The modern forehand is part of the evolution of professional tennis players technique and footwork and maximizes the levers in the stroke.
The modern forehand is part of the evolution of professional tennis players technique and footwork. The modern tennis forehand technique is a combination of maximizing the levers in the stroke.
The modern forehand technique is responsible for today’s fast paced game of new tennis players that hit the tennis ball harder than ever before.
The changes in the modern tennis forehand technique is the primary reason for the dramatic increase of power and topspin used by today’s top tennis players.
Advancement of the Modern Tennis Forehand
Much has been said and written about the evolution of tennis. The classic game has frequently been compared to the modern game.
The main change is the switch from wooden rackets to graphite rackets.
Specific to this change has been the evolution of larger head sizes as well as lighter weights.
Another significant change as a result of advancements in racket technology is the shift in the kind of strings being used. From natural gut, many of today’s players now use a hybrid of natural gut and polyester strings. There are even some players who use polyester strings exclusively.
While the rules of the game have not changed since the sport was institutionalized, the predominant type of court surface used on tour has definitely changed. Before the mid 1970’s, three of the four grand slam events were played on grass.
Today, two of the four are played on hard courts. This is now the predominant surface. In general, surfaces have also been slowed down, especially in the new millennium. There are only about 4 weeks of grass court tennis in a whole year and even these courts have been slowed down. Also, there are hardly any indoor events played on carpet or supreme surfaces.
Professional Players Today in the Modern Forehand
Athletes today are also emphasizing fitness and speed more than ever. Hard scrambling baseline rallies are commonly played by the top players, who all now seem to be able to go from defence to offense with just one shot. Their ability to hit clean winners from the baseline has made volleying at the net much more difficult, hence the demise of the pure serve and volley player.
The result of all these changes in the tennis landscape is the development of the modern game, which, briefly described, is an aggressive baseline game featuring all out power hitting with heavy topspin.
The Modern Tennis Forehand is the New Cornerstone of Tennis
The bread and butter shot for most players remains to be the forehand. Increasingly, though, players are now becoming equally strong, if not stronger, from the backhand. The modern forehand is one shot that has seen a number of changes compared to the classic version played during the earlier years.
Modern Forehand Technique: The Modern forehand today is based on a rotational element, rather than a traditional straight back linear forehand backswing of the past
The modern forehand is now the main point-ending shot for most players. This shot is a lot more powerful and has a lot more topspin than the classic forehand, which was usually flatter. Certainly, on fast surfaces, more relatively flat forehands used to be hit.
Today, a player like Rafael Nadal, who hits with the most amount of topspin on his forehand, has been able to win Wimbledon twice and make the final on three other occasions. On clay courts, there were already a lot of topspin forehands but they were a lot slower than they are today.
Bjorn Borg’s Evolution of the Modern Forehand
The technique of the modern forehand is thought to have started out with the great Swedish player Bjorn Borg. Although he still played with wooden rackets, he used a more western grip and put a lot of topspin on the ball. He met the ball with a slightly bent arm and a laid back wrist. He hit through the ball, producing power as well as topspin. And lastly, he had a longer follow-through that ended up with the racket head wrapping past the left shoulder.
Borg used natural gut strings as everyone else did during his time, but he strung his rackets with an unheard of tension of 80 lbs/in2. For him, this provided control even when he was swinging as hard as he could and generating very fast racket head speeds.
Today’s players use polyester strings which are stiffer, more durable and less elastic than natural gut. This probably simulates the playing characteristics of tightly strung natural gut, without being too easily broken. However, because the physical properties of polyester and natural gut are different, some players have discovered that stringing polyester at very low tensions (i.e. 25-35 lbs) can be equally beneficial for playing the modern game.
Implementing Different Styles of Backswings on the Modern Forehand
The truth is that whether you talk about the classic forehand or the modern forehand, each player has a different way of hitting the ball. Players who grew up on hard courts usually hit their forehands flatter than those who grew up training predominantly on clay. In the past, when grass was a more widespread surface, there was a bigger difference among the various ways that players hit their forehands. In general, what is usually designated as the classic forehand is the flat, eastern grip forehand.
Continental Forehand Grip: A classic forehand
The continental forehand is also considered classic. This stroking style makes use of the closed stance. The racket was taken straight back or only with a slight loop with body weight being loaded on the back foot.
The forward swing was fast and flat through the ball as the weight was transferred to the front foot which was used as a pivot for the stroke. At contact, the arm was either straight or only slightly bent at the elbow. The wrist was somewhat laid back. The follow through was straight forward in the direction of the ball and rarely finished over the opposite shoulder.
Tennis Stance: The modern tennis forehand is most often hit with either a open/semi-open or neutral stance. Today, the most commonly used stance is the: open stance, semi-open stance and neutral stance
The Classic Old School Forehand
Semi-western and western grip forehands existed in the classic era, but were rare. The mechanics were generally the same as the eastern forehand, except that after the backswing, the player dropped the racket head lower than the path of the incoming ball. At contact, the player brushed up the back of the ball and through it.
The follow through was forward in the direction of the ball but more steeply upward. As a precursor to the modern forehand, the racket head could also finish over the opposite shoulder. The main difference is that the shot produced, while having topspin, wasn’t a fast shot compared to the modern forehand.
While almost all classic forehands were hit with a closed stance, today’s forehand can be hit from any stance as long as there is proper balance and weight transfer. The grip can be eastern, semi-western or western but never continental, unless the player wants to slice. The continental grip is never used to hit flat shots anymore. Most of the time, the racket is held with a variation of the semi-western or western grip.
Modern Tennis Forehand Mechanics
The take back of the modern forehand is more looped or circular in order to generate greater racket head speed. The elbow is relaxed or bent and may remain so throughout the stroke, although some players straighten out their arm at contact. The wrist is laid back. The hips and shoulders turn completely and the weight is loaded on the back foot. The forward swing sees the hips and shoulders uncoil as the racket head drops down below the level of the ball. At contact, the torso usually faces the net.
Rafael Nadal’s Forehand: A world class forehand utilizing modern tennis forehand technique with a fluid backswing and an aggressive low to high swinging pattern
The racket hits the ball squarely behind while going through it and lifting it up for topspin. Advancements in racket and string technology allow the ball to linger on the string bed a fraction of a second longer than before, allowing more topspin to be created by the upward motion of the racket head.
Torso Rotation in the Modern Forehand
The torso continues to rotate as the weight is transferred from back foot to front foot, frequently setting the player airborne. The follow through is long and may finish in one of four ways:
As a quick whip steeply upward ending over the shoulder of the hitting arm. This is called the reverse forehand and is used when on the run, to create angles or to catch up to the ball when the player is late on his or her stroke.
As a variation of the first follow through but with the racket finishing over the head in a lassoing motion as typically used by Rafael Nadal.
Over the opposite shoulder, as is usually recommended by coaches.
Past the opposite shoulder to the side of the body – the so-called windshield wiper follow through, which Roger Federer uses.
All in all, the modern forehand is the shot that wins the most points for most players. Aside from the recent dominance of players like Nadal and Federer, the new top player Novak Djokovic and the latest grand slam women’s champions Petra Kvitova and Li Na have been able to break through by improving their forehands. It is the shot that any competitive player must master in order to get to the top of the sport.
If we compare just small details from both types of forehands – such as the grip, how flat and with how much topspin we hit, how we drop the racket into the acceleration phase, and so on – we may lose sight of the actual cause of these differences.
The reality is that while the classic forehand is played flatter, usually with a neutral stance and a more open racket face, that doesn’t make it classic.
