The tennis forehand is one of the most effective weapons in most tennis players’ arsenal.
Most beginners find the forehand to be relatively natural and intuitive, and even if this is your first time playing tennis, you may be able to hit an effective and consistent forehand. If you’re a more skilled player, your forehand is likely your favorite shot, and you may even regard it as your “weapon.” My game was always based on my forehand because it was the shot I felt most at ease with and the one with which I could win the most points.
Nonetheless, I had moments of inconsistency and low confidence in my forehand because I didn’t have perfect technique. The forehand of a tennis player has the power to be a game-changing shot. Therefore, players should take advantage of the physics of an efficient forehand, which allows for greater spin and control than other baseline shots.
This post will cover everything you need to know to hit killer tennis forehands. If you are a newbie, you will learn what a forehand is and how to hit one step by step. If you’re a more advanced player, you’ll find ideas to assist you in getting that additional power and speed you’ve been looking for.
Due to the length of this post, feel free to jump to the sections that are most relevant to you. However, the following is a summary of the information found below:
- Find the Right Grip
- Get Into Ready Position
- The Different Forehand Stances
- What Is a Backswing?
- Your Forward Swing
- Contact Extension / Follow-Through / Topspin
- Practice These Tennis Forehand Drills
- Mistakes to Avoid on Your Forehand
- Tennis Forehand Tips & Tricks
Find the Right Grip
The fundamental requirement for a solid shot is the correct grip. This is particularly true for the forehand. As there are times when very strong forces are used during the movement, a firm grip is essential. Furthermore, the grip should be comfortable in the hand throughout the stroke.
If you look at your tennis racquet’s butt cap, you’ll find that the grip has an octagonal shape. We position the racquet head perpendicular to the ground to better understand. Mark the different bevels of the grip with numbers ranging from 1 to 8, beginning with the number one spot and moving clockwise.
The numbers show the location of the index finger’s knuckle and the little finger’s palm. There are three basic grips with distinct characteristics, particularly for the forehand: Eastern Forehand Grip, Semi-Western Forehand Grip & Western Grip.
Forehands are always played with your dominant hand. You use your right hand if you are right-handed. People who are left-handed use their left hand accordingly. The descriptions that follow depict the position of a right-hander. For left-handers, the information is reversed.
Also, check out our article on all possible tennis grips!
The Eastern Forehand Grip:
The Eastern grip places the knuckle and palm on bevel number three, allowing you to hit forehands with a good amount of oomph. With the eastern grip, the shots are straight, primarily hard and flat. This grip, consequently, is less appealing to topspin players.
The semi-western grip is the most common forehand grip most tennis players use. This tennis grip is based on the fourth bevel in this case. Essentially, this grip provides a mix of power and spin. As a result, the Semi-Western grip is ideal for today’s fast-paced game.
The Western grip is an outlier compared to the other grips. In this technique, you move your wrist down to bevel 5, which generates lots of spin, but you’ll lose power. In addition, the Western grip is more challenging to play due to the extreme location of the wrist. As a result, we recommend that you use either the Eastern forehand grip or the Semi-Western grip.
Get Into Ready Position
When a ball comes your way, you should always take a “split step.” This simple step on your toes will put you in a ready position for the next shot. Turn your upper body to the right once the ball is in the air and traveling in your direction. Now you stretch your right arm halfway with the racquet at this point.
Turn your left arm so that it is parallel to the baseline. Your left shoulder should now be pointing toward the ball. Moreover, you can have your knees slightly bent to increase the energy build-up there. Throughout this process, keep your eyes on the ball at all times.
The Different Forehand Stances
It’s time to move on to the next critical step: how you position your legs when hitting a forehand. There are three stances, and the following are the main ones: open stance, semi-open stance, and neutral stance.
Unlike a forehand grip, where you should only use one, you will use all three forehand stances throughout a regular tennis match. We’ll go over each one in-depth and explain how and when to apply it.
Open Forehand Stance:
The open stance forehand is the most frequently played defensive shot. This is due to the fact that the open stance’s preparation is significantly faster than the other two stances, making it ideal for returning fast shots. Furthermore, because all the player has to do to return to the middle is place his outside foot in front of his inner foot, this posture allows for a considerably faster recovery.
