Friday, December 16, 2011

A Roadmap to a Hall-of-Fame Forehand - Part 3: An Overview of the "B to Y" of a Topspin Forehand

Picking up from where we left things last time, let’s now begin the process of “filling in” that information that’s the basis of the “B to Y” that’s sorely missing from the world of “A and Z” instruction. The first step in this process we’ll take is to present you with an update – upgrade – of the traditional 6-photo stroke analysis sequence we discussed in the previous post.

There are already some media outlets that present stroke analysis still sequences constructed of more than 6 images. Specifically, there are three Japanese tennis magazines – “Smash”, “Tennis Magazine (Japan)” and “Tennis Journal”—that present stroke sequences constructed of 7 to 2O-plus still sequences—every issue. However, IMHO, their aim appears to be more aesthetic as much as instructional.

Mainly, it’s not really clear if there’s any specific instructional purpose or unifying “philosophy” to selecting the images these magazines use. In many cases, the instructional concepts that are being emphasized are more often than not, misleading or incorrect when examined using any context that’s outside the world of “A and Z” tennis instruction.

And, while we still believe that still sequences are not really the best way to teach movements compared to video (remember the idea of “motion in motion”?), they can still be quite useful.

Specifically, still sequences constructed of images extracted from high-speed video can reveal important movements we refer to as “micromovements" or “micromoves”.

We use the term micromoves because often these movements are very small or happen very quickly (lasting maybe a few milliseconds) such that they would otherwise invisible to the naked eye, normal speed video, or even the ultimate digital SLR cameras with high-speed burst capacity - if it weren't for the existence of high-speed video. From this point forward, we'll not only explain their importance, but we'll help show how and why you should integrate them in your own strokes.

When we present a stroke analysis still sequence, rest assured that the images we show depict specific instructional concepts that we believe are critical to the performance of that stroke. Specifically, the still images depict specific positions and orientations of the player’s body that reflect and therefore explain the reason(s) behind the high – or low – performance of their stroke.

Finally, we should mention here that we have standardized our stroke analysis still sequences to the 15 images you see below based on our research findings into the movements – those big, easy-to-see macro-movements and positions (such as the “ready position”) as well as the dozens of micromoves we’ve identified through our research – that separate the highest-performing strokes used by the top players from well, everyone else.

And the fact that we increased the number of stills is a telling sign of how we currently view instruction in general.

Our view is this: for many competitive players to take their stroke performance to that next level, they sorely need to have certain types of movements added back – restored – to their strokes. 

Specifically, we need to restore exact those micromoves that were invisible to their coaches’/teachers’ eyes and cameras that they didn’t know even existed.

Furthermore, it is primarily these micromoves that the vast majority of coaches/teachers (unwittingly) forced their students into removing. In other words, most stroke correction is fundamentally based on subtraction of movements for the vast majority of students from beginners to high-performance competitors.

Especially for those seeking high-performance or “ultimate” performance, subtracting movements most often leads to reducing, not increasing performance.

For us, teaching mechanics is most often the complete opposite of the model used by tennis instruction world as everyone knows it. For the players we work with, it’s primarily correction by addition of movements.

And if you know which movements to add, the flawed ones seem to subtract themselves anyway.

Therefore, it fits that our stroke sequence has nearly triple the images than what’s conventional.

Another important point we would like to make before we get underway is this:

We intentionally avoid using the standard tennis instruction vocabulary to describe and explain our observations in any stroke analysis – whether it’s based on live observations, video or still images.

Over the past 10 years, we have consciously minimized or removed the all-too-common and frequently misleading and confusing buzzwords, catch phrases, and one-liners that are routinely employed by tennis teachers and coaches the world over to simplify what are otherwise highly complex movement concepts.

Instead of using terms that have multiple meanings from the perspective of either teachers/coaches or players (or parents, managers and sponsors as well), we use the widely accepted - and highly specific -anatomical terminology that describes the different joint and muscle movements/activities that are the very basis of any body movement.

