Hitting vs brushing with regards to the forehand

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by zill, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. zill

    zill Semi-Pro

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    Seems like some pros like Thiem and Nadal mainly 'brush' the ball with their forehand and then there are Del Potro and Berdych who tend to more 'hit' the ball with their forehand.

    I use to brush a lot with my forehand and got little pace behind the ball. Now I am more hitting more forehand and getting a lot more pace. However it does feel a bit weird not brushing up on every single ball. Anyone got some advice for me with regards to my change. Naturally am getting more penetration and less topspin with my forehand but in a match it feels weird and it feels like my margin for error has decreased a lot.
     
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  2. NuBas

    NuBas Hall of Fame

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    You can combine both by allowing your racquet to do the work for you, however you must have a clean swing and fast racquet speed. Focus on hitting the sweet spot and you will find that it allows your strings to bite or brush the ball more and also you will hit through on your shots. You do not have to settle for either spin or power, you can have both and no, you do not need Head MXG ;).

    The swing is so important and to get a good swing, you must coordinate your body well so you can swing full, fast, and smooth. I think the plow should come from either your racquet or your body weight going into the shot and to get lots of spin, it comes down to your swing path/shape and the racquet head speed.
     
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  3. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    For me I vary my shots alot, depending ehat i want to hit and the surface.

    Clay more spin
    Hard more penetration

    But i hit plenty of spin even on flatter shots, i dont hit extremely flat

    Also hitting angles u hit more spin ofc

    Etc
     
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  4. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    The racket always hits the ball, never brushes it. Depending on the hitting angle though, some of the energy goes into spin, some goes into forward drive. How much of each do you need? Takes years to figure out and master it.
     
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  5. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    But hitting it vs brushing it implies those two things, hitting it means you go more directly into it, while brushing it implies that you go "past" it more not direct and give more energy into spin, im sure the OP meant it like that.

    So what do you like, you didn't say? Whats your preference?
     
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  6. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    A nice blend of both of course.
     
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  7. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    the key is knowing when to use each and avoid mixing them too much as the techniques here have some key differences
     
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  8. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Basically, I like your post and think your statements are correct. But, please be aware that "flat" ball hitters at ATP levels still get a lot of topspin rotation. I've seen statistics on Berdych and he averages over 2,000 RPM on his FH. Agassi was another "flat" ball hitter and I've seen statistics that he averaged over 1,800 RPM on his FH.

    A pro "flat" FH has significantly more spin than even a very good 4.5 rec player.

    But, like I said, your statements are very solid. Hit a bit more through the ball for lower RPM and more pace and this also is typically used with a lower trajectory and brush up more for spin, slightly less pace and more net clearance.

    As far as advice, I play a lot of doubles so high spinny rollers are used as much as in singles. If you play a lot of singles, I think you want the ability to hit both high rollers with a bit more spin and lower trajectory shots with a bit more pace. Your position in the court and quality of the incoming ball determines when to use each to a certain degree. If you are deep in the court, a higher spinnier ball makes sense. If you are well inside the baseline and have the ball somewhat in your good hitting zone, then a lower trajectory with more pace makes sense.
     
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  9. ChaelAZ

    ChaelAZ Hall of Fame

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    While understand the brushing analogy to focus work done for the newest players to the game is good, after someone goes past 3.0 it needs to move on to more of the focus on getting the racquet head below the ball, the racquet face angle at contact, and extension. There really isn't a 'brush' per se in the stroke. At least in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
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  10. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    No, don't brush the ball (except under certain situation). No matter how it appears to your eyes, pros don't brush. Hit through the ball, low to high and adequately in front + a nice follow-through. The swing arc will take care of the topspin.
     
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  11. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    I really don't understand you guys that advocate no brushing, the more you go "past" the ball and take away pace and add spin, the more you brush in a sense, are we not on the same page what brushing means here? For me it means that feeling that my strings are grabbing the ball and grating the ball like you would grate cheese, so the more spin you want the more you grate and go past the direct line of the ball at impact, specially when you are close to the net and want a very sharp short angle, when I hit the ball it feels like im really grating it with my strings, going really past it, and putting massive spin on it in order to still hit a fairly fast ball but with ton of spin to bring it down short.

    But I do agree that on the baseline, you do go very direct into the ball even when you really do swing very upwards you still hit quite "into" the ball, unless you really want to take away alot of pace and add spin by hitting extremely short angles, then you might go quite past it but still not that much.
     
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  12. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Fire,
    No, the brushing you see, feel should be a side effect of a good stroke, NOT the intent. It's like we don't intend to snap our wrist. As soon as you advocate or pay attention to brushing, rec players tend to overbrush. Weak as their strokes are, this won't help.

