One handed backhand ideal wrist position

Curious

Legend
I guess flexed wrist is the worst technique mistake you could make on one handed backhand, that being the weakest anatomically. For some unknown reason I’ve always had a tendency to do that. Some one handers look almost like having an extended wrist throughout the stroke but I was thinking it should at least be neutral. Thoughts? ( please swipe to see the three pictures below ).


 
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Mountain Ghost

Professional
It should be neutral throughout ... from Racquet-Back ... to Contact ... to Follow Through. On the up-and-down axis ... it should be the same throughout as well ... at about 130°.

~ MG
 

Curious

Legend
It should be neutral throughout ... from Racquet-Back ... to Contact ... to Follow Through. On the up-and-down axis ... it should be the same throughout as well ... at about 130°.

~ MG
Is Federer’s wrist a little extended during the take back? (Probably insignificant even if it is ). Although it seems to straighten later in the forward swing.
 

Mountain Ghost

Professional
Is Federer’s wrist a little extended during the take back? (Probably insignificant even if it is ). Although it seems to straighten later in the forward swing.
Yes ... Federer's wrist changes ... at Racquet-Back (up) his wrist is also "cocked" back a bit ... which means it has to change on the foreward stroke ... something I would not advise copying.

Emulating SOME details a professional player might do ... can actually be damaging to a stroke's development.

~ MG
 

Curious

Legend
Yes ... Federer's wrist changes ... at Racquet-Back (up) his wrist is also "cocked" back a bit ... which means it has to change on the foreward stroke ... something I would not advise copying.

Emulating SOME details a professional player might do ... can actually be damaging to a stroke's development.

~ MG
Thanks. So it’s neutral wrist all the way. Makes perfect sense.
 

Curious

Legend
Yes ... Federer's wrist changes ... at Racquet-Back (up) his wrist is also "cocked" back a bit ... which means it has to change on the foreward stroke ... something I would not advise copying.

Emulating SOME details a professional player might do ... can actually be damaging to a stroke's development.

~ MG
By the way as far as I know although it looks like it’s a little bent back pic 1 is actually considered anatomically neutral although the pic 2 position looks more straight. Interesting detail.
So I reckon the pic 2 position is not good enough for ohbh even though it doesn’t quite look that flexed.


 

Mountain Ghost

Professional
The "true" neutral position can be found NOT by appearances ... but by holding the grip tightly and by not adding any intentional wrist bend or variation. This is the strongest position your wrist can achieve ... with hand grip muscles ONLY.

The key is to be able to keep this firm grip and wrist position as the elbow IS allowed to bend ... from Ready Position ... to Racquet Back (Up-Down) ... to Contact ... to Follow Through.

Think of the racquet head up-and-down exercise I showed you ... ... ... elbow by your side ... bending up to racquet shaft level over the shoulder ... then bending down to racquet shaft level in front of your thigh.

~ MG
 

BevelDevil

Hall of Fame
I remember one youtuber who advocated for wrist extension combined with radial deviation at the takeback. I can't seem to find that video now, though.

Yet another guy said how he changes the amount of extension depending on the type of ball he wanted to hit.
 

Curious

Legend
I remember one youtuber who advocated for wrist extension combined with radial deviation at the takeback. I can't seem to find that video now, though.

Yet another guy said how he changes the amount of extension depending on the type of ball he wanted to hit.
Simon from top tennis training but he said that while talking about Bh slice. Not sure about topspin Bh drive.
 

Curious

Legend
The "true" neutral position can be found NOT by appearances ... but by holding the grip tightly and by not adding any intentional wrist bend or variation. This is the strongest position your wrist can achieve ... with hand grip muscles ONLY.
Really like this.
 

Dragy

Legend
Flexing wrist forward is quite common way to control stringbed orientation from openinng up. Common, doesn't mean optimal. It can be observed in some older school BHs, particularly with conti grip, including JMac:

I believe advantages of neutral wrist position as a baseline are undoubted, including less injury exposure. The key is to ensure desired stringbed orientation without flexing the wrist, where solutions are:
- EBH grip;
- Proper contact point - with good sideways spacing, not too far in front; achieved with proper body orientation (closed prep, moderate uncoil);
- Applying all-arm rotation (ESR) into contact to get racquet head above handle on higher contacts - avoiding pulling arm up with racquet head level or lagging below.
 

