It’s time to face my problem...

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I’ve always struggled with a weak fh.

Last year, I finally made a huge leap in forehand confidence with a significant tweak to my racquet specs and technique. I went on a multi-month spree of matches with solid fh competence:


But in the last 2 weeks, an unfortunate series of events has caused a miserable regression in my forehand abilities.

It all started on on my brief stopover in Miami. Playing on the green clay with a slightly extended frame and copious amounts of extra wrist band mass, I continued with competent fh level for roughly an hour, before tennis elbow pain suddenly afflicted me, and my fh deteriorated into a hot mess.


Then landing in South America and playing on rougher red clay with bad bounces, my forehand confidence of last year was exposed as fool’s gold. It turned out to be a technique that works great on true-bouncing hardcourt, but of limited utility for surfaces with unpredictable bounce angle. My main power source is the potential energy from a high takeback above my head. This requires the pendulum sweep to start before the bounce. If I try to start lower at the waist, I feel like I don’t have sufficient power, and worse, I end up late to the ball because I don’t get the extra swing speed assist from gravity.

I’m considering a full overhaul of my fh technique, toward a more modern style better suited for clay.
I dabbled with a full lag fh back in 2019, with some success:


(I needed to tweak my racquet spec to have less handle mass to facilitate the lag). The lower handle mass had the side advantage of boosting my serve:


I ultimately didn’t stick with the lag technique and spec, as I found it less functional on fast smooth surfaces. And I had plenty of experiences when my lag technique was woefully inadequate:


But I’m thinking it’s time to explore a lag-lock technique again.
 
May I suggest something simple?

Have seen you and been reading your post for many years. You have been tweaking your racquet form brand to specs continuously. Why don't you find what you think feels comfortable in terms of feel and emanrk from there to
1. work on your footwork
2. work on your technique

for example if the above description for yr forehand (bog loopy take back) is the one that make you feel dialed in, then this is what you hvae to keep and adjust everything needed to bring yourself to that position. you need to become faster and with better reflexes. Now if this cannot be done ...you need to adjust...

easier said than done, but refrain for a period of 6 months to tweak the racquet and spend similar amount of time to tweak technique and physio.
 
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RiverRat

Professional
It all started on on my brief stopover in Miami. Playing on the green clay with a slightly extended frame and copious amounts of extra wrist band mass, I continued with competent fh level for roughly an hour, before tennis elbow pain suddenly afflicted me, and my fh deteriorated into a hot mess.
I don't mean to make light (a pun) of the situation but I find it hard to believe that wrist band weight has any effect on a swing. Paralysis by analysis might not only be screwing up your forehand, it might also be contributing to your tennis elbow. Tension in the arm can cause lots of problems, the least of which is missing a shot. The fact that a lack of power seems to be your complaint I would guess tension is affecting your swing.

I'm currently suffering from tennis elbow as well as trigger finger, and it is all because I carry lots of tension in my arms, particularly as I sleep. I'm not offering any advice only a caveat. I wish you the best.
 
@travlerajm Firstly, I want to say I’m a big fan of all of your experiments and studies. You really inspired me to experiment with different specs and materials, and I ended up realizing I like silicone injected into the hoop instead of using lead.

That being said, I think that you’ve fallen prey to the old adage: “The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” While you are always trying a different combination of specs, you continually expect for a change in specs to drastically improve an area of your game. One thing we’ve noted from observing professional players is that while the paintjob may change, the specs stay the same. Even the 3 goats used the same specs for the majority of their careers, only switching when necessitated by the declines of aging. With your switches however, it’s not a dialing in of specs. Not only do you switch between different racquets, but no two specs stay the same, not even length.

Most pros become locked into a certain racquet and specs fairly early in their junior careers and grow their games with it. A major reason for that is because a player needs for all other variables to be equal when adding or changing any aspect of their game. The same is true for science: you cannot have two independent variables in an experiment and draw any meaningful conclusions. When pros make a spec change, their games are already developed. They aren’t tinkering with their technique, they are simply seeing how a different spec affects the shots produced. Most rec players never get to that point, and your posts about changing your forehand technique show that you aren’t. If you truly want to improve an aspect of your game, then stick with the same racquet specs so that you’re able to develop the underlying technique.
 

tennisbike

Professional
I am also inspired by your experimentation and particularly still pretty much follow your early way of customizing racket. But here I have a thought..

