ETI 002 | The Modern Game of Tennis – accelerate the racquet head

The Modern Game – Rotational vs the Linear Old School Model

Once upon a time strokes were long and deliberate, and remember the racquets were heavy. And the sweet spots were small. Now the racquets are lighter, the sweet spots larger, and the loosely strung co-poly strings are like magic – and the all combine to make our modern model more about  acceleration rather than deliberation.

Learn how to loosen up, shorten your backswings, lag the racquet head, and accelerate thru the ball. More topspin and more power will be at your command.

The simplest example concerns the racquet head.  In the old school method players were trained to prepare with the racquet pointing to the back fence, and to follow thru with the racquet head pointing to the front fence.   And to move the raquet head carefully thru the contact zone.  Deliberate, carefully, aiming the tiny sweet spot at the ball for as long as possible. I was from that generation and still carry quite a bit of that baggage.  Can’t be helped.  Played college tennis in the 1966 to 1970 – long time ago.

Now the equipment is different, but equally our professional models look so different from what we see on Tennis Channel in the highlight films from the 1970’s. And as our game evolves, and it will continue to do so, the modern stroke is nearly opposite.  Players prepare with the racquet head pointing to the front fence and follow thru with the racquet pointing to the back fence.  And this is the acceleration model, one with much shorter back swings, and much more attention to ripping rather than stroking the ball. I guess, it is what it is.

So – Loosen up and let it rip

48 Comments

  • jbc

    Reply Reply May 13, 2016

    For the record – I’m an older guy like you and when I look at youtube videos of the greats from back in the day – I actually see a lot of free flowing strokes and not the type of stiff ‘back fence to front fence’ stuff that you reference in your clip. I agree that a lot of teaching pros and the USTA and the so-called experts like Vic Braden and Dennis Van der Meer were telling folks to hit FHs and BHs that resembled elongated ‘punch’ volleys – hit with a stiff arm and a firm wrist – but that’s NOT what the good/ great players of the day were actually doing.

    If you want to see an example of athletic, flowing ‘old school’ tennis – that belies the notion that tennis was slow, stiff and unathletic ‘back in the day’ – take the opportunity to watch the uber graceful Ille Nastase playing Arthur Ashe in the 1972 US Open final:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf4wrrpzdYc&nohtml5=False

    While watching – you’ll hopefully notice the natural, flowing tennis played by both and – especially with Nastase – you’ll notice the very natural coiling and uncoiling on most all his strokes – with his right arm and racket acting as the ‘whip’. Note also how very fast Nastase was and how his movement looks eerily similar to Fed in today’s game. Also note how much better these guys all volleyed.

    Yes – the fast and low bouncing grass courts of Forest Hills, Wimbledon and Kooyong in Australia perhaps favored serve and volley tennis and continental grips – but Nastase and Adriano Panatta used this this same style to win the French on slow red clay as well – and for younger folks that don’t recognize Panatta’s name – I’ll just point out that he looked and played a lot like Nastase and he’s the only guy to EVER beat Borg at the French – doing it twice including in 1976 when he won the title.

    Additional examples from the ‘glory days’of tennis include:

    1. this youtube video of Ashe and Okker (who had a particularly big whippy topspin FH back in the day) in the finals of the 1st US Open in 1968: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS0j_UHAk3E&nohtml5=False

    and 2. this clip of Ken Rosewall vs. Tony Roche in ths clip from the 1970 US Open final. Rosewall was all about economy of movement and redirection of the ball and his strokes are perhaps more ‘old school’ but all of Roche’s strokes are whippy and free flowing – not that different from Henri Leconte : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJubuKDN7Fk&nohtml5=False

    I have to say that I was a Rosewall fan as a kid – and I especially loved his aggressive slice BH (a shot that I have in my arsenal to this day – but a shot that no one really uses today for some reason). Anyway – it was a beautiful and deadly stroke and is detailed beautifully in this youtube clip of a Rosewall – Newcombe practice session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aUnSCp64S0&nohtml5=False

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply May 13, 2016

      JBC – thanks for the links – I do agree that Ashe Nastase and the rest were flowing – I am trying to suggest that in that era the teachers were not always teaching the flowing aspect of the game – and I too admired and continue to admire “Muscle” Rosewall
      Jim

  • jbc

    Reply Reply May 12, 2016

    I really think that every stroke – hit efficiently – could best be described as as ‘coiling and uncoiling’ … ideally around a strong and balanced core. If the arm and grip are relaxed – the proper stroke technique (including lag from the wrist) will happen ‘naturally’ as you ‘uncoil’ and your arm and racket rotate around your core.