Curious

Legend
Watching this video Dimitrov seems to be the only one that flexes the wrist for a moment during the forward swing. All the others keep the wrist firmly in neutral position. Gasquet’s wrist is somewhat more extended than others.


 

Dragy

Legend
Watching this video Dimitrov seems to be the only one that flexes the wrist for a moment during the forward swing. All the others keep the wrist in neutral position. Gasquet’s wrist is somewhat more extended than others.


Dimitrov grip is close to conti, which makes him do what he does :rolleyes:
 

Curious

Legend
I disagree, they all do. Thiem and Tsitsipas less so, but they all do.
I see that when the racket is dropping or at the beginning of the forward swing it sort of forces the wrist to flex a little but I don’t think it ever goes beyond neutral.
 

AnyPUG

Professional
The wrist position depends on various factors but the number one reason is the grip. An extended wrist generly requires a more extreme grip(Kuerten),
The neutral position needs a conservative grip(conti or eastern) and a later contact point. But Thiem has a conservative grip and extended wrist position. I think the problem is that the wrist becomes unstable very easily because it's a highly complex structure and actually a collection of three different joints. So the exact position for a stable wrist depends on the range of movement you feel physiologically and psychologically comfortable.
 

Arak

Hall of Fame
I sometimes hit my backhand with a relaxed wrist, so it’s only in the neutral position at the moment of impact. It’s a bit like a modern forehand in reverse. It’s more topspin friendly. I also hit with a rigid wrist in neutral position depending on the shot I want to hit.
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
I sometimes hit my backhand with a relaxed wrist, so it’s only in the neutral position at the moment of impact. It’s a bit like a modern forehand in reverse. It’s more topspin friendly. I also hit with a rigid wrist in neutral position depending on the shot I want to hit.
For blocking shots like ROS or redirecting DTL I try for a very compact, more rigid grip/wrist.
For a full swing, cross court or opposite, where I have more time I will be pretty relaxed as you've mentioned before and after impact, but firm and neutral through impact.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Tennis biomechanist Duane Knudson has commented on the wrist and the backhand, especially the extension. He has a good reference book, Biomechanical Principles of Tennis Technique, 2006.

Knudson said that there is a tendency of pro 1HBHs to have the wrist extended. I agree looking at high speed videos.

In early work, he made a case that a flexed wrist on the one hand backhand were associated with amateurs and Tennis Elbow. If the wrist is flexed, it stretches the muscles and tendons that are injured in Tennis Elbow. At impact is would seem to stress the tendon that is injured in TE. If the wrist is extended it tends to slacked the muscle that is injured in tennis elbow.

However, more recently around 2012, he endorsed a publication that associated off center hits as very important. I posted on the publication and Knudson's paper discussing it.

Before we go on, we should Google how to professionally measure the wrist angles of flexure and extension, how the '0' degrees is defined. There are videos and pictures. If the bones on the back of the hand go up, is that neutral or extended? What's the definition?

You can Google: ATP one hand backhand pictures
It will show you many backhands in progress at various times of the stroke. Impact is always one very important time.

Do quick statistics and see what you see from 10 ATP one hand backhands.
 
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pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
I guess flexed wrist is the worst technique mistake you could make on one handed backhand, that being the weakest anatomically. For some unknown reason I’ve always had a tendency to do that. Some one handers look almost like having an extended wrist throughout the stroke but I was thinking it should at least be neutral. Thoughts? ( please swipe to see the three pictures below ).


If you are flexing that means you are using your front chest to generate pace, that also means you might be having a tendency to chest press or something which is not hurting you in the short term but it will not give you spin, pace nor control in your OHBH.


If you focus on your thumb and extend to your back and focus on your back muscle your flex problem will immediately go away.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
If you are flexing that means you are using your front chest to generate pace, that also means you might be having a tendency to chest press or something which is not hurting you in the short term but it will not give you spin, pace nor control in your OHBH.
...................................
What is this based on?

