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Coco's Forehand: Some Hamburger with Your Sushi

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  • Coco's Forehand: Some Hamburger with Your Sushi

    Years ago a friend, an electronics executive in Tokyo, described Apple's early attempts at localizing the Macintosh interface for Japan as,
    .
    "Like having some hamburger with your sushi."





    Always loved that concise diss, which came to mind when I was struggling to describe Coco Gauff's forehand, you can see in this month's TPN Tour Portrait along with photos of her great backhand, serve, and volley here:
    https://www.tennisplayer.net/members...te/coco_gauff/

    Don't get me wrong. I come not to diss Coco but to praise her. She's a tremendous tennis player. At 18 yo she is already four (4) in the world, and has qualified for this week's tour finals in both singles and doubles. where she ranks second. Tremendous movement, world class backhand, serve is inconsistent but can be strong. Great attitude.

    Her relative weakness is her forehand which can be potent, erratic, or just go away entirely. Let's look at some of my photos to see if her technique might give us some hints at why that particular stroke might hold the key to just how far the teen goes.

    This is above my pay grade, as a mere fan and humble weekend warrior, but let me toss these out to spur discussion. As in brainstorming, there are no bad ideas. Sort of <g> :

    1) Her technique seems a mishmash of several styles, built of pieces that don't seem to go together. She often takes her racket so far back way & above her head, before dropping it to her knees, it needs a ticket stub to get back in the stadium.
    .
    2) Zero shoulder rotation at times constipates her swing with her off arm blocking her racket arm (see first photo below)
    .
    3) Amazingly fast, can hit tremendous backhands while a blur, but on the forehand, she has no tiny steps and timing is often bad. In the second photo she way over-ran the ball for no reason but her own footwork.
    .

    Both photos are mine from San Jose aka Mubadala SIlicon Valley Open, (c)jfawcette

    Coco reaches toward her target with both arms, ends up following through toward her face.

    filedata/fetch?id=98930&d=1667407896&type=thumb


    Her opponent, Paula Badosa, didn't do this to her, Coco did it to herself. Tremendous speed she uses so well on her backhand is almost a detriment on her forehand -- so far.

    filedata/fetch?id=98931&d=1667407896&type=thumb

    #Tennis
    You do not have permission to view this gallery.
    This gallery has 2 photos.
    Last edited by jimlosaltos; 11-03-2022, 09:01 AM.

  • #2
    There's a lengthy feature article on Coco in The New York Times Magazine. Here's an excerpt.

    I can imagine the early exchange with her father/coach <g>

    Coco Gauff, Can the Tennis Prodigy Become a Tennis Legend?, By Susan Dominus.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/26/m...smid=url-share



    That morning in Delray Beach, Gauff’s father, arms folded, watched just off the court as she hit balls with Diego Moyano, a veteran coach who has worked with Top 25 players like Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe when they were around Coco’s age. Corey Gauff called out pointers — “You’re taking that big step a little close to the ball!” — that Coco took in without comment; at one point, I thought I heard a barely audible “I know.” Before the practice began, Moyano spoke with great animation to Corey, motioning with his arms as he explained the work he intended to do on Gauff’s forehand. That stroke has been, in the past, a looming limitation that commentators worried over; Moyano was trying to tweak it so that she could better respond to the flattest, fastest balls that come her way. “Yes, beautiful!” Moyano called across the net as she hit a succession of hard, pinpoint-accurate forehands. “Good job!” He was panting with effort as he returned her shots, sweating so much in the 90-degree heat that his sneakers would be soaked through well before the end of the grueling two-hour session. “Sorry,” Gauff said nearly every time she hit a ball past him.


    Also in this feature, a great exchange when Coco was 15 yo: "Although she was ahead, Coco was visibly agitated, overwhelmed by the stress of the moment. Her father leaned toward her, his eyes lit up, a smile just the right size on his face, offering her a confident patter of reassurance. “You’re not going to sprint to the finish line, we’re going to walk to the finish line,” he said, his voice gentle. “Take your mind to another place right now, OK? Remember we talked about that?” (Coco responded to this minute-long motivational speech in classic teenage mode: “What side do I need to hit to?” she asked as she stood up. “Just tell me something!”)





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    • #3
      JIm -

      Interesting that you have that picture of Coco's off-arm is blocking her rotation. I filmed myself recently and found I was doing that same thing. Ill just add that to my list of things to work on in my pursuit of the perfect forehand

      An interesting quote I remember reading from someone about working with Coco on her forehand, was about her ability to handle "heaviness" (speed & spin). If the feed was flat and 70 - 75 mph, Coco would crush it BUT if the feed was 65+ mph with 1500 - 2000 rpms, the quality of her forehand/groundstrokes dropped significantly.

