The following are simple tennis forehand tips that will help you hit the ball more cleanly and therefore have better control of it.
These tips don’t go deep into the forehand technique but rather focus on what happens at the moment of contact and how you can generate power and topspin.
If you look at a modern tennis forehand stroke, it will look very complex. It’s hard to see the key parts that generate power and create a topspin forehand shot.
It’s true that an advanced forehand is a mixture of complex elements, but it can still be broken down into simple elements.
The two main engines that create power for the forehand shot in tennis are the rotation and extension of the arm.
In other words, the first part of the forward swing on the forehand is done with the body (hips and shoulders) rotating by about 90 degrees, and the second part is done by moving the arm forward through the contact zone toward the target.
Since the forehand stroke also includes the preparation for the forehand, the movement, the use of a certain type of stance, and eventually the release into the follow-through, you may not see clearly the parts where the body rotates and the arm goes forward, but perhaps with this idea, you’ll be able to recognize them in video clips of tennis players.
In order to impart topspin for a tennis forehand, the racquet must move upwards.
But since we hold the racquet in the dominant arm, we tend to use only the arm – meaning the shoulder joint. (It’s also the strongest, and we like to use it for more power.)
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 in your arm, and you can use all three to move the racquet upwards.
The first one is the shoulder, which is usually the main joint most club players use.
Isolate the movement from your shoulder to see how much you can move the racquet up.
It’s a good idea to try these forehand drills near the net or even standing near the back fence so you can see how much the racquet moves upwards in relation to the background.
The next joint is the elbow, from which you can move the forearm up and down.
You’ll see that if you naturally move the forearm upwards, it will soon start to turn inward – toward the other side of the body – but that will happen after the point of contact.
So, at the point of contact, the racquet can still move upwards.
Then you can also use the wrist. It will likewise start turning the racquet inward, but that again happens after the point of contact.
Now, combine the legs, upper arm, forearm, and wrist to create a lot of upward movement of the racquet head, and you’ll see how these forces help you impart topspin on your forehand.
Your goal is to make a smooth connection of all four parts, and that is done through a lot of repetition.
Try hitting the net cord while looking to combine all movements into one smooth, upwards racquet movement.
Then also add the elements that create forward force – namely, the rotation and movement of the arm forward.
The final sequence is comprised of rotation and simultaneous movement of the arm forward and upwards.
I’ve shown some drills before on how to feel the correct racquet path on a groundstroke, and these forehand tips add a little bit of information on how to combine all body parts to help in the generation of power and topspin.
Eventually, add the most comfortable preparation for the stroke and the most comfortable follow-through, and you’ll find yourself hitting a forehand with good control and with little effort needed.
When you’re looking for ways to improve your forehand in tennis, you’ll find lots of technical instruction in books, DVDs, and online websites.
The danger is to keep thinking about body parts and how to move them.
It’s dangerous because, when you think about body parts, your attention is split between the incoming ball and your body – and therefore, you’re not tracking the ball well.
Hence, you’re often late on the shot and not positioned properly – so you make a lot of mistakes.
The end goal is not to think about movement of your body parts, but eventually imagine ONLY what you want to do with the strings to the ball.
The above tips help you identify body parts that generate power and topspin, but eventually you just need to imagine the racquet path through the ball.
You simply watch the ball all the time, have your full attention on the ball, and imagine how you want to hit it with the strings and in which trajectory you want to send it.
That’s how you’ll also allow the above tips to become unconscious and automatic.
Let me know if these simple tips help you see the forehand stroke more clearly and help you hit it more cleanly and with less effort!