What would it feel like to play tennis
without being able to use the non-dominant arm? I’m about to find out
because I’m going to immobilize my left arm by taping it behind my back. So it turns out that the non-dominant
arm is even more important than I thought and let’s start off with the
forehand. The first thing I had difficulty with on the forehand without
using my non-dominant arm was the grip change. So the grip change occurs with
the non-dominant hand and what should happen is when we change the grip it’s
actually the non-dominant hand turning the racket a while the hitting hand is
holding the racket very loosely. If we don’t have that, now we have to flip the
grip with one hand and it’s very difficult to find the correct grip this
way. As I was hitting these forehands my hitting arm got very tired and I came to
realize that the non-dominant hand supports the hitting arm very much on
the forehand. So what happens is when we prepare to hit the forehand we’re gonna
start off in a ready position holding the racket with both hands and now as we
release the racket the hitting arm does its thing and then once the stroke is
finished the left hand will grab the racket here and we’ll give the hitting
arm a much-needed break. And without this break in between the shots the hitting
arm gets very tired just doing the entire action on its own.
So you got to remember that you must hold onto the racket with both hands in
between your shots. If we don’t use the non-dominant arm our balance on the
forehand gets completely thrown off so as I initiate my take back and the
racket starts to drop my weight is shifting towards this side and there’s
nothing supporting it on the other side so I have too much weight over where the
racket is dropping. So by using the non-dominant arm it gives us a nice
balance to even out the body as we’re executing the forehand. Another important
job of the non-dominant hand on the forehand is the timing. So I like
engaging the timing by the release of the non-dominant hand and the hitting
arm. So once this gets released that initiates the stroke. So if we don’t have
this and if it’s just a racket doing it it feels very uncomfortable and there’s
a chance that the racket might come in here too early and you end up with a
hitch in your swing. And most importantly I felt like my rotation was
hindered by not having the left hand on the racket so I felt like I wasn’t
turning as much as I normally do and also as I was finishing I wasn’t
rotating as much as normal. So we have to realize that the left hand is a
big factor when it comes to the upper body rotation. Hitting one-handed backhands without the
use of the non-dominant arm is also very difficult. Just like the forehand the
grip change is very tricky if we don’t change the grip with the off hand. In
addition to that, because of the arm being weaker on this side meaning that
the back of the arm is going forward that’s why it’s called the backhand, my
arm got extremely tired as I was swinging the racket just with one arm. I
felt like I was getting a lot less power without using my non-dominant arm and
one of the reason is that I wasn’t able to engage my back muscles. So the back
muscles on the one hander get engaged as the non-dominant arm goes in
the opposite direction of the dominant arm and now I feel a squeezing between
my shoulder blades and that is a big help when it comes to
acceleration. As I was hitting the one handers without this action, I
felt like I was arming the ball and therefore I was lacking a lot of power.
The one-handed backhand has less rotation than other shots in tennis
however there’s still a little bit of rotation and it occurs when we go into
the shoulder drop and we normally hold the racket with both hands and then as the
shoulder starts going up and you start straightening the leg there is a little
bit of rotation that you can see that the torso rotates a little bit now and
some players that might not rotate anymore they might stay sideways some of
the players will continue to rotate and by not having the non-dominant arm on
the racket when the shoulder drops it felt like I was losing my balance and
kind of falling over to the front The volleys were actually very
interesting I did not feel like my forehand volley it was affected much by
not using a non-dominant arm however on the backhand volley without the
non-dominant hand and my arm I got very tired. So what happens on the regular
volley is that we hold the racket with the non-dominant hand by the throat and
then as we approach the contact we let go and this little support of the racket
gives a lot of relief to the arm And a great drill that you can try is
putting the non-dominant arm behind your back and then volley for maybe five
minutes or so. What you’ll find is that the arm that gets extremely tired
because it doesn’t have that support of the non-dominant hand and you will
therefore be able to strengthen your forearm and stabilize your wrist. And then once this five minutes is over
you take your non-dominant hand back to the racket you start volleying and it’s
gonna feel so much easier and you will actually, get a lot more pop on the
volleys. The serve would obviously be very
difficult without being able to toss the ball with a non-dominant arm and being
forced to toss it with the hitting arm however I want you to remember that on
the overhead where we don’t toss the ball you have to use the non-dominant
arm to get that non-dominant shoulder above the dominant shoulder and then as
you initiate the racket drop you’re going to start dropping that front
shoulder and you’re going to get that cartwheeling effect that’s gonna allow
you to get more power on the overhead. So make sure not to ignore your
non-dominant arm. It plays a big role in every shot in tennis. It can help you
change the grip correctly it can support the hitting arm so it doesn’t get tired
it can help your timing and your balance and most importantly it can help your
torso rotation so you can play with more power.

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Dennis Veasley

14 thoughts on “Role of The Non-Dominant Arm in Tennis”

  1. No-one talks about this subject. Great idea. You gotta learn how crucial the non dominant hand is. Thanks Nikola

  2. Very interesting,Nick….only you could think and make a video on that…All the best…try taping a leg next time…

  3. My primary takeaway from this lesson is that your first step in recovery should be to get that non-dominant hand back onto the racket throat where it belongs…. as quickly as possible. Otherwise you may be "handcuffing" yourself. This is likely the unspoken reason for the frequently given advice to "catch the racket" on the forehand follow through, and perhaps one of the reasons behind the popularity of the two-handed backhand.

  4. I've noticed my unit turn will be very bad if I don't use the non hitting arm. Also in backhand shots, I feel the non hitting arm helps load the hitting arm with tension which then turns into racquet velocity.

  5. Do not ignore your non-dominant arm. It plays a big role in every shot in tennis with the exception of the forehand volley.
    It can help you to:
    🎾 Change the grip correctly
    🎾 Support the hitting arm
    🎾 Time the initiation of the stroke
    🎾 Find the right body balance
    🎾 Utilize torso rotation
    👉 Hit the practice courts 💪💪

  6. Great presentation on the importance of the non-dominant arm, Nick! It is surprising, when I look at the players in my club, how many do not use their non-dominant arm on their strokes, esp. the groundstrokes.

  7. I really like this empirical approach to tennis. Can you think of something similar about knees? I suspect flexibility and slight bent of knees are playing important roles in strokes and serve. What happens if you stick a metal pole to your right or left leg, so you can't bend the knee? I predict that open stance topspin forehand would be really hard without using the right knee. For a serve, it would also be hard to create a good trophy pose with the tight straight left knee, and subsequent fluid looping motion without the relaxed right knee.

  8. This is a very good video, thanks for this lesson and video, very interesting! Definitely a new way of thinking about this subject!!

  9. Excellent exposé Nik, getting a prematurely tired arm is a great reason for a student to engage both arms at all times. Thanks, Gordon.

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