Should the racket face be closed at impact for a SW grip?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by newyorkstadium, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    Or should it be open/neutral? Same for a Western grip?
     
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  2. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    This is the common mistake people make with the Semi-Western FH grip. If the racket head is close at contact you must run to the net to collect your ball.

    Whatever the grip the racket head must be vertical at contact (not open, not close). This means for the SW FH Grip the contact point's height should be around chest level and further out in front.
     
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  3. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    I believe it depends a little on the height, direction, speed and spin of the incomming ball, and what you are trying to do.
    Not that I think you should be consciously judging all these parameters, but I think we make some unconscious adjustments.
     
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  4. babyhagrid

    babyhagrid Rookie

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    It depends on a lot of variables, swing plane, swing speed and contact point on the racquet bed. My advice would be to keep the racquet face neutral/slightly closed. With a SW grip there is a tendency to close the face a little so dont worry too much. :)
     
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  5. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    SW FH grip is suitable for chest high balls and at this angle of contact the racket head is vertical. Yes, at times it could be 89 degree at contact; more closer than that and the ball will land in the net.
     
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  6. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    #6
  7. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I disagree with your assessment, though as you'll see it is only a slight disagreement.

    Video evidence is showing that with an upward swing, though not particularly steep, and decent racket head speed, say enough to return a rally ball at over 70mph, the racket face can be slightly closed and still give decent topspin and net clearance. For some evidence of this with the pros, look at this blog post on the topspin forehands of Federer and Djokovic by a commonly cited technique blog.

    http://blog.tennisspeed.com/

    You'll see that there is now substantial video evidence showing angles less than 89degrees, though admittedly not a lot less, on rally balls hit by the pros.

    Also, I think that a slightly closed racket face isn't needed on semi-western fh any more than an eastern fh. In either case, you can still topspin the ball with a slightly closed face.

    I advise practicing this technique, especially if you hit the ball long a lot. Of course, if you close the racket face down and don't have a topspin swing path, you'll find yourself dumping balls into the net.
     
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  8. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    please see updates

    please see "pat the dog thread"
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    As usual, the answer is DEPENDS on the situation and preferences, style and swing speed, court and temps.
    There is no ONE answer that covers a question like this.
    What is better? A 5'4" blonde or a 5'5" blonde?
     
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  10. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    8 degrees closed is what pros do.

    recs, with less racket head speed, should be less closed.
     
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  11. Pickle9

    Pickle9 Semi-Pro

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    Who here swings a racquet at the speed equivalent to that of a professional tennis player?

    Because obviously whatever Federer does, we should all be doing??
     
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  12. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    Oh...we are not short of pretenders here.......:)
     
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  13. babyhagrid

    babyhagrid Rookie

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    Judging by how he goes through strings i'd say Jo11y, but you will be able to confirm otherwise Sir Pickle. What is good for Fed isn't good for everyone, I wish I had his speed, grace and balance. Just not his shanking :p
     
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  14. kopfan

    kopfan Rookie

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    Because of up swinging aka topspin, a relatively closed racquet face is still able to clear the net. Grip affect swing path, contact point. Player can adjust the racquet face to make adjustment on net clearance and depth of ball.
     
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  15. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Obviously, you should be doing what Federer does, and if you could do it as well, you'd make a lot of money.:)

    I think you are making too big of a deal about swing speed. Some of the video of a slightly closed racket face hitting by Federer is during warmups in which he is not particularly trying to rip the ball, though he is probably returning a ball with more pace off the bounce than you normally see in rec tennis.

    Also, despite what you might have been told, not all rec players push the ball. I can easily hit a forehand over 70mph with some topspin, and I can probably even do that with my backhand. Hitting with pace is not really that difficult for a lot of rec players. The difficulty is to hit with pace and keep the ball in the court!

    Slightly closing the racket face and generating a little more topspin therefore is good technique for the rec player who has a problem with hitting long.
     
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  16. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    WRONG!

    The racket face should ALWAYS be closed at contact for top spin. It's the swing path prior contact which is responsible for the launching angle of a tennis ball, not the forward tilt of the racket face.

    The tilt enables the player to make an off center contact, generating further spin by accelerating more the top edge than the entire ball itself. Top spin is not literally top spin, it's a form of eccentric acceleration of the ball that, respective to your position, could be created by a vector applying force at ANY POINT AROUND THE BALL. Move the top forward, the front downward, the bottom backward or the back upward... it's all the same movement and it's call top spin.

    And, the scale 7, bold and red is not exaggerated.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I wouldn't say wrong. I'd say, depends on WHO is hitting the ball HOW.
    A weak person with a slow swing might need to open the face one or 5 degrees and hit topspin...and keep the ball IN.
    A really fast swing like top players would need to close the racketface maybe 10 degrees when hitting hard shots with topspin, or topspin lobs.
    We're somewhere in between, aren't we?
     
