Sie sind auf Seite 1von 24

Free

Forehand

Dr. Jose Li (www.adhd-tennis.org)

Page 1 / 24

Lesson 1: Manage mind and arm first

The average ball flight time for an 80-mph forehand is about 1.3 seconds. At the end of the flight time, when the ball bounces forward, the receiver needs to respond to the ball by:

reacting (human beings' reaction time is about 0.2 seconds)

acting in multitasks (e.g., grip change, hit zone setup, and ball strike).

The mind's path in ball striking follows the "3C" sequence. In about a 1- second time span, as a process: Consider (requiring sound judgment), Converge (requiring good habits) and Concentrate (requiring discipline). Below figure illustrates my converging mind pyramid, which explains the mind target in a dynamic fashion.

which explains the mind target in a dynamic fashion. In the last 1/200th of one second

In the last 1/200th of one second (~5ms) at contact, when the ball is fully compressed, our eyes cannot see the ball on the sweet spot, but our minds can "see" the ball impacting the racquet by imagination and sensation. If our eyes are busy to radar everything (called "bouncy eyes") on court, our mind cannot guide to time the ball right.

Page 2 / 24

Tennis play is done by arm and hand with the racket. However, arm and hand are “trouble makers” in most cases. Let us fix these “trouble makers” first.

“Great Wall stance” is about the arm/racket position to receive ball at contact in forehand. This stance with two 90 degree bents between arm and racket focuses on the shape of hitting arm to support the racket contacting to the ball. It serves two purposes:

1) Keep the racket face vertical; and 2) support the ball hitting to the sweet spot of the racket.

The “Great Wall” is a kind of buzzword reflecting the key meaning of this stance: the body support has to be as stable as the Great Wall!

the body support has to be as stable as the Great Wall! To achieve those two

To achieve those two 90 degree bents with desirable orientation of your racket relating to the forearm, the two common instructions are:

(1)Relaxing muscles in upper arm and shoulder, too much tension with tight muscles cannot achieve 1 st bent (in arm).

(2)Keeping the wrist “laid back” and locked at contact for forming the 2 nd bent (in hand/racket).

You can see the “GWS” is nothing new but highlighting the importance of the body stability behind the ball at contact.

Let us create a visualization image in our minds with this “GWS” shown below:

Page 3 / 24

Tennis is NOT about swing racket to the ball simply because of one reason: tennis

Tennis is NOT about swing racket to the ball simply because of one reason:

tennis is NOT baseball! In high-level tennis, skill of “waiting” the ball is even more effective than “chasing” the ball.

In Chinese martial art, “standing still and straight” is taught first before any movements are taught. Swim coaching also starts with body balance instruction first (see shark fin stance photo below). Stance, Stance and Stance.

shark fin stance photo below). Stance, Stance and Stance . That is why we should learn

That is why we should learn this static stance first in forehand.

Page 4 / 24

Lesson 2: Contact, the core of tennis

Great Wall stance (GWS) is for a solid contact between racket and ball. The contact is the “core” of tennis. Every thing is for THIS moment, which normally takes ~ 1/200 seconds. We address arm/hand position first, than to racket/ball interaction at contact.

Understanding racket/ball interaction can make learning new forehand more

“meaningful”.

Below photos show this kind of interaction right before and

after the contact as well as in the forehand contact.

photos show this kind of interaction right before and after the contact as well as in

Page 5 / 24

Those three factors controlling forehand quality, the pace (mph), spin (rpm) and ball striking angle are determined after contact. When we know how to make the right contact in play, we can make our shots more powerful and controllable.

In forehand, there are 7 stroke keys in a hitting sequence: body turn, align racket cap to the ball, pull the racket, contact, lift and push the racket, wipe and follow through finish.

I believe that the contact stroke key should be taught first. Other stroke keys are just designed for making better contact in a more repeatable fashion. Our tennis coaching should follow this logic path.

