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View Full Version : Sharapova's Shoulder and The "Whip" Forehand


LH2HBH
Jan 3rd, 2009, 06:55 AM
Does anyone else wonder if "the whip" forehand has anything to do with the shoulder injury? I know a lot of players use, especially Lansdorp students.. (Davenport, Myskina) but Maria uses it even more than the traditional "correct" forehand (over the shoulder).

For those of you that have never noticed, here it is...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k1riob_aOI

Josh.
Jan 3rd, 2009, 07:00 AM
I see where your coming from, but the "whip" or "lasso" forehand would have more stress on the wrist then the shoulder as the wrist is used to whip behind the ball and follow through around the head. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Davenport and Myskina have never had major shoulder problems, so I don't think it's that much of an issue.

akosiirwyn
Jan 3rd, 2009, 07:01 AM
I think it does. To me, it looks unnatural and kind of painful..
It works, but it isn't the greatest technique.

Davodus
Jan 3rd, 2009, 08:29 AM
definitely
the weird rotation of the shoulder that it creates would definitely put stress on the rotator cuff

pepaw
Jan 3rd, 2009, 08:34 AM
im guessing her team of doctors have thought of this

MyskinaManiac
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:21 AM
Nadal uses the "whip" style forehand also, he has never had a shoulder injury. I think it's Marias serve that's giving her problems... it's so exaggerated

tennisbear7
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:26 AM
Yes, Mark Woodforde was commenting on it and how it was an injury waiting to occur. Davenport only does the whip-lassoo forehand sometimes, and Nastya does it sometimes too but it doesn't injure her because she had supreme footwork. Maria does not and hence, being in poor position and making contact with that whip forehand of hers can cause her some trouble.

fester
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:39 AM
Nadal uses the "whip" style forehand also, he has never had a shoulder injury. I think it's Marias serve that's giving her problems... it's so exaggerated

Nadal is a man, so he is therefore a lot stronger than Sharapova. However, we don't know that Nadal won't develop similar problems in the future.

Lunaris
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:26 PM
This "lasso" topspin fh, or how do you call it in English, is used only in certain situations. For example when you don't have enough time to hit a "standard" fh with over the left shoulder followthrough (if you play with right hand). That mostly happens when your opponent hits a low shot close to the longline in your deuce court. In my opinion it shouldn't cause any major stress on your right shoulder as it is not a move you do that often (contrary to serve for example). I would like to read OsloErik's opinion on this issue, though.

lilimi
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:38 PM
Nadal uses the "whip" style forehand also, he has never had a shoulder injury. I think it's Marias serve that's giving her problems... it's so exaggerated

i also think maria's serve is the main problem. but the lasso forehand doesn't help either.

tennisbear7
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:41 PM
This "lasso" topspin fh, or how do you call it in English, is used only in certain situations. For example when you don't have enough time to hit a "standard" fh with over the left shoulder followthrough (if you play with right hand). That mostly happens when your opponent hits a low shot close to the longline in your deuce court. In my opinion it shouldn't cause any major stress on your right shoulder as it is not a move you do that often (contrary to serve for example). I would like to read OsloErik's opinion on this issue, though.

While people like Clijsters and Davenport do it in certain situations, only in the last few years has Maria developed a more traditional follow-through. As I said, people with excellent footwork like Myskina and Jankovic can do it no problems because they're in position.

Demska
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:50 PM
I use the lassu forehand in my game too, but not as much as Masha. Normally I use my over shoulder forehand, the normal one. However I use my lassu is the ball is bouncing high to my forehand, if I want to generate a lot of pace to hit hard cross court, if I'm on the run down the line of forehand side, or to create a acute angle FH CC.

I think it could be a problem for her shoulder

Demska
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:55 PM
Nastya used it a lot of grass

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gpXiFlDLYEU

Lunaris
Jan 3rd, 2009, 01:12 PM
While people like Clijsters and Davenport do it in certain situations, only in the last few years has Maria developed a more traditional follow-through. As I said, people with excellent footwork like Myskina and Jankovic can do it no problems because they're in position.
Well, I can't comment on Sharapova's forehand development as I don't follow her career. But perhaps she might be sort of forced to use the lasso shot more often as she is so tall, therefore she faces more "low" shots than shorter players? Her footwork as you say doesn't help either because she is more prone to be caught on backfoot than say, using your examples, Jankovic or Myskina. It's an interesting topic and I am opened to read more.
Nastya used it a lot of grass

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gpXiFlDLYEU
Low bounces.

Corswandt
Jan 3rd, 2009, 01:29 PM
im guessing her team of doctors have thought of this

Maria's medical team has thought of nothing. More than three years now since she began having injuries in the same area and they are yet to make a correct diagnosis or make a right decision.

Corswandt
Jan 3rd, 2009, 01:30 PM
BTW Sharapova's buggy-whip FH can't quite be compared to Nadal's lasso FH. Kleybanova's FH would be a closer match to Nadal's.

iPatty
Jan 3rd, 2009, 01:33 PM
Lunaris I agree most players use this type of forehand when they are running to the forehand side or when the ball is low because they need to get a little extra height on the ball but Sharapova uses it even on normal groundstrokes some times. She even does it off of high balls where she is on her back foot. I've noticed when she does it she gets a little extra power but she doesn't have the same smooth swing as Davenport so the extra tension and pressure her swing puts on her shoulder is heightened by the lasso follow-through.

I would also like to read OsloErik's opinion on this.

frenchie
Jan 3rd, 2009, 01:40 PM
I also use unconsciously this FH technique when I'm stretched on my FH side

My coach doesn't like it a lot and told me it should only be used to hit a very low ball

raffles
Jan 3rd, 2009, 01:40 PM
Maria's medical team has thought of nothing. More than three years now since she began having injuries in the same area and they are yet to make a correct diagnosis or a right decision.
Her training team might have thought of it as well but Maria doesn't seem like the type of make on board suggestions too well. But yes overall her medical team has been pretty awful for the last few years.

Vaidisova Ruled
Jan 3rd, 2009, 01:44 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rnmCl3i9QY
Watch at 1.00
She uses it like a normal forehand (just an exemple, she does that often)

KBdoubleu
Jan 3rd, 2009, 02:24 PM
Myskina did have shoulder problems also. That is what played a part in her drop in level of play in 2005 after a great '04.

Volcana
Jan 3rd, 2009, 02:32 PM
According to my doctor, some people are more prone to rotator cuff injuries than others. So the fact that others who use this technique haven't had injuries doesn't mean anything conclusive one way or the other. Also, we have no idea how many players DID develop injuries as a result of this, and thus never made it as pros. One thing I do know is that if you pick up your shoulder duing the shot, as Sharapova does in the video, it increases the stress on the shoulder a lot.

All that being said, we just don't know. I always felt her serve was more problematic than her forehand. If you serve harder than is natural for your body, you're going to have problems. And since everyone CAN serve harder than their body can sustain over massive repition, it's an easy problem to fall into.

Morrissey
Jan 3rd, 2009, 03:02 PM
Why doesn't Sharapova just get the surgery? She can afford it she is still young, why prolong the inevitable?

raffles
Jan 3rd, 2009, 03:05 PM
She's had the surgery apparently! If it makes any difference or if she just re-injures herself remains to be seen.

Leo_DFP
Jan 3rd, 2009, 04:26 PM
Nastya used it a lot of grass

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gpXiFlDLYEU

That makes sense because you have to make faster reactions on grass and the ball bounces lower. You don't have the same kind of time to set up and follow through over the left shoulder like you would on clay or hard.