As a fellow traveler in exploring tennis utopia and ultimate tennis "perfection", whatever that maybe, I also have gone through occasional elation but mostly .. struggling on daily cycles of advances and setbacks. I looks at my POP scores on fh, bh avg and max speeds, and plotted % topspin .. And then there are discomfort in shoulder which affect my serving..

I wonder if there is an sort of optimum level of physicality, such as flexibility/strength combination at various joints or body movements that is kind of innate or natural to whichever body. It took a long time to change technique, yet it took even longer to fix them in muscle memory. Then that long process often involves with various changes in adding or changing stresses in different body parts. And at a certain point, for a certain body, or age, that advances essentially came at a cost of greater stress. So either the body somehow advances with the technique, by additional strengthening work, or the body gets stressed closer to that zone where injuries are more likely to occur.

There is definitely a danger to blindly trying to increase pace/racket head speed, and topspin without proper technique or body conditioning. I realized that trying to imitate certain profession player's motion can cause injury if one does it incorrectly or does not have the strength or conditioning to go with it. Two examples being topspin one-handed backhand follow-through that rotate the wrist/racket to face the back fence. And service motion with elbow raised above the axis between the 2 shoulders. At the end, it is probably safer for an aging athlete to NOT change too much and too quickly without proper guidance. yeah! I am thinking about myself, really. Accept the reality! Like Rafa says.
 

Grip n Rip

New User
May I suggest something simple?

Have seen you and been reading your post for many years. You have been tweaking your racquet form brand to specs continuously. Why don't you find what you think feels comfortable in terms of feel and emanrk from there to
1. work on your footwork
2. work on your technique

for example if the above description for yr forehand (bog loopy take back) is the one that make you feel dialed in, then this is what you hvae to keep and adjust everything needed to bring yourself to that position. you need to become faster and with better reflexes. Now if this cannot be done ...you need to adjust...

easier said than done, but refrain for a period of 6 months to tweak the racquet and spend similar amount of time to tweak technique and physio.

BORING!!!

I think it's time for @Shroud specs!!
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
A common refrain is: stop tweaking your equipment and focus on your technique!

As a counterpoint to that line of thinking, it is very difficult to improve your technique by drilling. But...

A tweak to the racquet specs forces a change to the technique. In fact, it is impossible to change your racquet without it affecting your technique.

Hence, advancements in performance, once you reach a certain advanced age, are easier to realize by forcing technique change with different weighting.
 
A common refrain is: stop tweaking your equipment and focus on your technique!

As a counterpoint to that line of thinking, it is very difficult to improve your technique by drilling. But...

A tweak to the racquet specs forces a change to the technique. In fact, it is impossible to change your racquet without it affecting your technique.

Hence, advancements in performance, once you reach a certain advanced age, are easier to realize by forcing technique change with different weighting.
You need to go with low-weight/high-SW next. That's the clay spec anyway.
 

Dragy

Legend
Hence, advancements in performance, once you reach a certain advanced age, are easier to realize by forcing technique change with different weighting.
I think there's a dose of truth in this. However, the rest is filled with other truth: changing breaks timing, groove, consistency and, consequently, confidence. Without confidence one gets no freedom to focus on aspects. Without groove and consistency one gets much more variance, which blocks the ability to work on achieving the goal: hitting the ball clean and sending it towards intended direction with intended shape and action.
I think it's legit to change equipment if your current one is a bad fit for what you try to do. Too small RH, too tight (or too wide) string pattern, too much/little weight in the hoop. But I believe anyone tinkering long enough with the racquet can easily make a choice which is in good ballpark, and stick with it, building groove and confidence through months of use.
 

Dansan

Rookie
My forehand woes have always been the result of overcomplicating the movement and using my right arm way too much in my "backswing". Too much tension, too much flexion in my right arm, too exaggerated of a movement (you can get completely lost back there !) I can find it and then lose it between sessions.