Our students therefore regularly hear this standard of “joint motion” which is also understood by other highly competent professionals who are typically involved with supporting and improving performance in competitive players such as strength and conditioning coaches, medical doctors, licensed physiotherapists, chiropractors, etc.

We don’t go so far as to name muscles and joints by their Latin name, we stick to the anatomical terminology for movement –joint motion –only. Here’s a short list of those anatomical terms that are used in most tennis strokes:

General Joint Motion Terms: Extension, Flexion, Abduction, Adduction, and Rotation

Specific Joint Motion Terms: Pronation (hand and forearm), Supination (hand and forearm), Ulnar Deviation (wrist), Radial Deviation (wrist), External/Internal Rotation (hip and shoulder)

Of course, there are more terms – because there are (far) more movements –involved in tennis strokes, but these terms above are the ones we use most frequently.

By convention, these terms are used when talking about them by first naming the joint that’s involved that’s performing the movement followed by one of the joint motion terms in the table—examples: Hip Extension, Arm Adduction, Hip Adduction, Elbow Flexion, Wrist Extension, etc.. The exception would be if the term already refers to the motion produced by a specific joint. For tennis purposes, the terms Pronation and Supination, by definition, refer specifically to movements performed by the forearm and hand.

While we often have to take a little extra time to clearly explain these anatomical terms to our players, we have found that these terms are rapidly accepted and understood by players because they easily connect the term to moves they can both see and feel.

The standard, popular stroke instruction vocabulary that includes terms such as: "wrist lay-back", "roll your wrists", "cover the ball", "pat the dog", "double-bend arm structure", etc., etc., etc....

We try our hardest to avoid these “popular” terms when we teach stroke mechanics and instead, we replace these “popular terms” with the much more specific anatomical/ joint motion terms.

We even try to avoid using any formal terminology – “popular” or anatomical—whenever we can and use common words (i.e. “turn forward”, “bend forward at the hip”, etc.).

Finally, the stark reality that the terms in the “popular tennis vocabulary” have multiple meanings and connotations that vary widely from player to player makes it both more practical and effective to substitute as many them with the highly specific definitions/meanings of standard, anatomical terms.

Really, the only time we’ll use this “popular tennis vocabulary” is cases where the player really have trouble understanding or accepting the anatomical terms (especially for some players who are dismayed when they realize that they had been paying top dollar to receive for incorrect information), or when we have to figure out the player’s own internal understanding of their stroke mechanics – which is, until you work with us – has been developed solely and entirely on these types of inadequately precise terms used in the “popular tennis vocabulary”.

(Now, are the droves of tennis teachers and coaches who have no background or training in human anatomy, physiology, physics and biomechanics suddenly going to adopt this type of highly-specific and precise vocabulary anytime soon?

There’s definitely going to be an adjustment period of course, but, put it to you this way, from the “student’s” (player’s) point of view, the question to ask is this: do you really trust movement instruction – that is what is really going on when you’re learning stroke mechanics—from someone who probably has, at best, anecdotal knowledge of how the body produces motion?


It's kinda like going to an auto mechanic to get your teeth cleaned. Your auto mechanic knows you have teeth, and he knows teeth can be cleaned using a toothbrush, but where is this really going? Is he really the correct choice?

For more advanced players (as well as their parents and sponsors), this question morphs into: can I really maximize my talent working with someone who has only a very limited understanding of what my body is capable of?)

So here is an example of our conception of a still image, tennis stroke analysis…

Image 1. The Ready Position
 


The ready position is the starting place for every high-performance groundstroke (volley and overhead) and both players here demonstrate the important characteristics of this phase of the forehand:

  • Knee Flexion
  • Eyes forward
  • Non-dominant hand cradles the throat or the handle (common for those like Hewitt who use a two-handed backhand)
  • Slight forward lean of the upper body from the hips (Spine Extension)

Nothing new here, right? Well, there would be one additional detail we would add if we had a different view of the same stroke that increases your first-step explosiveness… But, as we still have a ton more ground to cover, I think we’ll save this detail for discussion in a future post.

