Lift and Push - Really?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by zic, Apr 11, 2008.

  1. zic

    zic New User

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    A common theme these days is that the modern FH is all about finding, lifting and pushing the ball rather than swinging at and hitting it; more about getting body mass into the ball than racket speed. And sure, the super slow motion footage arguably bears this out.

    But is this finding/lifting/pushing idea really any use out on the court?

    I mean, when a ball is hurtling towards you at upwards of 100 mph do you really have time to calmly find, lift and push it back, and moreover, would doing so really result in the heavy ball you want?

    An analogy commonly used to back up the push concept is that of the water barrel, coined by Oscar Wegner:

    "Imagine yourself in front of a large barrel of water. If you hit it with your hand, it will barely move. If you push it, you may tip it over."

    But the reality is we're not trying to push over a barrel of water, we're trying to hit a small hollow rubber ball! Replace the barrel of water with a tennis ball somehow suspended in mid air and put a racket in your hand. You want to hit it as hard as possible. Would you square up to it and push it with your body weight? Of course not, you'd wind up and club it!

    Watch any pro (at normal speed) on TV, or even a promising junior at your club, they don't lift and push the ball, they wind up, wait for that crucial millisecond, pull the trigger and smack the fuzz off it!

    You get my point.

    While I don't doubt the physics behind the modern FH are more about pushing and less about swinging, I'm starting to think this isn't necessarily a helpful concept to take on court.

    What do we think?

    I realise for those of you with big forehands this stuff is probably instinctive and you don't consciously think push, swing or anything else for that matter.

    But I wonder, for the sake of us who so badly want to "get" this, if you could try and pinpoint what's going through your mind/body when you pull the trigger on a ball, what it feels like.

    Are you thinking "OK, find it well, get it on the strings, lift and push", or "here it comes, wind up, wait and... BOOM!" or something else entirely?
     
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  2. Christian78

    Christian78 New User

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    I think it's a bad choice of words and a lack of understanding. What they call "pushing" is your ordinary swings forward motion and the "lifting" comes from your forearm pronation. It's the sum of two fluid motions.

    Note how fast the rackethead rotates upwards aroud the hand at
    the point of impact.
    http://www.hi-techtennis.com/forehand/topspin.php
     
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  3. Solat

    Solat Professional

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    is this serious? i have never heard of this concept of pushing over a barrel

    so if i now say
    "karate dudes can break a board with their bare hand through sheer hand speed and power, therefore the best way to hit a tennis ball hard must be with hand speed and power" Solat et al 2008

    seems the same logic :roll:
     
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  4. zic

    zic New User

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    This is the concept I'm referring to:

    http://www.hi-techtennis.com/forehand/doublebend_pushlift.php

    All sounds fine in theory, but can you really take this align/push/lift concept on court and be effective?

    When I think "push" I instantly think firm and powerful yes, but hard and fast no.

    Firm and powerful is what you need to push over a barrel of water, but to smack a small hollow rubber ball with heavy pace and spin - I just don't see it.

    I'm hoping someone can open my eyes!
     
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  5. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    finding - watch the ball
    align - via footwork and preparation
    push - by hitting through the ball
    lift - simply follow through

    sometimes metaphors are terrible and don't effectively capture what we are actually doing on the court
     
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  6. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    words dont do justice to all the things our body does, that's why there's so much different written ways to play tennis.
     
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  7. dakels

    dakels Rookie

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    I personally think "push" is a very bad descriptor so I can't argue with you. While I understand the concept, I don't think push is a great word for it. Most people find the word push to mean like wrist out forward motion pushing. Not coming up through the ball.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kluhYnSlGZU
     
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  8. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Ha, so does that mean that all the top baseliners are pushers? :lol:
     
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  9. Fay

    Fay Professional

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  10. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I found that a difficult article to read. So many thoughts and statements in there were in the grey area and open for critical debate. I dont know why they say "it is the key to power."

    I think without a clear understanding, a player could very much starting arming the ball, fail to realize that it is the shoulder rotation that is the source of power for the arm, and could cause players to develop a very short stroke.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2008
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  11. dakels

    dakels Rookie

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    That's an interesting video. I still don't view it as pushing though but maybe it's semantics. The first guy in yellow is doing more of a sit and lift with weight transfer forward then the second who is not using his knees to propel through the shot. Really, they both have similar styles, 2nd guy just looks more sedated/lazy. I wouldn't call that an entirely different stroke because IMO, the 2nd guy needs to use more body momentum.

    I say lift forward through the ball, you say push? hmm... easier but too vague imo.



    p.s. Fay can you just use a normal font please... lol I mean it's red, green, blue, cyan, now bold and enlarged... give these eyes and my 2" blackberry screen a break. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2008
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  12. Fay

    Fay Professional

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    No .... I said PULL. It feels like I pull the racquet, yes thru the ball, but also up and across my body ... not across the ball but the FINISH to me feels like an upward pull. I think of trying to get racquet momentum with my bicep and chest. My FH is my only weapon at this point, I have nothing else figured out.

    Apologies if the font bothers you, it was just easier to find the posts where I left off last time if they were a different color. It is not a pressing need, LOL. No problem.
     
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  13. dakels

    dakels Rookie

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    Oh, no. Sorry Fay I was referring to the term "push" or the video, not you. It was more of a reference to the you say tomato I say tomato line. Meaning (possibly in this case) 2 different sayings for the same meaning, or more specifically in this case, the same motion and effect as a goal.

