One handed backhand-straight arm or bent?

35ft6

Legend
The only time you'll see people hit with a bent arm is when they're closer to the net and they're going for a super spinny, extremely sharp cross court shot.
 

Tennismastery

Professional
kuerten.gif


See if this clip of Guga helps analyze the one-handed backhand.
 

MHobbit

New User
It definitely needs to be straight. If you lead the one-handed backhand with your elbow often, you may eventually develop tennis elbow, too.
 

Tennismastery

Professional
this pro, whol gives very popular lessons on videojug, (not asying he's right, just putting it out there), has a 90 degree bend.

http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-master-the-basic-one-handed-backhand

Gorilla, where are you seeing a 90-degree bend? In what part, his elbow, the cocking of his wrist? Not sure where you mean.

While he has a slight bend in the elbow, he gets the arm straight before the contact phase. I think this is common among pros...however, recreational players and beginners who bend the elbow tend to then lead with this elbow and end up opening up the shoulder plane too early, a precurser to developing tennis elbow.

We teach players to keep the elbow straight on the backswing. As they become familiar and comfortable with this arm position, they evolve the swing within the context of a high-level swing, which can include a relaxation of the arm on the backswing which then becomes a firm lever-like swing path that provides the stability of a high performance stroke.
 

shojun25

Professional
you want your elbow to have very little curviture, if not straight. also, the contact point should be a little bit in front of your body.
 

The Gorilla

Banned
It looks like he straightens it out fine before contact. You want the elbow bent in the takeback and then you straighten as you pull to the ball.

that's fine, it's just that in the clip you showed of guga, his arm was straight 100% of the time, take back and all.

EDIT:I've just look at it again and I've realized that it's just the forward swing, I am very tired.

ps: dave, at 2:33 on that video, it's ok though, we're not in disagreement over technique.
 
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Mountain Ghost

Professional
Backhand Elbow

Contact on a one-handed backhand is with a straight arm, and I agree with a straight take back on the backswing.

If you bend your elbow on the backswing, you must straighten it before the forward stroke begins, or else you won’t be able to rotate the arm out, you will be forced to lead with the elbow and the racket head will never catch up in a controlled way.

MG

Jeff put up a good example of a bent elbow backswing three weeks ago:
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=1287100#post1287100
 

Drona

Rookie
What about the backhand volley?
I looked a video called Tennis Restrung in 24 hours,
and the author talked about a bent arm being more stable
and providing for less stress on an elbow during contact?
He does give an exception for a baseline backhand.
 

AJK1

Hall of Fame
No wonder Golden Retriever can't beat pushers, he doesn't even know how to hit a backhand. Sheesh!
 

Mahboob Khan

Hall of Fame
Well, if the backswing straight-back and low, then the position of the hitting arm is straight and stiff throughout the stroke. However, if you look at the 1HBH of some of the best players -- Federer, Gasquet, Pioline, Kuerton -- you will see that their backhand swing looks like a big U which also means that the non-hitting arm pulls the racket backward-upward causing the elbow of the hitting arm to bend at the height of the backswing. As the racket descends from the height of the backswing, just before, during, and after contact, the hitting arm straightens-stiffens creating an L shape or 90 degree angle between the arm-racket!

Thus, depending on the type of the backswing, the hitting arm could be straight or a bit bent; but just before, during, and after contact the hitting arm is straight and stiff, to me this is the key point that at contact the hitting arm must be stiff-straight!
 

Rickson

G.O.A.T.
It has to be straight on contact and well before contact. This is one case where there really is only one way to do it.

Ever see Gaudio's backhand? If Gaston's arm isn't bent at contact, I'd hate to see what bent really is.
 

Mahboob Khan

Hall of Fame
In some unusual situations i.e. when the ball is quite close to the body and you cannot take an evade step provided you have a strong arm, the arm could be bent to some extent at contact. I can tell you because this happens with me also. But this is not the norm, or should I say this should not be a norm. We are talking about an ideal 1-handed BH and ideal one handed backhand is the one we described! Exceptions should be excepted NOT accepted!
 

35ft6

Legend
Contact on a one-handed backhand is with a straight arm, and I agree with a straight take back on the backswing.

If you bend your elbow on the backswing, you must straighten it before the forward stroke begins, or else you won’t be able to rotate the arm out, you will be forced to lead with the elbow and the racket head will never catch up in a controlled way.
Most pros have a bent arm on the take back. It doesn't really make the stroke that much more complicated, it keeps the arm looser, and it gives you much more racket head speed potential.
This leads me to another question. On a 1H BH slice is the arm straight or bent?
My arm is straight at contact on my slice BH. The racket and my arm form a "V", with the racket head above my hand at contact.
 