Image 2. Backswing – Phase 1: Breaking the Triangle


Now at this relatively early phase of their forehands, their stroke mechanics start to go in very different directions once they start turning their bodies.

The most noticeable difference is how each player moves their arms as they transition from the original arm positioning in their ready position (in the shape of a triangle) to the movements they use in their backswing.

Hewitt raises his racquet much higher by keeping his forearms at the same height (around shoulder height).

In contrast, Federer staggers his arms by raising his left elbow while keeping this right elbow in more or less the same position as it was at the ready position.

Is this really important?

Well, yes, this difference is important from an anatomical and biomechanical perspective because they set up the beginning of a chain reaction that happens very rapidly and involves movements that are sometimes can’t be adjusted, especially “on the fly”.

Certain movements – even those that occur long after this phase of the stroke is completed- become fixed as a result of the body positions achieved here.

This particular aspect of athletic movement—the strong interconnection and interrelationships of body positioning and their motion capabilities—cannot be overemphasized.

The only real (not superficial, cosmetic or stylistic) similarity in their movements between the two players is the fact that they are stepping out in the direction of their stroke using the right leg to form their hitting stance.

Image 3. Backswing – Phase 2: Racquet Arm and Non-Racquet Arm Extension


Both players now extend their non-dominant arms (their left arms using Elbow Extension) in front of their chests – another rare, but authentic similarity.

But, the movements used to position the racquet arm, the racquet hand and the orientation of the racquet itself, as well as the positions themselves are completely different…

The fact that the hitting surface of Federer’s racquet is facing the camera/side fence (perspective from which this was shot) whereas the hitting surface of Hewitt’s racquet faces the back fence is clear evidence of the considerable differences in their body positioning and movements up until this phase of their respective strokes.

And, contrary to “popular” instructional paradigms and beliefs, these differences are completely unrelated to the grip used by each player.

The function of the grip is yet another topic that merits its own in-depth analysis that will be covered in a future post.

Image 4. Transition – Phase 1: Halfway Down


Image 5. Transition – Phase 2 (2 frames before the First Forward Move – or, FFM – to contact)


Image 6. Transition – Phase 3: FFM


These three images (Images 4, 5, and 6) depict what our research indicates are probably the three most important positions of today’s topspin forehand.

What is happening in this phase of the stroke is the player lining up the starting point of their forward swing to impact as well as setting up the body positions needed to perform whatever motion is needed to execute their forward swing.

Effectively, these images show the transition of the backswing to the forward swing. Therefore, we call this phase of the forehand simply, Transition.

The more we studied the movements used during Transition, the better we began to understand that the positioning of certain key body areas of the player determine—“lock in”—the movements used in the forward swing, the nature of racquet-ball impact, as well as the speed and spin characteristics of the outgoing shot.

If you want to create a topspin forehand that maximizes both power (racquet and ball speed) and control (spin rate), the body and racquet positions combined with the movements used to create these positions during Transition are absolutely CRUCIAL.

Especially crucial is our realization that what happens during Transition directly influences spin production at impact. As generating sufficiently large quantities of topspin is absolutely required to counteract the added distance that high-speed shots travel compared to lower-speed ones so they stay in play.

In other words, what happens during Transition is the basis of a (top) player’s ability to CONTROL THEIR SHOTS.

Therefore, our conclusion at this point is that Transition may be the most important phase of the entire stroke.

So let’s continue exploring this idea…

Within Transition, perhaps the single most critical stage of Transition and perhaps the most critical stage of the entire stroke is shown on the image (on the video – what you see here is a still image of that first detectible motion) that shows the precise moments when there is the first clear evidence of the forward swing – the First Forward Move or FFM (Image 6).

Any similarities between the movements used by the players from this point forward are superficial and the differences have a profound impact on the resulting shot.

