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Tour Strokes: Coco Gauff Forehand

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  • johnyandell
    started a topic Tour Strokes: Coco Gauff Forehand

    Tour Strokes: Coco Gauff Forehand

    Would love to hear your thoughts on "Tour Strokes: Coco Gauff Forehand"

  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by cms56 View Post


    Now, setting aside the question of whether I'm right, does that obstruction appear to be hindering her rise in the ranks? Obviously not. If I am right, would learning "differential relaxation" make a difference? That, I think, is an interesting question. And I know that I, for one, would be very reluctant to intervene in her development by suggesting changes to what is already a pretty successful stroke. It doesn't look right or fluid to me, but who can argue with success?
    But, what about her future game. I saved this article from Carlos Rodriguez on Henin a while back. And he thinks that early success is not good for women players. He is highly praised as helping all of the players that have trained with him. So, yes, she is slowing her forehand down possibly to get back into the court quickly. She is a great female player. But I think Carlos would say that she needs to wait and develop her game better. Again, this is his view but it is hard to argue with his results as a coach.
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  • cms56
    replied
    Originally posted by arturohernandez View Post

    I kept thinking about a baseball swing here. Imagine you tried to hit a baseball with a bat and stopped the flow of your body. What would happen is that you would not hit it as hard. The extreme case is a bunt (or in the case of tennis a volley) there you clearly want to just create contact. You are not trying to hit the ball hard. To hit it hard with less effort requires one to create a cascade (or reverse cascade in this case) from feet to hands. The acceleration will naturally have to disentangle itself as the ball leaves the bat or the racket. During the world series we could see batters almost falling over when they swung. In tennis, it's a little different in that you have to hit the ball as many times as possible and many times you are moving.

    So, the follow through in principle is a symptom of the problem. The real problem is to create flow from feet and up through the body to contact. This would require the body being looser for a longer time.

    I actually think a two handed forehand or even just grabbing the wrist with the offhand would create the write kinesthetic feel. Then the body is the one pushing the ball rather than the arm itself.

    John has worked with a lot of player so it is entirely possible that focusing on the follow through could affect the feel and preparation.

    But I can see a deeper musclieness to the shot. Again, we are talking about a 15 year old playing against grown women.

    It reminded me of this article that just came out in the NYTimes.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/o...gtype=Homepage

    The key notion is that girls and women develop differently than men.
    Agreed and then agreed some more, particularly the comment that "the follow through in principle is a symptom of the problem. The real problem is to create flow from feet and up through the body to contact. This would require the body being looser for a longer time."

    But a quick aside before diving in: We're cutting Coco some slack because she's 15. She'll refine her game, to be sure, and she'll get stronger and faster and better, etc. But will she address what appears to be a pretty serious flaw in her fundamental motion? Or will she simply make it more deeply habitual? And what is that flaw?

    Again, I don't think it's the left arm, though she does separate it too early, overly extends it, tenses it and adds a wrist hyper-extension that is not only worthless, but impedes free movement back and around in the follow through. No, I think it's that she is too quick to curtail the follow through, perhaps because she's too eager to recover and get to the next best place on the court to return the next shot. Speculating. But as to the motion itself, as the kinetic chain proceeds from the hips, up the torso, through the shoulders and arms, as those sets of muscles have completed their contractions to produce movement (and power), they should be deeply relaxed (tensed only enough for structure) such that they allow the motion and momentum they have generated to proceed unimpeded and to be passed on to the next actively contracting set of muscles. Coco is very conspicuously impeding those motions by contracting her hip and trunk muscles right after she's fired them off. The obstruction in her case is from the hips up, right through the shoulders and right arm.

    Now, setting aside the question of whether I'm right, does that obstruction appear to be hindering her rise in the ranks? Obviously not. If I am right, would learning "differential relaxation" make a difference? That, I think, is an interesting question. And I know that I, for one, would be very reluctant to intervene in her development by suggesting changes to what is already a pretty successful stroke. It doesn't look right or fluid to me, but who can argue with success?

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by cms56 View Post


    And all of that gets back to the question of what the follow through is about. While it's early in the exchange, I note that question wasn't addressed. But it gets to the heart of what's going on which Coco's forehand. And I'll say as an aside that if Vic Braden really did question the purpose of the follow through, he may not have understood how muscles work most efficiently in stick/ball sports (throwing/striking motions), the very important role of unobstructed momentum in allowing the arm and racket to continue unimpeded on the forward path, the inability of the brain to perfectly time when deceleration should begin and the risk of decelerating before impact to truncate the follow through (tip of the hat to Yandell here), and the advantage of continuing to accelerate through impact in keeping the racket on the ball (tip of the hat to Stotty here).

