More "ummph!" to your groundstrokes: how?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Bergboy123, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

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    I think we all have played against those players that have to much "weight" behind their groundstrokes. I don't really know how to describe it other than that; the ball feels "heavy" and it's coming at you hard. Not necessarily fast, (though sometimes fast..) as much as just always "heavy." I hope that makes sense. I hit with a D1 college player that fits this perfectly.

    My question is how. :confused:

    Is it purely technique? Is it finely tuned racket/strings to the players desire? Is it hitting the weights in the gym? Is it all three? (I bet it is...)

    Anybody have any personal advice on how I can achieve this heavy ball?

    I took a month off during winter break, but now I'm back at school with the gym and pool. I've started (for the first time ever) consistent conditioning in the pool, 3 days a week. Before the break I was working out 4 days a week, and I'm going to start that up again but I think only two days a week now. Is that a good balance between conditioning and weights?



    TL;DR ... What can I do to get some umph or weight behind my groundstrokes?
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    It's a matter of perception.
    To us, and to you, a 5.5 hits with weight and pace, spin and placement.
    To Nadal, they are pansies who push the ball all the time.
    Get better, and you won't see as many "heavy" balls.
    For all of us, even little guys like Kolhsreiber hit heavy shots, much less a Tsonga//DelPo/Berdych...
     
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  3. VeeSe

    VeeSe Rookie

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    It is mostly technique, although some strength never hurts. Fast and/or heavy balls don't come from being strong like many of us think about it (being able to bench a lot, lift a lot of weights, etc). Instead, they come from generating a lot of racquet head speed on contact. This can be increased a lot through proper technique and relaxation of the muscles during your swing so that you are holding the grip pretty loosely and allowing the racquet to "whip" through the ball.
     
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  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Personally, I don't think pure RHSpeed has much to do with it.
    Slow swingers like McEnroe and Connors hit a plenty heavy ball.
    Solid contact, solid footing, hit to a corner makes a heavy ball.
    Pure spin is not hard to handle.
    Pure speed is not hard to handle.
    But add placement and unexpected shots coming from unexpected positions, that makes a heavy ball.
     
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  5. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

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    that heavy ball ball comes from a loose wrist and effortless racket head speed acceleration. Most players, especially amateurs, muscle the ball around and never get the type of smooth acceleration needed to hit that clean/heavy ball.
     
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  6. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

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    I played today and really focused on a loose wrist, something I struggle with, and I felt like I was definitely hitting it harder than I ever have before. :)
     
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  7. blastforehand

    blastforehand Rookie

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    équilibre

    (Balance. Sometimes the french is more meaningful. Pronunciation ekuh leebruh. Pucker lips and have fun.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
    #7
  8. The Dampener

    The Dampener Professional

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    It's everything—the frame you use, racquet head speed, your strength, your technique. Heavy balls don't come from one place.

    But, mostly, it comes down do how effectively you use your kinetic chain, which ultimately is a result of all of the above.
     
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  9. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    Improve overall and regional coordinations of the body. Identify poorly coordinated parts of the body (which is the hard part) and simply working on it more will improve. As said above this will improve balance and kinetic chain which contribute to effortless power.
     
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  10. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Weight lifting can help, but in isolation won't probably make much of a difference. One of my brothers is significantly stronger than I am but cannot hit nearly as hard. The power of my shots come from having better technique and a better kinetic chain.

    As others have stated, part of it should be to get good video of your technique and compare with the pros. You may be under-rotating into the shot, rotating too soon, or not timing the parts of the body correctly.

    In terms of physical training, you want to strengthen your core (I'd advise doing braces, bird-dogs, and hanging leg raises along with back exercises like deadlift.) You want to train muscles to move explosively using things like throwing medicine balls, and other exercises in which you move explosively. I'm a fan of the speedchain type trainer and of doing some limited training with a racket without strings to increase head speed.

    I've found weight training to help me mostly in terms of injury prevention. I've been doing more upper body stuff (pull-ups, deadlifts, rotator cuff stuff and it is allowing me to swing harder with less chance of injury. I believe that my back muscles were comparatively weaker than the chest muscles and that was allowing me to throw my shoulders out.
     
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  11. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Use the heaviest racquet you can handle..??
     
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  12. dak95_00

    dak95_00 Professional

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    The heaviest ball I ever faced came from a German exchange student I played in the mid-90s. He used a Wilson Hammer 6.2 (skunk) racquet. The ball didn't look like much coming at me but it just pushed my racquet back everytime I made contact. If I didn't hit it perfectly in the center of the strings, I had trouble with it. I got to hit with this kid multiple times and the best I ever did was get 4 games in a set. He was easily able to play D-1 tennis. He grew up playing on clay courts and was just smooth on the ground. We only played on hard courts and if I slammed the ball as hard as I could, I could get winners but otherwise he'd just hit the ball back methodically. It didn't look like much at all but it was HEAVY and would twist my racquet on anything off-center.

