7 Simple Techniques Nadal Uses to Hit His Extremely Powerful Backhand Consistently
Scio 3D Sports analysis of Rafael Nadal’s backhand has revealed techniques used by Nadal which are often overlooked or impossible to be seen with the naked eye by even the best players and coaches.
Nadal hits a high velocity ball with an exceptional amount of spin. Since, spin slows the ball down, how can Nadal hit so fast? Scio 3D Sports set out to measure Nadal’s technique, to find out how Nadal achieves high velocity with extreme spin.
Scio 3D Sports analysis revealed unseen techniques used by Nadal that players and coaches can use. Five different Nadal backhands are seen below in 3D visuals and data.
Scio 3D Sports analysis reveals that;
The five balls approaching Rafael Nadal are coming from different directions at different speeds and depths. Nadal is also moving to the shots from different positions in the court. The amazing thing is the Rafael positions himself to meet the ball between 40-42 inches off the court for each shot. Nadal also hits two balls crosscourt and three balls down the line.
Yellow Skeleton = shot coming in down the line and going out down the line. Nadal moving back.
Red Skeleton = shot coming in crosscourt and going out down the line. Nadal hitting off back leg with stance closing as he is swinging.
White Skeleton = shot coming in down the middle and going out down the line. Nadal moved back a small step then set up and gets a good push from the back leg to the front.
Blue skeleton = shot coming down the line and going out cross court. Nadal is moving laterally very quickly and is hitting off his back leg while swing his front leg from an open to a closed stance.
Green Skeleton = shot coming in from down the line and going out crosscourt. Nadal is comfortably setting up in a closed stance.
2. EVEN WITH A COMPLETELY CLOSED STANCE NADAL NEVER LETS HIS HIPS (PELVIS) TURN SIDEWAYS OR PERPENDICULAR TO THE NET. First watch a top view of Nadal’s 5 backhands at http://youtu.be/MGNkswaeUc8 then we cut away the body so you can just see the hips (pelvis) http://youtu.be/PXf1xfocFK4 .
This is another fact that can only be picked up by 3D motion analysis. This is an incredible move that allows Nadal to maximize the “serape effect” allowing him to rotate his shoulders into the ball more forcefully and efficiently. Look closely at the models of Nadal’s pelvis and notice that they never get fully sideways to the net even though his stances are completely closed.
3. AT IMPACT NADAL’S SHOULDERS ARE POSITIONED 45 DEGREES CLOSED TO THE NET. THE HIPS ARE 55 DEGREES CLOSED TO THE NET. See the same top view in with tubes representing the body parts to make the angles easier to see. http://youtu.be/HJu1lAjeU-U and frozen at impact here http://youtu.be/zYKWUnKivO8
The angle of NADAL’s shoulder segment (a straight line segment drawn from shoulder joint to shoulder joint) is surprisingly closed to the net. Most people equate heavy topspin with more open stances.
4. WHEN NADAL’S BACKSWING IS FULLY LOADED NADAL’S SHOULDERS ARE COILED AN AVERAGE OF 30 DEGREES BEYOND PERPENDICULAR TO THE NET. http://youtu.be/HJu1lAjeU-U
Nadal uses a very large trunk twist to setup a very closed trunk position (facing away from the net) in relation to the net to set up for the explosive forward swing. When you combine the closed shoulders with the open hips you get a large “serape effect” which causes efficient and powerful contractions of the muscles that rotate the trunk and shoulders.
5. THE TRAJECTORY OF NADAL’S RACKET TIP IS AN AVERAGE OF 33 DEGREES UPWARD AT IMPACT.
A 0 degree trajectory is a swing that is level to the ground. A swing that goes straight up to the sky is 90 degree trajectory. Nadal’s stroke is far from level but even further from straight up.
The reason he gets so much spin is the upward velocity of his stroke. These five strokes average
35 MPH of upward velocity.
6. NADAL IS STAYING DOWN AND NOT LIFTING WITH HIS LEGS THROUGH IMPACT.
When one views Nadal’s physical stature, his thick thighs (quadriceps) stand out. His gluteus maximus muscles are also large relative to other tennis players. These muscles are used to straighten the knees and hips which lifts the body. When Nadal hits his backhand he does not lift up with his powerful legs rather he stabilizes and keeps his pelvis level. He lifts the racket tip with his upper arms and the rotation of his forearms. Nadal’s center of mass is only rising slightly due to the rapid lifting of the arms.
7. NADAL LIFTS THE RACKET TIP 22.16 INCHES UP TO IMPACT. (16.7 INCHES ON HIS FLATTEST SHOT). Rafael’s racket tip drops below the ball/racket impact point 17 inches on the Red Skeleton that is moving back and hitting a counter-attacking shot down the line at 72.8 MPH. The racket tip drops a maximum of 27 inches below the ball/racket impact point on the Blue Skeleton. That shot will have a great deal of topspin but still was hit at 70.7 MPH.
HOW DOES NADAL HIT SO MUCH SPIN AND STILL MAKE THE BALL GO SO FAST?
Nadal keeps his hips open a little while he steps in with extremely coiled shoulders. This creates a serape effect that viciously efficiently uncoils his shoulders. The shoulder segment’s uncoiling provides the forward racket velocity to hit the ball hard. Nadal uses his arms to lift his racket from a position 16 to 27 inches below impact to provide incredible upward racket velocity which provides the energy for rolling friction on the ball. Nadal ensures consistency of execution of this pattern by moving his feet to a spot in the court that allows him to impact the ball at 41-42 inches high.