Man Playing a Tennis forehand

How to Hit a Tennis Forehand

If you’re picking up tennis, learning How to hit a forehand in tennis can be surprisingly difficult. Considering how easy the professionals make it look, it can sometimes feel a little bit daunting once you get on the court.

But worry no more! This guide is going to break the tennis forehand like no other to make sure you understand how it’s done every step of the way.

Like all things in tennis, the forehand has many moving parts. We’ll cover everything from the grip to the follow-through, ensuring you leave with a toolkit to turn your tennis forehand into a force to be reckoned with.

So, lace up your sneakers, grab your racket, and let’s embark on this journey together.

Step-by-Step Guide: The Tennis Forehand

Gripping Your Racket:

Before you even think about hitting the ball, let’s decide on how we are going to grip the racket. You can use either the Semi-Western or the Western grip. Make sure you don’t switch between these often throughout your tennis journey, as you will constantly lack consistency by throwing your muscle memory every time you do it. Usually, players stick to the grip their couch recommends for them, which is likely a Semi Western grip.

Finding Your Stance:

Now, let’s talk stance. It’s the unsung hero of a good tennis forehand. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, ready to spring into action. When you understand that the shot you are playing is a forehand, you want to set up your stance as soon as possible. Using the image as a reference, ensure you have your racket in both hands with the string pointing to the side fence.

diagram of a tennis forehand setup

Make sure you have your left foot in front of the right one. Make sure you are moving to get into position to hit the ball using proper footwork. This is the stance you want to be in when you decide to make contact.

The Backswing:

The backswing is crucial in making sure you have a consistent forehand. Most professionals have similar backswings, so just watching some pro tennis can really help with this step. Essentially, you want to lift the racket slightly from your left hand as you take your racket back. Be sure you don’t take it behind your back in this process.

Then, as you make your loop, ensure that the racket strings are facing down during the backswing. It is almost like an upside-down frying pan. Use the image for reference if you are struggling to visualise the process.

The Swing:

Then, from your backswing, Your swing should be fluid and controlled as it moves past your body to contact the ball. Start low and swing upwards to generate topspin – that’s the secret to making the ball dive over the net and kick up high. Hit the ball in front of you when it’s about waist height. This is the sweet spot where you’ll get the best combination of power and control.

diagram of a tennis forehand swing

Make sure you aren’t hitting the top of the ball, otherwise, it will go into the net. Instead, brush up the back of the ball with your racket to generate the most power with the right amount of topspin in order for it to go into the court.

Follow Through:

The magic isn’t over at contact. Your follow-through is crucial. Extend your arm and wrap the racket around your body. the racket should finish over your shoulder. A mistake many people seem to make is that they ‘catch’ their racket with their other hand. Many people try to mimic professionals like Roger Federer with this technique, but it is not helpful.

diagram of a tennis forehand follow through

You limit your actual swing subconsciously by doing this. Unless you have multiple dedicated sports health professionals working in your team to allow you to incorporate this technique successfully, do not use it!

How Can I Improve My Tennis Forehand?

Improving your tennis forehand is like fine-tuning a musical instrument – it requires patience, practice, and a bit of know-how. Let’s break it down:

  1. Refining Your Grip: Your grip is the foundation. Experiment with the Eastern, Semi-Western, and Western, Each grip affects the angle of the racket and, therefore, the flight of the ball.
  2. Strengthening Your Stance: A stable stance is key. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. This isn’t just a pose; it’s your power stance, giving you the agility and balance needed for a strong tennis forehand.
  3. Mastering the Backswing: A good backswing sets the stage. It should be smooth and controlled, like winding up a clock. This isn’t about how far back you can go but how effectively you can transfer energy from the backswing to the forward swing.
  4. Dominant Arm Dynamics: Your dominant arm should work in harmony with your body. As you swing, let your arm flow naturally, leading with your elbow and then extending through the shot.
  5. Perfecting the Swing: Your swing is where the magic happens. Practice swinging in one fluid motion, focusing on generating topspin by brushing up against the ball.
  6. Honing the Contact Point: Making contact with the ball at the right time and place is crucial. Aim to hit the ball when it’s in line with your leading hip.
  7. Follow Through with Flair: Your follow-through is as important as the swing itself. It’s what gives your shot direction and power. Let your arm naturally wrap around your body after the shot.
  8. Adding Topspin: Topspin can turn a good tennis forehand into a great one. It’s the extra zing. Practice hitting the ball with an upward stroke to add that spin, making the ball drop faster and bounce higher.
an illustration of a tennis forehand

Like any skill, improving your tennis forehand takes practice. It’s not just about repeating motions; it’s about understanding each element and how it contributes to the overall shot. So grab your racket, and let’s turn those tennis forehands into formidable weapons on the court!

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