Feedback on Video to Improve Groundstrokes (4.5ish)

TennisJK

New User
Hey all,

New here, so I apologize if I'm posting to the wrong forum. I'm a 4.5ish self taught player, and feel I need to have better groundstrokes in order to improve my game further. Specifically looking at improving the forehand, as that seems to be my weaker/more error prone shot. I've posted a youtube link (Groundstrokes) of a video I took the other night, and would appreciate any feedback you can give. Feel free to comment here, or on the video itself.

Thanks.
 
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Your backswing looks inefficient.
At 0.13, your elbow is the highest and appears to be ready for racket drop to "pat the dog position."


But you instead pull your forearm back and drop your racket towards the back fence, creating a hitch and forcing your racket to take a detour before contacting the ball.
At 0.14


I would try to eliminate the part that your forearm travelling towards back fence and move right to "pat the dog" position. It would be then easier to contact (more consistency) and to generate more topspins.
 
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gold325

Semi-Pro
Out of curiosity

Can you hit through the court with that forehand? Think forehand drive shot... Or at do you primarily function with higher loopy balls?

Do you have a side view? Also interested how much in front you contact the ball.
 

MyFearHand

Rookie
I don't know how helpful this will be for you, but your follow through looks very unnatural on both sides. Your follow through should be a natural consequence of staying loose and "throwing" your racket at the ball. You have a half natural follow through and then you force it the rest of the way. This indicates you're probably holding the racket a lot tighter than you should be and muscling the ball. Just try to keep your grip a little looser on both sides and you'll probably get more spin and hence more control.
 

WildVolley

Legend
New here, so I apologize if I'm posting to the wrong forum. I'm a 4.5ish self taught player, and feel I need to have better groundstrokes in order to improve my game further. Specifically looking at improving the forehand, as that seems to be my weaker/more error prone shot. I've posted a youtube link (Groundstrokes) of a video I took the other night, and would appreciate any feedback you can give. Feel free to comment here, or on the video itself.
...
What grips do you use on your strokes? At first glance, it appears you're hitting your forehand with a continental grip.
 
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TennisJK

New User
Thanks for all the advice, except from the dude who only commented to say I overrated myself. As I mentioned, I'm self taught and can really only go off of how well I match up with 40.s and 4.5s that play USTA.

As for what the first commenter said, I completely agree that my backswing is inefficient, and couldn't really pinpoint what it was. What I notice when watching video of myself is that the racket face orientation always seemed off when watching my backswing. I'm still not really sure how to swing though without bringing my forearm towards the back fence. Isn't that movement the dropping of the racket?

I can swing a lot looser and harder than this, the video was actually taken during a cooldown after a long match, and not a warm up. I only posted it because I thought it gave a good representation of my swing. I do find that I often need to remind myself to grip looser though and be more relaxed when I start hitting.

I can also hit flatter and through the ball a bit more, but make way more errors when I do this (generally hit it long). I feel that my grip, which I think is continental, doesn't allow me to swing flatter without this happening. I'd like to go more Western, but it feels so unnatural to me, plus I've got long term wrist tendonitis (ulnar side) that makes it hurt to just hold the racket differently.

Any other comments are appreciated. Even if you just want to tell me that I'm actually a 3.0 :)
 

WildVolley

Legend
...
I can also hit flatter and through the ball a bit more, but make way more errors when I do this (generally hit it long). I feel that my grip, which I think is continental, doesn't allow me to swing flatter without this happening. I'd like to go more Western, but it feels so unnatural to me, plus I've got long term wrist tendonitis (ulnar side) that makes it hurt to just hold the racket differently.
...
Using a continental grip on the forehand will limit your ability to hit topspin as it requires a later contact point and lifting of the shoulder, which is why your follow-thru looks a little odd.

If I were you, I'd rotate your forehand grip to an Eastern FH grip and I'd rotate your topspin backhand grip to an Eastern BH grip. Both of these grips will allow you to hit farther out in front and to more easily generate topspin and vertical motion with pace.

To deal with the wrist tendonitis, I'd begin doing daily forearm, wrist, and hand exercises. I'd start doing all the motions without weight and then progressively start using weights and bands as your muscles and tendons strengthen and heal. You can tape your wrist until they are strengthened enough for regular play.
 
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StasTs

New User
Hey all,

New here, so I apologize if I'm posting to the wrong forum. I'm a 4.5ish self taught player, and feel I need to have better groundstrokes in order to improve my game further. Specifically looking at improving the forehand, as that seems to be my weaker/more error prone shot. I've posted a youtube link (Groundstrokes) of a video I took the other night, and would appreciate any feedback you can give. Feel free to comment here, or on the video itself.