And OMG, thanks for posting that link. Jankovic looks so homely in that awkward white baseball cap. :lol:

fester
Jan 3rd, 2009, 04:33 PM
I don't think it was a particularly good idea for her to inject herself with painkillers and play through the injury. Her and her team were very short-sighted. They should have been thinking more about her long-term career, not her short-term success.

Vincey!
Jan 3rd, 2009, 04:37 PM
I'd say "whip" forehand doesn't really affect the shoulder, it's more the wrist and the elbow...it's definitely her serve to me

Volcana
Jan 3rd, 2009, 04:51 PM
Why doesn't Sharapova just get the surgery? She can afford it she is still young, why prolong the inevitable?I happen to be recovering from rotator cuff surgery right now. It's both painful and extensive. And you lose a LOT of shoulder mobility. Six weeks in a sling, followed by six months of physical therapy. And you don't determine if the surgery has been successful for a year.

Now, Shaparova is an Olympic-class athlete, which I'm not, and I had a relatively bad tear. We don't know how bad her's was. She's also less than half my age. So let's assume her recovery will be faster than mine. She played Montreal. So the earliest she could have had surgery was August. But the other option rather than surgery is rest and rehab.

When she pulled out of HK, she wote that she's only started practicing 'sixteen days ago'. That's mid-December. So the time-frame fits for surgery or rest-and-rehab. But if she pulled out of HK, and she's practicing, and she's still planning to play OZ, it sounds like she had the surgery. It's just a little bit soon for a normal to be playing tennis. I had surgery in the beginning of November, and my medico said I could play tennis, 'in the spring'.

I think the shoulder still hurts, but the MRI says she's healed, and she's hoping to get the shoulder loosened up by OZ. And I don't think she's going to be close to 100% by OZ, even though all these players are genetic freaks.

Craig.
Jan 3rd, 2009, 05:27 PM
She has had the surgery.

SV_Fan
Jan 3rd, 2009, 05:27 PM
As I mentioned in one my threads Stevenson and Maria have very similar service motion and have similar shoulder problems. I think its the Serve but she hits the whipped forehand too much IMO not to mention it's exaggerated like her service motion.

AcesHigh
Jan 3rd, 2009, 05:57 PM
Lunaris I agree most players use this type of forehand when they are running to the forehand side or when the ball is low because they need to get a little extra height on the ball but Sharapova uses it even on normal groundstrokes some times. She even does it off of high balls where she is on her back foot. I've noticed when she does it she gets a little extra power but she doesn't have the same smooth swing as Davenport so the extra tension and pressure her swing puts on her shoulder is heightened by the lasso follow-through.

I would also like to read OsloErik's opinion on this.

I agree with this. Anyone who watches clips of Maria's serve and forehand can see the stress she must be putting on her body. I'm no pro athlete, but when I play, I rarely use that whip forehand.. it seems to cause so much unneeded stress on the wrist and shoulders.

Direwolf
Jan 3rd, 2009, 06:20 PM
no i dont think so..>!!!

i just think that shes too thin to hit
hard shots consistently...

she should work on those shoulders and arms more...
just look at Venus and Lindsay and Ivanovic...
they got good build to support their shots..

Andrew Laeddis
Jan 3rd, 2009, 07:47 PM
I think it is. I remember reading an article in 2005 that predicted it would cause an injury. She uses it way too much.

serenafan08
Jan 3rd, 2009, 09:03 PM
Jennifer Capriati used that shot quite frequently, and look at what's happened to her...:o :help: If Maria isn't careful she could wind down the same path, and add her name to the list of young players who burn or crash out.

mauresmofan
Jan 3rd, 2009, 09:22 PM
Jennifer Capriati used that shot quite frequently, and look at what's happened to her...:o :help: If Maria isn't careful she could wind down the same path, and add her name to the list of young players who burn or crash out.
I never thought of making a comparrison between Capriati and Sharapova but now that you mention it it does make sense. I don't think it came into my mind probably because Capriatis forehand was a better produced shot and it seemed like she had the natural athletisism and strength to be able to hit that shot for years without too many problems until her late 20's when it really surfaced as a major injury. This looks bad for Sharapova because she's still early 20's and has had this problem for 2 or 3 seasons now. I remember reading a while back that Jenn can't even throw a ball to her dog now such is the damage.

OsloErik
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:16 PM
Well, firstly, I've never been summoned via PM to come to a thread, so it's nice to feel wanted.

Secondly, I hate to recycle old material, but Sharapova's forehand (actually, a general progression of her game) has already been covered pretty in-depth in another thread started by Corswandt (a great thread that I'd forgotten about but will return to shortly, since it is the off season for a few more days) here: http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=12408804&postcount=22

Now, to reiterate some of the points, here is the relevant stuff. I'll highlight it to separate it from new material:

Sharapova is a backhand player. Her backhand is her money shot. It's very consistent, very deep, difficult to do much with, and very technically sound. She hits a ton of winners off the forehand, but it isn't the shot her game is built around.

When Sharapova first exploded onto the scene, she was kind of terrifying: this screaming, serving machine who hit very strong backhands and insanely powerful forehands. It wasn't the athletic terror of Venus in '97, or the precocious terror of Hingis in '96, or even the intimidating terror of Steffi in '86. It was this raw, powerful mess of a player. But she wasn't quite a mess of a player. We've seen people with that kind of talent emerge and not do much with it, and Wimbledon is one place where they seem to emerge the most. But Sharapova was both young enough and smart enough to recognize that she had limitations. In particular, she made the move from '04 to '05 by improving her footwork. She didn't get considerably faster, but she was in better position for her shots. The positive result of this was cleaning up her forehand. The downside was that she no longer hit those desperation forehands, because she didn't need to. Strangely enough, this decreased the number of winners she hit off the forehand. She was less explosive, more solid. That trend continued through most of '06, partially due to injury. But the big addition to her game (the most visible addition) in that time frame was better foot speed. She knew how to get her feet in the right position, but she didn't have the fast-twitch muscle to get there. Her trainers and she were smart enough to recognize that she wasn't going to be a terrific side-to-side mover ever (the only really tall girl who ever has been is Venus, and she's basically the most impressive and natural athlete in women's tennis history), so they got her to move forward.

Let's take a look at that for a moment: Sharapova has ugly volleys. The can't hit a drop volley to save her life, and her sense of angles at the net is rather poor. BUT, she has some of the nicest, most confident drive volleys in existence. She doesn't get let down by them very often. What has this given her? An ability to use her forehand to hit winners again. Basically, when Sharapova improved her footwork, her forehand turned from erratic but very dangerous (kind of like Venus) to consistent and less dangerous (kind of like Serena). There were matches when she'd hit her forehand great and hit tons of winners, but more often than not it was just a very very hard rallying shot. She couldn't always beat the best of the best like that (see Venus and Mauresmo at Wimbledon '05 and '06, a handful of players in early '06) although the "scrubs" (thanks, Corswandt) were easy to take apart, especially with her serve and return games so solid. But moving forward suddenly allowed her to hit a bajillion more winners than usual.

