1HBH takeback/backswing: Straight arm or bent arm?

Bent arm or straight arm takeback for 1HBH?

  • Straight arm

    Votes: 6 14.6%
  • Bent arm

    Votes: 26 63.4%
  • Mix of both, depending

    Votes: 10 24.4%

  • Total voters
    41

DeeeFoo

Rookie
It's been about 3 months since I dedicated myself to learning the 1hbh, and I'm still a bit undecided at this fork in the road.

On the takeback or backswing, would it be better to keep the arm straight from the beginning? Or have it a little bent, and straighten it out before contact? Obviously the arm will still need to be straight at contact and after, but keeping it straight from the get-go eliminates the extra step of straightening it out on the downward/forward swing.

Examples of a bent-arm takeback:

Roger Federer


Stan Wawrinka


Examples of a straight arm takeback:

Dominic Thiem


Denis Shapovalov



Personally, I find my 1hbh to be more consistent with the straight arm takeback, since it's easier to measure and judge the distance and space to the ball. With a bent arm, it's more difficult to judge, and sometimes it ends in an awkward shot.

I can keep a rally going using my 1hbh now, but I find that it's easier to be aggressive with the straight arm takeback, thanks to it being more consistent for me.

What are the pros and cons of each style? Any comments or suggestions?
 
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Pete Player

Hall of Fame
Bent for me. Used to have more of a straight, but coiling little less and dropping the playing hand before uncoiling gives you some more momentum, yet probably not as consistent as a straight arm take-back would do.

Potential energy is restored as you ”lift” the racket high with bent arm and can be used as the initial acceleration before hitting with your core. Hence the amount, how much I bend depends on the height of the bounce.


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No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
To be honest I rather shoot it like Wawrinka and Fed, in my opinion it seems easier.
Easier feel, but also easier on your body, cause you don’t need as much coiling as if you’d have the arm straight.


——————————
No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
The more important thing in OHBH is what happened on contact, in my opinion bend or not bend really depends on your physical condition, shot intention and mood
 

Booger

Hall of Fame
Personal preference. Bent arm always felt more natural for me. I did experiment with straight arm for a minute, but always felt awkward when on the run for a ball.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
On the point of a straight arm or a bent elbow:

1) Most ATP one hand backhands have a bent elbow on take back.
2) By my estimate more high level ATP one hand backhands have a straight elbow/arm on the forward swing and the chest presses on the upper arm for acceleration. The elbow straightens around the time the forward swing starts.
3) The backhand can use more or less uppermost body turn and then, before impact, less or more shoulder joint action. I believe that more uppermost body turn can be a better backhand technique. It is used by more ATP players with one hand backhands.
4) I believe that the rotation axis of the uppermost body, the axis is through the neck or spine, should be at a larger distance from the racket head, since racket head speed = distance from rotation axis to the head of the racket X rotation rate. Identify the rotation axes of one hand backhands. I see 1) uppermost body neck/spine or 2) shoulder joint as the important axes. If the straight arm goes down at too much of an angle the racket head distance from the rotation axis is reduced. Hand low reduces distance from one of the rotation axes. Look at videos.
5) To see the technique with more uppermost body turn in videos, look for the chest to press on the upper arm and the uppermost body and straight arm to move in sync.

Thread on this technique. Read minimum OP post, and then post #51 to end. See Gasquet side-by-side vs Mojo28 post.
 
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DeeeFoo

Rookie
Either one is fine I think, but bent is what feels more natural to me and is what I usually use.
Bent feels more natural to me too, since that's how I hit my backhand slice. But for some reason, straight arm for a 1hbh topspin/drive is more consistent and easier to control for me than the bent arm.
 

TennisDawg

Hall of Fame
I
Bent feels more natural to me too, since that's how I hit my backhand slice. But for some reason, straight arm for a 1hbh topspin/drive is more consistent and easier to control for me than the bent arm.
I think if you’re hitting fine with a straight arm stay with it. But you stated you are having trouble being aggressive and finishing off points. Which would indicate that you think it’s wrong and you need to use the bent arm?
 

