One of the most effective shots in today’s tennis game is a killer forehand drive -- a flat, low, hard and penetrating shot. If you’re a tennis fanatic you probably know that a ball hit with backspin is relatively slow and stays low, while one hit with topspin is more powerful but kicks up when it bounces. Top women tennis professionals hit the ball so hard and still keep it low by relying on shrewd anticipation and flattened stroke mechanics.
Learn to recognize where and when to hit a low and hard forehand drive. If your opponent hits deep balls to you, pins you behind the baseline and causes you to hit off your back foot, this is not the best time to try to hit a successful low and hard shot.
Look for a short, weak incoming ball. When you're several feet inside the baseline, moving forward and attacking the ball, you have a better chance of flattening out your forehand and hitting a penetrating shot.
Study the height of the incoming ball. Ideally, you want to hit the ball when it's between the level of the net and chest high. If you try to hit a low-bouncing ball, it may end up in the net, and one that bounces too high may sail out of the court.
Move quickly toward the ball and prepare early. Take your racket back with its head perpendicular to the court. As you do, turn your shoulders, torso and hips sideways, away from the ball.
Transfer you weight forward onto your front foot as you start to uncoil your body -- rotate your hips, torso and then your shoulders toward the net. Keep your shoulders relatively level as you start your forward swing.
Contact the ball off to the side and slightly in front of your body. Unlike hitting a heavy, looping topspin ball where you contact the lower, bottom side of the ball, hit squarely behind the center of the ball. This helps flatten out and lower the flight of the ball. Avoid swinging your racket in an extreme low-to-high swing path -- this swing is for a heavy, looping topspin shot. To hit a flatter, low shot, you still need to swing your racket with a slight upward movement, but you want the swing to be more horizontal and not vertical.
Swing through the point of contact with just the slightest upward motion. Swing your racket toward your intended target and follow the path of the ball with your racket head for as long as you can. Finish your followthrough with your racket off the side of your nonhitting shoulder or arm.
- An Eastern or Semi-Western grip and a closed or semi-open stance can be used -- experiment to see what works best for you.
- Learn to step in and take the ball on the rise -- don't let the ball come to you.
- Low and hard shots are usually more effective when hit with your forehand because this is typically a Nestie’s stronger side. But the same fundamentals apply to your backhand, and with practice, you can improve this shot on your backhand side.
- Keep your arm relaxed and avoid overhitting -- this could lead to arm injuries.
- Nick Bollettieri Classic Tennis Handbook; Nick Bollettieri
- Julian Finney/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images