the FH is over-discussed

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by luvforty, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    I'd estimate it's about 15% of what decides winning/losing... yet you look at the first page, half the threads are FHs.

    you look at the amateurs out there, adults or jr... in your local club or on youtube... pulling to the left or hitting forward is the last thing these amateurs should be worrying about... usually.

    serves are much more important - if you get a sitting duck back, ain't gonna matter you do rotational or linear FH.

    bh - glaring weakness of virtually every amateur video posted here.

    volleys - techniques are so poor, lots of people don't even dare to show them.

    do these people never play for score? if so, why are the elephants in the room ignored?

    happy new year.
     
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  2. KayFactor

    KayFactor Rookie

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    I'd say for me, the forehand technique was really hard for me to figure out.
     
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  3. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

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    Forehand: Everyone has a strength, and for most it's the forehand. They want to know how to make it a weapon, already knowing that they have the potential within their forehand and not another stroke. Without a weapon, you've really got nothing to lean back on or to think about in a match - thus its importance. Sitting-duck backhands can be ran around to be hit as a forehand in many cases because the forehand is a strength for many.

    Serves: Yes, serves are important, but you can make it pretty far with a decent serve. The serve is perhaps the most important tool in the game, but as long as someone has a halfway decent serve, they can at least get into a rally to win the point. We don't need to bomb aces every point - we just need to get it started with our good foot forward (and not on the defensive). If you notice, the serve is one of the most critiqued and posted videos around these parts of the forum. No one is ignoring this stroke.

    Volleys: Many people's techniques may be poor, but have you thought about the fact that not everyone is interested in the volley game? Many people are content with baseline rallies, and on the rare occasion they approach the net, their volleys are good enough to win them the point. No need to rework a stroke that they don't usually/don't want to use.

    Playing for score is generally why people come here to post their strokes - they want to improve to win the matches that actually count. When they do play for score, there's no time to improve mid-match. They take the time during practices to address the elephant.

    Back on the forehand discussion for one last moment - have you noticed why Federer and Nadal are considered some of the greatest players of all time? It's because they win and dominate so much. They win and dominate so much because they each have a devastating forehand that is their main weapon and go-to point-ender. We all want that weapon that will make our opponents tremble in fear, and for the people you see on these boards, it is the forehand.
     
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  4. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    That's just what i was about to say :)
     
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  5. directionals

    directionals Rookie

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    Well said, InspectorRacquet.
     
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  6. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    well - the responses above explains why you don't need complicated strategy to beat rec players, just poke at the BH all day long.
     
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  7. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Yeah but what are you gonna use to poke at their BH all day long? Is it not your FH? :)

    FH gets discussed alot because people figure that if they got it down, they'd get 95% of their game done. hehe

    I'm content with just trading FH shots all day long. :)
     
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  8. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    i agree with the OP. Backhand is way underrated at the rec level. Having a solid backhand means you can yank your opponent off the court pretty easily going cross-court backhand-to-backhand. You will have more opportunities to do this than an inside-out forehand.

    My backhand is stronger than my forehand at the moment and is very useful in set-play. Having the ability to hit off of both wings is key to being able to construct points. A week backhand means that you cannot cover half/one-third of the court effectively; You are making your side of the court 50-100% bigger than your opponent's side!

    Most people have horrible backhands so they should see dramatic improvement in their match results simply by developing and practising their backhands more.
     
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  9. Headshotterer

    Headshotterer Professional

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    In the pro game, forehands are what win matches. The higher the level of play, the more important it becomes.
     
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  10. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    the most important strokes in tennis are service and return. yet they are seldom if at all trained at rec level. the reason people can get away with hitting mediocre serves is that their opponents hit only mediocre returns:)
    most points are won by unforced errors not blazing winners
    if you have a backhand that is at least consistent, it cuts down on the unforced. less bh errors and less pressure to hit winners with the fh
     
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  11. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    @92626 - poke with everything - serves, grounds, approaches, volleys... also... people have bad BH typically have worse volleys, therefore a short chip/drop shot to their BH does the double damage - either they miss right away, or they implode on the volley.