Only problem: moving forward require a great set up shot to gain quick control of the point. Obvious choice? The serve. Sharapova never really serve and volleyed, but she used the serve to gain control, waited for the weak return, blasted a groundie, waited for the response, and punched away the winner off the forehand or backhand. On top of this, she could hit more winners off the backhand by redirecting the ball. It's amazing how shot selection increases when your fitness improves (see Davenport circa 1996 compared to 1999). So for late 2006, Sharapova could dominate pretty much everyone. Her serve was the best in town, and she backed it up in both a good, difficult to beat way, and a way that people weren't used to seeing. It's much harder to beat a player at the net with an enormous wingspan than it is to beat them at the baseline.

Fast forward to 2007. Sharapova has a good return game, but not so good that she doesn't rely on her serve. When her serve fell apart (and I'm inclined to believe it really was the shoulder), she couldn't win matches. Simple as that.

AND fast forward to 2008, or even the end of 2007, when we could see that her serve was no longer a limiting factor. She wasnít double faulting as much; her serve wasnít hurting her anymore. It wasnít helping her, exactly, as Henin showed us at the YEC, but she clearly took the right steps to rectify that situation over the off season. The entire Australian, Sharapova set herself up to win the point on each first serve, on most second serves, and many returns. Thatís a game plan thatís hard to overcome.

Now, this whole post was written a few days after Sharapova won the Australian. Looking at it now, I still tend to agree that her forehand is less a problem than her serve. But I think the combination of her forehand (which simply can't be good for her shoulder) and her serve is probably what has exacerbated the injury so much earlier in her career.

While she still does hit the "buggy whip" forehand with a fair amount of regularity, she only does it when she is forced to hit deep, low balls. You want to know who has fed her deep, low balls to the deuce side this season? Ivanovic, for one, as well as Bondarenko and Zvonareva, but other players who do similar things are Schnyder, Chakvetadze, and Radwanska.

Generally speaking, I think since Sharapova's emergence in 2004 (or 2003, I suppose) she has transformed her game during patches where a different player comes to dominate. When she emerged in 2006 as the uber-Maria (I still think this was the finest period for her tennis) she had more consistency on the forehand. She couldn't use her whip forehand as much because the top players were too consistent for her to eat that many errors a match. Clijsters, Henin, and Mauresmo were simply too solid to let her get away with a relatively high-risk shot. Additionally, she had better movement (footwork, at least) which gave her time to set up a less risky forehand. She turned her forehand at the baseline into a very strong rallying shot and let her forehand drive volley be the winner shot. She still hit the whip forehand now and then, but less so than she did in 2004 and early 2005.

The biggest reason she could hit a normal forehand was her movement. But in addition to her shoulder injury, Sharapova's movement dramatically deteriorated in 2007. Clay season in particular illustrated how her footwork had declined. And she played a French Open field chock-full of players who fed her low, deep shots to her forehand. If you look for the most notable difference between Sharapova at the French in 2007 and at the US Open in 2006, it's her serve and forehand. Here's my theory.

Sharapova's serve actually hurt to hit. She had to adjust it, and that slowed it down and gave her a pretty paltry second serve. But the other shot that was most affected was her forehand. Bear with me. Sharapova's movement took a hit (was it a hip injury? I feel like she legitimately had problems) and her serve was attackable. Suddenly, she's being moved out on the forehand side again. Additionally, she is by a fluke of the draw playing a lot of players with a tendency to hit shots to Sharapova's forehand that pretty much beg for a whip forehand. AND, in comes the whip forehand.

Here's the REAL problem: Sharapova's game without a serve is still very, very good when she uses the whip forehand. So, even though she's not really hurting herself serving, she's playing match after match where her forehand is coming into play and it's doing damage as well. She won a stunning number of matches in 2007 with a truly mediocre serve, and it was largely because she had a forehand that could simply end the point right away. But all those matches wear down on her shoulder.

Now, we move on to 2008. This season, she again cut back on that whip forehand (she seemed much more content to serve big and stay back but use her backhand to set up for winners rather than end it on the forehand). But she's serving again, and her motion hasn't really changed. That's a dangerous thing, to be winning with a shot that hurts your body.

OK, now I've said what all is hurting her (serve in 2006, forehand in 2007, serve in 2008). Here's what makes Sharapova different from other players that hit whip forehands (Davenport and Capriati being the first names jumping to mind).

Sharapova hits hers more often, and hits hers down the line or inside out 75% of the time. Both Davenport and Capriati hit the whip forehand roughly 50-50 crosscourt or inside out/down the line. But Sharapova goes down the line like that far more frequently. Think about your body rotation to hit an inside out shot. Your arm doesn't move at the same rate as your body; your left shoulder keeps on moving, but your right shoulder slowly turns until contact and then accelerates into the follow through. That's a much harder motion on the shoulder. And it very well could be that Sharapova's tendency to hit down the line has been maximizing the problems it causes. Part of why she may be experiencing problems earlier than Capriati (whose shoulder problems seem the most logical link).

I'll exclude Capriati from this bit, but compare Davenport and Sharapova's serves. Davenport has a much less shouldery motion. Davenport brings her back into play differently, and rotates her body differently. Sharapova's serve is high-class, but it's easier to read when you see it in slow motion. I say that because she's still very effective with it, largely because the opponent isn't seeing the serve in slow motion :lol: BUT, Sharapova's shoulder comes into play much more than Davenport's. Not quite Stevenson-level shoulder action, but more than is ideal. That's a triple whammy for Sharapova: not only does she hit a forehand that puts more stress than usual on her shoulder, but she hits it most frequently in a direction that maximizes the stress on her shoulder. And even when she's not hitting the whip forehand (2006, 2008) she hits a serve that over-exaggerates the shoulder.

As a coach, I simply haven't a clue how I would approach this. Partially, it's because the players I coach with similar technique don't hit the ball nearly as hard, and consequently don't put as much stress on their shoulder. But it's a hard thing to deal with. If I were she, I'd cut back my schedule a fair amount. 14 events a year or so. She's so young, it's a shame to see a chronic injury that is basically caused by strong points in her game.

frenchie
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:24 PM
^^Yeah that's what I wanted to say...

Play_Suspended
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:33 PM
^^:haha::lol: That really was fascinating OsloErik, great to read really indepth analysis of the evolution of pova's game:worship:

OsloErik
Jan 4th, 2009, 06:52 AM
Well, thanks. I think I missed the bulk of the thread's discussion, though. :shrug:

AcesHigh
Jan 4th, 2009, 07:10 AM
Oslo...wow.. what an amazing post. :hearts:

sunsfuns
Jan 4th, 2009, 07:14 AM
Thanks a lot! Interesting to read - very few of us (certainly not me) could write all that.

homogenius
Jan 4th, 2009, 07:20 AM
Well, firstly, I've never been summoned via PM to come to a thread, so it's nice to feel wanted.

Secondly, I hate to recycle old material, but Sharapova's forehand (actually, a general progression of her game) has already been covered pretty in-depth in another thread started by Corswandt (a great thread that I'd forgotten about but will return to shortly, since it is the off season for a few more days) here: http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=12408804&postcount=22

Now, to reiterate some of the points, here is the relevant stuff. I'll highlight it to separate it from new material:

Sharapova is a backhand player. Her backhand is her money shot. It's very consistent, very deep, difficult to do much with, and very technically sound. She hits a ton of winners off the forehand, but it isn't the shot her game is built around.