    In your case: I know what you mean by pulling the racquet up but there are variances. You may be getting too low of a follow through with a low windshield wiper effect. You generally want to have good extension, long swing with elbow away from the body, and high finish. Maybe you also need to follow through over your shoulder more where your shoulder (deltoid) and chin come together? Once you make contact with the ball, follow through should be just that, following through with the momentum you already gave the ball. Not pulling up or in but more of a release around your shoulder.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiHIklJiM7U
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kluhYnSlGZU&NR=1

    The spin you impart will say a lot about your "pulling".
    - Sidespin often indicates you pulling your elbow in. (Try to keep your arm extended with a long follow through, Drill with elbow up high in your face (chin on delt) follow through to help break this habit.)
    - Diagonal rotation usually indicates a pulling up with your body during your swing. (Keep your body balanced and head and shoulders down through the shot)
    - True 6-12 topspin, often is a result of not pulling but keeping extended, contact point in front, long follow through.


    Hope this makes some sense. I'll try to fix it later when I am not in a hurry.
     
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  14. Fay

    Fay Professional

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  15. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    This is a good lesson of how words can be used to obscure the objective in tennis. The best thing words can hope to do is communicate a feeling to the player. I'm not sure lift and push come even close. These words would better suit a furniture mover.

    I think 'relax' and 'rotate' are far better.
     
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  16. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    It's very difficult to tell wheher Jeff Counts, the owner of this site and author of that article, actually has a clue what he's talking about or if he's just referncing without understanding from many sources.


    If you pick him up on something he'll just say he agrees with you and that's what he really meant.

    He knows nothing about physics, he, (and he admitted this), lifted this leverage concept straight from tennisone.com.

    His whole 'double bend' catch phrase is nonsense as the only bend that matters is the bend in the wrist.The amount of bend in the elbow is irrelevant as the wide variety of degrees of elbow bend in the pro tour show, including nearly90 degrees right up to federer and verdasco etc who have no bend at all, so the 'double bend concept' is useless.The wrist bend will be achieved if you hit the ball out in front.

    So if you see strange, confusing or unhelpful things pop up like that article, they are best left ignored, for the sake of your tennis.

    Just remember, some of his sources are better than others, for eg, if you look at the bottom of that article, you'll see he's referencing Oscar Wegner, who is an idiot in the opinion of most people who teach this this game, including myself.

    If you see something that references John Yandell, or Dave Smith etc, you can be assured of it's quality.

    caveat emptor
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2008
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  17. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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  18. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    Do you really think it is irrelevant? Federer (as Yandell observes) rotates between bent and straight elbows. From a "physics perspective," you should be able to get more racket head speed w/a totally straight arm vs. a bent arm. But a straight arm sacrifices the stability of a bent arm (in other words, you need to be strong(er) to hit w/a straight arm). So there are trade-offs.

    Then again, my argument might be on the more hypothetical end of the spectrum. Who knows if the few extra inches gained by a straight arm actually translates into a better forehand, in some situations -- I doubt anyone has quantified this... yet. Your thoughts?
     
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  19. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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  20. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    Don't you just love the way Blake explains his technique?!

    Sit... lift... come from under the ball... pause a bit for inside-out fh... hit earlier and more in front for cross court...hit the ball on the centre of your racket... get good leg movement into the shot... and voila!!

    BTW, his shoulder rotation is amazing eh?
     
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  21. wihamilton

    wihamilton Hall of Fame

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    I prefer to utilize the "grip it and rip it" technique.

    Ross -- ya great shoulder turn. Great FH in general :)
     
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  22. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Okay, hold the phone...

    Hey zic, I definately appreciate your skepticism toward this issue and I have a thought that may help you look at it in a certain light. In the instruction that I've given in tennis over a few years now, as well as with lessons I've received for tennis, golf, etc., it's occurred to me that these ideas/tips are rarely universal.

    I was working on my 1hbh in a lesson a couple of winters back and I wasn't aware of my inside-out swingpath. My teacher saw what I was doing and just told me to try and swing around the outside half of the ball. BOOM - everything came together and I almost ripped his head off with the next few strokes that I churned out.

    Usually, a smart instructor will spot the problem in someone's technique and be able to come up with the right idea or image that will help that student find their way to a better position, swingpath, happy place, whatever. That's the art of effective teaching - making the "lights turn on". I'll bet that this image of "lift and push" runs contrary to what you're already doing with your stroke and that's why your brain doesn't want to embrace it. Since a teacher didn't specifically try to modify your swing with this idea, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
     
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  23. uspta mp

    uspta mp New User

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    how about push lift and pull motion? it's almost a simultaneous stroke that goes hand in hand. but the stroke can be explained better by a man who's been preaching something like this for years and he's simplified it to where you can understand it.

    by the way, do you have a PM? if i said something here, it would spark a debate. we don't need that here.



     
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  24. uspta mp

    uspta mp New User

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    again, this is just an illustration. if there's a better way to describe it. i'm all ears. instruction has gotten so technical that we sometimes forget to simplify and make it easier for the regular tennis player to understand.
     
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  25. mordecai

    mordecai Rookie

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    Actually this is a stupid way of looking at a board break from a physical standpoint. You can move your hand 'faster' by snapping your elbow into the board, but good luck doing anything to it without aligning your shoulder and arm into it first. That is what modern power is about-- alignment and timing. Honestly.
     
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  26. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    BeHappy has made another excellent and intuitive point here re the wrist bend, and in effect the creation of the drag motion (imo). Thumbs up, Behappy.
     
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  27. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    thx, always glad to help.
     
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