How to hit the sweet spot every time?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by RacketFever, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. RacketFever

    RacketFever New User

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    Hey guys. I'am a 5.0 level player and i have solid and powerful Backhands, Serves and volleys/overheads. My forehand used to be the strongest part of my game, but recently i tried to change my technique. I used to hit flat, penetrating forehands with a modified eastern grip. I wanted to add topspin to the ball, so i shifted to a semi western, and tried adapting the 'Windshield Wiper Forehand' technique. I eventually messed my forehand up, and now i can't hit the ball on the center of the racket, even though i tried my old grip and old technique. Backhand and serves are still solid, and i hit the center all the time. Any suggestions and tips?
     
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  2. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    You probably just messed your rhythm and timing up, since you would have had to change your contact point to switch to a windshield wiper forehand. I'd guess you need to hit earlier out in front of you.

    I, too, got caught up in hitting the windshield wiper forehand. I didn't like it and I had the same problem you are having. One thing that helped me was to imagine that I was hitting three balls, in a line, each a few inches apart. That stopped me from whipping my hand through the shot, which caused me to frame a lot when transitioning back to my old shot. So, hit through the ball and hit it earlier, I bet you'll be right back on target.
     
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  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Still gotta watch ball.
    Still gotta get shoulders turned.
    Still gotta hit thru "3 balls", as said.
    But now you gotta hit enough balls to get used to new grip, and new grip ANGLE you are now holding the racket. Try 2 weeks of 4 days a week hitting.
     
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  4. GoSurfBoy

    GoSurfBoy Semi-Pro

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    I hate to say this, but at 5.0, you're no longer looking for 'the sweetspot'.

    The way we train now (high level) is below center, 'pulling' the ball, and contact down low allows the face to close for more top. It's something I had to re-learn, too.

    Watch Fed's and Naddy's vids. Few understand what happens at upper levels of the game (Fed's is very dramatic, and many comments are 'it's a mishit'), and most would think this is a mishit, when in fact, it's precisely what he's trying to do.

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb3smnR6NSc

    Yes, they hit centered at times, too, but every ATP coach I work with grinds on me if I'm hitting "on center".

    10 minutes into my first session with a former tour player and coaches/coached several top ATP/WTA players, he was on me for 'hitting in the center of the racket'.
     
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  5. RacketFever

    RacketFever New User

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    Hey guys, thanks for your responses. My FH was much much better today. The problem was i was using my wrist completely to generate the spin. This time, i tried using my elbow and shoulder to brush the ball, keeping my wrist in a fixed position, until after ball contact. I also did not bend my arm while hitting. I could hit the sweet spot almost every time now. The 3 ball trick also helped. A little more practice, and i will be back on my feet again!
     
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  6. mucat

    mucat Hall of Fame

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  7. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

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    OP, if you're a 5.0 you should be giving us tips on how you successfully transitioned over to a SW WW forehand.

    I'm not a 5.0 and it took me about 4 months to make exactly the same change you are trying. Don't give up, IMO acquiring good TS was well worth the wait.
     
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  8. ho

    ho Semi-Pro

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    5.0 should know how to do ww. even 4.0 have to master this.
    you should learn in no time.
     
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  9. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I made the transition from old school Eastern drive to modern WW forehand. At first I mis-hit and shanked a lot of balls. The problem was that I was still using my old school "squeeze the grip at contact," method that I had been taught many years ago. When I learned that a modern forehand requires a loose grip all the way through the swing including contact, not only was I hitting the ball cleaner, I was hitting it harder. It seems that the slight squeeze of the grip diverts the natural path of the racquet head and impairs racquet head speed.

    If I were you, I would go back to the SW WW forehand and work on keeping your grip loose throughout the swing, including at contact. A side benefit is that my TE disappeared.

    Hope that helps!
     
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  10. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    could you please explain in more detail what you mean.
    where do your trainer wants you to hit the ball, what´s the theory behind it, and how can you tell when you hit it correctly?

    thanks:)
     
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  11. tennis_balla

    tennis_balla Hall of Fame

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    ^ Its an Oscar Wegner thing and its very debatable although its a good discussion. The video posted above shows 1 forehand and that is hardly conclusive evidence. Show a full rally or game in slow motion of top a top player and if they hit 80% of their groundies with the racket twisting like that I'll start to believe it.
     
