit easier with the more W. grips, and the hitting through component comes more easily with the more E. grips, but they can both get about the same results.
     
  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Maybe just me, nobody else....
    I use a very strong SW grip.
    Flattish swingpath, barely upwards, so mostly towards the opposite court.
    If I WW my finish, I get high looping balls with lots of topspin (for an old guy), good depth, and big hops.
    If I don't WW my finish, but finish without the pronation, my shot goes lower, flatter, faster, much less spin, for a flatter shot.
    Not saying either is better than the other, or either is any good, but that's the effect WW finish has, for me. To me, WW finish is the pronation of the forearm at the end of the stroke, almost starting around contact.
     
  5. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    What she is saying is what Peter Burwash also mentioned in a Tennis magazine article. She is sometimes not doing what she preaches, but that maybe because her advice is for lower-level players than her. For 4.5 and below (but not the ones headed there down from higher levels in their youth), the extra linear time which she says is a buffer of margin is really very useful, as these players cannot get the correct contact with an earlier upward trajectory (and neither can they hit CC and DTL with the same motion). The way you look at her advice depends on whether you are an upwardly-mobile ambitious/previous high-level player or a plateaued one.
     
  6. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Great way to hit a knuckle ball and good for those with real loose, old string and little power in their swing, like 6 yr olds.
     
  7. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    How would you teach it? I'd say to hit more across and through than up.
     
  8. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It is not easy to do no matter what anyone says. Multiple coaches including past pro players have confirmed it. There is a reason that good juniors and college players are better than others. It is difficult to get the 3D swing path right in a reliable way. I have seen many adults try it and fail. To realize this in an easier fashion, compare the swing of a table tennis player at your local rec center with that of junior or a pro and you will see how difficult it is to get a fast, forward, across and up swing which imparts just the desired amount of pace, spin and direction to incoming balls in all situations. It requires exquisite timing and coordination. Those who can do it are always better in every other aspect of the game too - it is not an isolated ability.
     
  9. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Shots are 3 dimensional in this respect, so I teach it that way and focus on any area of lack, while confirming what I see that is good. Stroke should be dragging the stick butt first close to directly to ball/contact point. As the handle approaches the contact point the path should adjust across on a diagonal that will bring the face into/thru the ball, following the diagonal of the handle. The hand/handle lead the stroke thru contact.

    USe a steeper diagonal for more lift/topspin, or flatter diagonal for a stronger hit and lower trajectory/net clearance. Done right and the ball with have a diagonal spin to some extent. Get stronger into/thru the ball for more power and less spin.... or less into/thru the ball to spin it more. With good racket accel, you can get into the ball well for power as well as spin it good for biting topspin.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  10. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I agree that doing anything at the highest levels is very challenging, but just doing it is quite simple with good instruction for an adult. Some kids struggle as they are still learning their bodies and how to control it, but they pick it up quickly from seeing the other kids usually. So it's not that hard to do well, but yes, doing anything at the highest levels can be a bear. Running a 100 yd dash is easy, but doing it fast like Bolt may be impossible.
     
  11. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ^^^ That is why I think the woman in the video is right about most adults requiring a "linear buffer" in which to decide to start the upward and across swing rather than jumping into it at just the optimal point.

    The way I look at it is (which should be familiar to you) is that a plane could be taxing and then accelerating on the runway for a while before it takes off up, across and forward, or in the future (and possibly even now) there could be a new kind of plane which follows the same 3D trajectory but requiring only a few feet of runway.
     
  12. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I don't disagree, but just see that drag to the contact as the linear buffer. The pull or work across on the diagonal does not have to be perfect of even strongly accomplished. The better your timing gets, the more you can be aggressive with it. The learning curve for this timing is pretty fast at your level (whatever that may be) and can quickly start to move you up some levels.

    I'm teaching my son to drive and was surprised to see the saw turning as something that was almost digital....meaning just move the wheel to a spot at a given moment. With a little work, he is now seeing that turn the wheel is an ongoing process with timing and adjustments throughout. Much of the same is true of working across the ball at contact.
     