What else can we learn from this contact stroke key?

From high-speed video visualization analysis, we can study how tennis pro hits to contact. There are two important features in this contact phase:

a) Racket and ball meet vertically at contact; and

b) Ball is compressed at racket sweet spot.

It happens in 5 ms, or 1/200 second, which cannot be clearly seen by human eye. Below photos show this critical moment (taken by 210 fps digital

video): Ball is compressed!

It can “stick” to the racket for a prolonged time. This is a simple concept for improving control. The question is how to get ball compressed?

control. The question is how to get ball compressed? If we look at those forehand shots

If we look at those forehand shots generated by tennis pros, we can find the following commonalities:

a) Racket in vertical orientation

Page 6 / 24

b) Hit ball on “sweet spot”

Vertical and sweet spot contact’ is easy to say, but difficult to do. “Vertical” is the only 1 of 360 degrees the racket orientation needs to be positioned; and sweet spot is only small portion of racquet face. To meet both requirements at the same time, it is even harder! The most common coaching is: Look the ball at contact!

The most common coaching is: Look the ball at contact! Wait a minute; can Federer really

Wait a minute; can Federer really see the ball at contact?

Does it make sense to look the contact to see what really happens during the contact in 5 ms? The answer is yes as long as your mind (not your eyes!) is on the ball during the impacting. For most of players, it is easier to look at the ball than mind the ball at contact.

Federer does see the ball at contact (with his mind). If other players feel the ball by their minds even though they do not look at the ball, they still can hit a clean shot.

For a better contact, a pro normally trace the coming ball with his eyes up to the hitting zone. I believe that Federer gazes the ball at contact not because he can see the ball in 5 ms. His secret is that he keeps his head “static” at contact so that his whole body maintains a stable position.

This static head position at contact is Federer’s signature post.

Page 7 / 24

Lesson 3: Seven Stroke Keys in Forehand

The seven stroke keys in forehand are:

a) Body turn; b) align racket cap to the ball; c) pull and torque the racket; d) contact the ball; e) lift and push the racket; f) wipe/brush and g) follow-through

I summarize those stroke keys in a pyramid based on 3 critical concepts addressed in lesson 1 and 2: mind, stance and contact

concepts addressed in lesson 1 and 2: mind, stance and contact Jose's forehand coaching system (TM)

Jose's forehand coaching system (TM)

Page 8 / 24

At beginner level, I coach forehand as “1-2-3”: turn - contact - follow through At intermediate level, I add 2 more keys in forehand as “1-2-3-4-5”: turn – point – contact – wipe – follow through At competitive level, all 7 keys need to be addressed as “1-2-3-4-5-6-7”:

turn – point – pull – contact – push – wipe – follow through

Remember, contact is most important stroke key. Other stroke keys are designed for achieving a better contact.

Below I create two drills to practice forehand for improving pace, timing and spin control:

Level 1 drill: focusing on leg stance and body weight transfer.

Level 2 drill: focusing on shoulder turn and hand orientation.

Level 1: hit high ball with pace (80mph) in forehand

Level 1: hit high ball with pace (80mph) in forehand turn contact follow-through In this level,

turn

contact

follow-through

In this level, basically just follow Dr. David Porter’s instruction as: load – explode – land, which are done in keys: turn – contact - follow through

Page 9 / 24

In the load mode, body weight is on the inside of outside leg. In the explode mode, jumping helps to hit ball at high zone. In the land mode, body weight shifts to another leg. Two distinctions are a) body is always in balance in these three modes; and b) body weight moves forward to help generating power. There is a wrong perception that open stance forehand only addresses body angular move rather than linear forward. If you use the yellow “+” as a reference, you can see the body moves forward “a lot”!