DeeeFoo

Rookie
I

I think if you’re hitting fine with a straight arm stay with it. But you stated you are having trouble being aggressive and finishing off points. Which would indicate that you think it’s wrong and you need to use the bent arm?
Actually, I think it's easier to be aggressive with the straight arm, due to the fact that it's more consistent for me. Sorry, I should've clarified in my post. It's hard to be aggressive with a bent arm, because of the inconsistency it introduces for me personally. With a straight arm, it feels more like my racquet is in sync with the rest of my body, kinda like a rhythm. With a bent arm, it feels like a bit of a disconnect.
If there's no big disadvantage to having a straight arm, then I think I'll just stick with it.
 

Kevo

Legend
If there's no big disadvantage to having a straight arm, then I think I'll just stick with it.
The arm straightens quite soon in the forward swing even if it started bent, so if you're comfortable starting straight to begin with I can't see any reason to change it.
 

TennisDawg

Hall of Fame
Actually, I think it's easier to be aggressive with the straight arm, due to the fact that it's more consistent for me. Sorry, I should've clarified in my post. It's hard to be aggressive with a bent arm, because of the inconsistency it introduces for me personally. With a straight arm, it feels more like my racquet is in sync with the rest of my body, kinda like a rhythm. With a bent arm, it feels like a bit of a disconnect.
If there's no big disadvantage to having a straight arm, then I think I'll just stick with it.
I agree stay with it. The key is that it feels natural for you.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
...........................................................

On the takeback or backswing, would it be better to keep the arm straight from the beginning? Or have it a little bent, and straighten it out before contact? Obviously the arm will still need to be straight at contact and after, but keeping it straight from the get-go eliminates the extra step of straightening it out on the downward/forward swing.
......................................................

Personally, I find my 1hbh to be more consistent with the straight arm takeback, since it's easier to measure and judge the distance and space to the ball. With a bent arm, it's more difficult to judge, and sometimes it ends in an awkward shot.

I can keep a rally going using my 1hbh now, but I find that it's easier to be aggressive with the straight arm takeback, thanks to it being more consistent for me.

What are the pros and cons of each style? Any comments or suggestions?
I don't believe that the straight arm is used in the take back in ATP one hand backhands. (When the player is not pressured and wants to hit an aggressive drive.) Update - Thiem looks straight and Shapovalov looks near straight or straight on the backhands I saw.

There is a widely used action where the hitting arm is rotated down by the off arm rotating the racket down. This appears to cause hitting arm ISR (internal shoulder rotation) and stretches ESR muscles. Then later, before impact, ESR (external shoulder rotation) can be used to add to top spin. This requires a near straight arm and a bent arm will not work. See geca comments in the thread linked in post #9. [In Europe and other world locations, internal shoulder rotation is called medial shoulder rotation].

The racket bring down using the off hand on the racket. This causes internal shoulder rotation (rotation of the upper arm through its long axis, like a top spins). Around 1:07

You cannot do the ISR-ESR joint motions for top spin with a bent elbow approaching impact. Look for bent elbows in ATP one hand backhand drives and when they are used during the stroke.
 
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Pete Player

Hall of Fame
Actually, I think it's easier to be aggressive with the straight arm, due to the fact that it's more consistent for me. Sorry, I should've clarified in my post. It's hard to be aggressive with a bent arm, because of the inconsistency it introduces for me personally. With a straight arm, it feels more like my racquet is in sync with the rest of my body, kinda like a rhythm. With a bent arm, it feels like a bit of a disconnect.
If there's no big disadvantage to having a straight arm, then I think I'll just stick with it.
Can be easily seen as rythm error on bent arm shots. Straight arm will force you to turn the required amount, but with bent arm turn is not obvious and when getting lazy, it turns into more of hand action.


——————————
No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
 

DeeeFoo

Rookie
Can be easily seen as rythm error on bent arm shots. Straight arm will force you to turn the required amount, but with bent arm turn is not obvious and when getting lazy, it turns into more of hand action.


