To elbow lead, or not to elbow lead?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Fedchamp, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Fedchamp

    Fedchamp Semi-Pro

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    I see most male players on the tour lead with a bent elbow on the forehand takeback, while most females lead with the racquet. What are the pros and cons of each approach?
     
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  2. ace_pace

    ace_pace Rookie

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    What you are seeing is the result of different stroke mechanics. Basically, they are using different ways to swing at the ball, meaning that they use different muscle groups altogether.

    Females tend to use a stroke that is driven by rotating the torso from the hips, keeping there arm relatively static to swing at the ball.

    Males however tend to use a more whippy motion. Meaning there arm isn't as static, in fact they are dragging the arm, meaning the torso pulls on the shoulder which pulls on the upper arm which pulls on the forearm which pulls the racket which pulls the wrist. note that nadal and federer do this so well their arms are straight on contact.

    Basically the whippy motion produces way more spin, but in terms of pace, i think they are the same.
     
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  3. ace_pace

    ace_pace Rookie

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    the whippy motions downsides are that its relatively harder to control and hit consistenly when compared to the womens stroke mechanic.
     
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  4. ace_pace

    ace_pace Rookie

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    Whoops I made a mistake, I meant to say torso pulls on the shoulder which pulls on the upper arm which pulls on the forearm which pulls the wrist which pulls the racket.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You want to hit like a girl or do you want to hit like a man?
    Old school is the former.
    Athletic women lead the backswing with their elbow.
     
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  6. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Could you post some youtube links? What I'm imagining is something like Lendl's or Sampras' take back. They both had great forehands, but it's not something I associate with most pro forehands today, male or female.
     
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  7. BevelDevil

    BevelDevil Hall of Fame

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    The bent elbow is mostly about turning the racketface down (closing) on the take back. You can point the racketface down by pronating the forehand, or you can do it by raising the elbow out to the side, or any combination of the two.

    You don't have to close the racketface, but I think people do it because it makes it easier for them to generate top spin.

    Note that Del Potro doesn't close his racketface, yet he has a near-straight arm forehand with a pull action.

    Another thing that leading with the elbow does is reduce the size of the loop (when measured by the dominant hand).
     
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Aerodynamcs. Modern forehands are seldom hit with early preparation, more likely, a late frantic looking loop, which aerodynamics is part of the equation.
    Like the conti grip serve, you open the face only at that relatively short moment just before, thru, and just after the forward swing.
     
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  9. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Yes, Sampras and Lendl did both led with the elbow on the backswing. But, neither Djokovic, Nadal nor Federer lead with the elbow on the backswing, they lead with the elbow in the forward swing:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMiQ97Zrl_k
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s6o66M1Lsg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_6hC2qKnKw&feature=related
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    OK, I admit I will probably need glasses to pass my driving exam on my 63rd birthday.
    ALL THREE lead their backswings with their elbow, as does most men's players on tour.
    They might not have the pronounced face down position, but the elbow leads the hand and rackethead until it's behind their body.
     
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  11. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Leading the backswing with the elbow:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3dZ0rnouhk
     
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  12. BevelDevil

    BevelDevil Hall of Fame

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    I think "lead with the elbow" may be a bad description of what I think the OP meant. I think "chicken wing" might be better. Sampras pokes his elbow back. Federer does not.
     
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  13. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I wouldn't make either of those characterizations about modern forehands. I think there's early prep whenever possible (usually) and the plane of face of the racquet is set way before the contact zone and is maintained well beyond. Just check out the links of Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer that Limp posted:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMiQ97Zrl_k
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s6o66M1Lsg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_6hC...eature=related
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I must be seeing different vids.
    All 3 players lead the backswing with their elbow, and when the backswing clears the rear shoulder, the hand starts to lead, because the elbow is tied to the upper arm which is tied to the shoulder.
    Remember, we're talking BACKSWING here, not forward swing.
    And no modern man's player would take the racket back and then run to the ball, like we were taught in the '70's. Late loopy takeback for a fast swung heavy topspin stroke requires some amount of aerodynamics.
     
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  15. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    I'm not convinced the style of the take back makes any significant difference.
     
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  16. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I rewatched the vids and see what you're saying. I think we're just calling what we're seeing different things.

    Yes, they're elbows are all behind they're hands as they take the racquet back. However their elbows are relatively stationary relative to their bodies as the hand goes back. The racquet take back is happening because the upper arm is rotating about the humorus (upper arm bone). Compare this with Sampras or Lendl, where their elbow moves back with the hand.

    As far as the prep and what constitutes "early", I'm not talking about taking the racquet back and then running "early," but they are not rushing the prep. The racquet goes back well before the ball arrives. I'm calling that early.
     
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  17. BevelDevil

    BevelDevil Hall of Fame

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    good points, rkelley.

    I think it definitely does. Consider Sampras. He hit with a mild Eastern grip yet generated considerable spin with a fairly classical swing. I think he could do this because he closed the racketface so much on the takeback. The closing of the racketface is caused by the chickenwinging of his arm at takeback.
     
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  18. Fedchamp

    Fedchamp Semi-Pro

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    Actually, Djok and Fed appear to lead with the bent elbow on takeback in these shots. Nadal keeps his elbow by his side before taking the racquet back.

    I think Tomic's forehand reminds me of Lendl's.

    http://youtu.be/jsEKwaO5pzA

    http://youtu.be/Y6Q4G54yURY

    You could consider Lendl's to be the prototype for the modern forehand. The difference today is in the extended or wrap-around follow throughs.

