What is the reason behind having: A closed racquet face on the backswing

flex

Rookie
First to make sure terminology is correct.
By 'closed racquet face' I mean the racquet strings are facing the ground

1 min 25 sec mark here of Fognini forehand

Almost all the youtube teachers advises this and I can see this myself in the slow-mo videos...but can someone explain the reasoning behind this?

To be clear, I know it's not something high level players think about. But for breaking it down, what is the logic of having the racquet string face the ground during the backswing? Is it just biomechanically natural for the semi-western grip? Also, for reference so we can isolate more variables, let's stick with the semi-western grip forehand.
 

eah123

Rookie
It's biomechanics. Allowing wrist extension in the forward swing ("racquet flip") and inducing forearm muscle stretch-shortening reflex, resulting in greater racquet-head speed.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Impossible to maintain a perpendicular face through backswing so might as well close it so you can reference off it during forward swing.
 

AnyPUG

Professional
Great explanation of the HOW (very good actually)
but... it does not explain the WHY
It does explain WHY (at least to my mind) - he says (and also shows) closing the racket face makes it possible to square up to the ball with the least amount of tension in the the arm and hand. If you still don't get it, I suspect you have a trouble understanding the meaning of "squaring up to the ball". Squaring up to the ball is essentially making the cleanest and the maximum possible contact with the ball.
 
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Power Player

Talk Tennis Guru
If you like to hit clean shots, it makes a lot of sense.

Some of this stuff can be figured out just by trial and error while hitting balls.
 
Great explanation of the HOW (very good actually)
but... it does not explain the WHY
You are 100% correct, he does not explain why. AnyPUG telling you it helps square you to the ball isn’t correct. There would be an exact amount of facing the racquet down to get you to square, if that what was happening. Everyone that swings a racquet toward a ball has to accomplish this “squaring up” each time they hit. It doesn’t happen just because of the stroke design. You hit some balls at knee height, some at shoulder, some reaching wide. Each shot requires you to be cognizant of squaring. The dude in the vid, despite his former ATP rank also has a video saying the reason you jump on the serve is to get maximum height. If you hit the ball before max height you have performed it incorrectly. Can’t believe everything you read, including this. Try everything for yourself. Experience is the best teacher.
 

Mountain Ghost

Professional
On a WTA forehand backswing ... which every beginner should start with ... (just as Djokovic did as a child) ... the racquet face is pretty much vertical throughout ... and the elbow is pointed down and relatively close to the side. This contributes to racquet face consistency ... but there is very little "whip" action involved.

On an ATP forehand backswing ... the elbow leads on the way back ... changes directions at the back ... and is pointed down (with a vertical racquet face) only from Racquet-Back Position to Contact. As the elbow leads on the way back ... the racquet face is naturally more horizontal (facing down) ... but a powerful "whip" leverage is added TO the linear and rotational (angular) momentums available on the "basic" forward portion of the stroke.

~ MG
 

RobS

Rookie
I think it's just natural for a lot of players based on their grip and their elbow position in the takeback. As far as youtube teachers are concerned, much of that instruction is taken from breaking down the top players. Hard to go wrong if your teaching a forehand that looks like Federer. With that being said, there are some pretty good players that are closer to perpendicular than parallel to the ground with their racquet face on the takeback including Delpo, Tsitsipas and Rublev. For maximum efficiency and consistency of motion you'd be be better off not having to change the angle of your racquet face so much from your takeback to your impact position but that's clearly not natural for many of the best players.
 

AnyPUG

Professional
Try everything for yourself. Experience is the best teacher.
Reinventing the wheel has limitations, it's smart and efficient to learn from experience of others.
If what an expert says does not make sense, it's pretty much because the audience is not ready to receive the expertise. The audience is missing the necessary prerequisites to understand.
 
It is because the supination ("flip") opens the racket face, so if you want to do that flip you need to start closed to achieve a vertical or close to vertical face in the forward swing

 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
With Roger Federer as a possible exception, players with Eastern Fh grips will tend to have the racket face somewhat less closed than those with W or SW grips.

Loading (and subsequent release) of the shoulder, forearm & wrist will account for a closed racket face prior to the forward swing and for the early part of the forward swing. Biomechanics as mentioned before.

