Back to basics, breaking down the mighty forehand. Play Your Court gives their best tips and a few tutorials to help you hone your best forehand.

Whether you’re new to the sport, brushing up on the basics, or looking to take your game to the next level, one thing is for certain: there is always room for improvement. The best players are the ones who are continually training and perfecting the most basic of skills, among those the mighty forehand.

Scott and Nate from Play Your Court break down this essential stroke and share five easy-to-follow tips.

FIND THE CORRECT GRIP

On the forehand, how you hold the racket is very important because the grip is what conveys what the hand feels at contact when the racket strikes the ball. This “feel” is what gives you the ability to control the trajectory and spin of the ball. There are multiple ways to hold the racket, but the semi-western grip is preferred due to its stability and capacity to create topspin.

To find the semi-western grip, place the base of your index finger on the fourth bevel of the grip. You will notice the handle of the racket is shaped like an octagon with bevel one being on the very top. Count 4 bevels to the right for right handers and 4 to the left for left handers to find the correct semi-western grip. Spread the fingers out so that the index finger is slightly under the racket. This will assist with the hand's ability to drive the racket head up and create topspin. 

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LEGS

To hit a powerful forehand, you need to generate racket head speed. It may look like the arm is doing all the work but it’s actually the legs that are the primary source of energy. The kinetic chain starts from the ground up and the arm is merely the conduit for power on the forehand. In the Semi-Open Stance, focus on getting behind the ball and loading with the outside leg. On the forward swing your weight will transfer to the front leg. On a Closed Stance you will step in and have most of the weight loaded on the front foot. The Closed Stance is used mostly for short balls and allows you to produce a lot of power.

COIL AND UNCOIL

The way we set up with the upper body is just as important as using the legs appropriately. We often hear the term “unit-turn” and this refers to the left and right side of the body working together. An easy way to make sure this happens is to keep the non-dominant hand on the throat of the racket as you take the racket back. When done correctly, both arms will be in the shape of the letter L. Not only will this ensure the upper body coils effortlessly, but it will also help with spacing. We want to feel as if we’re holding a beachball when setting up for the forehand.


KEEP THINGS LOOSE

Regardless of your legs and upper body setting up correctly, if you allow tension to creep in, things are going to get stiff quickly! Our forehand should feel more like swinging a bullwhip than swinging a stick. The key is to keep your hand relaxed. Keeping the grip loose will help with power potential by ensuring the racket creates a lag as the upper body uncoils on the forward swing. A relaxed grip also helps with topspin by allowing the racket to dip below the wrist, ensuring an upward swing to the ball.

KEEP CONTACT OUT IN FRONT

Proper contact is critical for developing an awesome forehand. A great way to make sure you are making contact out in front is to be aware of your hitting shoulder. We want to keep our chin down to the hitting shoulder and at contact our shoulder should be out in front of our chin. If the shoulder is behind the chin, then you know you were late. With great contact comes a great follow-through. By keeping contact in front your racket can effortlessly work to the opposite side of your body giving you that windshield wiper finish you’ve always wanted!

Check out Play Your Court’s coaching tutorial videos to get a good visual and see these tips in action. If you’re a beginner or just looking to brush up on the basics, then the below video is a great place to start.

https://youtu.be/fio_7aZZ0Vg

If you could hit a basic forehand in your sleep and you’re looking for some tips to take it to the next level, then Scott and Nate from Play Your Court have you covered with this video all about how to increase top spin and hit a heavy forehand.

https://youtu.be/ivUJ-9LlEdU