Expert Q & A
[Q] what is the heavy ball? How to hit the heavy ball? Who can hit the heavy ball in ATP tour?
Maitree Runglerdkriangkrai
[A] Maitree,

We define the heavy ball as a ball that has a very high spin/velocity ratio. When this type of ball bounces it actually increases speed after it lands jumping off the tennis court at the opponent. To learn how to hit this shot please view our tennis videos on this topic of which describes how to execute this tennis technique with step by step detail. The best two examples of ATP tennis players who hit this type of ball are the no.1 and no.2 ranked players in the world, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. They use massive amounts of topspin on their balls (especially the forehand), and their heavy balls are some of the fastest struck balls on tour as well.

This combination gives the advantage of greater margin of error (height over the net primarily), the ability to hit more angles due the excessive amount of topspin, causes one's opponent to have to work harder with their feet (ball bounces out of opponents hitting zone frequently, allows one to swing faster when nervous (this is the greatest benefit for learning at a young age) and the ball will still go in and so on. It's not the tennis game of the future it is the tennis game of the "NOW". The advantages are so vast that most all of the ATP are using some form of the heavy ball. For amateurs it is even more of a killer weapon due that novice players are not as skilled, therefore this shot is even more effective if used against them.
Heath Waters

[Q] My question is reguarding the issue of topsin. I understand that supination, pronation, flexion, and deviation all play a major role in promoting topsin. I also know that fast racquet head acceleration also increases topsin. My question is which key element during the forehand swing is responsible for achieving topsin the most? Is their an estimate percentage of the individual key elements?
Andrew Chin
[A] Andrew,

Topspin is a byproduct of many elements such as you mention in your question. We have not done nor have we found an official study of the exact or estimated percentage of each key element, but in my opinion swing plane (vertical before contact), radial deviation, and pronation are the key focal points for the acquisition of greater topspin. Of course racquet speed will also enhance spin, but kinesthetically try to feel for the above is my recommendation.
Heath Waters

[Q] Hi,I'm right handed. This is regarding the serve,the reference point of releasing the ball at 2 o'clock. My question, if the ball was to be released at 2 o'clock and let fall to the ground, where would the correct landing spot be?
Sam Catalano
[A] Sam,

The correct landing spot, assuming you are referring to a 1st serve, is approximately 1-2 feet into court directly in front of your front foot.
Heath Waters

[Q] My question is reguarding the inside out forehand? Normally the racquet head is behind the hitting hand. I assume one has to bend or lay back the wrist since the racquet is behind the hand. And if one lays backs or bends the wrist at contact when hitting the ball how does one achieve the stretch shortening cycle. I thought that one has to keep their wrist straight and not bent at contact when hitting the ball. I dont understand.
Andrew Chin
[A] Andrew,

Please review the PROnalysis Revelations-Fh in our PROnalysis video section, of which will visually explain the stretch shortening cycle in great detail as well as the video "the forehand stretch shortening cycle...of which will answer your questions thoroughly.

One should not intentionally EVER lay their wrist back at contact. This is as old style technique as the classical style forehand with the continental grip and not where the game of tennis is currently nor where it is going.

One should understand that the wrist sometimes is in a slightly extended or (laid back position) not because of intention, but rather because of the type of shot executed (specifically the inside out or down the line). However one should also understand that although the wrist is in this slightly extended position at contact during these two specific shot selections(as shown in our PROnalysis video "contact point variations", the more important thing to understand is that the wrist is in the act of flexion, pronation and radial deviation, of which should be the focal point (not laying back the wrist...EVER). One has to understand the intent of the stroke and role of the hands and wrist movement, of which many coaches and players alike all over the world misinterpret and only see specific positions and certain situations that might exist.

The videos on our site will provide you with real live frame by frame video explaining and validating the proper movements that are fundamental biomechanical commonalities among the biggest forehand strikers in the world.
Heath Waters

[Q] hi heath - i am a new member to your site and so far i think its great question is on the millennium forehand, the hitting zone portion...if u look at the wrist and assume the handshake position is say 12 noon with fully laid back being 2pm and fully flexed forward being 9am, 'WHAT SHOULD THE POSITION OF THE WRIST BE IN THE EARLY / MID / FINAL STAGES OF THE HITTING ZONE? thx
Mark Kanar
[A] Mark-

The wrist position will of course vary depending upon your shot selection target. If one hits a ball cross court, or an angle for instance, then the wrist will be in a more flexed position (neutral hand shaking position or slightly flexed).

However, if one hits a forehand down the line or inside out cross court for instance the wrist will be in a more extended (laid back) position at time of contact.

Based upon your above assumption of the clock positions if I understand you correctly, then at the bottom of the downswing the wrist position should achieve near a 2-3pm position, then as the racquet moves forward toward impact the wrist will then flex and radially deviate, and pronate to a position at contact that is approximately 12:30-1pm if inside out or down the line shot is hit, or to a position of 12pm-11:30am if cross court or angle is the shot hit. After contact the wrist will naturally continue to flex and pronate forward of which will vary between 11-10am depending on the individual player's relaxation during the ending phase of the stroke.

