The forehand is an essential shot in any successful tennis match. It is usually the first shot players learn because the forehand stroke comes naturally to most people. By practicing proper forehand techniques, top players can develop formidable shots that help them to win points from the baseline. Learn proper techniques and how to avoid common mistakes when hitting a proper tennis forehand.
EditHitting a Forehand
- Prepare for the shot. Hold your racquet with your dominant hand while your other hand holds your racquet at its throat. As the ball comes over the net and approaches your wing, open your shoulders by turning and taking the racquet back. Keep your legs shoulder width apart and comfortably bent. This is called the ready position. 
- Level your back swing. Keep your racket head about level to your head as your non-dominant hand leaves the throat of your racquet. Ensure that you fully turn your shoulder and that you don’t bring the racquet back too low or too high. Lock your wrist to ensure smooth, circular, and consistent movement as you take your racquet back.
- Your forehand may become erratic if your backswing is inconsistent. Don’t take a longer backswing to produce extra power. Be consistent especially when under pressure.
- Generate your forward swing. After you have calculated the approach of the ball and adjusted yourself into the correct position, drop the racket below the level of the ball by bending your elbow and pronating your forearm. Build up racquet speed to be unleashed at the point of contact.
- Lock your eyes on to the ball. Freeze your head until after you have made contact and ensure that there are no hitches to your swing.
- Swing through the ball. Hit the ball when the ball is a comfortable distance from your body and within striking range. Extend your arm out and use your wrist to keep the face of the racquet laid back as it makes contact with the ball at maximum speed.
- Do not exaggerate the low-to-high trace of your swing because your shots may unintentionally land short, giving your opponent an opportunity to attack.
- 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 racquet 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. These can affect your shot and make it go awry.
- Avoid changing your swing. Do not decelerate your racquet head in your follow through or your shots may fly out of bounds. Don’t shorten your follow through or you may hit the net.
- Keep your swing path smooth and continuous, starting from your backswing, through your hit, and ending with your follow through. There should be no jerky motions at any point of your forehand.
- Stay low and don’t move your head. Controlling your head movement produces a consistent swing path. Don’t look up or stand up too soon. Remain focused and keep your eyes on the ball from the second it leaves the racquet of your opponent until after your follow through.
- Keep your head down and don’t look up early to see where the ball is going. Keep consistent with your follow through.
EditGripping Your Racquet
- Adjust your grip. Picture shaking hands with someone and use the same technique to hold your racquet. Allow one edge of your racquet to point to the court as you hold your racquet vertical. Wrap your fingers around your racquet’s grip at the butt end.
- Place your wrist against the handle. Place your palm barely behind the handle of the racket. If you’re right-handed, place the racquet at the right side of your body and grip it with your wrist at the butt of the handle slightly to the right. The space between your index finger and thumb should be towards and above the rear of the handle.
- Keep the racquet out to the left of your body if you’re a left handed player. Grip the racquet with your palm slightly behind the handle. Keep your wrist at the left butt end of the handle. The space between your index finger and thumb should be placed at the rear and above the handle.
- This is the most common grip for beginners, known as the Eastern Forehand Grip. It is used to hit solid forehands because it is the most natural and versatile grip; however, there are also the Western and Continental grips used for other tennis shots like the slice.
- Close the racquet face when using the Eastern Forehand Grip. When you want to hit with power, close the racquet face on your backswing. Closing the racquet face during your backswing generates more topspin when you hit the ball with power. Aim slightly higher than the top of the net.
- Use the Semi-Western Grip to hit with speed and spin. Place the knuckle of your index finger and lower palm on the fourth bevel of your racquet grip. A shortcut is to place the racquet flat on the ground. When you pick it up you create the natural contact points between your shoulders and waist.
- Adjust your backswing so that it’s closed by angling the face of your racquet towards the ground. You can hit the ball harder as you close your backswing more. Practice making the ball go airborne as you apply more power and create more spin. If done incorrectly, you will actually reduce the power of your forehand.
- Create the most spin with the Western Forehand Grip. Place the knuckle of your index finger and the bottom of your palm on the fifth bevel of your racquet grip. You should make contact with the ball around your shoulders.
- Don’t grip your racquet too tightly. You want to easily shift your grip to create the appropriate type of shot. For example, you may change to a Continental Grip from an Eastern Grip to hit a drop shot or short slice.
- Choose your grip. A Western Grip can generate the most spin. For the Western Grip, place the knuckle of your index finger and the bottom of the palm of your hand on the fifth bevel of the racquet grip.