  13. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    I think it's all about giving the right cue. If you tell a beginner to hit through the ball for a certain linear distance, it will inhibit what they really need to do, which is pull up and across near contact using the right mechanics (ISR, pronation, pushing off the ground, etc). The correct mechanics will have all the desired directions built-in, and can generate good RHS, as we see the pros do. It's all about how the instruction makes us visualize the stroke, and causes us to activate the appropriate movements.

    Sure, with the "through" instruction the ball will start landing in the other side after a while, but the player will not develop good mechanics simply because of the image it conjures. Of course, if the coach is doing this deliberately because of the student's limitations, that's a different matter altogether.
     
  14. Topspin Shot

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    To make an additional point, a concept some people seem to be missing is that the ball does not go in the direction the player is swinging but rather the direction the racket face is pointing at contact. So the real buffer necessary is not a linear buffer through the ball but a "keep the plane the same" buffer the way Dave Smith teaches. So work the racket up, across, and through the contact zone but keep the racket face facing the target for about a foot below through a foot above the contact point.
     
  15. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I don't believe your first sentence anymore, though I used to at one time. It sounds right, but isn't. It ignores the aspect of "reflection" of the ball based on its own incoming path and speed, as you might have noticed when you try to direct a heavily topspun CC forehand ball bouncing away from you down the line - it goes right of where you aimed and outside the lines.

    I have a different take on the subject. Perhaps Nadal and Federer and the male pros are doing what you are saying. What I see the females doing is that they seem to vary the contact point of the ball on the strings and the amount of closure to get the desired results. When a plane object is sweeping a curved 3D volume in space, it can sweep an object to the side, to the middle, or across depending on where the object comes into contact with the lateral area and what was the objects own path before contact, and sweep it upwards or downwards depending on the degree of closure. To me, that seems to be the main way by which lesser mortals including female pros hit forehands.

    OK you have forced me to say it. They make subconscious minute adjustments of contact point and degree of openness or closure while still clinging to a basic prototype swing. They don't think of keeping the face perpendicular or creating a desired 3D arc or maintaining continuity of their swing etc. And perhaps even the part of the basic prototype swing is not correct - they abbreviate and raise their swings and bend their elbow more on higher and closer balls, use a straight arm viper on balls more than an optimal distance away, and other adjustments.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFQPweB1L-E

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGt2tqXerJ0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXgJCN6KWT0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxUHk4VYBIg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wRRXQGXxQc
     
  16. Topspin Shot

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    One important factor is that the faster you swing, the less reflection matters. So on volleys for instance, you have to take reflection into account, but on modern groundstrokes where the focus is on racket speed, you do not have to worry about reflection as much.
     
  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    There is another kind of reflection - in the vertical plane. When a topspin ball bounces abruptly high, you need to take into account that the ball will go higher than you intended after contact.

    To me, the female pros are doing only 2 things - changing the relative contact point on the strings and the degree of closure. It is amazing how many solid forehands are hit at the place where the top half of the frame (towards the tip) intersects the lower half (towards the ground). The ball seems to just slightly above the frame at contact, yet the shot is pretty good. This is a fundamental difference from the wood era. Slight changes in the point of contact in modern frames can completely change the shot and this is what is being leveraged. It is neither hitting through the ball or "pulling" it up and across or things like that that are going on, and most shots seem to be hit with a "glancing" blow and not "solidly."
     
  18. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ^^^ How is the above post going unchallenged?
     
  19. Topspin Shot

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    Again, if you pull up and across with enough racket speed, reflection in any plane is not as much of a factor. That's why some people say that with modern strokes, the faster you swing, the more control you get.

    Because some of us don't have the time to accumulate 28,000+ posts here! :)
     
  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think it was a revolutionary post. It said nothing less than that there is no hitting through or pulling across. Dwell time is negligible for these things to happen. Players today are hitting on weird spots on the strings to control their strokes and varying the degree of closure a little bit. They are not hitting solidly but relying on the fact that tangential glances will be enough since the rackets are big and stiff. In other words, their entire technique is "wrong" when compared to the wood era, and this wrong technique has become the new normal. Isn't this a revolutionary insight?
     
