The forehand is the most common shot in tennis, and the first shot that players learn and master. A forehand is when you hit the ball on your dominant side.
Basic Forehand Steps:
- Pivot your feet and turn your hips and shoulders towards your dominant side
- Pull your racket back
- Swing forward from low to high, following through and finishing over your opposite shoulder
The ball will travel in the direction that the racket strings are facing on contact. Use a relaxed and laid back wrist at contact to point the racket in the direction you want the ball to go.
To add topspin to your forehand, brush your strings up on the ball during your extension through contact by rotating your wrist. It is the same motion as turning a doorknob from outside-in.
Advanced Tips for the ForehandNow that you have the basics understood, its time to add some advanced tips to get your forehand to a high level.
Gripping the Racket
- Use different grips for different forehand speeds and spins
- Eastern Grip - less spin but more power.
- Semi-Western Grip - medium speed and power
- Western Grip - more spin but less power
- ** The more extreme/western the grip is, the more open your stance must be (see below)
- Proper way to Hold the Racket: Use your bottom three fingers to hold the racket, and extend your index finger higher on the grip.
Lift those Elbows and Shoulders
- Keep you elbows away from your body on the windup
- Lift your hitting arm elbow to shoulder height on your backswing. This prevents your arm for overextending backwards, which helps your timing by shortening your swing.
- Lift your non-hitting arm elbow to should height and extend it straight out for balance on the windup. Open the fingers to help you lock into position better. As you rotate and hit, pull this arm inside to your hip with the palm up.
- Keep your hitting elbow high at shoulder height on the finish.
Extend Through The Ball
- Extend your elbow forward and keep your eyes/head still through contact
- Brush your shoulders under your chin during your follow-through
- Make contact in ahead of your body, between your hips and the net
- Have a laid-back wrist through contact, pointing your palm/racket face to the target
- Use a closed or semi-open stance when in the center of the court, and use an open stance when at the side of the court.
- Open Stance = Legs are parallel to the net/baseline when hitting
- Semi-Open Stance = Legs are at a 45 degree angle to the net/baseline
- Closed Stance = Legs are at a 90 degree angle to the net/baseline
Finishing the Shot
- Low Forehand Shots: Bend your knees and finish with your hitting arm high over the shoulder (even as high as having your hand beside your ear.
- High Forehands: Finish with your hitting arm across your shoulder
- Net-Rushing Forehands: Finish with your arm across your shoulder or even slightly below the shoulder.
Inside-Out and Inside-In Forehands
- Use the inside-out (cross court shot) and inside-in (down the line) shots when receiving a slow and short, mid-court ball to your backhand side that lets you run around your backhand and hit an aggressive forehand.
The Buggy-Whip Forehand
Final Tip for the Forehand
I just want to show this video to demonstrate a different finish at the side of the body just below the shoulder. This is great for heavy topspin shots and shots made from inside the baseline and inside the court.