April 6, 2011

Rotating around the pole for fast forehand recovery

Yesterday I was coaching someone who had a pretty good forehand, but was often awkward in making two strong ones in a row. The problem was he tended to move his whole body forward into the shot, with his weight slightly off-center, and so to recover had to move his whole body back. It's a double-whammy because before he can even begin to move back he had to get his weight centered again. This is a common problem.

If you watch top players who seem to have the ability to hit repeated forehands (loops or smashes) with incredible rapidity - like a machine gun - you'll see that they don't move that much forward on these shots, if at all. Instead, they rotate their bodies around, as if there were a pole coming out of their heads that they spun about. When they finished their shot, they were in the same position, with weight centered, just rotated around. And since they were so well balanced and in position, they were immediately ready for the next shot. The result is a barrage of forehands that can be done incredibly quickly. It's also more efficient and thereby easier to control since you aren't throwing your body weight around so much.

Imagine that pole sticking out of your head, and hit or loop your forehands while going around it. Watch how fast you recover and how much better balanced you are. The next time someone quick-blocks back your forehand attack, you'll be ready for a second shot, and a third, fourth, etc.

The Backhand Loop

When I started out, only a few players really had backhand loops, and they were mostly top players. Players under 2000 who could backhand loop were rare. Even world-class players mostly used it only against backspin. It was considered too "advanced" for most players. Now just about anyone who can hold a racket is taught to backhand loop almost from the start, and many intermediate players can backhand loop over and over in a rally. The paradigm changed - now it's considered a necessary part of many players' games. Have you developed a backhand loop? Go to it!


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