Note- Flexing is a wrist joint motion. Flexed is a position of the wrist joint, an angular location. Therefore, the wrist joint could be flexed and extending.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
I think you could have a very good 1HBH with some practice and coaching, your stroke looks great for 2 weeks in!

Couple of things I noticed:

Keep your left hand back more through/after the shot, you're slightly over-rotating through the shot IMO. Over-rotation can cause inconsistency/inaccuracy. YMMV. Watch slow-motion of Gasquet, Dimitrov, Fed, etc - they keep their left hand much further back than you. Wawrinka is the closest to your follow-through, but even he isn't quite so rotated on most of his shots.

The video is a little blurry so I can't tell for sure, but looks like you may be contacting the ball with your elbow still bent? Watch your video again to see what I mean. Bent elbow on take-back is OK, but it should completely straighten out by contact. Note the straight arm at contact from some of the best 1HBH of all time:






It looks as if how you use "Neutral" might be a problem when angle diagrams show wrist joint going from angles of flexion to extension at a defined "0" degrees. Some use 'Neutral' with a straight line on the back of the hand. I would define Curious NEUTRAL as extended but some on the internet would not.

Probably better to show photographs at impacts. 5 strong backhand players in above quote are shown. I'd call all extended.
 
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pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
There are a lot of different muscle surrounding your arm front and back side. A lot of them connect to your chest or back or top shoulder. What happened when you try to extend your arm backwards is that there are two main muscle helping you to do so.

If you flex, that means that you rely on your chest muscle to extend and push out while extending your back muscle because biologically this is the most natural movement.

When I say extend thumb I meant stretch your thumb so that muscle that connect your inner thumb to the elbow and to the chest to relax and flatten out and subsequently contract your back muscle instead.

This is ideal for OHBH because OHBH rely on hitting sideway and almost backwards sometimes.
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
What is this based on?

Note- Flexing is a wrist joint motion. Flexed is a position of the wrist joint, an angular location. Therefore, the wrist joint could be flexed and extending.
Based on my understand of my body (of course I also google muscle groups so I have a general sense of where muscles are laid out), when I try different things and this is the optimal feel and approach.

When we are talking flex, we don't talk flex in isolation you have to consider how this muscle is pulling and contracting other related connected tissue such as elbow, and also your chest or back muscle.
 

Curious

Legend
There are a lot of different muscle surrounding your arm front and back side. A lot of them connect to your chest or back or top shoulder. What happened when you try to extend your arm backwards is that there are two main muscle helping you to do so.

If you flex, that means that you rely on your chest muscle to extend and push out while extending your back muscle because biologically this is the most natural movement.

When I say extend thumb I meant stretch your thumb so that muscle that connect your inner thumb to the elbow and to the chest to relax and flatten out and subsequently contract your back muscle instead.

This is ideal for OHBH because OHBH rely on hitting sideway and almost backwards sometimes.
I feel like your point is complicated by wrong/missing knowledge of human anatomy.
 
I’m a bit skeptical that the wrist is in one position the entire time. I will hit balls tomorrow while making an effort to keep my wrist firm to see what happens. One has to wonder what the point of the backswing is, which certainly must put some sort of forces on the wrist when changing quickly to the forward swing, if you have to fight changing wrist position. Why not just put the racquet back and swing forward, old school style, like McEnroe? Having said that it probably never gets away from an orientation that is considered neutral, even if you don’t hold it in neutral. Personally, I take it back somewhat extended and the let it do what it wants on the forward swing. I only worry about supinating. My feeling is the grip, the tip-up, the pronation to get the rh behind my butt and the rotation to get the racquet started were all designed to get the racquet in the proper position, just like the forehand. Not good for consistency, if I have to feel like I am controlling things like where my wrist is. Think it would slow my swing.
 

