Example of early racket prep

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
It's good to be early, but it's better to be right on time.
Him prepping so early is creating a hitch/pause in his stroke, especially on the backhand.
Continuous loop or "right on time" is overrated for non-elite players IMO. Possibly risky unless your timing is impeccable. I'm all for an early prep. However, that prep should be an early & full unit turn. Not the racket fully pulled back as red shirt guy is doing. A UT prep similar to the image of Andy M shown below is more appropriate.


My advice to novice & intermediate students is to start the UT prep by the time the ball is crossing the net (assuming they are somewhere in the vicinity of the BL). The UT should be complete by the time the ball reaches the (back) service line. This is pretty much the prep timing I've observed with Roger Federer.
 
Last edited:
Continuous loop or "right on time" is overrated for non-elite players IMO. Possibly risky unless your timing is impeccable. I'm all for an early prep. However, that prep should be an early & full unit turn. Not the racket fully pulled back as red shirt guy is doing. A UT prep similar to the image of Andy M shown below is more appropriate.


My advice to novice & intermediate students is to start the UT prep by the time the ball is crossing the net (assuming they are somewhere in the vicinity of the BL). The UT should be complete by the time the ball reaches the (back) service line. This is pretty much the prep timing I've observed with Roger Federer.
I agree. But I think even that is still overrated for non elite players. Serena does take back her racket extremely early and she still does decently.

Biomechanically that probably is not ideal and doing it later might give you 2.69% more racket speed but really 99% of rec players are late so they have to rush and can't properly use their body.
 

StringSnapper

Hall of Fame
Yeah this guys early prep is great. He's got time to swing twice lol

I think maybe it looks like theres a long pause / hitch is because the guy he;s playing isn't blasting super fast shots at him, but against stronger players he wouldn't have nearly as much time and he'd look a lot more in rhythm.
 

enishi1357

Rookie
That's no such thing a taking a racquet back to early. If it's too early just time it again. What he should work on is stepping in to take the ball early to take advantage of his early racquet back.
 

StringSnapper

Hall of Fame
That's no such thing a taking a racquet back to early. If it's too early just time it again. What he should work on is stepping in to take the ball early to take advantage of his early racquet back.
yeah i agree, he almost never misses a ball but he also usually hits it on the way down. For those shorter balls ideally he'd step in and take them at their peak
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
@StringSnapper
That's no such thing a taking a racquet back to early. If it's too early just time it again. What he should work on is stepping in to take the ball early to take advantage of his early racquet back.
Gotta disagree. That is something I was saying 25+ yrs ago... that is, "there's no such thing as taking the racket back too early". Have modified my thinking on that in the past 2+ decades..

I do believe it is best to prepare the racket early (as I detailed in post #3). But taking the racket all the way back like red shirt guy does, particularly on his Bh side, is not ideal at all. Because of his extreme set position, he has a hitch in his strokes. It does not flow. It is not an efficient stroke and is not at all fluid. It requires him to restart his motion from a position that is not ideal. He does not take advantage of momentum and a gravity assist. And he is not fully utilizing SSC (stretch shortening cycles of his muscles).

What he is doing, esp on his Bh, is akin to rushing his initial loop and racket prep on the serve and then waiting, racket stopped, behind his head or behind his back. If there is going to be a linger or "wait position" in the serve motion, it is much better to do it at a "salute" position or earlier -- before the trophy phase.

This is also the case on most g'strokes. Prepare early does not mean to pull the racket all the way back and wait in that position. Have seen players moving, even running, with the racket back and down. The only time I would do that might be on an expected half-volley. Much better to perform an early unit turn (UT) and "set" the racket at a high position (rather than back and down). The following coaches have a similar philosophy and give their own reasons why we do not want to take the racket all the way back too early. (I didn't list it here but, I believe, Tomaz of Feel Tennis says something very similar).



