Understanding the difference between Kinetics and Kinematics is important to understanding some of the obstacles facing tennis coaches and players. Kinetics are forces being exerted while kinematics are resulting movements that happen as a result of those forces. If one is to gather their data regarding how to play tennis only by watching the pros they can be misled in quite a few ways. Unfortunately the lack of research based instruction has created quite a few myths and misconceptions around the game. It’s one reason I consider Vic Braden to have been the most important gift to tennis teaching. Albeit never truly utilized by the tennis teaching industry, Vic’s information is still way ahead of it’s time and has shaped any success I may have experienced as a tennis professional.
Although I find myself saying “watch such and such pro do it”, It is only because of a discerning mind and having been a student of the game that I know what and what not to copy from the pros. In the below video you’ll see a change Dominic Thiem has made. Wether conscious or not Dominic is inverting his racquet face significantly less recently. An inverted racquet face can come naturally (or kinematically), since as a player turns the weight of the racquet head will cause it to lag. Additionally the extra travel can create a power source for more momentum. Now I see it taught as a beneficial technique. Unfortunately like many things being taught which could seem intuitive and players do naturally anyways, the liabilities out weigh the advantages. The speed of the incoming ball coupled with the importance of taking the ball early dictate that you are better off inverting the racquet face less and saving yourself some valuable time.
The point of this article however isn’t to get you to stop teaching an inverted racquet face as a positive. It’s to get tennis pros and players to approach fundamentals in our sport with a more analytical mind. A plea for the governing bodies of instruction to invest more money in sports science and less in marketing perhaps?
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