Curious

Legend
I’m a bit skeptical that the wrist is in one position the entire time. I will hit balls tomorrow while making an effort to keep my wrist firm to see what happens. One has to wonder what the point of the backswing is, which certainly must put some sort of forces on the wrist when changing quickly to the forward swing, if you have to fight changing wrist position. Why not just put the racquet back and swing forward, old school style, like McEnroe? Having said that it probably never gets away from an orientation that is considered neutral, even if you don’t hold it in neutral. Personally, I take it back somewhat extended and the let it do what it wants on the forward swing. I only worry about supinating. My feeling is the grip, the tip-up, the pronation to get the rh behind my butt and the rotation to get the racquet started were all designed to get the racquet in the proper position, just like the forehand. Not good for consistency, if I have to feel like I am controlling things like where my wrist is. Think it would slow my swing.
Reason for this thread was my tendency to flex the wrist naturally and seeing every pro player have an extended wrist (at least neutral).
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
From the August 1998, ITF Coaches Review (International Tennis Federation)

"In this study the authors investigated the wrist kinematics (flexion/extension), grip pressures and wrist muscle electromyographic (EMG) activity in novice and expert tennis players performing the [1 handed] backhand stroke. Results showed that expert players hit the backhand with the wrist extended (neutral alignment of the forearm and hand dorsum) and that their wrist was moving into extension at impact. In contrast, novice players struck the ball with the wrist more flexed while moving their wrist further into flexion. Expert players also displayed greater wrist extension in the follow through. Novice players eccentrically contracted their wrist extensor muscles during impact which may contribute to lateral tennis elbow."

Blackwell, J.R. & Cole, K.J. (1994). Wrist kinematics differ in expert and novice tennis players performing the backhand stroke; implications for tennis elbow. Journal of Biomechanics, 27, 5, 509-516.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Probably beginners/intermediates take back and hit the ball too late when it is too close to the body and so they are not taking a full swing. If you are rushed for time because you don‘t have an early take back and have a bunty shot where the ball is jamming you, you have to make a lot of micro-adjustments with your wrist to get some control of the shot. Also, because they are hitting at a lower pace, they can somehow manage to hit the ball with a flexed wrist although mishits or trying to hit harder might eventually cause injuries.

An advanced player somewhat locks his wrist during his early take back, spaces further away from the ball and takes a full swing to hit the ball well in front of him. His wrist will naturally extend when he hits the ball further away from the body and he needs to do that to have his wrist be in a strong position to withstand the higher pace of his ball impact.

Not referencing @Curious here as I don’t know what his BH looks like, but more of a general comment. In general, I found that when I was progressing in tennis that I started taking back earlier, spacing further from the ball and hitting the ball much further in front of me while generating more body momentum (weight transfer) forward - the ball started getting higher in pace automatically. Then, the more I started my swing lower by bending my knee further and then driving forward, the more topspin I got. You really can’t swing hard unless your wrist is in a strong position as otherwise if it is too wristy, your racquet will twist in your hand at high speed ball impacts.
 
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pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
I feel like your point is complicated by wrong/missing knowledge of human anatomy.
Why not you at least try what I said and see if it worked for you. A lot of time channel your inner Chas Tennis moment will not work. You have to undersatnd and control your body properly. Otherwise you will forever having a flex wrist for OHBH.
 

tonylg

Legend
From the August 1998, ITF Coaches Review (International Tennis Federation)

"In this study the authors investigated the wrist kinematics (flexion/extension), grip pressures and wrist muscle electromyographic (EMG) activity in novice and expert tennis players performing the [1 handed] backhand stroke. Results showed that expert players hit the backhand with the wrist extended (neutral alignment of the forearm and hand dorsum) and that their wrist was moving into extension at impact. In contrast, novice players struck the ball with the wrist more flexed while moving their wrist further into flexion. Expert players also displayed greater wrist extension in the follow through. Novice players eccentrically contracted their wrist extensor muscles during impact which may contribute to lateral tennis elbow."

Blackwell, J.R. & Cole, K.J. (1994). Wrist kinematics differ in expert and novice tennis players performing the backhand stroke; implications for tennis elbow. Journal of Biomechanics, 27, 5, 509-516.
This is what I was describing. Gasquet is ridiculous, it is also very pronounced in Dimitrov, Federer and Wawrinka.

