The professional tennis forehand is, surprisingly, extremely similar to the pro table tennis forehand - both in it's structure and it's connection
of the arm, shoulder, and paddle to the ball. While watching the table tennis clip on the right, notice how the stroke is not a "swing" of any kind. Instead it's
a muscular push and lift of the ball
with the entire arm, shoulder, and paddle together. Just like with the modern tennis forehand, notice how the player's elbow lifts upward from contact on
- indicating that the entire arm is being used to push and lift the ball.
What I find most fascinating here is the similarity in the STRUCTURE of the table tennis and the tennis forehand. In the comparison below, note how both players have the elbow bent and in close to the body. Notice as well the torque that is built up in the forearm and hand of both players.
In both strokes we can see John Yandell's "double bend" concept on display. Bent at the elbow and bent at the wrist, both sports use a remarkably
similar hitting structure at the elite level.
tennis player twists his wrist downward and you can see his forearm muscles engaged. This bent wrist, along with the tension in the forearm will
allow him to "grab" the ball with the paddle while his arm and shoulder push and lift the ball. In Novak's case, the grip, along with the supination of
the hand and forearm will allow him to "grip" the ball with his racket so he can use his entire arm and shoulder to muscularly push and lift the ball.
In the table tennis forehand, the wrist cocks downward to provide a firm, leveraged connection between the ball, paddle, and arm. If you watch the table tennis animations on the right, you can see just how much the forearm muscles are engaged to keep the wrist in this position and to abosrb the ball as the bent arm lifts and pushes on contact. For the modern forehand, the forearm muscles work even harder to keep the wrist and racket back so that the player can work the ball with the entire hitting structure.
In the next article, we will look closely at how the forearm muscles hold the wrist back and allow the hitting structure to push for power and lift and rotate for spin. The new high speed footage gives us an amazing picture of how the wrist, forearm, and racket are used to work the ball through contact.