Thanks.
It's really hard to comment on your strokes based on this video. There is just no pace, no movement. You don't move to ball (specifically to a bit low/short balls), you're not showing any recovery after stroke. On this video, you're "showing" how you think your strokes looks like. Usually it's very different on how they actually look. Try to move tempo up to 70%-75% of your maximum.

PS. On 0.58, when incoming ball is a bit faster, your forehand is already looks different.
 

myke232

Semi-Pro
Thanks for all the advice, except from the dude who only commented to say I overrated myself. As I mentioned, I'm self taught and can really only go off of how well I match up with 40.s and 4.5s that play USTA.
Sorry, I was just being honest... I've been there... I don't think people realize how good a 4.5 actually is...
 
As for what the first commenter said, I completely agree that my backswing is inefficient, and couldn't really pinpoint what it was. What I notice when watching video of myself is that the racket face orientation always seemed off when watching my backswing. I'm still not really sure how to swing though without bringing my forearm towards the back fence. Isn't that movement the dropping of the racket?
No. Bringing your forearm towards the back fence is an extra part of your backswing. Dropping of the racket should be a part of forward swing. See how Federer's whole arm moving forward not backward when he is dropping his racket.



The original video clip
 

TennisJK

New User
Appreciate all the feedback, and am also fine with the criticism. I'd just prefer some feedback instead of saying nothing more than I'm overrating myself. I match up well with a lot of the 4.5 players in my area, mostly due to my speed and slice, and being consistent enough with my other groundstrokes. I know my groundstrokes are a somewhat weak point though, which is why I'm posting here in the first place.

Back to the forehand...I've now gotten advice to shorten my backswing by getting rid of the part where the forearm faces the back fence, and also a comment on needing a longer backswing. Those two comments don't seem to really go together, and more inclined to think the poster who sent the video clip advice would lead to more improvement. Even when watching the Fed video, it still seems like his forearm is facing back towards the fence in the second screenshot of him. Still trying to further understand what differs so much, as it clearly does when I watch both of our swings. It also still looks to me like the racket orientation is all wrong on my swing, which as other commenters noted, may be due to my grip. Just to confirm, can anyone tell me which grip I have for both my strokes?

Forehand
ForehandOtherAngle
Backhand
BackhandOtherAngle
 

WildVolley

Legend
... It also still looks to me like the racket orientation is all wrong on my swing, which as other commenters noted, may be due to my grip. Just to confirm, can anyone tell me which grip I have for both my strokes?

Forehand
ForehandOtherAngle
Backhand
BackhandOtherAngle
Could you take photos from above your hand holding both grips? We need to be able to see where you're placing your knuckles in terms of bevels to really understand your grip.
 

ballmachineguy

Professional
Ball Chaser is right. Drop is part of forward swing. About the only thing your backswing is good for at this point is orienting your upper body. Your racquet drops and you stop. All of your momentum is gone and you are left having to create spin by lifting with shoulder. Good luck.
Backhand is not much different. You aren’t turning shoulders enough in this video and again you are trying to create spin inefficiently, by pulling up with shoulder.
 

matterer

New User
You're coming from way too far under the ball on the forehand. The racket only needs to drop slightly below the ball for topspin. This makes timing easier so you can hit more consistently and accurately, which will let you aim lower over the net so you can hit harder.

Good illustration of topspin forehands:
 

onehandbh

Legend
On the forehand when you take back your racquet, try not to let your upper arm (section between shoulder & elbow) drop down to far. Keep it more parallel with the court.
 

TennisJK

New User
Thanks for all the responses. The key takeaways that I got from this are changing my backswing to eliminate the dropping of the forearm. Also potentially need a grip change, but still not sure since I never got an answer on which grip I was using. I'll try to get another picture posted later, but can anyone tell from the forehand grip pictures I uploaded a few posts back? Will also upload another video in the future to check if the corrections I've made have helped.
Thanks again!
 

WildVolley

Legend
Thanks for all the responses. The key takeaways that I got from this are changing my backswing to eliminate the dropping of the forearm. Also potentially need a grip change, but still not sure since I never got an answer on which grip I was using. I'll try to get another picture posted later, but can anyone tell from the forehand grip pictures I uploaded a few posts back? Will also upload another video in the future to check if the corrections I've made have helped.
Thanks again!
From the heel pad location, it appears that you're hitting something more traditional, say eastern or extreme eastern forehand, rather than a continental. However, your stroke looks like someone holding a continental and trying to hit topspin. When determining a grip variant, I look more at index knuckle location than heel pad location.
 

gold325

Semi-Pro
That's not a continental grip. That's an eastern fh grip, but one that's slightly toward the continental. I'd rotate it more toward semi-western if you want to make hitting topspin easier.
Agreed. Main issue i think is your swing is more of a discus throw action or clothes lining action (from wrestling).. my guess is you have more glancing contact and can't hit too many drives that fly through the court.