——————————
No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
I know what you mean. Whenever I try the bent arm style, I sometimes forget to straighten the hitting arm, especially with balls that are close to my body. This results in a "floppy" arm swing that's really just me trying to muscle through the ball, which isn't ideal.
 

2ndServe

Hall of Fame
straight arm is the future imo for both sides. It keeps you locked in so there is never a chance of bent elbow at or near contact which makes for a weaker shot. Imo straight arm and strong more extreme grip. Look at Grigor his is a slightly weaker grip and bent and he hits it poorly because of that compared to Dominic or Shapo.
 

DeeeFoo

Rookie
It keeps you locked in so there is never a chance of bent elbow at or near contact which makes for a weaker shot.
Yeah, this is the reason why I think I hit more consistently with the straight arm takeback. It just boils down to having less variables.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
I looked at Thiem and Shapovalov on the takeback. Thiem has a straight arm and Shapovalov straight or near straight on the backhands that I saw.

Here is a Gasquet backhand. "0" second is impact and the time scale is in milliseconds. The upper time scale is time after racket high point. Stop to read text messages as they only appear briefly. For single frame on Vimeo hold down the SHIFT KEY and use the ARROW KEYS. Sometimes frames are skipped on Vimeo.

Wawrinka and Justine Henin have similar backhand techniques.
 
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Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
It's been about 3 months since I dedicated myself to learning the 1hbh, and I'm still a bit undecided at this fork in the road.

On the takeback or backswing, would it be better to keep the arm straight from the beginning? Or have it a little bent, and straighten it out before contact? Obviously the arm will still need to be straight at contact and after, but keeping it straight from the get-go eliminates the extra step of straightening it out on the downward/forward swing.

Examples of a bent-arm takeback:

Roger Federer


Stan Wawrinka


Examples of a straight arm takeback:

Dominic Thiem


Denis Shapovalov



Personally, I find my 1hbh to be more consistent with the straight arm takeback, since it's easier to measure and judge the distance and space to the ball. With a bent arm, it's more difficult to judge, and sometimes it ends in an awkward shot.

I can keep a rally going using my 1hbh now, but I find that it's easier to be aggressive with the straight arm takeback, thanks to it being more consistent for me.

What are the pros and cons of each style? Any comments or suggestions?
Many coaches advise to swing with "shoulder as the hinge".
Try keeping it straight on the takeback AND on the forward swing. See how that feels.
The Fed style with significant elbow extension on the forward swing can cause timing errors for rec players; let's take the elbow out of the equation!
:mad:

 
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DeeeFoo

Rookie
Alright, so I did some hitting last night, and experimented with the straight arm takeback once again. This time, it didn't go so well. I kept dumping everything in the net, so I think I'm brushing up on the ball too much and am not hitting through it enough.

I'm going to give the bent-arm style another go next time, anything I should keep in mind? When is the ideal position to fully straighten the arm?
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Alright, so I did some hitting last night, and experimented with the straight arm takeback once again. This time, it didn't go so well. I kept dumping everything in the net, so I think I'm brushing up on the ball too much and am not hitting through it enough.

I'm going to give the bent-arm style another go next time, anything I should keep in mind? When is the ideal position to fully straighten the arm?
You are better off to look at 10 one hand backhands and define what your words mean to you. You would be better again instead of translating high speed videos into words to learn to look directly and see what is done and get an idea of the statistics of how many are doing whatever.

If you translate every thing into "bent" and "straight" then what is a bend of 5 degrees, 10 degrees, etc. Also, the biomechanics of tennis strokes are most observable over the times and distances approaching impact. The take back can probably be done in several ways but the acceleration to the ball impact must use muscles in a more limited way. After impact, the biomechanics again can have more variety because all that needs to be done is to slow down the body and racket and prepare for the next shot. If you don't observe and understand the similar biomechanics 100 milliseconds before impact but try to add a new feature, bent elbow takeback, at 600 milliseconds before impact to your unknown backhand technique................................................