When I lose my forehand, I let my left arm do more work picking up the frame while allowing my right arm to be more relaxed in the backswing. Sets you up much better for kinetic chain release/body turning first. Not sure if that's your problem, but a lot of people lose the forehand easily because the right arm has a tendency to be way too active and tense during that movement.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I think there's a dose of truth in this. However, the rest is filled with other truth: changing breaks timing, groove, consistency and, consequently, confidence. Without confidence one gets no freedom to focus on aspects. Without groove and consistency one gets much more variance, which blocks the ability to work on achieving the goal: hitting the ball clean and sending it towards intended direction with intended shape and action.
I think it's legit to change equipment if your current one is a bad fit for what you try to do. Too small RH, too tight (or too wide) string pattern, too much/little weight in the hoop. But I believe anyone tinkering long enough with the racquet can easily make a choice which is in good ballpark, and stick with it, building groove and confidence through months of use.
It’s true that my spec change last May unlocked a big improvement in my fh control, and then it was 6 months later after sticking with that same spec that I really started to dominate my friends who used to play me competitively.

But now down here, the different surface has exposed my new fh as great for predictable-bounce hardcourt but seriously flawed on bad-bounce red stuff.

So I’m back in experiment mode by necessity until I find something that lets me control the ball without having to commit my swingpath as early.
 

srimes

Rookie
I have a compact forehand, and rarely play on clay but when I do I have to change my game and technique. I like aggressive court positioning and taking the ball on the rise but that doesn't work with the variable bounces. I either have to back up and give myself time to adjust to the bounce or move in and half-volley, which cuts off the angle change from bounce variation.

If you want to get better playing on clay, maybe you should play on clay more? I'm not saying a compact swing wouldn't help, just that there's a lot more to it and many players do fine on clay with a longer backswing.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I have a compact forehand, and rarely play on clay but when I do I have to change my game and technique. I like aggressive court positioning and taking the ball on the rise but that doesn't work with the variable bounces. I either have to back up and give myself time to adjust to the bounce or move in and half-volley, which cuts off the angle change from bounce variation.

If you want to get better playing on clay, maybe you should play on clay more? I'm not saying a compact swing wouldn't help, just that there's a lot more to it and many players do fine on clay with a longer backswing.
Back home there is only hardcourt. Here in tennis paradise red clay is the only tennis there is. My problem is amplified by the fact that most of my match play is in the evening on courts that have had group lessons all day without being groomed.

When I played a couple weeks ago on green clay in Miami with better grooming, my fh seemed to still function ok.
 
My forehand woes have always been the result of overcomplicating the movement and using my right arm way too much in my "backswing". Too much tension, too much flexion in my right arm, too exaggerated of a movement (you can get completely lost back there !) I can find it and then lose it between sessions.

When I lose my forehand, I let my left arm do more work picking up the frame while allowing my right arm to be more relaxed in the backswing. Sets you up much better for kinetic chain release/body turning first. Not sure if that's your problem, but a lot of people lose the forehand easily because the right arm has a tendency to be way too active and tense during that movement.
Lot's of good stuff in the above post!
 
...courts that have had group lessons all day without being groomed.
Non hard-courts, clays and grass are subject to "bad" bounces--that's just part of the game. It's the eyesight that needs to improve to better anticipate the different bounces--stroke technique should not vary from one surface to another--even hard-courts can have cracks and dead spots in them.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I’ve always struggled with a weak fh.
Guys an alert here. I have played twice against this poster. Take his statement with several pounds of salt.

It is true he has a punter-style forehand but it goes deep and fast, penetrating into the court.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
What is that?--never heard of it.
Try to visualize a solid blocking of the ball with an extremely heavy racket and a short takeback, which can neutralize any spin, and deflect the pace back. Or imagine a bulldozer making a short movement forward towards the incoming ball. No amount of incoming top spin or pace can make an impact.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Try to visualize a solid blocking of the ball with an extremely heavy racket and a short takeback, which can neutralize any spin, and deflect the pace back. Or imagine a bulldozer making a short movement forward towards the incoming ball. No amount of incoming top spin or pace can make an impact.
My problem is that the bulldozer likes to get its plow moving before the bounce, which works much better on hardcourt.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I know you want this FH... and it's so simple that a tiny woman can hit it!

@Slowtwitcher Justin "Enna" and travlerajm have something in common - somewhat unorthodox rackets. AFAIK, Justine weighted her frame to be head heavy. Among the males, I think only Nalbandian had a HH frame.