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  12. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    the majorioty of ATP coaches teach this? really? I am not disagreeing but how do you make yourself hit lower?
     
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  13. Funbun

    Funbun Professional

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    To be honest, I think that most higher level players don't give a crap about where they hit on the racquet as long as it's clean.

    Most shots should feel the same, because the technique should negate the feel of the sweet spot anyway. If anything, I think shots should feel stiff and powerful.
     
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  14. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I really shouldn't be advising a 5.0, but usage of more extreme forehand grips automatically increases the chances of hitting on the upper or lower half of the frame (with the frame horizontal), due to the more closed face. But even then, it seems that pros hit above, on or below the center when a large number of videos are examined.
     
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  15. TTMR

    TTMR Hall of Fame

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    I think you're underestimating him a bit. He'd be an upper tier 3.5 in Winnipeg.
     
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  16. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Fed may hit below the centerline of the racquet face, but THAT video shows a mis-hit! If it's intentional, then why doesn't he do it every time? There are legions of videos showing Fed's forehand where his racquet doesn't twist.

    Personally, I'm very happy to hit dead center. If I could do it every time I'd be even happier. When I do hit below the center line and my racquet twists in my hand like that, it's not as good a result for me as when I hit "the sweet spot." YMMV!
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
    #16
  17. ski racer

    ski racer New User

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    #17
  18. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I only counted 2 of 5 where the racquet twisted in his hand. There are plenty of videos, including the one above with examples where he doesn't hit the bottom of the racquet face. If it were intentional, and beneficial, then why wouldn't he do it every time. Perhaps Fed's hitting the bottom of the racquet face explains why he seems to shank his forehands more than Djokovic or Nadal.

    By comparison, here are some videos of Djokovic and Nadal, both of whom seem to be hitting better forehands than Fed lately. If hitting the bottom of the racquet face is the new standard for players and coaches, then why aren't Djokovic and Nadal doing it, every time?

    Here, Djokovic hitting the "sweet spot" with no twisting of the racquet:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=MMiQ97Zrl_k&NR=1

    Djokovic hitting the sweet spot again:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq09yHPmKh0&NR=1&feature=endscreen

    More Djokovic forehands, all sweet spot, no twisting:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk1eqm_vazU

    Djokovic in super slo-mo, sweet spot no twisting:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2psgKKRzcgQ&feature=endscreen&NR=1

    Nadal hitting mostly "sweet spot" with 2 slight mis-hits when he was slightly out of position:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inQvbT8uEGk&feature=related

    Here's a Nadal/Federer comparison where both hit center face and neither have any twisting of the racquet:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Rl0fwXTrr8

    Fed hitting the sweet spot with no twisting:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvZ7prb43Lk&feature=related

    Fed in super slo-mo hitting sweet spot again, no twisting:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_6hC2qKnKw&feature=related

    Again, if it's beneficial, and intentional, why wouldn't Fed do it every time?

    I CALL BS ON THIS ONE!

    PS:
    Soderling forehand, sweet spot, no twisting:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWW3J1EpR7g

    Tsonga forehands, all sweet spot, no twisting:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=_CrWFui1jW4&feature=endscreen
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
    #18
  19. JohnYandell

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    For a Tennisplayer article, I did an analysis of 300 forehands, roughly 100 each for Fed, Djok, and Nadal all filmed in high speed video where you could go frame by frame and see the ball on the strings for 2 frames.

    More than a third were hit on the center line. A little less than a third were above. A little less than a third were below.

    To me it's obvious that they try for the center line and make it often and miss it the rest of time to a greater or a lesser degree a little above or a little below.

    The one unexpected result was that there was a tendency, especially with Djok to hit on the center line but closer out to the tip of the racket. Very few balls were hit closer to the handle by any of the three.
     
    #19
  20. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Thanks for settling this issue! The whole idea of purposely hitting the bottom of the racquet face seems silly to me.
     
