Directing the on-court Traffic
A perfect contact might incorporate a number of slight variations. It should be forward of your hitting shoulder, but if you want to hit down the line or cross court, you’ll need to make subtle changes to the angle of your racket face at contact.
But know that this is NOT done by loosening the wrist joint and slapping at the ball with a floppy hand.
Generally, the wrist is locked (or locked back) for impact.
I’ve carried out some crude digital surgery to highlight these subtle differences and if you look at this first frame of ….? You knew it was Andy Roddick, right? Anyhow, the racket head is slightly behind the hand, so he can angle the ball towards the outside of his body.
This is an inside-out forehand and Andy has contacted the ball a touch ‘late’ (compared to hitting cross court), as he lags the racket head slightly behind the hand, to give the racket face the necessary angle to hit in the desired direction.
Here, we get an idea from Lleyton Hewitt as to the angle needed to hit the ball in a straight line, down the middle of the court as we look.
And in the third example, Patty Tarabini meets the ball a little further forward, in front of the hitting hand.
Note that for each of these subtle changes to a magnetic contact, the hand is locked to the arm – the whole hitting arm meets the ball as one in all of these contacts, and, generally, direction is NOT achieved by a sloppy flick of the hand, via a loosening of the wrist.
Pete Sampras is hitting crosscourt too, but the fact that he has less of an angle at contact suggests he won’t be hitting as acutely crosscourt as Tarabini, previously.
So where do you reckon this ball (below) is going?
The racket is yet to meet the ball, so there’s a tad more angle still to be added.
And this one from Berti?