Opinions on Forehand Swing Path for Junior Girls

Thanks in advance for all that take their time to respond.

I just wanted to get some opinions on the swing path for forehand groundstrokes for junior girls.

In your opinion and why-- should jr. girls try to keep there racquet on the same side of there body? Or do you believe it's okay and why if they take a larger backswing where the racquet breaks the plane and comes behind there body?

Advantages and Disadvantages to each would be nice to hear. For coaches and parents out there, what take back do you teach or recommend.
 
Oh, advantages of having a bigger swing - more power, that's about it ,disadvantages - far less control, not very efficient and harder to time, can be harder to generate spin

Advantages of a swing that stays on the same side of the body - more efficient, and basically the opposites of the above
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
The thing is almost every WTA player does it. Heck, checked out Ernest Glubis' forehand?

There was a thread a couple of months ago talking about the differences between a WTA and a ATP forehand. Might want to check it out. Also, a guy like Ash might have some insightful comments because he has coached top level women I believe, but he's a pretty high level player himself. I always appreciate hearing his thoughts.
 
The thing is almost every WTA player does it. Heck, checked out Ernest Glubis' forehand?

There was a thread a couple of months ago talking about the differences between a WTA and a ATP forehand. Might want to check it out. Also, a guy like Ash might have some insightful comments because he has coached top level women I believe, but he's a pretty high level player himself. I always appreciate hearing his thoughts.
Thanks ill look for that thread. Hopefully Ash will post some insight on this threads. Thanks
 

Ash_Smith

Legend
Crikey - it's like the thread title lead me in and then I see my name!

I have an intense dislike of the WTA drive position, where the butt-cap ends up pointing at the side fence as opposed to roughly towards the court and the racquet crosses the plane of the body at the back.

As you can see from the example below, it is basically caused by the grip and wrist position...





and the continuation of the external rotation (women generally have greater anterior shoulder joint laxity than men).

It is harder to time, requires more physical effort to create racquet head speed and often leads to a flatter hit as it is harder to get under the ball from this more extreme position. Basically, despite it being more common on the WTA than not, t is not ideal and when working with junior girls I would look to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Cheers
 

Cheetah

Hall of Fame
I'm rather confused with your explaination, all I can see is that the female is in a neutral stance which is causing the racket to come further back?
nadal's racquet stays on the left side of his body. maria's is behind her back.
nadal's wrist is relaxed and in a neutral position in prep for stretch shortening of flexors in the arm and shoulders and probably chest also.
nadal's left leg is loaded with his weight in prep to utilize ground forces where the power will travel from the ground through his legs, hips, torso, shoulders and arms in a sequential matter using angular momentum if you will.

maria's setup is limiting with her neutral stance, locked wrist and linear transfer giving less rhs and less spin.
her racquet has to come from behind the body then around and into the ball.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
Crikey - it's like the thread title lead me in and then I see my name!

I have an intense dislike of the WTA drive position, where the butt-cap ends up pointing at the side fence as opposed to roughly towards the court and the racquet crosses the plane of the body at the back.

As you can see from the example below, it is basically caused by the grip and wrist position...





and the continuation of the external rotation (women generally have greater anterior shoulder joint laxity than men).

It is harder to time, requires more physical effort to create racquet head speed and often leads to a flatter hit as it is harder to get under the ball from this more extreme position. Basically, despite it being more common on the WTA than not, t is not ideal and when working with junior girls I would look to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Cheers
Always glad to drag you into a conversation :)

This issue is near and dear to my heart because I've been dealing with it with respect to my own forehand. Even though I've been hitting a modern forehand for over two years now, I still have a tendency to take the racquet back too far in my set-up. The specific problem it causes me is to decrease the amount of topspin in my shots. The balls land about a foot or two out. I'm always telling myself to keep the racquet in front, down, pointing at the side fence during set-up. When I do this life can be very good - or at least my forehand.
 
Crikey - it's like the thread title lead me in and then I see my name!

I have an intense dislike of the WTA drive position, where the butt-cap ends up pointing at the side fence as opposed to roughly towards the court and the racquet crosses the plane of the body at the back.

As you can see from the example below, it is basically caused by the grip and wrist position...





and the continuation of the external rotation (women generally have greater anterior shoulder joint laxity than men).