Essentially, the forward swing to impact used by Federer and Hewitt are nearly diametric opposites of one another in almost every attribute, and the reason why is clearly depicted in this image.

Take a careful look at Image 6 and you might see that the position of both Federer’s racquet hand and racquet face are identical. Both are pronated. Now look carefully at the position of Hewitt’s racquet hand and racquet face? Are they in an identical position like Federer’s?

In fact, they are in diametrically-opposite positions: Lleyton’s racquet hand is supinated, whereas his racquet face is pronated. 

Does it really matter that they are opposed rather than matching? Does this really affect the shot that’s produced?

The answer is a resounding “yes, it does matter”!

And, of course, the answer is a very complicated one in its entirety. We’ll walk you through a full explanation of the impact of racquet hand positioning on the forward swing, ball impact and the characteristics of the outgoing shot in the very near future.

The explanation is plenty complicated enough to fill several blog posts as you eventually see.

As a preview, the process looks something like this: first, we’ll first bring you up to speed in a few diverse subjects. These subjects include the functional anatomy of a tennis forehand and the mechanisms underlying several key neuromuscular and neurophysiological phenomena such as the Stretch-Shortening Cycle or SSC in order for the explanation to make sense.

At this point, the bottom line answer is this: because the orientation and positioning of the various body parts is, by definition, different because the racquet is “connected” to the player’s body using different spatial orientations, each player will use different muscles in a different muscle contraction sequence to “create” their respective forward swings.

In other words, with human movement, “looks different” means “is different”!

Finally, it should also be mentioned here that, for all but the most gifted athletes, the FFM is also the “point of no return” in terms of forehand performance.

What this means is that for most players there simply isn’t enough time for any conscious compensation or “on-the-fly” adjustment of the forward swing in response to unforeseen circumstances like a bad bounce off of the court surface, or the sudden realization that your brain has miscalculated and you are not in the optimal position to strike the ball cleanly.

The reason for this is because human physiology places strict limits on how quickly movement can be created by the neuromuscular system, and an “unforeseen event” like a bad bounce during play happens faster than the reaction speed that all but the most gifted humans can produce.

Image 7. Forward Swing – Phase 1 (20 frames before Impact)


Now, at this stage of the swing – both taken 94 milliseconds before impact – the differences in the movements used in their respective forward swing become more pronounced.

Here are a few examples:

Hewitt’s chest appears hollow, even sunken. Federer’s chest appears to be more expanded – with both his pecs either stretching and/or contracting. In order to create these movements, other muscles from other body regions get involved as well - especially the muscles of the shoulders and upper/mid back.

Hewitt’s right hip turns forward slightly, but no other visible movement versus Federer whose hip has both turned forward and extended upward (i.e. Hip Extension and Rotation) – this movement confirmed by his straightened right knee.

Hewitt’s entire racquet arm from wrist to shoulder remains in the virtually same positions they were at FFM, whereas Federer’s arm has straightened (achieved using Elbow Extension) and his wrist appears to move backwards (a movement achieved using Wrist Extension) relative to its position at FFM. Federer’s racquet arm action is visibly more dynamic that that of Hewitt who may, in fact, also be consciously restricting his racquet arm motion – specifically he’s consciously restricting his wrist motion.

Federer’s upward shoulder tilt (created by lateral bending of his spine) becomes even more pronounced as he rotates his upper body (achieved using Spine Rotation).

And perhaps most importantly, Federer’s Wrist Extension at this stage also sets up another power-multiplying movement in his rotator cuff – i.e. his Wrist Extension at one end (distal) of his racquet arm means that External Rotation of his hitting shoulder is happening at the other end (proximal) of his racquet arm. And, this pronounced External Rotation provides the necessary counter-movement to increase – amplify –the forces generated by Internal Rotation of his rotator cuff that drives the racquet arm and racquet into impact.