    I got to see him play one of the better hs players in the area as he wasn't eligible to play for the hs team. The other kids coach was watching the warm-up and saying he didn't think he was THAT good and his player would beat him. He just saw a kid who wasn't super quick and hit a decent ball. He couldn't see the weight behind those shots. The match started and the German easily won 6-0, 6-0. The opponent came off the court crying because he was humiliated by the fact he couldn't return the shots and match the placement. His power and hard-hitting game was no match for the placement and heavy balls of the German kid.

    I honestly couldn't tell you what causes that heavy of a ball other than technique and timing. I can most certainly say that it isn't how hard you swing. It has a lot to do with the spin on the ball though. I do know the answer to playing that ball is to set-up early and to have your racquet prepared just as early to make returning that ball easier. Good luck.
     
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  13. vin

    vin Professional

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    Personally, I have little doubt about technique being the most important factor, and by a significant margin. However, proper training will accomplish two important things:

    1. Improve motor control in general and, in turn, make it easier to develop better technique.

    2. Increase the power with which you can execute good technique.

    So, in short, technique is not everything. Without good training, motor control will likely be less precise and more susceptible to fatigue, which translates into a heavy ball that you can't control as well as you'd like.

    Power in tennis is all about the kinetic chain. If power/energy is lost during the transfer from one body segment to the next, power of the resulting shot will lost as well.

    In regard to training, in my opinion, here are the most important things to focus on relating to the kinetic chain of groundstrokes:

    1. Hip extension
    2. Trunk stability - rotary stability in particular
    3. Scapular stability
     
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  14. hyperion99

    hyperion99 Semi-Pro

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    Most of your strength comes from your core and legs.

    Here's what you need to work on.

    1: Work more on your technique.
    2: Add more core training/explosive leg training and try to work on your rotator cuff to prevent any injuries.

    3:On court try to put more emphasis on loading and exploding with your legs.
     
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  15. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Who has the best forehand in tennis? Federer.

    Who has a scrawny body made to look weak by numerous WTA players? Federer.

    It's 90-95% technique. If you want more ummph, you can put on 20 pounds o muscle and maybe get about 2 mph...or, you can learn to hit the ball with a loose grip, good rotation, using your legs, out in front, etc, and probalby get 10 MPH more out of your shot. It's not a coincidence that tennis players are skinny in comparison to most professional athletes.
     
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  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Federer is 6'1" and about 175 lbs.
    If that's your definition of scrawny, so be it.
    Notice his left arm carries little weight, resistance, or dead weight.
    He DOES have a bit of a paunch up the middle, for increased resistance to germs and to add some endurance to his body.
     
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  17. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    By professional athlete standards he is VERY scrawny. Even by tennis player standards he is scrawnier than most.

    To make some anecdotal refs (like so many do here, which of course usually means nothing)...

    ....when I was 24 playing hoops about 6 hours per week and doing no working out other than a few dumbell presses and push ups, at 6'1, I was about 185 with body fat probably around 12-13% (probably the same range as Fed judging by how he looks with his shirt off) depending on how many milk shakes I had that week. Not showing a six pack, but no love handles and couldn't pinch an inch. :)

    Fed, scrawny, maybe exaggerating, skinny, definitely.

    Not to get too far off the point, the simple fact is you don't have to be very big or very strong to hit a tennis ball hard. Your time is better spent on learning how to hit the ball more effectively through technique than trying to find some aspect of your physique that will help you hit it better.

    If someone ask you: what should I do to get a great forehand....build my biceps up like Nadal, or learn technique like Nadal or Fed..the answer is obvious.
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Wow, then what would you call the guys like Kohlshreiber, Gasguet, Nalbandian, Meltzer, or even a 6'2" Chardy?
    Tsonga was huge at 6'2" and 190, now down to 180 and weak, lacking in endurance.
    And what of the former top players like Connors..5'10" and 150 lbs., Agassi..almost the same, but 160 lbs., or McEnroe... a hair taller and 165lbs.
    Or Rosewall, Laver, Okker, and those tykes?
     
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  19. hyperion99

    hyperion99 Semi-Pro

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    I agree that perfect technique goes a long way.
    Most ATP tennis players don't try to develop that much of an upper body because it inhibits them to hit a loose stroke.
    They still work on upper body like the shoulder,forearms,and wrists to keep themselves injury free.

    Federer's upper body might not be as big as other pros on the tour but he has HUGE legs.


    Physical wise most of your power comes from legs&core.
    Remember you can be one of the strongest guys around but if you don't have good technique all that strength won't do anything for you.
     
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  20. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    You're derailing the thread.
     
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  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    WHO called Federer scrawny?
     
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  22. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    It was part of making a point, obviously. If you think that building muscle is more important than technique, that's fine.
     
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  23. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Technique determines the ability to hit a heavy ball. I once say an 8 year old girl will pig tails wolloping the heck out of the ball. She had a fantastic swing but any adult on these boards could beat her at arm wrestling.

    Strength and fitness is very important to tennis. It helps you get to the ball, improves your stamina and helps avoid injury. But, Chris Evertt hit a very forcing 2 HBH and she had arms smaller than mine.
     
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  24. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Interesting you bring up Chris Evert.

    She was number one in tennis due to her incredible consistency in an era when none of the top female tennis players really trained like pro athletes.

