What produces a "heavy ball"

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by guedoguedo, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. guedoguedo

    guedoguedo Semi-Pro

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    I hit against some guy who used an old school racquet and hit it pretty flat and damn was it hard to get back...maybe i was having a bad day or something. And i can recall a few people whose serves where heavy as hell and you couldnt just pop it back in play.

    How does this come about? Is it a type of racquet, a type of swing?
     
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  2. Kabob190

    Kabob190 Rookie

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    swing harder?
     
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  3. TennsDog

    TennsDog Hall of Fame

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    Simply put: heavy = fast and lots of spin. You really need both factors to qualify as a heavy shot, though weight of shot is subjective and only really relavent to the person trying to return it. Flat, hard shots aren't typically considered heavy because you can just block it back. A slow ball with spin isn't heavy either because, since it doesn't have much speed, it doesn't skid through the court at all and uses up a lot of its rotational energy in the bounce, which will make it bounce high, but with little juice left once it gets to you. A heavy shot feels like it pushes your racket around and may even cause it to twist in your hand. I have hit heavy serves that nearly knock the racket out of my practice partner's hand. If you hit with pace and spin, then the pace will drive the ball through the court and kick it up higher (anything near the shoulders will inherently seem heavier just because of the height), but since it has more speed, it won't use up all of its rotational energy on the bounce and will still be spinning away once you hit it. The spin is what really makes a heavy shot bite the stringbed and makes it twist and cause the ball to just jump off the racket rather uncontrollably. It's all in the mechanics, but it definitely requires a good deal of racket head speed to produce a truly heavy shot.
     
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  4. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    When players play against old school flat hard hitters for the first time, they are often not able to handle the pace. Same goes for playing somebody that hits with lots more spin than you are used to handling. Both types of balls are often labelled "heavy". Two guys on the tour that fit these categories are Blake & Nadal. Both of these players present hugh problems for most of the players on the tour since the hits are not in their comfort zones.
     
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  5. looseswing

    looseswing Professional

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    Look in the sticky and/or search it. There has been much discussion on this topic if you look.
     
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  6. thefan

    thefan Professional

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    NEver knew that before...Good explaination man.

    Who on the tour would you say has "heavy" groundstrokes?
     
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  7. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    People often describe Safin's strokes as heavy and I would hardly say he uses "lots of spin". To me, a heavy ball is produced when someone uses good technique and utilizes mass to hit a ball solidly, rather than having flashy, whippy strokes that produce tons of topspin. Federer's shots are heavy, and also use spin, but I don't believe it is spin that classifies a stroke as heavy. Safin's backhand is what I would call "heavy".

    I disagree with TennsDog in other words.
     
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  8. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    ^^
    So you agree with me basically but are too begrudging to admit it?

    lol ;)
     
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  9. Ripper

    Ripper Hall of Fame

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    What produces a "heavy ball"

    Ball speed. Yep, as simple as that.
     
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  10. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    Basically, a heavy ball is any ball that pounds into your racket with unexpected force.

    Normally, it is (as mentioned above) a compination of speed and spin. The ball seems to leap into the strings, almost knocking the racket back.

    But you can also have a relatively "flat" ball that comes across as heavy. Don Budge (from the 30s/40s) is mentioned as having one of the "heaviest" backhands, ever- and it was fairly flat. It just had a lot of speed and power behind it.

    Which brings us to the psychological factor. When a ball leaves the opponent's racket, we get an impression of what to expect, and we prepare accordingly. Sometimes we are quite surprised. We see a smooth unspectacular stroke and prepare to return an average ball-- but the racket jars in our hand.

    That brings us back to the defination-- any ball that pounds into our racket with unexpected force.
     
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  11. dave333

    dave333 Hall of Fame

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    ^^^^(gorillas, bagumwalla posted same time) No, it has to be speed and spin.
     
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  12. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    I think that produces one type of heavy ball, where the ball hits the racquet with great force, pushing it back and making it very difficult to follow through, and thus making it very difficult hit powerfully or to control.Examples of this type of heavy ball would be the groundstrokes of Lindsay Davenport or the serve of Karlovic.

    I think the other type of heavy ball is the massively topspun heavy ball, where the ball is actually spinning so fast that your racquet headspeed is not fast enough to change the direction of the spin, and the ball exerts force of it's own upon the racquet's stringbed instead of the other way round.This means the ball departs from the stringbed at an angle, similar to the way the a ball will depart at an unnatural angle from the rail of a pool table when subjected to spin.Examples of heavy shots of this type are the groundstrokes of Nadal, and the serve of Sampras.