In contrast, the lack of Wrist Extension in Hewitt’s forehand strongly suggests that, at the minimum, the extent of External Rotation of the rotator cuff muscles in his hitting shoulder is nowhere near the level of Federer’s. Therefore, Hewitt cannot tap the extra force production that results from a “strong” countermovement as Federer does. This may be one explanation for the difference in power level and perhaps even spin rate between these two players.

Or, could it be that due to the positions Hewitt placed his racquet arm in at FFM, this anatomical arrangement of his racquet hand, wrist, forearm and upper arm in itself limits the possible movements that could occur in the forward swing without conscious restriction?

In other words, is it possible that Hewitt naturally and automatically reduces and restricts the movements that Federer automatically and unconsciously creates in his forehand by placing his racquet arm into the anatomical arrangement we see?

Or, is Hewitt himself demonstrating a kind of genius here, but "in reverse", as his unconscious movements lead to an outgoing shot is as powerful as Federer, but is more difficult to control because it has 30% less topspin? (More on this later.)

Image 8. Forward Swing – Phase 2 (10 frames to Impact)


Now, at this stage of the forward swing just 48 milliseconds before impact the differences between these two Major champions become even more pronounced.

Federer’s Wrist Extension is now clearly visible. There is also a pronounced Ulnar Deviation of his right wrist as well. These wrist movements trigger a powerful Stretch-Shortening-Cycle or SSC response in his forearm muscles that will increase the force production of those muscles at impact.

What about Hewitt’s wrist movements at this same stage? Lleyton’s wrist is nowhere near as extended as Roger’s and there is little evidence of any Ulnar Deviation. Without these wrist movements, Hewitt’s forearm muscles don’t show the same stretching and tension that could contribute increased force production at impact by tapping the SSC of his forearm muscles.

Also telling is the lack of movement in Hewitt’s hips as indicated by his lack of right hip extension and the maintenance of the flex in his right knee. This lack of motion means that there has been little if any groundforce transfer through the lower body that could contribute to higher force/power production by the upper body.

This means that the power of Lleyton’s forehand comes primarily from his upper body. 

In contrast, the (right) Knee and Hip Extension of Federer shows that groundforce has been transformed into elastic energy that is transferred through the entire body.

Therefore, Federer generates power using his entire body and the available groundforce while Hewitt generates power almost solely with the upper body alone.

It could be a good thing then, that Lleyton has been emphasizing upper body strength training in recent years to compensate for his “dead” lower body.

Or, given his recent problems with his right hip, he’s been forced to produce this upper body dominant stroke pattern. Could it be that his brain and body has created these mechanics as a workaround to avoid irritating the vulnerable area of his body or vice versa?

Image 9. Forward Swing – Phase 3 (1 frame before Impact)


Image 10. Impact


In these two stills, taken 4.7 milliseconds before impact (Image 9) and at impact (Image 10), the clear differences in the mechanics used by the two players continue.

Federer’s arm is extended almost fully whereas Lleyton’s arm appears to have gone from being slightly extended at the elbow at FFM towards more of a flexed position near and at impact. Hewitt’s Elbow Flexion is caused by biceps contraction which we can see clear evidence of in Image 9.

Federer’s entire body itself shows how he’s extending upwards – as well as rotating forward—as he approaches impact. Hewitt’s body shows far less upward extension and seems far less dynamic in its appearance compared with Federer. Even at impact, there is little, if any movement of Hewitt’s lower body. There’s a slight rotation of his right hip and right knee toward the net, and interestingly, from just 4.7 milliseconds before impact and into his follow-through, his upper body appears to have stopped rotating entirely.

Another key difference between the two is the angle of the racquet face around impact.

Federer’s racquet face is titled forward throughout the impact zone whereas Hewitt racquet is tilted only slightly forward just before impact, then becomes perpendicular at impact and stays almost perfectly vertical well into the follow-through.

Hewitt eventually does re-close the racquet face by pronating his racquet hand, but this occurs way after the ball has left the stringbed nearly 80 milliseconds after impact.

