The forehand groundstroke is one of the most basic shots in tennis. It is used by tennis players regardless of their skill levels. Normally, tennis beginners use this shot as their powerful weapon because this is one of the most natural shots. A good forehand is also mandatory for success in today’s power game. The forehand is the weapon for most tennis players and building a game plan behind a powerful forehand makes winning matches much easier.
The world’s best players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin Del Potro and Stan Wawrinka use the forehand as a powerful weapon. This piece will give you five basic tips to improve your forehand and consequentially, your overall tennis game.
PS: Since Nadal and Djokovic have very unorthodox techniques, we’ve taken the classic Federer forehand for a better representation of the ideal forehand.
#1 – Visualize the Forehand Swing
This is the most important step for players experiencing difficulties with their technique. The visual instruction input your brain feeds into your motor nerves must be simple, but precise and repeatable.
If you have no unique technique associated with your game, here’s a good technique to emulate:
A complex stroke that can only be improved through positive repetition, so that the body can accurately reproduce the correct swing you are trying to master. The forehand should be developed with an emphasis on the power, topspin, and accuracy.
#2 – Generating more Topspin
In order to impart topspin for a tennis forehand, the racket must move upwards. The beginning of the upward racquet head movement needs to start with the legs. You can isolate the movement of the legs by moving up and down without using any other body parts to move the racquet so that you can clearly see how much upward movement you can create simply with the legs.
There are three joints (upper arm, forearm, and wrist) on your arm, and you can use all three to move the racket upwards, and when added to the legs, can help to create a lot of upward movement of the racket head, and impart topspin on the forehand. The goal is to make a smooth connection of all four parts, and that is done through a lot of repetition.
#3 – The Footwork
Move your feet. The tennis footwork on the forehand is ever critical, more so than with any other shot. Nothing other than perfect timing and movement will result in perfect balance. Making sure to set up properly with each ball will ensure that the forehand will be a weapon, not a matter of off balance hitting.
The main mistakes most players do is poor positioning when they hit the ball. Do not hit the ball when it is very far from you, either in sideways direction or in front of you. You also have to avoid hitting a ball too close to your body. Setting up on time, all the time will give you more options as to where you can hit the ball and how well you can hit. This makes a vast difference between a clean hit forehand and a slap into the net.
#4 – The follow-through
Follow through. Upon impact, continue your arm’s extension out in front of you by whipping your wrist and pronating your forearm. Bring the head of your racket to the side of your non-dominant hand to create a windshield wiper like finish. Stay locked and balanced. Don’t look up too early to watch where your shot will land, as it can affect your shot and make it go awry.
#5 – Choosing the right grip
How you grip the racket is very important for your forehand because the grip translates the feel from the racket strings that interact with the ball to your hand. Therefore, you feel what’s going on with the ball, and you know how to manipulate it.
If something is not right with the grip, then your forehands will not have good control regardless of how your other external technique looks. The most common mistake is that the hand is perpendicular to the handle. When players hold the racket like that, they are not supporting the racket well because the index finger is not spread out.
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