  21. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Analysis paralysis.
     
  22. Topspin Shot

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    I have a feeling we're inching toward the debates that got ugly the last time around. You're correct that dwell time is negligible, but cues like "up and across" are teaching points, not scientific analyses. And what makes modern strokes "wrong"? Players are simply adapting to the equipment that's available these days.
     
  23. TimeSpiral

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    OP, if we haven't scared you off ... use this graphic to help visualize the relationship between X spin and pace:

    [​IMG]

    Other factors influence the flight of the ball, like string tension, tennis ball rebound characteristics, and impact point on the ball, however; this graphic is meant to help you visualize what the relationship looks like and how you can aim at the ball for these effects.

    To get side spin relationships we would need to look at the top down view, and we'd be looking down the Y axis.

    Depending on what you're locking the transform axis to (the X, Y, Z 3D axis), whether it be the ball, or the court, you will always be affecting the tilt of the axis the ball is spinning about when you hit it. But it's best to think of it without all that, at first.

    Hope this helps!
     
  24. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It is not wrong, that is why I put it in quotes.

    Are you saying the strokes would be completely different if the equipment was different? Not different in the sense of using a metal baseball bat instead of wood, but in the very technique?
     
  25. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    See any similarities?

    http://youtu.be/CSwlCKO4Zgg?t=40s
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
  26. Topspin Shot

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    I'm not going to say completely different, but you would see differences in how the game is played. Remember, classical vs. modern technique is not black vs. white; there are many shades of gray in between. For instance, to take your wood vs. metal bat analysis into account, here's an interesting observation. Composite (graphite) bats were banned from high school baseball when I was in high school, so I saw the game being played before and after the change. In the first season the players had to go back to aluminum, I saw a lot more of choking up on the bat and taking more line drive swings than before. There was also a lot more small ball being played. I'll bet you that if the pros ever went to metal bats, you would see a lot fewer of Derek Jeter/Ichiro Suzuki type swings and a lot more of Barry Bonds/Ryan Howard type swings.
     
  27. Topspin Shot

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    Del Potro has one of the flattest swings on tour. Even so, he's still hitting up, across, and through; he's just got more through and less up than most other pros. What Blair's teaching is through to the exclusion of up and across. Whether she expects her players to actually hit this way, or whether this is just a teaching point is another story, but I personally am not a fan of teaching the forehand this way.
     
  28. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    She said pull up and across a little later to give yourself a margin, not to not do it. What she is saying is what 99% of club players end up doing. The early "take-off" is pretty difficult to do. I think it was the revolutionary tennis guy who points out that for a top spin ball moving away from you, essentially you are relying on the perfect intersection of two 3D arcs - of the ball and the frame - when you don't have a linear buffer. Look in the clubs and tell me what you think about the success rate of this strategy.

    Junior players? Totally different.
     
  29. Torres

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    That's not what she's teaching.
     
  30. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    I wouldn't worry about the right hand until the left hand and unit turn is proper and consistent. A lot of lower level players focus so much on the hitting hand that they arm the ball and never learn the torso rotation required to hit properly, hence the term - hackers.

    Once you get that rotation, then you can fine tune all these little nuances if you must. Many times the proper rotation solves a lot of these issues.
     
  31. Topspin Shot

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    You can't use club players as an argument because 99 percent of them have inherently flawed technique whether they're attempting modern or classic. The good junior players make modern technique work because they were taught it by good coaches. And I don't think making the two arcs intersect is that hard to do. If you mistime the intersection a bit, you're still good to go as long as you keep the plane the same.

    From what I'm getting out of the video, she's telling viewers to hit straight through the contact zone and only go up and across over the shoulder long after the ball is gone. Modern tournament level players are swinging the racket up, across, and through within the contact zone.
     
