Is "Pat the Dog" a myth?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by 5263, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. WesternCK

    WesternCK New User

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    Pat the dog can be a cue used to help players for different reasons. If I see a player not getting below the ball enough and either hitting extremely flat and/or downward into the net, I may use the pat the dog terminology to help them visualize getting below the ball. If I emphasize that the dog is a wiener dog, then all the better. As you said, topspin can be generated using a low to high swing and that's exactly the point. We can say that this isn't the exact meaning of "pat the dog" but that's to be debated over a forum and the success I see on the courts using the term once in a blue moon speaks for itself. Sometimes I do use it to emphasize a more closed face in the slot but much of the time that is only a secondary or tertiary element I would be trying to work on.

    Of course, we eventually don't want the player to be thinking "pat the dog" in match play but if it helps them get the feeling of getting below the ball prior to contact, depending on the student, it can be more effective than saying something along of "loosen your grip" or "bend your knees" in order to get below the ball.


    Funny how one of the major ways to generate better topspin is to get below the ball. One can have an extremely closed face and then enjoy bashing balls into the net with nice racket head speed due to the fact that they're not dropping the racket head prior to contact. The two go hand in hand and while I'm sure the original intention of the expression may have been to ensure a closed face by patting the dog on the head with one's strings, I think it's incorrect to say that on court a term such as this wouldn't be able to be used as a mental cue to be able to get below the ball. As I said, I often like to point out that the dog is very short and tiny!
    It's a very good question and in the common use of the word I would have to say no, it's not. With that being said, from the few forehands that I took a look at, Roger isn't using his legs much either or doing anything at all to even attempt getting below the ball. If the racket doesn't drop enough, pat the dog can only refer to a closed face in that position.

    If he was dropping the racket lower, I would argue that it could be. If you have a player who is very tense, prepares chest height and doesn't have much racket drop, imagine what they will look like hitting a ball at waste height or knee height. Quite often, they will actually be hitting downward on the ball. If I were to say pat the dog on the head "down here" with their racket, I'd imagine it would have to be a pretty tall dog for them not to drop the racket head lower than they were prior to me saying that. I will repeat that there are instances where I will stop them in their tracks and emphasize a more closed face in that position, but there are other players I will completely ignore it and be happy even if they "pat the dog" with the edge of their racket, similar to what Roger would be doing here if he were to drop the head even lower than he is.
     
    #51
  2. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    When Roger is warming up or just rallying, you will usually not see much knee bend. However, during competition, he employs a lot more use of the knees/legs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017 at 11:34 AM
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  3. nvr2old

    nvr2old Semi-Pro

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    Different strokes for different folks as the saying goes. I still maintain that all upper level players use many different strokes for a variety of intended shot outcomes. Seems to be a lot of perseveration on this PTD/ATP/WTA forehand verbiage which to me is just a visualization technique to get players into in order to hit one type of shot. It's all good if it helps IMO. After all it's about playing tennis and getting better.
     
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  4. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    One man's fake news is another man's dominating forehand.
     
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  5. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Pat the dog is the result of partially pronating the arm.
     
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  6. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Hall of Fame

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    You have been teaching the 3 step swivel. Del Potro has the 2 step flip. Life moves on
     
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  7. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Swinging with the face open is much like the waiter's try concept of the serve...but for the Fh. Similar type action. We could call it a Fh Waiter's tray.
     
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  8. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    exactly...well said
     
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  9. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure if this is a good analogy, I don't see there's significant pronation or supination engaged in generating power/spin in the forehand, all I see is motion and what gets the most RHS, racquet's face tilt and swing path engaged.
     
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  10. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I'd say it's more of a prep position, ready to swivel/flip to the slot, which makes it a great checkpoint for any shot where you would swivel to the slot.
     
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  11. bitcoinoperated

    bitcoinoperated Semi-Pro

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    I thought it was "tap the dog". Though I find macci's analogies hilarious ("keep popping the popcorn" lol) I've never really get this one at all and treat it as "let the racquet fall a little before swinging".
     
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  12. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Isn't that the same issue on the Waiter's Tray? Instead of pushing to contact open faced, you are coming at it with a faster potential swing path on edge.
     
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  13. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    Isn't it coordinated with the contact when serving, so pronation adds to RHS speed?
    I'm not sure this happens during a forehand as well, isn't this supination movement already done and stopped at the moment of contact?
     
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  14. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Delpotro was recently dominated by a better player with a better forehand.
     
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  15. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    If you don't see significant pronation/supination/pronation in Federer's and Nadal's forehands then you must not know what those terms mean.
     
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  16. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    I don't see their significance in generating the power. Unlike when serving. I was specific.
    There should be motion present at the moment of contact. If there's no pronation/supination motion at the moment of contact then those are not helping in generating power.
     
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  17. WesternCK

    WesternCK New User

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    I agree, but without actually knowing if it's true, his "pat the dog" technique, or lackthereof may differ in warm up versus competitive play as well. Why that matters? No idea
     
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  18. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    In the USPTA video with a junior player, Macci wants the strings to be literally facing down,with RH tip preferably above the hand ("Tap the dog. Don't pat the dog").
    Note that Federer does not always tap but Macci says tap will promote a better "flip".

    I believe the first move after the unit turn is ISR/Pronation to get to that Federer-like Pat The Dog position. Macci has the player start out in the abbreviated position with elbow to help break him from the habit of taking the racquet back behind his back.

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Curious

    Curious Professional

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    He is patting the dog there with the edge of racket instead of the stringbed which could hurt the dog.
     
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  20. Curious

    Curious Professional

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    Looks more like elbow extension to me.
     
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  21. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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    Keep it compact & the racquet on the outside were the points he hammers home over & over
     
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  22. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    The elbow doesn't have to be extended to pat the dog, but the arm does have to be pronated.
     
