Is it a racquet problem?

armandogomes

New User
Disclaimer: I'm not sure if this belongs here or if this belongs to Tennis Tips/Instruction category, but I guess here is a better place.

I started playing tennis a few years ago (3 calendar years but likely around 2.5 years with lockdowns and summer holidays). I find tennis interesting and I practise a lot. I go to tournaments. I'm a ranked player. I'm not an amazing player, sometimes I can snatch an occasional doubles tournament and, since I don't like to get my bottom kicked, I just want to get better and better. I always liked tennis, played like 10 times before starting playing regularly and, well, bad habits.

Here's the deal, my forehand sucks big time. It's not that I can't hit a shot but it's more quickly a liability than a strength. I've been working hard on it, though. The backhand, on the other hand, it's a strength. Sometimes I'd rather hit a backhand than a forehand because I'm more confident and, well, it hurts the opponent more.

I have a few guns in my bag: I started out with a Graphene XT Prestige MP (not-a-very-smart-choice-certainly but at least I could swap pallets until I knew for sure the size) then I snatched a Graphene Next Speed S (lighter, an open pattern that I feel helped and, again, pallet swap) and then I tried the Blade 98 16x19 CV. My doubles partner uses it, a lot of people seem to use it, so... if it works for them, it should work for me, no? (read "no" with Nadal's voice)

I guess not. See, my racquet is currently weighing ~317g (strung with RPM Blast 1.25). I bought an L4 but I'm playing with two overgrips only, it would feel like an L3, because somehow Wilson L4 feels way bigger than Head's L4. I feel it's too light. But that's not the reason why I'm thinking me and the blade don't match together.

In today's practice, I tried one of those tennis pointers (the wooden thing) with hand feeds. I kid you not, I was able to hit with that better than with the racket. My coach even suggested that I just switch the racket for the tennis pointer since I seem to hit better - it's was joke, but you get the point.

Then I thought: okay, maybe it's just because there's no spin in the ball, or the ball comes slow or whatever. So I asked my coach if he could just feed the ball from the other side of the court. He did. I was better with the tennis pointer than my racket. My lovely racket.

So, can the racket be "the" problem?

PS: as I said "in-between the lines", I'm trying to figure out what works for me. If it's the pattern (I've got an 18x20 Blade CV to compare, matched to a 16x19), if it's the total weight, the swing weight, the balance, whatever. Any suggestions on how I should start, would be appreciated.
 

ichaseballs

Semi-Pro
hard to say how your forehand is a liability/weakness. are you dumping them into the net? or hitting long a lot? using topspin?

without knowing exact details, i think an open pattern will help you hit easier forehands. also don't use an extended length. stick with something perhaps 100 sq in? strings can be a big factor on how a racquet plays, along with the tension. honestly, most rec players could probably play similarly with any racquet given enough time to adjust to it. the pure drive is a great place to start and will fit a wide variety of play styles.

if you want to improve, you need to embrace your weakness. do not try to hide it, but take the opportunity to hit a good forehand. if you fail, try again.
 
It is never the racquet's problem only the swing trajectory which is created by the player. However, there are so many variables, racquet spec, string selection and tension, grip shape and size, grip type, player fitness and strength and mental fortitude, there is/are optimal set-ups for each of us. Hence, the racquet-aholic phenomenon.

Can you actually hit a forehand that goes in? You write a lot but details seem vague to me. You would be among the minority whose backhands are better than their forehands (no shame but rare!).
 

Ryebread

Semi-Pro
yes we need more context.
how fast you swing, how much pace do you produce, your level, your typical opponent and how do they hit?
how is your footwork?
what is going on with your FH, like really going on? hitting the net or always too long? moon balling?
your age/height/weight/build?

once we know more, we MAY be able to help you a little.
 

esm

Hall of Fame
I think you should trail and error different setups - pick a lighter/platform racquet and change only one parameter at a time and see how you like it. Everyone is different so my spec may not work for you.
(maybe it was a honeymoon period with the tennis pointer thing?)
 
It’s not the racquet. Get a new one if you want it, but anyone who can hit a tournament level forehand can hit it with a 65 inch woodie, a modern player’s frame, or a granny stick.
 

armandogomes

New User
hard to say how your forehand is a liability/weakness. are you dumping them into the net? or hitting long a lot? using topspin?
Not really dumping them into the net, I can get decent clearance. Occasionally it will go into the net - as with everyone, I guess. When I say "liability/weakness" I'm meaning that if I to play only with forehands, I would certainly not be able to consistently create and dictate points against someone that knows how to play tennis.

the pure drive is a great place to start and will fit a wide variety of play styles.
I'm trying to figure out exactly with what I play best so I can then see if my blades are able to do it or not. I already have a few rackets with no use. :)

It is never the racquet's problem only the swing trajectory which is created by the player.
My coach says the biomechanics of the shot looks good, the problem seems to be timing and control over the racquet head. This, along with the difference in "success" with the tennis pointer, inclines me to believe that tuning the balance/weight could help here. That's what I'm slightly asking - if tuning/changing the racket could do some good here.

Can you actually hit a forehand that goes in?
Yes. As I said, I classify as a liability because I don't feel I can't dictate and finish a point using just forehands against someone that plays fairly well (tournament player, not international, but local/national).

You would be among the minority whose backhands are better than their forehands (no shame but rare!)
When I would play "solo" - meaning, pick up a racket and go hit some balls without any guidance whatsoever, I wanted to look like Federer and the classy 1hbh. When I started having lessons, I learned 2hbh. My backhand was built from the ground up, so it makes sense that it's better than my forehand (which has been improving).