    The service motion is nothing more than an overhand throwing motion, the FH – is basically a sidearm throw (from various heights) and the BH is a frisbee throw ….

    A lot of the confusion re: proper stroke technique is a result of focusing on what the racket head is doing instead of focusing on what the core, arm and hand are doing.

    Always good to remind yourself to Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – a lot of good things happen if you just get your strings on the ball with a smooth and relaxed swing.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply May 13, 2016

      JBC – totally agree that the emphasis must be on the center or core with the forces moving out into the arm hand and racquet – are you a teacher – your words and analyses are good
      Jim

  • Conrad

    Reply Reply September 25, 2012

    Think your notion of a “spray” area on shots
    is a terrific one, and think it would benefit
    anyone, no matter what their level of play
    might be,to determine their own, and employ
    that knowledge in the games they play.would
    think it would dramatically cut down on errors.

  • Loyiso

    Reply Reply September 13, 2012

    The comments about the serve are great.

  • Sonny

    Reply Reply September 12, 2012

    Mind you, I played with Slazenger wooden racket as well back in the 70’s.

    Thanks for the explanation. I can ‘read’ lagging of the racket, from Federer’s slow motion forehand video, with greater understanding now.

    The same principle applies to hitting a golf ball, if it’s not shoulder / body lead, it will never be a 250 yard hit. The turn and ‘unturn’ concept could sync with the tempo of every stroke. I play with more powerful ground strokes now but with much less effort.

    A million thanks you for the explanation in your Linear vs. Rotational video.

  • a tennis player

    Reply Reply December 22, 2011

    I’ve seen this concept now in a number of videos but the one that articulates it the best is Tae from lockandroll tennis. Take a look at his videos. Once you see it you go “A HA”!!

  • Ali

    Reply Reply November 27, 2011

    Jim

    May be i am misunderstanding what you mean by a lag. I understood it to mean starting to turn before starting to swing the racket.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 27, 2011

      Ali – in both directions the body leads and the racquet follows or lags slightly behind or later or after – watch the images again – on the preparation turn the hip and shoulders turn back and the racquet follows (whereas most in this instance have the backswing precede this hip turn) and on the forward turn the racquet lags hesitates or follows the turn into the hit – this is about looseness and not about “racquet back” but much more about turn to prepare and turn into the ball for the hit
      Jim

  • Ali

    Reply Reply November 27, 2011

    Jim

    Thank you for the response. The reason i ask is because one of the flaws with my forehand has been that i start the swing with the racket and then moving my hips and body etc. Your video above has been of great help by suggesting a slight lag the other way. Should there be such a lag between moving up and towards the net and starting the racket movement?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 27, 2011

      Ali – I am not sure what you mean about “up and towards the net and starting the racquet movement” – do you mean on the volley, or the serve, let me know a little more
      Jim

  • Ali

    Reply Reply November 27, 2011

    Jim

    Thank you for this. Been watching Ian’s serving tips over on Essential Tennis and a question i asked him was what moves first at the end of the racket drop if there was a pause at that stage. Do i take it that what you have mentioned here applies to serving and there should be slight lag between the start of body rotation and push up and the racket swing?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 27, 2011

      Ali – yes but that does not mean a pause or hitch, rather as the racquet moves toward its lowest point the body starts to move up – and this action deepens the drop – that said it is a very difficult move
      Jim

  • Robert A

    Reply Reply October 29, 2011

    To date my early instruction, I can tell you that the first ‘real’ rackets that I bought were a 2nd hand wooden TADavis that I used for wall work and warm up and later an Arthur Ashe Comp 2 (still have that one!). After 20 years away from the game except for occasional hitting when I could find someone to play with, I started playing again and modeled my game on the modern approach. But my early muscle memory has continued to surface at odd moments and when I am fatigued or have not had enough sleep, enough to erode my confidence on the FH side.. I make a nice rotation with my core and shoulders, start to uncoil, and next thing I know, my racket is pointing at the front fence! I have been aware of the contrast in techniques, but until this lesson have not visualized the situation as a conflict of two models being applied simultaneously.

    Technique is from within the stroke; the model is the overview, from which technique springs.
    This lesson has put me much more in control of the process. This is very helpful!

  • jeff

    Reply Reply October 22, 2011

    Very informative! After numberous private lessons with different pro’s I finally understand what they’ve failed to show me!

    Who manufactures the * board” and where are they sold?

