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Follow Through

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Calibax | 20:19 Sun 24th May 2015 | Science
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Whenever I've been coached or seen coaching programmes on 'bat' and ball sports like cricket, golf, tennis or snooker etc. I've always noticed the emphasis on "following though" in a shot. When the ball has left the striking surface of the bat however, the subsequent trajectory of the bat can have no further influence on the path of the ball. I assume that it's something to do with the fact that if the the follow through is correct the the approach shot must also have been but would like the opinions of physicists and other experts.

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It's not the easiest thing in the world to put into words but basically it's about slowing the bat/ cue/ racket/ club foot down. For maximum effect when hitting the ball it makes sense that you only want to be slowing down after you've hit the ball. This makes for quite an expansive follow-through as you were still moving at full pace, hopefully, while you were in...
20:28 Sun 24th May 2015
It's not the easiest thing in the world to put into words but basically it's about slowing the bat/ cue/ racket/ club foot down. For maximum effect when hitting the ball it makes sense that you only want to be slowing down after you've hit the ball. This makes for quite an expansive follow-through as you were still moving at full pace, hopefully, while you were in contact with the ball. A messy follow-through can mean that you had started the slowing-down motion too early, before you'd hit the ball.

Also it takes quite a bit of effort to come to a stop quickly. Far more sensible to allow the momentum to carry on for a little bit after hitting the ball, and slowing down more smoothly. Not only does it look good, it's also more efficient, less stressful on the body, etc. Again, then, because the most natural and sensible slowing-down action of shots should take a fixed amount of time, as much of this time as possible should be after you've hit the ball.

I hope this helps and also that it's accurate. Can't be much else, really. The key thing is to hit the ball cleanly and with as much power or spin or control as possible -- and then the follow-through will give a good impression as to whether or not this was achieved.
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Thanks Jim, I appreciate that the smooth deceleration after a shot is aesthetically pleasing and benefits the player but still can't see how it actually influences the path of the ball.
Well it doesn't in itself, no, expect that if you get the follow-through right then you (almost certainly) got the timing right as you hit the ball. That's basically the point. Of course you can have a perfect follow-through and misdirect the shot, but at least you hit it cleanly.
Similar to when I was doing archery at school, the teacher said that it was important to hold your stance after you had released the arrow. He said that if you didn't do that, the transition to whatever movement you were going to make next would very gradually become earlier and earlier until finally it would impinge on the actual release of the arrow and affect your aim. So if your next movement eg in snooker is to straighten up then you will end up not hitting the cue ball square, if the next movement is a turn or sideways step eg in tennis, then you won't hit the ball straight forwards and so on. It makes sense to me but I am not sure I have explained it well?
Jim seems to have got the technicalities right. It's hard to explain (I was a track and Field athletics coach) you say 'run through the line' because if a sprinter runs for the line he/she automatically starts to slow down before it. So they are trained to focus on a point about 20m further on as the finish. :)
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Thanks Woofgang, It seems to go back to my original post. If the follow-through looks good then the original strike of the ball/release of the arrow was also good.
I tend to assume it is to do with retaining contact for a while, thus ensuring it goes on the intended path. If that is not the case then maybe it is to do with being most likely to strike correctly if you concentrate on the whole of the swing, including the follow through.
You have to take care in snooker with any follow through if the cue ball is close to the object ball, or you will commit a "push" foul shot.
follow through itself has no effect but setting up to follow through ensures a correct shot, simples, You asked this before.
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//You asked this before//
??
I've only ever asked 10 questions on here and to the best of my knowledge it's the first time I've broached the subject.
According to Viz, following through can lead to a change of underwear;)
Melv you beat me to that one ! Very good
It is a fair question and has been explained so well by jim and others that even I can understand it.

The 'follow though' also applies in many other aspects of life. Even swinging a hammer is more effective with a follow though in mind. The mind will cease the physical momentum when contact with the object to be hit is unavoidable so will not apply 100% power through the full action. It makes only a minuscule difference, but when a full result of the action is required, a 'follow through' is the best way to ensure maximum result.

Now I've even confused myself. :-)
Thanks -- I'm glad you found it helpful wildwood!

It can be hard sometimes to know how good an explanation you've offered it just by your own judgement, so feedback is always welcome.

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