    @headshot - no.. when you watch pros get interviewed on what they have to do to win, they always start with " I will have to serve better "...

    agassi said (when comparing fed to pete) - against Pete you can find safe harbor in pete's bh, but against fed you have nowhere to go.

    fed said (why rafa is so tough to beat) is because rafa has 2 FHs - meaning the bh is so strong.

    in the pros - what is the one stat most relevant to win/loss? - 2nd serve points won. I am guessing the 2nd most relevant is 1st serve points won, or break point conversion, something like that.... FH winner/UE is probably among the least relevant stats to win/loss.

    at the rec levels - just watch them tournaments - 4.0 thru 4.5 even some 5.0s, the 5.0s do hit their FH better, but the impression is that due to 'survival of the fittest', the better players don't have a weakness you can point out in 10 seconds.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  12. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    When I am hitting my forehand well, I win. When I'm not, I lose (and this is playing doubles). That's why forehand technique is important to me. YMMV.
     
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  13. Clay lover

    Clay lover Hall of Fame

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    Probably because the forehand is the most aesthetically pleasing shot which can be hit with the most power. (The serve and overhead can be hit harder, but these two shots are less popular than the forehand due to the trade-off in beauty)

    We all love beauty and power, don't we? Sometimes it's better to die pretty than live ugly.
     
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  14. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Relation between forehand and double handed backhand

    Some elements of forehands are used in double handed backhands
    Please see
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPBM-hE1Dhw
    Therefore analyzing forehands should help to analyze two handed backhands
    Therefore forehand and backhand return of serve can be built around forehands and double handed backhands
    Whether all coaches teach like that is ANOTHER issue.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  15. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    And then they come on TT to complain about losing to a pusher...
     
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  16. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

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    At the rec level, most peoples FH is there weakness.

    Just for fun, the next time you play someone you can't beat, or barely
    beat, hit to the forehand only, you will be surprised at what happens.
     
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  17. EP1998

    EP1998 Semi-Pro

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    I agree completely. I dont think most players realize this though, about others or themselves.
     
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  18. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    have seen FH being the weaker wing in 2 scenarios

    - old style player with conti grips... apparently stroke is easier on the bh side with better support from the body core

    - young kids or women with weak arm , who prefer the 2 fisted bh.

    but more often than not, BH is the weaker wing, not to mention all the other shots.
     
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  19. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    that sounded a bit stretchy... but...ok :)

    speaking of coaching, I buy into Dave Smith's concept of developing the continental grip part of the game first... i.e. serve, volleys, bh slice, and the 2hbh (with the dominant hand holding the conti grip)... the FH topspin is the last one to teach a student.

    something to think about for the rec players.
     
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  20. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

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    What I'm getting from the OP is that all rec players need to fix everything in their games. Simple enough.

    The reason the forehand is discussed so much is because we address the issues we have with our game (speaking as a slightly above average rec player) that we love first. Almost everyone would love to increase their forehand potential over the other strokes. Our most hated strokes are dealt with last.

    Someone said here that we rec players have mediocre serves because of the mediocre returns we get back. If we all played up a level and tried to beat those higher-ups, we would immediately realize our serves are not that great and a thousand serving threads would be created here.
     
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  21. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    good confession Inspector - yeah it's the bias towards comfort.

    about the 'higher up' part - it can be reactive (i.e. playing against better people), or proactive (i.e. you become better first and beat all your buddies).

    I am not saying fix everything, I am saying balance... my estimation -

    strokes alone - serve 25%, return 20%, FH 15%, bh 15%, volleys/overheads/approaches/dropshots 25% - give or take.. so FH taking up 50% of the threads is out of balance.

    not to mention for the overall win/loss - you have psychology 30%, strategy 30%, shot execution 40%..... so that puts FH at 15% * 40% = 6%

    that was my point.
     
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  22. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    the FH (and 2HBH) is basically the only thing that changed in the last 100 years.

    the serve is exactly like it was 80 years ago (well almost since you were not allowed to jump back then). the 1HBH is also exactly the same.

    the FH is the only thing that changed in modern tennis.

    however I agree that the FH is over analyzed.

    it is important to get some things down though. the kinematic, ground up chain, the centrifugal swing around the body, and internal rotation of arm and forearm have to be learned.

    but too many guys here are overanalyzing stuff like whether the take back should be pronated, how much the wrist should lay back (it does automatically if you create enough acceleration and stay reaonably loose), what the other arm should do or other stuff.

    the modern FH is an easy shot, so keep it simple and let each player have their own style.

    Sequence is important, not style! yeah if you are top level some tweaking of style can help, but too many guys worry about irrelevant style points when they should worry about the basic of any hitting sport which is the ground up sequence (or hips lead the hands as ted williams said 70 years ago)
     
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  23. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    from historical stand point - the FH and the 2hbh perhaps have the more visible changes... but the bigger head, stiffer graphite and the spinnier strings have had effect on all shots... almost everything is done in more across-the-ball fashion.

