Hitting Through the Court vs Topspin Drive

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Last night on Tennis Channel some of the commentators were mentioning the increasing importance of hitting through the court vs top spin drives. (Thread applies to forehands and backhands.)

Solderling comes to mind as a strong example of hitting through the court. Fritz and many other ATP & WTA players are currently hitting strong shots through the court, especially forehands. Fritz, vs Millman, nailed a second serve return today that stood out.

Who were/are the stronger players for 'hitting through the court'?

Anybody have some forehand pace data over the last few years?

If hitting through the court is currently increasing - more than one commentator mentioned it - what will be the changes for using the forehand topspin drive? How closed is the racket face just before impact in comparison to the forehand drive? Racket path changes?

Topspin drives are very well covered by Tennisspeed studies showing the racket path & face tilt in very clear video data and special racket face displays. Search: Tennisspeed forehand Djokovic Part 9

Any video links from the side view showing the racket face path & tilt for 'hitting through the court'?

Listen carefully for what the TV commentators that are ex players are saying (Paul Anacone, etc) - as they are the ones who know.
 
Last edited:

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Just play around with the variables lol
Swing path angle racquet angle
Depending on what you wanna do
What I want to do is collect information on what the best players are doing. Videos have shown that they do specific sub-motions, different than forum posters. Is it changing now to more hitting through the court? I think the commentators are sayin......?
 
Last edited:

5263

G.O.A.T.
At some point, this stuff is about feel, not technical analysis.
For many years you were exactly right, although we have found in history where they have come very close to cracking the code on this.


Listen carefully for what the TV commentators that are ex players are saying (Paul Anacone, etc) - as they are the ones who know.
Historically this has been a very misunderstood topic and if it was presented clearly by the commentators, Chas here would definitely have a tight grip on it. He studies the issues and knows well what is reported on a topic of his interest by those he considers experts.
So No, I don't think the TV commentators are the ones who know. They may see players are hitting strongly through the court more and doing a better job of it, but they struggle with how to represent whats happening and defer mainly to the result. They often struggle to find the words to describe the processes of what they see since these details have not been described to a very high resolution.

I expect there are many lenses people can use to view the world to a varying accuracy, but the key is developing one that works well for you consistently. Tennis is no different. I have developed categories that I find very helpful on this and many other topics of how to strike the ball and swing a racket. I will share some of it here.

The confusion starts in the initial premise...."the commentators were mentioning the increasing importance of hitting through the court vs top spin drives".

Hitting thru the court IS A TOPSpin Drive...these are the same thing!
.....the physics of the game just don't allow hardly any strong shots thru the court without having an element of Topspin, and "hitting thru the court" requires it to be a strongly Driven ball. Despite the rare exceptions, given that we need to have topspin to execute well when we drive powerful shots thru the court, lets realize that it is the Topspin Drive that is hit "thru the court" with a flatter trajectory and aggression. That can also be backed up with historical reference if you like.

So what is this other shot they are calling the Topspin Drive?
In the vertical realm we only have 2 basic choices. The ball is hit on a near flat trajectory or it is hit with more of a arc / curve something like a rainbow, going up a bit and then using a blend of gravity & topspin to bring it back down again. Even rainbows vary in how their arc curves and it is the same in tennis. Some strong hitters really blur the lines between flatter drives and the arcs that I call "lift and spins". Now lift and spin may strike you as some "high, soft, rolling shot" with no zip on it, but most often, that is not at all the case at all. The terms are clear Imo. It means they are lifted to some extent, in order to start the arc (vs a flatter shot trajectory) and they have a bigger emphasis on spin than a flatter trajectory TS drive. The name "Lift and spin" denotes the 2 main properties the player should aware of....How much lift and spin is up to the hitter and what they can execute with consistently. I will say that to overly minimize the arc is the biggest groundstroke error I see in the Pro game. Not accounting for the arc well, results in both the long ball & the ones into the net, which are most often caused by not swinging to account properly for shaping the best arc for the player's range of shots.