When Sharapova first exploded onto the scene, she was kind of terrifying: this screaming, serving machine who hit very strong backhands and insanely powerful forehands. It wasn't the athletic terror of Venus in '97, or the precocious terror of Hingis in '96, or even the intimidating terror of Steffi in '86. It was this raw, powerful mess of a player. But she wasn't quite a mess of a player. We've seen people with that kind of talent emerge and not do much with it, and Wimbledon is one place where they seem to emerge the most. But Sharapova was both young enough and smart enough to recognize that she had limitations. In particular, she made the move from '04 to '05 by improving her footwork. She didn't get considerably faster, but she was in better position for her shots. The positive result of this was cleaning up her forehand. The downside was that she no longer hit those desperation forehands, because she didn't need to. Strangely enough, this decreased the number of winners she hit off the forehand. She was less explosive, more solid. That trend continued through most of '06, partially due to injury. But the big addition to her game (the most visible addition) in that time frame was better foot speed. She knew how to get her feet in the right position, but she didn't have the fast-twitch muscle to get there. Her trainers and she were smart enough to recognize that she wasn't going to be a terrific side-to-side mover ever (the only really tall girl who ever has been is Venus, and she's basically the most impressive and natural athlete in women's tennis history), so they got her to move forward.

Let's take a look at that for a moment: Sharapova has ugly volleys. The can't hit a drop volley to save her life, and her sense of angles at the net is rather poor. BUT, she has some of the nicest, most confident drive volleys in existence. She doesn't get let down by them very often. What has this given her? An ability to use her forehand to hit winners again. Basically, when Sharapova improved her footwork, her forehand turned from erratic but very dangerous (kind of like Venus) to consistent and less dangerous (kind of like Serena). There were matches when she'd hit her forehand great and hit tons of winners, but more often than not it was just a very very hard rallying shot. She couldn't always beat the best of the best like that (see Venus and Mauresmo at Wimbledon '05 and '06, a handful of players in early '06) although the "scrubs" (thanks, Corswandt) were easy to take apart, especially with her serve and return games so solid. But moving forward suddenly allowed her to hit a bajillion more winners than usual.

Only problem: moving forward require a great set up shot to gain quick control of the point. Obvious choice? The serve. Sharapova never really serve and volleyed, but she used the serve to gain control, waited for the weak return, blasted a groundie, waited for the response, and punched away the winner off the forehand or backhand. On top of this, she could hit more winners off the backhand by redirecting the ball. It's amazing how shot selection increases when your fitness improves (see Davenport circa 1996 compared to 1999). So for late 2006, Sharapova could dominate pretty much everyone. Her serve was the best in town, and she backed it up in both a good, difficult to beat way, and a way that people weren't used to seeing. It's much harder to beat a player at the net with an enormous wingspan than it is to beat them at the baseline.

Fast forward to 2007. Sharapova has a good return game, but not so good that she doesn't rely on her serve. When her serve fell apart (and I'm inclined to believe it really was the shoulder), she couldn't win matches. Simple as that.

AND fast forward to 2008, or even the end of 2007, when we could see that her serve was no longer a limiting factor. She wasn’t double faulting as much; her serve wasn’t hurting her anymore. It wasn’t helping her, exactly, as Henin showed us at the YEC, but she clearly took the right steps to rectify that situation over the off season. The entire Australian, Sharapova set herself up to win the point on each first serve, on most second serves, and many returns. That’s a game plan that’s hard to overcome.

Now, this whole post was written a few days after Sharapova won the Australian. Looking at it now, I still tend to agree that her forehand is less a problem than her serve. But I think the combination of her forehand (which simply can't be good for her shoulder) and her serve is probably what has exacerbated the injury so much earlier in her career.

While she still does hit the "buggy whip" forehand with a fair amount of regularity, she only does it when she is forced to hit deep, low balls. You want to know who has fed her deep, low balls to the deuce side this season? Ivanovic, for one, as well as Bondarenko and Zvonareva, but other players who do similar things are Schnyder, Chakvetadze, and Radwanska.

Generally speaking, I think since Sharapova's emergence in 2004 (or 2003, I suppose) she has transformed her game during patches where a different player comes to dominate. When she emerged in 2006 as the uber-Maria (I still think this was the finest period for her tennis) she had more consistency on the forehand. She couldn't use her whip forehand as much because the top players were too consistent for her to eat that many errors a match. Clijsters, Henin, and Mauresmo were simply too solid to let her get away with a relatively high-risk shot. Additionally, she had better movement (footwork, at least) which gave her time to set up a less risky forehand. She turned her forehand at the baseline into a very strong rallying shot and let her forehand drive volley be the winner shot. She still hit the whip forehand now and then, but less so than she did in 2004 and early 2005.

The biggest reason she could hit a normal forehand was her movement. But in addition to her shoulder injury, Sharapova's movement dramatically deteriorated in 2007. Clay season in particular illustrated how her footwork had declined. And she played a French Open field chock-full of players who fed her low, deep shots to her forehand. If you look for the most notable difference between Sharapova at the French in 2007 and at the US Open in 2006, it's her serve and forehand. Here's my theory.

Sharapova's serve actually hurt to hit. She had to adjust it, and that slowed it down and gave her a pretty paltry second serve. But the other shot that was most affected was her forehand. Bear with me. Sharapova's movement took a hit (was it a hip injury? I feel like she legitimately had problems) and her serve was attackable. Suddenly, she's being moved out on the forehand side again. Additionally, she is by a fluke of the draw playing a lot of players with a tendency to hit shots to Sharapova's forehand that pretty much beg for a whip forehand. AND, in comes the whip forehand.

Here's the REAL problem: Sharapova's game without a serve is still very, very good when she uses the whip forehand. So, even though she's not really hurting herself serving, she's playing match after match where her forehand is coming into play and it's doing damage as well. She won a stunning number of matches in 2007 with a truly mediocre serve, and it was largely because she had a forehand that could simply end the point right away. But all those matches wear down on her shoulder.

Now, we move on to 2008. This season, she again cut back on that whip forehand (she seemed much more content to serve big and stay back but use her backhand to set up for winners rather than end it on the forehand). But she's serving again, and her motion hasn't really changed. That's a dangerous thing, to be winning with a shot that hurts your body.

OK, now I've said what all is hurting her (serve in 2006, forehand in 2007, serve in 2008). Here's what makes Sharapova different from other players that hit whip forehands (Davenport and Capriati being the first names jumping to mind).

Sharapova hits hers more often, and hits hers down the line or inside out 75% of the time. Both Davenport and Capriati hit the whip forehand roughly 50-50 crosscourt or inside out/down the line. But Sharapova goes down the line like that far more frequently. Think about your body rotation to hit an inside out shot. Your arm doesn't move at the same rate as your body; your left shoulder keeps on moving, but your right shoulder slowly turns until contact and then accelerates into the follow through. That's a much harder motion on the shoulder. And it very well could be that Sharapova's tendency to hit down the line has been maximizing the problems it causes. Part of why she may be experiencing problems earlier than Capriati (whose shoulder problems seem the most logical link).

I'll exclude Capriati from this bit, but compare Davenport and Sharapova's serves. Davenport has a much less shouldery motion. Davenport brings her back into play differently, and rotates her body differently. Sharapova's serve is high-class, but it's easier to read when you see it in slow motion. I say that because she's still very effective with it, largely because the opponent isn't seeing the serve in slow motion :lol: BUT, Sharapova's shoulder comes into play much more than Davenport's. Not quite Stevenson-level shoulder action, but more than is ideal. That's a triple whammy for Sharapova: not only does she hit a forehand that puts more stress than usual on her shoulder, but she hits it most frequently in a direction that maximizes the stress on her shoulder. And even when she's not hitting the whip forehand (2006, 2008) she hits a serve that over-exaggerates the shoulder.

