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Luca Mandalino

The Theory of push lines.

The four unescapable push lines and the five fundamental principles of modern tennis playing technique.

Chapter five.

Principle number three: “Hit the ball in the area of maximum force and maximum sensitivity.”

A tired player has less energy, clearness of mind, ability to coordinate movements and finds difficulty in “feeling his body”, thus increasing the percentage of gratuitous mistakes.
Statements such as “I don’t feel my legs” and  “I don’t feel my arm” mean that the decrease in strength corresponds to a loss of sensitivity and it is equivalent to saying goodbye to “the feel of the ball”.

After these considerations, let us analyse the meaning of the word "comfort" in relation to the subject dealt with in this chapter.
The word “comfort" leads us to imagine a comfortable armchair or a comfortable car seat; we therefore dismiss from our mind the concept of force or of effort and, if we transfer the whole idea to a tennis court, we probably would imagine “a comfortable forehand stroke”.
We can deduce that playing a shot by making good use of comfortable and natural movements increases the playing comfort and the level of sensitivity.

A correct footwork enables the player to get close to  the ball he intends to hit, while keeping his balance and making his synergic action smooth and comfortable.

Footwork is just as important as armwork but the essential aspect to bear in mind in order to achieve maximum sensitivity and “the feel of the ball” concerns the grip.
To grip the racket correctly gives the hand a comfortable, natural, strong and sensitive position  at the moment of ball-racket impact which should always occur in the “area of maximum force and maximum sensitivity”.
There is more than one type of grip for the forehand on rebound just as there is for the other types of strokes, each of which is optimal for a synergic action of the player expressed along a precise “push line”.

The “area of maximum force and maximum sensitivity” is situated in the area in front of the player and to the side of the hand gripping the racket; simply in the area in front for two-handed strokes.
Whichever shot is being executed, it is in this area that hand and racket will have to find themselves at the moment of contact with the ball; the height of the point of impact is the only variable.

(3 figures showing the "area of maximum force and maximum sensitivity " forehand and backhand, one or two-handed, for right hand players with an optimal arm angle of 45 degrees to the right and forward compared to the body).

The maximum force we exert and the possibility for the racket face to reach maximum forward travel speed will allow us to execute powerful strokes with a strong dynamic force on the ball; whereas maximum sensitivity will allow us to give the ball an accurate trajectory  and flight arc.

We would like to summarize schematically the four elements  that with their simultaneousness, at the moment of the racket-ball impact, will allow the player to fully express his potential:

  1. maximum expression of the synergic action which acts on an
  2. accurate push line and brings hand and racket to hit  with
  3. a comfortable, strong and natural grip  in the
  4. "area of maximum force and maximum sensitivity”.

Hitting the ball before hand and racket can reach the area of maximum force and maximum sensitivity would cause less efficacy in the player’s synergic action and consequently less efficacy to the dynamic spin impressed on the ball.

Hitting the ball when it has gone beyond this area of optimal impact, with the synergic action of the player wearing off, would cause less efficacy to the dynamic spin on the ball and would fail to keep the hand in a comfortable and natural position.

Previous Article Chapter four.
Next Article Chapter six.
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