    In both cases the ball is exerting a greater force upon the racquet, a greater amount of force is required to overcome this, which is why it feels 'heavier'.

    In the case of the first type of heavy ball, the 'flat' type, this can be dealt with by using a heavier racquet, since the racquet has a higher level of *inertia,which basically means that once you start to swing the racquet a greater amount of force is required to change it's direction, or disturb it's motion.Which means your racquet will have a greater capacity to overcome flat heavy balls.That is, they will no longer feel heavy.

    The second type of heavy ball, the 'topspin' is far more difficult to overcome, you must put greater effort into applying spin of your own to the ball, which requires a longer stroke, and requires you to hit through the ball less.This is why Sampras's serve was so effective, because it was hit fast enough that you didn't have time to take a long enough swing,, and so heavily that if you took a short swing you sacraficed control.


    All comments, criticims, refutations of this theory welcomed.



    [ *That property of matter which manifests itself as a resistance to any change in the motion of a body. Thus when no external force is acting, a body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion continues moving in a straight line with a uniform speed (Newton's first law of motion). The mass of a body is a measure of its inertia. ]
     
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  13. tricky

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    This is not only the consensus among tennis authorities, but "heavy" also translates as spin+pace in baseball. A 90mph sinker is much heavier than a 94mph 4-seam fastball because it has a better combination of spin rate and pace.

    At the pro level, all shots are very, very heavy. Even Agassi puts 1000-1500RPM on the ball through both wings, and he's definitely hitting those babies flat and hard.
     
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  14. dave333

    dave333 Hall of Fame

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    ^^^^ Yeah, similar to chien-ming wangs nasty sinker, which is describes as "so heavy" by many of the players.
     
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  15. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    From my perspective, a heavy ball is one that has deceptive speed because of spin. In other words, it comes at you and hits your racquet harder than you expect because the spin pitches it at you faster than it seems it should from watching it prior to the bounce.

    I've created this by playing with a ball machine and turning the topspin way up. You can see it come over the net, bounce, and then all of a sudden it seems to accelerate towards you. You definitely can learn how to time a heavy ball if you realize it is coming, but I can imagine that the way Nadal's forehand must seem to jump off the court would be quite intimidating.
     
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  16. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    What produces? my opponents Forehand.
     
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  17. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    So basically, you are saying they are wrong -- those writers who claimed that Don Budge and Ken Rosewall "hit a heavy ball."

    Like Humpty Dumpty in _Alice in Wonderland_, you can use words to mean whatever you want them to mean. But in the 1970s a "heavy ball" was one which hit harder than you expected.
     
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  18. Punisha

    Punisha Professional

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    chuck norris
     
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  19. Wil

    Wil New User

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    Do you need a racquet with a high swingweight 320-336, and an open string pattern(16X19) in order to hit a "heavy ball"?
    I was playing with the Wilson (k)Tour 95 swingweight of 331 and a 16X20 string pattern, and my opponent told me that my serve and groundstrokes were "heavy" The racquet is strung with a very soft multifilament at 55lbs.
     
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  20. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    A heavy ball is mainly determined by how much pace it has, then comes the spin, but spin doesn't really have as much effect on how heavy a ball is, as many believe it to.

    As you have experienced, and described, the ball you had to deal with felt pretty heavy, yet it is pretty flat.

    I'm just guessing here that shots hit off-centered will feel "heavy." A flat, fast-paced ball will feel heavy if it misses the sweet-spot by a little, that and flat shots tend to be fairly low, deep and barely clears the net. Now, shots with a lot of spin will feel heavy because spin tends to throw you off your sweet-spot as well.

    Therefore, if you are able to hit all shots right at the sweet-point, then pace will mainly determine how heavy that shot will feel.
     
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  21. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Yes and no the high swingweight really really helps. Almost every pro has a SW over 350, but of course you have to have great technique to handle it. So on lower levels, I would say anything over 330 is a real nice swingweight that can let you hit harder due to more mass in the racquet.

    The string pattern does not matter, it is your swing style. Del Potro and MonFils crush forehands with 18x20 patterns and Nadal hits brutally heavy shots with his 16x19. This really depends on your swing style more then anything. I hit with heavy topspin, but switched to 18x20 for control and still get about the same amount of spin, but I can keep it lower and out of your strikezone easier or hop it to shoulder height. The 16x19 was very tough for me to keep low.
     
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  22. onehandbh

    onehandbh Hall of Fame

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    Dunlop produces a heavy ball.
     