The arm appears to become straight early in the forward swing. Most one hand high level backhands rotate the racket down sub-motion using the off arm hand: Gasquet, Wawrinka, Justine Henin, Federer, F. Lopez and others do this. Federer and Lopez do not have a chest press technique and can show bent elbows in the forward swing as shown.

There are a limited number of ATP one hand backhands. Pick the better one hand backhands and look at 10 of them. You should be able to get the answers that you are asking for easily and directly with a little time and you will probably notice other things.

At some time before or after impact, the player has options on using muscles, etc. that probably don't matter much for the biomechanics approaching the ball. There may be options for how to get to the essential biomechanics leading to impact. I can't figure it all out, but I can find videos to show me the techniques of the best one hand backhands in 2020. Arms straight or bent and when is easy to see. I think that the 100 milliseconds before impact are the most interesting part.
 
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Mountain Ghost

Professional
When first learning a 1HBH ... one of the most important aspects to be mindful of ... is to have a straight elbow touching the stomach at racquet-back position ... so that a player learns to NOT lead with the elbow at the beginning of the forward stroke ... instead rotating the arm unit OUT (supinating) as the first primary movement. A BENT elbow backswing makes keeping the elbow close to the center of the stomach much easier ... and feeling more natural ... as the arm straightens ... and pronates down to racquet-back position. If the arm is straight during the backswing ... keeping the elbow close to the stomach is more difficult and "stiff" feeling. While both backswing methods can obviously work at a very high level ... after decades of teaching a 1HBH ... whereas I will BEGIN students with a straight arm and a straight-back backswing ... just to get them to recognize exactly where the racquet-back position is and how to rotate the arm unit out ... once this correct forward motion is learned ... I have found a bent-arm backswing ... with the arm unit straightening as it pronates down to racquet-back position ... to be more naturally fluid ... and effective ... as the player develops ~ MG
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
When first learning a 1HBH ... one of the most important aspects to be mindful of ... is to have a straight elbow touching the stomach at racquet-back position ... so that a player learns to NOT lead with the elbow at the beginning of the forward stroke ... instead rotating the arm unit OUT (supinating) as the first primary movement. A BENT elbow backswing makes keeping the elbow close to the center of the stomach much easier ... and feeling more natural ... as the arm straightens ... and pronates down to racquet-back position. If the arm is straight during the backswing ... keeping the elbow close to the stomach is more difficult and "stiff" feeling. While both backswing methods can obviously work at a very high level ... after decades of teaching a 1HBH ... whereas I will BEGIN students with a straight arm and a straight-back backswing ... just to get them to recognize exactly where the racquet-back position is and how to rotate the arm unit out ... once this correct forward motion is learned ... I have found a bent-arm backswing ... with the arm unit straightening as it pronates down to racquet-back position ... to be more naturally fluid ... and effective ... as the player develops ~ MG
List of ATP players with one hand backhands.


Federer and F. Lopez? have a bend in their elbows on the forward swings. Which other ATP players?

For several of these I found one clear video and formed these quick lists.

Bent arm forward swings one hand backhand drives:
Federer
F. Lopez?
Dimitrov

Straight arm forward swings one hand backhand drives:
Gasquet
Wawrinka
Thiem
Shapovalov
Tsitsipas
Cuevas
 