This difference in the “geometry” of the racquet face is the reason for the major difference in the topspin generated by each player – Federer’s forehand topspin rate averages nearly 2,600 RPM versus Hewitt’s 2,000 RPM average (a difference of 30 percent!).

And the additional control that Federer can achieve by generating larger amounts of topspin certainly has a lot to do with the competitive success he’s enjoyed in his career. And maybe this extra control explains why Roger has won 14 more Majors than Lleyton?

While power is a crucial factor in being a top tennis player, power with the ability to control it is like driving a car without brakes! 

Maybe the ability to create massive amounts of topspin should be the main instructional emphasis when teaching forehand mechanics to all players – especially for those players who can eventually perform at a Hall-of-Fame level?

Image 11. Post-Impact – Phase 1 (2 frames past Impact)


Now, a scant 9.5 milliseconds after contact, we can see a stark difference in the impact created by each player based on the angle of the racquet face. Federer’s racquet face has increased its forward tilt just after impact, whereas Hewitt’s racquet face appears to have tilted backwards – i.e. the racquet face has opened slightly skyward – from its almost perfectly perpendicular position at impact.

These changes in the post-impact racquet face angle is important because this forward or backward tilt of the racquet face is correlated with either increased topspin production – when the racquet tilts further forward – or decreased topspin production – when the racquet tilts backwards – compared to when the racquet face remains at the same angle post-impact.

See our earlier discussion of this relationship between racquet face movement and topspin production by clicking here.

Image 12. Post-Impact – Phase 2 (5 frames past Impact)


The key difference to notice at this stage of the swing is to notice the difference in the overall racket path used by the two players.

Federer’s driving his racket forward and actively pronating his racquet hand causing the racquet tip to rotate forwards in the direction of his intended shot at this very early stage of the follow-through, only 24 milliseconds after impact.

In stark contrast, Hewitt’s racquet is moving in more of an upward direction more than forward following the line of his shot. Also, there is absolutely no sign of the racquet tip rotating forwards like Federer. These positions reflect the “traditional” method of topspin generation where you’re taught to “brush upward steeply on the back of the ball” to create the desired topspin.

While topspin can be generated in that tried-and-true manner, the topspin generation method used by Federer (as well as Nadal and other top players)– maintaining the forward tilt of the racquet face throughout the impact zone while pronating the racquet hand and forearm vigorously –has been proven to be far more effective at generating large amounts of topspin.

Image 13. Deceleration – Phase 1 (Hand reaches shoulder height)

 


At this stage of the follow-through, the safe deceleration of the racquet arm is the primary goal. Again, both players go about this part of their respective strokes in starkly different ways.

Notice that Federer’s racquet hand and forearm are strongly pronated at this stage, whereas Hewitt’s racquet hand and forearm are in the opposite position: i.e. they are supinated!

I want to emphasize here that this is not a big surprise to observe such a stark difference in the follow-throughs between these two guys. As we mentioned earlier, these differences were all firmly established at a much earlier stage of the stroke.

Image 14. Deceleration – Phase 2 (Racquet reaches opposite Shoulder)

 


This image would be interpreted by the vast majority of coaches and teachers today as evidence of the so-called “windshield-wiper” finish or follow-through, but any resemblance is superficial.

What both Federer and Hewitt have both done here is complete the Radial Deviation and Pronation of their racquet hand and forearm that they originally initiated somewhere around the time of impact (well, if your name is Roger Federer, that is, because as we saw in Image 13, Hewitt's hand and forearm are still supinated). What also becomes crystal clear when watching the actual high-speed video footage these still images were extracted from is that Federer initiates these movements well before Hewitt does in their overall forehand movement sequence.

Hewitt quickly rotates his hand and forearm across his body (using a combination of Radial Deviation and Pronation) after his racquet hand reaches shoulder height, and so these movements contribute nothing to the outgoing shot as it’s a movement that happens well after the ball has left his strings. His “windshield-wiper” finish is purely a cosmetic flourish – a matter of style, not substance.

