The 45 Degree Angle

DoubleHanded&LovinIt

Professional
I've been reading a lot about the 45 degree angle being the ideal contact point in tennis. It all seems to make sense, however, I'm having trouble incorporating it into my game. I know change takes time but I have specific questions about how one should set up to put themself at the 45 degree angle. Also, can the 45 degree angle be used on my one-handed backhand. Bungalo Bill, I'd really like to hear from you on this one since you've been really the only one on the board to talk about the 45 degree angle. Of course all insights are welcome. You guys are great.
 

lanky

Rookie
I have taken to using BB 45 deg angle concept and I think it is brilliant .I simply make sure my upper body is aligned at 45 deg to contact zone.Thats it.Result -no over rotation out of shot, head still focused on contact zone, contact zone in correct place for shot.I dont think about anything else and the shot just flows through.What stance I have becomes irrelevant, and in a match the less i have to think about my shot production the better.
 

travisv

New User
I understand the 45 degree angle of contact on the ground strokes but am confused on the racquet path on the serve. Would this mean the forward motion of the racquet is straight towards the ball then at contact racquet goes out at the 45 or does it always stay along the 45 degree path in the forward motion on the serve?
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
lanky said:
I have taken to using BB 45 deg angle concept and I think it is brilliant .I simply make sure my upper body is aligned at 45 deg to contact zone.Thats it.Result -no over rotation out of shot, head still focused on contact zone, contact zone in correct place for shot.I dont think about anything else and the shot just flows through.What stance I have becomes irrelevant, and in a match the less i have to think about my shot production the better.
Lanky,

You just described the easy of use of using the 45 degree angle to your benefit. If people can lcear there mind and just make contact with the ball while their body plane faces this angle, their strokes will be less complicated, more powerful, and more consistant. The trouble lies in the "WE WANT MORE" from our strokes meaning we got to force more. That is where we get into trouble.

I wish I could take credit for the 45 degree angle concept but this angle is mentioned in Scott Williams book "Serious Tennis" and is highly promoted by Jacky Broudy in Southern California who is one of those brainiac engineer types of tennis. He is also the maker of the 8-board which incorportates the use of the 8-board with the 45 degree angle.

In an article in Southern California Tennis, he described this 45 degree angle in not so easy to understand terms. A good freind of mine, who is still coaching and is one of the best juniors coaches (x-braden coach) in S. Cal, started to read the article and got lost in the maze of "mathmatical" terms and engineering concepts. I stuck with the article even though I had to reread paragraphs several times - even drawing it out on paper if I had to. What he said in the article made sense, so based on the film clips John Yandell sent me, I started to study this in terms of truth and practicality. I verfied Jack's findings over and over again.

So thanks for the kudos, I just take good information and teach it! I first verify that it is really happening before incorporating it in coaching tennis.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
travisv said:
I understand the 45 degree angle of contact on the ground strokes but am confused on the racquet path on the serve. Would this mean the forward motion of the racquet is straight towards the ball then at contact racquet goes out at the 45 or does it always stay along the 45 degree path in the forward motion on the serve?
Dont think about it on the serve. I dont believe it applies. You should just make sure you toss in the right spot and extend that arm. Keep your head up while you see the blur of your arm go by. That is good discipline for the serve.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
SingleHanded&LovinIt said:
I've been reading a lot about the 45 degree angle being the ideal contact point in tennis. It all seems to make sense, however, I'm having trouble incorporating it into my game. I know change takes time but I have specific questions about how one should set up to put themself at the 45 degree angle. Also, can the 45 degree angle be used on my one-handed backhand. Bungalo Bill, I'd really like to hear from you on this one since you've been really the only one on the board to talk about the 45 degree angle. Of course all insights are welcome. You guys are great.
All the stances can be used to face the 45 degree angle at contact. The 45 degree angle is useful for groundstrokes and volleys.

The 45 degree line starts in the middle of the net and goes out toward the side fence in a 45 degree angle.

When you make contact with the ball, you should try and have your shoulders facing or parallel to this line. The stance you use is up to you.

This is the controlled power zone that Mahboob talks about. Check out this clip:

http://www.uspta.com/html/e-lesson-Open stance forehand 1.swf

The stroke that has some wiggling room to go further then the 45 degree angle (allowing your shoulders to be more parallel with the net) is the forehand. I beleive this is from the use of the Western grips. But you can still use the 45 degree mark as a reference. In the clip above, is is clear at contact, Agassi's shoulders are at an angle to the baseline and are almost in line with the 45 degree angle. Head is still and the racquet goes through - POW. Result: Lots of power and lots of control.