As a coach, I simply haven't a clue how I would approach this. Partially, it's because the players I coach with similar technique don't hit the ball nearly as hard, and consequently don't put as much stress on their shoulder. But it's a hard thing to deal with. If I were she, I'd cut back my schedule a fair amount. 14 events a year or so. She's so young, it's a shame to see a chronic injury that is basically caused by strong points in her game.

She has no solution : she already plays a reduced schedule and she won't retool her game at this stage of her career so...

Mikey.
Jan 4th, 2009, 07:30 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rnmCl3i9QY
Watch at 1.00
She uses it like a normal forehand (just an exemple, she does that often)

I use this type of forehand and I think there are actually 2 types. One which mainly use the legs to spring up and flick ("whip") the arm up and over the shoulder. The other where the shoulder is primarily used to rotate the arm, with no propulsion from the legs.

You can see from 1:00 in this video that it would put more strain on the wrist than shoulder. In the slow motion you can see how she launches her body backwards with her legs. This causes her wrist and forearm to flick or "whip" up quickly but then stop suddenly when the arm can't rotate any more. I think this would put strain on the wrist.

Other times you will see her not using her legs at all and she just uses her shoulder to rotate her arm up and over her shoulder. For example, when she is on the run and/or there is no time to use the proper foot work and leg propulsion. I think this type would put more stress on the shoulder and would probably lead to problems with the shoulder. As OsloErik was suggesting, since Maria's movement had decreased somewhat in 2007, she therefore used the "whip" forehand more often. I also believe she was forced to use this type of the "whip" forehand more often. Putting a lot of unwanted strain on her shoulder.

I use both types and I have had slight tweaks in both my wrist and shoulder, which I believe came from awkward versions of these forehands.

Basically I don't think either type is all that good for the body in the long run if the technique is off... but they're so fun to do :lol:

moby
Jan 4th, 2009, 07:32 AM
She has no solution : she already plays a reduced schedule and she won't retool her game at this stage of her career so...I think many of us have come to the same conclusion (not the very impressive analysis by OsloErik; just the final paragraph). Maria is unlikely to dominate the tour. She will have many injury breaks in her career. She may not play far beyond the next Olympics. However, with the right schedule, and peaking at the right time, she can still make a serious run at the majors at least once a year.

bandabou
Jan 4th, 2009, 08:07 AM
amazing analysis, Oslo..

LDVTennis
Jan 4th, 2009, 09:09 AM
Sharapova hits hers more often, and hits hers down the line or inside out 75% of the time. Both Davenport and Capriati hit the whip forehand roughly 50-50 crosscourt or inside out/down the line. But Sharapova goes down the line like that far more frequently. Think about your body rotation to hit an inside out shot. Your arm doesn't move at the same rate as your body; your left shoulder keeps on moving, but your right shoulder slowly turns until contact and then accelerates into the follow through. That's a much harder motion on the shoulder. And it very well could be that Sharapova's tendency to hit down the line has been maximizing the problems it causes. Part of why she may be experiencing problems earlier than Capriati (whose shoulder problems seem the most logical link).

I'll exclude Capriati from this bit, but compare Davenport and Sharapova's serves. Davenport has a much less shouldery motion. Davenport brings her back into play differently, and rotates her body differently. Sharapova's serve is high-class, but it's easier to read when you see it in slow motion. I say that because she's still very effective with it, largely because the opponent isn't seeing the serve in slow motion :lol: BUT, Sharapova's shoulder comes into play much more than Davenport's. Not quite Stevenson-level shoulder action, but more than is ideal. That's a triple whammy for Sharapova: not only does she hit a forehand that puts more stress than usual on her shoulder, but she hits it most frequently in a direction that maximizes the stress on her shoulder. And even when she's not hitting the whip forehand (2006, 2008) she hits a serve that over-exaggerates the shoulder.

Some thoughts on what you said:

First of all, I don't think Sharapova is deliberately trying to hit her forehand down the line most of the time. As I see it, she tends to hit the ball late on the forehand side, not Steffi-like late, just late. As you must know, if you hit the ball late on any shot, it tends to go up the line.

Hitting the ball late like this also tends to put an extra strain on the shoulder because the normal kinetic chain on the shot is broken. Typically, the kinetic progression is supposed to go something like this, shoulder, forearm, wrist. In the really smooth forehands that look like they put almost no strain on the arm, it even goes something like this --- hand, forearm, wrist, with the hand almost completely neutralizing the force of the ball at point of contact. See Federer and Graf for an example of that action.

As to her serve, not sure if I completely understand your theory. So, let me just pass an idea by you.

Sharapova has a high service toss. The benefit of a high service toss is that it encourages you to be fully extended at point of contact, sometimes extremely so. While it is a good thing for the body to be fully extended in reaching up for the ball, it is not actually a good thing for the arm to be. The arm in a fully extended position at point of contact puts too much strain on the shoulder.

I know this is going to sound strange to some of you, but in actuality when you serve your arm is supposed to roll over the ball, not make contact with the ball in a fully extended position. In fact, you can hit the serve without the upper arm ever reaching a truly vertical position, just as long as the forearm engages the ball in a vertical position. It's actually better for the shoulder if you hit the ball this way.

What happens to Sharapova is that she tosses the ball really high and then she doesn't jump high enough to come over the flight path of the ball with just her forearm. Consequently, she ends up hitting the serve with her arm fully extended. That was bound to hurt.

serenafan08
Jan 4th, 2009, 02:28 PM
Oslo that was amazing! And it really does make sense...Maria takes more risks with that whip forehand than Capriati and Davenport do. Never thought about it like that. Good stuff. :yeah:

BuTtErFrEnA
Jan 4th, 2009, 02:57 PM
Well, firstly, I've never been summoned via PM to come to a thread, so it's nice to feel wanted.

Secondly, I hate to recycle old material, but Sharapova's forehand (actually, a general progression of her game) has already been covered pretty in-depth in another thread started by Corswandt (a great thread that I'd forgotten about but will return to shortly, since it is the off season for a few more days) here: http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=12408804&postcount=22

Now, to reiterate some of the points, here is the relevant stuff. I'll highlight it to separate it from new material:

Sharapova is a backhand player. Her backhand is her money shot. It's very consistent, very deep, difficult to do much with, and very technically sound. She hits a ton of winners off the forehand, but it isn't the shot her game is built around.

When Sharapova first exploded onto the scene, she was kind of terrifying: this screaming, serving machine who hit very strong backhands and insanely powerful forehands. It wasn't the athletic terror of Venus in '97, or the precocious terror of Hingis in '96, or even the intimidating terror of Steffi in '86. It was this raw, powerful mess of a player. But she wasn't quite a mess of a player. We've seen people with that kind of talent emerge and not do much with it, and Wimbledon is one place where they seem to emerge the most. But Sharapova was both young enough and smart enough to recognize that she had limitations. In particular, she made the move from '04 to '05 by improving her footwork. She didn't get considerably faster, but she was in better position for her shots. The positive result of this was cleaning up her forehand. The downside was that she no longer hit those desperation forehands, because she didn't need to. Strangely enough, this decreased the number of winners she hit off the forehand. She was less explosive, more solid. That trend continued through most of '06, partially due to injury. But the big addition to her game (the most visible addition) in that time frame was better foot speed. She knew how to get her feet in the right position, but she didn't have the fast-twitch muscle to get there. Her trainers and she were smart enough to recognize that she wasn't going to be a terrific side-to-side mover ever (the only really tall girl who ever has been is Venus, and she's basically the most impressive and natural athlete in women's tennis history), so they got her to move forward.