The forehand open stance is used when both feet are horizontally aligned. If you imagined a circle around your hips, your feet would be at a 180-degree angle. The outside foot bears the majority of the layer’s weight (right foot for right-handers, left for left-handers). Lower balls demand a deeper bend in the knees, whereas higher balls need a shallower bend.
Twist your hips and shoulders 90 degrees and swing into the ball once your feet are ideally placed. Keep your non-dominant hand aimed at the ball until the last second to prevent rotating your torso too early. The open stance technically does not require the player to swing the outer leg through. However, if you want to recover quickly, cross your outside leg over your inside leg.
Forehand Semi-Open Stance:
On the forehand, the semi-open stance is comparable to the open stance, although it is deemed somewhat more aggressive. This position is ideal since it is simple to set up and lets the player transition from a defensive to an aggressive position. This is the ideal stance for all surfaces because it is so dynamic.
Place your front foot diagonally to your back foot when preparing for the semi-open posture. As you strike the shot, your weight should be evenly distributed between both feet as you go from back to front. On the forehand, this helps you to use your weight, resulting in a more aggressive shot.
Neutral Forehand Stance:
The most aggressive stance is most likely the forehand neutral. In this stance, your front foot is squarely in front of your back foot, creating a nearly zero-degree angle. In this stance, the majority of the weight is put on the front leg, allowing the player to generate a lot of power. Also, this neutral stance is often used for short balls.
Because of the fact that you likely end up going forward after the shot, this stance is favored when a player tries to get to the net quickly. Because this posture forces the player to position one leg ahead of the other, it may take some time to set up. Therefore it is not regarded as a good defensive stance.
What Is a Backswing?
The ” unit turn ” is the fundamental idea to remember when taking the racket head back is the “unit turn.” There are two things to consider on the forehand backswing. Your backswing should ideally involve rotation of the hips and trunk with minimal movement of the arms.
You return the racquet with your torso, not your arm. When taking your racket head back for your backswing, your arm should cross your body, with the non-dominant hand pointing to the side fence.
Your Forward Swing
You can begin the actual stroke as soon as the tennis ball bounces on the ground. To begin, you lower the racquet slightly to generate speed using gravity. Make sure your wrist is not too tight but not too loose, either. During this process, the buttcap should also be facing the ball. Then accelerate the racket and follow through all the way.
The most crucial thing to remember during the forehand movement is to turn your upper body to the left. You will get the most dynamic power this way. In general, you don’t have to use a lot of power to have a great forehand. However, the proper technique is equally important.
The Path of The Swing:
Your perfect forehand swing path should be a straight line from the back of the swing to after hitting the ball. You can control the ball better if you keep a straight swing path; controlling the ball controls the point!
Maintain as straight a swing path as possible before and after the contact point. It will take some practice, but it will be well worth your time and is one of the most important aspects of having great tennis forehand technique.
Contact Extension / Follow-Through / Topspin
We’ve reached the ball in our swing and must make contact with it. If we wish to exert some control over the ball, we should add some spin to it. When teaching spin, I prefer to describe it as rolling the ball rather than brushing it.
The term “brushing” creates a false mental image. As a result, the ball does not get any forward momentum; it ends up short and without any pace. I prefer the compress-and-roll method, which is an extreme way of hitting the ball.
However, you can quickly get the hang of it and accelerate that movement into the swing speed you’ll employ to hit the ball. As indicated in the swing path section, we want to swing straight through the ball to improve our shot accuracy with your topspin forehand.
Practice These Tennis Forehand Drills
Finding a good hitting partner and simply hitting a lot of quality forehands is the ideal drill. Here is an excellent hitting drill to do after a good warm-up.
Crosscourt Or Down-The-Line Forehand Drill:
This exercise will assist you in improving your forehand consistency. If you play this tennis game on the ground, either player can feed. Only half of the tennis court is in bounce. You may include the doubles alley or only play singles for more advanced players.