      Sean
      Last edited by seano; 11-03-2022, 04:35 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by seano View Post
        JIm -

        Interesting that you have that picture of Coco's off-arm is blocking her rotation. I filmed myself recently and found I was doing that same thing. Ill just add that to my list of things to work on in my pursuit of the perfect forehand

        An interesting quote I remember reading from someone about working with Coco on her forehand, was about her ability to handle "heaviness" (speed & spin). If the feed was flat and 70 - 75 mph, Coco would crush it BUT if the feed was 65+ mph with 1500 - 2000 rpms, the quality of her forehand/groundstrokes dropped significantly.

        Sean
        Interesting. I saw her live for the first time at San Jose in August.

        Against Paula Badosa, who has a very good forehand IMHO, Coco was handling in well in the first set. By the end of the second she was literally whiffing on shots to her forehand.

        Similarly, her serve seemed great, then in the first set tiebreak she double faulted twice.

        Good luck with your forehand! If I've helped in some tiny, indirect way, I can log off and feel as if my time online has done some good <g>

        Comment


        • #5
          It's very difficult to make a good forehand out of a weak one once the shot has become established. There is something about a forehand that is hard to change in that regard. Not that Coco's forehand is weak necessarily, but it could be a whole lot better.
          Stotty

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by stotty View Post
            It's very difficult to make a good forehand out of a weak one once the shot has become established. There is something about a forehand that is hard to change in that regard. Not that Coco's forehand is weak necessarily, but it could be a whole lot better.
            Is 18 yo too late? Not being argumentative I wonder.

            Is a forehand easier to improve post joining the tour than a serve?

            Comment


            • #7
              This is a post by an active online follower of the WTA. I know nothing about this guy except that he seems to know more about the WTA than anybody not on the tour, and possibly a number of them.

              Describes the Fort Worth matches of Gauff as extremely bad. Another viewer chimes in on her forehand failing.

              One issue MIGHT be that the courts are described by players as excruciatingly slow. Thus big hitters like Sabalenka and Iga are doing well, while others aren't. One losing a round noted "The courts are so slow, if you hit a regular rally ball it sits there like a grapefruit and gets crushed. I guess you have to be aggressive early."


              ~~~~~~~~~

              Oleg S. (@AnnaK_4ever) tweeted at 7:15 PM on Thu, Nov 03, 2022:
              I profoundly apologize to any and all players involved in any match I have ever described as terrible, hideous, worst ever etc.
              Nothing -- NOTHING -- I have seen in the past comes close to what Gauff and Kasatkina produced tonight.
              (https://twitter.com/AnnaK_4ever/stat...yDHwtkjQg&s=03)

              ​Response: by some random dude:

              LMMFAO. no kidding. i have no idea how i made it thru that entire match tonight.
              the Forehand wing from Gauff was hard to watch. if u told me that a player in 15k event had that bad of a day with their fh, i would have told u that they should look for a new hobby!​

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jimlosaltos View Post

                Is 18 yo too late? Not being argumentative I wonder.

                Is a forehand easier to improve post joining the tour than a serve?
                Perhaps the main goal when working with a suspect forehand is to stabilize it. It's usually the best one can hope for. I don't see Coco's forehand ever being any good.

                I think suspect serves are slightly easier (though still difficult) because at least you always have a static base to work with. Forehands are so situational (played from all areas of the court with so many stances),which makes things more difficult.

                The start players gets off to with forehands and serves is absolutely critical. Grass roots coaching is a lot more important than people think.

                Let's see if Coco's forehands develops into a great shot. Time will tell. I would put money it will always be suspect.
                Stotty

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by stotty View Post

                  Perhaps the main goal when working with a suspect forehand is to stabilize it. It's usually the best one can hope for. I don't see Coco's forehand ever being any good.

                  I think suspect serves are slightly easier (though still difficult) because at least you always have a static base to work with. Forehands are so situational (played from all areas of the court with so many stances),which makes things more difficult.

                  The start players gets off to with forehands and serves is absolutely critical. Grass roots coaching is a lot more important than people think.

                  Let's see if Coco's forehands develops into a great shot. Time will tell. I would put money it will always be suspect.
                  Thanks for feedback.

                  Hope Coco can improve that one shot (and her serve consistency). Great athlete, speed, world class backhand.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Tough debut at WTA Tour Finals for Coco, but perhaps a good learning experience.

                    Lost her two round robin matches. while she and buddy/ partner Jessie Pegula lost all 3 doubles matches. Pegula had a great run, to end the year tho, until she ran into Sabalenka today.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Chris Everett offers thoughts on how Coco can fix her forehand.