Let's take a look at that for a moment: Sharapova has ugly volleys. The can't hit a drop volley to save her life, and her sense of angles at the net is rather poor. BUT, she has some of the nicest, most confident drive volleys in existence. She doesn't get let down by them very often. What has this given her? An ability to use her forehand to hit winners again. Basically, when Sharapova improved her footwork, her forehand turned from erratic but very dangerous (kind of like Venus) to consistent and less dangerous (kind of like Serena). There were matches when she'd hit her forehand great and hit tons of winners, but more often than not it was just a very very hard rallying shot. She couldn't always beat the best of the best like that (see Venus and Mauresmo at Wimbledon '05 and '06, a handful of players in early '06) although the "scrubs" (thanks, Corswandt) were easy to take apart, especially with her serve and return games so solid. But moving forward suddenly allowed her to hit a bajillion more winners than usual.

Only problem: moving forward require a great set up shot to gain quick control of the point. Obvious choice? The serve. Sharapova never really serve and volleyed, but she used the serve to gain control, waited for the weak return, blasted a groundie, waited for the response, and punched away the winner off the forehand or backhand. On top of this, she could hit more winners off the backhand by redirecting the ball. It's amazing how shot selection increases when your fitness improves (see Davenport circa 1996 compared to 1999). So for late 2006, Sharapova could dominate pretty much everyone. Her serve was the best in town, and she backed it up in both a good, difficult to beat way, and a way that people weren't used to seeing. It's much harder to beat a player at the net with an enormous wingspan than it is to beat them at the baseline.

Fast forward to 2007. Sharapova has a good return game, but not so good that she doesn't rely on her serve. When her serve fell apart (and I'm inclined to believe it really was the shoulder), she couldn't win matches. Simple as that.

AND fast forward to 2008, or even the end of 2007, when we could see that her serve was no longer a limiting factor. She wasnít double faulting as much; her serve wasnít hurting her anymore. It wasnít helping her, exactly, as Henin showed us at the YEC, but she clearly took the right steps to rectify that situation over the off season. The entire Australian, Sharapova set herself up to win the point on each first serve, on most second serves, and many returns. Thatís a game plan thatís hard to overcome.

Now, this whole post was written a few days after Sharapova won the Australian. Looking at it now, I still tend to agree that her forehand is less a problem than her serve. But I think the combination of her forehand (which simply can't be good for her shoulder) and her serve is probably what has exacerbated the injury so much earlier in her career.

While she still does hit the "buggy whip" forehand with a fair amount of regularity, she only does it when she is forced to hit deep, low balls. You want to know who has fed her deep, low balls to the deuce side this season? Ivanovic, for one, as well as Bondarenko and Zvonareva, but other players who do similar things are Schnyder, Chakvetadze, and Radwanska.

Generally speaking, I think since Sharapova's emergence in 2004 (or 2003, I suppose) she has transformed her game during patches where a different player comes to dominate. When she emerged in 2006 as the uber-Maria (I still think this was the finest period for her tennis) she had more consistency on the forehand. She couldn't use her whip forehand as much because the top players were too consistent for her to eat that many errors a match. Clijsters, Henin, and Mauresmo were simply too solid to let her get away with a relatively high-risk shot. Additionally, she had better movement (footwork, at least) which gave her time to set up a less risky forehand. She turned her forehand at the baseline into a very strong rallying shot and let her forehand drive volley be the winner shot. She still hit the whip forehand now and then, but less so than she did in 2004 and early 2005.

The biggest reason she could hit a normal forehand was her movement. But in addition to her shoulder injury, Sharapova's movement dramatically deteriorated in 2007. Clay season in particular illustrated how her footwork had declined. And she played a French Open field chock-full of players who fed her low, deep shots to her forehand. If you look for the most notable difference between Sharapova at the French in 2007 and at the US Open in 2006, it's her serve and forehand. Here's my theory.

Sharapova's serve actually hurt to hit. She had to adjust it, and that slowed it down and gave her a pretty paltry second serve. But the other shot that was most affected was her forehand. Bear with me. Sharapova's movement took a hit (was it a hip injury? I feel like she legitimately had problems) and her serve was attackable. Suddenly, she's being moved out on the forehand side again. Additionally, she is by a fluke of the draw playing a lot of players with a tendency to hit shots to Sharapova's forehand that pretty much beg for a whip forehand. AND, in comes the whip forehand.

Here's the REAL problem: Sharapova's game without a serve is still very, very good when she uses the whip forehand. So, even though she's not really hurting herself serving, she's playing match after match where her forehand is coming into play and it's doing damage as well. She won a stunning number of matches in 2007 with a truly mediocre serve, and it was largely because she had a forehand that could simply end the point right away. But all those matches wear down on her shoulder.

Now, we move on to 2008. This season, she again cut back on that whip forehand (she seemed much more content to serve big and stay back but use her backhand to set up for winners rather than end it on the forehand). But she's serving again, and her motion hasn't really changed. That's a dangerous thing, to be winning with a shot that hurts your body.

OK, now I've said what all is hurting her (serve in 2006, forehand in 2007, serve in 2008). Here's what makes Sharapova different from other players that hit whip forehands (Davenport and Capriati being the first names jumping to mind).

Sharapova hits hers more often, and hits hers down the line or inside out 75% of the time. Both Davenport and Capriati hit the whip forehand roughly 50-50 crosscourt or inside out/down the line. But Sharapova goes down the line like that far more frequently. Think about your body rotation to hit an inside out shot. Your arm doesn't move at the same rate as your body; your left shoulder keeps on moving, but your right shoulder slowly turns until contact and then accelerates into the follow through. That's a much harder motion on the shoulder. And it very well could be that Sharapova's tendency to hit down the line has been maximizing the problems it causes. Part of why she may be experiencing problems earlier than Capriati (whose shoulder problems seem the most logical link).

I'll exclude Capriati from this bit, but compare Davenport and Sharapova's serves. Davenport has a much less shouldery motion. Davenport brings her back into play differently, and rotates her body differently. Sharapova's serve is high-class, but it's easier to read when you see it in slow motion. I say that because she's still very effective with it, largely because the opponent isn't seeing the serve in slow motion :lol: BUT, Sharapova's shoulder comes into play much more than Davenport's. Not quite Stevenson-level shoulder action, but more than is ideal. That's a triple whammy for Sharapova: not only does she hit a forehand that puts more stress than usual on her shoulder, but she hits it most frequently in a direction that maximizes the stress on her shoulder. And even when she's not hitting the whip forehand (2006, 2008) she hits a serve that over-exaggerates the shoulder.

As a coach, I simply haven't a clue how I would approach this. Partially, it's because the players I coach with similar technique don't hit the ball nearly as hard, and consequently don't put as much stress on their shoulder. But it's a hard thing to deal with. If I were she, I'd cut back my schedule a fair amount. 14 events a year or so. She's so young, it's a shame to see a chronic injury that is basically caused by strong points in her game.

ummm yea that's what i wanted to say :rolls:

great post :worship:

Dominic
Jan 4th, 2009, 04:04 PM
Her injury has nothing to do with the whip forehand since every tennis player uses that forehand and some just as frequently as Maria. Plus the only thing affected by that injury is her serve.