The Lift and Spin can be either a Fade or a draw spin, but with each, the spin is closer to the 12 O'clock and should be about 11 or 1 on the clock face as a guide. On the other hand, the TS Drive, Hitting thru the court, or Power Fade as I call it, should normally be hit with Fade spin that some may relate to a screwball in baseball. The spin can be significant but should be closer to sidespin than the "over the top" normal topspin. It should have an aspect of TS and not a pure sidespin though.... 20-40 degrees spin above level can still help the ball come down significantly. By creating a swing path in this more horizontal plane, it allows for a much flatter shot that is lower on net clearance. THis Lower, flatter trajectory along with a less dipping TS will help the ball to stay down better after the bounce and get thru the court much quicker. Using this shot is a significant part of hitting "on the rise" due to the more horizontal swing path matching up so well with the path of the "rising ball".

So from the perspective I have developed, this comes down to understanding the types of topspin at your disposal and the types of technique differences that make them work well (which I didn't cover here).
Hitting thru the court is about driving a TS Shot on a flatter trajectory with a more horizontal swing plane, that also should normally elicit a Fade Topspin that is closer that horizontal plane. Using the more standard "over the top type topspin" is more about lifting and spinning the ball in a wide range of arc types from close to flat, all the way up to topspin lobs. Depending on the contact height and shot shape intent, these shots may use the Fade or the Draw type spins that are each much closer to the traditional 12 o'clock area.

 
Last edited:

5263

G.O.A.T.
When a player goes for more of a traditional "Lift and Spin" TS shot, the differences are added leg and arm lift for a more "high to low" swing shape that is most effective with a dropping ball. Many of these are drawn CC but can also be drawn DTL or into the body as well. The wrist is in more of a neutral position at contact, that is more inline with the forearm except when Fading a Lift and Spin, where it will normally stay more laid back at contact.

When driving thru the court (Power Fade) with a flatter trajectory and lower net clearance, the swing is much more horizontal in shape, normally requiring less leg lift, with the racket driving more thru the ball on the inside in a way that sort of squeezes the ball out with fade spin and with the wrist normally slightly laid back at contact. This tends to work quite well with a slightly closed racket face for rising balls and balls at the apex of the bounce. The beauty of an apexing ball bounce is that it works quite well with both types of shots though.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: tlm

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
There is a shot with less top spin and more forward pace. It is performed with a different racket head path. We all have probably deliberately varied the amount of top spin. At some point of RPMs and pace (to be determined) the shot could be called 'hitting through the court' as the commentators seem to me to be doing now and pointing it out.

At this point, I am looking for more information, videos and statistics.

I thought there was a TV comment that a player needs that now and it referred to the flatter shot through the court, but I'm not certain.

I only heard one commentator compare hitting through the court to top spin.

If we viewed videos of strong forehands, especially from the side view, we might learn something.

Video #1

I can see that Solderling has more separation and racket take back as is specifically pointed out. I can also see that he does not have an upward racket head path and maybe his racket head is not tilted closed as on many top spin drives. Maybe that was a high ball that he was adapting to. ? Maybe that is why Solderling once beat Nadal at the French Open?

Is the usage of "hitting through the court" possibly changing from a mix of "topspin drives" and flatter shots to mostly flatter shots? Are more and more flatter shots now being used to hit through the court?

Start looking at hard forehand drives on TV matches.
 
Last edited:

teachestennis

Semi-Pro
Thanks for producing a video of Soderling hitting a power fade according to the higher resolution tenets stated by 5263 in his post above. The second shot Soderling hit is the lift and spin regarding a dropping ball.
 
Last edited:

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Thanks for producing a video of Soderling hitting a power fade according to the higher resolution tenets stated by 5263 in his post above. The second shot Soderling hit is the lift and spin regarding a dropping ball.
I'd expect that the undefined term 'power fade' would rarely be understood by many readers on this forum. What we need are videos and analyses that point out the racket path, racket face tilts and whatever else can be pointed out in the videos.

But please continue to tell us about the tennis terms.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
I'd expect that the undefined term 'power fade' would rarely be understood by many readers on this forum....

What we need are videos and analyses that point out....
No need to get snippy with your words, but Power Fade is probably one of the more "defined" tennis terms if you take the time to study it. I think you mean is "what you need" since surely you don't mean to speak for all of us. But that's up to you what you want to ignore vs what you decide to value. Video can be amazing, but is no magic pill of understanding since people see many different things when looking at the same video just as they do with words.

But to address your points based on "your terms".... the racket path is close to horizontal, the racket face tilt is slightly closed vertically and slightly open to the hitting side of the court for the Topspin Drive thru the Court, also known as the Power Fade.
In the "whatever else" column as mentioned above. the wrist tends to be laid back slightly at contact and you don't use extra leg lift to enhance the "low to High" aspect that is mostly out of this shot.

