The Other Arm

Hank Irvine serving

Putting aside those who hit a two-handed backhand, many people think of tennis as a “one-armed” sport; but the role your “other arm” plays in all strokes is critical.

The Serve

A tennis pro friend, Steve Diamond, observed that, while I did raise my left arm up in the “trophy position,” I pulled it down way to early … and therefore lost all power from the proper body rotation.  He said, you should keep that arm up as long as you can and THEN pull it down.

Chuck Kinyon, 30-year Dartmouth tennis coach, also pointed out: when the pros then pull down that arm, they tuck it into their bellies to improve their rotation forward.  See the picture of former touring pro Hank Irvine and his arm tuck.

The Forehand and Backhand

The “Other Arm” also plays a role in hitting the forehand… watch how the pros hold it out to the side, creating good body balance as they go into their back swing.

And did you ever watch slow motion of Roger Federer as he hits his great one-handed backhand?  In addition to his incredible head-on-the-ball position, check out how he throws his left arm backwards as his right arm goes forward.

What do you think? Other comments and pointers on the role of the “Other Arm”?

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4 thoughts on “The Other Arm

  1. A similar analogy can be made for the back leg. It is all about the laws of physics!

    Chuck, don’t confuse me more than I am already! George

  2. I’ve been talking to a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, skip(oops). about using the left arm more when hitting his forehand. it creates balance, allowing you to rotate easier, and recover to ready position. just imagine how difficult it would be if you always kept your opposite hand in your pocket when hitting the forehand. it would be exhausting.

    Joe, i agree totally and will watch your nameless friend to see if he does it! thanks, george

  3. I routinely go to Youtube and put up the Federer slo-mo forehand video. If you use imagery to any degree when you’re on the court, putting Roger and his forhand in your mind’s eye can be very useful! Thanks George!

    Jim, a great role model to follow! George

  4. Regarding the service motion and the role of the tossing arm, I respectfully disagree with Hank and Steve in that I believe there shouldn’t be a deliberate pull down of the arm. The tossing arm should remain up after release of the ball until the serving arm swings up. As one swings up at the ball, the tossing arm will drop by itself. Where the tossing arm finishes – tucked in or by one’s side – is a matter of personal preference.
    My observation of those who I work with on their serve and who finish with their arm tucked is that they sometimes bend at the waist which results in a serve in the net. Those who prefer to finish their motion with a tuck in, need to strive to stay upright until the strings hit the ball.

    Alan, thanks for another point of view. george

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