BTW, the OP video claims that the racket face is perfectly perpendicular to the court surface at contact. Very close but not "perfectly" true. The racket face can be perpendicular or very slightly closed at impact for TS shots. And for TS lobs, face can even be somewhat open.
 

Curious

Legend
It is because the supination ("flip") opens the racket face, so if you want to do that flip you need to start closed to achieve a vertical or close to vertical face in the forward swing

Interestingly enough, the more closed the racket face on take back (more pronated) the more supination hence more opening of racket face you will get when you start swinging forward !:)
Less open/on edge racket drop like Del Po and you’ll get less supination but more wrist extension.


 
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Fxanimator1

Hall of Fame
If you like to hit clean shots, it makes a lot of sense.

Some of this stuff can be figured out just by trial and error while hitting balls.
This is hilarious. I read what you wrote and saw that avatar next to it. My first thought was, “How the hell would you even know that?”
Then I quickly realized, your avatar isn’t you. :-D
 

RajS

Semi-Pro
IMO, a closed take back forces you to swing up to open the racket face to the desired orientation during contact. Thus you should get a lot more topspin if your take back is closed. Also seems to be more conducive to good ESR with a semi-western grip which I use, and I have felt the difference in power when I don't close the face on the take back. So for me it works great!
 

smalahove

Hall of Fame
The focus should not be on the racket face being "open" or "closed" relative to the ground, because that makes no sense in itself as it depends on the swing type of the player, and which point in the swing you are referring to.

The main focus is: starting with the same wrist extension you have (or should have) on impact, throughout the swing. A lot of players change their wrist flexion/extension throughout the backswing and going into impact. If you f.inst. extend going back, you will need to flex going forward and that requires a lot when it comes to timing. The only wrist movement should be ulnar/radial deviation.

Now, if you start with the correct (for you) wrist extension, and keep it throughout the swing, and you perform a correct unit turn by rotating the upper body with minimal arm movement, the racket face will be (more or less) closed relative to the ground. (If you play with a continental grip, hit the ball flat at impact with a neutral wrist, chances are you are not going to be able to close the racket face compared to the ground, with a correct unit turn and/or unnatural movement).



Look at how stable the wrist is, with regard to extension/flexion from start to impact.
Novak sets his wrist early (extension), and keeps that position stable until after contact where the wrist gets back (flexes) into more or less the neutral position.
However, a lot of players keep the exact same position (extension) throughout the whole swing, i.e. even after impact.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Yep, Federer is one of them!
Not sure exactly what you guys are saying but, I believe that Roger's wrist is fairly neutral on his backswing. However, he passively achieves a considerable amount of wrist extension at the start of his forward swing (not on his backswing).
 

Curious

Legend
Not sure exactly what you guys are saying but, I believe that Roger's wrist is fairly neutral on his backswing. However, he passively achieves a considerable amount of wrist extension at the start of his forward swing (not on his backswing).
Yes, Federer changes wrist position. But Halep is a good example of keeping the wrist angle constant throughout the stroke.


 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Yes, Federer changes wrist position. But Halep is a good example of keeping the wrist angle constant throughout the stroke.


Yeah, Simona does not appear to actively flip her wrist back on the backswing as some WTA players do. It appears to be pre-bent, for the most part, even before she starts her UT. It changes very little, if at all, during her stroke. But her wrist does look to be fairly neutral well after the ball has left her strings.
 

Fintft

Legend

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
You are 100% correct, he does not explain why. AnyPUG telling you it helps square you to the ball isn’t correct. There would be an exact amount of facing the racquet down to get you to square, if that what was happening. Everyone that swings a racquet toward a ball has to accomplish this “squaring up” each time they hit. It doesn’t happen just because of the stroke design. You hit some balls at knee height, some at shoulder, some reaching wide. Each shot requires you to be cognizant of squaring. The dude in the vid, despite his former ATP rank also has a video saying the reason you jump on the serve is to get maximum height. If you hit the ball before max height you have performed it incorrectly. Can’t believe everything you read, including this. Try everything for yourself. Experience is the best teacher.
I agree with this (and the witchcraft 8-B ) … we learn to square the rf (or present it at contact as intended … for example open for slice, some players square on drives some advanced players closed) through reps. Reps against all variations of shots/balls … what rf is doing in backswing doesn’t do squat as far as rf at contact imo. We talk in terms of follow throughs just being the natural result of the swing. Why not the same with backswings. It isn’t logical that there is the same backswing rf prescription for my straight arm weak eastern grip fh and someone with a bent arm sw fh. Also … I can manipulate my rf anyway you want within my rom … and my rf will still square by contact. I learned this picking up the 2hbh trying to force my rf to not go open in backswing. No matter what my rf was in backswing … my arms and hands/grip still presented sq rf.