BTW, you should play against travlerajm some day. It will be quite a match, with your topspin against his "wall."
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
May I suggest something simple?

Have seen you and been reading your post for many years. You have been tweaking your racquet form brand to specs continuously. Why don't you find what you think feels comfortable in terms of feel and emanrk from there to
1. work on your footwork
2. work on your technique

for example if the above description for yr forehand (bog loopy take back) is the one that make you feel dialed in, then this is what you hvae to keep and adjust everything needed to bring yourself to that position. you need to become faster and with better reflexes. Now if this cannot be done ...you need to adjust...

easier said than done, but refrain for a period of 6 months to tweak the racquet and spend similar amount of time to tweak technique and physio.
Yeah but usually amongst rec players who constantly obsess over their frames, it is not the case that they are paying any less attention to technique and physio. On average, they do as much or as little of those as others who don't worry about their frames. The frame tweaking is just something which keeps the spark alive.
 
@Slowtwitcher Justin "Enna" and travlerajm have something in common - somewhat unorthodox rackets. AFAIK, Justine weighted her frame to be head heavy. Among the males, I think only Nalbandian had a HH frame.

BTW, you should play against travlerajm some day. It will be quite a match, with your topspin against his "wall."
Traveljam is a smart player. I am not ;)
 
D

Deleted member 765152

Guest
Your racket is a non-issue.
The real issue is that you have a TRULY WTA FH = meaning you prepare with both hands on the grip.
This is disastrous against high bouncing shots to your FH, esp. on clay.

I would suggest keeping 1 hand on the racket throat and 1 on the grip.
This will allow you to handle high incoming shots on clay and elsewhere much more easily.
It is much easier to prepare the racket head above the incoming ball and drop down, as opposed to preparing below the ball and then hitting up.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
it is very difficult to improve your technique by drilling. But...
This statement is not true in my case. Drilling works well for me to improve my technique and footwork as I do very focused drills to work on specific issues, usually with a coach. Not only is it useful to improve weaknesses, but I find it critical just to sustain the present level of my game. If I don’t drill once or twice a week, my match performance suffers. I don‘t think it is possible to have sustained improvement just by playing matches whether you tweak your racquet or not.

Then again, we are very different as I always play with a wristband on my dominant armo_O
 

HitMoreBHs

Semi-Pro
A common refrain is: stop tweaking your equipment and focus on your technique!

As a counterpoint to that line of thinking, it is very difficult to improve your technique by drilling. But...

A tweak to the racquet specs forces a change to the technique. In fact, it is impossible to change your racquet without it affecting your technique.

Hence, advancements in performance, once you reach a certain advanced age, are easier to realize by forcing technique change with different weighting.
Oh man! I knew I should’ve gone for the granny stick TiS6 rather than the Gravity Tour when I hit 50 last year!
 
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travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Your racket is a non-issue.
The real issue is that you have a TRULY WTA FH = meaning you prepare with both hands on the grip.
This is disastrous against high bouncing shots to your FH, esp. on clay.

I would suggest keeping 1 hand on the racket throat and 1 on the grip.
This will allow you to handle high incoming shots on clay and elsewhere much more easily.
It is much easier to prepare the racket head above the incoming ball and drop down, as opposed to preparing below the ball and then hitting up.
You are being disrespectful to WTA players by comparing their forehands to mine.
 
A common refrain is: stop tweaking your equipment and focus on your technique!

As a counterpoint to that line of thinking, it is very difficult to improve your technique by drilling. But...

A tweak to the racquet specs forces a change to the technique. In fact, it is impossible to change your racquet without it affecting your technique.

Hence, advancements in performance, once you reach a certain advanced age, are easier to realize by forcing technique change with different weighting.
You do get a change, but what happens once your body adapts to those new specs? If you’re mentally using the same images/feelings as before then the same problems will arise once you’ve physically adapted. It’s impossible to deny we all need more help from the racquet as we get older. Where I see the difference in your approach is that most players change racquets/specs to achieve a desired shot/outcome with the same technique. You’re changing both your racquet and your technique at once, which is akin to shooting yourself in the foot neuromuscular wise. It’s just too many moving parts for the mind and body to cohesively operate. The split second nuances that allow for great spacing and timing won’t be there.
 

ubercat

Professional
The only time my team won our comp I was playing with a 20 dollar Wilson I d bought from Kmart one night I forgot my racquet. It was strung like a wooden board. Not sure racquet matters for us wrecks.
 

