Out of million and one forehand variations we would like to draw your attention to the following technique. Why? Because in our opinion it represents by far one of the most balanced and advantageous foundations for long-term development.
Here we’ll cover only closed stance as the most illustrative one.

Let’s start with a few guidelines.

  • Always maintain kinetic energy, never stop or slow down until stroke is finished.
  • Step into the ball, never stand still when you hit.
  • Backswing with legs and torso, not arm(s).
  • Keep your racket strings facing mostly down, less sideways (this however depends on your grip).
  • Drive your stroke with legs first, upper body should follow.
  • Always keep your head still with your eyes on the ball: before, during and after contact point.

Hold on! This does not sound like what your coach has told you so far? Well… take your time and discuss it together. Maybe this one is not your way to go?

Now let’s have everything split into details.

Getting to the ball always requires steps. Even when the ball is coming right to your hand. Why? Steps help you distributing the weight properly and do it faster. You can make steps on a spot when you are happy with your current position for the oncoming ball.
You might need several steps to reach required position, but there are always the last two that matter most.

Out of those last two steps first should place your rear leg (right for regulars, left for lefties) in a perfect position for stroke. Here you need to load your rear leg, distributing most of your weight to it while squatting down. It is almost like making a squat on one leg. At the same time your torso (primarily, your hips) should turn sideways to the direction of your expected stroke. Let’s call it a pull-back step.
Together with this step you start rotating upper body (except the head) including your arms that hold a racket. Do not try pulling racket back with your arms much, as it will make your backswing less compact and balanced, forcing you to accelerate more with arm, involving weaker muscles. A good starting principle is to almost avoid pulling your arms back at all (later you might add some arms motion depending on your age and physical state).
By the end of first step your rear knee should be bent, torso turned sideways, racket high enough (cap at shoulder height) with its head pointing up and slightly forward.

A good practice of reaching a pull-back position is to keep in mind a compressing spring and an infinity symbol (∞) path. Once you have started pulling back, you should never slow down or stop. Try maintaining the loop even and smooth, thus keeping all the energy for the stroke, avoiding injury and saving your breath for the game.

Here follows the second step. It should be always made towards the oncoming ball. Heel-toe, with your shoe pointing forward (not sideways). It should place your front leg (left for regulars, right – for lefties) in a stable position in front of your rear leg. Try keeping about 1,5-2 shoulder distance between legs.

Now, several things should be done together. First, explode with your rear leg and start uncoiling your torso, thus transferring weight to the front leg and rotating your hips forward. While doing so let your racket start falling down. Make sure strings are facing down-sideways (depending on your grip), while racket head is pointing sideways-forward.
Only after your right hip has started uncoiling, you may let the racket cap follow your hip. For some time racket head should be pointing backwards, while the cap should be leading. Do not force it, however, instead let it go naturally. Do not try to do it with your wrist consciously. It is the hip that should turn your racket head backwards, while your wrist only allows (!) this. Think of a feather that bends back when you move it forward. The same should happen with your racket head. Flexible wrist allows for some rotation of the racket due to torso uncoiling momentum, yet tries returning to its original position (racket head pointing forward). This creates a lag between your racket and the body, which amplifies your racket acceleration. Think of a whip tip compared to whip handle.

The more smooth and continuous is the path created by your racket cap, the more energy you produce with less effort. You can try maintaining a perfect kinetic chain with various objects (e.g. large plastic bag, ribbon, stick) – make sure all of them move and accelerate smoothly at any time.

Now you can reach a contact point. It should be to your side and in front. Elbow should be almost extended (be careful not extend it completely, as it may cause injury and will result in less control over the ball). Do not slow down before or in the moment of racket contact with a ball. It is only an illusion that slowing down gives more control. On the opposite, it reduces power, control and precision. If, nonetheless, in the last moment you decided to make a slower shot, simply redirect your power vector from directional force to spinning or upward motion.

Make a exaggerated follow-through and finish the stroke with racket head across your chest (or on your shoulder or even hip, depending on your grip). Do not force your racket to stop, let it naturally and gradually lose all the kinetic energy it has. Otherwise you risk getting elbow and wrist injuries.

Keep in mind that wrist should be firm on contact point, prepared for pronating and flexing. Finishing part of the stroke should be done with wrist and elbow, not with the whole arm or body (their major role of preparing the shot and accelerating the racket has been played by this moment).

Finally, make sure your head is still: before, during and after contact point, watching the place where the ball touches your racket. Do not try immediately looking to where you send a ball, as it will unbalance your aim in the last moment. You will have plenty of time to do so after you finish the stroke.

It is important to keep continuity throughout all these movements. One floats into another like the waves sweep the shore. The whole idea is to get a smooth and continuous acceleration of your racket in a controlled and balanced way to overcome the force of the oncoming ball and aim it as expected.

This is it! Try it on a wall or court and see if it works for you. It might require some time to get used though :) Also, keep in mind, that this is a general reference, just a tip of an iceberg, not covering in-depth wrist and body mechanics and other important elements. Let us know if you have any questions or comments!

By Unicorn team

19 November 2021, 11:07

Leave a comment