22 August 2012


Last time we were talking about Simon Rosner - probably the player with the biggest swing out there (even if he restricts it nowadays somewhat). Technically speaking, the true opposite of Rosner is another player from the up-and-coming generation: Tom Richards
In this blog we have seen and analysed dozens of times the benefits of the compact backswing and we've had many many examples with Karim Darwish demonstrating it on a constant basis. Of course, everyone in the top100 is reducing his swing to a certain extent, but only few can reduce it as dramatically as Darwish or Richards, as it generally also involves a considerable loss of pace.
In the younger generation there are quiet a few opposite examples as well; next to Rosner there is Aamir Atlas Khan and Tarek Momen with big swings, and it works for them. However, for club players, I personally think that the compact backswing is easier to adapt in order to gain precision and generate deception.
As much as I find it beneficial in general, I have the impression that Tom Richards renders his forehand swing compact in a slightly too extreme way. I totally agree with keeping the elbow close to the hip whilst preparing for a shot, but I think you have to relax and loosen your shoulder at the same time in order to allow yourself to launch your arm if you chose to hit long and hard.
Even if it is not visible in this compilation - with three backhand winners to only one on the forehand - it seems to me that by aiming to render his backswing compact, Richards even raises his shoulder instead of loosening it. Maybe his aim is to hide the ball with his body this way, but I think by relaxing the shoulder he could still hide the ball with his body and gain more pace for his drives and more control for his drops.
Within the top30 the differences are mostly in the head; technical details are rather secondary. Tom Richards has advanced a lot in the last few years ranking wise, and nobody anymore would take it for granted to beat him. This must be due to getting stronger as well in the head as in the body. However, having talked to a few top players I know that they are still constantly trying to improve also technically, and I wonder if loosening the shoulder on the forehand side could enable Tom to make another step towards the top10 where he is likely to land some time soon.