If you hit the arm rolling flip fh … seems the rf should be the natural result of your amount of arm roll, wrist extension, grip … those things aren’t the result of pointing the rf down. I could see it as a checkpoint/training aid like off arm across to ensure good unit turn … but nothing magic about rf squaring. Also … with my weak eastern grip fh and my maximum arm rolling rom … my rf was never going to point down on a flip fh. Did that mean a flip fh is useless with a weak eastern grip? Maybe … sw does seem more of a fit, but then Fed as usual causes confusion with supposedly a strong eastern.

Witchcraft indeed.
 

nyta2

Professional
First to make sure terminology is correct.
By 'closed racquet face' I mean the racquet strings are facing the ground

1 min 25 sec mark here of Fognini forehand

Almost all the youtube teachers advises this and I can see this myself in the slow-mo videos...but can someone explain the reasoning behind this?

To be clear, I know it's not something high level players think about. But for breaking it down, what is the logic of having the racquet string face the ground during the backswing? Is it just biomechanically natural for the semi-western grip? Also, for reference so we can isolate more variables, let's stick with the semi-western grip forehand.
to me it, i always thought it helped extend the "runway" for the racquet to accelerate (ie. when i do the "flip" i am tracing a tiny "C")
 

flex

Rookie
Interestingly enough, the more closed the racket face on take back (more pronated) the more supination hence more opening of racket face you will get when you start swinging forward !:)
Less open/on edge racket drop like Del Po and you’ll get less supination but more wrist extension.


Appreciate this demonstration.

1 - So close racquet face leads to supination...Now my question is, why do you want supination? What is the advantage to it?

2 - I also like that you bring up del potro and how he does not close the racquet face but bring it 'on edge'... So no supination, but there is 'wrist lag' ...what is the advantage to this?
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
Interestingly enough, the more closed the racket face on take back (more pronated) the more supination hence more opening of racket face you will get when you start swinging forward !:)
Less open/on edge racket drop like Del Po and you’ll get less supination but more wrist extension.


Is this



more supination than this



8-B
 

smalahove

Hall of Fame
Yep, Federer is one of them!
No, he doesn't. See the pics below. He keeps his wrist in an extended position from the start of the swing, until impact. So he, like all other top players, has has a stable wrist in the flexion-extension-axis. The noticeable movement you see in the wrist is (ulnar-to-)radial deviation (see below).

What separates him from a lot of other ATP players, is that he starts the flexion of his wrist early after impact.
But he often ends up with a wrist that is slightly extended (cupped) rather than a neutral one (flat wrist). See the wrist in the last picture in the sequence of the first pic below.




 

smalahove

Hall of Fame
Why would one want to do that? Even Patrick Mouratoglu advises often about using your wrist to accelerate, or better said "let your racquet accelerate your hand"...Sometimes changing it to "don't stop your swing".

Patrick Mouratoglou - 3 Key Pieces of Advice to Take Your Game Up A Notch | Facebook
You don't accelerate through the shot by fully flexing your wrist. A wrist in a full flexed position is a weak wrist.
The wrist is strong in the extended position. For tennis you also add ulnar deviation.

So to get the most force into the ball, on impact you should go
  1. from strong position, ie a fully extended, ulnar deviated position,
  2. to a slightly less strong position, which is still extended, and ulnar deviated (but less)
You can also see it from the perspective that strong equals a wrist that can handle heavy pace, so you can't go from strong to weak f.inst. because that would mean an unstability and deceleration on impact.