Here is some video of a Jr hitting "thru the court" / Power Fades, with a Fh at 7 secs, a Bh at 37 secs then a nice Fh again at 57 secs.

 
Last edited:

a12345

Professional
The difference is most likely net clearance.

Technically speaking topspin creates a lower bounce of the ball in relation to the angle it hit the floor at and also it bounces faster off the court because the topspin creates less friction with the surface.

However topspin balls tend to be hit more loopy to begin with and they dip at a steeper angle which changes the equation a bit.

So to hit through the court is probably meant not only with less spin but also with a lower net clearance which penetrates faster due to the shallow angle but of course is more risky.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
If we viewed videos of strong forehands, especially from the side view, we might learn something.

Video #1

I can see that Solderling has more separation and racket take back as is specifically pointed out. I can also see that he does not have an upward racket head path and maybe his racket head is not tilted closed as on many top spin drives. Maybe that was a high ball that he was adapting to. ? Maybe that is why Solderling once beat Nadal at the French Open?
We can also look at the vid of Robin to see what he could have done better. From our perspective he worked too hard to get his hand level with contact. This isn't necessary and tends to jam and challenge his balance for this shot. 2 things to improve his contact would be to move up slightly and take it a bit earlier, along with letting the racket head flow up above his hand a bit more. I think most who follow tennis closely understand that while being a top notch player to make the Semis, he only got by Nadal due to crushing family issues for Rafa. This also explains why he didn't do much in the final against a players who Nadal crushes routinely at the FO. If he had the skills to beat Rafa in his avg FO form, then he would have cruised the finals as well.
 
Last edited:

5263

G.O.A.T.
While I'm not normally a huge WTA fan, I noticed when she is on, that Kitova has one of cleanest Power Fades for hitting thru the court that I've seen. She is a top notch example.
While the match doesn't have great views, some of the replays are excellent!
49 secs.... Power Fade with some replay
2:14....another PF thru the court with 2 excellent replays
2:47 ...another PF thru the court with replay
3:09... shows a powerful version of the "lift and spin" hit for a winner, but you can see the slightly steeper swing path by the finish and the ball spin as more over the top than with the Fade spin that is closer to sidespin on the previous shots I listed

 

WildVolley

Legend
Surely he has to be one of the least 'through-the-court' players. His forehands are so loopy and spinny.
...
Nadal does use a through the court shot. His inside-out fade forehand is a deadly shot and it isn't unusual for him to hit through the court on this shot so much that the opponent doesn't get a touch on the ball.
 

Dragy

Legend
When driving thru the court (Power Fade) with a flatter trajectory and lower net clearance, the swing is much more horizontal in shape, normally requiring less leg lift, with the racket driving more thru the ball on the inside in a way that sort of squeezes the ball out with fade spin and with the wrist normally slightly laid back at contact. This tends to work quite well with a slightly closed racket face for rising balls and balls at the apex of the bounce. The beauty of an apexing ball bounce is that it works quite well with both types of shots though.
Although I generally agree with power fade being first pick to make ball drive through the court, I give honorable notice to power draw as well, particularly hit from FH corner. I think that’s what Del Po did a lot.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
No need to get snippy with your words, but Power Fade is probably one of the more "defined" tennis terms if you take the time to study it. I think you mean is "what you need" since surely you don't mean to speak for all of us. But that's up to you what you want to ignore vs what you decide to value. Video can be amazing, but is no magic pill of understanding since people see many different things when looking at the same video just as they do with words.

But to address your points based on "your terms".... the racket path is close to horizontal, the racket face tilt is slightly closed vertically and slightly open to the hitting side of the court for the Topspin Drive thru the Court, also known as the Power Fade.
In the "whatever else" column as mentioned above. the wrist tends to be laid back slightly at contact and you don't use extra leg lift to enhance the "low to High" aspect that is mostly out of this shot.

Here is some video of a Jr hitting "thru the court" / Power Fades, with a Fh at 7 secs, a Bh at 37 secs then a nice Fh again at 57 secs.

Googled: "power fade" tennis forehand

Found golf usage. After 5 minutes none for tennis.

Do you have a link explaining "power fade"?