You need to get in more of a throwing action into the forehands through contact which will change the path of your forehand as well. I will post a picture and maybe find a YouTube video to help you.



I believe due to lack of throwing motion your racket path will lead to more of a glancing blow and will lack power and acceleration... You racket path curve (above in red) would be opposite of fed (in green)
 
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jz000

Rookie
Are you using the same grip for serve and forehand?
I'm thinking it's a continental grip, but you bend your wrist to compensate.
It just looks weird, never seen anyone hit like that :p

You can try different grips, and for me, I swing from the elbow. Not forcing it, but using my entire body (torso + legs) to rotate and release at the elbow.
Also try different strings/racket weight. This creates the stroke.

How long are your arms/legs/height? More head heavy for shorter players, head lighter for taller IMO.

Also, ratings are for hindering your progress.
Always think you're a 3.0 ;)

I rate myself a 4.5, and you'd get crushed :p
But hey, I play like a 3.0 vs a true 5.0

Good luck.
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
Nice footwork, great slice, nice unit turn.
Opponent looks like a serious player

You have zero racket lag on the FH.
This is why you have no power on FH
 

TennisJK

New User
Ha, I think if I rated myself a 3.0 on the video title I’d get no responses. At the very least, it got people to respond to tell me how much I suck. As for the forehand being weird, I think it probably stems from me playing ping pong growing up. So when I decided to switch to tennis after high school, I kept some of the same technique that I had been using with table tennis (which obviously doesn’t translate well).

Always thought my serve grip was my backhand grip, but just held the racquet and realized it’s in between my forehand and backhand grip. Probably slightly closer to my forehand grip actually.

I made a conscious effort when hitting the other night to shorten the backswing and to keep the arm up. While it felt unnatural (as any changes do at first), it made it much easier to hit deep as I was talking the ball a lot earlier. I’ll have to continue with it.

Also, if any of the guys saying they’ll crush me are in the DC metro, I’d like to take you up on that. The worst that will happen is I get to play with someone better than myself.
 

jz000

Rookie
Ha, I think if I rated myself a 3.0 on the video title I’d get no responses. At the very least, it got people to respond to tell me how much I suck. As for the forehand being weird, I think it probably stems from me playing ping pong growing up. So when I decided to switch to tennis after high school, I kept some of the same technique that I had been using with table tennis (which obviously doesn’t translate well).

Always thought my serve grip was my backhand grip, but just held the racquet and realized it’s in between my forehand and backhand grip. Probably slightly closer to my forehand grip actually.

I made a conscious effort when hitting the other night to shorten the backswing and to keep the arm up. While it felt unnatural (as any changes do at first), it made it much easier to hit deep as I was talking the ball a lot earlier. I’ll have to continue with it.

Also, if any of the guys saying they’ll crush me are in the DC metro, I’d like to take you up on that. The worst that will happen is I get to play with someone better than myself.
Sorry, but strokes determine your rating in the long run. True, your match play may not be up to par, but that's a different topic - tactics and mental game.
You can have all the tactis/mental you want, but when someone hits a heavy ball to you, you're out of options. The other guy also has tactics/mental. Now what, for you?
This guy's a youtuber trying to garner more views, imo :)

There will always be someone you can never beat, because he's figured out how to exploit your BS "********" balls (due to your unorthodox stroke).
I've played this 5'5ft guy who's racket face is very closed on contact, with a semi grip on his FH. The result is a no-pace high topspin ball for which you need to generate your own power to control. If you're late setting up, you're way back behind the baseline.
Most people at the park hate those types of balls. But a few absolutely crush it. Just patience and GOOD STROKE MECHANICS.

Sure, you can think you're a 4.5 because you are beating most players. But they are not 'true' 4.5s who's mastered at least 1 stroke. Otherwise they'd not have trouble with your BS balls now would they?

My 2c.
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
Sure, you can think you're a 4.5 because you are beating most players.
Yes, that's exactly why he is a 4.5 because he beats other 4.5 just like MEP.
You need to watch the entire 13 minute video because you do not understand tennis ratings.
Stroke mechanics don't mean jack. Winning is the only thing that determines ratings.
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
Yes, that's exactly why he is a 4.5 because he beats other 4.5 just like MEP.
You need to watch the entire 13 minute video because you do not understand tennis ratings.
Stroke mechanics don't mean jack. Winning is the only thing that determines ratings.
I guess anyone who is below 4.5 is all game since most people at that level do not have former training so they don't know how to handle those junk balls. But once you go past that level and into the junior level, then yea, even a 12 year old can beat a lot of self-claimed 4.5 who slice everywhere or put junk balls. Similar to how MEP lost to a 5.0 girl by the end of the sets regardless. MEP has the wits, however under proper stroke mechanics, the girl can still handle a lot of balls that other rec players can't handle, thus she won instead even though she hated MEP's strokes.
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
But once you go past that level and into the junior level, then yea, even a 12 year old can beat a lot of self-claimed 4.5 who slice everywhere or put junk balls. Similar to how MEP lost to a 5.0 girl by the end of the sets regardless.
Correct, the player who can easily beat a 4.5 is called a 5.0
Now you're getting it!
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
Correct, the player who can easily beat a 4.5 is called a 5.0
Now you're getting it!
i'm not sure what you are trying to argue against. I recall most girls side is half of point higher than the equivalent in the men's side, so a 5.0 girl on the flip side is a competitive 4.5 men.
 