It is harder to time, requires more physical effort to create racquet head speed and often leads to a flatter hit as it is harder to get under the ball from this more extreme position. Basically, despite it being more common on the WTA than not, t is not ideal and when working with junior girls I would look to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Cheers
Thanks for visual and explanation. Any drills out there you recommend for trying to get girls to move towards hitting on same side of body if they are already breaking the plane?
 

TTMR

Hall of Fame
Crikey - it's like the thread title lead me in and then I see my name!

I have an intense dislike of the WTA drive position, where the butt-cap ends up pointing at the side fence as opposed to roughly towards the court and the racquet crosses the plane of the body at the back.

As you can see from the example below, it is basically caused by the grip and wrist position...





and the continuation of the external rotation (women generally have greater anterior shoulder joint laxity than men).

It is harder to time, requires more physical effort to create racquet head speed and often leads to a flatter hit as it is harder to get under the ball from this more extreme position. Basically, despite it being more common on the WTA than not, t is not ideal and when working with junior girls I would look to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Cheers
So your contention is that (most) WTA players have a fundamentally inferior stroke and should not be emulated even by other women/girls? lI wonder why the male coaches of these WTA players that they've generally had most of their lives don't modify their purportedly flawed technique.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
So your contention is that (most) WTA players have a fundamentally inferior stroke and should not be emulated even by other women/girls? lI wonder why the male coaches of these WTA players that they've generally had most of their lives don't modify their purportedly flawed technique.
Lots of male coaches on this forum (and some have mentioned coaches who do not post here and do this, including the one who forbade his student from watching WTA matches) go around talking trash about the WTA. The common theme is that these coaches have never played pro tennis and you will never see them on TV with their wards in a pro tournament.
 

luvforty

Banned
I agree with suresh on this one.... girls have quite different ways of generating power.. it's impossible to fully understand unless you are in a female body.

I have worked with several girls, they do swing differently

imo it's a legit swing as long as the arm doesn't go behind the shoulder line.

edit - girls are more flexible than boys, perhaps that's why they need such extended take back to feel the stretch.
 
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barringer97

Semi-Pro
Great thread! My daughter does this and I can't get her to keep the racket on the side of her body. It drives me nuts!!! But maybe it's just because its the way it is...
 
T

TCF

Guest
Great thread! My daughter does this and I can't get her to keep the racket on the side of her body. It drives me nuts!!! But maybe it's just because its the way it is...
Yup, it is what it is. We have a group of kids that train together between the ages of 7-12. The girls, some of who can beat the boys, have further take backs than the boys.

I never bought into the old 'throws like a girl idea'. We have girls who have been taught to throw properly and can throw as far or even farther than the boys. So some stereotypes can be broken.

But for whatever reason, even when trained the same exact way, the girl's take backs are further back than the boy's.
 

barringer97

Semi-Pro
Yup, it is what it is. We have a group of kids that train together between the ages of 7-12. The girls, some of who can beat the boys, have further take backs than the boys.

I never bought into the old 'throws like a girl idea'. We have girls who have been taught to throw properly and can throw as far or even farther than the boys. So some stereotypes can be broken.

But for whatever reason, even when trained the same exact way, the girl's take backs are further back than the boy's.
Do you try and break it or do you just work with it?
 
T

TCF

Guest
Do you try and break it or do you just work with it?
I have tried both. I think its a compromise. Some of the girls have ridiculous take backs which actually interfere with their accuracy and timing. As they get older and the balls come faster, they need to shorten them up.
 

Wes_Loves_Dunlop

Professional
Could it possibly be because of strength? ATP pros can arguably swing much faster with a shorter backswing than WTA pros can and maybe they need a longer takeback to compensate?
 
Yes, but if you look at some of the best woman tennis players of the last 20 years e.g henin, clijsters and serena Williams they don't over rotate like a lot of the WTA do. I do think it's a strength issue but I would try and coach to keep the forehand or backhand on the same side of the body
 

Wes_Loves_Dunlop

Professional
Well yes, ideally the women's strokes should emulate that of the men pros, but since all the pros start at a young age, and girls tend to be weaker than boys, this might be an unsolvable issue since the technique is set in stone unless they're willing to relearn the stroke when they reach their teens
 

luvforty

Banned
ideally?

inject the ATP pros with some astrogen let them grow some milk glands and weaken their muscle mass, they will all start swinging like sharapova.

what wins is what's ideal. survival of the fittest.
 
T

TCF

Guest
It does seem logical that strength comes into play. But the strange thing is if you take a 6 year old boy and girl, train them side by side, starting off with small and light racquets, the girl most times will take the racquet back farther than the boy.

