If you play tennis, you probably know that the forehand is hit more often in the course of a match than any other stroke. What you may not know is there's more than one way to hit a forehand. The basic forehand can take you so far, but to be a good tennis player, you need more than one forehand in your arsenal. If you're just starting out, it's best to learn the basic forehand before trying more advanced techniques. Even if you're a seasoned player, making a few adjustments to your stroke can take your game to the next level.
Basic Forehand Grip
The basic grip is the Eastern. To use this grip, place the base of your index finger and the heel pad of your right hand on the third side or bevel of the racket's handle. To locate this bevel, hold your racket with the strings perpendicular to the court and look at the end of the handle -- you'll see eight bevels. Think of the top bevel as No. 1, the next one to the right as No. 2, the next one as No. 3 and so on around the handle. If you're a lefty, put the hand reference points on bevel seven.
Basic Forehand Technique
Start in the ready position -- face the net, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight on the balls of your feet and your knees slightly bent. Hold your racket in front of your body with an Eastern grip and place your left hand on the throat of the racket. As the ball is coming toward you, pivot your feet and turn your hips, torso and shoulders to the right as you take your racket back. Keep your left hand on the racket to help turn your left shoulder to the right. As you start your forward swing, step out to the right at a 45-degree angle with your left foot. Transfer your weight onto this foot, drop the racket head below the level of the ball and uncoil your upper body as you swing forward. Contact the ball, waist high, off to the right and a little ahead of your body. Swing through the ball, finish with your racket over your left shoulder and grab your racket with your left hand. Reverse the directional instructions if you are a lefty.
Advanced Grip Options
As you become more advanced you may want to hit the ball with more topspin -- a forward rotation of the ball. To do this, use a semi-Western or Western grip. With a semi-Western grip your hand reference points are on bevel four and with a Western, bevel five. Lefties use bevel six and five. With a semi-Western grip, you'll contact the ball farther out in front of your body and slightly higher than you would with an Eastern grip. Cut into the ball with your strings and sharply brush up behind it to create topspin. A Western grip allows you to hit with the most topspin. You'll contact the ball even farther out in front of your body. You should note that it's more difficult to hit low balls with this grip and it can be hard on your wrist.
Basic Slice Forehand Technique
You should also have a slice forehand in your arsenal. A slice forehand puts backward spin on the ball. To do this, start in your ready position and use a Continental grip -- hand reference points on bevel two if you are right-handed or eight if you are left-handed. As the ball is coming toward you, use the same basic forehand technique to turn your body to the right and take your racket back. Step out at a 45-degree angle as you start your forward swing. Instead of dropping the racket head below the level of the incoming ball, keep it up above your wrist and the level of the ball. With a slightly downward movement, use the strings to cut into the ball and brush down behind it. Finish with the racket head pointing toward your target, waist high. Reverse the directional instructions if you are a lefty.
- Bollettieri Classic Tennis Handbook; Nick Bollettieri
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