Fundamentals of the Tennis Forehand

by : Will Hamilton

The Basics of the Tennis Forehand

The forehand is arguably the most important shot in tennis. It's typically a player's most offensive groundstroke. Many top college players and most pros inside the top ten have big forehands.

The forehand is a very complicated shot and this article won't cover all of its ins and outs. What this article will try and do is teach you the fundamentals, the things every player with a good forehand does, so that you can then pursue those tweaks that will take your shot to the next level. The four steps outlined here may seem simple, but the fact is that most club level players do not execute one or more of these steps properly, but every single pro does.

Pivot and Shoulder Turn

The pivot and shoulder turn motion is how you should begin every forehand you hit no matter what stance you will hit your shot in. You execute this step as soon as you realize you are getting a forehand. This motion gets your body sideways and allows you to move effectively to the tennis ball. To execute the pivot and shoulder turn, pivot with your outside foot (your right foot if you are right handed) and transfer your weight to that foot. At the same time, you need to turn your shoulders sideways while leaving both hands on the racket. It is also very important that you do not use your arm to take the racket back yet; this is a big mistake that a lot of club level players make. The racket will start to come back, however, simply because your shoulders are turning sideways.

Take the Racket Back / Extend Other Arm

Now that you have pivoted and turned your shoulders, you can now use your hitting arm to get the racket all the way back. At the same time, extend your other, non-hitting arm out across your body so that it is parallel with the baseline. This will help you stay balanced and judge the oncoming tennis ball. Once you get into this position your preparation is complete and you are ready to swing forward to your contact point.

Swing to Contact

From the completion of your preparation, do the following three things at the same time: 1) Push off your back foot, 2) Rotate your body back toward the net, and 3) Drop the racket down and swing forward to your contact point. The path your racket travels along during this step will look very similar to the letter "C" when seen from the side. Your contact point will be out in front of your body, about waist high. Your upper body should be facing the net. Also, make sure the strings are perpendicular to the court when you hit the ball.

Follow Through

The point of the follow through is to smoothly decelerate the tennis racket after you make contact with the tennis ball. Based on how you were swinging earlier in the shot, the follow through should be the best and easiest way to stop the racket. In the case of the forehand, extend out in the direction you hit the tennis ball and continue to rotate your body. Once you have extended out, turn your forearm and wrist over together like you were trying to check the time on a wrist watch. Bring the racket across your body in a smooth and relaxed motion.

Hopefully this article has given you a clear picture of the fundamentals involved in hitting a technically sound forehand. Every top pro does these things when they hit, and if you can master these basics you'll have the foundation upon which you can build a killer shot.