TennisOne Classic: The Double Bend Forehand
Dave Smith, Senior Editor TennisOne
One of the current models of the modern forehand contains the description of the "double bend," that which describes the position and relationship of the racquet to the wrist and forearm.
Because of the greater preponderance of semi and full western grips, this position is not only ideal for setting the racquet in a dynamic pre-stretch position, but also it prepares the racquet angle to meet the ball for optimal topspin and driving potential.
Many players see this position and try to mimic it only to discover they can't control the ball or hit the ball cleanly with any consistency.
The double bend can create a conflict in a player’s sense of where the racquet is in relation to the ball. And this conflict oftentimes causes players to swing inappropriately.
What is the Double Bend?
Using the semi to full western grip, the hand is positioned under the racquet. This position allows for a lower racquet head prior to contact and a pre-stretch of the forearm which creates a "whip-like" potential for the forehand.
As you can see, this position sets the butt-cap of the racquet facing the target and the racquet head laid well back. It is this initial position that creates a problem for many players who don’t understand the swing mechanics for this grip.
The double bend – the classic position for the modern forehand.
From this double bend position, too many players roll the wrist when they swing in order to get the racquet head ahead of the hitting hand. Instead, players must learn to maintain the integrity of this position through contact and just beyond.
This is accomplished by the player driving the butt-cap forward with the forearm instead of trying to swing the tip of the racquet around too early.
With the semi and full western grips, the contact point must be made further out in front of the body than it would be using an eastern or continental grip. If the player does not incorporate this contact position, they will indeed try to flip the racquet around with the wrist.
While the attempt to hit around the outside of the ball is ideally an excellent stroke aspect, the execution of it must be done so as to not use the wrist or the elbow in such a way that the stroke pattern is compromised.
Keep the Plane the Same
As I have often alluded to in several articles, the player must attempt to brush up and through the topspin with the racquet face (plane) maintaining its orientation while it swings up and through the ball. When players try to flick the racquet around or roll the racquet over the ball, the face of the racquet changes significantly within the contact zone.
Long after contact, the forearm rolls usually to a palm up position. How much the player finishes with the palm up depends upon the player's grip (the more western the grip, the greater the palm up finish).
This roll, when seen in real time, looks a lot like the player is rolling the racquet during contact. But when we slow down players’ strokes, we see that this roll occurs long after contact.
Click photo: Nadia Petrova executes the classic double bend forehand. Notice the position of her wrist and forearm before, during, and after contact.
When you work on your forehand using this stroke pattern, remember to maintain conformity in the double bend through contact and not try to catch the racquet up with the wrist, forearm or early body rotation.
Do this and you will begin hitting your forehand like the pros.
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