    Thanks
    Jeff

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply October 22, 2011

      Jeff – thanks for the note – it is an 8 – board, and google will help you find it, made by Grail Sports
      Jim

  • Joe Partain

    Reply Reply August 9, 2011

    Fantastic! I cannot believe what one simple video did to change my game. The dog wagging the tail has added consistency and power to my game. Absolutely amazing! I was forever frustrated by the modern gamers that talked about finish, windshield wipers, reverse forehands, ansd topspin. I could perform these shots but had no power or confidence in my technique. Your video changed all that. I have not lost a match since. Thank you for your game changing video!!!!! Futhermore, your video on the eastern backhand, three finger service grip has only added exponentially to my effectiveness. Thank you.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply August 10, 2011

      Joe – this was a nice note to read with my morning coffee – thanks
      Jim

  • Howard

    Reply Reply July 7, 2011

    Haven’t tried the rotational method you demonstrated yet, but my immediate reaction is this is very similar to the your service instruction about cracking a bull whip only side handed.
    HG
    PS
    It’s taken awhile, but your Serve Lesson is taking hold.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply July 7, 2011

      Howard – thanks for the note – and I would ask others to see this particular note from you about “its taken awhile” for certainly to change any aspect of one’s game will rarely be an over night process – in spite of how much we would wish it to be so
      Jim
      stay with it and please keep me posted

  • Doug

    Reply Reply June 11, 2011

    Jim-
    I *love* the way you explain things. You really connect with the way I learn.
    Your explanation of the topspin forehand ground stroke in this article is great. It’s exactly what I needed. Thanks.
    -Doug

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 12, 2011

      Doug
      thanks – I had some great teachers along the way, and am just passing this stuff on
      JIm

  • Nick

    Reply Reply June 5, 2011

    Jim,
    Wow, I can’t believe how helpful this lesson is! I came back to tennis two years ago after a 25 year hiatus. Until very recently I was very happy with my improvement and stroke development however I had begun to feel that I was too old or to weak in my legs and core to be able to develop further and compete with the heavy hitters in our club.
    As soon as I got onto the court and started keeping my arm tighter to my body on the backswing I immediately experienced earlier and better preparation. More importantly I noticed that I was loading my core and my back foot much better. Wow, did it ever become fun to unload. All of a sudden I was able to keep the heavy hitter on the other side off balance.
    Before yesterday, I was trying to get power by whipping my arm but, since I couldn’t get the same power as some other guys, I would have to try and pressure them by going for sidelines and mixing in drops and lobs. I lost so many sets and matches because shots on critical points would miss the sideline by a hair. Yesterday, my swings didn’t need to go for the sidelines and I could patiently sit in the rally instead of rushing the points, fearing that I would be hit off the court.

  • Kevin Bryant

    Reply Reply June 5, 2011

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mentalblock/465718926/in/photostream/

    For “guy” about why I “blame” Vic. 🙂 From page 49 of Vic’s book, which I just *loved* (along with his videos) and practically memorized back when I was starting tennis.

    The various contortions I went through in attempting to hit topspin forehands without dropping the racket head below my hand had me a basket case for decades. Well, I’m pretty much a basket case, anyway, but that made it much worse. 🙂

    Just finished watching the first (amazing) set between Federer and Nadal, and the presentation offered many opportunities to note the various combinations of “sidespin” and topspin on their strokes on both low (well, at least one by Nadal) and high balls.

    I *think* I’ve maybe noticed that the Fed, against both Djokovic *and* Nadal, is cracking that high one to his backhand much harder than in the past, and I think at least *some* of what he’s doing is going more “across” with a near “vertical” long axis of his racket – much like they all do with high balls to their forehands. While physics-wise this seems more or less “doable”, actually getting it done with enough accuracy to matter against these monsters likely requires a superhuman effort – by a superhuman like the Fed.

    I also hold out the possibility that I may be merely hallucinating. 🙂

    Kevin
    Savannah

  • Mogens Kock Hansen

    Reply Reply June 5, 2011

    Hi Jim,
    look at this great example of what you describe, Federer training:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymUFbMJJMx8&feature=channel
    Have you ever thought of letting the right hip go forward before you let the arm, hand, racquet follow? As you say lag the racquet. By the way I prefer to hit across the ball instead of hitting through the ball. Because hitting through the ball might make me go back to the old technique of pointing the racqet tip forward after hitting. Hitting across makes me remember to let the racquet fly and end over the left shoulder, arm or hip.
    Thanks for describing the differences so clearly. I’ve had young coaches here who would still tell me to do the old stuff.