Level 2: hit high ball early with pace in forehand

lot”! Level 2: hit high ball early with pace in forehand point/pull racket butt contact windshield/wipe

point/pull racket butt

contact

windshield/wipe

In this level, timing is added into consideration in training. Rather than swing to the ball, which has poor timing, racquet cup pointing and pulling toward the ball “until the last second” is the key.

Shoulder turn is the main element in this level. 180 deg turn can be seen:

front shoulder “eye” the coming ball before contact; and back shoulder “eye” the leaving ball after contact. The follow-through has two key elements: a) racket windshield with a wiping motion; and b) shoulder turns the 2 nd 90 deg.

In shoulder only turns 90 deg to the contact (without 2 nd 90 deg turn), hitting arm has to go around the head to provide energy outlet.

Page 10 / 24

Lesson 4: Catch and Throw

When ball is compressed, you can throw it forward with better control. However, a ball might not be easily compressed if not hitting to the sweet spot. Swing too much leads to mis-hit. Baseball type of swing is very harmful here. If you do like to think any synergy between baseball and tennis, try to link baseball receiving rather than batting to this “catch” in contact.

So forget about “Swing back then Swing forward” to the ball, try to use Great Wall position (stance) to “Catch then Throw” the ball. Better contact can be trained by simply changing the mindset, the way to think about the contact. In any sports, imagination is needed especially in speed- oriented sport. When hitting to contact, imaging the “Lacrosse” as a “Catch” and “Frisbee” as a “Throw”. If you use western grip, Frisbee throw is a good drill.

If you use western grip, Frisbee throw is a good drill. Below photos show how Federer

Below photos show how Federer does his free forehand by “catch and throw”: he does not swing his racket backward then forward!

Page 11 / 24

Below drill is to help to “forget about swing” and achieve “catch and throw” in
Below drill is to help to “forget about swing” and achieve “catch and throw” in

Below drill is to help to “forget about swing” and achieve “catch and throw” in forehand:

Page 12 / 24

Forearm rotation Catch contact brush/push Throw Trunk (hip) internal rotation is under looked in forehand

Forearm rotation

Catch

contact

brush/push

Throw

Trunk (hip) internal rotation is under looked in forehand instruction. However, this part is the “core” in kinetic chain as a linkage between legs and upper body. It does the critical job to generate power. Adding topspin requires extra energy (inverting spin and increasing high rpm). Trunk turn is the key!

When we say, “hit the ball”, it does not mean, “swing to the ball”, it means “rotating the forearm to catch the ball at sweet spot”.

To generating topspin, no racket “roll-over”! Instead, “brush the ball up and push the ball forward” do the job. This job can also be called “throwing the ball” (after catching).

Page 13 / 24

Lesson 5: Topspin forehand

Professor Howard Brody, author of “Tennis Science for Tennis Players” tried to quantify the margin of errors by using a term called “vertical angular acceptance”, which is defined by the angle difference between two ball trajectories limited by net height and baseline. He studied the correlation between the forehand speed and margin of error (shown in a figure below). Fastball tents to have fewer margins of error. Practically speaking, the vertical angular acceptance has to be >= 5 deg for most of players so that the margin of error can be manageable.

of players so that the margin of error can be manageable. Topspin is the major solution

Topspin is the major solution to improve the margin of error without compromising ball speed.

Tennis racket and ball contact is the primary source to generate spin. Does racket “roll over” at end of contact practical in topspin forehand?

Page 14 / 24

300 years ago, Newton saw that a tennis ball (not the same tennis now) “struck

300 years ago, Newton saw that a tennis ball (not the same tennis now) “struck with an oblique racket" would curve with spin.