    1hbh drive - the way wawrinka, schiavone, dimitrov, gasquet open up their stance, and release their wrist to windshield wipe, is much different from the old school 'staying-sideways' method.

    bh slice - the fed's knifing slice was unthinkable with the 65in wood head.

    volleys - there are many still hit old school, but fed's have more knifing action .
    serve - yes the motion looks similar, but new equipment produces more spin.

    with all that said, for me, the purpose of these discussions is for winning, or helping others to win.

    I now realize that the bias for comfort (of talking about the FH) originates from the skill distribution of the tennis crowd.. most people in the fat part of the distribution curve, don't know enough to even ask the right questions about the serve, the volley etc.

    on the other hand - for the elite players and coaches here - how about some discussion on high performance tennis - the mental, strategic part of the game on top of shot execution.

    I made a tournament winner golfer out of my daughter with 1 season of work, with the most common sense approach - we go straight to the low hanging fruits - where are the weaknesses, how to approach course conditions etc.

    will try to make a tournament winner tennis player out of my son hopefully - have got lots of good info from this forum.... but I feel there is so much left on the table.
     
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  24. Bowtiesarecool

    Bowtiesarecool Rookie

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    I like this thread. Let's dissuade people from talking too much about forehands by starting another thread about forehands.
     
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  25. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    yes, it's a controlled burn - use fire to fight fire.
     
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  26. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Good reply...:)
     
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  27. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    I'd say the FH is pretty important.
     
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  28. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I agree.
    The serve is harder to hit real well imo, so more rec players are satisfied with an
    avg delivery.
    Backhand mostly just needs to be solid, as do most other shots.

    Fh is the primary weapon for most rec tactics as a weapon.
    A likely place to separate yourself.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  29. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    @ cheese and 5263 - substitute 'FH' with any of the following words - serve, volley, bh.... the statement will still be true.

    and that was my point - what do the high performance players and coaches do, to separate themselves... I don't think a hunch of 'FH is probably it' is good enough.

    during my work with my golfer daughter, we don't just say 'hm, driving (or wedge, or putting) is gonna win us tournaments'.... we record each practice rounds - fairways hit, greens in regulation, scramble percentage, length of first putt, total putts.... to identify where the low hanging fruits are.

    i'd think tennis is even more complex, due to the variety of shots, different opponents and playing conditions.

    we can do much better than talking about FHs.
     
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  30. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Good luck if you think you can focus on the Bh or volley and get the same
    "bang for your buck" as you can with a Fh. At rec level you won't likely get as
    much out of improving your serve as with the Fh either, as most rtn way better
    than most serve....sort of like ladies game.

    Not uncommon to see a rec player dominate with his Fh, but never seen that
    from one with a Bh or volley really. Some can serve good enough for and edge,
    but not usually as much as the FH on avg.
    Even guys with unusually good Bhs don't usually have so much impact with it.
     
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  31. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Curriculum and a tournament play

    You can resolve your preparation of your son as follows:

    1.establish number on hours you spend with him
    say 20-30 hours BEFORE PLAYING A TOURNAMENT

    2.you can go with the approach of forehand taught at the end

    3.you will put some elements of play/game in these 20/30 hours.
    you will see how many/little hours will be left for teaching tactics/strategy

    4.you will see how far your son will go and you will get back to us


    PS Bringing Dave Smith into this conversation is a mistake from multiple
    reasons.
    I believe your are going a wrong direction but it is going to be very hard
    to convince you about it without letting you fail FIRST.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  32. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    @julian - I am all ears.. no need and no desire to fail first.... and no need to start another p---ing contest.. see my gerbil story.

    @5263 - you maybe right about the FH being a difference maker at rec level (simply based on the number of FH shots hit in a match), say the 3.5-4.0 crowd, but seems for that crowd the pulling left/hitting forward thing is still not high priority... not to mention that the BH wing seems to produce the biggest difference.... it's action and reaction... player A hits a FH to force a BH error from player B, is it due to A's FH or B's BH? chicken and egg... there is very little statistics available at rec level... nobody cares to collect.

    at the elite level, ground strokes already take a back seat behind serves/returns.... statistics are pretty much established at that level... 2nd serve points won, first serve points won, break point conversion - these things decide matches, not fh winners/UEs.
     
