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View Full Version : Steffi Graf - A technical discussion


laurie
Mar 27th, 2010, 01:35 PM
This won't be one of my long rambles about someone's game like I did with Melanie Oudin and Sam Stosur; its more a question for fans of Graf and people who study these things.

I can never make up my mind so want to ask, what grip did Steffi use for her forehand? I was wondering continental grip but not sure at all, is it an eastern grip?

moby
Mar 27th, 2010, 02:09 PM
She uses an Eastern. It looks like a fairly strong Eastern to me.

Sund7101
Mar 27th, 2010, 05:19 PM
Ugly forehand technique, but amazing footwork that was the key to success for her. The stroke looked hideous, but the end result was the best forehand in women's tennis history.

OsloErik
Mar 27th, 2010, 06:55 PM
Ugly forehand technique, but amazing footwork that was the key to success for her. The stroke looked hideous, but the end result was the best forehand in women's tennis history.

I don't want to get into this discussion if we're not talking about the same thing, so do you equate ugly technique with bad technique?

I tend to sit in the camp that unorthodox technique isn't the same as ugly/bad technique. Ugly/bad technique, for me, is if you have an inconsistent hit point or inconsistent racquet face angle. And Steffi had a strange forehand, but she could replicate it over and over and over again. Part of consistency of stroke has to do with health. If you have an inconsistent hit point, your body gets more of a shock because your muscles are in different stages of tension for different shots. Players with recurring wrist and elbow injuries frequently have inconsistent hit points. Steffi rarely had problems with her upper body; her lower body was what turned into the Bionic Woman. I have trouble calling it ugly technique when it's just unorthodox. If it were the source of recurring problems during her career (for example, Venus's forehand has poor technique) I would agree, but Graf just hits her forehand differently from everyone else, and it didn't really cause her any problems.

When I lived in the states, my roommate was a big baseball fan, and he used to say he could spot a durable pitcher (I think Greg Maddux was his example) by their ability to replicate their motion every single time. Even if they had a slightly strange hitch in the motion, they would survive that kind of stress because they did it each time and the muscles developed around that. Graf's forehand, in my mind, is the same story.

The other thing worth saying: plently of players who have technical flaws have done wonders on the court. Having an inconsistent hit-point doesn't mean you aren't going to develop into a great player, it just means you are more injury prone, which will ultimately stunt your career. But in Graf's case, I don't think we can even call this a flaw. It was never something an opponent could exploit. You couldn't really rush her off the forehand wing, and you couldn't try to hit with topspin or slice in hopes of picking apart something in her technique off that wing. The only player I recall throwing her off her stride on that wing consistently was Kimiko Date, who would vary from slice to drive and short angles to keep Graf from finding her rhythm, but that's not the same thing as picking apart a stroke.

I don't think I'm coherent any more. Back to watching Miami I go.