ETI 043 | Point of Contact Area of Contact


Ball control – ours is a game of accuracy, of consistency, but equally it is a game of timing for the opponent will send us shots of varying spin, speed, length and difficulty.

Timing describes the relation between the incoming ball and the swinging racquet – and certainly the entire game revolves around the moment of contact – but there is a way to lengthen, ever so slightly, that moment of contact such that the racquet moves through a 6 inch area without altering it’s face or path creating an area of contact.

24 Comments

  • Daniel

    Reply Reply January 13, 2016

    Just reading today’s news I came across this image of Drimitrov returning the serve http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/dimitrov-sydney-2016-wednesday.

    By looking at this picture you can see how Dimitrov’s upperbody is pushing he shoulder and arm forward “forcing” the racquet face in a linear trajectory through the contact zone.

    This pushing(guiding) motion is very typical when returning on or very close to the baseline.

  • Daniel

    Reply Reply January 13, 2016

    Correct me if I’m wrong. I think the pros achieve this 6 inch contact area also by moving forward into the ball. The arm in relation to the body may be moving only 3 inches and the body moving forward may add the rest. In the end it’s all about how the racquet face moves in relation to the incoming ball no matter what the player does with their arm and body. Thanks!

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 13, 2016

      Daniel – no corrections if you are “wrong” for all of this is open to discussion – but for sure it is about the racquet and arm in relation to the incoming ball – when I am at Indian Wells watching the players practice – their timing and ball contact is truly amazing
      Jim

  • Raj

    Reply Reply November 18, 2015

    Lengthen point of contact : It is forehand drive classic. I believe Mr Lansdorp teaches the same. I believe the sweeping motion naturally achieves contact extension and the ball leaves the court quicker. Modern forehand which uses windshield wiper finish does not follow this and the ball bounces high and leaves the court later.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 18, 2015

      Raj – I am in now way in the company of Lansdorp – but it is nice to know you mentioned him re this article
      Jim

  • Noushin

    Reply Reply November 16, 2015

    Many thanks for sharing your invaluable experience and knowledge!

  • Fio Marin

    Reply Reply November 11, 2015

    Jim, that is a very complete and informative expansion on the contact area for a stroke that occurs so often in our game of tennis.
    Your explanation is precise bio mechanically detailed and actually simple to follow.
    Many thanks.
    Fio.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 12, 2015

      Fio – thanks for your note – truly it was my coaches who were “biomechanically detailed and simple to follow” – I am just passing this stuff along to others
      Jim

  • K. Chan

    Reply Reply November 11, 2015

    This is essential indeed. There are three very basic steps in swing-sport: 1) weight forward with arm-handle-equipment head in the right position to start your swing plane: 2) turn your upper torso; 3) release either you prolate it, hit it flat, or hit it with top spin…

    This 6 inch forward path is really a must within your forward swing path along your swing plane..

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 11, 2015

      K – thanks, I got this one from my college coach at UC Berkeley – Chet Murphy (quite a few years ago)
      Jim

  • Kenny Bling

    Reply Reply November 11, 2015

    Jim,
    Very interesting topic.
    I used to play doubles with a very good player…if he only had to hit a backhand. But, what made us such a good team was this: Me: See ball, hit forehand, WINNER !!!

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 11, 2015

      Kenny Bling
      see ball hit forehand winner – I am envious
      Jim

  • rich

    Reply Reply November 11, 2015

    Hi Jim,

    In the PTR manual,.. teaching forehand, point of contact is an important fundamental, as you know.

    However, the real deal is swinging and hitting a moving ball.

    I have witnessed so many different teaching methods over 40 years on what’s the proper way to hit a forehand.
    Can be daunting.

    But lately (last 5 years) More changes to the approach. A few examples, most based on the finish. Turn the hand, finish down by the pocket, buggy whip, to name a few.

    But the best one I ever heard is the conk. I use it all the time. It works and it covers PTR PERFECTLY.

    I have a picture on my wall,look at it when my forehand goes off. It gets me back on track.Simple, consistent and successful hitting the forehand.

    But it’s fun and different trying all the other stuff. Without it learning would stop. Bravo to all the teachers that are not afraid to think outside the box. I love tennis, and racquet on ball isexciting, challenging, and enjoyable. Even when I miss.

    RICH S

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 11, 2015

      Rich
      thanks for this and the reference to the “conk” which I heard from Tom Stow – and what follows may be controversial but the PTR founder Dennis Van Der Meer was originally the assistant pro at the Berkeley Tennis Club to the venerable Tom Stow – so go out and conk the ball
      Jim

  • Jim Tousek

    Reply Reply November 11, 2015

    I shank balls well to often on my normal forehand drive and believe it is because my racquet leaves that contact zone you describe way to early. Hardly ever happen on my one handed backhand or on forehand slice.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 11, 2015

      Jim – many years ago a coach (Tom Stow) would create an entire lesson about he first ball I “shanked” in the warmup – I would object that I was warming up – and he would sternly reply that if I shank the ball in the warmup that is real feedback about stroke problems that I had – keep an eye on your very bad errors – they give us good feedback about what to work on next
      Jim

  • Dave

    Reply Reply November 11, 2015

    What amazes me is how far in front the pros contact the ball & yet still have the ball on the racquet long enough for control.As always, I appreciate your insights into this wonderful game.

  • Sri

    Reply Reply November 11, 2015

    Jim, This is spot on, especially for those of us who are older and learned the big loopy strokes. I think one way to internalize your point is to thing about driving through the ball, or as some put it, hitting a series of balls in a row. This forces you to stay in a consistent ball path during those milliseconds critical to effective contact. Thank you for this.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 11, 2015

      Sri – thanks, this podcast is about as basic as hitting and timing and aiming the ball as I can do
      Jim

  • Paige Hiatt

    Reply Reply November 11, 2015

    Excellent analysis,Jim, and leaves one thinking further about stroke geometry, rotation, 4 – 6 inches straight through to the target, racquet speed,and shot accuracy. The key being how does one balance all that on forehands and back hands to create good shots. Love your example with Fed and Roddick. As always, you make us think deeper about the few important areas of our tennis game. Keep it coming,Jim!!

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 11, 2015

      Paige
      thanks and will do – about the keep it coming – thing
      Jim

  • Robert

    Reply Reply November 11, 2015

    My earliest efforts to acquire the “modern forehand” were attempts to copy what appeared to be the rotating technique of two well known and highly ranked professionals. I quickly realized this purely rotational model, as it appeared to me then, was erroneous. There is coiling and uncoiling in the stroke, which is superficially similar to rotation but which involves other planes than the horizontal as well, yet when the racket has ‘flipped’ and then caught up and the forearm rolls inwardly, that is a more linear path which in the case of skilled players happens in the contact area. So, yeah, I am totally with you on this.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 11, 2015

      Robert
      keep me posted and upload something of your forehand (no charge) to let me see
      and this no charge offer is wide open to others
      Jim

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