Archive for the ‘Forehand’ Category
When I was at Vic Braden’s tennis college Vic said that on my forehand I was not extending out to the target enough. He said with my brain makeup that was a common error. He also said that watching tennis on TV and video contributes to the error……Hmmmmm. How so, I thought?
Vic has done an enormous amount of high speed videotaping / filming ….sometimes 10,000 frames per second … which allows super slow motion playback of strokes. With normal video things happen so fast the human eye and brain cannot see what “really” happened during the stroke so the brain skips things and just sees the beginning and end of a stroke and not what happens in between.
With the circular followthroughs over the shoulder or around the waist on the forehand it looks like the stroke goes from backswing to contact to over the shoulder directly. Things happen so fast our eyes and brain don’t see the pronounced extension toward the target that the best pros use. We just see a backswing and windshield wiper and most club players try to emulate that….usually with poor results…..
Why are the results poor?
The reason the results are poor is that going from the backswing to the windshield wiper directly gives only a few inches of margin to hit the ball cleanly. If you have excellent timing, then you can hit fairly consistently when balls come at you consistently. The trouble comes with slow balls or fast balls that throw off your timing. With only a few inches to be perfect on the strike zone this causes shanks and hits that fly all over the place.
Vic videotaped Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro and found that when you really watch in slow motion Roger’s strike zone for a clean hit is (I’m just going from memory here) is 4 feet and Del Potro’s is even longer. Both have world class forehands.
Their swing speed is so fast all we normally see is the backswing and the over the shoulder follow through and we never notice this extremely pronounced strike zone. It’s no wonder they are so great when they have 4 feet to hit the ball cleanly and most of us only have a few inches.
What Vic did with me?
Since it was raining a little he took me in the gymnasium and Andy, one of his top coaches fed me forehands. I was supposed to hit them to the other end of the gym right into the center of the padded wall behind the basketball hoop. I wasn’t even supposed to follow through at all. I was supposed to catch my racket way out in front toward the target. I was also supposed to hit the ball way out in front with a totally cocked back wrist throughout the stroke.
When it quit raining we went back to the courts and got the ball machine out. I was supposed to take what I learned in the gym, pick targets and hit forehands. I did not shank one forehand and most of them had depth and accuracy.
Since this is so new during practice I’m consciously thinking about extending toward the target more on each forehand and I’m sure if I keep this up over time this will become natural and fast…So when you see me on video you’ll see the backswing and the windshield wiper but you’ll know I snuck in a pronounced extension toward the target.
I was practicing my forehand on the ball machine yesterday in the 90 degree heat here in Virginia Beach. I was trying to get more power on the ball without losing control.
I discovered some interesting things you might want to try out.
1. I was stepping directly into the shot with somewhat of a closed stance thinking this would get more weight into the ball and
2. I was swinging harder and faster.
Here’s what I learned. By closing the stance too much in an effort to get more weight into the ball I was ruining my swing path and spraying the ball everywhere. As soon as I opened up the stance to more of a neutral stance my swing path came back and it was the same for the full open stance. Lesson learned for this fat guy is that without having the supple waist and lots of room for my arm to maneuver around my gut, closing the stance too much will not work.
The second thing I learned was that by slowing down the swing but swinging earlier along with turning my body gave me much cleaner hits (because I wasn’t swinging too fast for my skill level) and got the result of much more controllable power on the ball.
So, practice opening your stance, and swinging slower with a body turn and watch your controllable power increase.
When you are pulled way out wide to your forehand, this shot can be a savior. The idea is that you reach way out to your forehand side and pretty much slap/chop/slice or whatever you want to call it to float the ball back deep to save your butt when taken way out wide.
This works because the tennis squash shot floats the ball back which sends it deeper than you could normally hit the ball when you are stretched out of balance.
Practice this shot and you’ll stay in a lot more points.
My friend Allan from Connecticut was visiting me yesterday and he loves taking pictures. I was scheduled to practice with a local guy so he tagged along to snap some photos. Of course, with me still being slightly over 300 lbs it’s good he had a wide angle lens hahahaha. Actually he just had an older digital camera and of because of my blazing speed there’s a little bit of blur in some of these.
These photos do show that I seem to be doing a fairly good job of one thing . . . hitting the ball in front of me. I really learned the importance of this when I took some lessons from Coach Kyril and then I saw the video on his site by Mauro Marcos that made it even more clear in my mind why hitting the ball in front is really important. The video is titled: “Getting A Great Forehand – And Getting Rid of Tennis Elbow Pain in Less Than 30 Minutes”. You can find this video at http://www.coachkyriltennis.com At about the 4 minute mark of the video Coach Mauro shows that not only is the out front strike point more strong, but that it virtually eliminates tennis elbow pain.
Check out the pictures below to see some of the pictures my buddy snapped during my practice session:
Here’s a forehand volley:
And here’s a one handed backhand:
I took a lesson while traveling to Washington, D.C. this past weekend. Even though I wanted to work on my slice backhand, the pro wanted to see what my groundstrokes looked like overall and I’m glad he did.
He noticed a little flaw in my forehand when I was pulled out wide. He said that I was pulling off the shot and trying to recover BEFORE I had finished the stroke. He said this was contributing to my inconsistency on wide forehands.
We worked on that for about a half hour and by concentrating on staying with the shot until it was finished, I made marked improvement.
Now I just have to concentrate on this during practice until it becomes a habit.
What an appropriate tip for this blog!
I was getting a lesson on Saturday from a guy who is about a 5.0 rating and pretty much feared around our region. He noted that I was doing a really poor job when I was pulled wide on a forehand.
He saw me running like a freight train and then eratically overhitting the ball.
His tip was . . . “follow my belly”. What he meant was that I had to stay more compact and smooth when I was running to get to the ball. Apparently I was flailing wildy as I ran. He felt that if I stayed more compact and kept my racquet more close to my stomach that I would have something concrete to concentrate on as I moved toward the ball. . . .Hahahaha. I don’t know if he meant my stomach weighed as much as concrete, but the tip sure worked. I made a large improvement in my consistency on wide forehands in that one lesson.
Well, whether you are a fatso or not……I guess it’s a good idea to follow your belly
Miguel Rosa from Nick Bolletteri tennis academy gave me another great tip when I attended his Virginia Beach Clinic. Miguel knew that I was producing a video for large and out of shape people on conserving energy while making the opponent burn energy. His next tip really helped me out.
Miguel saw me charging like an out of control freight train to hit wide forehands. I was so out of control when I got to the ball that I was very inconsistent. Miguel told me to concentrate on keeping my head still when running to the ball. He said if my head was still, that my body would stay still too thus conserving tons of energy on each stroke and that my consistency would improve too.
I think it would be worth it to you to go out for a practice session where the only thing you concentrate on is being smooth around the court. Make sure your head is not bobbing up and down. Make sure you can see clearly. When your head is all over the place your vision will not be clear as you run to the ball.
Put some practice into being smooth and you’ll put more shots in and save tons of energy when running around the court.