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  33. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    Diagonal drills

    The game is played on diagonals (for singles)
    Two basic drills are forehand diagonal drills and backhand diagonal drills (forgetting for a moment about serve and return of serve).
    Think once more in terms of a curriculum and drills and simulated matches/points.
    Read my previous post again.
    Try to write down plans for 20 lessons.
    Believe me or not I did this(plans) at a college level this spring.
    If you want to get more specific feedback here try to specify the age of your son and his current level,say via NTRP
    Your last sentence is very disputable but without knowing a bit about your son we will get defocused.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  34. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    @julian - the intent for the thread was my general observation about the discussion here perhaps being removed from the reality of win/loss... sorry if i misled you (happens all the time on internet.. no big deal). son is 8 yr beginner, so no need for tournament prep yet.

    care to share what you came up with in preparing your college players? I'd imagine at that level, serves/returns already taking front seat, no?

    I have watched some college ball - seems most points are decided in the first 3 strokes.... serve, return, put-away.

    I don't have any stats for college ball. ... do you? (in the way that pro matches are slice/diced... say in the order of 2nd serve points won, first serve points won, serving %, BP conversion, net points won, FH/BH winners/UEs)
     
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  35. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Maybe this belief is what is leading you astray? I think the stats you feel are
    established are just symtoms of the bigger picture, like saying who breaks more
    wins, or who wins more points in each game wins...etc...
    Winning pts on 2ond serve is a measurement of winning points thru attacking
    without the big advantage provided by the 1st serve.

    UEs still decide more than anything imo, with winners and FEs close in tow.
    Most of this tends to stem from knowing when and how to rally, along with
    when and how to attack.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  36. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    no...

    http://www.atpworldtour.com/Rankings/MatchFacts.aspx

    please read the service page and return page carefully.... rafa, murray, joker, they dominate the return page, why? because the particular shot of the service return..... not the other stuff like how to rally and when to attack.... otherwise they'd have dominated the serving page... but they don't.

    so you have to identify what is statistically relevant vs. what is not.
     
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  37. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I'll just refer you back to the other thread where this was addressed.
     
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  38. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    ok - i replied there.... it wasn't much of an address without any hard facts.
     
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  39. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    OP‘s thesis isn‘t dumb... given the margin available for improvement on the backhand side and people‘s tendency to focus on their forehand, any improvement on the backhand side has a greater impact on results than improvements on the forehand side.

    Many rec players have decent forehands, but a lot fewer have decent backhands. You can capitalize on this by having a forehand just good enough to prevent easy winners and sustain a rally and rather use your backhand as an opening tool... it takes a very very good forehand to beat down a good forehand consistently, but just a barely decent backhand can get short balls from a bad backhand.

    Similarly, improvement in footwork, volley or even serving could do miracles because it is much easier to dominate your opponents in these areas than on the forehand when you play at the rec level.
     
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  40. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Nobody said it was dumb or have a bad Bh... It's just that if you are going to be
    just a solid amount better at any one shot, it should likely be the Fh, which is the
    most versatile attacking weapon that is in nearly every point.

    But to each his own...if you think you can focus on another stoke more and get more
    out of your investment, good luck to you.
    We are just explaining why it is done the way it is.
     
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  41. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    I'd say groundstrokes are much more important than volleys or overheads, and the FH would be more important than the BH.
     
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  42. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    perhaps a context is needed.

    5263 has a different interpretation than mine on the pro stats - for the top 4 guys, the most eye catching stat is 2nd serve points (both serving and receiving)... and what is a typical 2nd serve point - a kick to the backhand followed by the return.... this first exchange, especially the return, is the biggest factor.... on the 2nd serve return, we have rafa, murray, joker at #1,2,3... but on 2nd serve, they are at #2,5,11.... all the other stuff after the 1st exchange - the rallies, mid court balls etc, are virtually the same between a serving game 2nd serve point and a return game 2nd serve point... so the difference maker, is that first shot returning the 2nd serve... and for them 3, it's that 2hbh up high..... Roger didn't fare too well in the return department due to the 1hbh..... so among the top 4, you see significant ASYMMETRY in the 2nd serve points in the return vs. serving game, with the exception of rafa..... again, if the difference maker is the stuff after the first exchange, then the leader board should look similar between the return game and the serving game on 2nd serve points..... (gee that was a mouthful)

    Fed, #1 at 2nd serving points, is down to #14 in returning 2nd serve points... again significant asymmetry.... which means the difference is in being the better server or the better receiver, not in being who is the better rallier (if that is a word


    for the rec crowd - we have no stats to go with, so arguments from both sides sound like he says she says..... but i believe the saying that you are as good as your worst shot, not your best shot... and the experience of watching rec players and playing against them proves so....very rarely you see a rec player with such strong FH that he can hide the weakness in BH and volleys.... but I have seen recs with such strong serve who can hide other weaknesses.... and the reason is simple... the serve is the first shot... if the serve cannot hide the weakness (say the BH), then the weakness can be exposed immediately.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
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  43. sandiegoman

    sandiegoman Rookie

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    Well said InspectorGadget
     
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  44. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I suggest you chart some matches with respect to how long the points go
    on 2ond serves. They tend to be the longer points and tend to test the strokes
    more than the fairly routine 2ond serve rtn

    So you really think a guy with an awful Fh slice is that bad, even when strong
    in the rest of his game is outstanding??
     