    That all changed when Martina Navratilova worked to become incredibly fit, and in so doing came to totally dominate Chris,

    Ahh ... nothing like a little competition.

    Chris finally wised up, and got herself in great shape.

    The result - Chris was able to hold her own against Martina, and one of the greatest rivalries in sports moved to a new level.




    We saw how last week Murray was able to prevail over Fed due to an obvious increase in strength, with a resultant dominant serve game, instead of being dominated.


    At any level, movement and smooth technique take most tennis players the furthest.

    But to progress to that next level and beat an opponent just above you on the ladder, being in better shape can be part of the ticket.


    That ... and mostly a lot of practice.



    And being in great shape can let you tolerate that greater amount of practice without breaking down from an overuse injury.


    Sports Fitness Advisor Tennis Training Section: http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/tennis-training.html
     
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  25. mr_fro2000

    mr_fro2000 Rookie

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    all true except that the op asked specifically how to achieve hitting a "heavy ball"... muscle strength or technique. And the answer to the question is technique.
     
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  26. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    ^^^ With strength, but without technique you can't hit a heavy ball.

    With correct technique, plenty of practice and more strength you can hit a heavier ball.
     
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  27. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

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    Easy Answer: Footwork
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Footwork, clean contact, shoulder turn, strong fast swing, heavy racket, smart target, knowing the strengths and weakness of your opponent, confidence, and tons of EQUALLY important factors.
     
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  29. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

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    Thanks for all this info guys, I'm gonna be working on lots of different things to see what I can achieve
     
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  30. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    If you want to hit a heavier ball. Lead tape and polysester strings. When I first started leading up my racquets. That was the first thing I noticed besides the power and speed increase. People kept making errors off my shots even if I was just hitting safe rally balls.
     
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  31. Metalica

    Metalica New User

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    Explosiveness plays a factor, but it most technique and footwork. You can't swing at your max effort and have the ball land in consistently enough without great technique anyway.Only those at quite a high level would be able to harness the benefits of strength training I'd think(I'm talking about upper body strength). Equipment do play a larger role than most would admit imo. Hit with new poly strings and new balls and there'll be so much more oomph on your strokes.
     
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  32. wanda

    wanda New User

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    I believe a heavy ball is one that has speed and spin.
    You can hit a fast ball with little spin and it's easy to get back and control. If you're faced with a ball with spin and pace when it hits your racket it's much more difficult to control due to the spin, hence it feels heavy.

    I remember an interview with Tim Henman after he played Pete Sampras - he said that many guys would serve faster than Pete but none of them served as heavy. Now, Tim wasn't the best returner of the game for sure but I think he was describing the fact that Pete put a lot more rpms on the ball than anyone else.

    You can hit with too much spin and the ball will just sit up, the key is to get the right combination so that you can still hit fast and through the court.
    I would say practice generating racket head speed, hit through the ball with enough low to high for spin. Hitting out in front too is a must.
     
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  33. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    I've never quite understood how this works. The balls speed and spin can be exactly the same between a heavy hitter and normal hitter, but the difficulty in returning it is huge, and can actually seem like you are getting pushed off the court.

    When I was a kid, I hit with an older ex high level touring pro (top 20). His strokes didn't look that fast and weren't, but it felt like you were being physically pushed off the court on every stroke. When I asked him about it, he mentioned it was just getting your body behind the ball and good hip turn. I have a pretty big forehand, but it is mostly arm and shoulder and not heavy.
     
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  34. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    So what is causing you to be pushed back, magic?

    If you have more difficulty returning a shot, there are only 3 things that can be in play: pace, spin, and placement. If the opponent is consitently hitting the ball where you can't set up properly to hit it, than maybe that's giving you the illusion of some unseen force on the ball.

    A tennis ball moving at 70 MPH off the racquet of a mouse or a 250lb guy with perfect technique is still moving 70 MPH. A tennis ball moving at 2500 RPM at 70 MPH off a weekend hack who just happened to hit one perfectly vs a pro who can do it on every stroke is the exact same ball.

    A "heavy ball" is a ball with pace and spin. That's it. There isn't any other force that can be created hitting a ball.
     
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  35. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Technique is way more important than strenght/fitness in hitting a heavy ball. Stroke patterns, timing, rythmn and experience far, far, far outweight strength and fitness.

    Now strength and fitness do begin to make big difference when 2 equal level players are competing to win. But, out of shape 5.0 level player will beat the living hell out of a very fit 4.0 player every single damn time.
     
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  36. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Laughing while thinkin' 'bout it -- I agree. ;)
     
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  37. jxs653

    jxs653 Rookie

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    Last summer I played with this person and he hit absolutely flat ball almost with zero spin. And his ball was very fast and felt very very heavy. So probably spin is not a necessary condition for heavy ball (while speed is).
     
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  38. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    A "HEAVY" ball is one the other guy hits into your court that is better than you can handle.
    It might have more spin, more speed, more wierd kick or bounce, or just hit where you don't want it.
    A college player's best "HEAVY" ball will barely bother a pro.
     
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  39. _craze

    _craze New User

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    You can always hit flatter.
     
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  40. wanda

    wanda New User

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