This girl at ages 6-8 may be just as fast or faster than the boy in a spider drill, throw a ball just as far or farther, may even be a little bigger and a little stronger as girls mature faster....yet she will still in most cases take the racquet back farther.
 
I have tried both. I think its a compromise. Some of the girls have ridiculous take backs which actually interfere with their accuracy and timing. As they get older and the balls come faster, they need to shorten them up.
Hey TCF, good to see on the board :)

So, would you recommend trying to start them hitting forehand on the right side of the body? Thanks
 

Ash_Smith

Legend
I have tried both. I think its a compromise. Some of the girls have ridiculous take backs which actually interfere with their accuracy and timing. As they get older and the balls come faster, they need to shorten them up.
I think this is the key - you aim for what you feel is 'right', which for me means keeping the racquet in line with the ball as long as possible, and then you adapt if you have to. Easier to start shorter and lengthen than the other way around as TCF outlines above.

Wil also be interesting to monitor how u10s tennis (mini-tennis, quick start, play+stay etc) affects or changes this situation - if girls are coming through systems where the ball and court adapt to their size do they no longer need to generate longer swings?

Cheers
 

Ash_Smith

Legend
So your contention is that (most) WTA players have a fundamentally inferior stroke and should not be emulated even by other women/girls? lI wonder why the male coaches of these WTA players that they've generally had most of their lives don't modify their purportedly flawed technique.
My contention is that those who break line of the body at the back of their swing have a fundamental flaw, which could be detrimental to their potential.

As for the coaches, they do - I have spoken to and worked with WTA tour coaches who have recognised this issue in some of their players and tried to rectify it where they feel it has become a timing issue. You also have to remember that when it comes to coaching on tour, most of the players have had their tour coaches long after their developmental phase of learning, which makes changing anything extremely difficult. Very few players have had the same coach from first ball to tour (excepting those with parent-coaches probably).

Cheers
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
There was a coach who used to post here who got banned who was always ridiculing WTA forehands and injecting comments like "I never teach WTA forehands to my students" all over the threads. One day he revealed who his student was: a 70 year old man who was trying to learn topspin. LOL.
 
T

TCF

Guest
Hey TCF, good to see on the board :)

So, would you recommend trying to start them hitting forehand on the right side of the body? Thanks
Hi coach. I think Ash said it well. We do try to work with them on shortening the swing.

Fun experiment, find a boy and a girl who are not tennis players and ask them to "hit the ball as hard as you can". The boy will usually get the racquet near the ball and then accelerate like a mad man, the ball will fly straight and over the fence like a home run in baseball....the girl will usually take the most giant wind up you have ever seen and hit the ball hard, but lower and to the right.
 

WildVolley

Legend
Soderling, Gulbis, Del Potro - all have big backswings. It takes a Del Potro to take Nadal to 3 sets.
This is highly misleading. Del Potro's backswing is very different than either Soderling or Gulbis's. And Soderling and Gulbis also have quite different swings.

In no way does Del Potro hit a WTA-type forehand. Del Potro doesn't come close to breaking the line of the body the way that Soderling does. Here's a video of Del Potro hitting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY6o5m3jRfs

Gulbis has been changing his forehand, but his old fh takeback didn't go behind his shoulder line either. I'm not so certain about his new fh, which looks a lot different.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5jCQ81qkKY
 

doctor dennis

Semi-Pro
I think this is the key - you aim for what you feel is 'right', which for me means keeping the racquet in line with the ball as long as possible, and then you adapt if you have to. Easier to start shorter and lengthen than the other way around as TCF outlines above.

Wil also be interesting to monitor how u10s tennis (mini-tennis, quick start, play+stay etc) affects or changes this situation - if girls are coming through systems where the ball and court adapt to their size do they no longer need to generate longer swings?

Cheers
Very interesting that you mention mini tennis.
My daughter is currently on mini orange. Her coach has shortened her swing. She had a very long take back and started the acceleration phase way too early. She now has a more compact stroke than before but its still longer than most of the boys. From my observations, all the girls in the squad swing bigger than boys even though they have been taught the same thing by the same coaches.
 

luvforty

Banned
2 of the girls i work with -

1 takes the club back further than John Daly, but hits the ball a long way;
1 does a chicken wing flap when she starts her down swing;

both are tournament winners.

other coaches tried to change such features and drove the girls nuts.

i told them just stay with whats natural, but told them to correct real flaws such as body/arm separation.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
This is highly misleading. Del Potro's backswing is very different than either Soderling or Gulbis's. And Soderling and Gulbis also have quite different swings.