All top pros currently using their modern forehand technique also can hit the ball flat in a neutral stance, with perhaps a slightly different wrist position.
And yet, all these little details are not the actual difference between the classic and modern forehand.
So, what is it?
The ‘One-Unit’ vs. the Segmented Forehand
A good example of a classic forehand is John McEnroe, whom you can still see playing these days on the senior tour.
If you watch him carefully, you’ll see that John hits his forehand as one unit, meaning there are almost no moving parts in his arm as he keeps all the joints very firm, including the wrist.
The only moving joint is his shoulder — and even that is not moving much.
Thus, the main characteristic of a classic forehand is that it is a more rigid and firm stroke, executed more as one moving unit.
The arm works as one unit in the classic forehand technique together with the body.
The joints in the arm are firm and do not allow movement of the forearm (elbow) or hand (wrist).
The modern forehand, on the other hand, is segmented.
That means players who use it allow more freedom of movement in their joints, so their arm works in segments – you can see movement between the upper arm and the forearm through the elbow joint, as well as movement between the forearm and the hand through the wrist joint.
Note the “segments” of Roger Federer’s arm during the forehand stroke
In addition, the modern forehand technique also often separates the work of the lower body and upper body because an open stance is used.
The modern forehand is based on coordinating segments of the body and arm.
When you prepare for the forehand in the open stance, you can turn your shoulders more than your hips, so you are “separating” them and thus creating a coiling (torque) effect in your core.
That coiling means you are stretching the muscles in your body, allowing you to snap them back quickly, thereby creating a lot of rotational force that helps you accelerate the arm and racket.
Using the arm and the body in segments allows us to create a “kinetic chain” which generates a lot of power based on the biomechanics of the human body.
The next separation that the pros use is between the torso and arm, so the stretch they create is through the upper chest muscles and shoulder.
Can you tell that there’s a stretch in the front part of the shoulder muscle at this moment of Djokovic’s forehand?
By relaxing the shoulder and arm, and rotating the torso forward quickly, the arm lags and creates tension in the shoulder, which again then allows the player to use that stored elastic energy by pulling the arm forward and accelerating it very quickly.
The most extreme examples of this effect can be seen in javelin and discus athletes.
The third point of segmentation and tension that the pros create is between the forearm and the hand, through the wrist joint.
All currently playing pros create racket lag through forearm / hand “separation”
By relaxing the wrist through most of the forehand stroke, the player creates a racket lag, which stretches the forearm muscles, again allowing the player to use that built-up elastic energy upon execution.
How to Apply Modern Forehand Principles to Your Forehand Stroke
The modern forehand technique creates more power by creating different tension points in the torso and arm, and that stored elastic energy is released by rotating the upper body forward and pulling the arm forward, accelerating the racket head through forearm tension.
Because there are many more moving parts in the modern forehand compared with the classic forehand, this makes it much more complex for our brain to coordinate and time all these body parts to bring the racket head to the small, moving, bouncy ball exactly at the right moment and exactly at the right distance.
The more we allow movement of the body and arm segments through our joints, the more complex the strokes become and the higher the chances of losing control and missing the shot.
The pros can do it because they’ve been practicing that for many years under professional guidance, and in time, they have learned to control that immense power that the modern forehand technique generates through the segmentation and the stretching, storing, and releasing of the elastic energy.
The classic forehand, however, is much simpler, but also not as powerful considering the effort required.
What I recommend you do, and what I personally do, is apply some elements of the modern forehand technique to your existing forehand so that you’ll still maintain good control of your shots while finding ways to hit with more power and less effort.
a) Create coiling by playing open-stance forehands
The first thing you can do is practice hitting some forehands in the open stance and really experience what it means to create a coiling effect in your upper body.
This short clip from the Effortless Forehand video course shows you how you can compare what it feels like to play in open stance vs. playing in neutral stance, helping you become more aware of the coiling effect, which is what allows you to store and release elastic energy.
Keep in mind that open-stance forehands are not that accurate, and that if you’re not physically in good shape or have some nagging injuries in your legs, hips, or shoulders, it may cause you even more discomfort.
Your goal is simply to learn to play the open-stance forehand correctly – together, of course, with the neutral stance — then simply look for comfort and stable positioning when you play, so that the stances will happen naturally and automatically, without you needing to think about them.
b) Using the power of the wrist lag
One of the parts of the forehand stroke that I correct the most often with adult recreational tennis players is the wrist lag – or more accurately, lack of it.
Most players hold their rackets too tightly and squeeze them even tighter as they are about to swing forward.
By doing that, they prevent their wrists from reaching a stable, laid-back position, while at the same time storing energy in the forearm, as it then fully stretches.
Tight grip prevents the wrist from fully laying back for the player on the left
So, head over to the forehand wrist-lag article and familiarize yourself with the concepts of stable wrist position and wrist lag. This way, you can correct that part of the forehand stroke if it’s still not right.
Players can quickly improve their wrist lag by using video analysis on the court and some feel based drills
I don’t recommend that you try to create a stretch between the body and the arm through the shoulder muscle because that tends to create a very inconsistent stroke when you don’t have enough practice.
It’s better to just imagine that your body and the arm move together as one unit while you rotate forward.
What if You Currently Use Classic Forehand Technique?
If you’re playing with a classic forehand style, in which there isn’t much segmentation and not many moving parts, I suggest you simply look to relax and release all that tension/firmness that you’re used to holding while you’re hitting your forehand.
Simply allow more movement through your joints – “relax your joints,” if there’s such an expression!
Try to rally nicely with your partner or with a ball machine, and look for more comfort and more moving parts of the arm.
The segmentation then will naturally start to happen, the tension in the arm will build up, the stored elastic energy will be released, and you will feel it as effortless power.
Of course, you will lose some control at first, but don’t let that scare you. You need to give your brain some time to learn to coordinate more moving body/arm parts, and that comes with repetition/practice.
Therefore, you must be in a non-competitive situation — either just rallying, using a ball machine, or hitting against the wall. Go through the trial-and-error process for a while until you realize that you can get good control of the ball, even when you’re not so tight.
Also, don’t think that a classic forehand, even with a continental grip, is a bad thing because I and most other tennis coaches play it quite well and use it often when we must hit nice and controlled shots to someone at the net.
I often times play a very simple classic forehand with a continental grip when rallying with the player at the net
A simple, classic forehand allows me to play very accurately in terms of height and direction, and it allows me to play the balls flat, which helps the player at the net judge the ball better and not have to deal with the dip of the ball that a topspin forehand creates.
Secondly, having the ability to play a more stable and firm forehand also helps you when returning serves, as the incoming ball already brings a lot of energy, so you simply need to guide it back with a simple, firm stroke.
Hopefully, this clarifies the classic vs. modern forehand technique question, but if you still have questions or thoughts on this, just fire away in the comments section below.
How To Hit Forehands With Effortless Power And Finally Start Dominating The Rallies
Would You Like To Feel The Same About Your Forehand Too? Read On…
Roger Federer’s main weapon from the baseline – The Forehand
The forehand stroke is supposed to be the main weapon in your tennis matches and yet you may struggle to hit it with power – let alone with effortless power…
Surely you’ve seen the pros dominate their opponents mostly with their forehands once the rally gets going and it’s the forehand shot that usually ends up as a winner.
Maybe you’ve taken lessons on the forehand – both on court and through online lessons – but you know something is still not right.
No matter how much effort you put into the shot, the ball is still not getting the penetration you need, not to mention that you’re making tons of unforced errors.
You know you’re now muscling the ball – which you’ve heard you shouldn’t do – but you can’t find another way to hit your forehand with power and good consistency.
