French Open Thoughts Part 2

Published: June 6, 2014

Whilst watching the matches live it struck me that there are many weird & wonderful ways in which players swing their rackets to achieve the same end. Some have big swings, some small swings; strong grips, conservative grips; heavy topspin, light topspin.

From Gulbis’ straight armed preparation on his forehand to Errani’s limited follow through on her backhand, there is as much variety in swing shapes at pro level as there is at recreational level.

The difference is that the pros get the really important things right, almost all of the time. The swing can be any shape as long it allows the player to make contact with the ball in front of the body. Gulbis’ racket arm is straight on his take back which isn’t the most efficient way as it takes longer, & he his other arm reaches out in front, pointing towards the ball. Again this isn’t how the majority of pros, both male & female use their non-dominant arm. They tend to hold onto the racket with their free hand to facilitate body rotation & once released it points out to the side of the court, not at the ball.

Errani has an abbreviated two handed backhand follow through which is far from typical on the tour. Most players finish their swing over their opposite shoulder in order to decelerate the racket safely but Errani seems to steer her racket, finishing short using her opponents pace to generate her shot speed.

So does it matter if your average player uses unorthodox swing patterns? My answer would be no, as long as it works! If they able to contact the ball out in front of their body on most shots & hit with the desired pace & control then I’d leave it alone. If it doesn’t work, I’d look for more efficient methods. Copying top players’ shots is not always a good idea!