    #20
  21. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    Well, that just put paid to the idea that the modern player hits in the top third of the racquet.



     
    #21
  22. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I don't know about modern players, but I will use the top/tip of the sweet spot (end of the racquet) when attacking or very balanced. IMO, it produces more zip. I assumed that was do to the contact point being further away from me. (A bit more racquet head speed at contact pt.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
    #22
  23. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I made this transition a year ago. I kept the modified E grip (I call it strong E., half way between an E and a SW) and just implemented the modern swing path. I got the idea pretty quickly, but it's taken me a long time to really get comfortable with it. Some days were great, others a struggle. There were many, many wall hours to get the prep, stance, swing path, and follow through down. At this point however my forehand is infinitely better than it ever was.

    Based on a later post it sounds like you're getting it, but based on my experience don't freak if you fall back a bit again. Just keep practicing.
     
    #23
  24. ace_pace

    ace_pace Rookie

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    yes this is indeed true. i remember when I thought hitting in the centre was the right thing to do and I'd spend ages trying to get my racket perfectly vertical on contact. Then I saw this http://blog.tennisspeed.com/ and now I realised how stupid I was. But yeah, really the 'sweet spot' is actually in the lower half of your racket with the racket's top edge leading the bottom edge.

    If in doubt why dont you try it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
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  25. RacketFever

    RacketFever New User

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    I'am getting along great with the SW grip. I prefer using a SW, rather than a modified eastern FH grip. The SW helps getting more Topspin.
     
    #25
  26. RacketFever

    RacketFever New User

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    #26
  27. Lsmkenpo

    Lsmkenpo Hall of Fame

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    The TW professor ran an experiment that may suggest the reason a top pro payer would look to hit below the sweetspot. Shots hit lower on the sweetspot can increase spin significantly, if your racquet is tuned for it. It is particularly useful on high forehands to swing through the ball but still impart a lot of spin. The height of the incoming ball may be the reason it is not done every time.
    It is an interesting topic and open to interpretation, perhaps it is done intuitively, or on purpose, or just mishits. I think a lot of pro players do things they don't even know they are doing intuitively, they just see the results and subconsciously repeat the stroke if the effect is good over a lifetime of hitting millions of balls.

    Over 25% more spin hitting lower on the racquet, it may be worth the risk of a few mishits, shank you very much.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/learning_center/location.php
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
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  28. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    you don´t just try that. we´re talking about months maybe years of concentrated training to learn/unlearn. at least for someone like me with 35 years of playing trying to hit the sweetspot.
    i would never do that without being totally convinced of this technique first
     
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  29. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    But it's not true. You may find a minority of Federer's and Nadal's forehands cause the racquet to twist in their hands. But, they appear to be mis-hits, not intentional. I don't see any evidence of that from the other pros. Did you see these two prior posts:

    #19

    #18

     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
    #29
  30. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    The point was asserted that top players hit below the center line, and that top coaches teach students to hit below the center line. But, as John Yandell pointed out in post #19, the top pros are hitting a majority of their shots on the center line, and an equal amount above and below the center line. That tells me they're trying to hit the center, not the bottom half. My post, #18 has numerous links showing several top pros all hitting dead center in slow motion, without twisting. I also thought it was informative that neither Tennis Balla nor Ash Smith were familiar with this concept.

    Having said that, your post begs the question - is more spin than can be attained by hitting the sweet spot better?
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
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  31. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Borrowed from the Oscar at Fair thread. Thanks, Toly!

     
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  32. Lsmkenpo

    Lsmkenpo Hall of Fame

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    Pros do not hit the ball with the same intent every shot. Of course players that hit a flatter ball hit the sweetspot more, they don't want any additional spin on their shots that is why most of these flatter ball strikers use racquets with denser string patterns and higher tensions. Soderling has his racquet setup so he hits less spin. Players like Federer and Nadal hit with considerably more spin, spin is how they get their control, not so much from their racquet setup.