Mountain Ghost

Professional
Bent-Elbow Backswing on 1HBH

Most pros have a bent arm on the take back. It doesn't really make the stroke that much more complicated, it keeps the arm looser, and it gives you much more racket head speed potential.
Advising players to start with a bent elbow on a one-handed backhand is NOT effective during the early stages of development. Players should learn the stroke with the recognition that the forward motion starts when the arm is straight and the racket head is all the way back and down. If players don’t focus on finding that position from the beginning, they will have great difficulty in finding it if and when they do decide to bend the elbow during the backswing.

You say that with a bent elbow the arm can be “looser” and there is “much more racket head speed potential”. This is NOT a benefit to development. The one-handed backhand backswing and stroke must be very controlled, and a “loose” arm is the exact opposite of what is desired. There is a complex set of components involved that are, at least initially, much more important than power. If the elbow is encouraged to bend on the backswing, most (non-advanced) players will wind up starting the forward stroke from up high, which will result in downward headspeed that is difficult to redirect upward.

In your quote, you conveniently did not include the link to Jeff’s post, which includes a link to his hi-techtennis video of Max Mirnyi’s backhand:
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=1287100#post1287100

The video demonstrates how a bent arm backswing can be done well. But you will notice that the racket head is all the way back and down, and the arm is straight, BEFORE the forward stroke begins . . . easier said than done for most players on this forum.

Finally, do you actually TEACH this to developing players, or do you just watch and talk it?

MG
 
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Kevo

Legend
I would not advise anyone to try and straighten their arm and then hit a one handed backhand. The potential for arm injury is probably pretty high that way because the racquet has a lot of leverage against your arm. Most people are late when hitting a one hander and that is what I think leads to tennis elbow. My advice would be to encourage the straightening of the arm by making sure they hit way out in front rather than wait for the ball to reach their bodies. The arm naturally straightens itself when you hit far enough out in front. Also, I haven't notice any pro that starts with a straight arm. They all start with a bent elbow and the racquet up high. The straightening is a result of trying to accelerate the racquet and the low to high swing path. It's a natural thing that you should not concentrate on. Hit the ball well in front of your body, and you'll do fine.
 

Mountain Ghost

Professional
Laugh Out Loud

LOL . . . for a VERY long time!!!

Where in the world do you get all that? It is precisely because people have a bend in their elbow during the forward motion of a one-handed topspin backhand that they wind up leading with their elbow, which results in being late.

I certainly hope you didn’t pay money for the “lessons” that taught you what you are advocating.

MG
 

35ft6

Legend
Advising players to start with a bent elbow on a one-handed backhand is NOT effective during the early stages of development. Players should learn the stroke with the recognition that the forward motion starts when the arm is straight and the racket head is all the way back and down. If players don’t focus on finding that position from the beginning, they will have great difficulty in finding it if and when they do decide to bend the elbow during the backswing.

You say that with a bent elbow the arm can be “looser” and there is “much more racket head speed potential”. This is NOT a benefit to development. The one-handed backhand backswing and stroke must be very controlled, and a “loose” arm is the exact opposite of what is desired. There is a complex set of components involved that are, at least initially, much more important than power. If the elbow is encouraged to bend on the backswing, most (non-advanced) players will wind up starting the forward stroke from up high, which will result in downward headspeed that is difficult to redirect upward.
I fully endorse your right to teach the one-hander any way you'd like. I wasn't responding in the context of how to teach a total newbie.
In your quote, you conveniently did not include the link to Jeff’s post, which includes a link to his hi-techtennis video of Max Mirnyi’s backhand:
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=1287100#post1287100
That video shows the bent arm on the takeback/backswing I was talking about.
The video demonstrates how a bent arm backswing can be done well. But you will notice that the racket head is all the way back and down, and the arm is straight, BEFORE the forward stroke begins . . . easier said than done for most players on this forum.
Ugh. Yeah. I never said it should stay bent the whole time.
Finally, do you actually TEACH this to developing players, or do you just watch and talk it?

MG
Again, on the takeback, a bent, loose arm is good. Watch videos of any of the pros, when they start taking their racket back, their arms are always bent.
 
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35ft6

Legend
Also, I haven't notice any pro that starts with a straight arm. They all start with a bent elbow and the racquet up high. The straightening is a result of trying to accelerate the racquet and the low to high swing path. It's a natural thing that you should not concentrate on. Hit the ball well in front of your body, and you'll do fine.
True that. I keep my arm pretty straight on my one-handed backhand, and I think it limits me in many ways. When you start with a bend, the act of straightening out the arm during the forward swing adds more racket head speed. This guy I hit with starts with more of a bend, and I noticed he can stay down on the ball longer, and he can hit out more on low backhands, like knee level and lower.
 