    I would add that the role of the left arm deserves honorable mention. I think that, too, is generally misunderstood and is talked about largely in terms of its positions and configurations rather than its muscular role and biomechanical purpose. Why do players reach? Why is that reach generally parallel to the net? Why is the arm retracted (pulled back toward the body and "tucked" in like a wing? And why would Coco introduce a hyperextension?

    Now, with all this armchairing under our belts, let's sit back and enjoy the show as Coco blows everyone of the courts in the coming years.


    I kept thinking about a baseball swing here. Imagine you tried to hit a baseball with a bat and stopped the flow of your body. What would happen is that you would not hit it as hard. The extreme case is a bunt (or in the case of tennis a volley) there you clearly want to just create contact. You are not trying to hit the ball hard. To hit it hard with less effort requires one to create a cascade (or reverse cascade in this case) from feet to hands. The acceleration will naturally have to disentangle itself as the ball leaves the bat or the racket. During the world series we could see batters almost falling over when they swung. In tennis, it's a little different in that you have to hit the ball as many times as possible and many times you are moving.

    So, the follow through in principle is a symptom of the problem. The real problem is to create flow from feet and up through the body to contact. This would require the body being looser for a longer time.

    I actually think a two handed forehand or even just grabbing the wrist with the offhand would create the write kinesthetic feel. Then the body is the one pushing the ball rather than the arm itself.

    John has worked with a lot of player so it is entirely possible that focusing on the follow through could affect the feel and preparation.

    But I can see a deeper musclieness to the shot. Again, we are talking about a 15 year old playing against grown women.

    It reminded me of this article that just came out in the NYTimes.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/o...gtype=Homepage

    The key notion is that girls and women develop differently than men.

    Leave a comment:


  • johnyandell
    replied
    Where the racket is going determines how it is moving at impact. Not sure either that there is active deceleration. I hope Coco can withstand all the attention. Too much too soon. That's what happened to Donald Young.

    Leave a comment:


  • cms56
    replied
    Originally posted by johnyandell View Post
    CM,
    There is no way to know whether she is delivering all the possible force as well as how the lack of rotation might be affecting the racket path. The visual comparisons to Serena and others convince me that there is a problem there. The old Vic Braden argument was that who needs a followthrough if the ball is gone? First tennis players aren't robots--they can't stop the racket 1 millisecond after contact. Second followthrough is what determines the actual racket path at contact.
    I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by that concluding sentence. Do you mean that what happens after impact "causes" what happens before? I'd love to understand the physics of that. Knowing that backward causation is a bit of a problem, I suspect you mean something else, but I won't speculate. Also, while it's true that players can't stop the racket a millisecond after contact, they can certainly start putting on the brakes (begin decelerating actively) and truncate the follow through rotations of the hips and shoulders, and thus of the left arm. That's what Coco does: she cuts it all off, ending all her forehands with a relatively short follow through in her hip rotation and shoulder rotation, so her left arm is correspondingly forward. It's as if she doesn't want to get too turned away from the net and thereby expedites recovery time. I don't know if that's the motive; if it is, it's an interesting consideration as to whether that weighs favorably against a full follow through. In any case, I do know the motion is a departure from the norm and does appear to involve the introduction of tensions in the follow through not characteristic of most professional players.

    My two cents: Coco's left arm structure is contrived throughout the forehand, and it is indeed uselessly tense. She does the same thing in her serves. Look at how she hyperextends her left wrist, putting it in a "stop right there" or "talk to the hand" configuration. Since wrist extensors on the back of the forearm play no role in a simple reach, this looks learned rather than natural (which is what I mean by contrived), particularly because she is preternaturally gifted athletically. When I see something like that, I imagine a teacher in the background who overemphasized a feature to the point of introducing exaggerations. (Here I admittedly speculate.) The curiosity here is that she actually maintains that configuration even into the follow through. It's as if that left forearm never really gets relaxed, and one might wonder why.