    Looking at slo mo video doesn't tell the complete story, you need to see the complete shot and the situation. Like I said before, the height of the incoming ball changes the shot selection and dictates whether it is feasible or not to hit lower. Low balls require a steeper wiping motion to get lift ,of course a player wont try to hit low on the stringbed on these shots, higher balls above the waist it is a completely different story. This is where a player can hit lower on the string bed and use a flatter swing plane through contact.

    I don't see how some coaches unaware of the fact that hitting below the sweetspot gives more spin makes the technique invalid. I have hit below the sweetspot on high forehands for years and know firsthand it increases spin while allowing you to hit a flatter trajectory.

    Go out and try it yourself and you will see you get more spin, if it is useful to you or not doesn't mean it is not feasible for other players, everyone has their own style of play and varying levels of hand eye coordination.

    Personally I don't think you are giving pro level players enough credit, their hand eye coordination is amongst the best in the world in pro sports.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
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  33. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    yes i did, and i found them quite convincing. no reason though not to keep the discussion going. there is always the chance to learn something even if you don´t agree:)
     
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  34. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Your arguments, express and implied, do not withstand scrutiny. John Yandell has established that Federer and others hit above, below and dead on the centerline of their racquets almost equally. If Federer was hitting these different spots of his racquet purposely, then it would seem that he would have the ability to NEVER shank the ball, which we all know he does, even when he's not particularly stressed or out of position.

    I think I am giving pro players the exact amount of credit that is due.
     
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  35. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I'm always looking to learn something new. But, I think the premise of intentionally mis-hitting a tennis ball to create, yet, more spin, in terms of both the ability to consistently mis-hit to the exact degree needed, and the benefit of doing so, is so obviously false that it doesn't warrant further consideration. JMHO! YMMV!
     
    #35
  36. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    we agree on this, but i would like the poster gosurfboy to elaborate on how his coaches train him on this new method:)
     
    #36
  37. ho

    ho Semi-Pro

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    Absolutely right, since you hit below center, racket face buckle on the top, you kind of roll racket a little. You can produce that kind of rolling by putting a lead tape at the lower part off the racket (3 o'clock) it will be naturally unbalance and produce spin. However, if you turn it around, you get in trouble.
    Beside, Hitting below the center to produce spin is hard to do, compare with many other ways that we learn.
     
    #37
  38. Lsmkenpo

    Lsmkenpo Hall of Fame

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    Yes, kind of like 40 years ago when coaches thought any grip other than continental was useless, who would want to risk an extreme grip for more spin. :)

    Just because you don't see a benefit doesn't make it obviously false, if it doesn't benefit your game that is fine, but it is a proven scientific fact and there are players who would like 25% more spin on shots.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
    #38
  39. Lsmkenpo

    Lsmkenpo Hall of Fame

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    I have actually discussed this exact topic with John on this forum before, quit implying things from John's work that he himself doesn't substantiate. John stated he does not know whether or not pros try to hit outside the sweet spot on purpose for certain shots.
     
    #39
  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    You have? Did you see post #19 in this thread? I didn't imply anything. I repeated John Yandell's express conclusion about his own work.

     
    #40
  41. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Really? I have been playing tennis for more than 40 years. I never heard or read of a single coach who said that.

    Stop misrepresenting my posts. That's not what I said.

    Please site your source for your putative "proven scientific fact" that hitting with more spin than the pros are hitting now is beneficial. You might even be good enough to post a link to your source.
     
    #41
  42. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    if i put extra lead at 3 o´clock what would be the effect on my serve?
     
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  43. Lsmkenpo

    Lsmkenpo Hall of Fame

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    Stop misrepresenting my posts. I showed the scientific fact that hitting lower on the stringbed resulted in an increase in spin. I will delve into your misinterpretation further below just out of humour, knowing it will not open your stubbornly closed eyes.

    Here is what I think, I think you are an old player who is very cynical about something because you can not do it yourself, so in your mind there is no way any modern player could actually do something which you think is so extremely difficult as hitting a little below the sweet spot on purpose on certain shots given the circumstance. :) Christ, you must view baseball players as gods, they can hit a tennis sized ball with a bat smaller than the sweetspot of a tennis racquet traveling at higher speeds and can hit line drives, grounders or drive the ball up and deep at will if you gave them pitches traveling as slow as tennis shots do. Pitches traveling at 60-70 mph(tennis ball speeds) would be laughed at.