    I actually read somewhere that the bent elbow helps the arm uncoil into the shot for more power.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
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  19. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Lendl's swing path is still essentially old school in this video. He's hitting through the ball and finishing high. The racquet face does not maintain its plane well after contact and he's not really pronating his wrist to any great degree.

    Don't get me wrong. The guy had a great forehand, but it does not have all the elements of the modern swing path.

    Tomic's fh by comparison is a modern swing path with extensive wrist pronation during and after contact to generate the topspin and maintaining the racquet face's plane well through contact. He doesn't have a very pronounced "pat the dog" position in his back swing right before he starts the bring the racquet forward. I don't think Del Potro does either.
     
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  20. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Vilas's and Borg's forehands were much more the prototype of the modern forehand with their open stances and wrap-around, WW finishes. Lendl's forehand was a great shot and somewhat unique. But, not really modern in any respect.

    From what I've read, and photos I've seen, Manuel Santana (Wimbledon and FO champion from the early 60's), also had what I think would now be considered a modern forehand. Unfortunately, I can't find any video of it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
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  21. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I agree with Limp regarding Borg's fh. The swing path was very modern. I haven't studied Vilas so I can't say.

    While Lendl's swing path on his forehand may have been more old school than new, I do think it's fair to say that he was one of the harbingers of the modern game - big serve, big groundies, aggressive with those groundies and hitting winners, not just grinding, limited forays to the net.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    And Lendl led his takeback with his elbows, closing off the face of the racket.
     
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  23. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    He closed the racquet face because of his grip as I see it. I think the whole chicken wing move that he and Lendl did (frankly Pete most likely mimicked Lendl in this regard) was just more about the a particular feel that they liked. It does bring the racquet up in a unique way, but I don't think any of this is much to think about.

    I've never really even heard of "leading with the racquet" as opposed to the elbow. To me it's always the elbow. It's just a matter of other factors, e.g. how high to take the elbow, how much in regard to the racquet, etc.

    This just seems like one of those things is pointless to think about. Just take the racquet back and swing. But what do I know.
     
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  24. BevelDevil

    BevelDevil Hall of Fame

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    Another thing Lendl and Sampras had in common was the way they hit their 1hbh. They both tended to stay hunched down through contact and open their bodies a little more. Most players with 1hbh nowadays tend to lift their bodies upwards right before contact and finish upright. This adds a lot more pace and topspin.





    Tomic has a quick "pat the dog" right at the end of his takeback. I wonder if this might lead to some inconsistency.

    I don't think Delpo has any dogpat. His arm stays pretty supinated for such a long time.
     
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  25. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    The reason to lead takeback with your elbows is to keep flexed, and it's more powerful than taking back with your elbow straightened. Karate.
     
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  26. ho

    ho Semi-Pro

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    1/ Leading with the elbow (ATP Pull) make the time consuming from the waiting to the hitting position of the racket longer than leading with the racket (WTA Push) therefore create a lag from behind between your body rotation and your racket.
    ATP player used to point the racket to the net when waiting ( creating a lag)
    WTA player tend to point racket head to the sky.(creating no lag)
    2/ Now, i notice most of ATP just draw a bigger c. That also prolong time consuming.
    In my opinion, 2 is easier and better to do than 1
     
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  27. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Ho, you know a bent elbow on the takeback is similar to a Karate chop backhand. You don't straighten the elbow on the stroke. Talking takeback, talking Karate chop forwards.
    A takeback where the racket handle is even with the elbow is old school, using the deltoids to draw the racket back, leading to more inconsistencies.
    Sorta like getting rid of the supination, which can oftentimes be weak.
     
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  28. Fedchamp

    Fedchamp Semi-Pro

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    Do you mean at contact? Because , for Federer and Nadal at least, contact is made with a straight arm. Actually these images show a straightened arm on the forward swing as well...

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Verdasco (another huge forehand) is straight as well...

    [​IMG]
     
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  29. Fedchamp

    Fedchamp Semi-Pro

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    In contrast to Roddick....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    & Isner...

    [​IMG]

    & Querrey...

    [​IMG]



    Would you say that the former 3 players have bigger forehands than the latter 3? I would, but is this due to the straightness of the elbow or just their individual ability?

    I think the bent elbow may be an American taught forehand? Sampras, Courier and Agassi (slightly bent) all used bent elbows.

    I'm probably drawing the wrong conclusions, but I'd like to hear other opinions anyway.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
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  30. ho

    ho Semi-Pro

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    Yes
    1. When you keep your elbow flex , in the take back, it flex in and flex out, You create a lag between you forearm and upper arm
    2. When you keep your loose wrist flex in and flex out, you create a lag between your racket and your forearm
    3. When you supinate at the end of the take back, you create a lag between your shoulder and your arm.(arm trail shoulder)
    4. When you drop down your left hand you create a lag between your chest (body) and your right shoulder.(open up chest)
    Combining all 4 you create a kinetic chain on your Pull stroke.
    Do it skillfully, Mr Lee, you create Federer.
     
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  31. ho

    ho Semi-Pro

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    True
    1. but for the reason of too complicate mechanic, most people do not bend elbow on the take back (double bend), you only have kinetic chain between body and arm.( Pull stroke) Racket point to the net at ready position.
    2. In case it still too complicate on the supination at the end of the take back, people supinate at the ready position (classic Push stroke, WTA) racket head point to sky.
    3. If you add on Classic Push with the supination of the wrist at the end of the take back ( Hybrid Push), you create DJ.

    If you do not do anything on those 3, you create Mr Lee (3.5)
     
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  32. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Check out Vilas in pic #7 in this link. Classic low WW finish:
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=286243
     
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  33. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    #33
  34. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    It makes sense that the premier clay courters of that time helped innovate that stroke. Awesome pictures man.
     
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