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DeeeFoo

Rookie
When first learning a 1HBH ... one of the most important aspects to be mindful of ... is to have a straight elbow touching the stomach at racquet-back position ... so that a player learns to NOT lead with the elbow at the beginning of the forward stroke ... instead rotating the arm unit OUT (supinating) as the first primary movement. A BENT elbow backswing makes keeping the elbow close to the center of the stomach much easier ... and feeling more natural ... as the arm straightens ... and pronates down to racquet-back position. If the arm is straight during the backswing ... keeping the elbow close to the stomach is more difficult and "stiff" feeling. While both backswing methods can obviously work at a very high level ... after decades of teaching a 1HBH ... whereas I will BEGIN students with a straight arm and a straight-back backswing ... just to get them to recognize exactly where the racquet-back position is and how to rotate the arm unit out ... once this correct forward motion is learned ... I have found a bent-arm backswing ... with the arm unit straightening as it pronates down to racquet-back position ... to be more naturally fluid ... and effective ... as the player develops ~ MG
This is a really good and informative reply. You described my experience with both styles well. The bent arm backswing feels more natural and fluid, while the straight arm backswing feels very stiff and forced. However, I find I have more consistency with the straight arm style, due to not having to remember to straighten my arm as it goes to racquet-back position with the bent arm style. I feel like once I get that, my consistency will increase for the bent arm backswing.
 

2ndServe

Hall of Fame
Many coaches advise to swing with "shoulder as the hinge".
Try keeping it straight on the takeback AND on the forward swing. See how that feels.
The Fed style with significant elbow extension on the forward swing can cause timing errors for rec players; let's take the elbow out of the equation!
:mad:

this is correct, if you are late you're elbow is the weak point (if your grip is strong enough) not only is the shot bad but a bent elbow on the backhand is a recipe for tennis elbow
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
I looked at Thiem and Shapovalov on the takeback. Thiem has a straight arm and Shapovalov straight or near straight on the backhands that I saw.
Many rec players have bent arm takebacks but will employ too much bent elbow (flexion) on the forward swing.
For such players, it could be that a straight-arm takeback is more likely to promote a straight-arm on the forward swing.
So try keeping it straight on the takeback and on on the forward swing as Thiem does.

 

Curious

G.O.A.T.
Many rec players have bent arm takebacks but will employ too much bent elbow (flexion) on the forward swing.
For such players, it could be that a straight-arm takeback is more likely to promote a straight-arm on the forward swing.
So try keeping it straight on the takeback and on on the forward swing as Thiem does.

Aren’t you more likely to be late with that style due to having a bigger loop/take back size?
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Aren’t you more likely to be late with that style due to having a bigger loop/take back size?
That may well be true. If that is the case, Thiem's technique of straight-arm throughout the entire stroke can still be performed with a smaller loop/takeback.
 

Curious

G.O.A.T.
That may well be true. If that is the case, Thiem's technique of straight-arm throughout the entire stroke can still be performed with a smaller loop/takeback.
I feel like taking the racket behind your back is important on 1hbh. With a smaller loop I don’t think it will happen with a straight arm.
 

2-Step-Q

Rookie
I use a straight arm on my takeback. It helps me keep my contact point out in front. Whenever I bend the arm I tend to T-Rex my shots. But I have no issues with power or topspin
 

Keendog

Professional
What is he saying is his backhand grip? Around 1:40 on, I can't understand the grip he says.
He is saying it is a semi western, the v between his thumb and first finger is sitting right on the edge of bevel 2 and 3. Some people call this strong eastern
 

ReopeningWed

Professional
On the point of a straight arm or a bent elbow:

1) Most ATP one hand backhands have a bent elbow on take back.
2) By my estimate more high level ATP one hand backhands have a straight elbow/arm on the forward swing and the chest presses on the upper arm for acceleration. The elbow straightens around the time the forward swing starts.
3) The backhand can use more or less uppermost body turn and then, before impact, less or more shoulder joint action. I believe that more uppermost body turn can be a better backhand technique. It is used by more ATP players with one hand backhands.
4) I believe that the rotation axis of the uppermost body, the axis is through the neck or spine, should be at a larger distance from the racket head, since racket head speed = distance from rotation axis to the head of the racket X rotation rate. Identify the rotation axes of one hand backhands. I see 1) uppermost body neck/spine or 2) shoulder joint as the important axes. If the straight arm goes down at too much of an angle the racket head distance from the rotation axis is reduced. Hand low reduces distance from one of the rotation axes. Look at videos.
5) To see the technique with more uppermost body turn in videos, look for the chest to press on the upper arm and the uppermost body and straight arm to move in sync.