What % of readers do you think would know "power fade"? I've been on the forum for 10 years and am drawing a blank.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
The more I read about tennis technique the more I think a lot of people are just making stuff up.
Try Googling "Pronation" to find a definition of how it is still being used for the tennis serve.

I like the defined joint motions. Everyone that's not familiar with the terms can find definitions with Youtubes in about 60 seconds.

But these posters seem to know something about hitting flat if "power fade" includes that. ? I have to catch up on all that has been written........
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
These look like short balls that Shapavalov is hitting flat on aggressively.

To single frame on Youtube use the period & comma keys.

This camera view shows
1) elevation of incoming ball,
2) elevation of struck ball,
3) height of racket head path vs time and
4) racket face tilt vs time,
5) height of ball on racket face near impact.

All the components that influence the Projection Angle of the trajectory. Projection Angle is the angle to the horizontal (up-down).
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Although I generally agree with power fade being first pick to make ball drive through the court, I give honorable notice to power draw as well, particularly hit from FH corner. I think that’s what Del Po did a lot.
Yes he did, but did you see the many Fades in that video as well?
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
this one covers it pretty well.....
Here is the defining Fade and Draw information

Fade and Draw in golf.

Fade & Draw is a way of looking at the finer effects of the ball's spin vector on the golf ball's trajectory. Probably very familiar for readers that are golfers.

How was the golfing instructor measuring angles (what angles?) on his smartphone? Can that be done for tennis?

For hitting through the court in tennis there is the net and court lines, important for elevation, and the 'open court' which is a broad target important for azimuth (side-to-side). It would seem that the elevation is the most critical factor with an open court.
 
Last edited:

Dragy

Legend
Here is the defining Fade and Draw information

Fade and Draw in golf.

Fade & Draw is a way of looking at the finer effects of spin on the golf ball's trajectory. Probably very familiar for readers that are golfers.

How was the guy measuring angles on his smartphone?

For hitting through the court in tennis there is the net and court lines, important for elevation, and the 'open court' which is a broad target important for azimuth (side-to-side).
Don’t get stuck with simple spin&trajectory part of the equation. It’s shot production, complex of actions and events around contact, which make the distinction. And consequently have effect on the final result.

@5263 suggests that fade is a preferred way to hit penetrating shots - not because of the ball flight path curving to the particular side, I guess :rolleyes:
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
For hitting through the court in tennis there is the net and court lines, important for elevation, and the 'open court' which is a broad target important for azimuth (side-to-side). It would seem that the elevation is the most critical factor with an open court.
We are using terms from golf that describe the lateral action and spin that can be used in baseball, billiards, soccer and many other ball sports along with tennis. We are not suggesting that tennis should copy golf in the "how or why" for these spins, but I can understand how that might confuse some people. The suggestions here are about how Fade and Draw "spins" can be used with our topspin in tennis and why it works that way. As this area of understanding gains more traction, there will be many insights on how to use this to compete better. Many will also resist as people did for soccer style extra point kicking and the ATP take-back, but with time, this will be a major addition to players games.

There are many facets to this Concept and players will find value more in some aspects than others. Imo the primary feature of the Fade vs Draw concept relates to what I feel is the topic of this OP. Its the idea of how to best hit a flatter trajectory shot powerfully through the court vs the idea of how best to hit certain balls with higher net clearance that can dive back down into the court. I find that understanding "how and when" to hit each will greatly improve the level of execution for players of all levels. It simply helps them make more shots as intended. Through working with this for years, we have developed guidelines that can help to improve the decision making for shot selection and also the bonus find of how this process tends to aid many players in finding "the Zone" during play.

Many players enjoy this process because it brings a welcome added dimension to their shot making. They enjoy creating the different shapes and flight paths on shots, which they can use to navigate the obstacles like the net, that you mentioned. They also use these shapes to create challenges for their opponents, such as keeping the ball lower or kicking it up on them. The subtle curve in the horizontal plane can be used to jam as well create space as icing on the cake.

I'd say the biggest "Find" for us on this journey was how we can "Expand and Extend" our hitting area for the contact point. Using these skills, we found an explanation as to why some can hit the higher contact points with ease, along with how to stay aggressive with balls considered well below the avg strike zone for players. By Expanding the hitting area up and down like this, something Agassi was known for, we can now Extend the hitting zone greatly due to our wider range of quality contact heights. This makes it far easier to move up into the court when you are not so dependent on moving to where the ball will coincide with your past normal contact point. This leads into more and better opportunities to launch quality attacks.

