I don't believe in a passive arm for forehands. Do you?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HunterST, May 18, 2013.

  1. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

    Jun 12, 2009
    The basic idea of the passive arm stuff on the forehand is that there should be no conscious moving of the arm. Instead, the body's rotation should essentially catapult the arm from the takeback position through contact.

    here's a video explaining.

    I just don't believe high level players don't control their swing path by having some conscious movement of the arm. I know they're very relaxed, but I don't believe the arm is completely passive.

    I've seen Federer shadow swing and he kind of traced the swing path with his arm only. No torso rotation. That indicates to me that he does have some focus on his arm and is moving it somewhat consciously during the swing.

    I'm very open minded, however. So, if you think I'm wrong, please chime in.
  2. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Mar 31, 2008
    No, it's not completely passive..you are correct.
    Imo most of the power comes from the hips and shoulder turn and
    the arm augments that, but mainly in respect to controlling the swing
    path and plane.
  3. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Jun 29, 2011
    Nope, always thought there's nothing passive about any part of a well coordinated kinetic chain.
  4. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Sep 28, 2010
    Not passive, but not where the power is coming from. Guiding the power guiding created by the legs and core.
  5. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

    Aug 12, 2004
    He is talking about the feeling - not the actual muscle contractions, IMHO. You feel your swing is effortless etc. Its not actually going to be effortless from a muscle contraction standpoint..
  6. ace_pace

    ace_pace Rookie

    Nov 1, 2011
    Well I agree that the forehand is not entirely passive. However if you are familiar to the tennisspeed blog he does state that the conscious effort to hit a forehand depends on your forehand type.
  7. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

    Apr 20, 2010
    Yes, I agree. Arm, especially forearm and hand, adds control and feel.

    I use/think the word passive to indicate that the legs and core should be used more. It is more common to see players with too much arm and too little body. So, visualizing a passive arm with more emphasis on the leg and core helps these players. I also like to use "passive" about wrist and forearm movement just before, during and just after contact. I don't think you want to consciously monkey with your wrist/hand position other than to direct the ball where you want it to go.

    But, all in all, OP is correct.
  8. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Jun 22, 2007
    No high level player is hitting a forehand with a passive arm.

    I've become suspicious of instruction based on feeling, because how each of us interprets what he does can be quite different. Something that feels effortless today could be the result of a lot of effort based practice yesterday.

    I believe that video of actual movement patterns is the best way to improve. If you get a certain feeling when moving correctly you can use that as feedback, but only if the video confirms the movement.
  9. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation G.O.A.T.

    Oct 20, 2006
    Exactamundo - the idea can be a helpful cue for a player with a "top heavy" swing that uses too little drive from the legs and core. Sometimes this image can help with finding those stronger engines for a good stroke, but I figured it out when I tried working out for several weeks with a "training racquet" that was really heavy and also rather dead. Fifteen or twenty minutes of arming the ball was exhausting until I tapped my kinetic chain and got more passive in my arm.
  10. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

    Aug 12, 2004
    Well without getting metaphysical - its pretty likely that similiar muscle use feels the same between people. Loading the legs and hips feels similiar. The feeling of letting the racquet flow through (after the hip drive) rather then swinging it feels similiar etc etc.

    I don't think we need to be suspicious of feeling at all. Its probably the main way players learn IMHO.

    A very simplified view of the learning process is that we would watch other players - try to hit the ball something like they do - and then we get feedback from seeing how the ball reacts. When we hit good shots we remember how this FEELS and thus we try to replicate that feeling.

    Video certainly is no pancea. I haven't seen any explosion in player ability with the advent of video. The problem is I would hazard a guess is that even if you can see how a person plays in slow motion you have limited abiity to replicate that because you don't know the muscle firing pattern to actually achieve that. Essentially you don't know the feeling..
  11. dunlop_fort_knox

    dunlop_fort_knox Professional

    Dec 28, 2012
    I don't believe in that either. but here's what I believe in..

    I believe in the worker's revolution
    And I believe in the final solution
    I believe in, I believe in
    I believe in the shape of things to come
    And I believe, I'm not the only one
    Yes, I believe in, I believe in

    I believe in the immaculate conception
    And I believe in the resurrection
    And I believe in, I believe in
    I believe in the elixir of youth
    And I believe in the absolute truth
    Yes I believe in, I believe in

    I believe in perpetual motion
    And I believe in perfect devotion
    I believe in, I believe in
    I believe in the things I've never had
    And I believe in my mum and my dad
    And I believe in, I believe in

    I believe in original sin
    And I believe what I believe in
    Yes I believe in, I believe in
    I believe in the web of fate
    And I believe, I'm goin' to be late
    So I'll be leavin', what I believe in
  12. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

    Mar 2, 2012
    I like what LNR is trying to teach, even if it's not 100% the case all of the time. Many amateurs (myself included) swing first with their arm and the rest of the body often follows. LNR is trying to show that you don't have to always lead with your arms, you can lead with the uncoiling of your body and allow your arm to follow.

    You're still using your arm, but it's following the motion of your body -- not the other way around.

    He's exaggerating in order to illustrate the point. I'm sure if we watched him in match play, his right arm is not passive -- but he most likely is rotating his body with his arm following that rotation.
  13. lendl1986

    lendl1986 Rookie

    Jul 8, 2011
    Lake Oswego, OR
    At the baseline, if you're dictating a point, you have time to generate most of your forehand's energy with your body.

    But there's many many scenarios (on the run, returning a fast shot, feet not set) that require the arm to speed things along.

    And those scenarios largely determine the outcome of the match.
  14. Vlad_C

    Vlad_C Semi-Pro

    Jun 28, 2012
    I think you're exactly right with that.

    And most professional players do indeed generate most of their power from the legs and core.
    You might have noticed that many pros have relatively thin arms. Federer is not going to impress any chicks with his biceps. Nadal used to, but his arms look a lot thinner than they used to be. Tsonga also looks like he lost some upper-body muscle the past year. A lot of other players look really thin, and you really wonder how can they hit such powerful shots.
    But all pros have strong legs and rock-solid abs. Don't take my word for it, ask your wife/gf, they notice this stuff.
    That's because most of the power behind their shots comes from the core rotation.
    This does not mean that the arms are just completely limp and flapping around the body, but the muscle tension in the arm is only as much as is needed for directional control, not for power.
  15. user92626

    user92626 Legend

    Jan 27, 2008

Share This Page