And Yet, There Is A Way…
There is a method of unlocking the body’s power that works very fast. Most players that I have worked with have hit effortless forehands after a single lesson.
I worked for five days with Tomaz on my game in general, and my forehand in particular. The result was absolutely fantastic.
I came in with good technique but I lacked power. I was able to muscle the ball and generate some speed but it took some effort and it never felt easy.
Now it does. I feel that I can casually take time away from my opponents.
Tomaz is an outstanding coach. He has a knack for finding the right word that will instill the proper mental image in the minds of his students. His vast repertoire of drills will trick your body into the right movement.
Let Me Help You Develop A Powerful Forehand!
A central topic that emerges when attempting to develop more powerful strokes at the competitive level is the field of biomechanics.
If you’ve seen the pros throw medicine balls or use rubber bands in their training, you’ve watched them train based on biomechanical principles.
You may think that this type of advanced training is applicable just to pro tennis, but that’s not the case.
Engaging and moving your body based on the biomechanical principles can develop the most fundamental and efficient movements you need to hit or move more effortlessly.
Hey, Tomaz here…
If you’ve seen me play in one of my videos you’ve probably noticed that I hit my forehands quite effortlessly.
The forehand has always been my better shot. While I can’t say that my backhand is poor, it’s not really the shot with which I can dominate.
But with the forehand I can very quickly apply pressure to my opponent and easily finish points from the midcourt.
What that means is that I know what I am doing.
I know how to hit effortless forehands and I know what I do inside my body to generate this power.
And I’d like to share this knowledge with you.
I’ve learned the methods of teaching tennis technique both with the ITF European system and the PTR American system. I have attended countless seminars and conferences in the last 20 years, constantly upgrading my knowledge.
An example of how pros use biomechanics based exercises
Here’s a short excerpt from Wikipedia on biomechanics in sports:
“Biomechanics in sports can be stated as the muscular, joint and skeletal actions of the body during the execution of a given task, skill and/or technique. Proper understanding of biomechanics relating to sports skill has the greatest implications on: sport’s performance, rehabilitation and injury prevention, along with sport mastery.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomechanics
Examples of biomechanics exercises which help players feel much better which body part to engage and how
If we teach our body to move biomechanically optimally – that is, moving the bones, joints, and muscles in the best way possible based on how our body is designed – we will achieve the best possible performance, prevent injury and, in time, develop sports mastery.
Building on the knowledge of mechanics I gained while earning my Engineering degree (which I completed before starting to coach full time), I found it much easier to understand the biomechanical principles.
I have isolated the most effective biomechanical exercises from the vast collection of drills I learned in my 20-year journey as a tennis coach. I have applied them to all levels of players that I’ve worked with – from high-level competitive juniors like the Singapore National Junior team that I coached, to recreational tennis players and beginners
And the results were always very quick and very effective.
The biomechanical exercises instantly give the player the feel of how to engage the hips, for example, or how to incorporate more shoulder rotation in their forehands. Once the player feels directly in their body how to engage it, there is no more confusion. They finally know on a deeper level how power is created in the body and channeled to the forehand (or any other stroke).
As an example of how this process works, let me introduce Allan. I had the privilege of working and sharing ideas with him for a few days.
Allan learned the classical forehand a long time ago. He is now also a tennis coach and was chosen as the Midwest Division High School Coach of the Year.
Instead of messing with his technique and making him think a lot, I used one of the key biomechanical exercises to unlock his hips while letting him use his classic forehand technique.
Here’s What Happened…
Your content here…
As you can see, Allan was able to feel how the power comes from the hips. He quickly found a much more effortless way of hitting his forehands even though we never changed his “technique”.
And that’s the most important and beneficial side of biomechanical exercises: they will improve your forehand stroke regardless of your current technique!
In fact, I work mostly on biomechanics exercises with players first and pay much less attention to technique. Power comes from engaging the right body parts in the correct sequence and not from little details of whether you should finish your forehand above or below your shoulder.
Once the player feels effortless power surging through their body, they will stop tensing up and trying to muscle the ball and will consequently relax more.
And as they relax, their external technique will usually start to take new shape.
What Can Be Achieved In Only 1 Hour…
I’ve worked with Luis on three major biomechanical exercises and NOT on technique. Yet, after only 1 hour, his technique started to look different.
So, the external changes you see – for example, a different follow-through – are not what I told him to do. These changes happened as a consequence of Luis engaging his legs, hips and shoulders differently.
To teach Luis how to engage his legs, hips and shoulders correctly, I did not tell him what to do. Rather, I showed him how to do it through specific drills based on biomechanics.
Keep in mind that the changes you see are a result of only 1 hour of work and only 3 different exercises that we repeated often as we worked on his forehand stroke!
Imagine how Luis’ forehand would look and feel if he had the time to go through all the drills and spend a few more days with me!
I could show you more examples, but by now you’re probably wondering: how does one improve so quickly, and what additional ways are there to develop a powerful and consistent forehand? I am glad you asked. 😉
The Effortless Forehand Video Course
Unlocking The Hidden Power Of Your Body
The Effortless Forehand is a unique video course that helps you acquire an effortless and powerful forehand through 3 stages of development:
Effortless Power through Biomechanics: You will very quickly experience more effortless power in your forehand by engaging in biomechanics exercises. They will help you feel how to engage the bigger muscle groups in your body and in what sequence to generate effortless power.
Controlled Power by Technique Tune-up: By going through key technical checkpoints in your forehand stroke, you will eliminate the rest of the small mistakes in your technique and therefore gain more control of the ball, resulting in higher consistency and better accuracy of your shots.
Power On The Move by Stances & Footwork: By learning how to hit powerful forehands from the neutral, open, closed and other stances and by moving efficiently to the ball and recovering fast, you’ll be able to implement your newly developed forehand in any situation.
The Effortless Forehand video course can be watched online on a PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, or any Android-based device.
All the videos are in MP4 format, and you can download high quality or lower quality (smaller size) videos to your computer, tablet, or smartphone and use the instruction right there on the court.
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Here’s what’s included
You’ll learn how and in what sequence you need to engage major muscle groups to create an efficient forehand stroke. The most important benefit of the biomechanical drills is that they will quickly teach you how to hit with more power regardless of your current technique!
How to best use gravity to help you accelerate the racket and relieve your arm of work;
How to loosen up your wrist and develop modern racket lag technique with just one simple drill performed on a bench;
The most overlooked body part by most coaches when it comes to generating power in your forehand and how to engage it for maximum effect;
How exactly the shoulder axis needs to work to help you accelerate the racket effortlessly;
And much more (approx. 80 minutes of instruction.)
Forehand Technique Section
The technique section will help you fine-tune your forehand by guiding you through multiple key checkpoints of a fundamental forehand stroke. This will improve your consistency and accuracy, making it easier to time tough incoming balls.
Why it’s not enough to be in a ready position; you also need to be in a ready state. Learn how to achieve it.
Why the “Unit turn” doesn’t necessarily allow you to prepare in the fastest way and what to focus on instead;
How to synchronize your hips and your arm in order to generate maximum acceleration of the racket;
The ideal swing path you should implement and how you can work on that in every tennis session;
How to improve the accuracy of your forehand with a combination of mental and physical action;
And much more (approx. 80 minutes of instruction)
Stances & Footwork Section
Learn how to hit your forehands effortlessly from any stance and how to get into that stance quickly and efficiently.