  • Chavdar

    Reply Reply June 2, 2011

    Hi Jim,

    This is also a good article. I wrote to you earlier today about the serve and the difficulty I had.
    I tried more pronounced “winding-up” and it not only helped to make my serve relaxed, but improved my toss (parallel to the baseline) and the overall consistency.

    Old school has proved itself again – thank you! You are damn right about the basics and the useless complexity of the approach to the serve as seen in many “tennis guru” sites.

    Chavdar

  • Jerry McLauchlin

    Reply Reply June 2, 2011

    Thanks, for sharing your comment on the old verses the new… I took up tennis at at 55 three years ago and I was taught the old way. By watching TV, I began to try and change my forehand swing to something similar to what you have shown. I don’t have it yet but I wanted to be looser and have a shorter back swing to cut down on the time and be prepared faster. Your video is great, now my question is how do I get the rest of the lessons?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 2, 2011

      Jerry
      go to my blog essentialtennisinstruction.com
      get the free report on the serve
      look to the top nav bar for “dramatically improve your game”
      the product mix includes Mastering the Ground Game (which pertains to this) and a lot more
      and keep in touch
      best
      Jim
      You even have the option for video uploads and stroke reviews

  • guy

    Reply Reply June 2, 2011

    In my opinion ,the grip we use to play a certain stroke have influence on how our movement would looklike . The previous generation like more Eastern and Continental. To produce high speed Top-spin, the semi-western would be better,I thing .

    Jim, your video shows that your use the disc to demonstrate the turn of your body. But when the student is standing on the court and when he/she turns,the heel of the right foot should rise to allow them to turn easier ,starts faster and for the balance too.

    Will Roche asked when should the whipping action be learned? I would say, right at the beginning.

    Kevin Bryant´s writing is good, but why Vic Braden was to be blamed for his forehand that I am interested to know. In my opinion, the ´racket head is still below the hand´is because the semi-Western or the Western Grip, but not those who uses Continental or Eastern. Guy

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 2, 2011

      Guy – yes you are right, in many ways the grip sets the stage for all that follows, but note Del Potro does use an eastern forehand and has quite a lag / whip himself
      Jim

  • Leroux Patrick

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Jim,
    Patrick again…..a last short comment on your video of the day. I believe most students today,male or female, are taught to loop the racket when preparing forehands and even sometimes backhand.
    I think the loop also adds delayed preparation and allows for more momemtum and racket head speed when starting the swing forward. Most of my kids are doing great with the looping preparation,they feel more comfortable when doing so. I would like to also have your point of view on this loop matter……Thanks again, Pat from Vietnam.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 2, 2011

      Patrick – I learned the loop as a kid and teach it to all who are open enough to try it and learn, it helps with both the delay and the momentum – as you clearly say
      Where do you work in Vietnam – do you have a website – I would like to see
      best
      Jim

  • Leroux Patrick

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Hi Jim,
    This is really good stuff. I’m not sure but I think what you are refering to in this video would be what most pros and teachers(I’m a tennis coach) call “unit turn” , the pivot of the outside foot which naturally starts taking the racket back by simply rotating the shoulders, but the racket has not gone all the way back yet….Most pros today will tell a student to stay in that unit turn position for a little longer ,move and set the feet and only then start getting the racket in action? Is that corect? By doing so your racket will generate more head speed while hitting through the ball because of the delayed take back….Am I right Jim or is that a different concept than what you are trying to explain?
    BTW, great little opening video, very catchy.
    Cheers and GO ROGER at Roland Garros !!
    Pat.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 2, 2011

      Pat – and today go Roger – he as a chance against Novak – could be excellent tennis theatre – and yes this is about the unit turn where the shoulders hips even knees all turn in unison without one being more emphasized and another overlooked – often players use their shoulders way too much and their hips little if at all
      Jim

  • Sam

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Ok here we go again with Linear vs Rotational theories.

    What most coaches of the modern game don’t really understand is what actually happens when a ball strike occurs in modern tennis. They try to garner as much as they can from looking at the upper body of the pro’s on TV. However, they fail to see the lower body and the linear acceleration. The only player to use a majority of upper rotational movement is probably Raffa and look at his sore body state, operated on, patched up and probably very painful today!

