One of the most common misconceptions in tennis is that the racket head needs to be horizontal when we make contact with the ball.
Even if a coach never tells you (incorrectly, of course) that your racket head needs to be horizontal at contact, you just assume it.
And, as you’ll see, it’s an incorrect assumption.
We hit most of the incoming balls between the hips and the shoulder height. In most of those situations, the racket is actually horizontal at contact.
We may then incorrectly assume that it also has to be horizontal when hitting low or high balls.
When players receive a low ball and they attempt to hit it with a horizontal racket orientation, they will tense up their wrist to keep the racket head level and will therefore lose the flexibility of the wrist.
In other words, you lose the ability to manipulate the racket head and therefore the ball with feel since your wrist is tight.
Instead, you should drop your wrist and the racket naturally more down so that it’s very comfortable to your wrist when you’re making contact.
In fact, hitting low balls is the most comfortable for me personally as I simply swing down and allow my wrist to drop down,which means I get effortless acceleration with the help of gravity.
This applies to forehands and backhands, of course.
The exact same principles apply to high balls; you don’t have to struggle to keep the racket head horizontal when hitting a high ball – that’s quite uncomfortable for the wrist.
If you do, you will again tense up your wrist and possibly other muscles in your arm and lose the feel and control of the ball.
You can very naturally allow the racket head to be above the wrist and hit the ball that way.
Yes, you will likely apply a bit of sidespin to the ball and not a pure topspin, but that’s fine as the ball will still have a predictable flight because of the amount of spin.
There is no law that says that a tennis ball can spin only around a horizontal axis.
I’ve shared much more on how to hit high balls in tennis before, so just follow the link if you want to learn more.
In summary, realize that you do not have to hit a tennis ball with a horizontal racket head orientation.
You can drop the racket head down when hitting low balls, and you can lift it up above the horizontal line when hitting high balls.
You’ll position your arm and wrist in much more stable and comfortable positions, and that will allow you to control the ball better.
Keep in mind that I do not want you to DO the drop or the lift of the racket head, I want you to ALLOW it.
If you have been trying to hit a ball at every height with a horizontal racket face, then you weren’t ALLOWING the racket to drop or come up to the ball.
You were controlling it too much with tightness.
If you now consciously and forcefully drop or lift the racket face, that won’t work either.
You just need to allow it by trying to be more comfortable when hitting low and high balls and giving yourself permission to hit the ball at any racket angle orientation that you want.
You’ll see that your forehands and backhands will become much easier.