In no way does Del Potro hit a WTA-type forehand. Del Potro doesn't come close to breaking the line of the body the way that Soderling does. Here's a video of Del Potro hitting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY6o5m3jRfs

Gulbis has been changing his forehand, but his old fh takeback didn't go behind his shoulder line either. I'm not so certain about his new fh, which looks a lot different.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5jCQ81qkKY
Point is, Gulbis and Soderling are both men.

What kind of FH does James Blake hit?
 

WildVolley

Legend
Point is, Gulbis and Soderling are both men.

What kind of FH does James Blake hit?
There's no doubt that Soderling has a WTA-style takeback, but James Blake definitely doesn't. Here's the famous clip of him describing his fh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kluhYnSlGZU

Even Gulbis's new fh does not have a WTA-style takeback. Here's the best video I could find of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmixYOD5q04

I don't see why you are so desperate to deny that there really does tend to be a difference in the way most top WTA-players take the racket back behind their shoulders when hitting the fh while most top men (Soderling the most famous exception) don't? :confused:
 

TTMR

Hall of Fame
There's no doubt that Soderling has a WTA-style takeback, but James Blake definitely doesn't. Here's the famous clip of him describing his fh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kluhYnSlGZU

Even Gulbis's new fh does not have a WTA-style takeback. Here's the best video I could find of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmixYOD5q04

I don't see why you are so desperate to deny that there really does tend to be a difference in the way most top WTA-players take the racket back behind their shoulders when hitting the fh while most top men (Soderling the most famous exception) don't? :confused:
Nobody denies that men tend to have shorter swings. What we are denying is the notion that "bigger backswing = crappier forehand". There's little evidence to support the idea that the women's style is problematic, let alone solely due to the length of the swing, and absolutely no evidence to conclude that junior girls would be better off emulating likely tougher to execute ATP strokes than those of the WTA. One of the coaches in question did a side by side of Nadal and Sharapova. I think it is safe to say that Nadal's forehand is probably one of the most difficult to replicate and could create enormous problems if done incorrectly. I'd argue that, in general, non-professionals are likely better off imitating Sharapova.

Perhaps women professionals play this way for a reason, and not simply because "oh they started young with big swings and nobody ever corrected them", and perhaps they are superior players due to this non-interference. We don't know how many players, male and female, may have been ruined because their coach thought they weren't hitting enough like Federer or Nadal. After all, many post here about how one should only teach the so-called "straight arm/pull" forehand of Federer and Nadal, and that "double bend/push" forehands of Djokovic, Roddick, Tsonga and the majority of the field are fundamentally limiting in power and topspin, and therefore should be avoided by students.

There's a testosterone-laden consensus here that "real men" only hit compact, pronated strokes with a straight arm, and that any other approach is both effiminate and inferior. There are threads where male players have posted videos and have been greeted with ridicule (by coaches, no less) for "hitting like a girl". I guess even junior girls shouldn't try to hit like (the best) women.
 

JohnYandell

Hall of Fame
This is a fascinating topic. Personally I wouldn't want to have exchange forehands with either Serena or Maria and there is no doubt that most women go further back. Or that Robin Soderling went further back as well and had (hopefully has...) an absolute canon. So it's not like you can't hit a forehand without an ATP backswing.

The question is whether there is any fundamental advantage in the more compact ATP style forehand and if so could this benefit everyone in the pro game--and what about other levels?

Brian Gordon's 3D research has demonstrated that certain backswing shapes associated with the ATP forehand, with Federer being the purest example, have two advantages--less motion and more racket head speed. This is through the action of stretch shorten cycles in the shoulder muscles.

Brian has been working with Rick Macci for about 2 years and they are now teaching this forehand to players of both sexes of all ages and levels and reporting fantastic results.

Other coaches I know have however questioned the effectiveness with female players and not seen clear benefits, thinking the larger swing is necessary--but then I have not seen them actually work with players the way I have Brian and Rick. Myself I felt the advantage immediately and used the techniques to good effect with a couple of high school girls' players who had struggled with this issue.

Having said that, it's not quite as simple as saying "keep the racket on the right side". There is a precise, outside move of the racket and arm coming out of the top of the loop that sets this up, with the racket head above the wrist, and the racket head somewhat tilted down (partial dog pat).