Why you need to focus much more on the axis of rotation than the weight transfer if you want to have power and control at the same time;
Why hitting in neutral stance often results in a loss of balance and therefore loss of control and how to correct that;
A simple drill that teaches you the fundamental open stance forehand and how to maximize the power it gives you;
Why so many players struggle with the open stance forehand when moving to the side and how to master it;
Why hitting in closed stance is not a problem if you know how to make the best of it;
How to practice and master the basic footwork patterns when moving different distances to the ball;
And much more (approx. 90 minutes of instruction.)
Auckland, New Zealand
This is a really thorough course which will help any motivated tennis player build a technically sound and effortless forehand.
Many of the drills and explanations that Tomaz presents in this course I have never come across – not in any free online videos nor from in-person tennis coaches I’ve worked with over my 35 years of playing experience.
Yet once I started on the drills, I instinctively just “got” the feel and concepts, without much thinking or having to try hard. Bottomline, his method and drills really do work!
Even though I had always felt my forehand was a weapon, I’m quickly seeing how much better I can make it by faithfully following the progressions in this course. I can’t recommend this course highly enough!
The Effortless Forehand Video Course
Unlocking The Hidden Power Of Your Body
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26 videos (that’s over 4 hours of video clips) that you can watch online or download to your PC, tablet, or smartphone.
BONUS 1: STROKE REVIEW VIDEO ANALYSIS
Send me a video of your forehand and I will create a side-by-side comparison with me or a professional tennis player of your choice and show you what are the key elements of the forehand you need to work on.
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My 60 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
You have a 60-day full money back guarantee, no questions asked.
Use the full Effortless Forehand video course for 8 weeks. If you don’t significantly improve the power and consistency of your forehand, I will refund your payment immediately.
Put the video course to the test and see how it works for you. With the full money back guarantee, there’s no way you can lose.
P.S. If you really want to transform your forehand from a weakness into your weapon, then give this unique course a try. I guarantee you that you’ll learn things about the forehand you’ve never encountered before which will give you completely new insights into how the forehand works.
What Customers Are Saying…
I used to mishit a lot and that has improved dramatically. I have been playing for more than 45 years and I have never been able to hit with very much power.
However, thanks to your courses on using the knees. the hips, the shoulders and rotation I am starting to hit the ball with more power at the age of 73 than I did at the age of 25.
In my opinion the biggest improvement has stemmed from my dropping the racket on edge instead of dropping it with the racket face pointing to the ground. Your analogy of the swing being more like bowling than a discus throw was enlightening and it engraved a mental image that comes to mind whenever my swing begins to go astray.
I have always loved the game of tennis but in an effort to improve I really started studying its mechanics during the past ten years. I took a few lessons, subscribed to an online course and reviewed countless online videos As a result my game improved but then seemed to stagnate.
I still lacked consistency and power, especially on the forehand and I could not figure out why. Thanks to your course that has begun to change.
I want to say that I think you have great teaching skills. Your video on open stance timings is one example.. Your explanation of right, left, forehand for the weight transfer on the body axis and right, forehand, left for the weight transfer on the leg axis is simple, but like everything else, extremely effective in getting your point across. As soon as I feel I have satisfactorily absorbed the info in the forehand course, I fully intend to sign up for your course on top spin and slice serves. John Pirone … Arlington, MA USA
My forehand improved a lot, though it was not so bad before.
I like the step by step approach; I finally understand a lot more about what to do!
I know that many people have not so clear ideas about what is really going on in a forehand stroke, or they try to imitate what they believe the Pros are doing (for example what the take back is concerned); the way Tomaz teaches is a great way for us “mortal amateurs”. Peter Balint … Münster Germany
I have more more power with less effort.
As an educator myself, I recognize teaching that is clear and relevant. Tomaz’s instruction takes a step-by-step approach and uses analogies to make progressions easy to understand.
The video production is first-rate. Jim Falvo … Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this forehand course only for advanced tennis players or also for beginners?
How long will it take me to improve my forehand?
How long do I have access to the course after I buy it?
Does this course work only for competitive juniors or also for adult recreational tennis players?
What if the course doesn’t work for me?
If you work on all the exercises presented in the Effortless Forehand video course and you don’t see significant progress in your forehand, then simply request a refund, no questions asked.
The following tennis lesson helps you develop the modern forehand technique, which allows you to hit forehands with effortless power while maintaining high consistency of your shots.
Most tennis players struggle with forehands when they have to finish short balls or when they try to dictate the rallies from the baseline because they don’t know how to engage the right muscles and in what sequence to hit powerful forehands.
This step-by-step instruction guide gives you the fundamentals of the forehand technique that will allow you to quickly improve your forehand.
If you want to take it even further, then check out the Effortless Forehand video course which goes much more in depth on:
how to develop more power on your forehand with the help of drills based on biomechanics,
how to eliminate technical flaws that cause you to play inconsistently,
how to learn the techniques of the neutral, closed and open stance forehands,
and much more.
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Step 1: The Grip
How you grip the racket is very important for your forehand because the grip translates the feel from the racket strings that interact with the ball to your hand. Therefore, you feel what’s going on with the ball, and you know how to manipulate it.
If something is not right with the grip, then your forehands will not have good control regardless of how your other external technique looks.
While you may know how to hold a semi-western grip – which is what I recommend for a stable and reliable forehand stroke – you may still hold the handle incorrectly.
The most common mistake is that the hand is perpendicular to the handle. When players holds the racket like that, they are not supporting the racket well because the index finger is not spread out.
This grip mistake is quite common
That makes the racket head feel very heavy. To control it, you’ll have to tense up your wrist muscles, which will cause you to lose feel of the racket head and consequently have trouble playing accurately.
The correct grip would be when we spread the fingers a little bit so that you see the index finger under the racket (see picture).
This little detail can help you hit forehands much easier
The reason we want the index finger there is that it helps us push the racket head up.
When we are swinging towards the ball and applying topspin, this finger helps us turn the wrist and drive the racket upwards.
Index finger can easily support the weight of the racket
It gives us very good support under the racket, and the racket rests nicely.
So, check how your current forehand grip looks and make sure you add this little index finger technique in there so that your racket will be more stable in your hand.
Step 2: The Ready Position & State
Now that we’ve set the grip right, we need to get in a ready position. I often see players in a ready position, but they’re not in a ready state because they’re just standing.
Standing like this does not make you “ready”
They’re waiting to see the ball go in a certain direction and only then do they start playing. That’s a ready position but not a ready state.
In a ready state, you are moving. You feel like you’re dancing.
You can be dancing from foot to foot, or you can be doing something like mini split steps, but you have to do something.
Whenever the ball is in play, we never stand, not even for a split second. We are always moving.
A perfect example of a ready position AND ready state
There are two main reasons you want to keep moving:
we are able to move faster with our first step, especially when we land into a split step,
we are able to react faster because body movement keeps our mind more alert.
Now even though I am explaining the modern forehand tennis technique, I still wanted to include the ready position and state because they are so important for your ability to play good tennis.
Remember: if you’re not moving and if you’re not doing a split step, you’re not really playing tennis.
Make sure that you add this to your game because, otherwise, you will never play well. It’s impossible to play tennis well if you’re just standing and if you don’t split step.
Step 3: The Preparation
The first thing you do when you see the ball coming to your forehand side is that you turn to the side.
The most common mistake is to use your arm a lot to go back; instead, you should turn to the side, and you should prepare the racket mostly with your off-hand.
This should feel like you are pushing and lifting the racket with your left hand
When you’re turning to the side, your right hand is basically resting on the racket and your left arm is doing all the work preparing.
Another common mistake you might make in this preparation phase is that you might think too much about preparing the racket “back”.
