Great Summer Sale - 5 Online DVDs for $25
Don't Lose When You Should Be Winning Click here
Is the Instruction "Racquet Back!" Still Relevant?"
The one-time joke on tennis pros used to be, “Racquet back, bend your knees, that’ll be twenty dollars please.” At least in the old days, this was more or less the standard of teaching tennis. After all, it worked quite well for millions of players in the 1960s and '70s, didn't it?
Chris Evert in the classic takeback position.
The “old school” recommended a swing pattern for groundstrokes that was simple and easy to understand: Use your hitting arm to take your racquet straight back as quickly as possible to the back fence and then follow through by finishing with the racquet tip pointing at the opposite fence. Boy, a lot has changed in the last quarter of a century.
I'm often asked whether the racquet back position still takes place in today’s game, only faster?
Well, not exactly. For efficient and powerful hitting in today’s game, a very different swing pattern has evolved. Nowadays, players only take a quick partial turn of the shoulders and hips to allow them to move quickly to the ball. This is commonly called the “unit turn.”
Still, they say, doesn’t the racquet eventually have to be taken all the way back and paused before swinging at the ball?
Yes and No. Yes, the racquet takes a full backswing. No, it does not pause in the full backswing position. From the partial turn and set-up, better players today perform one fluid and explosive motion through contact and continue with an extended follow through. Note that the racquet does not pause between the initial shoulder turn and partial take back of the racquet all the way through the complete swing follow through.
And the days of the back fence to front fence swing is a thing of the past. The length of the swing of the tip of the racquet is actually three times longer than in “old school” tennis. The modern player now starts with the racquet tip pointing forwards, then loops it back, drops it in a somewhat circular path under the ball to create the “brush up” needed for topspin, and finally finishes with the tip pointing at the player’s own back fence or even further, not across the net.
This increased relaxation and swing length maximizes racquet head speed. The opposite would be a short swing and tight grip – more or less like driving a car with the emergency brake on.
Click photo: The modern player starts with the racquet tip pointing forwards, then loops it back, the finish is with the tip pointing at the player’s own back fence or further, not across the net.
Of course there are other contributing forces at work. Angular or rotational forces are generated from the circular motion of the swing, and ground or linear forces are created by bending the knees to load energy and then thrusting smoothly upwards with the hit. On top of all that, the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints should be relaxed to create a controlled but whip-like swing that extends forwards through the area of contact as well as around in a circle.
Furthermore, squeezing the grip as tight as possible is not a very efficient way to generate power nor is overall strength a necessity (although if used efficiently it could be a contributing factor).
Surprisingly enough, there are many 8-year-old girls hitting harder than some 250-pound recreational male players! Simply put, relaxation increases fluidity. And the more fluid your swing is, the more potential you have for your racquet head to accelerate and hit powerful shots. This concept holds true for many other sports as well. Relaxed and fluid motions that are also quick are needed to properly throw a baseball or football, as well as swing a golf club.
So just how relaxed should the grip actually be?
As relaxed as possible. Just keep two criteria in mind. First, you obviously don’t want to be so loose that you literally throw the racquet over the net when you hit the ball. And, second, you eventually need to be consistent. Most coaches who look at long-term skill development will say relax first, and with patient repetition, ball control and consistency will follow. The overall idea is that in order to hit as efficiently and effectively as possible, relaxation and fluidity are essential.
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
How the Trophy Position Wins Trophies
About a year ago, Christophe Delavaut, with help from Oscar Borros, did a video analysis about how Rafael Nadal made a few adjustments and improved his serve. Interestingly enough, two other players also made changes to their serves, Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych. Here Christophe shows you how each of these three players actually focused on the same thing to make their serves better.
Forehand Fusion: Classical versus Millennium
In this TennisOne classic lesson from 2008, WTA touring coach, Heath Waters examined the millennium forehand, with out a doubt most the prominent forehand on the men's tour. If taught correctly, it can be learned in only a matter of minutes. Here Heath compares and contrasts the forehands of two tour players, Fernando Gonzalez. and Thomas Enqvist..By fusing the positive technical elements of each of these players we can derive a more efficient, biomechanically sound forehand where both styles meet somewhere in the middle.
Monty Basnyat with Dirt, Tim Wilkison
They called him Dr Dirt (but not for any reason you may think) and he played on the men's tour for an astonishing 25 years. His career spanned the eras of Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith all the way through Pete Sampras and Ande Agassi, and he had victories over most of the great players of his time. Monty Basnyat sits down with Tim Wilkison and talks to him about. his career, the current state of tennis, and some of the legends of the game he played against,
ProStrokes 2.0 — Ana Ivanovic, Backhand
This former World No. 1 has failed to live up to early expectations following her 2008 French Open title. Still, her game is a pattern of solid strokes and aggressive strategies. An offensive baseline attacker, Ivanovic also possesses a big, if unsteady serve. Inspired by Monica Seles, Ivanovic makes her living on the baseline, slugging out flat forehands similar to Maria Sharapova and her backhand has become a consistent shot that sets her up to crack forehand winners. Although Ana has been showing signs of regaining her form, In recent years she has still been more likely to show up on the cover of a fashion magazine than hoisting a champion’s trophy. New this issue, Ivanovic's backhand.
TennisOne Writers Store
One of your many new benefits as a TennisOne membership is your ability to purchase selected instructional DVDs at 20% off ($7.50 off each) in our new TennisOne Writers Store (login in first to access members links):
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Building Your Ground Game," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Building a Kick Serve," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Underspin Backhand - Weapon," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Achieving Peak Performance the Wholistic Way: The Mental Game," Happy Bhalla Members – Public
- "Building a World Class Serve," Phil Dent Members – Public
- "Building a World-class Volley," Dave Smith Members – Public
- "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin," Doug King Members Public
- "Best of Ken DeHart," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Corrective Techniques & Myths," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Defeating the Monsters in Your Mind," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Skills, Drills, and Games for Beginning Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- "Drills for Intermediate Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Drills for Advanced Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- Click here to see all the benefits of a TennisOne Membership.
- Click here to sign up for a risk-free, TennisOne 30 day free trial membership.
Copyright Notice: The contents of the TennisONE web site and contents forwarded to you by TennisONE are intended for your personal, noncommercial use. Republishing of TennisONE content in any way, including framing or posting of these materials on other Web sites, is strictly prohibited. See our full copyright statement
If you wish to be removed from our newsletter list, please send an email to email@example.com and leave the subject line blank. A confirmation email will be sent to you, and you will be removed from our newsletter list once you reply to that confirmation. If trouble unsubscribing, simply email us with a request to unsubscribe at: firstname.lastname@example.org