Izzie.
Jan 4th, 2009, 04:06 PM
Truthfully, I hope she just takes it easy and doesn't play unless it really *is* 100%. I would be devastated if the injury became worse :tears:

iPatty
Jan 4th, 2009, 04:07 PM
I suspect it was Corswandt or maybe Lunaris who summoned Erik to this thread so we should thank them. ;)

The main part I agree with and that I can relate to is the section where you talked about how often she goes down the line with her whip forehand. Anyone who plays tennis at a competitive level knows that that is an incredibly awkward shot to hit and requires very good timing.

I see some posters in here comparing her to Nadal but that just cannot be done. Nadal, Andreev, and many other ATP pros use a lot of spin so they sometimes need that extra lift that the whip forehand gives them to give the ball a lot of height over the net. Sharapova uses it as a result of poor footwork and because it is sometimes a more penetrating shot than a normal forehand.

OsloErik
Jan 4th, 2009, 07:41 PM
I use this type of forehand and I think there are actually 2 types. One which mainly use the legs to spring up and flick ("whip") the arm up and over the shoulder. The other where the shoulder is primarily used to rotate the arm, with no propulsion from the legs.

You can see from 1:00 in this video that it would put more strain on the wrist than shoulder. In the slow motion you can see how she launches her body backwards with her legs. This causes her wrist and forearm to flick or "whip" up quickly but then stop suddenly when the arm can't rotate any more. I think this would put strain on the wrist.

Other times you will see her not using her legs at all and she just uses her shoulder to rotate her arm up and over her shoulder. For example, when she is on the run and/or there is no time to use the proper foot work and leg propulsion. I think this type would put more stress on the shoulder and would probably lead to problems with the shoulder. As OsloErik was suggesting, since Maria's movement had decreased somewhat in 2007, she therefore used the "whip" forehand more often. I also believe she was forced to use this type of the "whip" forehand more often. Putting a lot of unwanted strain on her shoulder.

That's a very shrewd analysis; also think about someone like Mirza who perhaps overuses the whip forehand that puts more stress on her wrist than shoulder. Where is she today? Still returning from a wrist injury. I think you could also make the case that Venus perhaps used more of a wrist-focused technique on her forehand, and she has suffered wrist injury before as well.

Some thoughts on what you said:

First of all, I don't think Sharapova is deliberately trying to hit her forehand down the line most of the time. As I see it, she tends to hit the ball late on the forehand side, not Steffi-like late, just late. As you must know, if you hit the ball late on any shot, it tends to go up the line.

Fair enough, but the result is what matters most, not the intention. Whether she's trying to go down the line more often or whether she hits the ball late, it is going to cause more complications on her shoulder. Now perhaps alone, that wouldn't be a problem. But in conjunction with her serve...? Big problem.

As to her serve, not sure if I completely understand your theory. So, let me just pass an idea by you.

Sharapova has a high service toss. The benefit of a high service toss is that it encourages you to be fully extended at point of contact, sometimes extremely so. While it is a good thing for the body to be fully extended in reaching up for the ball, it is not actually a good thing for the arm to be. The arm in a fully extended position at point of contact puts too much strain on the shoulder.
...
What happens to Sharapova is that she tosses the ball really high and then she doesn't jump high enough to come over the flight path of the ball with just her forearm. Consequently, she ends up hitting the serve with her arm fully extended. That was bound to hurt.

That's well put. It's very hard to pinpoint what Sharapova does with her serve that makes it so physical. I think the closest I can compare it to would be Mauresmo and Dementieva in 2000, 2001 or so. Both of them had to learn a brand new motion (with mixed results) that took a lot of the motion out and made it more snappy rather than a straight-shot. I'd be curious to see what Sharapova is doing to train her serve, if indeed it will be a chronic source of discomfort.

Her injury has nothing to do with the whip forehand since every tennis player uses that forehand and some just as frequently as Maria. Plus the only thing affected by that injury is her serve.

But isn't it possible that both her serve and forehand in conjunction with one another are aggravating the problems prematurely? And I'd argue that very few players use the whip forehand as much as Sharapova; it's nearly her default forehand, and she typically plays more matches per year than any other player with a comparably powerful one. Davenport and Capriati didn't hit theirs the same way, and Myskina used hers very sporadically. Which other top 10 staples of the past ten years have used a similar forehand?

I suspect it was Corswandt or maybe Lunaris who summoned Erik to this thread so we should thank them. ;)

The main part I agree with and that I can relate to is the section where you talked about how often she goes down the line with her whip forehand. Anyone who plays tennis at a competitive level knows that that is an incredibly awkward shot to hit and requires very good timing.

Actually, it was Inside-out ;) so thank him (her?).

And that's what I'm inclined to think. Either she's hitting the ball late and is simply that disciplined off the ground that her shots are well timed even when she hits them late, or she's very good at hitting it but that doesn't detract from the stress it causes her body.

Again, I don't think it's her forehand alone. I think it is clear that she has a serve that over-emphasizes the shoulder and puts more stress on it than is ideal. But she does hit a very unique forehand and in a fashion that appears to augment the problems that her serve causes her shoulder.

Dominic
Jan 4th, 2009, 08:48 PM
But isn't it possible that both her serve and forehand in conjunction with one another are aggravating the problems prematurely? And I'd argue that very few players use the whip forehand as much as Sharapova; it's nearly her default forehand, and she typically plays more matches per year than any other player with a comparably powerful one. Davenport and Capriati didn't hit theirs the same way, and Myskina used hers very sporadically. Which other top 10 staples of the past ten years have used a similar forehand?



No it's not possible because when she played the last few times her serve sucked and it showed that she was hurting when serving. While her forehand was great and she was pounding huge winners as usual. And yes Capriati and Davenport use the same forehand as often as Maria. And I'm not gonna start naming players that use that forehand because everyone does. I do it, you do it, Serena does it, Federer does it, and the list goes on forever.

Dominic
Jan 4th, 2009, 08:51 PM
Actually I think Jankovic uses it even more than Maria. And btw, using that forehand myself I do not think it puts any stress on the shoulder.

Cakeisgood
Jan 4th, 2009, 09:33 PM
I find it interesting how much Maria's technique has changed over the years. If you watch her matches at Wimby 03 and 04 (saying those because those are the only youtube-able ones), her backhand is still very much intact and pretty to watch. Her forhand however, is ugly as sin. She rarely took full strokes and somehow, they ball STILL flew off her stick and into the court. Especially in the final of 04, check out the forehand lobs she threw against Serena. They were ugly, and absolutely wrong. But somehow, they all stayed in; even Serena applauded. In some ways, I see early Maria and Safina to be very similar players. Humongous game when on, and error party when off.

Then, when 05 and 06 rolled around, Maria's technique improved. I still attest to the fact that 06 Maria serve was FAR less straining on her shoulder AND and more effective. Frankly, I don't know what the difference was, but watching USO 06 and AO 07, the serve was way different. 06 was more compact, but also better, while 07 seemed more dynamic (read: long), but was weaker and exaggerated. In addition, 06 Maria was all about powerful point construction. She would use angles to open up the court and therefore, late 06 queen Maria emerged. Now however, despite her strength, she is again reverting back to the attritional warfare type game that brought her to 04 Wimby and 08 AO. Although effective, simply, it is painful for her body.