Borg was one of the first top players to use heavy topspin on his shots consistently. Borg used to discribe his topspin forehand as following:

“…I snap my wrist upward in a sweeping motion rolling the racquet face over at the end of contact and carrying the racquet over my left shoulder on the follow-through often so it is pointing directly behind me. The secret of my forehand is dropping the racquet head below the ball so that upward swing can produce wild topspin. No golf hip forward. I do sacrifice depth by my heavy emphasis on spin, but I think consistency is more important, not hitting over the base line nor hitting into the net…”

Racquet face rollover sounds like a secret weapon in Borg’s topspin forehand.

sounds like a secret weapon in Borg’s topspin forehand. That “rollover” effect at the end of

That “rollover” effect at the end of contact is considered to “prolong” the contact between racket and ball. However, it not commonly seen in

Page 15 / 24

Federer’s topspin forehand at all. It might be seen in Ping Pong table tennis, but not practical in tennis.

The most common topspin stroke key is “brushing up + pushing forward” at the end of contact to right after the contact. See photo below:

end of contact to right after the contact. See photo below: Actually, the more tilting down

Actually, the more tilting down your racket, the worse in net clearance. If the racket is tilted to 90 deg as the extreme case like “rollover”, the ball trajectory will look unfavorable, which totally defeat the purpose of topspin advantage in forehand.

We can consider the racquet tilting as the early form change in the follow- through phase after contact (not during the contact). For instance, the racket is already tilted when we do “windshield” motion. In other word, the racquet face is tilted very late rather than during the contact. However, we normally do not call it as racket “tilting” or “roll over” as an extreme in the follow through phase AFTER contact. In this phase, our eyes might be fooled that some players are doing racket “roll over” since the ball striking speed is so fast. Their racket is already out of contact of the ball. The racquet face orientation moves like we are wiping the car window in forehand follow-through simply for one biomechanical reason: kinetic energy needs an outlet after firing the strike on the ball.

Page 16 / 24

Lesson 6: Racket orientation

Below photo shows a common racket orientation seen in recreational tennis. What is wrong with this racket orientation?

tennis. What is wrong with this racket orientation? Power comes from the body kinetic chain in

Power comes from the body kinetic chain in forehand. The ball striking comes from the forearm rotation impacting to the ball at contact, not from the simple racket swing. Racket swing does not provide the power. It messes up accuracy and consistency as well.

We know big racket swing (back and forward) does not help timing. Actually, timing the contact is very difficult when both racket and ball are in moving towards to meet the desirable location and angle. The practical solution is to rotate forearm rather than swing the racket impacting the ball. By doing this, let racket more close to the coming ball then do striking: we have more time to act. The key instructions are:

Page 17 / 24

(a) Let hand and racket butt leads the racket (racket head is trailing) before forearm rotation to the contact (b) Our body can be in the “load” mode early, but hold the forearm rotation until last second to trigger impacting the ball.

Based on these new concepts to improve timing for accuracy and consistency in forehand, we address the following stroke key as “point and pull” of the racket butt.

After studying tennis pros forehand stroke keys, one commonality is seen:

they point the racket butt to the coming ball even the ball is just about to bounce to the hitting zone. This stroke key is independent of racket grip and standing stance. This racket orientation was used by tennis legend 50 years ago when a combination of continental grip and open stance is seen in below photo.

by tennis legend 50 years ago when a combination of continental grip and open stance is
by tennis legend 50 years ago when a combination of continental grip and open stance is

Page 18 / 24

To help players build visual images in forehand, a useful drill with flash bar can be practiced (see photo above).

In the game, players normally point the coming ball with the racket butt until the ball is so close to the racket butt. They do not rush to rotate the forearm hitting to contact until last moment. This type of “delay” helps players to have better control: aligning, pulling and then hitting to contact at sweet spot.

aligning, pulling and then hitting to contact at sweet spot. How about the racket orientation after

How about the racket orientation after contact, e.g. in the phase of follow- through? Let us discuss the racket orientation in “reverse forehand”.

If Nadal hits high ball forehand in the clay court, you will see lots of “reverse forehand”. His racket is just turning around above his head rather than around his shoulder after follow-through. This is his way to deal with high ball (or far ball) when his body is not in perfect balance position.