Above are just a few of the many things we have learned as we developed this Concept. There are more from us and I'm very excited to see things that other Players will create from this.

 
Last edited:

5263

G.O.A.T.
Yeah sure, lots of fades.
A few things about Del Potro....1st he is a bit of an anomaly I think... 2nd is that many or most of those shots are from well back of the baseline (more room to land them) and something that rarely happens more than a couple of times a set. We see them a lot in highlights, but not so often when you chart a full set. 3rd is that when he did hit draw spin closer in, while they were nice strong shots, they still had plenty of net clearance, work and shape to add the control.
 

Dragy

Legend
A few things about Del Potro....1st he is a bit of an anomaly I think... 2nd is that many or most of those shots are from well back of the baseline (more room to land them) and something that rarely happens more than a couple of times a set. We see them a lot in highlights, but not so often when you chart a full set. 3rd is that when he did hit draw spin closer in, while they were nice strong shots, they still had plenty of net clearance, work and shape to add the control.
That's likely situational, but I think using draw spin in power shots to creat better CC angles makes sence. When a player has time to step more behind the ball, he can use fade spin on CC shots while injecting power with lower net clearence.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
We are using terms from golf that describe the lateral action and spin that can be used in baseball, billiards, soccer and many other ball sports along with tennis. We are not suggesting that tennis should copy golf in the "how or why" for these spins, but I can understand how that might confuse some people. The suggestions here are about how Fade and Draw "spins" can be used with our topspin in tennis and why it works that way. As this area of understanding gains more traction, there will be many insights on how to use this to compete better. Many will also resist as people did for soccer style extra point kicking and the ATP take-back, but with time, this will be a major addition to players games.

There are many facets to this Concept and players will find value more in some aspects than others. Imo the primary feature of the Fade vs Draw concept relates to what I feel is the topic of this OP. Its the idea of how to best hit a flatter trajectory shot powerfully through the court vs the idea of how best to hit certain balls with higher net clearance that can dive back down into the court. I find that understanding "how and when" to hit each will greatly improve the level of execution for players of all levels. It simply helps them make more shots as intended. Through working with this for years, we have developed guidelines that can help to improve the decision making for shot selection and also the bonus find of how this process tends to aid many players in finding "the Zone" during play.

Many players enjoy this process because it brings a welcome added dimension to their shot making. They enjoy creating the different shapes and flight paths on shots, which they can use to navigate the obstacles like the net, that you mentioned. They also use these shapes to create challenges for their opponents, such as keeping the ball lower or kicking it up on them. The subtle curve in the horizontal plane can be used to jam as well create space as icing on the cake.

I'd say the biggest "Find" for us on this journey was how we can "Expand and Extend" our hitting area for the contact point. Using these skills, we found an explanation as to why some can hit the higher contact points with ease, along with how to stay aggressive with balls considered well below the avg strike zone for players. By Expanding the hitting area up and down like this, something Agassi was known for, we can now Extend the hitting zone greatly due to our wider range of quality contact heights. This makes it far easier to move up into the court when you are not so dependent on moving to where the ball will coincide with your past normal contact point. This leads into more and better opportunities to launch quality attacks.

Above are just a few of the many things we have learned as we developed this Concept. There are more from us and I'm very excited to see things that other Players will create from this.

I don't see the connection between the terms 'Fade' and 'Draw' and the trajectories. Does Fade curve left or right for a rightie forehand? I have not seen these terms used before. A separate thread discussing Fade and Draw, a very interesting approach, is a good idea.

My approach is -
I estimate the spin vector of the ball thinking of a side spin component and a top spin component. The side spin and top spin components are closely related to the string impact on the ball, which I learned to do very early in my tennis. Those components depend on the string motion & distortions during the impact.

For spin this gives me a picture -

(the same picture as in the Fade & Draw tennis references)

I still don't know which is a Fade or a Draw. Are they describing the ball's trajectory, curving right or left for a rightie or leftie?

But I have learned how the ball's trajectory will curve relative to how I'm spinning the ball. I can see these trajectory curves often, although the side motion is often difficult to see. These characteristic trajectory curves can often be seen in videos, but the camera angle has to be favorable. For high paced forehands - hitting through the court - the trajectories are much straighter.

