Originally Posted by RajS
Okay... I have done a lot of experimentation by now. I thought I would describe my experience briefly for everyone's entertainment, lol!
I should mention that I did try the forward swing with a straight arm, as I said I would. When it works, it is sweet. But I encountered a couple of problems along the way. It is a slightly more stressful stroke - the extra leverage places more stress on the shoulder and arm. But I can deal with that, if I had to. What was more difficult was that since I am used to bending my arm on the forward swing, I am too used to hitting closer to the ball than a straight arm permits. So while playing for points in a tug-of-war match, my old muscle memory just wreaked havoc... I would hit a great shot, and totally mess up the next ball if it was hit at my body or close to me! For better or worse, I just hit better with a bent arm.
So rather than change everything at once, I decided to stay with the bent arm forward swing, but continue to straighten the arm out at the bottom of the backswing.
The other thing I noticed was that if I was thinking about getting the correct arm position and the right shoulder feel, I was mistiming the shot more often than not. So I decided to play a small trick on my mind. I imagined that I was pulling the racket from the inside to the outside, and straightening it out when close to the ball so the head became square. This made me turn the racket face towards the side fence at the start of the swing, and ESR just happens, I think, when the arm is straight. The shoulder tightening feeling happens automatically, I noticed, if I try to hit the ball hard. As I said earlier, if I try to tighten the shoulder deliberately or try to manipulate the racket into a specific position, I don't seem to hit well.
Anyway, I think I am on the right track now. The fun never stops, of course, lol!
Yep, the fun. People who hit with a straight arm deal with close-to-the-body incoming balls by taking them sooner, i,e. getting the straight arm almost directly in front of the chest, out in front, for contact. But do what you're doing. It's a perfectly good variation. Down the road it shouldn't be difficult to learn to "pull the elbow through," do some ESR, even with a compact always bent arm when rushed to use a shallow backswing.
The tension of ESR shouldn't be produced by a thought about the shoulder, but just about rotating the upper arm or, with a straight arm, rotating the entire arm. Then the tension just happens if it's timed to UB rotation. I guess it's obvious that that timing is the big deal, so the the UB is leading the upper arm that is locked (by ESR) to the UB...until the time the arm takes over out to the hit.
Without seeing it I can't say too much, but I like your thought of pulling it from the inside to the outside, and your description of how it feels (at least when you hit hard) sounds right on. Yes, with a straight arm it just happens if you do as you described.