  32. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Sounds like two disjoint paths (and actions), which is not possible in one swing. Who would advocate that?
     
  33. Torres

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    Unless you've got telescopic arms, do you think that's feasible? Do you really think that's what she's saying?
     
  34. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    After the ball is gone? Is that what you heard? I am not sure that is even possible - humans cannot abruptly change things after impact
     
  35. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    What in the hizzle are you guys even arguing about, lulz? You're all drummed up into such a frenzy that you haven't even commented on my SOG-mode graphic!
     
  36. Topspin Shot

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    "We want to have a hitting track that goes through the ball and then up."
    "It's like a straightaway on a racetrack."
    "I'm going to go through all the way here and then finish all the way up."

    Blair's words, not mine. Whether she's actually hitting that way or not is another story, but that's exactly what she's teaching.
     
  37. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It is basically similar to the idea of taking the ball early or on the rise. Even among the pros, Nadal and Gasquet don't do what Agassi did. Pros often back up or adopt neutral stance and then appear to take the ball early, which is really not the same thing. If you can, great. Otherwise, it is better to be pragmatic.
     
  38. Torres

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    Have a look at that Delpo video again. Then go back to the Blair Henley video.

    Or better still, hit a few balls on court, firstly whipping up the back and across the ball, and secondly extending out and through the ball a la Blair Henley, Delpo etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
  39. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    None of that actually says what you think it says. The first means that the racket goes higher after impact than it does before impact - that is true all the time. The second one could mean that it is linear during the time that she calls the buffer - she doesn't say the racetrack extends till impact. The third one does not talk about linear motion at all - hitting through need not be linear but in an arc. Water can flow "through" a pipe even if the pipe is curved.
     
  40. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    If there's no up component in a stroke hit from the baseline, it's not gonna make it over the net. To me Blair wanted to put relatively more emphasis on the through component for club players, but still implied an at least slight diagional upwards (and across) motion.
     
  41. Topspin Shot

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    Oh yes she does. "From here to here, I can make contact anywhere in this range [as she demonstrates the linear hitting track], and it's still going to be a good shot."
     
  42. Torres

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    She's illustrating a point, not asking you to measure the distance and time the racquet stays parallel to the net.

    Don't take everything so literally - it's the underlying principle she's asking you to consider. You're making something that's very simple unnecessarily complicated.
     
  43. Rui

    Rui Semi-Pro

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    I agree.

    The straightaway cannot be the whole story. She must be focusing on direction.

    I've hit the shot she describes a lot. You must tilt the racquet head back to clear the net.
     
  44. Topspin Shot

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    The problem I have with her video is that she's speaking in absolutes. I know better than to take her literally, but the people she's addressing this video to probably don't. When she tells people to extend straight through contact and that the across the body finish is bad for 99% of the population, people are going to take her literally. It's one thing to say that club players should focus on getting a more solid contact and try to get better extension toward the target, that is, a stronger through component; it's another to promote a completely linear way of hitting that doesn't even match how she hits for real (and she's got a pretty classical style of hitting to begin with).
     
  45. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    rkelly+5263 have it right, so if you want to understand what to do to improve read their posts.
     
  46. Torres

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  47. Shroud

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    Thats what I thought too. If that is true how does a smaller grip produce more spin??
     
  48. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Could it be, the swingpath remains slightly upwards, mostly towards opponent, and at the last moment, pronation of the hand causes the rackethead to veer slighly more upwards to impart the final topspin?
    If you watch the newest vids of forehands, the forearm does roll over, causing the racketface to lift up and roll over the ball somewhat, and mostly AFTER impact....at least the rollover part.
    As for small grip imparting more spin, I know I roll my forearm on forehands, a pronation thing, and grip size makes almost no difference.
    Now if I used flexion, it may be a positive thing to have small grips.
    Serves, same thing.
     
  49. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    It's easier to whip the racket up, across, and through the contact zone with a smaller grip. You can get more racket speed, and with modern technique, more racket speed means more spin.
     
  50. Cheetah

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    No that's not why.
     

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