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  23. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    There is pronation before, during and after contact.
     
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  24. Curious

    Curious Professional

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    Are you sure he is pronating here but not extending his elbow to reach the 'pat the dog' position? Look at his thumb as a reference point which should turn down if there was pronation.

     
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  25. Curious

    Curious Professional

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    Why not pat the elephant and have a killer forehand like this guy?:D If you have excellent timing that is.

     
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  26. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Folks this is grip and style dependent. My strings face down because I use an extreme SW grip, Feds may because he has a lot of flexibility in his elbows.

    If you use an Eastern grip and your strings don't face down - it's ok.
     
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  27. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    DelPotro hits with a big loop and a less extreme grip. He hits it nice and flat. If you are very tall you can do this too and still have pretty good margins. If you are not tall than this can be a low % style of hitting.
     
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  28. PittsburghDad

    PittsburghDad Professional

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    I don't believe "getting below the ball" is the key to generating topspin when combined with pace. Some of the finest examples of forehands come in from a very shallow angle. I personally find that "get under the ball", and "brush up" are not quality mental images for building an elite forehand.

    YMMV.
     
    #78
  29. PittsburghDad

    PittsburghDad Professional

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    He was. And here's an important point. This was talked about in depth by Dr. Nii, the guy who wrote the "Road Map to a Hall of Fame FH". With the built in pronation, supination, pronation of a Nadal/Federer FH, much less can go wrong. The heavy spin is built in. His supposition was that players starting the swing more vertical have to recalculate their topspin on every shot. If your timing goes off, you lose it. And to be honest you definitely see that way more in players with vertical starting positions. Your seeing it in Shapalovav (sp?) now. When it's good, it's very good, but when it's not.....
     
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  30. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Hall of Fame

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    It's the same player, using his same SW grip. With his old stroke, his strings never faced down on the back swing. But the string position has changed because Macci has made modifications (reduced the length of back swing, changed elbow position, etc.). .

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  31. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yep. Hence the style part. Cool gifs showing the two swings.
     
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  32. JohnYandell

    JohnYandell Hall of Fame

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    If the OP read the article he would have a better understanding--but only if he also understood the article... On a small percentage of fhs Roger does the full dog pat--when the ball is super low. Others he is virtually on edge. Mostly in between. If you have the Macci tap the dog at the top of the backswing you never have to worry about it--and shouldn't. Other backswings say Del Potro don't naturally lead to the dog pat. Pete was basically on edge as well. He only won 14 slams.
    Like lag and snap the focus on a consequence is a major detriment to developing the real fundamentals.

    Suresh, Sad how we have been misreading the innocent intentions of the sheep isn't it?
     
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  33. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    Definition of pronation. 1 :rotation of the hand and forearm so that the palm faces backwards or downwards.

    Which part of the swing/motion does the pronation during the contact in a forehand?
    You mean the WW?
    If so, ok. But WW doesn't generate power.
    In a serving motion, pronation directly helps to generate more power.
     
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  34. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Hand facing down is the definition of pronation.
     
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  35. Curious

    Curious Professional

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    No it's not. It's not a position but a movement. It's the rotation of forearm so that the upward facing palm turns and faces down.
     
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  36. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    The forward swing before, during and after contact. I'm not talking about the follow through.
     
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  37. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    It is defined by the position of the hand.
     
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  38. MathGeek

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    My son's tennis coach taught him to "pet the big dog" when he was just learning the forehand stroke. The analogy was used for a short time early in development, but since then, other finer points and descriptions are used to adjust/correct/improve the mechanics.

    Most mistakes are really due to other issues: footwork, timing, core, etc. rather than arm mechanics.

    Bottom line: pet the dog is an explanation for beginners. Intermediate players probably benefit more from other language, depending on what is happening with their swing.
     
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  39. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    I agree with @Curious ' definition as he described a common definition, it's a rotational movement of the forearm and direction of that movement (supination denotes opposite direction), not a position.

    WW motion starts prior to contact and is happening at the moment of contact, and it does involve forearm rotation.
    Racquet's face tilt is kept the same during the contact, WW doesn't ruin that. But I cannot think of any other movement or part of a fh groundstroke that includes a pronation, while happening at the moment of contact.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017 at 5:21 AM
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  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Do you rwally want to argue about this, or, learn how to hit a big forehand?

    www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pronation
     
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  41. Curious

    Curious Professional

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    Maybe you should call it something else then because anatomical description of pronation is not what you're saying.
     
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  42. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Yes it is (scroll up), and I don't want to argue about it anymore.
     
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  43. Curious

    Curious Professional

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    #93
  44. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    The relevant question is whether you now understand that the pat the dog position is acheived by pronation, not by elbow extension?
     
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  45. heninfan99

    heninfan99 G.O.A.T.

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  46. Curious

    Curious Professional

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    If you now accept that pronation describes a motion, not a position then I guess we can move on and try to understand which movement causes pat the dog.
     
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  47. Curious

    Curious Professional

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    Now let's watch this video again and see if Federer gets to pat the dog position by pronating his forearm or extending his elbow. What do you see?

     
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  48. iChen

    iChen Rookie

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    Problem is, this is a practice swing. When he actually uses knees or the ball isn't low, it doesn't look like this swing-wise. Of course you can argue this is still I guess groundwork for mechanics to build especially for lower balls. With higher balls, his racquet head is now less and less parallel to ground.
     
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  49. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    You've read my numerous posts on the ATP style forehand. I don't think there's more I can do to make it more straight forward and easy to understand. If I haven't effectively communicated to you, perhaps someone else would be more able to do so.
     
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  50. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    It also applies to veteran players who hit a traditional eastern drive and want to learn the ATP style modern forehand.
     

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