- Get into the correct stance. Have a semi-open stance unless your opponent hits the ball short. If the ball is hit short, step forward into a neutral stance. For a semi-open stance, take a slight step to the side and rotate your shoulder until you lock your hips at the pelvic joint.
- The lock position maintains balance by lifting your non-hitting hand parallel to the court.
- Relax your dominant hand. Bend and relax your hand as you hold the racquet vertically. Keep the butt-cap facing the court and your body straight but bent at your knees. Rotate your body as your bent knees complete your full body rotation.
- Initiate your swing. Push off your dominant leg and rotate your shoulder and hips. Keep your weight on your dominant leg and bend your knees. Your dominant foot should be pointed outwards as you stand in the lock position. Keep your shoulder perpendicular to the net as you watch the ball over your non-dominant shoulder.
- Keep your dominant hand holding the racquet vertical and your non-dominant arm parallel to the court.
- Create a C shape with your swing. Start to drop your racquet as you create a C shape swing path towards the ball. Uncoil your shoulders and push off on your dominant leg. Open up your shoulder and hip toward the court as you further drop your racquet.
- Watch the ball as you drop your racquet.
- Strike the ball. Square your body to the net, keeping the racquet below the ball. Rotate your body forward and bring the racquet face through the ball. Cock your dominant wrist completely back as you snap through the ball. Straighten up your dominant leg as you push off through your hit.
- Your non-dominant leg will begin to slightly lift off the ground. Keep your head steady and watch the ball upon impact.
- Follow through. Keep your body straight as your non-dominant foot leaves the ground. Extend your dominant hand through the contact. Finish your swing across your body rather than across your shoulder. Keep your eye on the ball over your dominant shoulder.
- Your non-dominant foot will land back on the ground and your non-dominant hand should catch the racquet after your follow through. Your dominant foot will come forward to keep your balance as your body fully rotates to complete the hit.
EditCorrecting Common Mistakes
- Practice as much as possible. Perfect your forehand through repetition. Try to mimic the same motion over and over again. You want to create a habit by using drills so that, when it comes to the pressure of a game, your muscles will be able to execute the same movements.
- Visualize your correct stroke. Keep things simple and don’t confuse yourself with too much information. Visualize a smooth stroke path. You can only improve your forehand through repetition. Visualization can help your body reproduce the correct movements that maximize the accuracy, topspin, and power of your forehand.
- Simplify your stroke. Don’t try to copy the idiosyncrasies of the top pros. Master the fundamentals first and then an easy and simple swing that feels natural to you. Power and topspin will come on their own without trying to change the basics.
- Focus on footwork. You must move your feet to ensure perfect timing and movement to keep your ideal balance. Set up correctly to receive the ball. Setting up in time will give you options where to hit the ball.
- The correct setup is having your non-dominant leg in front of the other while both knees are bent. Your hips and shoulders should be open as your body readies to explode into your forehand.
- Select the right shots. Use the forehand as a weapon and strategically hit your shots at optimum locations. Be patient and vary the location and speed of your shots. Keep your opponent guessing.
- For example, if your opponent is directly in front of you, you may want to hit your forehand across the court so that your opponent must run to retrieve it. When someone is forced to run to make a shot, it increases the level of difficulty as she must aim and generate power while off balance. The right shot depends on exploiting your opponent’s weakness. For example, if your opponent has a weak backhand, aim to exploit it.
- Position yourself correctly. Don’t hit the ball when it’s too close or too far from your body. Avoid hitting the ball in a sideways direction or if it’s in front of you. Hit the ball at a comfortable reach when it’s close to your hip.
- Avoid hitting the ball with a closed racket face. Open your racquet face as you make contact. Create a brushing effect between your racquet and the ball to create topspin. Make sure that the angle of your swing moves from low to high.
- Make sure you transfer your weight and follow-through. For topspin, follow through over your dominant shoulder. Transfer your weight in a forward and upward direction by bending your knees during your preparation and straightening them as you uncoil and rotate your body to hit the ball.
- Use the right grip for the right court. If your court creates a high bounce to your ball, then a Western or Semi-Western Grip is ideal. This allows you to hit the ball at a higher point of contact. If the court produces a low bounce then a continental grip is ideal. The Eastern Grip is ideal to hit flat and straight shots.
- Each player is different. Even if two players were taught by the same coach, they would still produce a different swing. Don’t be disappointed if there are differences in your swing relative to your favourite player. The mechanics and result are what’s most important.
EditSources and Citations
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