A few other videos I have found very helpful, each using slightly different terms and analogies to explain what happens to the arm, wrist and racquet during the part of the swing I’ve been obsessing about:
* USPTA pro John Craig’s videos: “Truth about Lag and Snap” and “Lag and Snap revisited.”
* Rick Macci’s: Improved Forehand Technique with Rick Macci (see especially starting around 7-minute mark).
* Ian Westermann’ Roger Federer Forehand Revealed (see especially around 5-minute mark)
Importantly, all of the above underscore the idea that if you set up properly such that you can correctly “pull” the racquet forward, your wrist (if relaxed!) will do the right thing, the racquet will go down and back naturally on its own, and the butt capp will “find its position” on its own.
Finally, the other absolutely critical insight I’ve gained about great forehand technique (albeit not directly related to generating topspin) is about where power comes from in forehands:
(1) Optimal use of the kinetic chain through which physical energy is stored and released–first through proper loading of the legs and transferred through the hips (see e.g. Tim Mayotte on “What Makes Tennis Technique Modern?“), then finally through the stretch-shortening cycle involving the laid-back wrist that Clay Ballard discusses in the video above. The magic happens when all of this works together seamlessly and naturally– no one part being “forced.”
(2) Speed (not muscling) of the swing, which somewhat counterintuitively can only be achieved through having a loose arm.
(3) Transfer of energy forward and into the court (not laterally, which many of may think we should do if we misinterpret the “windshield wiper” or “brushing up” concept).
Throughout all of this research and trial and error, I’ve encountered a ton of passionate views and controversy. The reality is that all the shorthand terms (windshield wiper, lag and snap, etc) all have shortcomings: they can connote very different ideas to different people, which can easily lead to misinterpretation and bad execution. Many renowned technique experts understandably abhor the term “lag and snap” because (1) the idea of “lagging” is misleading given how quickly everything happens and can make players wrongly try to lag in ways that are unnatural; and (2) similarly, the word “snap” may encourage players to (wrongly) try to flick their wrist at contact. Moreover, the reality is that great players fine-tune aspects of technique in real time depending on what they want to do with the ball– the idea that we should try to hit the “perfect forehand” the same way every shot is a red herring.
Yet there are certain common technical elements to great forehands, and I hope the ideas above provide some of the clues that help you on your journey to discover what works for you.
Two of my favorite guys to model my forehand after are featured below–both excellent pros who I’ve worked with at Total Tennis: Saif Ali and Marlon dal Pont. Watch in particular:
- Smooth takeback/shoulder turn
- Compact and efficient C-loop on take back: the racquet is in perfect position (not too far back) to execute “HELLO/GOODBYE” the instant the ball is lands in the hitter’s “zip code”
- Athletic position maintained throughout, knees bent
MARLON DAL PONT (apologies for the quality- only had my phone that day!)