All of this again, highlights the stark differences between the forehands used by these two future Hall-of-Famers in terms of both the mechanics they use and the results they achieve shot after shot.

Image 15. End


Isn’t it somewhat remarkable to see that Federer has the classical, “perfectly balanced” finish, using stroke mechanics that are widely considered as “the exception to the rule” and it’s Hewitt –whose mechanics are widely considered as conventional in the context of so-called modern forehand mechanics—who ends up finding his balance by performing an unconventional series of movements where moves his left foot backwards and behind him at the end of the stroke.


Concluding remarks:
What’s been presented here is really just a “conversation starter” about what we have found that constitutes “optimal” topspin forehand mechanics.

I hope that you might begin to realize that maybe simplicity is not always the best approach when it comes to learning athletic movements. Those athletic skills that demonstrate the highest performance levels are far, far more complex than the simplicity and grace shown by the few athletes who are able to execute these sublime skills.

The simplicity we see with our naked eye belies that complexity that rules the body mechanisms that produce them.

We’re just starting to scratch the surface on this subject, and we hope you’ll stay with us as we share our vast set of observations and insights into how “ultimate performance” is achieved and how these concepts, methods and movements can raise the level of your strokes.

Finally, to address the “elephant in the room”, we don’t believe that all of the widely established, “popular tennis instructional ideas/methods/terminology” is partially or completely incorrect or outright wrong.


Only a substantial proportion of it appears to be wrong…

We look at what we’re doing as improving our understanding of these movements and what’s happening along the way is naturally the process of either: 1) confirming those concepts that are authentically true and useful in delivering authentic player improvement; 2) debunking flawed and incorrect concepts; or, 3) modifying, refining and correcting a concept that is partially flawed or incorrect.

At the heart of all this, what we are doing at this stage is making a lot of close and careful observations, asking questions about what we see, and then trying to come up with testable ways of determining their validity and therefore, their instructional value to you.

Another thing that shapes our analyses is this: we believe that only the highest, best performers are really worth the time to analyze. We want focus our time and energy to understand the highest-performing, “ultimate” strokes from the sport’s top performers.

Strokes that don’t demonstrate “ultimate performance” are, by definition, somehow flawed.

And, it's nothing personal... We prefer to spend our limited time trying to sort out those concepts and movements that deliver ultimate performance. We do study the wide spectrum of non-optimal movements as well. Yet, analyzing non-optimal mechanics frankly that isn’t a priority for us at this stage.

And one more fact about this approach is this: in certain cases, the highest-ranked, highest-achieving players aren’t the ones with the highest-performing strokes. To be brutally honest about it, will we ever analyze non-optimal skills in this blog? The answer is we’ll only present such an analysis here as a comparison to how a “model performer” does things… Just like how we do it when we’re with our own players on the court.

Whether you accept, reject or question our observations and findings, well, in the end, that’s up to you.

And, that’s the way it should be.

Happy Holidays to All and TTFN!

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2 Comments:

At 1:35 AM, Blogger Bob said...

I have to thank you since your older analysis on the point of contact and racket head angle, as well as the one about swing paths changed my game entirely. Last summer, I saw the before and after. I was just hitting bombs and the ridiculous of it is that it was easier to produce and easier to control... I used to have a lot of issues with the control of my trajectories and once I changed my forehand mechanics, I could go from an ultra flat stroke to something that kicks head high.

There are a few things I noticed watching Federer play before reading this article, namely the relation you highlight between the racket leg being extended and the extension, as well as rotation of the hip... I saw a video showing Federer doing a sort of hop on his racket leg when hitting a running forehand (you probably know what I am talking about, it allows player to hit an open stance forehand). It was like the extreme case of exerting force against the ground to generate power, but it did catch my attention. I don't know if you'll have some posts on footwork and how to use certain patterns to maximize power, but if not now, I leave it as a suggestion.

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger The London Daily News Editors Page said...

What excellent analysis I am a supporter of your work and would like to attend any seminars you guys do. John Kaponi

 

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