Biomechanics is a scientific approach that can deal with vectors and does not need to add a new name. Often tennis terms are not associated with the biomechanics and can be misleading. The ultimate negative effect occurs when tennis borrows a defined motion by ignorance and then that usage becomes wide spread, as with 'pronation' vs internal shoulder rotation during the tennis serve - very damaging. I have a background using vectors and components. Some simple and easy to remember words would still be helpful.

I'd say, the top spin component affects the ball's dip and the trajectory could also curve either left or right depending on the amount and direction of the side spin component. Is there a word for that for righties and lefties?

Maybe this is an instructor vs an analysist debate?
 
Last edited:

5263

G.O.A.T.
I don't see the connection between the terms 'Fade' and 'Draw' and the trajectories. Does Fade curve left or right for rightie forehand?

I'd say, the top spin component cause the ball to dip and the trajectory could curve either left or right depending on the amount and direction of the side spin component. Is there a word for that?
The terms in this use refer
1st to the side that the TS tilts to
2nd to the mild curve of the ball and
3rd to the types of stroke that will elicit them.

For a righty Fh, the Fade will fade to the outside "or right" as it does for a golfer and the Draw will draw to the inside "or left" as it does for a golfer as well.
A TS Draw is much like the slider in baseball that moves left and down for a righty.
A TS Fade is much like a screwball that moves right and down for a righty.
You can also Fade and Draw your slices as well.

The connection I'm sharing here related to the OP about trajectories (I think you call elevations) is that a Fade in tennis, can be hit with great variety and is special for the ability to drive thru on a flatter trajectory ( like a fast bullet shoots flatter) for hitting thru the court with consistent execution.
The Draw spin and stroke are most notable for their ability to get "up and down" or to lift above the net with good clearance, before dipping strongly back down in the court.
These are the 2 issues broached in the OP Imo.
It is worth noting that these are general guidelines with several worthy exceptions to be aware of, along with the fact there is no "black & white" issue about what is right or how something can be used. As Dragy noted, Del Potro is known to blast some long, strong shots that appear pretty flat and don't seem to be Fades, but also worth noticing that he doesn't do it from inside the court where the Fade is King for massive attack shots.

To your last question I'd say that you are describing the Tennis versions of the TS Fade and Draw. They work laterally and down to varying degrees. In history, some have use the term. "the swerve of the Ball".
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
The forces on the ball are gravity and aerodynamic forces.

The force of gravity is directed toward the center of the earth. Always directed down and constant.

The aerodynamic forces depend on ball velocity, wind speed, and the spin axis, both its direction and spin rate.

Tennis has mucked things up a bit by naming strokes incorrectly. For example, Top Spin Serve or Top Spin Forehand. The real spin axis direction is 3D and never purely made up of just a top spin component. I am leaving out any gyrospin component because I don't know anything about it for ground strokes.

A 'Top Spin Serve', like a Kick Serve, has a larger side spin component than top spin component to its spin vector. (part of the Tennis Serve Nuthouse)

The Top Spin Forehand has a much larger top spin component relative to the side spin component. That name is OK. But when we add to the side spin component, we should be aware. This is where exactly how the racket meets the ball might add some sidespin component.

Is the sidespin component of a high paced 'hitting through the court' forehand, that appears straight and 'flat' (it's not), a finer point for this thread? Would we be able to observe these finer effects in stroke or trajectory videos found on the internet? I can see the racket path rise and racket face tilt before impact in clear high speed videos but can we observe smaller side spin components being added to the spin vector?

Finding a clear close-up video of a shot that we know was a 'hitting through the court' shot is very difficult on the internet. It would be easy with the player cooperating for the video.

A camera angle viewing along the ball's trajectory would show any lateral racket head motion during impact.

A camera view from above would show details of the racket face pointing direction (side-to-side). The under impact camera could also show this racket face azimuthal angle.
 
Last edited:

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Top Spin vs Flat - hitting through the court.

Bottom video - starts with Flat at 6:10. You can also compare strokes, one above the other using the usual instructions.
 
Last edited:

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
There are a lot of Google finds searching flat vs top spin forehands. We need some closeup videos of the flat vs top spin forehands from the side with. Clear high speed videos.

Similar thread.
Hi all,
I am a NTRP 4.5 junior player, and I am at a stage where I need to start develop a real weapon on the forehand wing. Right now, I have a topspin forehand, and I can rip the ball flat when its the right time. I am usually happy with this forehand, until a few days ago when I found out that I hit flat forehands really well (I'm talking Agassi or Cilic flat). So as a result, I started experimenting the flat forehand, and I absolutely love it. However, with the flat forehand, I struggle greatly trying to hit a good solid cross court shot. Whereas with topspin, I have great precision and good targeting.