So, don’t imagine it like that. Just think that you will prepare to the side.
The rest will just happen during the stroke as you step towards the ball and turn the body more.
When you prepare correctly holding the semi-western grip, then the racket face and your non-dominant hand are pointing to the side.
Forehand preparation from the side view
The wrist of your hitting hand is just below the height of your shoulder, and your arm is slightly bent.
Step 4: The Drop
From the preparation phase, you should let the racket drop so that gravity can assist you with accelerating the racket. In a later stage of the forward swing, you will start to take over with your hitting arm.
Remember: if you want to hit an effortless and efficient forehand, then you want to use laws of physics to your advantage and make the best of them.
One of them is gravity, and you can use it only if you let go. Instead of “doing” everything yourself with your arm, you let gravity help you accelerate the racket initially.
VERY IMPORTANT: The “drop” is just a term we use in coaching but it is often taken TOO LITERALLY. The racket doesn’t just drop down, it swings around too because we rotate the body back and forth. I explain that in the Universal Swing video article.
What I teach and recommend in this phase where you are building the fundamentals of the forehand technique is that you DON’T copy the tennis pros and how they drop the racket.
Most of them drop the racket with the face pointing down where they completely relax the wrist before accelerating forward.
Roger Federer and many other pros drop the racket with the face pointing to the ground
This is an advanced method of accelerating the racket head. While you can learn it, it is very unlikely that you will be able to control your shots.
You will most likely be late on the forehand and hit most of them very inaccurately.
That’s because the racket head will flip close to 180 degrees in a very short time, just a few hundredths of a second before you make contact.
Please check the comparison of the forehand drop techniques between Roger Federer and Simona Halep and why it’s so difficult to apply the “face down” drop technique that Roger uses and why I don’t recommend it to recreational tennis players.
Simona Halep forehand drop on the edge vs Roger Federer drop on the face of the racket
While I can demonstrate this forehand flip technique, I find it very difficult to control my shots.
I am probably a 5.5 NTRP level, yet I don’t use that technique. Rather, my forehand technique is much simpler, which allows me more margin of error and gives me much higher consistency and accuracy.
The key to this technique is that you drop the racket in the direction of the back edge.
Juan Martin Del Potro drops the racket “on the edge” which is a simpler yet still very effective technique
(Image credit: Both images from above have been taken from the videos of the Tennis Unleashed Youtube channel which I highly recommend if you’re into slow motion videos of the pros and expert advice of coach Jason Frausto.)
In other words, you simply let your wrist turn backwards, almost like you are waving.
When you do that, your wrist will be almost laid back (it will fully lay back in the next step!) and it will fall into the exact position in relation to the forearm that it has to be when you make contact with the ball.
Therefore, you don’t have to “find” this laid-back wrist position just a split second before contact – and possibly miss it. Your wrist will get into a very stable position early in the swing and simplify the stroke for you.
I drop the racket head in the direction of the edge and then smoothly accelerate forward
The important part in this drop-on-the-edge technique is that, as soon as your wrist starts turning, you let the racket drop fully and then you gradually take over and accelerate it.
If you have a hitch or a pause in your drop where the wrist will stay still for a split second, then you won’t feel the real benefit of this technique because it works only if the whole forehand stroke is executed in a continuous manner.
Once you master this technique of dropping the racket on the edge and hitting consistent forehands, your forehand technique may simply evolve through repetition – and not through conscious mechanical teaching – into a flip technique that the pros use.
Again, I have played for 30 years at quite a high recreational level, yet my forehand has never evolved into that technique. As such, I have strong reservations about the pro technique used by recreational tennis players.
We should use simple and effective techniques because that’s what we are capable of doing based on the amount of training we invest into our tennis game.
Del Potro and many other pros (especially women) are examples of how a more simple forehand drop technique still works at the high level of tennis and therefore it can work for you too.
Step 5: The Acceleration
You’ve gone through the preparation and the tipping point, and you’ve released the racket on the edge.
Now gravity is taking over. It’s starting to accelerate the racket.
We come to the next phase where the acceleration of the racket starts.
The way the racket starts to accelerate or your arm starts to move forward is that it first has to lag a little bit.
What needs to happen here is that your hips need to start to rotate first, when your arm is starting to drop.
Simply imagine your hips turning 90 degrees for now in this fundamental stage of building the forehand.
In most cases, your hips won’t rotate that much before contact, but you need to exaggerate the movement for you to feel it.
If, while your hips are rotating, you keep a relatively loose arm (since you are just letting it fall in the drop using gravity), then your arm will lag a bit.
In this fundamental phase, I don’t recommend you focus on lagging the arm much.
However, I do recommend that you become aware of the wrist lag.
That creates a certain stretch effect in the forearm which helps us accelerate the racket head into the ball very effortlessly.
The wrist will fall back and lag if you rotate your hips forward while dropping the racket
It’s very important to understand that, when the racket head lags and the wrist is fully laid back, this happens by itself.
We don’t “do” that by taking the racket back and flexing our wrist. It happens because we have a relatively loose wrist and we are rotating our body towards the ball; therefore, the racket falls behind – it lags.
That’s why I teach dropping the racket on the edge (in the previous step).
It prepares the wrist in the right position so that, when the body starts to turn forward, the wrist will fall exactly into the right position for the contact of the ball in relation to the forearm.
The racket lag that you see happened by itself – I didn’t “do” it. I let it happen.
The result is that you will not be confused intellectually or feel-wise about how the wrist must be.
It will simply fall into place exactly how it should be to give you power (through the stretch effect) and control (through being stable as it’s fully laid back).
Step 6: The Swing Path
Now that the racket is accelerating forward, we need to steer it into the correct swing path that will help us control the ball well.
The swing path is a straight line before and after contact.
The reason we need to swing in a straight line for a part of our swing is that we cannot perfectly time the ball.
If we keep swinging in a circular motion and we mistime the forehand by just a few hundredths of a second, we will hit the ball with a slightly different racket angle.
And just a small change in the racket angle at contact creates a very big change in where the ball will land on the other side of the court.
By swinging in a straight line, we ensure that the racket head is directing the ball towards our intended target even if we hit the ball slightly too early or slightly too late.
One way to describe this swing path is to imagine more of a bowling motion rather than a discus throw motion that typically happens when you imagine a circular path.
The forehand swing path is very similar to a bowling motion
To get the feel for the bowling motion, you can simply take a few tennis balls and bowl them towards a target.
After 20 or so repetitions, take your racket and see if you can implement this feeling of bowling into your swing.
Important: The bowling motion is the fundamental swing path of the forehand as it helps us feel the effect of the gravity that helped us accelerate the racket and it allows us to play consistently and accurately.
The fundamental forehand swing path that we want to develop first is more downwards initially
It also happens quite naturally when we are receiving a relatively low ball where we can swing in a more downwards motion.
But when you receive a higher ball, you will have to adjust your swing, which will be more horizontal and actually closer to a discus throw.
How the swing adjusts to a higher contact point
Keep in mind that that is a variation of the fundamental forehand swing and that it will work well only if you have mastered the “bowling” swing path first.
If you don’t have a good feel of how to drop the racket with the help of gravity and swing it effortlessly, then this more horizontal swing will feel very stiff and pushy and your forehands won’t be hit effortlessly and with good pace.
Step 7: Contact & Extension
We’ve now reached the ball in our swing and have to contact the ball. If we want to apply some control to the ball, we want to spin it a little bit.
To teach the spin, I prefer to explain it as rolling the ball rather than brushing the ball, which is most commonly used.