    Now to answer your question it shouldn't require a link, how about some commonsense and knowledge of the modern game. If you haven't noticed hitting with more spin is kind of in nowadays, you see courts are slower and baseline play has become the dominant style on tour.

    The two most dominant players of this decade happen to both hit with considerably more spin than the dominant players of the previous decade. Furthermore have you heard of this new-fangled stroke called the windshield wiper forehand? Most pros now use it almost exclusively.
    It allows players to hit with more spin on their forehands while using the modern open stance footwork. Spin equals control in the modern game,
    it allows a player to hit sharper angles into the court pretty much a prerequisite to hit winners by players on slower surfaces nowadays unless you are one of the handful of players in the entire world that can hit 90+ mph forehands consistently at will.

    There was also this new advancement in string technology called poly, which allows a player to swing harder and produce more spin for control. Pretty much every player on tour uses it nowadays, why do you think that is?

    So you see a skilled player may look to hit below the sweet spot on certain shots on purpose for more spin accordingly. The game evolves new techniques are put to use accordingly, adapt or fall behind.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
    #43
  44. JohnYandell

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    Just to clarify, I wish I could say I could read the minds of top players to verify their intent. If the mood is right I might ask a couple of them at Indian Wells press conferences if they are aware of hitting different spots on the string bed and what they think the effects are, though, interestingly, this type of technical inquiry normally brings responses such as "I have no idea." and "Why are you asking me stupid questions?"

    What our sample showed was where the ball hit the strings. Now if the players are mainly hitting on the center line, I am going to go with the conclusion that at some level that's what they are trying for--that's my opinion. Similarly, if they hit on the center line closer to the tip I am also going to assume they figured out something they like about that effect--whether what they do is actually conscious or not in either case...

    Lindsey's experiment about increased spin is really interesting and I am going to write him about it.

    But note the experimental conditions: the racket is not moving and the ball is coming in with heavy underspin.
    It might be true that the topspin would increase in realistic conditions as well, but not sure this experiment shows that. What would be nice would be to see the racket moving at 60mph on a 30 degree incline, and also slightly right to left and throw in some wiper as well. Little harder to simulate in the lab I am pretty sure.

    Finally about the "roll." If the lower contact is producing more spin, it's not due to "rolling the racket over the ball." Remember the impact is 4 milliseconds. It's clear in the 500 frame/sec footage that that tilt is a consequence of the hit, and actually it starts when the ball has left the strings. Again, not to say that the idea or the image of doing this--as with the closed face--isn't helpful for some players.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
    #44
  45. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    There is no competent scientific evidence that mis-hitting a tennis ball adds spin or improves shot production. The fact that you have blindly bought into such a facially ridiculous premise is more a reflection of you than of the premise.

    As is typical of the less informed, you know absolutely nothing about me, but, proceed upon inapposite, manufactured premises about me to support a ridiculous argument. I suppose I am an older player compared to the typical, pimple faced, mouth breathing know-it-all that inhabits the forums on TT. Funny how those with the least knowledge and experience seem have the strongest held opinions.

    Conversely, being older, wiser, and having evolved from Continental, to Eastern to modern SW strokes over a time that I suspect predates your existence, I feel uniquely qualified to comment about the benefits and detriments of all three styles of play. And I am confident that intentionally mis-hitting the ball has nothing to do with modern tennis stroke production. Even if contact below the center-line of the racquet face did add spin, I dispute that it can intentionally be done consistently, and/or effectively. In any event, John Yandell's data establishes that there is no such intent.
     
    #45
  46. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Tell us how you really feel.
     
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  47. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

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    I also call BS on anyone being able consistently hit a certain spot on their racket to within +/- 0.5 inches.
     
    #47
  48. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    ^^^^^^Am I the only one that thinks this is funny?
     
    #48
  49. maggmaster

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    #49
  50. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    I don't know if the pro players are trying to hit off center, but i do know that after watching a lot of slow motion forehands that this happens very often and it is not a miss hit.
     
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