When the acceleration of the forward swing is fast enough, you naturally create a lag, that sends the wrist into the most extreme extended and ulnar deviated position it can be in, and the idea of the stable wrist is to hold the lag until just before impact.


 
1. Horizontal range of wrist motion is maximized if the racket face is closed, creating strong lag and whip.
2. Helps to keep the racket face slightly closed at the contact, generating more top spins.
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
No, he doesn't. See the pics below. He keeps his wrist in an extended position from the start of the swing, until impact. So he, like all other top players, has has a stable wrist in the flexion-extension-axis. The noticeable movement you see in the wrist is (ulnar-to-)radial deviation (see below).

What separates him from a lot of other ATP players, is that he starts the flexion of his wrist early after impact.
But he often ends up with a wrist that is slightly extended (cupped) rather than a neutral one (flat wrist). See the wrist in the last picture in the sequence of the first pic below.




In the first series of pics ... looks like he released a lot of the extension by contact (pic #5 to pic #6). As @Dragy has pointed out ... players like Fed and Nadal don't hit just one fh ... they hit some with more extension at contact, but some like pic #6 above.
 

Fintft

Legend
You don't accelerate through the shot by fully flexing your wrist.
Neither Patrick M, nor me were talking "during the shot" or "through the shot", but about the whole swing, hence " "let your racquet accelerate your hand" , or "don't slow down".

I agree with the rest of your post though, of course. About strong wrist and so forth.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Interestingly enough, the more closed the racket face on take back (more pronated) the more supination hence more opening of racket face you will get when you start swinging forward !:)
Less open/on edge racket drop like Del Po and you’ll get less supination but more wrist extension.


I don't get it
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
I don’t think it is.
I think somehow grip is a factor, too. You know they have similar grips. The more extreme the grip the more supination.
Why ... doesn't the arm roll just as far as it will roll regardless of grip?

Is full supination of continental like a drill bit ... and full supination of sw like spinning a propeller?

Do you have a propeller ... a propeller video would maybe help.
 
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AnyPUG

Professional
Can you achieve this "advanced swing path" without closing the racket face for the correct RH orientation at contact? It will be very difficult or unnatural without closing the racket face to achieve the inside-out swing path. Check this out -

 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
It is but that doesn’t change the validity of my point. Range of supination is bigger with a bent elbow than with straight.
Not mine sitting in a recliner. SA ... full SUP palm up. Bent arm ... full SUP palm up. The difference is SA gets a small ESR assist to get to full palm up. Your racquet doesn't care SUP or ESR ... racquet propeller is powered with either. If you remember prof Limpinhitter said this ... some pros have more esr ... some more supination ... ain't no thing. 8-B He thought I didn't listen ... but I did. Speaking of prof Limpin ... he would have none of it calling Del Potro fh a flip. Prof required the 3 stages of flip/grief ... 1) isr/pr 2) esr/sup 3) isr/pr. Delpo skips #1. It always seemed to me all that mattered was ending up in that full butt cap forward lag (Delpo pic I posted above).
 

Curious

Legend
Not mine sitting in a recliner. SA ... full SUP palm up. Bent arm ... full SUP palm up. The difference is SA gets a small ESR assist to get to full palm up. Your racquet doesn't care SUP or ESR ... racquet propeller is powered with either. If you remember prof Limpinhitter said this ... some pros have more esr ... some more supination ... ain't no thing. 8-B He thought I didn't listen ... but I did. Speaking of prof Limpin ... he would have none of it calling Del Potro fh a flip. Prof required the 3 stages of flip/grief ... 1) isr/pr 2) esr/sup 3) isr/pr. Delpo skips #1. It always seemed to me all that mattered was ending up in that full butt cap forward lag (Delpo pic I posted above).
It’s you that’s special, not me!:p


 

Slicerman

Semi-Pro
In my current forehand technique I also use the closed racquet on the backswing.

The way how I view it is pretty simple; basically a closed racquet face during the takeback is to add momentum to the racquet drop.

You start out with a pronated forearm (the closed face), then you flip the racquet into supination which leads to the racquet drop. This flipping action allows the player to use the racquet's weight and gravity to add momentum to the racquet drop.

The end result is that the momentum of the racquet drop allows the player to swing using very little effort, especially if the kinetic chain done properly.
 
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