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Following on from last week’s article on grip shape and holding the racket, we will look more into where we want our racket face to be positioned when we strike the ball. If we can have our racket face just slightly open as we make contact with the shot, this will give us as much control as possible. The more contact we can create with our strings on the ball, the better we will hit it.
How to keep the Racket Face Open
Grip shape and how we hold the racket directly affects how open our racket face is. Therefore it is important to make sure that your grip is correct and you have the ability to adapt and manipulate the racket in your hand easily. (Check out my first post for more information on grip shape!)
Ideally we are looking for the racket face to be opened enough on both sides so that we are able to just about see the strings on the ball striking side. Check out the pictures below showing the grip and racket face on the forehand and backhand side. You can see that on both images it is possible to look down the “V” of my grip and to see the strings of the racket on both striking sides.
As you can see from the images, it is good to be able to adjust/adapt your grip to allow it to be open when hitting on the forehand and backhand side. Going back to what we discussed last week, if you lock your grip in too much you will lose out on having an open racket face on one side, making it harder to control the ball on that side of the court. You don’t want to have to rely on rolling your wrist or flicking to adapt, it is too hard to control in such a fast paced game.
What are the benefits of an open racket face?
As mentioned earlier, the more you can bring your strings into play when hitting the ball, the more control you will have over it. This will allow you to inject pace when looking to hit hard, but also allow you to take pace out of the shot and hit softer.
Using an open racket face will also allow you to cut down the back of the ball better, making your attacking short shots and kills far more aggressive and potent. A fantastic example of this at the very highest level of the game is Amr Shabana, take a look at the Top 10 Shots montage of his play. You will see that every winning shot he hits here is with an open racket face, some of them with very severe cut down the back of the ball!
Finally on a very basic level, having the racket face open when you strike the ball will make it far easier to keep the ball in play and on the front wall! If you have a closed racket (so that the striking side is angled more toward the floor than the ceiling,) the ball is more likely to travel downwards off of your strings, unless you use your wrist to adjust. With Squash and Racketball being such high paced games, it would be very easy to make errors under pressure with this being the case. A slightly opened racket will make it far easier to maintain a consistency to your hitting.
Hopefully this all makes sense and you can again have a bit of a play with it at home before we do manage to get back on court. Again a simple exercise like hitting a ball against a wall while trying to adapt your racket face and keep it open will really help you get used to this.
Have a go and see how it feels!
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