From this position the stretch shorten cycle is activated in a move called the flip in which the hitting and racket rotate backwards and back to the inside to a position Brian calls the dymanic slot. The phenomenon is real and I suggest that you guys try it for yourselves. It may or may not be the best solution for everyone--but it is distinct and worthy of understanding and experimentation.
 
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sureshs

Bionic Poster
There's no doubt that Soderling has a WTA-style takeback, but James Blake definitely doesn't. Here's the famous clip of him describing his fh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kluhYnSlGZU

Even Gulbis's new fh does not have a WTA-style takeback. Here's the best video I could find of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmixYOD5q04

I don't see why you are so desperate to deny that there really does tend to be a difference in the way most top WTA-players take the racket back behind their shoulders when hitting the fh while most top men (Soderling the most famous exception) don't? :confused:
Where is this happening?

 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Nobody denies that men tend to have shorter swings. What we are denying is the notion that "bigger backswing = crappier forehand". There's little evidence to support the idea that the women's style is problematic, let alone solely due to the length of the swing, and absolutely no evidence to conclude that junior girls would be better off emulating likely tougher to execute ATP strokes than those of the WTA. One of the coaches in question did a side by side of Nadal and Sharapova. I think it is safe to say that Nadal's forehand is probably one of the most difficult to replicate and could create enormous problems if done incorrectly. I'd argue that, in general, non-professionals are likely better off imitating Sharapova.

Perhaps women professionals play this way for a reason, and not simply because "oh they started young with big swings and nobody ever corrected them", and perhaps they are superior players due to this non-interference. We don't know how many players, male and female, may have been ruined because their coach thought they weren't hitting enough like Federer or Nadal. After all, many post here about how one should only teach the so-called "straight arm/pull" forehand of Federer and Nadal, and that "double bend/push" forehands of Djokovic, Roddick, Tsonga and the majority of the field are fundamentally limiting in power and topspin, and therefore should be avoided by students.

There's a testosterone-laden consensus here that "real men" only hit compact, pronated strokes with a straight arm, and that any other approach is both effiminate and inferior. There are threads where male players have posted videos and have been greeted with ridicule (by coaches, no less) for "hitting like a girl". I guess even junior girls shouldn't try to hit like (the best) women.
The real issue is the condescending way in which it is said, and the implication that the women and their coaches don't know what they are doing, but the posters do.
 
Really appreciate the debate going on with this thread.

My initial hope was to find out what others thought of the two types of swing paths. My 13 year old swings with a larger backswing and has a good forehand, but lacks that consistency and accuracy that my 9 year old has, she hits on same side
 
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sureshs

Bionic Poster
Now you are either 1) trolling, or 2) being obstinately stupid.:evil:

Henin is known to hit an ATP-style forehand. We are discussing tendencies, not absolute rules. Most top men do not take the racket behind the shoulder line when hitting most fhs. Most top WTA women do. There are exceptions in both cases. For instance, Stosur also is known to hit an ATP-takeback forehand.

Stop trolling and contribute to the discussion.
Racket not behind shoulder line, even in sideways stance.

 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
It probably has something to do with the upper body weight distribution, if you know what I mean. I am not kidding.
 
T

TCF

Guest
TenniscoachIN....please pull that video link. The new rules forbid any mention of one specific junior and/or videos of minors. Posts and threads will get pulled and this is a good one.

John Yandell....GREAT post. I just worked with a girl an hour ago on that very stroke. This was her 3rd day working with a more compact take back, elbow back first, and the results are amazing. I am not saying a great forehand can not have a large take back....but this girl was extreme, it was hurting her timing, and the improvement now is excellent.
 
TenniscoachIN....please pull that video link. The new rules forbid any mention of one specific junior and/or videos of minors. Posts and threads will get pulled and this is a good one.

John Yandell....GREAT post. I just worked with a girl an hour ago on that very stroke. This was her 3rd day working with a more compact take back, elbow back first, and the results are amazing. I am not saying a great forehand can not have a large take back....but this girl was extreme, it was hurting her timing, and the improvement now is excellent.
Gotcha...sorry didn't know that
 

arche3

Banned
2 of the girls i work with -

1 takes the club back further than John Daly, but hits the ball a long way;
1 does a chicken wing flap when she starts her down swing;

both are tournament winners.

other coaches tried to change such features and drove the girls nuts.

i told them just stay with whats natural, but told them to correct real flaws such as body/arm separation.
Wait.... Your coaching people the old dog technique?
 
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