So for all the experienced players out there, I have a question:
Is flat forehand still viable in today's spin dominated game? If so, what are the benefits of switching to a flat forehand. If not, why is the topspin better?

Please share some of your advice with me.

Thank you
 

tlm

G.O.A.T.
For many years you were exactly right, although we have found in history where they have come very close to cracking the code on this.




Historically this has been a very misunderstood topic and if it was presented clearly by the commentators, Chas here would definitely have a tight grip on it. He studies the issues and knows well what is reported on a topic of his interest by those he considers experts.
So No, I don't think the TV commentators are the ones who know. They may see players are hitting strongly through the court more and doing a better job of it, but they struggle with how to represent whats happening and defer mainly to the result. They often struggle to find the words to describe the processes of what they see since these details have not been described to a very high resolution.

I expect there are many lenses people can use to view the world to a varying accuracy, but the key is developing one that works well for you consistently. Tennis is no different. I have developed categories that I find very helpful on this and many other topics of how to strike the ball and swing a racket. I will share some of it here.

The confusion starts in the initial premise...."the commentators were mentioning the increasing importance of hitting through the court vs top spin drives".

Hitting thru the court IS A TOPSpin Drive...these are the same thing!
.....the physics of the game just don't allow hardly any strong shots thru the court without having an element of Topspin, and "hitting thru the court" requires it to be a strongly Driven ball. Despite the rare exceptions, given that we need to have topspin to execute well when we drive powerful shots thru the court, lets realize that it is the Topspin Drive that is hit "thru the court" with a flatter trajectory and aggression. That can also be backed up with historical reference if you like.

So what is this other shot they are calling the Topspin Drive?
In the vertical realm we only have 2 basic choices. The ball is hit on a near flat trajectory or it is hit with more of a arc / curve something like a rainbow, going up a bit and then using a blend of gravity & topspin to bring it back down again. Even rainbows vary in how their arc curves and it is the same in tennis. Some strong hitters really blur the lines between flatter drives and the arcs that I call "lift and spins". Now lift and spin may strike you as some "high, soft, rolling shot" with no zip on it, but most often, that is not at all the case at all. The terms are clear Imo. It means they are lifted to some extent, in order to start the arc (vs a flatter shot trajectory) and they have a bigger emphasis on spin than a flatter trajectory TS drive. The name "Lift and spin" denotes the 2 main properties the player should aware of....How much lift and spin is up to the hitter and what they can execute with consistently. I will say that to overly minimize the arc is the biggest groundstroke error I see in the Pro game. Not accounting for the arc well, results in both the long ball & the ones into the net, which are most often caused by not swinging to account properly for shaping the best arc for the player's range of shots.

The Lift and Spin can be either a Fade or a draw spin, but with each, the spin is closer to the 12 O'clock and should be about 11 or 1 on the clock face as a guide. On the other hand, the TS Drive, Hitting thru the court, or Power Fade as I call it, should normally be hit with Fade spin that some may relate to a screwball in baseball. The spin can be significant but should be closer to sidespin than the "over the top" normal topspin. It should have an aspect of TS and not a pure sidespin though.... 20-40 degrees spin above level can still help the ball come down significantly. By creating a swing path in this more horizontal plane, it allows for a much flatter shot that is lower on net clearance. THis Lower, flatter trajectory along with a less dipping TS will help the ball to stay down better after the bounce and get thru the court much quicker. Using this shot is a significant part of hitting "on the rise" due to the more horizontal swing path matching up so well with the path of the "rising ball".

So from the perspective I have developed, this comes down to understanding the types of topspin at your disposal and the types of technique differences that make them work well (which I didn't cover here).
Hitting thru the court is about driving a TS Shot on a flatter trajectory with a more horizontal swing plane, that also should normally elicit a Fade Topspin that is closer that horizontal plane. Using the more standard "over the top type topspin" is more about lifting and spinning the ball in a wide range of arc types from close to flat, all the way up to topspin lobs. Depending on the contact height and shot shape intent, these shots may use the Fade or the Draw type spins that are each much closer to the traditional 12 o'clock area.

