Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Learning to Pronate & Supinate Your Forearm Under Pressure

It seems nobody is brave enough to post a squash video for me to analyze yet. Or maybe you would like to, but need to line up a game and film it first. So I'll leave that offer up there for as long as it takes. Don't worry...I'll be gentle.

Today I would like to have a short discussion about the importance of being able to pronate and supinate your forearm. Supinate means to rotate the arm so the palm faces upwards whereas to pronate your is to rotate your arm so the plan faces down. I remember back from my university anatomy class the professor told us supinate you can hold soup. Yes, somehow this mental image has stuck and is helpful now in my coaching days.

Recently I've worked with people that don't supinate or pronate their forearm when they need to. You do have some pronation during your forehand downswing and some supination in your backhand downswing, but that's not what I'm going to discuss today as the biomechanics of the swing can be quite dry without images. I should mention that I did a still frame breakdown of my backhand a couple of years ago that I can post at a later date. When I did this I was able to identify each part of the body that is involved in hitting a backhand drive and which motion and sequence the body segments moved.

Today I'm going to talk about when you are under pressure. This can be when the ball gets a bit behind you or when you are under some pressure moving to the front of the court. I've played so much squash that when I'm under pressure I almost intuitively use height on my shot to recover to the T and reset the rally. Supination on the forehand and pronation on the backhand has a major part of me being able to do this.

Let me explain this on my backhand. Say someone has hit a good attacking boast bringing me up to the from backhand corner and I'll be under pressure. I pronate my forearm to open my racquet face up so I can get right under the ball. Most of the time under fair amounts of pressure I will want to lob so as a pronate my arm I can hit higher on the front wall. This is the same things if I decide to counter drop this boast. Especially if the ball I'm hitting as dropped below the height of the tin. I see a lot of people approach these shots without opening up their racquet face enough (which is not pronating their arm) and the result is either a tin or they hit the ball to low and do not have enough time to get back to the T.

The same thing happens as the ball gets behind you. Lets say for example that once again I'm under pressure on my backhand but this time the ball is in the back corner. If I go back without really cocking my wrist and opening up the racquet face you will probably end up having to boast or will it the ball very low on the front wall. To hit this ball higher I pronate and cock my wrist opening up my racquet face.

If you can get out of trouble, especially on the backhand side you will be a much tougher opponent. Here a couple of drills you can do to practice opening up your racquet face (pronating and supination).

Two person drills
For Practicing Lobs Under Pressure
1. Boast, crosscourt lob
2. boast, crosscourt lob, straight drive, straight drive
3. boast, court lob, straight drive
4. Boast, straight or crosscourt lob, straight drive
5. Boast, straight drop or crosscourt lob, crosscourt lob off the drop and boast the lob

For Practicing Counter Drops Under Pressure
1. hand feeding drops moving from the T
2. boat, straight drop, drive
3. boast, straight drop, straight drop, straight drive
4. boast, straight drop, crosscourt length
5. short game (everything has to be hit with no pace and first bounce has to be in front of the short line). serve with a boast

Here are a couple of other drills that I find are good for practicing supinating and pronating.
1. boast, straight drive, straight drive (the drives have to be over the service line)
2. Regular rallies, but every shot has to be over the service line
3. One player has to hit everything over the service line, the other has no restrictions
4. Regular rallies but you have to alternate hitting shots above and below the service line
5. Solo hitting - alternate hitting your drives low and hard to high and soft

I find most people swing with one plane and usually that is low and hard. Around or below the service line. For this reason most club players are vulnerable to a good lob and also don't know how to open up their racquet face to use height on the front wall. If you practice these drills  and learn how to pronate and supinate will you are going to move up your club ladder.

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