I can imagine that trying to have no wrist movement during impact would lead to what they've described as novice behaviour. If you aren't accelerating the racquet tip around the axis (your hand) at impact, the ball will naturally force your wrist backwards. You are then relying an very small muscles groups to counteract that force .. and we know where that leads.
 

Curious

Legend
If you aren't accelerating the racquet tip around the axis (your hand) at impact, the ball will naturally force your wrist backwards. You are then relying an very small muscles groups to counteract that force
If it’s not the gained momentum of the racket head created by your free swinging that hits the ball, then it’s more of a push instead of swing. That’s my interpretation of what you said. And makes sense to me.
 
I have noticed one thing shadow swinging in the living room. The more extension there is in the wrist at the end of the backswing, the straighter the arm. I’m guessing the only way Thiem can get his arm that straight is to have a lot of extension in the wrist. I have always released that extension as the racquet finished its backswing as it is easier on the arm. But, that causes the arm to bend as the wrist moves to a more flexed/neutral position. I haven’t had any complaints about my backhand, but am very interested to see if keeping as much extension as I can helps.
 

tonylg

Legend
If it’s not the gained momentum of the racket head created by your free swinging that hits the ball, then it’s more of a push instead of swing. That’s my interpretation of what you said. And makes sense to me.
I think I agree with the momentum part, but I think they say the opposite regarding the swing. They are describing trying to pull the racquet through the ball, rather than getting it out in front.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Probably beginners/intermediates take back and hit the ball too late when it is too close to the body and so they are not taking a full swing. If you are rushed for time because you don‘t have an early take back and have a bunty shot where the ball is jamming you, you have to make a lot of micro-adjustments with your wrist to get some control of the shot. Also, because they are hitting at a lower pace, they can somehow manage to hit the ball with a flexed wrist although mishits or trying to hit harder might eventually cause injuries.

An advanced player somewhat locks his wrist during his early take back, spaces further away from the ball and takes a full swing to hit the ball well in front of him. His wrist will naturally extend when he hits the ball further away from the body and he needs to do that to have his wrist be in a strong position to withstand the higher pace of his ball impact.

Not referencing @Curious here as I don’t know what his BH looks like, but more of a general comment. In general, I found that when I was progressing in tennis that I started taking back earlier, spacing further from the ball and hitting the ball much further in front of me while generating more body momentum (weight transfer) forward - the ball started getting higher in pace automatically. Then, the more I started my swing lower by bending my knee further and then driving forward, the more topspin I got. You really can’t swing hard unless your wrist is in a strong position as otherwise if it is too wristy, your racquet will twist in your hand at high speed ball impacts.
Knudson also advocated the extended wrist with publications in the late 1990s and the book in 2006. In 2011 or 2012 there was a publication that emphasized off center hits. Knudson published about 2012 endorsing that. I hope that I have not gotten any of that wrong.

I don't know about Tennis Elbow and extended wrists but it seems reasonable to me still because the extended wrist shortens the muscle-tendon that is injured in Tennis Elbow. Most top backhands seem to use an extended wrist. And pro players, as was said in the 1990s, don't seem to have much TE. 2012 is 8 years ago so there might be some new research and publications.

When researching tennis injuries there are associations of certain injuries with certain strokes. But there is very often uncertainty about exactly how those injuries occur.
 
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Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Publication discussing off center hits and their relation to Tennis Elbow.

"..................In particular, the angular velocities resulting from an impact at the lower part of the racquet were much higher than those obtained from an impact on the upper part of the racquet."
 
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Seems like wrist flexion/extension would be most influenced by the grip?

If you're hitting a more continental grip you probably need to "flex" your wrist more to close the racket face for certain shots.
If you're hitting a more extreme grip you'll likely be neutral or "extending" your wrist to make contact.
 

pencilcheck

Hall of Fame
I would try if I understood what you said.:D
I am thinking how to rephrase what I said.

I actually think you have the same problems as PapaMango. PapaMango get too close horizontally and he didn’t close his racquet and that is because he might want to hit with higher trajectory

you on the other hand try to close racquet face by flexing maybe because you think that close face will generate topspin

I say that neither you and papamango have it right

you should try to follow what I wrote there, namely hit as far horizontally as you can while having you shoulder pointing towards the left fence
 
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