35ft6

Legend
It has to be straight on contact and well before contact. This is one case where there really is only one way to do it.
Actually, although I agree, Pete Sampras would often hit his top spin backhand with a bent elbow. Yeah, sometimes it was straight, but sometimes it was bent. I've seen photos where it was VERY bent, but here are a few photos...
http://www.samprasfanz.com/gallery/2000/2000fo/L_0530_8.jpg
http://www.samprasfanz.com/gallery/2002/2002wtc/r103.jpg
http://www.samprasfanz.com/gallery/2002/2002ao3/r301.jpg
http://www.samprasfanz.com/gallery/1990/1993uso/S_93_01b.jpg
http://www.samprasfanz.com/gallery/2002/2002wtc/S_r103.jpg
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/1994/01/31/stpars310194.jpg

I once posted one where his arm was more bent than in any of these. Can't find it right now.
 

drakulie

Talk Tennis Guru
^^^ In every photo where contact is made, his arm for the most part is straight. Like someone else pointed out, you don't want to have it locked at contact.
 

Slazenger

Professional
Keep that arm straight
r70176_195032.jpg
heninbackhand.jpg
tennis_41710.jpg

50962204.jpg


Sampras did at times hit his backhand with a bent arm. Not the way you want to learn to hit a 1HBH though.
 

35ft6

Legend
Sampras did at times hit his backhand with a bent arm. Not the way you want to learn to hit a 1HBH though.
Hitting a top spin backhand with a bent arm and a continental grip... dude must have had the forearm strength of Bruce Lee.
 

Kevo

Legend
LOL . . . for a VERY long time!!!

Where in the world do you get all that? It is precisely because people have a bend in their elbow during the forward motion of a one-handed topspin backhand that they wind up leading with their elbow, which results in being late.

I certainly hope you didn’t pay money for the “lessons” that taught you what you are advocating.

MG

Well, I'm glad you got a kick out of my post. The backhand always starts with the elbow in the lead. The reason is because the arm bends that way. ;-)

Also what typically results in people being late at contact is not how their arm is bent. It's because they don't swing soon enough. They are waiting too long and want to hit the ball too close to their body. Anyway, I've got a very nice one hander but I don't proclaim to be the bearer of all truth. I only know what goes on in my own mind, and what people have told me when I ask them about certain things. From my experience trying to teach form and mechanics, people often aren't even doing what they think they are doing, and they're the ones pulling the strings.

My main point is that if you tell someone to straighten their arm and hit the 1HBH, they are likely to still hit late. Hitting late with your arm straight is a good way to get a sore elbow. Hitting late with your arm bent isn't good on your arm either, but at least the impact can dissipate more. With the arm straight, the muscles in your forearm and shoulder are at a mechanical disadvantage when the ball hits the racquet and at that point in the swing they are contracting trying to catch up to the ball. Either way late is bad, but it's harder to accelerate the frame away from your body simply straightening the arm and rotating it.

If you choose to laugh off my points, at least I've entertained you. Hopefully they will be of use to someone. ;)
 
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Trinity TC

Semi-Pro
I'm not sure but if Pete is like me...he can't straighten his arm completely. My arm only straightens out to 175 degrees plus or minus a few from years of serving and throwing. It doesn't hurt and I've never had tennis elbow. I've seen it a fair bit in hard throwing stick and ball athletes.
 

cam2

Rookie
I hit a good topspin 1 hander and my arm is almost always straight on takeback and contact because it is more consistant. It is actually easier to hit with lots of topspin with a straight takeback. Coaches and people I play always compliment my on my backhand too.

If I want to hit a hard backhand my arm is usually looser on the takeback.
 

chetrbox

Rookie
Backhand Elbow

Contact on a one-handed backhand is with a straight arm, and I agree with a straight take back on the backswing.

If you bend your elbow on the backswing, you must straighten it before the forward stroke begins, or else you won’t be able to rotate the arm out, you will be forced to lead with the elbow and the racket head will never catch up in a controlled way.

MG

Jeff put up a good example of a bent elbow backswing three weeks ago:
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=1287100#post1287100

I'm not allowed to post on the 'Talk Tennis Updates' subforum so i can't ask there, but it seems like a lot of links within the forum have been broken ever since the update. Does anyone have a working link to the thread by 'Jeff' Mountain Ghost is referring to?
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.

Dou

Semi-Pro
a relaxed arm will straighten due to centrifugal force.

there is nothing to 'keep straight', and there is no 'Bruce Lee' here either.... be careful with tennis elbow if you force anything.

for short people or them with E grips, it's easier to start with a straight arm because it's easier to hit high balls with that grip (at the expense of difficulty in digging up low balls).

for guys with a weak E/strong C/pure C grip, the wrist needs to flex to set up for a high ball, and it's more comfortable to start with a bent arm, but the centrifugal force will straighten it.

again, this is not something you need to think about.... the thumb action is the king, all the other body parts are the servants.
 
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