As the arm is straight the farther in front of you the arm reaches the closer it will be to the body. So you can make contact a bit more out in front for balls that are closer. You can also always bend your arm a bit if you are jammed.
In tennis a straight arm forehand refers to the arm position of a player as he/she makes contact with the tennis ball. If a players arm has no bend at the elbow at contact point then it is considered a “straight arm forehand”.
May 31 Why straight-arm forehands rule tennis. Wyatt Cole. Half of the ATP's top ten have one thing in common. Tennis has many strokes, and the one most preferred is perhaps the forehand. In tennis, as well as other racket sports, the forehand is when a player moves the racket across their body palm-first. Often however, top-tier players move their arms so quickly that it becomes a blur.
Many tennis players are trying to straighten their arm on their forehand, which actually creates more tension. However, I think that it’s more important to be relaxed. Instead of physically making your arm go straight at contact on the forehand, you can create the “feeling” of having a straight arm.
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Many recreational players around the world try to adapt the straight arm forehand. One of the reasons is that it's used by both Roger Federer and Rafael Nada...
The fastest straight arm forehand belonged to Martin Del Potro who had an average speed of exactly 80 mph. Nadal was measured at 79 mph and Federer at 76 mph. 1. The speed of the forehand doesn't equate to the quality of the forehand. 2. The straight arm forehand does not produce more power than the bent arm forehand.
Federer uses a straight arm forehand technique. This has many advantages, including some easy speed generation due to an increased width of the arc. It can also help to limit the stress on the elbow. If you're struggling with tennis elbow, you'll want to check to be sure your right arm is straight all the way through the hitting motion.