To those of you saying he's not a 4.5 - you have no idea how well he moves or how well he constructs points with those strokes. Sure, they aren't super mechanically sound, but I've seen players with far worse stroke mechanics crush 4.5 players due to movement and point construction, and I've seen players with far better stroke mechanics get crushed at the 4.0 level because they lack those things.

Also, depending on area you can have anything from UTR 8 players playing 4.0 to UTR 7 players playing 4.5, so even if you were right that he was weaker than your local 4.5s, he might still easily be a 4.5 in his area.

Anyway, onto the forehand itself.

Your issue is a misunderstanding of the forehand "backswing" - mostly that your body believes there is one. Forehand preparation merely exists to prepare the hand for the forward explosion, and in order to do that, there's no reason to volitionally push the racket head back.

Here are two cues that I think might help.

1. The racket isn't in your hand, the racket is your hand.

Don't think of the racket like a tool you're holding, but rather as an extension of your hand itself. If you want to manipulate it, you have to manipulate your entire hand. You hardly ever manipulate the racket by using your hand, and instead move the entire hand-arm-racket system together.

2. There is no backswing. You are placing the hand where you want it before your forward swing.

Similar to #1, get rid of the idea of a "backswing," and think of that part of the stroke as mere preparation. Place the hand behind you, and then if you want it lower, place it lower before you start your forward explosion.

Lastly, you need to relax your wrist, and probably use a slightly more extreme grip (Eastern would be best, as it's close to continental). Inertia should cause your racket to lag behind your hand as the body yanks it forward. For you, your racket-forearm angle is straight, meaning your wrist is too tight to allow that lag to happen.
 

TennisJK

New User
Once that “Tennis Troll” video got posted by FiddlerDog, it became confusing whether the responses were to my video, or the guy in his video. I will say that the guy in his video doesn’t look close to a 4.5, but that’s how I probably look to most of you. I think the big difference is that I only posted a short clip of my cool-down, and you actually get to see him play a match.

With that being said, I really don’t care if people that I’ll never meet think I’m a 4.0 or 4.5, I just want to improve my strokes and game…and appreciate all the feedback. It’s also given me hope that I can win a major in the future, considering a 4.0 player (based on stroke mechanics) just won the US Open!
 

gold325

Semi-Pro
Sad direction this thread is going.

The OP has put himself out there for help on a Tennis Instruction subgroup and this guesstimation of skill and MEP stuff has taken over!

@TennisJK please accept my apologies
 
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FuzzyYellowBalls

Hall of Fame
I was inspired by the amazing personalities you coaxed out of the internet to comment here. First, easily you could be 4.5, this is how many levels look when doing a friendly rally/practice. You don't often grab a hitting partner and then try to hit winners past each other over and over lol, just ignore the rating stuff.

The Fed video is great. I'm sometimes able to get a nice wrist lag/snap in my forehand, I learned my strokes way before that was a thing, but look how automatic it is for him.

I noticed a thing you do, ballchaser did well to hi-light. I think you actually have an interesting wrist lag when your racket is behind you in the backswing, then you firm your wrist as you start to go forward and do a nice brush up, but the wrist lag action you have, isn't doing anything. Try flattening out the stroke, you can keep the wrist thing on the takeback, but it's not needed, maybe you can learn to wrist lag while hitting like Fed.

After you hit some backhands, you did turn sideways to hit the forehand, that's good. Maybe you should try the method of pointing or reaching out toward the net with your left hand, spreading out your body, really getting sideways and then driving through the ball with the right side of your body. Plenty of people have great forehands and take the racket back with the opposite non hitting arm, but maybe a few tries at the other method will open your body up more so you can then drive through it.

As you go through the ball more, it may got out, adjust the topspin to keep it in.

You can see in this video the opening up of the upper body, kind of a mix of takeback and open shoulders then the power generated by bringing it around. Also I know you were casually hitting, but you can also see a load up here, loading the lower body and releasing the energy through the ball.
 
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