    Again, intently hit through the ball from low to high, in front + a nice wrap-around, you'll automatically get a nice brushing without trying.
     
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  13. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    I see, well yes, I don't think about actively brushing, I tend to just imagine what type of shot I want to hit (depth, spin, arc, pace) and then kind of hit it so its like that from many swings that ive hit and got the feel for how to hit different shots.
    If I want a penetrating shot I drop the racquet less bellow the ball and then whip the racquet into the ball but still have the racquet head a bit lower than the ball so it whips up like a windshield wiper and add nice spin even with a flat penetrating shot.
    If I want huge spin specially on a running forehand and higher arc I really drop the racquet and head bellow and swing extremely up and then the finish is a buggy whip around the head from the fast upward swing the racquet just comes around the head.
    All these type of swings and angles of swings and what not are from countless hitting and are more or less automatic, so I just choose what kind of shot I want to hit and execute, but yeah, I was just talking about what the feeling was on contact with the ball, and for example when im close at the net and the ball is high I get my racquet in line with the ball and really whip it around and almost feels like making contact on the upper part of the ball (just a feeling it may not be like that) because I really feel like the racquet is BRUSHING and GRATING it, hitting PAST it, if you understand what I mean, and really adding massive spin and rotation, in order to bring it down extremely fast.
     
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  14. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    If the pros were not hitting through the ball (albeit somewhat upwards), they would not get the solid sound they get on almost every shot.
     
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  15. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Legend

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    Gotta hit through to produce +70 mph groundstrokes.
     
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  16. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    Exactly that. Brushing is a side effect which inevitably happens when you hit solid through the ball with racquet's face closed.
     
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  17. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    For what it's worth, I try to hit through the bottom, front corner of the ball on my groundstrokes with the leading edge of my racquet (not the strings, or in other words a closed racquet face). Helps me start with the racquet below the ball. I stay "behind" the ball. Gives me the perfect combination of "up" and "through" on my swings. Creates lots of spin. Ball "jumps" when it hits the court on my opponents side. By feeling like I'm hitting the leading edge of my racquet through instead of felling like the strings are brushing, I get a really "tight" spin on the ball. It really dives down.

    Of course there are lots of other factors (your particular grip, if you have an arm swing vs. a body swing, if you grip the racquet too tight, etc), so don't expect this (or any) suggestion to be a silver bullet for you. Miss one piece, or even alter one piece slightly, and your swing is completely different (as is the result) from what your instructor intends. (I guess that's why tennis is so fun / frustrating).
    This is the short version of what I was trying to say
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
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  18. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    By having a closed racquet face you hit above the center of the ball, thus alot of force goes above the center of rotation and adds extra spin that you already get by swinging upwards, combine that with a fast swing and the upward swing gives enough arc to get the ball over the net but the ball has alot of spin, so its quite logical.

    But its all about feel, you feel hitting certain shots and how you need to hit to add more or less spin etc... its quite impossible for you to actually know what exactly is happening around contact with anything, since the swing is way too fast.
     
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  19. bitcoinoperated

    bitcoinoperated Professional

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    It will have, the trajectory of the ball with a flatter shot needs to be closer to the net or it flies long as there is no spin to bring it down.

    The tl;dr is that you need a balance of the two and you can change it shot to shot ie for a winner flatten it out.

    This sends the ball into the net, most pictures of the pros (assuming a good shot) have a *slightly* closed racquet face to compensate for the (marginal) lift of brushing up.
     
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  20. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    Correct. I have no idea what I actually do. Probably something quite different from what I explained. But what I described is what I "feel" like I do. It's what I think about and am consciously trying to do when I swing to get the result I want.

    When I serve, I have the "feel" that I swing straight sideways. That I pronate really early such that the trailing edge (not the leading edge) of the racquet is what hits the side of the ball. And I feel like my racquet is pointing straight down and I could "look at my wristwatch" when my racquet is at eye level. Do I really do any of this? Quite doubtful. For example, if I really swung sideways in reality, wouldn't I hit the ball into the side fence instead of over the net? Logically yes, it could be no other way.
     
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  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You are hitting with a forward and sideways component of the force.
     
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  22. tlm

    tlm G.O.A.T.

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    Have you ever watched a pro match live and closeup? One year at Cincinnati I had first row seats and the majority of the shots did not make that deep sound, most were a brushing sound. First serves or if they lined up a sitter there would be a solid base sound but on most shots it was definitely a brushing sound.
     
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  23. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    You always hit the ball with different racket face angles and swing paths. That's all about it.
     
