How critical is "perfect" form? Or is there such a thing?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Oxford, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. Oxford

    Oxford Rookie

    Aug 27, 2006
    Carlsbad California
    There are alot of ways to effectively hit a tennis ball. But there seems to be an ideal perfect form for doing it. (according to books, DVDs, coaches and you guys)

    However, I see some great players past and present whose from would be considered very questionable...but it works for them.

    So is there truly ONE ideal way to serve, volley, do a BH and FH etc...? Or is there more latitude than is given credit?

  2. NotAtTheNet

    NotAtTheNet Semi-Pro

    Feb 5, 2008
    Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, FL
    Perfect form is one that fits your own body shape and biomechanics to delivers a crushing winner with the most amount of control and power possible with minimum chance of injury. Its no coincidence that most pro players strokes are about 80 - 90% similar. But if you can slam a topspin winner by hitting the ball with the handle, by all means go for it. Theres no absolute right way to hit a tennis ball just liek there is shooting a basketball, or swinging a golf club. different strokes for different folks. Ok thats enough cliches in one post.
  3. tennisplayer1981

    tennisplayer1981 Rookie

    Feb 9, 2008
    I say whatever works best for you then that's your "perfect form". It doesn't have to be pretty, as long as it works. Even if it's the ugliest stroke in the world (see Roddick's BH), if it's working and consistent then there's nothing to worry about (except Roddick's BH isn't consistent, IMO).
  4. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Oct 4, 2004
    Between hitting the ball with perfect form and hitting the ball back well and in the court, I would choose the latter.

    Obviously, better form leads to better results.

    You have to remember though, that tennis is a moving sport, and too many players simply break down on the move, because they spend all of their time practicing in place to achieve a form that cannot be carried over, for example, to a low shot hit on the run.
  5. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Feb 18, 2005
    The better your form, the higher the ceiling. Like if you have sub-par form, there's only so good you're going to get. Basically, the more you use your whole body, the more consistent and powerful your strokes can become. Good form is about efficiency, but that's not to say the more compact your stroke is the better. Most people arm their shots too much and have short choppy strokes, but that's not efficient. You should always strive to increase the efficiency of your stroke but with that said, unless you can get a really good teaching pro to help you, this isn't always a realistic goal. Very few people are good at self-diagnosis.
  6. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

    Jun 16, 2004
    Good form helps a lot in tennis, but you'll always have some kind of unorthodox strokes out there like Nadal's forehand, Roddick's serve motion, and Santoro's forehand side slice which is actually a lefty backhand. Still, you can't win matches without fundamentally good form so for those few bunted forehands that got lucky winners, there will be hundreds more that were blasted with a full followthrough. Good form means a lot.
  7. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

    Apr 2, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    i guess bad form can be mistaken sometimes with idiosynchrasies.. with golf as an example, jim furyk has a very odd looking swing but the most important part of the swing, the point of contact is the same for him and all other pros.. (maintaining spine angle, head slightly behind, position of the hands, hips starting to open, flat left wrist etc..) but the way in which they arrive at that good form varies between players
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2011
  8. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

    Oct 31, 2007
    Caught in No Man's Land
    Very similar to the racquet drop on serves.
  9. quicken

    quicken Professional

    May 16, 2007
    Chambana, IL
    Good form will eventually lead you to more faster learning/growing process as a tennis player.
  10. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

    May 8, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    Yep, form is important, but bad form doesn't prevent a dogged player from playing the game well up to a point.

    As 35ft put it above in his post, it just limits a person as to how far they can go if they don't have good efficient form.

    Santoro is a freak example. He uses GREAT tennis principles with unorthodox form. His contact point, anticipation, feel and forward energy are all right up there with the rest of the pros.

    McEnroe uses unorthodox form, but he doesn't violate sound tennis principles. Nobody looks like Mac from any time period.

    So yeah, for most of us, form will define how far we can take our tennis.
  11. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

    Jun 24, 2006
    I agree, with most of the above, who say there is more than one way to hit the ball well.

    However, I would also note that there are a billion more ways to hit the ball very badly.

    Every bad srtoke can be very different from the rest, but good strokes, no matter how seemingly different, share many things in common.

    The player gets to the ball early and in position. They move their weight forward, through the ball. Their strokes are smooth and free of hitches or forced "manerisms". They are consistant and do not try to overhit. They are able to control the ball by applying the correct spin (or lack of spin) for the situation.
  12. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Feb 18, 2005
    "Perfect" form doesn't mean that every pro should have the same strokes. Who knows what perfect, maximum efficiency really looks like. Like Safin's backhand? Agassi's forehand? Kraijeck's serve?

    If nothing else, we're talking about the fundamentals. The fundamentals should be there even as each player, as they get better, start adding little idiosyncrasies to their motion. Sound fundamentals can express themselves in many ways.

    Like somebody already pointed out, there will be geniuses who can make their shots work despite questionable fundamentals, but there are guys who can multiple ten digit numbers in their head but that doesn't mean we should all throw away our calculators. There are athletic geniuses like Mac who can volley with a limp wrist and barely any knee bend, who supposedly practiced only an hour a day even when he was at the top. If you're one of these people, hey, sky's the limit, I look forward to seeing your continental forehand in the Roland Garros finals. :p

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