I agree with Oslo in that, while the whip FH is not the primary cause of injury, it cannot do much to help her. She simply contacts with the ball too late. Especially with a Western grip like Maria's, that is awful for the shoulder. Serena can get away with hitting late (if you notice, she hits off her back foot A LOT) because her Semi-Western grip is not tailored to hit as far forward as Maria's full Western.

Just my two cents :)

OsloErik
Jan 4th, 2009, 09:57 PM
No it's not possible because when she played the last few times her serve sucked and it showed that she was hurting when serving. While her forehand was great and she was pounding huge winners as usual. And yes Capriati and Davenport use the same forehand as often as Maria. And I'm not gonna start naming players that use that forehand because everyone does. I do it, you do it, Serena does it, Federer does it, and the list goes on forever.

But how many players use it as frequently? As has been pointed out, this used to be Sharapova's default forehand. In 2004 and early 2005, she hit the whip forehand almost exclusively. Federer hits a varied forehand, Serena hits hers with more topspin...I can think of very, very few players for whom the whip forehand seems to be the most comfortable type of forehand. Capriati hit it on the run when she got tired of a point, Davenport used it mostly to deal with slice (and quite effectively, as well), whereas Sharapova uses it with a great deal more frequency than pretty much any top 5 player in history. Considering that from 2004 through 2007 she averaged over 60 matches a year, that's a lot of forehands. A lot. Again, I don't think it's the primary problem, and I don't think it physically hurts to hit the forehand (again, Capriati can still hit a forehand, she just can't serve) but there is no way that pounding a shot like that with that kind of stress on her shoulder is GOOD for it. It could be that it isn't a factor, but considering how unique it is and what all it does to her shoulder, it's hard to believe that it isn't at least partially responsible for her shoulder woes.

And I'll counter the fact that we all hit that forehand by saying that I personally don't, since I've never been able to hit a good flat forehand in my life (I'm a topspin man myself) or a particularly good forehand down the line. Additionally, nobody who posts on this board hits as many as Sharapova does, or as hard. As I've said before, there's a difference between an amateur or club player hitting a shot with poor technique (i.e. it doesn't really hurt you) vs. a pro hitting a shot with poor technique (i.e. if you hit an 80 mph forehand 10 times a day and have that kind of shoulder motion, it's probably not going to be all warm and fuzzy after 5 years). None of us have the same degree of power that she does, and that automatically increases the stress on her shoulder, regardless of WHAT kind of forehand she hits.

Dominic
Jan 4th, 2009, 10:16 PM
Maybe you'll disagree with me but I think that Capriati used it as often as maria if not more. I have a few matches of hers and she seems to hit it at least 50% of the time and not just when on the run. I also think Davenport uses it a whole lot, except maybe when standing still and hitting a dtl forehand. Pretty much all her crosscourt and on the run forehands are like that. And like I said Jankovic probably hits it more often than not. And I was just mentionning you and me as an example to illustrate that everybody does it. And like I said I do not feel this forehand adds ANY additional stress on whatever body parts, including the shoulder. It might add a little bit on the elbow but not enough to cause any harm whatsoever. I think ppl should stop treating that forehand as technically wrong, it is actually a great forehand when pressured.

Cakeisgood
Jan 4th, 2009, 10:20 PM
Maybe you'll disagree with me but I think that Capriati used it as often as maria if not more. I have a few matches of hers and she seems to hit it at least 50% of the time and not just when on the run. I also think Davenport uses it a whole lot, except maybe when standing still and hitting a dtl forehand. Pretty much all her crosscourt and on the run forehands are like that. And like I said Jankovic probably hits it more often than not. And I was just mentionning you and me as an example to illustrate that everybody does it. And like I said I do not feel this forehand adds ANY additional stress on whatever body parts, including the shoulder. It might add a little bit on the elbow but not enough to cause any harm whatsoever. I think ppl should stop treating that forehand as technically wrong, it is actually a great forehand when pressured.

By itself, it's fine. But Maria hits it really late (albeit cleanly) and therefore, with her full Western grip, it pushes the shoulder back due to the mechanics of the grip.

tennisbear7
Jan 4th, 2009, 10:58 PM
By itself, it's fine. But Maria hits it really late (albeit cleanly) and therefore, with her full Western grip, it pushes the shoulder back due to the mechanics of the grip.

I think Sharapova uses a semi-western grip, as opposed to a full-western. Typically, for females, a full-western is pretty ugly (Mauresmo, Shaugnessy, Gronefeld) and is used more often in men's tennis to inpart heaps of spin onto the incoming ball.

At any rate, fabulous analysis Osloerik.

Cakeisgood
Jan 4th, 2009, 11:07 PM
I think Sharapova uses a semi-western grip, as opposed to a full-western. Typically, for females, a full-western is pretty ugly (Mauresmo, Shaugnessy, Gronefeld) and is used more often in men's tennis to inpart heaps of spin onto the incoming ball.

At any rate, fabulous analysis Osloerik.

http://tennis.com/yourgame/instructionarticles/forehand/forehand.aspx?id=99634

It's almost a full Western.

Mina Vagante
Jan 4th, 2009, 11:20 PM
I also think how she hits it is a factor.

Other players that use this shot ( Serena, Federer, Jankovic etc )seem to be in complete control when they hit it. Maria, on the other hand, really is quite wild with it. Sometimes it looks like her forehand is out of control :tape:

Mina Vagante
Jan 4th, 2009, 11:25 PM
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=tKK45DTWRvU

Look at the shot at 0:13 .

That is just wild. A movement like that around the shoulder cant be good

LDVTennis
Jan 4th, 2009, 11:53 PM
By itself, it's fine. But Maria hits it really late (albeit cleanly) and therefore, with her full Western grip, it pushes the shoulder back due to the mechanics of the grip.

Good point. That western grip is not forgiving at all. Get the timing of the shot wrong and there is really nothing between your hand and your shoulder to absorb the shock.

Leo_DFP
Jan 5th, 2009, 02:33 AM
I don't know if this has been mentioned yet or not, but Kleybanova is gonna end her career early considering just about every forehand she hits has that awkward whiplash technique! Her poor wrist and shoulder.

homogenius
Jan 5th, 2009, 03:09 AM
I think many of us have come to the same conclusion (not the very impressive analysis by OsloErik; just the final paragraph). Maria is unlikely to dominate the tour. She will have many injury breaks in her career. She may not play far beyond the next Olympics. However, with the right schedule, and peaking at the right time, she can still make a serious run at the majors at least once a year.

I agree, she'll try to win as much as possible (focusing mainly on big titles)until her shoulder (or another part of her body) falls apart.
The only thing that I find strange is the attitude of her team.I mean, some us have been talking about her fh and serve doing damages to her body for years now (I remember saying this back in 2005 and Maria's fans were laughing and mocking it) yet her team regularly made the wrong choices and things got worse quickier than I'd thought it'd be.And the whole "not diagnosed/misdiagnosed" thing with her shoulder was ridiculous for a top player like her

nelsondan
Jan 5th, 2009, 03:29 PM
In Maria's picture thread, I made links to all the pictures which appeared in December of 2007, and also to the very few taken in 2008 for comparison.

I think it is possible that things have happened in the last year, including, but not limited to her injury, which have led to a level of depression. Everything around her, not just medical things seem restricted. I am kind of worried.

http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=14693814&postcount=4872