    Federrer, Murray, Soderline and the other better ball strikers use mainly linear force through their legs, turning their shoulder and then stepping into/up the ball. There is no substitute for stepping into the ball, even with an open stance, watch Federrer’s forehand closely and see where his feet start and end up – they go forward! The upper body is simply part of the kinetic chain and follows on after the thrust of the legs has started. This is an upwards and forward movement and without it his forehand would be very weak and would need to rely on arm movements.

    Now lets work out what happens in the upper body kinetic chain. Yes, it is a whippy action, but why? Because there is a flow of kinetic movement from shoulder first, then to elbow and then to the wrist (snap). I assure you the pro’s are not thinking about where their racket is facing or how much whip they put on it with their arm, they simply start with the racket forward, elbow back and then start the kinetic chain by rotating the shoulder (+torso) slightly, the rest follows. It ends up looking like a 2HBH from the last 20 years and like a baseball hit. Very simply and logical. Don’t try to read too much into it, just think of how a baseballer strikes a ball.

    Look at federrer’s forehand is slow motion, once the legs push off and the should starts rotating, the rest of the upper body seems to work by itself out of momentum.

    Not sure about that rotation device in the video, may produce bad habits like not pushing off with your legs.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 1, 2011

      Sam – stay tuned, next up is something called corkscrewing – which does address the role of the legs – I also get a lot from something called Batting Basics which discusses and promotes the role of the legs working in concert from a centered position – much like many of the best servers
      Jim

  • Tom Wise

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Jim, just so you get it right, Ashe beat Connors in 1975 at Wimbledon, not ’76. 1976 was the beginning of Borg.Your instruction on the serve is great, but honestly I have a problem with this video-don’t see much of a change or impact of “waving stroke” or whatever. Everybody hits the ball a little different and I’m not so sure that a slight difference in stroke production should be adopted by all students. THANKS for your instruction tips!
    Tom W.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 1, 2011

      Tom – on some things tennis I am a strong advocate, on others I am simply presenting methods and techniques – as to the lagging in the modern game this stroke is not for everyone, but truly the tension that might prevent some from feeling this is not at all a good thing – to play this game for a long time players should be loose flowing and if possible graceful
      best
      Jim

  • vicky

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Hi Jim!

    Thanks for your recent insight. When I try the rotation movement, I can feel the difference in the action of the stroke. Thank you Jim.

  • Kevin Bryant

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    I’m working on a theory – at least to me it’s a theory; others may already have the same sort of thing figured out and refined.

    My theory is that the modern swing, as opposed, especially, to what you showed with the back to front fence thing of the olden days, keeps the racket face pointing (more or less) to both the target line and the (vertical) trajectory line for a maximal period of time.

    The video you just showed, while it shows the “lag” stuff well, sort of skips over, if not actually *hides*, this theory of mine, as you let the racket head pass up your hand, even with your demonstration of the “modern” stroke. That is, you don’t keep the wrist “lay-back” in your demonstration past the point of contact.

    I’ve argued with John Yandell in the past (not typically a pleasant pursuit :-)) about whether the wrist “un” lays back during the forehand forward swing. Sharapova seems to do it a lot, and Agassi only a little – and his seems to snap back to full “laid-back” as the ball pushes against the string bed at contact.

    Anyway, my theory sez that this laid-back wrist keeps the racket face, as it arcs around through the hitting zone, pretty much facing the target for an extended period of time.

    Folks speak of the “windshield wiper” of the topspin forehand, but I like to back it up to where the butt of the racket starts both up and *to the right* after the lag of the “late loop”. At some point, the racket face goes from “way closed” to just a little closed (or, maybe even vertical) through the hitting area. I suspect that there is a good bit of variation of the amount of “closure” through various parts of the swing for various versions of the topspin forehand, *especially* as far as how the racket face acts with balls at the height extremes. But, once it gets to this “near vertical” orientation, I think it kind of stays there for something like 90º or more, *and* keeps facing the intended target line for a similar portion of the stroke.

    I think the theory is fairly robust in that I think most all of it holds up with topspin backhands as well. I also like the way it goes with the way balls curve in flight based on the height of contact.

    I don’t think most folks notice how much the pro’s balls curve in the air. When Roddick hits a topspin forehand off a very high ball, that ball curves heavily left-to-right on its path over the net, as the clockwise path of the racket face, when up high, is heading right-to-left. (If you’ve ever seen a “screwball” serve, I believe it’s done in precisely the same manner).

    Conversely, as Andy seems to love to do on a running forehand passing shot down the line (and this only happens on a low ball), the ball curves right to left (sometimes even starting out in the doubles alley before curving back inside the singles line) due the racket face traveling (at least partially) left to right when down low on its clockwise path, with racket head seriously lagging behind the hand before catching up and passing it. This is one of those cases where we’re likely to see the “reverse finish”, because the racket had to move *so* much faster than the hand in order to apply the necessary spin (and add upward trajectory on that low ball??)