 
Last edited:

Curious

Legend
Because of his extreme set position, he has a hitch in his strokes. It does not flow. It is not an efficient stroke and is not at all fluid. It requires him to restart his motion from a position that is not ideal. He does not take advantage of momentum and a gravity assist. And he is not fully utilizing SSC (stretch shortening cycles of his muscles).
Isn’t that exactly what Serena does on her backhand?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Isn’t that exactly what Serena does on her backhand?
No, not exactly. She does employ a directional change. Racket is often moving back and down and then, immediately or almost immediately, she redirects it for a forward swing. Sometimes it appears somewhat like a Fh flip action. Even tho it looks like a hesitation on some of her Bh shots, I'm not seeing an extended pause / wait. RSG (red shirt guy) has a definite hold / pause. It appears that she is still using a gravity-assisted drop and she still takes advantage of the SSC.

Even so, I probably still wouldn't use her as a model for a racket prep.

 
Last edited:

eah123

Rookie
Agree that he could get more racquet head speed / better efficiency by having a less extreme takeback position. He is definitely muscling the ball. But certainly looks very consistent and hard hitting. Any change will require a lot of work as those strokes look grooved.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Isn’t that exactly what Serena does on her backhand?
Stellar Bh, but not my top choice for a 2hBh model. There are actually quite a few very decent 2-handed backhanders on the WTA tour. Serena is undoubtedly in the top 10 for recent times.

For 2hBh players of the past decade or two, some of the best include: Halep, Muguruza, Pliskova, Wozniacki, Svitolina, Sharapova, Gauff, Ostapenko, Kuznetsova, Kvitova, Azarenka, Kerber, Anisimova, Bencic & the Williams' sisters. I'm sure I'm over-looking a couple. If we go a bit further back, I'd have to include Davenport.

 
Last edited:

Mountain Ghost

Professional
The progression from raw beginner upward is ... start at "Racquet-Back-Position" ... to "Racquet-Back-Too-Early" (before the ball bounces) ... to "Just-In-Time". If at "Just-In-Time" it's too late ... it's back to "Racquet-Back-Too-Early" the student goes.

One thing the player must be mindful of is to learn to run and to position with the racquet back WITHOUT too much bounce or hip and shoulder "sway" ... so that it's smooth as he/she approaches the ball.

~ MG
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Meh, for rec as long as you aren't late I don't think there is a too early unless it is somehow impeding movement. Of course there is more optimal timing, but could be this player had massive issues being late and just decided never to be late again with this setup.
 
I think too early racket take back is mostly when you take the racket back before your unit turn is mostly finished.

Some good players take their racket early and do a pause but they will Still delay their take back until their shoulders are about fully turned.
 
The biggest issues with super early racquet prep are...

1 - That it can be tiring, since holding the racquet longer in a coiled position engages way more muscles in the core, arms, shoulders, and back.

2 - That it makes movement to the ball inefficient. Because no one runs as well holding a racquet back to the fence as they do just running.

3 - That it restricts the loose motion of the arm, since muscles have to be tensed to hold the racquet up and in position back there. This doesn't constrain your ability to hit a proper stroke, as long as you can relax that musculature ahead of the forward swing, but it does require one more thing to time correctly and to think about.

As long as you're not tiring yourself out, slowing yourself down, or cramping your strokes with unnecessary muscular tension, THEN it becomes safe to say, "There's no such thing as too early." There's no correct or incorrect approach, here. It's all about which method allows the individual to perform the stroke the best. That's why you see a wide variety of prep styles even up at the highest levels.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
^ Not sure if this was meant to be serious. But I'll assume it is. RSG should be playing to the speed and rhythm of his opponent and the incoming ball. He certainly should not finish his split step before the other guy makes contact with the ball.

He would not run as fast as he could to a ball that is with an easy reach (or that comes right at him). He would merely walk or take a couple of steps for these balls. In the same vein, for slower incoming balls, there is no need for RSG to have his racket prepared back & down (as seen in the image below) when the ball is still 20-25 ft (6-8 m) away.

 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
For novice students, it's best to encourage them to get the racket in the position above (Serena in post #18) as soon as possible as @Mountain Ghost suggests. For intermediate players, I would suggest something closer to the rhythm / timing prep shown by Roger below.

He has already begun his prep / unit turn as the incoming ball has crossed the net. He has completed his UT by the time that the ball has reached the service line. That means, for balls that bounce short (inside the service boxes), he is already completed his UT. And, for deeper balls, his UT is done before the balls bounce.

 
Top