Good forehand technique is all about the racket hand right? Wrong! Most club players pay little or no attention to their non racket hand when hitting forehands and it severely limits their progress in improving the stroke.
I’m going to use two key images of some of the best players in the world throughout this article to highlight common deficiencies in a club players forehand set up and contact point. There are obviously more than two key components that will help you fix your forehand but casting aside grip, racket head position and footwork, these two key parts will help you to space yourself correctly from the ball and rotate into the shot to create a more powerful and reliable shot.
1. Extend the left hand: during the set up of your forehand, the left hand plays a pivotal role in upper body “coil” and preparation. It spaces the player correctly from the ball and allows the most optimum strike zone. By extending his left hand across his body Roger Federer is both “coiling” and “spacing” himself from the ball.
2. Bend the non racket arm elbow at contact. This movement plays an important role in allowing the upper body to rotate completely into the stroke. If the elbow does not bend, the shoulders won’t rotate as both hands will cross. A very awkward feeling. Bending the non racket elbow allows more natural rotation.
3. Sliding into an open stance forehand, Simona Halep uses her extended non racket hand to create space for her swing, coil her upper body and judge her contact point (all while in a clay court slide).
4. Haleps left elbow bends at contact to allow her hitting side to rotate all the way through contact. Even on a wider ball like his one her rotation will generate plenty of pace of shot.
5. Even running for a defensive forehand Serena Williams extends her left hand to coil her whole upper body and judge the distance she needs to maintain to achieve her best contact point.
6. Serena’s left elbow bends as her racket and the right side of her body rotate into the shot.
7. One of the biggest forehands the game has seen. Rafael Nadal creates space and coils the body ready to unload on the ball.
8. Nadal’s right elbow bends and allows a vicious uncoiling into the forehand.
If you already use your non racket hand to turn your shoulders and space yourself from the ball you are ahead of the game. Coordinating the non racket elbow bend requires a little more attention to detail but once this is improved and feels more natural students are able to rotate more completely and hit much harder forehands.
See you on the courts!
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