                      Richard Pagliaro | Tennis_Now | Wednesday, June 28, 2023
                      Tennis Now's blog, covering everything from player rankings, to tennis player birthdays, to news, analysis, predictions, and coverage of off-court happenings. We will also include any tennis-related bits that we stumble upon from the internet. Tweets? Facebook status updates? Player blog updates? Find it here!


                      "In a zoom call with the media today to promote ESPN's Wimbledon coverage starting at 6 a.m. on Monday, July 3rd on ESPN, Evert praised Gauff as a player with multiple major weapons.​

                      "Elite opponents can rush Gauff into forehand errors as her expansive takeback requires time to generate her forehand in contrast to her more compact backhand backswing.

                      Additionally, Gauff's extreme western grip on her forehand means opponent sometimes slide short slices and drop shots as digging out low balls can be challenging with that extreme grip.

                      Evert suggests two fixes for the Gauff forehand:

                      *Work on shortening the backswing.

                      *Accelerate through the shot and move the contact point out in front rather than allowing the ball to get on her hip as it sometimes does on the forehand.

                      "The only trigger point for her will be the forehand," Evert said. "Everybody talks about it. It's probably in her head by now.

                      "On a fast surface like grass, you've got to hit the ball in front of you and you've got to accelerate. She has a tendency to decelerate at times when she's nervous. She has a tendency to hit off the back foot.

                      "If she can get that forehand going, like Iga, very similar grips, but Iga shortens her swings and accelerates better. If she can get her forehand to be a little bit more like Iga's, I think she'll have the complete game."

                      Eighteen-time Grand Slam singles champion Evert said she's convinced Gauff will win Grand Slam titles.

                      "She's going to win a Grand Slam. I mean, she's so young still, it's going to happen for her eventually. Who knows, it could happen this Wimbledon."​"​

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Coco will be the 7th seed at Wimbledon:

                        7. Coco Gauff
                        2023 Record: 24-10
                        2023 Titles: 1 (Auckland)
                        Career Grass Record: 13-6
                        Best Grass Result: Round of 16, 2019 & 2021 Wimbledon
                        2022 Wimbledon: Third Round (l. Anisimova)

                        Notable stat: Among the Top 10 players, only Elena Rybakina (90.9%) and Petra Kvitova (74.5%) have a higher winning percentage at Wimbledon than Gauff (72.7%).
                        https://www.wtatennis.com/news/35601...-16-contenders

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Alot of bs about her forehand in my opinion search my view in interactive forum and/or tour strokes.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by johnyandell View Post
                            Alot of bs about her forehand in my opinion search my view in interactive forum and/or tour strokes.
                            Let's see if I can round up some TPN links:

                            Ah, here we go:
                            Tour Strokes: Coco Gauff Forehand
                            Analyzed by John Yandell


                            Discussion: Tour Strokes: Coco Gauff Forehand


                            Excerpts by John, with lots more and video in the article.

                            "Coco doesn't do that—at least on the clips we have. Her shoulders rotate until they are parallel with the net. Then they stop virtually dead and only her arm completes the swing.

                            It seems like a two part swing. The body rotation ends and the arm has to take over. It's not a continuous full body motion. Possibly the need to do more with the arm causes her to miss, especially under pressure.

                            AND:

                            "So if the Gauff family asked me for advice about her forehand, (which they haven't), I'd leave her backswing alone, and focus on the left arm. Letting it relax and move back as the swing continues into the followthrough.

                            I'd take a look at what that does to the body rotation. If the rotation still looks stuck or limited, I'd give her an image of the rear shoulder continuing to rotate til it faces the net, modeled on one of the other players.

                            It doesn't necessarily have to rotate as far as Madison's, but it needs to keep moving. Then I'd ask Gauff to imagine the forehand motion with a smooth continuous torso rotation—like her body and racket were moving together in sync. That would be a very interesting experiment.

                            Maybe this hitch in her forward swing will correct itself over time. Or maybe it'll stay and she'll just get more confident and it won't matter. The future will answer.

                            Last edited by jimlosaltos; 06-29-2023, 08:36 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The speed of grass sure does make you shorten everything for recovery for the next shot. It would be interesting to see some side by side clips of a a forehand or backhand stroke on grass versus clay to see how much shortening or lengthening of a stroke players actually do. Fed, as the example of a long stroke, may or may not shorten/lengthen as much as other between surfaces.. It would really take high speed footage and elimination of incoming speed/spin and bounce variables to to do any real measuring and conclusions, but it would seem worthy to at least explore.

                              Comment

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