I think you should trail and error different setups - pick a lighter/platform racquet and change only one parameter at a time and see how you like it.
That's what I intend to do. One thing at the time, starting with the string pattern.

how fast you swing, how much pace do you produce, your level, your typical opponent and how do they hit?
how is your footwork?
what is going on with your FH, like really going on? hitting the net or always too long? moon balling?
your age/height/weight/build?
I feel I need to restrict some RHS in my forehand otherwise I'll lose control. My typical opponent is someone who plays for way longer than me since I play tournaments. I have my class partners but the level is not bad but not amazing. Sometimes I have the opportunity to play with a D1 college player, and I feel that my BH can hurt them (if I hit it properly, of course) although my forehand will do nothing. I'll eventually lose during the course of the practice match, of course.

I've been working on the footwork and it's better. Sometimes I feel that I misjudge the path for ~5 or 10 inches, so I need to adjust "on the fly", which isn't a great thing.

Regarding the fh, as I said before, I can put the ball on the other side, with decent clearance. I can't dictate the points and finish them just with the FH. I would say it lacks consistent depth, speed, and weight.

32, 6.1, ~200, in shape.

Sorry for the long answer, but I tried to answer everyone at once :D
 
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Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
It's never the racket. The sooner you accept that and quit trying to "buy a game", the better off you will be.

Personally I can't think of many shots I've hit poorly where I say to myself, "Man, I did everything right and the ball still didn't land in the court."

There's always a mechanical flaw on virtually every bad shot I hit (Too close, too late, weight on back foot, took eye off the ball, reaching, too early, etc). If you can say that none of those things are happening when you miss a FH, then and only then, should you blame your tools.
 

Lorenn

Semi-Pro
I started playing tennis a few years ago (3 calendar years but likely around 2.5 years with lockdowns and summer holidays). I find tennis interesting and I practise a lot. I go to tournaments. I'm a ranked player. I'm not an amazing player, sometimes I can snatch an occasional doubles tournament and, since I don't like to get my bottom kicked, I just want to get better and better. I always liked tennis, played like 10 times before starting playing regularly and, well, bad habits.
From reading your text this would be my guess. You forehand likely doesn't suck, but it is not as good as you would like. Backhands are often easier for well built players. you can leverage all the extra muscle. The normal stroke tends to encourage one to use legs, core, back. My guess on your forehand is you are arming it, that you are likely inefficent with footwork because you are athletic... so why be efficient. Power should come from core and legs. Arms should be relaxed and just mainly a connector. For your size and strength I think your racquet is too light.

Backhand you are confident and let the racquet fly. Forehand you are likely trying to make things happen and have too much tension in your upper body. Likely a pause or two in your swing.
 
It might not be the racquet but it could be the handle. The shape in particular. Over the years I’ve tried many racquets from different brands and I found out I can play with Wilson, Prince and Babolat grip shapes. Head is a bit more rectangular and feels awkward to hold. I was always searching for my grip but I could never find the right way to hold it. Really annoying. Yonex has the same shape but it’s ever so slightly bigger than the same size from other brands. Shame really because I think Yonex makes great racquets.
Maybe worth comparing the grip size and shape of the tennis pointer to the Blade?
 

time_fly

Hall of Fame
I just looked up the specs on the tennis pointer. I'm not sure which one you are using, but there's a "pro" model that's roughly 346g and a "mid" that is 310g. Interestingly, both have swing weights that are below what a typical tennis racquet would have. This suggests to me two things: either you are typically late on your forehand and the easier swing of the pointer is making up for that, or you are "brushing" the ball excessively on your forehand leading to inconsistency, but subconsciously switching to a flatter hitting style with the pointer since it doesn't have strings or grip on the ball. Without knowing more about what your swing looks like and how you are typically missing, these are just complete guesses though.

If you like the feel of the pointer, you could get a racquet that is more head light with a lower swingweight and more dense stringing pattern. For example the Yonex Vcore Pro 97 HD. That would emulate some of the characteristics of the pointer. But I'd probably focus on technique explanations first.
 

caesar66

Professional
Most likely looking at a mechanics issue. I’d see if you could get a one hour lesson with a pro if there’s a nearby club and let them help. Make sure you bend your knees, and don’t just whip your arm-pivot your non-dominant shoulder forward on the backswing, then pivot it back as you swing from the shoulder of your dominant arm while firing your hip on the dom side forward as well. Think of it like shifting your weight and balance through the shot, not just arming the ball.
 

blai212

Professional
2 things you could do:
watch youtube videos describing the modern forehand
watch federer forehands in slow motion to see how he times it

tennis is very similar to ping pong...those guys can hit penetrating forehands while still keeping the ball in via correct swing mechanics and ball trajectory/racquet face orientation. Keeping the ball from sailing long is usually solved by a more closed racquet face. Hitting deep consistent groundstrokes require a full swing with solid follow through. Must have good balance of hitting through the ball while also brushing some to impart topspin so the ball will drop back into the court. It’s all about understanding the physics behind tennis and then being able to apply the proper biomechanics to produce the best result. As for the racquet, I never liked the blade CV either...just have to keep trying different racquets to find one that feels good. Good would depend on your priorities of comfort, power, control, feel. Yonex vcore pro, babolat pure strike, wilson v7 blade seem to be solid control options that would be more forgiving than prestige but still retain decent control.
 

antony

Rookie
Didn’t really read but string and technique are likelier factors unless you got a really ****ty racquet
 
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