Directing your Groundstroke 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 the first frame of Lleyton Hewitt, you’ll see he’s angling the ball towards the outside of his body.
This is an inside-out forehand and Lleyton has contacted the ball a touch ‘late’ (compared to hitting cross court), and left the racket head slightly behind the hand, to give the racket face the necessary angle to hit in the desired direction.
Aaaaouch! A bit more digital surgery and we get an idea of 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, the ball is met a little further forward, in front of the hitting hand – who is it again?
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 ball has just left the strings, with the hand slightly forward of the racket head.
And this one?