    #44
  45. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    That was true circa spring 2007- early 2009. Since then Nadal's backhand has degraded very badly.
     
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  46. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    I think the point is that there is a huge additional improvement in getting a strong backhand at the rec level. Low hanging fruit.

    most rallies at the rec level are forehand to forehand, so you're setting up your rec level "weapon" against your opponents "weapon". Once you go into a backhand to backhand rally you aren't facing a "weapon" anymore, but you aren't using your best stroke. What matters is what is relatively stronger, not what is absolutely stronger.

    Having a strong backhand will give you a natural easy target (opponents backhand) that should result in a short ball you can attack/putt-away with your forehand. Also, the better rec players will aim for your backhand thinking it to be a weakness, that sets you up well to start a backhand to backhand rally giving you all those lovely short balls.

    I played a friendly match recently where most of my winners were in the manner above. My opponent said that my forehand was really good with all of those winners into the open court that he couldn't get to. In actual fact my forehand is pretty inconsistent. It only looked good because of all the easy short balls i got by going backhand to backhand!

    You can't hide a weak backhand at the rec level no matter how strong your forehand is. Rec guys can't run around every shot to their backhand and will come up short. Not having a backhand you can attack with (cross court) is a major hole in your game. It is also an opportunity to make a lot of easy gains with just a bit of training.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
    #46
  47. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    10,412
    Again! No one is saying have a crap Bh. You had a Fh that was good enough to
    capitalize on short balls. You likely couldn't have done that with your Bh and
    chose not to it seems.
    I bet you could hit I/O Fhs to get short balls too, ..probably did,
    much like you did with your
    Bh. So you are still stronger with the Fh...right?

    Sure any improvement is good for your game and provides good looks to help
    out overall, but the Fh is the key weapon in most players game.
     
    #47
  48. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
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    427
    That was the entire reason behind my screen name. :)

    On topic with the thread - it is impossible to hide a bad backhand, but a good forehand will force the opponent to think twice about his moves and thus coaxing unforced errors and short balls just to try to get it to the backhand.
     
    #48
  49. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
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    4,335
    Location:
    On the courts; hard & clay ...
    I probably did hit a few inside-in forehands to end the point, but most where cross court forehands as the short balls ended up on that side after trading backhands. But you are right, my forehand is stronger than my backhand but i tend to hit it long sometimes (separate issue, refer to my tweener thread).

    my opponent's forehand was better than mine. same power, but more consistent & spin (fewer long ball errors). rallying forehand to forehand with him is tough, but i don't have to hit an awesome cross court backhand to get a juicy short ball.

    I'm not a coach. I'm just focusing on developing a complete overall game, no glaring weaknesses, before relying on a "weapon" all the time. If there is an area i rely on too much it's my volley/overhead game, even though I'm a bit short (1.67m).
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
    #49
  50. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    1,294
    5263 - a meaningful discussion doesn't work this way.. I presented the stats.. no need for myself to chart... the ATP computer already did for the pro matches for the entire year...

    so like tennis, there is this ball called the 'burden of proof'.... right now it's in your court.

    but to respond to the above - yes 2nd serve points are longer, but what stands out for the top 4 is their ability to make it shorter.... in the case of murray and joker.... hence their return game stronger than the serving game..... and Fed's lack of ability to make it shorter is what makes him #14 in the return game, compared to #1 in the serving game..... get the point?

    rafa is the only symmetrical player.... #3 in return and #2 in serving.... so that stat doesn't support either yours or my view, it could be that the first exchange is insignificant, or rafa is really good at hitting the 2nd serve and returning the 2nd serve.

    seems you are still missing the point of the asymmetry and the cause of it... and still arguing in the peripheral.

    about the FH slice - no, that's a misunderstanding of the phrase 'you are only as good as your worst shot'.... if you truely don't understand what it means - it is saying that you are only good as your weakness that can be exposed..

    the FH slice is not a exposeable weakness.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
    #50

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