Page 19 / 24

High and far ball can put the receiver in a defense position at an “emergency”

High and far ball can put the receiver in a defense position at an “emergency” condition. This player might not have time to adjust your footwork well, e.g. no time to put your weight on the inside of the outside leg in the open stance. From biomechanical point of view, if the body is not in a good balance position when hitting a high or far ball right after contact, it is very hard to have shoulder turned (I mean the 2 nd 90 degree shoulder turn). If using normal follow-through with the shoulder turn, the player might fall down the ground when body is not in a balanced position. However, the kinetic energy after hitting to the contact has to find its outlet.

The major differences between open stance forehand and reverse forehand are highlighted in terms of kinetic chain (shoulder in green/trunk in grey vs. hitting arm position in the follow-through phase) in the photo below. Without 2 nd shoulder/trunk turn, it is relatively easier for player to recover quickly to deal with next return. Reverse forehand might not be over-used in forehand routine since it is still considered as an “emergency” shot for most players.

Page 20 / 24

Without turning the shoulder (after contact), Nadal is simply facing the net, but having his

Without turning the shoulder (after contact), Nadal is simply facing the net, but having his hitting arm turning a circle above his head. That is why lots of “reverse forehand” is seen on his forehand when he tries to hit high and far ball. Below photo shows how Nada hits high ball hard with heavy topspin. He does this with good reasons. He is forced to do “reverse forehand” not for the purpose of generating more power.

Page 21 / 24

Lesson 7: Footwork in forehand

What is Federer's top secret in his forehand? Not the way he hits the ball, but the way he approaches the ball

It is his footwork making THE differences: Federer experts his power from the ground up.Grace stems from player’s awareness of feet and the way movement flows from there: move easily in balance… like a ballet dancer, gliding above the court…

Artful footwork means: - using crisp, tiny and deliberate steps

- using long, loping strides

- move more laterally, than vertically on court

strides - move more laterally, than vertically on court Elevate lateral move flexed leg push abrupt

Elevate

lateral move

flexed leg push

abrupt heel-toe

weight transfer

jump to hit

Federer's footwork: artful and efficient York Times 8/31/09)

(from Geoff Macdoald, New

Two phases in approaching the ball:

1) reaction and 2) action

1) reaction: - when his opponent start to hit the ball, Federer elevates (1st body reaction)

- when deciding forehand or backhand, Federer start lateral

move on his foot (2nd body reaction) 2) action: - positioning for the shot by flexed leg push

- mantaining good body balance by exaggerated heel-toe motion

Page 22 / 24

- smooth weight transfer and jump to hit ball by kinetic chain

Using boxing to explain the role of footwork in tennis is a very interesting approach. Mike Agassi, an Iran's former boxing champion, passed down his boxing instincts and techniques to his son, producing world tennis champion, Andre Agassi.

“Explode” is commonly used in modern tennis. In open stance forehand, three phases “load, explode and land” are used in coaching forehand. This body “explode” is relating to racket “acceleration” by kinetic chain. I will use a separate chapter to go through this topic in depth.

What can a tennis player learn from boxing? A lot! I just highlight one:

In boxing, no one-punch winner, random punching without setup can exposure your weakness here and there, creating anti-punching opportunities for your opponent. In tennis, we do not count on one “winner” point to win the point to avoid unforced error. Both sports need mental strategy and shot (or punch) setup to win the point. In boxing, the "one-two combo" is a nickname of jab and cross combo. See photos below.

is a nickname of jab and cross combo. See photos below. Jab Cross Boxers usually learn

Jab

Cross

Boxers usually learn this combination before any other. The jab is designed to get the fighter in range while effectively blinding the opponent and hiding

Page 23 / 24

the cross, which is a longer punch that will be slipped if thrown on its own. The key strategy is to setup 1 st punch for the 2 nd punch, and use “combo” rather than one punch to win the point.

Page 24 / 24