Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Hitting from the shoulder helps ground strokes

I love experimenting while I play a sport. It teaches me about my body and hopefully helps me improve. Well today I was playing tennis and for years I've felt both my backhand and forehand topspin shots were a bit iffy on a bad day. Particularly my backhand but neither felt particularly 'natural'. By this I mean I need to warm them up a fair bit before they're reliable and I'm confident with them which isn't that great, particularly if we're playing a game cos when I lose confidence in them it's hard to recover.

At times I feel I've found these shots reliable and more 'natural' so I was convinced I'd be able to find that past success. Anyway to cut a long story short I went back to focusing on hitting through my shoulder rather than through my wrists or my hands. And boy did it improve both shots. I feel like I have a new set of weapons available. It just seemed so much easier to get the ball just where I wanted and I didn't have to think much about it at all.

so what do I mean by 'play through my shoulder'. Well it's hard to describe but it's where I focus my attention. Often I'm really trying to feel the racquet and the hand connected to it so my attention is way down the end of the arm. I've often noticed the ball fly out or go in the net for no apparent reason except that I felt a slight twitch from my wrist or hand at the last moment. I've never foudn a way to completely stop this until now.

I've noticed for a long time that if I just go through the motion of a shot and follow the the natural path the shoulder takes the racquet head is in just the right position at all times. I've also noticed how much easier it is to get consistent depth and pace of shot with little effort.

so that's why I tried it and I was so chuffed that it worked both for my backhand and forehand.

My explanation for this is that I'm basically simplfying the shot for my mind and body and leaving it more capacity to think about placement and strategy and the rest of the point. The reason being it onely has to work with the shoulder rather than the shoulder plus the wrist, elbow and hand muscles. With fewer players at the table decisions get made quicker and better because there's less info to go through and less to monitor. It may also help that the shoulder muscles are closer to the spinal cord and brain so the motor control activity would have less far to travel and thus be faster.

for me I just find the action is no longer jerky and I can literally just set my body in position and then swing. I just focus on pulling my shoulder where I want it to go. I can even turn the shoulder with these muscles to get different spins. For example extreme topspin on both wings is now easy. The backhand needs practise but I'm used to this on the forehand and it works ace.

I also started using this for slice shots and found it helped too.

any way I just wanted to log this very much as my own note in case I forget.
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