This is a great explanation and at times I can hit the the fade spin and it definitely works. But I haven’t figured out how to hit like that more consistently, I end up going back to over the top conventional topspin.
 

teachestennis

Semi-Pro
I'd expect that the undefined term 'power fade' would rarely be understood by many readers on this forum. What we need are videos and analyses that point out the racket path, racket face tilts and whatever else can be pointed out in the videos.

But please continue to tell us about the tennis terms.
The more I read about tennis technique the more I think a lot of people are just making stuff up.
I researched instruction history for fifteen years to write a long delayed but promised book that is under final construction. The fade was recognized a century ago as one of the best shots ever in tennis by world champions. Read my article on Suzanne Lenglen (Wimbledon plans to use it in an exhibit next year on Lenglen) to see how it might explain Lenglen losing one match in seven years. https://www.congruenttennis.com/pos...uction-book-by-a-parent-coach-never-published
 

zill

Legend
As Dragy noted, Del Potro is known to blast some long, strong shots that appear pretty flat and don't seem to be Fades, but also worth noticing that he doesn't do it from inside the court where the Fade is King for massive attack shots.
He is able to do this due to both his technique and height?
 

HuusHould

Hall of Fame
Del Potro, Berdych, Kyrgios is capable of it, but does so rarely, Monfils is in a similar boat, Cilic and Brown. Going back a bit further Agassi, Blake, Gonzalez and possibly Petr Korda as well. I have heard a local ex tour (mainly challenger) level player, quoted as saying that he thought the pros were moving toward hitting a flatter ball more often. It stands to reason that if someone can flatten out their groundies all day and still keep unforced errors to a minimum, then they're going to prevail over someone who's playing safer groundies with more work on them. However the heavy topspin can allow sharper angles and the ability to work your opponent around the court. But if the player you're trying to run around keeps teeing of with penetrating groundies at the first opportunity, you're probably going to end up doing most of the defending.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
The forces on the ball are gravity and aerodynamic forces.

The force of gravity is directed toward the center of the earth. Always directed down and constant.

The aerodynamic forces depend on ball velocity, wind speed, and the spin axis, both its direction and spin rate.

Tennis has mucked things up a bit by naming strokes incorrectly. For example, Top Spin Serve or Top Spin Forehand. The real spin axis direction is 3D and never purely made up of just a top spin component. I am leaving out any gyrospin component because I don't know anything about it for ground strokes.

A 'Top Spin Serve', like a Kick Serve, has a larger side spin component than top spin component to its spin vector. (part of the Tennis Serve Nuthouse)

The Top Spin Forehand has a much larger top spin component relative to the side spin component. That name is OK. But when we add to the side spin component, we should be aware. This is where exactly how the racket meets the ball might add some sidespin component.

Is the sidespin component of a high paced 'hitting through the court' forehand, that appears straight and 'flat' (it's not), a finer point for this thread? Would we be able to observe these finer effects in stroke or trajectory videos found on the internet? I can see the racket path rise and racket face tilt before impact in clear high speed videos but can we observe smaller side spin components being added to the spin vector.

Finding a clear close up video of a shot that we know was a 'hitting through the court' shot is very difficult on the internet. It would be easy with the player cooperating for the video.

A camera angle viewing along the ball's trajectory would show any lateral racket head motion during impact.

A camera view from above would show details of the racket face pointing direction (side-to-side). The under impact camera could also show this racket face azimuthal angle.
such a good post....
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
He is able to do this due to both his technique and height?
I think his size and technique help him to hit hard with control, but as I mentioned earlier, Imo it is these rare shots from 8-12' behind the baseline that give him enough runway to land them at the very back of the court. He just can't hit it the same as the greats from a step inside the baseline. So in a way, what makes the highlights and makes him famous more than his GS totals is probably the same thing that relegates him to a step or 2 below the Big 4 who are better at doing damage from smarter areas of the court.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
This is a great explanation and at times I can hit the the fade spin and it definitely works. But I haven’t figured out how to hit like that more consistently, I end up going back to over the top conventional topspin.
Many players will tend to favor one or the other. We see that all the time even with tour players. Here is a great old video showing Jimmy Arias vs Gomez where Jimmy's good shots are mainly variations of the Fade drive, while the other players is almost exclusively a lift and spin Draw type hitter. Look at the Fade action at 3:21 and 3:24.
 
  • Like
Reactions: tlm
Top