A Looping Secret
By Carl Danner

Many peopleare unaware of a critical move that top players make to loop with zip and heavy spin. Unless you know exactly what to look for, you can watch video for hours and never see it, either.

The critical move is a slight forward push (or shift) off the back foot while the racket arm is still swinging backward to start the stroke.This shift forces the racket arm back to flex even further, thereby loading up the arm and torso muscles with tension. As the stroke continues, that tension is released into the armto increase the speed of its swing, and therefore the racket head speed and resulting spin and speed of the shot. Top athletes in other sports make similar moves, as when golfers start their legs forward before their backswing is complete, skiers load up muscle tension in their lower backto start their skis back into the next turn, and tennis players shift their weightforward before their service backswing is complete.

Tolearn how this feels, trythrowing a weight usinga looping motion. You will find yourself naturally shifting your weight forward while your arm lags a bit behind, and you will feel the muscle tension build as power is loaded up. That’s exactly what you want to do, and feel, to hit a truly powerful loop. To make this work, your arm and shoulder have to be relaxed. Any tightness willinterruptthe “kinetic chain” that extends from your feet all the way through your body to your racket, and which is critical to delivering the force where you want it (i.e., to making theracket head go fast).

If you can relax enough to createthis kind of force while also swingingthe racket throughthe ball in the right swing plane,you will begin to generate more powerful loops than you ever thought possible.Two final keys to remember are (1) focus on your footwork to get your body in exactly (not approximately) the right position relative to the ball, and (2) stay relaxed (even try smiling!) so your muscles can fully flex throughout the stroke.