    #17
  18. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think Mahboob meant more open than closed. In other words, the angle with the horizontal is still closer to 90 degrees than it is to 0 degrees.
     
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  19. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    At or very near 0, you don‘t send the ball into the net... you hit the frame. And he very clearly stated his point: not open, not closed, but vertical.

    That‘s clear and can‘t be interpreted in any other way. It‘s also clearly wrong, given our factual knowledge...
     
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  20. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    'Wrong' is too strong a word. Topspin is still possible with a vertical racquet face at contact. Not saying it's the most effective way of generating topspin, but nonetheless...
     
    #20
  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I have seen pics of Fed's strings almost exactly vertical at impact.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Pics can show any angle, depending on player intent.
    Pics can show very closed face, if he's hitting reverse forehands or putaway balls with heavy top.
    Pics can show an open face, when he's hitting a sliced forehand.
     
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  23. pkshooter

    pkshooter Semi-Pro

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    You're over thinking it bro. Go out take a couple swings with a woody. You stroke shouldn't change between a graphite and woody.
     
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  24. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Ok, we are not pros - at least I am not, but here are my interpretation of the facts.

    Pros overwhelmingly hit topspin with a slightly closed racket face on the FH and even backhand in today's game. They do this because you can generate more spin with a less severe upward swing path. Nadal and Federer are closed on average around 10%.

    I think pros do this for a reason and the reason is it is the easiest and most efficient way to hit a hard topspin shot.

    So, if you want to hit a hard topspin shot, learn to hit with a slightly closed racket face.

    You get higher RPM rates from a slightly closed racket face which allows you to have a smaller upward angle thru contact. The smaller upward angle prevents shanks as the racket head is in-line with the ball longer.

    I think you want to work on closing the racket face immediately in your prep (first move) and work on a loop to contact that keeps it closed while you go loop back, down and forward to contact. You don't have to go too far below the ball - the top side of the racket as you start forward will be about the height of the ball. Federer and Nadal have about a 15% angle for low to high for typical rally shots and generate over 2000 rpm.

    So, my view - closes the face during all phases of the swing and it is still about 5-10% closed at contact. Note, it does open from the fully back position where it may point mostly at the ground to contact but still closed a wee bit at contact.
     
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  25. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    The tennisspeed blog has studied all the pros with many slow mo analysis of each. Yes, there may be an outlier where you see a vertical racket but for groundstrokes, overwhelming closed racket face and Federer and Nadal with straight arm forehands are closed more than most - in the 10%+ range.
     
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  26. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Tennis Speed link to show closed racket face at contact - Federer vs Djoko comparison - both closed and photos of many others with closed racket face.

    http://blog.tennisspeed.com/
     
    #26
  27. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I do agree that you can hit topspin with a vertical racket face but it requires a more severe Low-to-Hi swing path to get the near the same spin rates. Vic Braden and a million other coaches taught this way for decades. But, slightly closed with accelerating swing is most efficient method and even intermediates with moderate swing speeds can get decent spin with closed face approach if they accelerate thru contact.
     
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  28. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    So a question for all of the "close the racquet face for topspin" folks: If opening and closing the racquet face controls topspin, what controls the height of the ball over the net?
     
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  29. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    Topspin is controlled by more than opening or closing the racket face. As is the the height of the ball controlled by more than one factor. Angle of racket head, swingpath, spin and direction of the incomming ball comes to my mind.
     
    #29
  30. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I can control the angle of the racquet head and the swingpath, but how do I control the spin and direction of the incoming ball? Seems like those are variables that I react to, not control.
     
    #30
  31. martini1

    martini1 Hall of Fame

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    If you are inside the baseline and hitting angles I don't see why not with a closed racket face, especially if the ball is above the net.

    From behind the baseline it is a different story.
     
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  32. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    rkelley,



    Much of the stuff we do in tennis is eventually done by feels. The higher the speed the higher the awareness and feels.


    How is keeping the racket face open/perpendicular at contact working out for you? Do you launch the ball long often? Try both (open and close racket face) and see what works for you. Doesn't hurt to try.
     
    #32
  33. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Video evidence shows that pros are hitting ball from behind the baseline with a slightly closed racket face and it is clearing the net. Look at this video of Federer practicing. It looks like the face is slightly closed on most fhs. Other video evidence cited shows that this is usually the case.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=el_y4QqIpNY

    I think the speed of the incoming ball makes a difference on how closed the racket face may be, but I haven't carefully studied it.
     
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  34. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think racket face opening/closure also controls the height, along with the swingpath and swingspeed.
     