“Brushing” tends to create an incorrect mental image where you’re approaching the ball with your racket, but then you only brush it with an upwards motion. The ball doesn’t get any forward force, so it ends up short and with no pace.
I prefer the compress & roll approach first, which of course is an exaggerated way of hitting the ball. You can quickly get the gist of it and accelerate that movement into the actual swing speed that you’ll use to hit the ball.
Pressing & Rolling is a better mental image of how to hit a topspin forehand
I have explained in detail how to learn the compress & roll topspin technique of the forehand (but it also applies to the backhand), and I’ve shared some more advanced drills for developing topspin with this approach, so just click the links to learn more.
As I’ve mentioned in the swing path part, we want to swing straight through the ball to improve the accuracy of our shots.
In this part, after the contact, we usually explain it as extending after the ball.
You can imagine just following the ball for a bit to develop this extension. That is a more mechanical approach, but I would also like to mention the actual cause of extension that happens with more advanced players.
Note how Urban and I extend after the contact to guide the ball where we want
The reason I, for example, extend after the ball is because I am aiming and guiding the ball towards a certain target I have in mind.
In other words, I have a very clear intention of how and where I want to play the ball.
This clear intention and my desire to hit the forehand accurately naturally result in my extending after the ball in the same way as you would naturally extend your arm forward if you were bowling the ball and aiming towards a certain target.
The extension happens naturally if you have a clear intention and you are aiming into a specific target.
I have found in my work with hundreds of recreational tennis players that they rarely have a clear intention and that they often don’t aim accurately at the moment of contacting the ball.
And that’s why they don’t extend after the ball and don’t execute this part of the forehand technique correctly.
Having a clear and early intention of what exactly you want to do with the ball is extremely important for your ability to play consistently and accurately as it will directly affect your stroke technique.
I’ve explained this in the past in detail, so head over to the #1 Key For Consistency article to learn more.
Step 8: The Follow-Through
We have been directing the ball and extending through the contact zone, and now we just need to complete our stroke in the follow-through.
On the forehand, I teach my players to catch the racket. I recommend that you work on catching the racket with your left hand somewhere above your shoulder in this position because, when you catch the racket, your left arm and your left shoulder will go out of the way.
A basic forehand follow-through technique that in time can adjust to different shots
The most common mistake on the forehand follow-through is that the left arm just drops dead and the right arm ends up alone in the follow-through. Then the shoulders tend to fight each other – they’re blocking each other – so the hitting arm cannot easily swing through the ball.
When we catch the racket, then our shoulders can move freely through the shot. That helps us generate more power and move much more efficiently.
I’ve explained this in more detail in the Forehand Follow-Through article, so click the link to learn more.
Modern Forehand Technique – Summary
The 8 steps to a modern tennis forehand technique is a method of developing the fundamentals of the forehand which should be applicable to all recreational and junior tennis players, especially if they are struggling with the forehand.
If you are saying that it’s different than how most of the pros play, you’re right. But, be realistic in your expectations of what your current skill level is.
Consider that these are the most talented people in the world. They started very young and spent thousands of hours working on their forehand technique under the supervision of an experienced coach.
My friend Urban and I play at a very high recreational level of tennis, yet we don’t fully apply the forehand drop and flip techniques because they are extremely demanding.
Our forehands are excellent even for high level recreational play. Neither of us has any problems putting opponents under pressure from the baseline or finishing short balls when we have to.
While this article and its corresponding video above are extensive, they represent less than 10% of the instruction I provide in the full Effortless Forehand video course, which includes more than 4 hours of video instruction.
The Effortless Forehand course shows you various practical drills that help you develop the forehand techniques described above.
It teaches you how to engage your bigger muscles in the body for effortless power through drills based on biomechanics, and it teaches you all the major stances and footwork patterns that allow you to hit quality forehands from any situation.
If you have any questions or thoughts about developing the fundamental tennis forehand technique described above, just use the comments section below. 67 Shares
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Tennis Serve Video Analysis And Drills For A Higher Toss 38 comments Top rated comments first Guy July 14, 2018
First of all, I’d like to thank you for your excellent lessens, they help me a lot.
I have a question concerning training against a wall. I happened to find out that when I practice new skills, it’s easier for me to play with red foam balls (stage 3 children balls) because they’re much slower and give me more time to analyze what I’m doing right or wrong.
What do you think about it? Wouldn’t my play behave differently when I play with ordinary balls?
Guy Vote: Share Tomaz July 15, 2018
Those are all good ideas. So yes, play with softer balls and you can also play off two bounces.
If you play with soft balls all the time, then sure, you may be a bit confused when playing a normally hard ball.
So use the soft balls as first level of progression until you can play well the element of the stroke you’re working on. Then progress to normal balls. Vote: Share Rob March 24, 2018
I really struggle trying to relax my mind and body because I am so so passionate about the game. I play regular leagues and am trying so so hard to get lag and all the other stuff u talk about. Every now and then I hit an amazing ball just by turning my hips more as this makes my while body lag a bit which is amazing. Any tips yo stay focused and relaxed in a match situation? I watch ur videos all the time. So so amazing. My fave was the universal swing path and the video with the ball on the rope showing the change in the sweet spot if u rotate too early. Thanks again. Rob UK. X Vote: Share Tomaz March 25, 2018
Do not think about technique while you play a match, it won’t work.
It’s not a problem you have, it’s a problem for everyone and it cannot be solved.
It is not possible to work on technical elements while you compete. So don’t even try any more.
Just play the match and work on technique in a separate sessions.
To stay focused in the match you must have a plan. You must focus on executing a plan rather than trying to win points.
A plan can be to move your opponent left-right, or to play to their weaker side, or to keep the ball deep, etc. Vote: Share Tom August 10, 2017
Thank you for your instruction. It has really helped my game.
I’ve frequently observed pros following through their forehands shots with their arms going over their heads.
Would you be able to explain why and how they perform this shot?
Thank you. Vote: Share Tomaz August 11, 2017
The high follow-through HAPPENS when we want to impart lots of topspin and we hit the ball a little bit late.
If someone is used to hitting the ball very flat all the time then this follow-through will not happen for them.
My main point is that it happens. I have never been taught or tried artificially to learn to follow-through over my head.
It just happens here and there. All I do is play the ball, I have no thoughts about my follow-throughs.
Again, the most common reason why recreational tennis players never have it happen is because they don’t even attempt to hit the ball with such amounts of topspin that I or the pros do.
So learning a high follow-through artificially won’t do you any good if you’re not accelerating as fast as I do for example.
You will force something that you saw on TV not really knowing what’s going on.
Again, in my opinion one should NOT artificially try to learn a high follow-through. It may just happen.
You should have no thoughts about technique when you play after all, you should just imagine the ball flight.
http://www.feeltennis.net/intention/ Vote: Share Dionysis May 28, 2017
Hi Thomasz, very nice article as always!
I’m writing to stress out a technical detail that should be taken care of.
Trying to follow your instructions, I found myself having turned completely my hips and torso before my arm would start accelerating (torso looking in front and the arm behind at almost 90 degrees angle comparing wirh the torso), which I believe is not the way to go…
This was caused by too much relaxness of the arm!
Indeed, I believe that the arm should lag a bit, but mainly because of the relaxness of the wrist and the LOWER (below the elbow) arm, which leaves behind the weight of the racket, which at some point is pulled at front on a very short time window.
But the upper arm, that is to say the shoulder muscles, should NOT COMPLETELY RELAXED and should start turning immediately with the turn of the torso.
I would like to read your input on this, keep up with the good work Vote: Share Tomaz May 28, 2017
It should be as you say. Where in my instruction above do I say that the arm should lag completely (90 degrees) behind the body?