Please do review the PROnalysis "Revelations 3- contact point variations" Video for a great visual on this topic that will help give you frame by frame graphical illustrations of almost this exact question. Thanks for the question.
Heath Waters

[Q] hi, i switched from a single handed backhand to a double handed backhand a year ago and feel it has greatly helped my game, adding lots of control and power. i was thinking about switching my forehand to a double handed forehand to add more control as i give away lots of free points through unforced errors on that side. i was wondering how i should grip the racket now with two hands and any tips you might would be much appreciated, thanks, cathal.
Cathal O'rourke
[A] cathal, i personally would never recommend one to switch from a one handed forehand to a two handed forehand to reduce errors as the limitations of court coverage and range of motion etc. outweigh that of a one handed forehand. i would encourage you to instead first figure out why the errors are occurring before attempting this route. Tennis is a long life sport so think of the end result when you are 90 years old and still loving tennis. Using two hands on both sides will vastly limit your range of court coverage as well as make it twice as difficult to obtain balance when setting up for your shots. If you are making errors try to bring your targets in from the lines, aim higher over the net, and simply add much more topspin. This should solve most error issues for everyone.
Heath Waters

[Q] Heath, I watched your video instruction on forehand drop shot at your website and the one on have a question about the optimal height of ball clearance over the net while executing the dropper.Should it be a net skimmer or should it make a loopy arc with underspin. Thanks Bakthan
Bakthan Savarirayan
[A] Bakthan,

Well I recommend somewhere in between your suggestions. One does not want the drop shot to be too high over the net as this gives the opponent more time to run it down, and one should not attempt to barely make the ball drop over the net as this leaves too little margin of error and the worst thing to ever do is give a free point away trying for a drop shot as most likely you were in a dominant tactical position if doing the drop shot at the right time.

The key to a successful drop shot lies in the disguise and surprise of the drop shot as well as applying enough underspin to keep the ball from bouncing forward as much so that it makes it more difficult for the opponent to retrieve. So give yourself approximately 1-2 feet height of net clearance on the drop shot and apply underspin. Most importantly use the drop shot at the right time when you have your opponent off the court, off balance, or running backwards, and when you yourself are inside the baseline preferably. Remember to also disguise your drop shot to appear as a normal ground stroke. If you follow these key elements you will be off to having a very successful drop shot on all surfaces. Thanks for the question.
Heath Waters

[Q] I have often lost concentration when say 3-0 or 5-1 up, letting the player back into the set and sometimes losing the set and match. I want to become better at closing out sets. Although sometimes it is because the player changes strategy I am sure it is mostly due to lost concentration on my part due to the excitement of being ahead in the set! What is the best way to practice maintaining focus during matches?
Richard Phillips
[A] tennis tips-


a trick many of the tour players use to keep both focused and loose when in the lead is to actually convince oneself when you have the lead such as 4-1 up that you are actually 1-4 down. most competitors in all sport naturally get tight when in the lead because they feel they have something to lose and many times begin to think about losing the lead rather than simply continuing on the path that got them the lead in the first place. however when one is down competitors tend to get the "well who cares... i am losing anyways so i might as well go for it" attitude of which typically relaxes a competitor and brings out their best tennis. the mental discipline it takes to develop this skill is a life long pursuit and the joy of competition in all sport. it is what we adrenaline thrill seekers are after. the challenge of battling ourselves is what keeps us coming back day after day to compete once again. if it were not a challenge and it was just plain easy i don't think we would have sport or competition at all :)

becoming a good mental tennis player is somewhat like the art of acting. if one can teach themselves how to put their mind in environments that might or might not be real, in pursuit of a desired result or goal... of which many top athletes in all sport have learned to do, then one will tap into more consistent success in competition. so by convincing oneself that you are down when you are up (not just saying it but believing it), this will typically relax you and allow for your best tennis to come out. give it a whirl and let me know how it goes over time. remember it is something that will not occur over night. also i encourage you to read our article "The I Care/I Don't Care" in our instruction articles section. this should help as well. thanks for the post.
Heath Waters

[Q] Hello, Im a Portuguese coach of a young player, regional level - 12 years old. In his forehand e uses a western grip. I definitly prefer the eastern grip, but its not easy to change. Until what age do you think a coach should make the change of grip. Is 12 years old, to late for that?
Miguel Neves
[A] Tennis Tips- My philosophy is to create and develop players with a complete arsenal of weapons...meaning every shot should be a weapon with no weaknesses.

Due that a western grip will somewhat make it difficult to handle low balls on the forehand side such as one would get quite often at Wimbledon this could be considered a weakness or limitation, therefore I would definitely change the grip to a 1/4 western or semi-western grip, as these grips allow the most versatility for handling and producing all types of balls.

I switched my last junior that I coached at age 14 from an extreme western to a semi-western grip. His tendency was to migrate over to the western grip as time passed. He of course hit the fence at first for a month or so, but stuck with it and still went on to win national titles here in the U.S. that very same year and he is still going strong in the ITF Junior tournaments at only age 16 winning his first ITF 18's boys event last month.

Bottom line is that it is our duty as coaches to give students a comprehensive game that will allow the player to reach their fullest potential without limitations. This is difficult in today's world to always approach coaching in this manner, as there are so many times coaches are merely babysitting kids on court that don't really want to be there. However when we are coaching a student that actually wants to be there and has substantial goals, then it is our duty in my opinion to give them the proper tools even if it means sacrificing short term minor success for long term major success.
Heath Waters

[Q] I am new to your site, and have found it a tremendous help. Question When I practice I focus on the form recommended in your video lessons. When I play a match should I focus on form to begin the muscle memory process. When I play a match focusing on form seems to inhibit my play - any suggestions.
David Kenney
[A] David- tennis tips - the ultimate goal should be to practice enough repetitions before one plays under pressure so that when one is actually put under the pressure of a match the body naturally produces the proper technical response without concious thought. This of course is not always possible to adhere to but it should be the goal. If you are unable to get enough repetition in to create the proper motor engrams before a match then you have two options: 1. Forget about all technical issues and just play but understand your technique might not be quite to the level you want it yet. or 2. Consciously focus upon technique and realize that you most likely are going to sacrifice a bit of your tactical and point development flow in order to improve your technique while under pressure. Again however in a perfect world hopefully one would have time to get in enough repetitions before a match so that the technique is a natural automatic response.
Heath Waters