HitMoreBHs

Semi-Pro
The only time my team won our comp I was playing with a 20 dollar Wilson I d bought from Kmart one night I forgot my racquet. It was strung like a wooden board. Not sure racquet matters for us wrecks.
Bet you then ruined its magic by applying lead to it based on various SW1, SW2 specs and MgR/l calculations. You don’t get out of the rabbit hole that easily.
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
With you and racquet tweaking ... it's like the guy who finished reading everything on the internet. Nothing to be gained there ... been there done that. Your new uncharted tennis science domain is staring you right in the stroke altering wrist band: arm customizations. Arm swing weight, wrist light vs wrist heavy, arm RA, etc.

Brave new tennis world to conquer ... but not going to lie ... the extra 1/2" arm extension and the silicone injections is going to sting.
 
Tinkering too much is a problem. Yeah, sometimes you need to make a change but high level players don't tinker a lot. They might occasionally make one change (like novak serve or pete going from two hander to one hander) but they are not tinkering with mechanics all the time but work consistently in one direction.

Same applies to the gear, maybe occasionally there is a change but generally they are quite consistent with strings and rackets (you won't see a pro going from 20 pound poly to 80 pound kevlar and back like some guys in the strings forum here:)).

I had the same issue when I started playing baseball. I researched a lot and tried a lot of drills and tried all the "guru's" methods(there also were discussions like here with micro moves and stuff like that). It did make me a better coach but hurt me as a player as the body needs to build muscle memory. Sometimes an engrained non ideal movement is better than a "perfect" move that is not stable under game pressure.

Now when coaching kids my approach is much more simplified and consistent.

Coaching rule number 1 is sometimes a change is necessary but don't fix what is not broken.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
With you and racquet tweaking ... it's like the guy who finished reading everything on the internet. Nothing to be gained there ... been there done that. Your new uncharted tennis science domain is staring you right in the stroke altering wrist band: arm customizations. Arm swing weight, wrist light vs wrist heavy, arm RA, etc.

Brave new tennis world to conquer ... but not going to lie ... the extra 1/2" arm extension and the silicone injections is going to sting.
Stay tuned for that in ‘22.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
We need to start a GoFundMe to buy you a camera go get some video of that (now) world-famous FH.

We know things can be hard down there in Paraguay and we're here to help.
I need to swing by Miami next week, so maybe one of the forum members there will capture whatever fh I am using by then.
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
Get an android (or iphone if it is easier). Then get a camera stand like this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07837W5NX/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It shouldn't take you more than a week to get those items (you probably already own one of them). Then make sure you remember to bring it with you to the court and ask your partner if it is ok to film. There, I just gave you the most efficient steps to start filming yourself. Thank me later. :)
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Get an android (or iphone if it is easier). Then get a camera stand like this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07837W5NX/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It shouldn't take you more than a week to get those items (you probably already own one of them). Then make sure you remember to bring it with you to the court and ask your partner if it is ok to film. There, I just gave you the most efficient steps to start filming yourself. Thank me later. :)
It seems my problem has morphed from fixing my broken claycourt fh ...

... to fixing why the world is still waiting to see it.

Maybe I’ve just been facing the wrong problem?
 
D

Deleted member 765152

Guest
OP's elbow is conjoined at his torso, making for a very small swing radius and no leverage.
His FH has the wing span of a 3'6" player.
If he truly wants to improve his FH, he needs to get a good coach to completely dismantle and rebuild a new FH.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
OP's elbow is conjoined at his torso, making for a very small swing radius and no leverage.
His FH has the wing span of a 3'6" player.
If he truly wants to improve his FH, he needs to get a good coach to completely dismantle and rebuild a new FH.
The vid in post #46 posted by @Shroud shows my old fh and no longer that relevant. I rebuilt it from scratch during the lockdown. The current fh is in post #22 above, and is quite a different technique that I switched to in May 2020 and much better - it lets me play 5.0 baseline level on hardcourt, but fails on clay - sorry I don’t have any other footage.

Lots of posters here have seen the old version in person, only two so far have seen the new and improved one.
 
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