I say “In this fundamental phase, I don’t recommend you focus on lagging the arm much.” Vote: Share Dionysis May 28, 2017
This is not at all a complaint, but simply trying to save people from reproducing the same error as me – and of course making sure that finally I got it right.
To be precise, you didn’t say anywhere that the arm should lag that much or that we should focus on the lag, but it occurred to me simply by completely relaxing my (upper) arm while turning my hips: the arm wouldn’t move until it would be “pulled” by the torso.
This was not at all a voluntary movement, it was a consequence of relaxing my upper arm and not only my lower arm and wrist.
I only got conscious of it after a friend talked to me about it and after watching myself on video.
Cheers Vote: Share Andreas February 6, 2017
If I consider your video “How to hit a clean shot” mustn’t I do the bowling motion in a 45 degree angle (roughly) instead of straight towards the net?
And if I turn around the correct axis mustn’t this also happen at a point somewhere 45 degree (at the side) and not in front?
As the camera is placed here right in front it seems as if you recommend this direction. Vote: Share Tomaz February 7, 2017
No, the bowling motion feeling is straight ahead but as you initiate it it will start at a 45 degree outwards angle, exactly like it happens when someone really bowls the ball.
The person who is really bowling is in my opinion not thinking about the outward swing path because it happens naturally if he is relaxed.
What he is thinking about it swinging forward towards the target.
The second point to keep in mind is where so many amateur tennis players and also tennis coaches go wrong: you are trying to learn the final correct technique of the stroke by doing immediately everything that the stroke includes.
That is not the case in any sport that you learn.
We must learn THROUGH STAGES. We DO NOT immediately learn “correct” technique because it is TOO COMPLEX for a beginner or intermediate and it often times results in a total mess of a technique.
Rather, we teach in stages where the initial stages of stroke technique are simplified versions of the final technique.
As the player stabilizes the simpler technique – THE FUNDAMENTALS – then we proceed to more complex parts of the technique and deal with little details.
This article above is just a broad and simplified explanation of the forehand technique. These are the stroke fundamentals that will put a beginner and intermediate recreational tennis player on the right track.
Once they are more comfortable with this technique, and don’t have to think much about it, ONLY THEN we start teaching the little details of paying attention to the initial outward swing into the ball – if that doesn’t already happen naturally.
If we give all the information to the player at once they will be overwhelmed and end up thinking too much and therefore not being able to execute the stroke fluidly and at the same time pay attention to the ball.
What you don’t realize is the difference between teaching someone tennis technique and analyzing stroke technique to the minute detail.
You have probably never taught anyone stroke technique and you have no idea into what kind of disaster your student will fall into if you tell them too many things at once.
Therefore I do not share everything about the stroke in one article but I break it down in multiple articles throughout the site so that you can focus only on one detail of the stroke at a time. (except for this bigger Forehand Technique Overview article)
I am a tennis teacher and I try to teach through this site by using the principles of teaching and learning. From simple to complex, teach through stages, clear, simple and concise instructions, one thing at a time, etc.
These are the principles of teaching and by applying them we achieve the fastest progress.
The slower you teach the faster the student learns.
Analyzing tennis technique in detail and explaining what happens verbally is NOT teaching and in fact causes much more harm than good. Vote: Share Bob January 29, 2017
Wow! For me, this 8-step lesson (along with the gradual acceleration video link within it) is one of the best tennis teaching articles I’ve ever read!
For years, I’ve been trying to figure out why my forehand didn’t feel as natural and smooth as my backhand – and you have given me that answer. Letting the racquet head drop on edge through gravity rather than through muscle effort makes all the difference in the world.
That’s what I’ve always done with my backhand.
But, with my forehand, I have constantly been trying to force an imitated discus throwing motion around the equator of my body with a convoluted (for me) attempt to “turn the door knob” with my wrist first clockwise at the back of the swing and then counter clockwise at the end while also trying to “time” the striking of the strings on the ball in a “brushing up the back” motion.
(In other words, one very complex and impossible sequence for a recreational player.)
I can now relate, though, 120% with your simplified and clear bowling analogy because I was a high, near 200-average bowler for years – using a very natural, relaxed gravity drop style on the backward swing of the bowling ball; then letting the forward motion begin gradually to the bending and pushing up with the knees; finishing with a high, accelerated follow-through; combined with “steering” the arm swing at the spot I needed to hit to make a successful shot.
Viola! K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid.
A loose and relaxed bowling form (along the lines of Earl Anthony who was one of the best bowlers ever years and years ago) was the key. And, it just makes sense that the same would work for tennis.
So, thank you very much – because with this lesson you have put the fun back into my tennis game in place of the frustration of previously trying to physically manhandle my forehand, my serve and most of my volley shots.
Bob Vote: Share Tomaz January 29, 2017
Thank you very much for your feedback, Bob.
And I am really glad that an expert bowler can share his views here.
Yes, I believe in fundamentals that give our strokes the “stability” and therefore consistency and once we have that in place in most cases more “advanced” acceleration techniques will just evolve without any conscious thought. Vote: Share Dieter January 27, 2017
about the grip, to make it very clear:
When using so far the eastern forehand grip, now I have to change to the semi-western grip.
Regards from Munich
Dieter Vote: Share Tomaz January 29, 2017
Eastern grip is a good grip, Roger Federer plays with it and also my friend Urban that you see in some of the videos (or in the Effortless Forehand course) and both of them can hit really good forehands from any situation.
So no need to change… Vote: Share Anne January 26, 2017
Excellent instruction Tomaz…
I am just back to my tennis following surgery for a torn rotator cuff…
I tried all of these suggestions yesterday & I was amazed how relaxed my hitting arm was feeling as I was quite nervous about how my shoulder would feel
I have watched this video several times now…I watch it every time before I go to hit with my teacher !!
I love your method of tennis teaching…
Anne Vote: Share Tomaz January 26, 2017
Glad that it helped, Anne.
I used to watch Andre Agassi’s forehand before playing matches or just before going out to hit some balls and it helped a lot having a very clear visual “movie” of how to hit a forehand. Vote: Share alec sandys January 23, 2017
Love your work and as a level 1 coach spending alot of hours on court it has really helped me out and expanded my knowledge. Always learning!
Is there a similar article on backhand?
Alec Vote: Share Tomaz January 23, 2017
As for the backhand I’ll post it in the same way as I did this one – once I complete the full course I then take out the key elements of the Technique module and add them up into one single overview article.
I plan to work on the one-handed backhand course quite soon and later in the year also complete the two-handed backhand and the backhand slice courses.
So stay tuned! Vote: Share Pablo Silva. August 18, 2017
Great website. The forehand drop helped me time my shots for accuracy and consistency.
Please please let us know when the two-handed backhand video is available.
Thanks from Calgary, Canada. Vote: Share Tomaz August 23, 2017
The two-handed backhand video course is in the works already. Keep in touch through my newsletter. Vote: Share Adrian January 23, 2017
Tomaz, your instruction has helped me understand stroke mechanics and feel better than all other instruction combined. However, your last forehand video on dropping the rear racquet edge down and back confuses me. It does feel good but is at odds with many videos of top guys (i.e. Federer) that drop the racquet face down and to the front (after unit turn) which also feels good and a little quicker. Can you comment on the pros & cons? Vote: Share Tomaz January 23, 2017
My simplest answer is that you are not a pro so trying to use advanced acceleration techniques without lots of practice will simply cause you more problems than benefits.
Dropping the racket with the face down doesn’t set the wrist in a laid back position, the wrist is somewhere in between.