    I’ve tried teaching this a bit to friends and family by having them imagine a pane of glass leaning slightly forward, with its base somewhere around their feet, and with the pane maybe a foot or two in front of them out in front of their faces. I then have them imagine sliding the stringbed clockwise against that pane of glass. (I’ve also stolen the idea of having them try to protect that pane of glass by making sure that the ball doesn’t get past it). I forget whose idea that was, but it worked great for me at one point along the way.

    Also, that “leaning” pane of glass points out that low balls are contacted less out in front, generally, I believe, than high balls. Plus, the racket face can be more “closed” on the high balls (racket head more in “front” of the hand), as the trajectory doesn’t have to be so much “upward” on those balls.

    Looking at tons of slow-mo video, I’ve noticed that only on very high balls is the long axis of the racket horizontal (or more steeply upward) at contact. On most balls, the racket head is still below the hand. Whilst I’ve often heard “low to high” for topspin, to me, the “hand path” and the “racket head path” are two massively different ideas. Brian Gordon even seemed to like that separation when we’ve talked about it. (Can’t wait for him to bring out his study of the forehand – supposedly soon).

    As this set of photos shows, I blame Vic Braden for screwing up my topspin forehand for decades. 🙂 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mentalblock/sets/72157600094800395/

    Anyway, while both the hand and the racket head go from low to high, they travel through much different paths and at much different rates of speed. This differential varies, of course, depending on how much topspin is applied, but I’m not sure that there is enough emphasis on this by most instructors.

    I’m also convinced that a *lot* of the upward trajectory that gets produced by topspin strokes is due to how far the racket head is dropped below the ball, *regardless* of how much the hand, itself, goes low-to-high, and regardless (at least to some degree), how open or closed the racket face is on the stroke. I’m not sure of the physics here, but I’ve seen photos with parts of the tennis ball sticking over a quarter of an inch *through* the strings. I’m thinking that this could at least be partially responsible for the upward trajectory of the ball that is gained from having the racket face accelerate upwardly from below ball height (and even with the racket face slightly closed).

    I’m still working on making the concept even more robust by making “slice” fit the theory, but I think I’m making a little progress with it. 🙂

    I love your stuff, and enjoyed discussing the serve with you a while back.

    Kevin
    Savannah

  • Mike

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Thanks for the demonstration Jim. It makes sense that less errors will be produced . However, I know habits are hard to change so I will get to work on it today.
    I wish you had a easy tip to control my ball toss when I serve. I always want to flip the ball and
    thus I can”t always place the ball where I want it.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 1, 2011

      Mike
      I do have materials on the tossing action, and specifically the rhythm associated with the “down together up together action” where slowing the racquet arm as it begins will slow down the tossing arm – those materials are in MTKS – mastering the kick serve
      best
      jim

  • Will Roche

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Hi Jim, thanks for your recent post on racket lag. It seems to me that this new style of shot can be best compared to as a throwing action – that is, the elbow comes through first, leaving the racket head behind, only for the head to then catch up with a snap, much like throwing a ball. I have heard this referred to as a whipping forehand, as opposed to the more conventional stroke, where the elbow maintains its form from take-back until followthrough. Some players use this more than others – most notably Rafael Nadal. It’s harder to spot in other players, but its often there to varying degrees. This whipping action seems to create confusion among coaches. When should it be used? At what level should it be taught or learned? What are the pros and cons of this newer technique compared to the traditional stroke? I would be very interested to hear your views. Best, Will

  • Greg Sieck

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Jim,

    Awesome insight. The other effect I felt was that my core loaded up more. You don’t get that sense on the 8-board because your feet rotate. But with your feet on solid ground the short take back really puts your core into the stroke, and you can’t just “arm” it.

    Thanks!

    Greg

  • Russ Simpson

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Jim:

    Pancho Gonzalez was ahead of his time.

    Russ

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply June 1, 2011

      Russ – Pancho, “Gorgo” – and my very first racquet as a kid was a Spalding Pancho Gonzalez – pretty cool eh?
      Jim

  • Jack Phifer

    Reply Reply June 1, 2011

    Jim I tried that and I can’t believe how much the ball took off and with little effort, thanks for your insight . The comment about the tail wagging the dog fits me perfectly , but i’m going to get better.

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