This clip shows Haas shoulders more open from the 45 degree mark:

http://www.uspta.com/html/e-lesson-Open stance forehand 2.swf

The 45 degree angle is a MUST for the onehander! It is your Holy Grail! Check this clip out:

http://www.uspta.com/html/e-lesson-Backhand back view.swf

Study the contact point frame. Notice the baseline, then draw a line the shoulders are making. At contact where is Haas's body facing. It is at an angle to the baseline. Now imagine that 45 degree line extending from the net.

Study photo after photo and film after film and you will see this angle as the dominant contact angle. Mind you not every photo is like this with OPEN stances. If you practice hitting your balls when your shoulders are facing this angle and allow your arms to extend through - you will see what I mean by calling it the power zone.

Once you get it - then you can add a little "style" to it and defy it a little. Practice on slow balls and make sure you bend those knees so your hips can get into the shot as well.
 

vin

Professional
Bungalo Bill said:
The trouble lies in the "WE WANT MORE" from our strokes meaning we got to force more. That is where we get into trouble.
So true, the root of all my problems! :mad:

I didn't know the 45 degree angle was recommended for the one handed backhand. What makes it the 'holy grail'? I haven't put too much thought into this, but I thought on the one hander you were supposed to use your non dominant arm to prevent your torso from rotating further than perpendicular to the net for contact.
 

papa

Hall of Fame
Could it be that some are thinking their FEET should be at the 45 degree rather than the shoulders/body at contact? - especially on the backhand --- just guessing based on a couple of the comments.
 

papa

Hall of Fame
Could it be that some are thinking their FEET should be at the 45 degree rather than the shoulders/body at contact? - especially on the backhand --- just guessing based on a couple of the comments.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
vin said:
So true, the root of all my problems! :mad:

I didn't know the 45 degree angle was recommended for the one handed backhand. What makes it the 'holy grail'? I haven't put too much thought into this, but I thought on the one hander you were supposed to use your non dominant arm to prevent your torso from rotating further than perpendicular to the net for contact.
Holy Grail? Meaning it is perhaps the best body position that syncronizes control and power. It is one of the best contact points for your racquet that allows the arm to swing through the ball (linearly) while maintain control of the body.

It is perhaps the best contact point to help you either send the ball down the line or crosscourt.

It is the perfect angle to allow you to hit the ball IN FRONT OF YOU. Take a close look at the contact freeze frame and conduct your reasoning on the direction Haas is facing, where is the ball is in relation to the width of his shoulders, etc...

Watch Haas's shoulders on the backswing, they rotate further away from the 45 degree angle which allows him to get some rotation INTO the 45 degree angle for his onehander. He is still in control with his non-dominant arm by his side. That is good shoulder rotation back and forward for the onehander. The onehanded backhand DOES have rotation but it is not as much as the twohander.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
This is perhaps the best example of the 45 degree angle on this clip. Watch Hewitt and stop it at the contact point. Study this like crazy. Look at the ball, look at his shoulders, it is as if you are on the 45 degree angle and he is lookiing right at you. Now for the twohander, he can hit further back but his shoulders are on that angle and look at his face! He can see you! lol

http://www.uspta.com/html/e-lesson-twohand backhand.swf

Oh, you dont believe me?

How about this clip. Check out Gugas backswing shoulder rotation. He goes way away from the contact mark of 45 degrees for extra pop from his rotation coming forward into the 45 degree angle. It is why he can smack the ball.

I think I would pull a muscle with his backswing...

http://www.uspta.com/html/e-lesson-xcourt backhand.swf

It kind of looks like he pushes his chest into the 45 degree direction just after contact. Man, can he send that ball...I also love how strong his wrist position is even after the ball is gone and well into recovery. Check that out too, follow his firm wrist position and grip.

Simply beautiful...
 

vin

Professional
Bungalo Bill said:
Watch Haas's shoulders on the backswing, they rotate further away from the 45 degree angle which allows him to get some rotation INTO the 45 degree angle for his onehander. He is still in control with his non-dominant arm by his side. That is good shoulder rotation back and forward for the onehander. The onehanded backhand DOES have rotation but it is not as much as the twohander.
Thank you. So does this imply that some hip rotation would be a benefit to the one hander? If I correctly remember what I've read by Broudy on the 45 degree angle, it was usually the hips he used as a reference for the angle. I would think having your hips at 45 would imply some hip rotation.