Then when the forward movement happens the wrist (hopefully!) falls into place JUST A SPLIT SECOND before contact.
That requires the player to be able to have a relaxed wrist just a split second before contact (which 99% of the rec players cannot because they are anxious and are muscling the ball) and also time the shot to almost perfection (which 99% of rec players cannot) because if you are slightly late then the wrist will not be in a position yet and you’ll have to tighten it to direct the ball which robs of you that very power you’re looking for with this movement.
I am suggesting what the pros do – it’s just a different technique not used by many men (Del Potro is one) but used by most women.
When you drop the racket on the edge your wrist will fall back into place early in the swing and it will be in a stable position and not moving through the stroke.
Even if you mistime the ball slightly you’ll still hit a solid shot.
And here’s a quote from one of the players who bought the Effortless Forehand course:
I’ve found that your concept of the gravity drop of the racquet head on edge to start the ‘bowling’ with extension to the target has solved my spraying balls all over the court problem. Best lesson on the web.
Vote: Share Luca January 22, 2017
Another great piece of advice from you, thanks! I have an eastern grip, I started playing my forehand according to your basic course instructions, turning and dropping the edge. My instructor later changed me to pull my elbow back, racquet facing the ground. Before that I had reached a fast and complex ball which I could not replicate anymore, now I know. I wonder why he did it. Vote: Share Tomaz January 23, 2017
Coaches can make a mistake of trying to apply pro tennis technique to a recreational tennis player. Pro technique is exactly what it says it is: it’s for pros. It’s advanced, it works only at high levels.
Pro drivers can make turns on the road by drifting the car and still control it. We can’t.
So what I suggest is to use simple and yet effective forehand technique that can be used even with recreational tennis players who don’t have the time to practice daily for hours in order to hone and master high level techniques. Vote: Share Simun January 21, 2017
I am recreational player, started late and now playing for 7,8 years. All that time with eastern grip.
What would be the advantage of semi-western over eastern grip?
Does it make sense for me change the grip at this stage of my “career”?
Thanks and regards Vote: Share Tomaz January 22, 2017
Eastern grip is just fine, Federer, Del Potro and my friend Urban play with it and they all have great forehands.
Semi-western is easier for dealing with higher balls around shoulder and makes it a bit easier to impart topspin.
And no, it’s doesn’t really make sense to change a grip at this stage. As I said even the top pros can use it and it’s a very stable grip. Vote: Share Ken P. January 21, 2017
Bravo, again Tomaz – and thank you.
For those considering, the biomechanics section alone of the new forehand course is well worth the price paid; frankly I’m concerned about the day someone from the tennis braintrust community (Jason, Oscar, et al) swoops him up and takes Tomaz away from providing instruction to the recreational player, his insights are so penetrating…
Love the ‘dropping the racket on the edge’ – brilliant.
For those following John Yandell or Rick Macci (great instructors too), I find Tomaz’s honesty refreshing:
“… I have played for 30 years at quite a high recreational level, yet my forehand has never evolved into that technique. As such, I have strong reservations about the pro technique used by recreational tennis players…”
“… But, be realistic in your expectations of what your current skill level is…”
Tomaz’s Feel Tennis has always been a place where, yes, you can play by feel – but it is also rigorously honest, practical and goal oriented for the recreational player.
Invest in Tomaz – I know I look forward to his continued instruction…! Vote: Share Tomaz January 22, 2017
Thank you very much for this kind feedback, Ken.
Yes, I think the biomechanics is something almost no one is showing out there online because frankly most coaches don’t know much about it.
And yet it’s the most effective way to unlock the player’s body and have them feel power.
As for the flip / drop technique I’ve seen and worked with recreational tennis players who have tried to use it but in all cases they weren’t really able to pull it off well.
In most cases they never reached full racket lag, their swings were too short and their wrist were too tight.
That’s because it’s so difficult to time that flip to the speed of the incoming ball.
If on the other hand the player doesn’t flip the racket but just drops it with strings pointing down then he / she might still get away with it and make it work.
But yes, as I said above, I would always suggest simplicity of technique (like most WTA players play) rather than a complex movement that can potentially give you more power but is inconsistent. Vote: Share Ken P. January 22, 2017
I think the first time I started to appreciate this instruction from you, where I started to ‘see’ it (although I now see it better in other places/modules), was here:
I cannot believe this is free instruction; and this kid has such a nice – fast – groundstroke…
You’ve been at this a long time Tomaz; even your stuff from 5, 6 years ago interesting; you must be truly obsessed by aspects of this game; lucky for us it’s not Volleyball…! Vote: Share Tomaz January 23, 2017
Thanks, Ken. Yeah, lots of little details have to come together for a higher level tennis game.
And only the obsessed ones find them. Vote: Share Bakthan January 21, 2017
Superb bio mechanical guide for executing the forehand stroke. Both the video and the written instructions are awesome.
Keep up the good work.
Anaheim,California Vote: Share Tomaz January 21, 2017
Thanks for the feedback, Bakthan, and keep in touch! Vote: Share Ray January 20, 2017
great instuction Vote: Share Fraser Mitchell January 20, 2017
Excellent instruction as always. Was not aware of the need to spread the index finger.
Like your focus on practical advice for improving the game of recreational players rather than trying to mimic the pros.
Scotland (but not an Andy or Jamie Murray) Vote: Share Tomaz January 20, 2017
Even some of the pros play with a simpler forehand technique and yet they are one of the best. Here’s Simona Halep forehand where she drops it in a way I recommend:
Vote: Share Giedrius January 26, 2018
And what about the junior players (boys)? Do you still recommend doing like Halep does?
I get your point regarding the amateurs, but shouldn’t be the kids taught like Rick Macci explains (as he frequently likes to mention – there is a better way..:))? Vote: Share Tomaz January 26, 2018
I don’t think Federer or Dimitrov or whoever drops the racket face down in the backswing were taught that.
The drop is what happens because of the relaxation and not because we do it.
I think Macci’s way of teaching is terrible because he makes players DO the part (tap the dog idea) which in fact needs to happen.
It’s the same as when some coaches teach to scratch your back on the serve backswing when in fact a drop happens because of the relaxation and not because we do it.
Trying to visually copy what the pros do is the most amateurish way of looking at how tennis strokes are developed.
I personally would always start teaching the “Halep way” or Agassi way and let the player’s forehand evolve through my encouragement of relaxing, letting go, swinging freely, “throwing” the racket into the ball and so on.
That is because “Federer way” creates wrist movement before and during the contact of the ball and unless the player has amazing timing and talent this technique will cause many more problems than it will give benefits.
Halep way creates a calm and stable wrist which results of a very consistent stroke. If the player is capable of more advanced forehands, he will find it himself.
Or do you think players play exactly like we taught them? Like they are robots or something…
As for Rick Macci, he has a couple of videos online but he is just talking and correcting.
But the only thing that matters is before & after videos of MANY players whose technique has been changed from “Halep” to “Federer” drop and where they now play with more power, consistency and accuracy. I didn’t see those…
The value of the coach is not in how much they know and how well they can talk but in how much they can teach.
And how much they can teach can only be observed through results – meaning how the players look like after and how effective and efficient their strokes are.
And you must always take into consideration the talent of players you’re looking at.
The ones in the top 100 are the top 100 most talented players of the millions attempting to get into the top 100.
They have incredible timing, hand eye coordination and ball tracking ability and it is these abilities that allow them to relax their hand while there is a ball coming towards them at 100 km / h and not because a coach told them to drop the racket with the face down. Vote: Share
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