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  23. ronalditop

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    A heavy racquet or a racquet with a big SW.
     
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  24. mtommer

    mtommer Hall of Fame

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    LOL! Nice!
     
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  25. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Well, that was worth reviving a three year old thread to ask. Yes, you need an open string pattern and a swing weight of exactly 355.873, strung with Luxilon BBO dipped in holy water.
     
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  26. onehandbh

    onehandbh Hall of Fame

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    Fresh out of the can, Dunlops are the equivalent of Grapenuts
    in the cereal world.
     
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  27. swedechris

    swedechris Banned

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    Tretorn pressureless are like stones too..
     
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  28. lwto

    lwto Professional

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    the kinetic energy that hasn't been released when struck is a heavy ball.
    We have players that hit with a lot of pace, but their shots are not necessarily heavy, they're fast for sure but is easily hit back. (you see that a lot with players that use light raquets)
    We have players that use a lot of topspin, but it is just spin, and the spin seems to dissipates the energy from the ball.

    Now if you have a ball that is accelerating down the court and the spin has not yet taken over.. I'm sure you have all seen it.. ball is flying and when it hits the court, the ball just accelerates upon impact of the court.. now thats a heavy ball.
     
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  29. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Yeah. No biggie.

    The ball seems heavy, as if someone made it into an 8 lb. nugget that pushes your racquet around.

    Lots of pace, lots of spin, or a combo of the two.
     
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  30. corners

    corners Legend

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    A heavy ball is speed and spin. It's produced with very high racquet speed, pure and simple.

    A ball with significant topspin will actually lose less speed after the bounce than a ball with identical speed, but less spin: A flat ball travelling at 80 mph will slow down to about 40 mph by the time it hits your racquet. But a ball traveling at 80 mph with 2500 rpm of topspin will bounce higher and still be traveling around 50 mph when it hits your racquet.

    10 mph is a big difference, and if you're not ready for it it will feel even "heavier".
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
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  31. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    ... I thought this was an EXCELLENT explanation.
     
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  32. genius24

    genius24 Semi-Pro

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    although the pace of the ball contributes to how heavy a ball is, the single main factor is spin....thats why i would guess rafa hits the heaviest ball on the tour
     
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  33. Bacterio

    Bacterio Rookie

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    In my experience I always felt the heavier balls just had more spin. I play against a guy that hits mostly flat strokes but they have quite a bit of pace on them. I've never had a problem staying in rallies and returning his shots with even more pace and depth.

    Then there's this other guy I've hit with a few times that hits with a full western and hits a really spinny ball. It just feels like it takes a lot more force on my end to overcome all that spin. His ball is probably coming in half as slow as my other hitting partner but with all the topspin on it, I seem to struggle to put my own pace no the ball and send it back his way.
     
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  34. ProgressoR

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    i think its both pace and spin, i mean when facing a hard fast but flat ball, you can block it back with decent pace and as long as its in the sweet spot the racket wont move in your hand. But with a fast ball with heavy spin, the racket will tend to buckle a bit in your hand, this is my experience. Facing heavy (pace and spin) serves is very different to facing just a fast serve, same with groundies, facing a guy with a heavy FH (pace and spin) is very different to facing one with just a hard flat FH, to me one is heavy and the other is just hard/fast. The latter can be difficult to get to in time, the former you can still get to generally, but its hard to get it back effectively, you have much more to deal with.
     
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  35. Synesthetic

    Synesthetic New User

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    Nadal by far; also Verdasco.
     
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  36. ODYSSEY Mk.4

    ODYSSEY Mk.4 Professional

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    best post ive seen in a while
     
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  37. RyanRF

    RyanRF Semi-Pro

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    I would say pace, spin, and depth combine to make a 'heavy' ball.

    You must have at least two out of three of the above.
     
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  38. longnt80

    longnt80 New User

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    Speed and spin need to come together. The harder you hit the ball, the more spin you want to make to keep it in the tennis court. So the faster balls always have some serious spin on them.
     
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  39. 10nistennis

    10nistennis Rookie

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    Speed does not equal heavy.

    Spin does not equal heavy.


    So what actually equates into a heavy ball? First of all, when dealing with a "heavy" ball, it will feel like the ball will dig into your strings on contact, and plow your arm back.

    It will feel hard to hit a solid stroke back.



    So what are the ingredients of a "heavy" ball? Well, first, the main ingredient is ball speed and depth. The second ingredient which is still very important is spin.


    A fast flat ball may not be heavy. Likewise, a slow, loopy topspin ball may not be heavy either.


