Coaching Tip - May 2013

    Improve your Forehand
    By using your non hitting hand/arm to your advantage

    The majority of tennis players at club level do not realise how crucial the use of their non hitting arm is when hitting a forehand groundstroke.
    Their non hitting hand in fact often works against their forehand by

    • Coming off the racquet too early during the stroke preparation
    • The arm hanging loosely at the waist or pointing in a direction which is counterproductive to the stroke
    • Affecting balance during the stroke

    The non hitting arm should work together with your racquet arm to produce a fluid forehand that flows off the racquet allowing a more powerful yet controlled shot.

    Improve your forehand by adopting the tips below to make better use of your non hitting arm.

    Ready position
    Your ready position should be as per normal with

    • Split step just prior to your opponent hitting the ball
    • Feet just wider than shoulder width apart
    • Weight on your toes ready to react to the shot at hand

    However it is important to have your non hitting hand holding the racquet at the throat instead of on the grip near your racquet hand.

    When you start your forehand backswing use your non hitting hand to push the racquet back so that

    • Both of your shoulders are turned to the hitting side
    • This allows easier rotation of your hips, legs and feet
    • Your weight is transferred to the back leg or hitting side prior to the forward swing

    Your body is as a result coiled ready to use your biomechanical chain to exploit this energy into your forehand groundstroke.

    Separation of Hands
    After your shoulders are turned your hands separate so that

    • your hitting hand obviously stays on the racquet
    • your non hitting hand/arm is out in front of your body on the hitting side of your body with the palm facing either down to the ground or up towards you

    This position with your non hitting hand/arm in front and to the hitting side of the body will give you additional stability which adds to the balance achieved by your legs and feet.

    Ball Contact position
    Your non hitting hand/arm should not get in the way or interfere with your swing as your racquet moves forward to and through the contact point.
    Therefore this hand/arm should move towards the non hitting hand/arm side of your body to give free contact and retain balance.

    Follow through
    There are two alternatives when considering your options for your racquet follow through after contacting the ball.

    • The first option is to try to move your non hitting hand/arm to that side of the body so that it is tucked at your side and out of the path of the ball and with the palm facing outwards.

    There can be a feeling of awkwardness with this method as it may not happen naturally and there maybe times where the non hitting hand/arm gets in the way.

    • The second option and probably the preferred option is to use your non hitting hand to catch the racquet at the end of the follow through on this non hitting side of the body.

    This method will make sure 

    • the non hitting hand/arm is out of the way
    • encourages more acceleration during the forehand swing
    • a longer follow through results

    Players who use this second option often find it is easier to recover and are able to move more quickly back into position.
    This in turn allows them to be more focussed on the next ball.

    You will need to practice the technique using your not hitting hand/arm when hitting your forehand ground stroke before the muscle memory kicks in and it happens automatically.
    Practice can be in the form of

    • watching video(s) of your favourite player’s forehand
    • shadow work with practice forehand swings without a ball
    • getting some lessons on the forehand (as described above) with your coach or the coach at your nearest club
    • trying the technique out during practice or your hitting sessions

    Just a reminder that you will need to adopt these strategies or tips as part of your regular practice hitting/match sessions so that it becomes a part of your game in the future.

    Improve your forehand by using your non hitting hand/arm to get an advantage and to develop a real weapon on the court and as a result take your game to the next level
    Try not to confuse yourself by thinking too much.
    Keep it Simple.
    Relax and let it happen

    Let me know if you can think of any other options to help you achieve a more consistent and effective physical and mental game.

    Tennis the game of a lifetime

    Contact me by Email if you have any comments or helpful Tennis hints.
    Let me know the things that work for you.

    Coach Steve