I'm just curious because I tend to naturally use my hips with my one hander and was wondering if it was potentially a bad thing.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
vin said:
Thank you. So does this imply that some hip rotation would be a benefit to the one hander? If I correctly remember what I've read by Broudy on the 45 degree angle, it was usually the hips he used as a reference for the angle. I would think having your hips at 45 would imply some hip rotation.

I'm just curious because I tend to naturally use my hips with my one hander and was wondering if it was potentially a bad thing.
In nutshell, yes. but it is not the same hip rotation as the twohander which needs to bring the back arm more forward.

The onehander needs its rotation from the backswing more then the front swing. It is why you hear coaches say "we should read your name on your back" "or I should be able to see your backshoulder from the other side of the court". :)

It is so you can have some rotation into the ball while maintaining your lateral of 45 degree position.

If you watch closely, pros will hustle to get into position so they can make clean contact and mostly from this hitting position whether they do it consciously or sub-consciously.
 

JohnYandell

Hall of Fame
45 degrees OR???

Some thoughts here. I'll leave the backhand for later, but on the forehand, there is pretty much a direct corelation in the high speed footage between grip style and torso angle at contact.
BUT the contact angle is part of a larger picture of total torso rotation. It needs to be viewed in that context.
From the completion of the pro turn with the left arm stretched across the body the classic grip guys--Sampras and Henman for example--will rotate about 90 degrees or a little more FORWARD thru the hit--shoulders go from square with the net to parallel with the net. It varies with the ball and situation, but roughly.
The extreme guys like Roddick will start forward from the same pro turn position but rotate up to 180 degrees. Agassi is somewhere in between.
The contact is in the MIDDLE (again roughly) of the rotational pattern--not at some fixed magic angle.
So our friend Jack Broudy is partially correct, but not for his dream example Agassi or the majority of pro players for that matter--the magic 45 is definitely not correct for the extreme forehand.
I think personally that if the turn and the finish are good, the rotation angle will happen automatically--and you can do yourself some damage trying to hold it back if you have a more extreme grip.
Federer breaks the mold though. He combines a conservative grip with extreme rotation. More on that later...
 

papa

Hall of Fame
JohnYandell said:
Some thoughts here. I'll leave the backhand for later, but on the forehand, there is pretty much a direct corelation in the high speed footage between grip style and torso angle at contact.
BUT the contact angle is part of a larger picture of total torso rotation. It needs to be viewed in that context.
From the completion of the pro turn with the left arm stretched across the body the classic grip guys--Sampras and Henman for example--will rotate about 90 degrees or a little more FORWARD thru the hit--shoulders go from square with the net to parallel with the net. It varies with the ball and situation, but roughly.
The extreme guys like Roddick will start forward from the same pro turn position but rotate up to 180 degrees. Agassi is somewhere in between.
The contact is in the MIDDLE (again roughly) of the rotational pattern--not at some fixed magic angle.
So our friend Jack Broudy is partially correct, but not for his dream example Agassi or the majority of pro players for that matter--the magic 45 is definitely not correct for the extreme forehand.
I think personally that if the turn and the finish are good, the rotation angle will happen automatically--and you can do yourself some damage trying to hold it back if you have a more extreme grip.
Federer breaks the mold though. He combines a conservative grip with extreme rotation. More on that later...
Good stuff but isn't the angle, give or take a few degrees, around 45 degrees?? Realize there are exceptions (stokes and folks) but it seems that for the majority, this angle for the shoulders/hips (to net) seems about right to achieve maximum power/control. However, I don't care that much for the extreme grips although they are fun to play around with.
 

JohnYandell

Hall of Fame
More on the 45

Good question--I guess I left out the key point. The contact is in the middle of the rotation. So it is 45 degress or so for a classic grip--leaving Big Roger out of it for the time being.
BUT for the extreme grips--Roddick, Hewitt, Guga--the shoulders are 90 degrees or parallel to the net at contact--and then perpendicular again at the finish. Agassi is about 60 degrees on average.
So that would be considered "too open" according to the 45 theory. In reality it's correct for the technical pattern of the more western players. You can in many cases draw a direct line from degree of grip to angle of shoulders at contact.
 

Bungalo Bill

G.O.A.T.
Yes, as John highlighted the Western grips (forehand) tend to have square shoulders because of the necessaity to hit more in front of you (parallel wise).

The SW grip is a versatile grip and I use this grip in the 45 degree angle and also with my shoulders a little more open (parallel to the net). All other strokes like volleys and backhands will be more or less on that 45 degree angle. On the forehand volley my shoulders can be a little more open as well.
 
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