    But combine a drive groundstroke with the right amount of topspin, and you'll have a heavier stroke.


    It's all in the "plowing through" or "drive" of the racket on contact of the ball. Obviously, if you add more racket speed when you plow through a ball, you'll add more spin, speed, and depth.
     
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  40. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    A stronger hitter hitting to a weaker and lesser player.
    If you can beat someone double breadsticks, you'll NEVER admit they hit heavy balls.
    However, if you get double breadsticked by someone, THEY hit a heavy ball...:shock:
     
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  41. The Pronator

    The Pronator New User

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    Sorry to resurect at old thread, but I was reading this an it's interesting.
    Nobody has mentioned grip yet? What forehand grip do you think is best for producing a "heavy" ball. I've use a full western for most of my playing days, and I think I fall into the category of those shots that have a lot of spin, but the spin dissipates the power and I don't necesarily his a heavy ball. I hit with a lot of margin for error, because I can get it high over the net and still land it in the court, but it's not so heavy. Thinking of giving a semi-western a go just to see if I can get a heavier ball. What do people think?
     
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  42. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    IMO, it would be the SW FH grip. It's not easy to produce a ton of pace with a western FH... and it's difficult to get the spin with the continental or eastern FH. SW seems like the best choice for both.
     
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  43. JMcQ

    JMcQ Rookie

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    A friend of mine that played on the Tour (mainly Satellites but a few tour events) raves about Sampras' second serve calling it "the most amazing and devastating shot he'd ever played against." For him, it was not the pace but the spin and "heaviness" of the serve.

    As for producing a "heavy" ball, does the stiffness of the frame matter (assuming everything else is the same)?
     
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  44. tennisexecutor

    tennisexecutor Rookie

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    one of my regular tennis partners a few years ago hit the hell out of the monsters of the ball. he had a really really heavy frame, he must have been at least 285 pounds with really thick bone structure, and he was really flexible to boot. i haven't experienced a heavier ball since then.
     
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  45. phnx90

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    Judging from earlier posts, I think the key word here is "deceptive".

    Basically if the ball crosses the net with significantly more pace (with or without spin) than the hitter's strokes lead you to believe, it produces a "heavy" ball.

    Since you were mistaken as to the nature of the ball you are about to hit, the discrepancy between the actual properties of the incoming ball vs the expected properties of the incoming ball produces the feeling that the ball is "heavy.

    Another way in which a ball can feel heavy is if the incoming ball's pace is consistently outside your comfort zone. If you're used to returning groundies averaging at 40-50 mph but find yourself playing against someone hitting consistently at 60 mph and above (with or without spin), the ball will feel heavy, even if you know what to expect.

    Basically this means that the necessary property is high velocity. Spin will amplify the effect provided the velocity is not significantly reduced in order to produce it, but spin without pace will definitely not give you the feeling. Otherwise dropshots and topspin lobs should feel heavy and they certainly do not.
     
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  46. dlk

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    Interesting post, this seems to make sense. To me heavy=speed of ball, but these usually don't have too much spin in my experience.
     
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  47. phnx90

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    Yeah, by my reasoning, that's perfectly true. The lack of spin in those shots however, is probably due to the fact that you haven't yet met a person who has the strength to hit groundies with a lot of pace and spin; most of us mere mortals trade one for the other. :D
     
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  48. dlk

    dlk Hall of Fame

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    That's true, a 4.0 is the best I've played against.
     
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  49. cork_screw

    cork_screw Hall of Fame

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    I think pronation creates some heavy balls. And I also feel like wrist movement during your contact. A heavy ball is more of a ball that has a lot of spin.

    I had someone come over a ball well and when the ball came back to me (albeit it was not a fast ball, but a very medium paced ball) it actually twisted and popped the racquet out of my hand, even though I hit the ball in the sweetspot of my frame. This normally never happens, but this guy struck the ball very well on this particular shot, he didn't hit another shot like this the whole time we played. I was using a Pro Tour 630 and that beast never reacts the way it reacted when he hit that shot, as it is probably the most stable frame I've ever used. He was using a Pro Staff 85 and just pronated perfectly or maybe it was a bit of a windshield wipper motion.

    But let's all not confuse a fast paced ball with a heavy ball. They are completely different things. Nadal could tell you more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
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  50. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    "Heavy ball".....
    Anyone who's getting beat, is not as good, or is overwhelmed faces a "heavy" ball.
    When you win easily, no threat, no stress, you don't face a heavy ball.
    Heavy ball is in the eyes of the perceiver, the guy losing.
     
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