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Open racket face

Published: 24 May 2006 - 07:13 by ddraver

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 14:48

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as the article written by the guru is a bit old i'll put this here

When you say open open...what sort of angle are you talking about (if you can put it like that)

I hav e recently tried to incorporate it in my (irregular) practices but can't reproduc e it in a game. It seems to be a problem when it becomes spin (almoist horizontal am I right?)

Any ideas and has anyone got a good way of visualising it, soemeone somewhere said a backhand is like throwing a frisbee and a forehand id like skimming a stone - that was invaluable for me and  has improved my game noticably

Thanx - Dave 

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From theguru - 28 May 2006 - 22:33   -   Updated: 28 May 2006 - 22:35

First of all dddraver, i am glad to see someone reads my posts - for all my apparent fans, I have plently more in the pipline with just a little more mediation required to add the finishing inspirational touches.

Although, like me, the post may be old,  it does not make it any less useful. Being a great student of physics, I acknowledge BizzarreCo makes a perfectly good point in intimating that to hit the ball with a completely open face will not do any good for your game.

I am pleased to say that no one is suggesting that. On this particular occasion Rita, Raymond and I all agree that most if not all shots should begin with an open face. You might also note that many shots require rotation of the forearm which closes the racket face as the rotation occurs. In those cases you must start wih a more open face than which you intend to strike the ball.

With shots that require little or no forearm rotation (drop, lobs and some volleys), you might well start your swing less open.

But do not get too caught up in all this. Start with an open face and swing. Practice, experience and improve. In addition to the volleying exercise that BizzarreCo suggested, I suggest that  the similar but quicker and more repetitive "Short Chipping"  will also be  valuable and create a "feel" fr your shots.

And you might try meditation with visualisation of your stroke!

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From BizarreCo - 24 May 2006 - 21:00

A nice little solo practise that I've used (and still do on occasion) is repeated vollies from around the half-court line. Play these shots slowly (so you have to use a bit of elevation to get the ball back to yourself).


This works both accuracy and control whilst forcing you to keep an open racket face.


Measuring this by angles are a bit subjective I'm afriad. I actually tried to hold the racket and guess the angle, but I realised that mine actually ends up with a slight twist (directional angle as well as tilt angle). As a general guide, look at an A4 sheet of paper, face on, with the longer edge running from left side to right side (landscape!). Hold with your fingers in the middles of the shorter lengths. Tilt the top edge of the paper away from you approx 1 to 1.5 inches. This is the rough angle that you you want your racket to be at. Not so open as that you don't have any racket face left, but not too closed either!


Holding a racket almost horizontal for spin is a really bad idea for someone just starting out with open/closed face work. By tilting the racket into a closed or open position you are actually lessening the direct racket to ball surface area (go back to your A4 sheet of paper and tilt it completely horizontal - now imagine trying to hit a ball with the frame-thickness of the racket!!). In order to get the best open or closed racket faces, you have to know exactly when to hit the ball with what part of the racket. Unless you can continually hit the ball with the exact center of the strings, I probably wouldn't go for huge cut shots otherwise you'll end up mis-hitting the ball / double-hitting / slicing etc.


The frisbee / stone-skim examples shouldn't just apply to "slice" or "cut" shots, but should also apply to your overall swing for any shot. I think Rita's comments about wrist and arm strength / conditioning are absolutely key. A great "cut" shot requires a huge amount of wrist and forearm control to provide you with the correct placement and accuracy. Without this the shot won't have consistancy.


From personal opinion I'd say stop trying to use these shots in your game until you have mastered the basics and also gone on to practise them for a long time in training. Only then can you truly rely upon these shots in a match. You have to remember that under pressure people always return back to their base instincts. Weakness become huge gaping holes in your game and the shots you can hit 50% of the time drop to around 10%!! These shots will lose you more points than they will gain, and against better opponents, an open technique becomes a huge visual cue for them to play off. Watch the world's best trying to play these shots - firstly they don't play them very often, and secondly they keep the racket face only slightly open until the very last moment when they tilt into position (Power was a master off this!). It's the hold before the tilt that adds a dimension of disguise to your game and keeps opponents guessing until the very last moment.


Move too early and you're giving them an invitation to what you're going to do. Move too late and you'll mess up the shot by not getting enough of the ball, or by slicing, or by double hitting etc!!


Another long post from me, but hopefully a useful one!!


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From rippa rit - 24 May 2006 - 07:47   -   Updated: 24 May 2006 - 07:48

dd - the basic rule of thumb is (simply described):
  • Open face shots are drop shot, lob, boast.
  • Why is the racket open? To lift the ball in an upwards trajectory.
  • Why upwards? Because the ball is usually lower than the tin when executing.
The drive requires power/speed and therefore requires the pronation/supination.  Try air-swinging the racket with the "throwing the stone" action and you will hear the swishing noise generated by the forearm rotation.

There are lots of wrist and arm exercises to groove in the swinging action.  Descriptions are not going to work, and if you could not find stuff in the Library to help you.  Sounds like it will be material for our videos.

Swinging in front of a mirror, and solo practice are the best ways to practice this - be sure to keep checking the grip.

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