Not everyone hits the same. Let’s look at some different styles of preparation. There is more than one correct way!
You can let the elbow drop
Coaches sometimes say that the elbows and shoulders should be in a line. I feel this is too prescriptive. Some professional players do this, but others don’t. Many players allow the racket elbow to drop a bit, and that’s absolutely fine.
In fact, you might find it more comfortable to do this. Keeping the elbow high puts the shoulder in a position where it’s more vulnerable to injury. This could be a bad idea if you have any kind of shoulder problem. Dropping the elbow puts the shoulder in a safer position; this can also be useful if you have limited flexibility in your shoulder.
Having said that, don’t let the elbow drop too much. You can’t use an effective throwing action if your elbow is glued to your side!
The strings can face in different directions
Coaches also often say that the strings should face forwards. Again, this is too prescriptive. The strings can face forwards, outwards, or even a bit inwards.
You can use a wider or narrower angle at the elbow
Some players use a narrow angle at the elbow, while others use a wider angle. Either is fine, but I would recommend not going much wider than 90 degrees, as that can cause problems with movement, balance, and hitting.
I would also recommend not using the tightest possible angle at your elbow, as that makes your arm tense. Your arm should be relaxed.
Also make sure that the racket head isn’t too far to the side of you, as this can cause problems with balance.
Use the non-racket arm as a counter-balance
The non-racket arm should be used in a way that complements your racket arm; they need to work well together. The non-racket arm is used for balance, and should help you start a throwing action where your shoulders turn.
So if you change your racket arm prep, you might find it useful to adjust your non-racket arm prep as well.
Some prep styles are just bad
Although many prep styles are fine, some are just bad. We look at one example in the video, with a bad wrist position that tends to make the player use a panhandle grip.