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  24. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    That's a good start. But you might want to add different back swing lengths to your arsenal. If you understand when and how to employ them, you move up a level :)
     
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  25. Tennisanity

    Tennisanity Legend

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    Swing path mainly controls trajectory of the ball (i.e. take off angle), racquet face angle relative to swing path determines spin.
     
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  26. vex

    vex Professional

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    You do both. Groundstrokes are a balance between plow thru and upward brushing for spin
     
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  27. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    That will be confusing and could cause a waste of time for beginners/those taking things too literally. Racket makes a single swing path, not two separate ones that could wrongly be concluded from what you're saying.
     
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  28. PMChambers

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    You need to be able to do both. But early on better to brush and learn to flatten out as advance. Just don't over brush, buggy whip, everything. Pretty rear to see a true flat shot these days.
     
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  29. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    @Curious is correct.

    The result of the stroke is both the plow-through and the upward so called brushing, BUT as far as OUR BRAIN, OUR INTENT can process, there's only ONE SINGLE action. You either intend to hit through or intend to brush the ball, there's no both.
     
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  30. Dolgopolov85

    Dolgopolov85 Legend

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    One way to do this is to practice 'rolling' the racquet against the top of the tape on the net. That is the basic swing which doesn't change drastically irrespective of what kind of forehand. What changes is the trajectory you are aiming for and as you put it, aim to hit through or brush depending on the incoming ball and how well positioned you are. When you know you're going to be late on the ball, brush and buggy whip it up back into play. When you have time, take a full meaty swing at the ball, don't waste the opportunity.
     
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  31. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    You can never brush the ball with the racket unless you hold the ball in one hand and rub it with the strings with the racket in the other hand! Can we just stop using this word?
     
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  32. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    Then how would you define when you hit with alot of spin and go "past" the ball?

    [​IMG]

    1st shot the swing goes quite directly into the ball with a slight upward swing, producing quite a flat ball with little rotation

    2nd shot the swing goes quite up and the racquet is closed more, so the strings "brush" the ball more than hit it directly, taking away alot of pace and providing a ton of rotation


    So how would you define shot 2 then if not brushing a bit more than going directly into it?
     
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  33. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    I would define it as hitting with a little more angle! I'm not denying spin lol.
     
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  34. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    Drawn models are not good if taken literally because string bed deforms quite a bit and ball sinks into it.
     
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  35. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    In my opinion the problem with the word brushing is that it could imply doing some strange stuff with the racket while hitting the ball like carving, absorbing, rubbing etc, none of which really happens or shouldn't happen. It's a single swing with different angles as needed. Watch how Nadal hits the crap out of the ball with an incredibly fast racket head. There is no time to think about or do any of the above nonsense!
     
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  36. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    Well yea but im just saying that from my feeling in the 1st person, lets say I get a short ball, run to it, and im in the service box and the ball bounces higher than net level and I want to hit a sharp angle (I think this si the most extreme example of ton of spin and little plowthrough) when I hit the ball, I swing hard but I really go "past" the ball not directly into it, it almost feels like im hitting the upper part and really skimming it with my strings, the feel is that my strings are really grabbing the ball and spinning it a ton, and the sound is also not a POP but more of a brush sound, like when you hit a slice or kick serve.

    So my only question here is, how would you define this then, It sure feels like a brush, but then again, you have 1000 different types in between a full brush and a direct hit with no spin, so when will you start defining it as more of a brush and when more of a direct hit, its quite complex.
    However im not sure how you would tell someone you want to hit with more spin and take away pace while maintaining the same swing speed without telling them to "brush" the ball a bit more, but for sure some people might not really understand what or how to do that.
     
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  37. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    Tell them to play around with the angles and pace until they get it right.
     
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  38. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    But for most people, when you tell them to add more spin and hit the ball shorter, they will not maintain their swing speed and add more of the swing speed to spining the ball and less to driving it, most will simply swing slower and to them they did the thing right, but its not really right.
     
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  39. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    C'mon Fire, let the coaches deal with it, man!:p
     
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  40. onehandbh

    onehandbh Legend

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    I’ve sat or stood courtside at many ATP matches. I think the sound is dependent on the acoustics of the the court.

    In general on their regular groundstroke to me it usually sounds like a pretty solid thud/whack even when they are hitting heavy topspin.

    It’s a loud thud that sounds distinctly different from the usual 3.5 - 4.0 player hittiny groundstrokes
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
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  41. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    You are correct Mr.Curious
     
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  42. zalive

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    Generating spin and explaining what happens is in my eyes anything but trivial.
    Main principle how spin gets generated is not brushing - because friction is not the main or even relevant mechanism for generating spin.
    Now, motion, targeting the ball, swing path relative to ball trajectory plus closed racquet's head, the intention and direction of that stroke may be brushing - but it's not the brushing what will generate the spin at first place.

