Originally Posted by RajS
This is just a quick progress report after two sessions of practice. I hit against the wall and did shadow swings yesterday, and today I hit with a friend.
I really like the straighter arm for the forehand, at least until the forward swing starts. I am not really trying to do ESR, but I feel like it is happening automatically as I point the racket butt at the ball. Probably the forearm supination and ESR are melding into one motion. Pushing off the ground and starting UB rotation just seems to fling the racket forward - this did not happen before as strongly as it is happening now. The arm seems to be more wound up and connected to the body. I practiced with a higher level player today, and he was all smiles and approval at the change, so it seems I am doing something right...
I decided to break up what I am doing into a small progression. I am not trying to spin the ball as usual or hit too hard, although the basic action seems to have spin and pace built in. Once I feel comfortable, I will do my usual spinning action with the wrist/forearm (pronation, I believe). When I get around to making a video, I hope it will reflect the changes I am feeling, but I am getting used to not looking like a pro on video, lol!
Another thing I am doing is incorporating this concept into my two handed backhand. Just keeping the left hand straight and pointing the racket butt at the ball seems to do it, similar to the forehand. The extra power is nice... makes it easier to hit deep!
Yes. Just 'yes' to all the sentences. Question: Why not try using the straight-arm FH into the hit, if only for an hour for fun? But all the comments you made are what is expected, and yes, getting the ESR is easier (mentally, mainly) with a straight-arm start. Once you really get the feeling of the tension it induces in the front muscles of the shoulder and pec 'wing' you'll find it easier to achieve that when doing a 'double bend forehand' from the start, if you ever revert. But don't! No worries. Just realize that it is the ESR at the start, which 'locks' the upper arm to the UB/shoulder, that is giving you the extra power. The pronation lets you point the butt cap forward, but does nothing itself to allow efficient use of UB power, does nothing itself (beyond simplest weakest lag), to provide stability.
Yes, if you get the hitting upper arm at least back to or behind the plane of your chest when you do ESR (by keeping a straight arm and thinking 'get the butt cap pointed toward the ball") you will get automatic pace, power, from your UB rotation. That is, really, the main point of the ESR (and of the full UB rotation back....). Note this carefully: The longer you let the UB, shoulder, lead the "locked by ESR" hitting upper arm around, and the faster you do UB rotation, the more power you will get. This is WHY good players perform ESR in the transition, and such fast and full UB rotation. The reason their hitting upper arm stays in line with their UB so long during that rotation....is BECAUSE they 'locked' the hitting arm with ESR in the transition, and are letting the UB power the upper arm (plus all that other stuff, the forearm, hand, and racquet) around. To make that super clear you can watch Rafa hit practice forehands from 4 minutes to 8 (and especially clear from 5 minutes on) in this slow motion clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOBdbgZD05U
I really hope you'll watch it a bit.
Now is Rafa's forehand less mysterious? I would hope so. (Once his UB rotation is full, his chest nearly facing the net, the UB has nothing more to offer, it stops, the arm gets mo from the stop, and the arm takes over.)
Edit: I am shocked, shocked I tell you (laugh) that many (most?) players don't know that ESR LOCKS the upper arm at the shoulder joint, so that when the UB rotates, the upper arm MUST. I suppose players just thing "I'm using shoulder muscle!" No. And neither is Rafa. And it's so EASY to experiment in order to verify this. Without ESR (so with your hitting arm neutral or a bit ISR at the start) your hitting upper arm can simply flop behind, and you'll rely on nothing but small and variable muscles to bring the racquet around. WITH ESR performed in the transition but with the hitting upper arm still at or behind the chest plane, the UB rotation will power the upper arm around, and that 'lock' plus the UB's inherent stability will make a repeatable powerful forehand much easier to achieve.