    That said, I don't consider the left arm to be the principal issue. That is, I'd be a bit hesitant to suggest that Coco's left arm causes the lack of fluidity and fullness in the follow through. Rather, it looks to be part of a more comprehensive attempt to shut down the turn very early. I think the left arm just sticks out visually because it's so obviously tense -- again, uselessly so. It's not that I don't agree with Yandell that her arm ought to relax -- it should. She ought to lose that hyperextension, right from the outset, actually, in both her forehand and serve. But as to the follow through more broadly, it might pay to "let" the rotation continue more naturally by being considerably more relaxed in the follow through, particularly in the shoulders and hips, thus with respect to both shoulder rotation and hip rotation. They should be allowed to continue to rotate until they slow down more naturally from stretch, as opposed to being actively stopped.

    And all of that gets back to the question of what the follow through is about. While it's early in the exchange, I note that question wasn't addressed. But it gets to the heart of what's going on which Coco's forehand. And I'll say as an aside that if Vic Braden really did question the purpose of the follow through, he may not have understood how muscles work most efficiently in stick/ball sports (throwing/striking motions), the very important role of unobstructed momentum in allowing the arm and racket to continue unimpeded on the forward path, the inability of the brain to perfectly time when deceleration should begin and the risk of decelerating before impact to truncate the follow through (tip of the hat to Yandell here), and the advantage of continuing to accelerate through impact in keeping the racket on the ball (tip of the hat to Stotty here).

    I would add that the role of the left arm deserves honorable mention. I think that, too, is generally misunderstood and is talked about largely in terms of its positions and configurations rather than its muscular role and biomechanical purpose. Why do players reach? Why is that reach generally parallel to the net? Why is the arm retracted (pulled back toward the body and "tucked" in like a wing? And why would Coco introduce a hyperextension?

    Now, with all this armchairing under our belts, let's sit back and enjoy the show as Coco blows everyone of the courts in the coming years.



    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    Originally posted by johnyandell View Post
    CM,
    There is no way to know whether she is delivering all the possible force as well as how the lack of rotation might be affecting the racket path. The visual comparisons to Serena and others convince me that there is a problem there. The old Vic Braden argument was that who needs a followthrough if the ball is gone? First tennis players aren't robots--they can't stop the racket 1 millisecond after contact. Second followthrough is what determines the actual racket path at contact.
    I always think the intention to follow through earlier on in the stroke effects what happens on contact and helps the shot flow. Plus - and I have no scientific evidence to back this up - I imagine that by following through the ball stays on the strings a millisecond longer, giving the player more control.

    Leave a comment:


  • johnyandell
    replied
    CM,
    There is no way to know whether she is delivering all the possible force as well as how the lack of rotation might be affecting the racket path. The visual comparisons to Serena and others convince me that there is a problem there. The old Vic Braden argument was that who needs a followthrough if the ball is gone? First tennis players aren't robots--they can't stop the racket 1 millisecond after contact. Second followthrough is what determines the actual racket path at contact.

    Leave a comment:


  • cms56
    replied
    As usual, keen observations and good recommendations by Yandell. But it does raise an interesting question, which I might put as follows: Okay, but Coco is simply not following through after she's hit the ball. She's in a generally good configuration at impact. Once she has delivered all of the force she has developed, what difference does it make what she does, if anything, in the way of a follow through? Might there be an advantage in finishing the shot fully facing the net? Might that advantage outweigh any advantages to having a full and free follow through? Yes, this is asked rhetorically. But it's also intended to provoke a consideration of why we have a follow through in the first place. What are they all about?

    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    Originally posted by klacr View Post
    Coco is a great kid. She's just 15. What you see today on Gauff's forehand won't be the finished product. Her family owns a bar around the corner from my house. She's a Delray Beach resident as am I. This analysis on her forehand is spot on and I'm willing to bet her team will take this into serious consideration.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton
    Good point. She's just 15. With all the hype and her amazing achievements it's easy to overlook she is still very much a work in progress.

    Leave a comment:


  • klacr
    replied
    Coco is a great kid. She's just 15. What you see today on Gauff's forehand won't be the finished product. Her family owns a bar around the corner from my house. She's a Delray Beach resident as am I. This analysis on her forehand is spot on and I'm willing to bet her team will take this into serious consideration.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton

    Leave a comment:


  • johnyandell
    replied
    True about Justine! I sent the article to a coach I know is working with Gauf...

    Leave a comment:


  • ten1050
    replied
    Hello John
    I believe you are correct about the lack of torso rotation on her forehand. She is stuck with her shoulders parallel to the net when she finishes. She just needs to watch some video of Federer's forehand. His torso rotation is
    outstanding. These girls can learn a lot from watching the men. I know Justine Henin did.

    Sincerely,

    Norman Ashbrooke

    Leave a comment:

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