    Spin gets generated because deformed string bed grabs deformed ball, and because there is an existing tilt (racquet's face angle) relative to the swing path, but also to ball's trajectory (because there are two relevant directions it makes it yet more complex). So it's the tilt what is responsible to generate the spin. This ensures that whenever you hit the ball with the string bed not being perpendicular to the swing path, spin will be generated.

    Now, IMO, what intended brushing swing motion (grazing the ball with more vertical swing path trying to add some tangential component through contact) creates mostly is - scrubbing the pace. Because with similar RHS smaller portion of the swing energy will be translated to directional speed. While bigger tilt (angle of racquet's face) will aim to maintain similar spin (more energy translated to spin). But if you want both big pace and big spin - you want to go through the ball.
     
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  43. FiReFTW

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    Yeah true, and that scrubbing the pace is important imo when you want to hit very good short angle shots, specially when closer to the net, instead of actually slowing down the swing and basically hitting with lower speed so you can get the ball in (which will be slower with much less spin), you swing with the same FAST swing speed, but take away the direct energy and put more energy into spin, so the ball is much more brutal, that ball that initially explodes quite fast from the strings then DIPS down like it was pulled by a magnet so the forward speed almost stops at that point since it DIPS into the court almost completely vertical, then as it bounces it brutally explodes forward/away from the massive spin.

    But yes, I agree when you hit longer shots specially baseline shots you want alot of direct energy and go THROUGH the shot even when hitting bigger arc or want to hit a ton of spin and heavy spin, taking away alot of direct energy will just make the ball be a floater with no plowthrough.
     
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  44. Dolgopolov85

    Dolgopolov85 Legend

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    But I bet Nadal didn't start out swinging that fast. He most probably learnt to swing slow until it was perfect and then taught to swing faster and faster. So because he swings it so fast doesn't necessarily mean the stroke has to be as simple as possible and slow motion shows it is not, at least not in comparison to the strokes of some of the wood era players. Brushing is a coaching cue and evokes a perception rather than the actual phenomenon itself. To turn your argument on its head, I don't have time to think about the physics of it when I am out on the court hitting. But a cue like brush the back of the ball works for me. Even better when a coach demonstrates and asks you to imitate which is what happened in my case. That is likely how Nadal or most pros learn/learnt it. Can the term brushing be misleading for some? Sure and so is any other coaching cue. That is again why demonstration in person is unbeatable, combined with repetitive drills to build muscle memory.
     
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  45. Curious

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    Hitting the ball using different angles is what's happening in my view and if brushing analogy really helps others, that's fine too. To me again it's prone to misunderstanding and wasting time trying things in vain.
     
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  46. Dolgopolov85

    Dolgopolov85 Legend

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    But it's not a different angle. Actually the forehand stays the same in essence. One of the first things my coach told me was to hit the same forehand but more out in front for crosscourt and bit later for down the line. Obviously that is simplified but that kind of instruction stops the beginner from tampering too much with the stroke. It's called brushing because the stringbed comes across the ball from underneath (which is why people emphasise letting the racquet drop below ball for a topspin forehand). The alternative is to keep the racquet face parallel to the net and move it in a linear fashion. Brushing is emphasised to get the player to move away from that linear style stroke and hit more across the ball. The 'through' component of the stroke comes from the fact that the racquet still has to travel forward from takeback to contact. I am not sure a brushing forehand is easy to learn through just self experimentation; as I said, I was taught the stroke in person so I didn't learn it any other way, didn't have to.
     
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  47. Curious

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    FO final starting shortly so I will say 'whatever!':p
     
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  48. Fintft

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    Another thing that might happen in matches (with the flat hitting style) is that you can become tense and not take full swing at the ball. That way you lose all the spin and end up pushing the ball long.
     
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  49. Fintft

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    Very true, even for a Futurity/Challenger level pro. The one I hit/take lessons once in a while has tons of spin, including side spin ( b/c he throws his racquet at the ball with such a relaxed motion).
     
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  50. FiReFTW

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    This doesn't happen to me when I baseline rally, but sometimes it might happen with short sitter balls that you really shouldn't miss, when I get a bit nervious (say im losing 15:40 and can't miss this one), I might slow down my swing deliberately even tho its st*pid to do this and then my swing becomes tense and more of a "push" and the ball goes way long because theres no looseness and racquet spining the ball, tho im getting better at this and more confident and free and just swing fast with a loose swing and get all the big spin that you need in order to not hit long.
     
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