Thread on this technique. Read minimum OP post, and then post #51 to end. See Gasquet side-by-side vs Mojo28 post.
I keep thinking "only at TTW Clown School of Tennis" everytime I see that chest press thread. For what it's worth, I have a straight arm on the take back.

I think it's problematic to argue that you can theoretically get more out of a bent arm, because you'd get at best the tiniest fraction of improvement out of it. If you're looking to min-max your tennis, find the thing that's the most consistent for you and hit the ball as hard as you can and don't miss. That's always something I've hated about the straight arm vs bent arm forehand debate, it doesn't matter because you can always make huge improvements elsewhere.

There's also the issue of potentially hyper-extending your elbow if you have a bent arm on the one handed backhand, because you'll be trying to snap it towards the ball when you're rushed or wanting to hit harder.
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
The forum posters are divided between those that look at high speed videos for information and those that don't.

Study high speed videos.
 

ReopeningWed

Professional
The forum posters are divided between those that look at high speed videos for information and those that don't.

Study high speed videos.
The forum posters are also divided between people who practice hard and clowns who spend more time posting than they play.
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
..........................................................................................................................................

I think it's problematic to argue that you can theoretically get more out of a bent arm, because you'd get at best the tiniest fraction of improvement out of it....................

...........................................
Who on the forum argued "theoretically" that a bent arm will "get more" on the take back of the one hand backhand? You should quote what was said when disagreeing with it.
 
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AJvR

Rookie
I am also using a bent arm as it feels more natural and loose / relaxed to me, sometimes I try a straight arm but I seem to loose some racquet head speed and have timing issues then.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
I keep thinking "only at TTW Clown School of Tennis" everytime I see that chest press thread. For what it's worth, I have a straight arm on the take back.

I think it's problematic to argue that you can theoretically get more out of a bent arm, because you'd get at best the tiniest fraction of improvement out of it. If you're looking to min-max your tennis, find the thing that's the most consistent for you and hit the ball as hard as you can and don't miss. That's always something I've hated about the straight arm vs bent arm forehand debate, it doesn't matter because you can always make huge improvements elsewhere.

There's also the issue of potentially hyper-extending your elbow if you have a bent arm on the one handed backhand, because you'll be trying to snap it towards the ball when you're rushed or wanting to hit harder.
IIRC re the Chess Press, @tennis_balla put that to rest saying it didnt happen, and well he travels the world teaching the 1 handed and has one of the best ones on this board.

MHO is that you need to get straight at one point or it could hurt the elbow.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
IIRC re the Chess Press, @tennis_balla put that to rest saying it didnt happen, and well he travels the world teaching the 1 handed and has one of the best ones on this board.
.....................................................................................
If you have the tennis_balla quote I'd like to see it. I analyzed his backhand video some years ago but can't locate it.

This following post gives a list of the one hand backhands in the ATP. There is also a slow motion video with clips of 14 ATP top 100 players with one hand backhands.

I just saw a clear video of Dan Evans's backhand and he can be added to the longer list for straight arm forward swings. Chest press forces are not visible in videos but upper arm on or very close to the chest does show and so does the chest and upper arm moving together in sync. I assume the synced together movement makes the chest press forces very likely and is the closest to proof that we will get until a pressure gage is applied. In addition to chest pressing, I'm sure the back muscles are pulling also.

List of ATP players with one hand backhands.


Federer and F. Lopez? have a bend in their elbows on the forward swings. Which other ATP players?

For several of these I found one clear video and formed these quick lists.

Bent arm forward swings one hand backhand drives:
Federer
F. Lopez?
Dimitrov

Straight arm forward swings one hand backhand drives:
Gasquet
Wawrinka
Thiem
Shapovalov
Tsitsipas
Cuevas
Add Dan Evans to the "Straight arm forward swings ...." group. Clear video but not ideal as he was under pressure.
See slow motion at 30 seconds.

1HBH evidence post.
 
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