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  35. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    You should really take a bit of time

    You should really take a bit of time producing your multiple threads.
    You use a phrase "controls the height".
    You do NOT say height of what?
    Do you refer to a ball or a racket etc,etc?
    I can make a guess etc,etc,but ...
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
    #35
  36. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Please check PAT THE CAT THREAD

    Please check PAT THE CAT THREAD
     
    #36
  37. thecode

    thecode Banned

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    You say this so well and accurately. Flatter, hard Topspin shots like the pros often hit are as you say above. More rolling or loopy topspin we often see in rec tennis are often hit with a vertical or slightly open face, especially when hitting a dropping ball.
     
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  38. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    This is exactly my point. You open/close the racquet face to make the height over the net and depth in your opponent's court work. You have to make some estimations based on the incoming ball and the swing path, but the point I've tried to make is that closing the face doesn't create topspin in and of itself (at least in any useful way), it controls the position of the ball over the net. It's fundamentally the upward swing that creates topspin.
     
    #38
  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    It's not only adjusting the racketface angle, it's adjusting the swingPATH, swing speed, and swing style.
     
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  40. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Didn't I say that above, at least regarding swing path? Swing speed is a variable too.
     
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  41. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I was under the impression that you were against keeping the racket face closed a litle. If you were, that's wrong. This conversation re racket face is just for understanding. It's just one aspect in the stroke.

    When you hit, you actually incorporate many aspects, which all is done by feels. The swing path and power seem to be the aspects that you're most conscious of, if there's anything to be conscious about. That's all.

    One vote for LeeD. Don't know how good LeeD is in practice but he seems to know tennis in discussion very well. :)
     
    #41
  42. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    No worries. Yes, you keep the racquet face closed to some degree or another on a lot of shots. But the amount that it's closed or open is not grip dependent, or as others have opined done to generate topspin. The amount closed or open is a combination of lots of factors.
     
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  43. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    LeeD can often hit with 5-5.5's, if I"m on the side with two players, so I only hit two out of 4 balls. I have the pace, the form, the consistency to hit every other shot.
    LeeD plays singles at a really bad level, the lowest of low 4's, and sometimes at high 3.5's. Problem here is that in singles, I have to hit EVERY ball that comes to my side of the court.
    So LeeD plays mostly doubles, my strength mostly reactions, volleys, and a heavy second serve....and 30 years of tennis experience.
    I'd think most 3rd year players with footspeed would edge me out most singles sets. 3rd year being what it takes to hit the top of 3.5.
     
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  44. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    So now the discussion moves to grips!?

    OK.

    So once you understood racket face closedness at contact, and among other things, eg swing path, you want to hold the racket in a certain way to aid that closedness. That's where different grips come in. You could hold the conti grip and attempt to close the racket face at contact but it'd feel awkward and weak. So western is better.

    When you said "the amount that it's closed or open is not grip dependent" it sounds like you..still don't have a firm grasp on the stroke! :)
     
    #44
  45. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    So not counting speed, you'd be 5-5.5. But overall you'd b lower than 3.5? Cool. I'm not unfamiliar with this type of players.
     
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  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    The stronger the grip, the steeper the swingpath, so it leads to reason the more closed the racketface.
    Talking about an average of all topspin forehands, not just one or two.
     
    #46
  47. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I'd be nice not let this thread degrade as some other have.

    How about we treat this as an exchange of ideas and thoughts? Telling me what I understand in an absolute sense is probably not the best way to do that. You have never hit with me so you have no idea how good or not good I am.

    I brought up the grip because the title of this thread specifically mentions a SW grip. I wanted to make the point, which you are completely free to disagree with, that one's grip in and of itself does not have anything to do with how open or closed the racquet face should be. As you point out, different grips will aid in creating certain racquet face angles, but that's different than the grip actually defining the angle of the racquet.

    As I write this I see that LeeD wrote that the stronger the grip the steeper the swing path. I would disagree that this as an absolute. While it's true that a Western grip will make a more vertical swing path a bit easier to create, you can create a similarly vertical swing path with an Eastern grip. So again, it's not absolute. Again, feel free to disagree.
     
    #47
  48. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Why would a person CHOOSE to grip W if he didn't want to steepen his swingpath?
    Sometimes, we gotta forget theory and go with reality.
     
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  49. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    A W grip makes a steeper swing path a bit easier at the expense of having to work a tad harder to hit through the ball. The opposite would be true with an E. grip. But you can hit through the ball with a W grip, and you can hit huge topspin with an E grip.

    Why choose one over the other? Which type of shot are you trying to hit more, how tall you are, how strong you are, influence of coach and peers, personal preference that has no logic . . . there are a multitude of reasons.
     
    #49
  50. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    In the old days, some Natase's, Lavers, and Panatta's could hit massive topspin with conti grips with a slight twist towards eForehand.
    But why do modern player's choose W grips? The answer is, to predominately and easily hit with a steeper swingpath, to get topspin more often.
     
    #50

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