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TimothyO 09-17-2013 07:01 AM

Define "Heavy Ball"
Over in the strings section there's currently a discussion on strings that produce a "heavy ball". And we hear that term constantly during television commentary and read about it frequently on TT.

Since spin and shot quality are primarily technique related with varying levels of support from hardware I thought this question is best handled in this section.

Some seem to believe that "heavy ball" refers only to pace. Others to spin. And yet others to a combination of the two. In which camp do you reside?

A. Heavy Ball = Pace Alone
B. Heavy Ball = Spin Alone
C. Heavy Ball = A Certain Combination of Pace and Spin

IMO a "Heavy Ball" is defined by a combination of Pace and Spin which is modified by the shot one is used to seeing.

Pace alone doesn't make sense to me since I've returned shots coming it at extraordinary pace but it seems really easy. Such incoming shots are easily blocked back or hit accurately.

Spin alone can result in a floating duck easily hit for a winner. You see these hit a lot in mid-level rec play. All spin, no pace or depth.

But a truly heavy ball approaches quickly over the net, seems to accelerate after the bounce due to spin and positively leaps off the court, and it retains so much spin that it effects the quality of any return shot. Negating the incoming spin and turning the shot around with accuracy is actually a challenge.

And that's where skill and experience comes in relative to MPH and RPM. You still need both to be "above average" but above average relative to the guy knocking the ball back. A pace/spin combo that will challenge a 4.0 is routine to a 5.0 (kudos to LeeD pointing that out in another thread). But regardless of level that pace/spin combo must be special and unusual.

psv255 09-17-2013 07:15 AM

I'm with you on C. The completely subjective nature of the word "heavy" limits the incoming ball to one's personal experience and skill level. If a player sees an extraordinary amount of pace and spin on the ball, a combination of added pressure to return it/hit a similar-quality ball, insufficient skill to do so, and the "wicked" spin will cause the player to muscle it or hit off-center (which also adds to the perception of "heavy").

v-verb 09-17-2013 07:16 AM

Choice C as well

Power Player 09-17-2013 07:23 AM

This thread gets made so often. Check this out:

sureshs 09-17-2013 09:06 AM

Nadal's balls are heavy

tennis_balla 09-17-2013 09:10 AM

Ask Tennisean, he knows all about the power game....

A glove may be required.

MurrayMyInspiration 09-17-2013 09:36 AM

Spin and Pace. When you play high level players who hit pace and spin beyond your level it is almost like you are being bullied and forced back and you cannot get hold of the ball and you are always fighting the opponents spin and end up giving them loads of short balls.

A hard flat shot can be directed dtl with more ease than a heavy ball (pace and spin). That is why it is so hard fro one handers against Nadal and you can see Djokovic almost wrestling with Nadals spin when he tries to get on top of it and send it dtl.

sureshs 09-17-2013 11:50 AM

Heavy ball is a ball with more energy. The linear energy pushes your racket back, the rotational energy makes it difficult to counter the spin and exert control.

LeeD 09-17-2013 11:57 AM

ONLY perception by the reciever determines a "heavy" ball.
YOU and I can hit with as much spin and speed as we can swing, it's NOT a "heavy" ball to Nadal or DJ. In fact, it might not be a "heavy" ball to TennisBalla.
But it IS a "heavy" ball to a 3.5 level player.

sureshs 09-17-2013 12:10 PM

It is perceived as a heavy ball because it has more energy. If it was just a matter of perception, multiple pros would not say Nadal's ball is heavy. So it is not a perception issue.

Lack 09-17-2013 12:15 PM

Heavy Ball = Spin and pace

TimothyO 09-17-2013 12:17 PM


Originally Posted by LeeD (Post 7763835)
ONLY perception by the reciever determines a "heavy" ball.
YOU and I can hit with as much spin and speed as we can swing, it's NOT a "heavy" ball to Nadal or DJ. In fact, it might not be a "heavy" ball to TennisBalla.
But it IS a "heavy" ball to a 3.5 level player.

I agree when looking from the perspective of a lower player to a higher player.

But I do feel there's some minimum requirement to the point that Sureshs makes.

Merely hitting flat and fast is very different from hitting with enough spin to make the ball jump and effect an opponent's ability to control the ball in light of the RPMs and pace.

I see this at 3.5/4.0. At this level not many can hit "heavy balls" relative to their typical opponents on a routine basis and not cough up lots of UEs. So we don't get to learn how to handle "heavy balls" since we don't see very many. We do see some hard shots, just not lots of spin and pace at the same time.

sureshs 09-17-2013 12:24 PM

I have been told that my balls are heavy (by 3.5 women). That is because they have more energy than the balls they usually face. That is all.

On the other hand, I find balls hit by junior boys to be very heavy.

LeeD 09-17-2013 12:27 PM

We don't get to.....
Why don't you just hit with a few 4.5's, or 5.5 level players?
That way, you can see how the better players can hit the harder balls more consistently and off even your best "heavy" shots, which aren't at all "heavy" to them.
I"m barely a top 3.5 singles player, but get to hit with Open level players occasionally. And most 4.5's wouldn't hesistate to hit with me if they show up without a partner.

sureshs 09-17-2013 12:38 PM

Typed a reply but it crashed. Forget it.

TahoeTennis 09-17-2013 12:44 PM

Heavy Ball = Spin/Pace, but also just massive SPIN

I love hitting a deep spinning deep Heavy ball.

The ball DROPS HARD AND FAST and stays in...DROPS hard because is is HEAVY!

Great Scott! This is Heavy!,red.jpg

LeeD 09-17-2013 12:53 PM

Sounds like bravado and bragging here.....
If you hit such a heavy ball, what level player ARE you?
Now while I can occasionally hit a heavy ball, I play singles at the highest 3.5 level, but can play doubles up into solid 4.5's without being the worse player on the court.
And once in a while, I can hit a "heavy" ball to a 5.5, but it's once in a while, and they can casually handle anything else I hit at them....while I"m scrambling to set for their rallyballs....which are heavy to me.

TimeSpiral 09-17-2013 12:54 PM


Originally Posted by Power Player (Post 7763128)
This thread gets made so often. Check this out:


If you phrase match "Heavy Ball", and remove the broad matched talk tennis term, you get about 7,200 results.

If you change the parameters to "goat," you get a mind-boggling 280,000 results. Ha! :twisted:

TahoeTennis 09-17-2013 12:55 PM

A heavy ball, by its definition, drops hard and fast. It looks like it's going out by a mile, but the sheer spin DROPS the ball in hard and fast.

LeeD 09-17-2013 12:57 PM

So, your "heavy" ball is something a 4.0 cannot handle.
BUT, every 5.5 sees it regularly.
Every PRO just crushes it.
Can't be "heavy" to a 5.5 or a pro, can it?

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