Articles, Blog

Roger Federer’s Liquid Whip

August 19, 2019

– The liquid whip. The liquid whip. Brian Gordon in Florida does
a lot of work on this stroke. We’ve got a player that’s
gonna demonstrate it. And certainly, Federer’s
developed something. All the players have a version of this. But because it’s Roger Federer, his version is absolute best. And what you’ll start to see is that, when he sets his wrist to start, the arm’s back, but the racket isn’t. And there’s many ways to
explain this, but I would say, all he’s trying to do is
reduce the distance the racket has to travel to find the ball. Such that, if somebody says “racket back,” Roger doesn’t look that way. But if the starting move
is to bring the elbow back, the racket tends to be closed, and some call that “patting the dog.” I’ve never had a dog that was that tall, so I don’t like that one. I just think he’s taking the elbow back. But the key to this stroke is
how many things open and turn before the racket and arm. But the leg, for Roger more
than anyone else, and this is very hard for me to even demonstrate, is he’s got the racket
not even there, but here, and I’ll show you the pictures of it. And all that’s happening is,
now the arm is out in front, the head is lagging,
lagging, lagging, lagging, and now in the wink of an eye, the racket goes from there, to there. And that’s where the whip occurs. And I have a whip that I play with, and you pull on it and
you stop to pop the whip. So that if I’m pulling on this racket, and I run out of arm, so to
speak, that’s a natural stop. And there’s the hit. It’s very important in tennis
you hit the ball out in front. Roger’s the best at that. It’s very important in tennis that you swing easy to get racket speed. Roger’s the best at that. And his description of a
liquid whip, we have versions of this at our club, but
I think it’s something worth experimenting on. And when I try it, in
my old-fashioned game, I get a version of it by having the loosest grip I’ve ever had. Pinky off, half of a ring finger off. Barely holding the racket. And it feels like I start to get a sense of where the whip is. But most people think that
the whip has this to it. No. I’m trying to find the
back of the ball at impact. Bang. And then you say 15-love. Roger Federer’s liquid whip, take a look at the one that we have in slow-motion, and you can even send me a video and I’ll take a look at yours. How relaxed are you when hitting? And in my game, I sense, the
moment I tighten my grip, it encourages my writ,
because I can feel it. And the moment I loosen my
grip, everything changes. And even when you watch
the Tornado Cam of Federer at Wimbledon, and you see
the racket turn in his hand, without loss of control, the suggestion is that’s a very, very relaxed grip.


  • Reply monstertrucktennis August 4, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Similar to the serve.  Remove tension from the end of the whip and allow power to flow from the ground up through the kinetic chain.  40 years on court and I'm finally starting to figure this stuff out with the help of YouTube.  Thanks Jim.  I had to laugh when you tried to allow the racquet head fall into the full lag position ala Fed.  You looked as stiff as I feel.  Shadow swings each morning trying to feel the relaxation and increase the flexibility in the wrist and forearm.

  • Reply Wodz30 August 4, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Jim, great video for intermediate players. I am a tennis pro and wanted to let you know that you are missing a great deal of information regarding this shot. We use massive wrist inflex to lag the raquet and lead with the butt, that is true. The part you are missing is the flex, this simply does not exist. Watch Federer hit a forehand in super slow motion and you will quickly note that he is rotating his wrist as opposed to flexing it as you are doing in the video. In normal speed it appears that the top players are whipping and "breaking the wrist" at contact but this is entirely not true. Another piece is that it appears the players are making contact at an off-angle but the reality is that the racquet face is perfectly square to the ball.

    Try this sequence in slow motion with ghost swings. Full inflex, come underneath the ball, as you make contact with the ball keep the wrist perfectly straight. Slowly and steadily rotate your FOREARM into the follow through. The forearm rotation is what will then DRIVE the wrist rotation.

    Many players force this rotation by either rotating the shoulder or the wrist itself. The action occurs in the forearm.

    Check out this super slow motion video and note that Federer's wrist NEVER "snaps" or flexes. We hold the inflex as long as possible. Think about it this way.. we need an unbroken kinetic chain of energy. If energy is being driven through your arm and you suddenly bend your elbow during the backswing, the energy is slamming on the brakes and this develops injuries.

    This was a great video for beginner to intermediate but the shot in question is for advanced players. We use this on all groundstrokes. Federer is unquestionably the best at this. Keep up the videos! 🙂

  • Reply Jehan Godrej August 4, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Great video

  • Reply Larry Wang August 4, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    My right ear is lonely

  • Reply Darelic August 9, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    you have a great sense on the forehand. Yes, I found that it is not about snapping the wrist but rather drive the ball at impact and follow through naturally. I will upload my forehand stroke later

  • Reply Chandra Vythilingam April 4, 2018 at 1:34 am

    As a teaching pro I feel the biggest mistake we make with students is to use the word hit rather than swing when we say hit the ball the mind perceives a different rhythm which is violent and detached compared to swing .

  • Reply poida smith April 14, 2018 at 4:28 am

    Wodz30 is correct ….. much info is missing on Jim's analysis and demo of the Fed FH. To be clear upfront, there is no offense intended or directed whatsoever toward Jim as a person re this response. It is about addressing an all too frequently occuring tennis industry coaching problem/concern. Unfortunately, most of Jim's videos are nothing more than technical stroke "ramblings" and "musings" about coaches and players from eras gone by. But even more disconcerting is the fact Jim "never hits a tennis ball." This alone speaks volumes. How can anyone possibly teach something without actually doing it and expect coaching credibility? Can you imagine taking your child to a piano teacher and having them talk like this and do shadow finger movements and never actually "play" a song? Would you pay them for a lesson before listening to them practice and demo a song or scales and hear music that is appealing and pleasing to listen to? Would that not give you confidence in trusting that your child is with a capable teacher?

    For some reason, we see so much of this in tennis instruction but rarely with other sports. Tennis coaches need to talk less and demo more from closed to live tennis match situations. Unless you're simply voicing an opinion or perspective as an observer, fan, spectator, or a historian.

    Jim, as a start toward addressing this, would you kindly post a video of yourself "live ball hitting" from the baseline with a level 4.5 player or higher, backhand and forehands within the next week or so. We need to be able to have that opportunity to match your words against your actions. Thanks. Perhaps yiur friend Ramon Osa can assist with this request or a local USPTA or PTR colleague, or even local 4.5 club player.

    Moral of this comment: For anyone coaching or teaching ➡ You've got to "walk the walk before you talk the talk!"

  • Reply HakWilliams September 14, 2018 at 9:47 pm


  • Reply TNToncourt December 20, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    To all the armchair critics out there….please post a video of yourselves showing us how it's meant to be done…..especially Poida Smith (Mr know it all)

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