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Interactive Forum October 2018: Naomi Osaka Forehand

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  • Interactive Forum October 2018: Naomi Osaka Forehand

    Naomi Osaka Forehand

    She just won the Open hitting everyone off the court. So here is Naomi Osaka's forehand. Fascinating combination of elements. Extreme semi-western grip. Racket tip pointing to the opponent at the start of the backswing. Heavy wiper.

    But what does everyone think of the rest of her backswing and also the path of her forward swing?

    Last edited by johnyandell; 05-15-2021, 03:29 PM.

  • #2
    Yes well it's a big backswing and like most women it doesn't stay on the hitting side of the body that's for sure. I have seen better extensions but it doesn't seem to detract from any power and control she gets.

    Can I just say I think she would have won the US final anyway. She was just that bit better than Serena all round. Nice player, nice girl. I really hope she goes on the build a stellar career from here.


    • #3
      I agree with Stotty about the big backswing and lack of extension at contact. Does anyone know the MPH/RPM of the biggest forehands in the women's game? Just curious, I know the ATP men's FH can be hit over 100mph/3900rpm. Wonder about the women with the type 1 and type 2 forehands.
      Last edited by seano; 10-02-2018, 10:14 AM.


      • #4
        The lack of extension is surprising but she still produces some serious power.
        Women will hit a naturally flatter ball and so the mph is not that far off of the men but the RPMs is where the gap is.

        Kyle LaCroix USPTA
        Boca Raton


        • #5
          It is interesting to see how women hit different than men. Strength and power make a difference and it seems that women have to get the racket back farther in order to generate power. Or maybe they have a bit more time. In any case, I think this is a very nice forehand for the baseline big basher era. However, my guess is that it is not as amenable to playing inside the court and to the type of adaptability needed to handle an approach shot with all types of different balls.

          So it seems that she is able to generate plenty of power but that it requires her larger frame to do so.

          Obviously, it is a great weapon but I really wonder how it would hold up if she were pressed with either slice or with someone making her hit the ball somewhere else besides the baseline.

          Problem is there aren't too many women who make players do that regularly these days.


          • #6
            Not a large enough sample to draw too many conclusions as to just how she hits on a consistent basis but, on most occasions, she has great timing and that along with her size gives her a great foundation for a forcing baseline game. The power factor, along with the fact that she's an athletic mover, limits the opportunities of her opponents which allows her to comfortable play the game that has led her to such success. She's still a very young player and her style is not yet set in stone. I'm sure that her approach to playing will broaden and she'll comes to terms with handling "slice" and the mid court game. If one is really good at a particular style (Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, etc.) it can limit the opportunities of your opponents to the point that you can be fairly successful. Her style is not "classically" contemporary but neither is Kerber's, Keys or Sharapova, just to name a few who've been successful at this game. The great ones, under scrutiny, are not as clinically correct as we might think and they're constantly causing us to reconsider just what is most efficient and effective. Naomi may end up being one of those great one who forces us to pause and readjust our thoughts when it comes to the efficiency and effectiveness of both stroke development and style of play.


            • #7
              There are many ways to hit a forehand. The test is does it stand up to pressure and does it hurt your opponent with acceptable consistency. Yes. So her combination of grip, swing, footwork and body movement works great. I hope she has a great career.


              • #8
                Re extension: if she had it, what difference would it make? Since contact happens before full extension, what would achieving full extension actually accomplish? In Ms. Osaka's case, I submit that it would make little to no difference. Conversely, I submit that the lack of extension (at least in the sample clips) is an indication that she has a one dimensional forehand and doesn't even have full extension in her repertoire. [Her U.S. Open title is good evidence that such a limitation isn't all that limiting though, isn't it?] On the other hand, one does wonder why the more natural full extension forehand isn't something she would gravitate to as a matter of course in hitting a series of shots. Why doesn't it just happen naturally? [Yep, this is a rhetorical question.] The double-bend structure Yandell has done a nice job of describing is now pretty popular, and it's easy and compact (great advantages). But students are enslaved to teaching models and seemingly rarely find their way to natural kinetic chain mechanics, which would show up as full extension in the forehand -- a least on a good proportion of shots where urgency isn't an issue. That's because a properly executed kinetic chain includes the differential relaxation of each set of muscles that have completed their concentric contraction phase, and when you relax an accelerating arm moving forward and up in a forehand, the arm would nearly or entirely straighten (just like an arm relaxed after a properly executed serve pronates and internally rotates because of where the centers of mass are located relative to the planes of motion of the elbow and shoulder. The double bend structure is a rigid expression (an exaggeration, really) of the windshield wiper motion in which momentum is impeded and the arm is held in its structure. I suspect it's a learned habit to please an uninformed teacher.

                On the good side, Ms. Osaka is rare among WTA players in not pre-setting a hyperextended wrist and an abducted and externally rotated arm, and thereby squandering the stored elastic energy generated in the eccentric phase of the SSC by putting the shoulder and wrist into a refractory phase. That's the big fault of the women generally. Can't figure out why, but it's an observation. Ms. Osaka appears to have avoided that fault.


                • #9
                  so .. not a big fan of the heavy wiper FH ... it looks like the wiper occurs way after contact , and She has a strange pop up elbow at end of the wiper???


                  • #10
                    Good observation on the elbow. There's something simply unnatural about the wrap. It just doesn't flow. Perhaps it's because she appears to be a bit late and slightly jammed in a good percentage of her shots. When it comes to outcomes, none of that seems to matter much at all, though, and she would very professionally kick my beautiful extension and early contact right down the street, so I think I'll leave off with a sincere congratulations to her and best wishes for a long and successful career. Looks to me to be a good ambassador for the game.


                    • #11
                      If she achieves more extension she will definitely generate more power and spin, which can only be good for her game. She should also stop catching the racket after the wrap as this action invariably serves to encourage a short swing through without achieving full extension.


                      • #12
                        Complete agree.


                        • #13
                          I would like to see her timing and contact compared to Kim Clisters and Steffi Graf. Obviously 3 very different techniques but very similar in how long they wait on the ball and contact point.


                          • #14
                            Great video and my immediate impression was her more ATP/Collegiate men's initial take back prep or swing...tip forward a bit etc (Stoser, et al as well), but then the clear lack of follow through as pointed out by many of you. Sparky (AK Arturo Hernandez--Coach Clark here, go 'Eaters) wisely stated that these big back swings are not conducive to forward minded games, and difficulty on low slices etc but again, not many hit them to these players. Which by the way, numerous women's WTA coaches would say, and I agree, if you can develop a female player (and guys now too often lack this) who can slice and attack they will do well as they can upset the cookie cutter big swings and playing back. Anyway, there are so many factors for this swing. Eg. shoulder girdle strength, triceps strength etc and when she has the short quick whip at the end (not extending) that can put strain on the arm and joint. Kind of like if a pitcher was throwing a heater then stopped his arm abruptly. Delpo has a huge back swing but has the clean swing to maximize it as well with a full follow through. Shapovalov, when he first came on the scene some coaches mentioned the lack of extension (the junior like bent elbow). But strong athletes can overcompensate technical issues. Great stuff John. Steve Clark at


                            • #15
                              Clear on court in Major final example, showing that extension is way overrated for power generation with control.

                              That said, the key to her victory was her serving advantage, since other than the penalities and free points from Serena, off the ground Osaka hit very few winners to go along with forcing few errors from Serena.


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