Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dictating with the Forehand

Most modern players like to dictate play with their forehands. They're willing to give up court position to do it. That is they move well to their backhand side (to their left for right handers) to play forehands, rather than playing backhands.

One justification I've given for this is that the ball never crosses the body of the player. This makes both the pull shot down the line and the inside out forehand easier shots. I've always thought that the change of direction is tougher when the incoming ball crosses the player's body.

Because of this, I've been hesitant to hit forehands down the line in rallies from my forehand corner, thinking this is a more difficult shot than the forehand crosscourt. Yet, I have no such hesitation on hitting a pull forehand up the line or a forehand away from me when I'm backed into my backhand corner hitting forehands.

I think I've been mistaken. I don't think there's any significant difference between the shots. If the ball doesn't "cross my body" when I'm in the backhand corner, then it doesn't "cross my body" when I'm in the forehand corner either. Why do I say that? Take a look at the diagrams below.

The first one is of a player in the backhand corner, hitting a forehand either pulled down the line or inside out crosscourt.

Now have a look at this diagram of a player in the forehand corner hitting a crosscourt forehand or a down the line forehand.

The lines for the ball, incoming or outgoing, have not changed in relation to the player. They are exactly the same. All I did was rotate the court relative to the player and the ball.

Physically the shots are nearly identical. The only real difference is the distance to the net. In the top diagram, the pull forehand travels a shorter distance to the net than the inside out forehand. In the second diagram the inside out forehand (down the line you'd call it in this orientation) travels a shorter distance to the net.

If you, like me, see no trouble in hitting to either target area when you're camped in the backhand corner, then you shouldn't have any trouble hitting to either target area from the forehand corner, either. It's the same shot.

The opening you leave your opponent is different, for sure. But the shots, both in terms of an incoming ball and your own shot, are nearly identical.

Who knew?


Eli Mlaver said...

I'm gonna go ahead and solve this whole forehand issue you're having. Righties shift their weight through the ball and to the right when they explode through their forehands. When you catch the ball late, then, it tends to drift to the right. From the backhand corner, this is a safe margin for error as the inside-out can be reigned in and the inside-in will only miss towards the center of the court. But the down-the-line shot form the forehand corner will tend to sail wide unless timed more accurately than its inside-in counterpart.
Running this two-bit blog right into the ground.

Bob said...

Thanks for the comment, bro. Great to see you contributing to the BRG Blog enterprise.

I'll have to do the math, but I think the margin of safety on late hits for the righty forehand is pretty similar in both scenarios. If I'm in the backhand corner hitting inside out, I don't have much margin of safety to my right, the alley comes up quick. I do have margin of safety to my right on the pull shot down the line.

If I'm in my forehand corner, the margin of safety exists on the crosscourt shot, but is smaller on the shot down the line. So in both cases, when I aim to my right and am late I'm in trouble.

Keep the comments coming. I'm always eager to learn from an Amherst man!!