You’re going to play off the ground to 11, but there’s a catch. The point does not begin until you make ten consecutive balls. Of course, you can alter this number based on your skill level, but doing so will drive you to prioritize consistency above hitting winners.
Forehand Depth Drill:
Play the same game as before, but consider every ball that falls short of the service line to be out. This is excellent preparation for hitting deep forehands.
Keeping the ball deep in the court throws your opponent off guard. You’ll force them to hit the ball from their back foot, which is always a vulnerable position.
To improve your fitness and conditioning, add a restriction that backhands count as a loss of a point and widen the court by including the doubles alleys.
Continue To Work On Your Forehand:
Using these drills to practice can help you hit more consistent forehands. If you feel like you’re missing something or lose confidence in your strokes, go back to the fundamentals by swinging easier and beginning with the short court or mini tennis.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of good tennis forehand technique, you may begin swinging faster and improve your forehand’s power, spin, and accuracy. All of this, though, starts with the appropriate technique.
Mistakes to Avoid on Your Forehand
If you’re having trouble with your forehand, you’re probably making one of these mistakes. Here’s how to get them fixed.
Not Rotating Into The Forehand:
Swinging primarily with the arm is a typical problem at the club level. The player twists but never uncoils.
The Wrist Position Is Wrong:
Maintaining a relaxed grip and allowing the wrist to engage to gain maximal acceleration and control is key.
Not Getting into Position:
When you miss a shot, the first thing you should do is ask yourself this question. “Was I in the right place at the right time?” For advanced players, we often miss because we were too sluggish with our feet and didn’t get in the proper spot for the shot.
So check your footwork first because if you’re not in the right position for the shot, anything you do to balance it out will be followed by inconsistency and lots of errors. Check that your body and feet are aligned at a 45-degree angle with the net. Many advanced-level players hit their forehand too open, losing control, or too closed, over-rotating their bodies.
Overshooting or Hitting Too Long?
Just before impact, your wrist may be turning your racket head upward. It will assist in keeping your wrist from rotating if you grip your handle more tightly just before you begin your swing. On your backswing, lower your racket face.
As you swing forward, the racket face naturally opens up (tilts forward). You must begin a proper forehand swing slightly downward to end up vertical as it meets the ball. Maintain a vertical racquet face at the spot where you normally make contact. Pull the racquet back to your normal backswing position without rotating your wrist.
At the start of each swing, the angle you want should be somewhat downward. At the contact point, your racquet head may dip below your hand. On impact, the long axis of your racquet should be horizontal. If the ball’s head is well below your hand, you will tend to “golf” the ball upward. More topspin is used.
Brushing up the rear of the ball creates spin, which causes the ball to fall faster as it travels forward. Experiment with twisting your grip slightly clockwise (for right-handed players). This will cause your racquet face to open up later in your swing, resulting in more topspin.
If you’re utilizing a Continental grip, shift your forehand at least 45 degrees clockwise to an Eastern grip. It won’t be long before you wonder why you ever used the Continental forehand.
When you hit, you might be leaning back. Although some players strike with their back foot, it is still preferable for most players to hit with their weight on the front foot. You could be hitting too far in front of your body, which causes your racket head to open up too much. Instead, try meeting the ball from a different angle.
Hitting Into the Net:
You could be hitting too late. If you meet the ball further ahead, your racquet will have extended, and you will hit higher. Using a large, looping backswing may take too long, so try a smaller loop. Start the forward phase of your swing with the racquet at least a foot below the ball. You’ll receive more lift and have an easier time creating topspin.
Experiment with moving your grip counterclockwise toward the east. It is not advised to continue past Eastern toward the continental grip. Aim higher if you’re hitting a lot of topspin. One of the most significant advantages of hitting topspin is the increased net clearance it delivers.
Use this to your advantage by aiming at least three feet above the net. Some topspin players hit the ball more than six feet above the net. You may have your racquet face angled down too far on your backswing.
Tennis Forehand Tips & Tricks
Ok, we have made it this far. Allow me to offer some of my best forehand tips and tricks:
It’s All In The Legs:
While a fast swing will supply the majority of your forehand power, your legs will provide the true power. So work on your legs and make sure you’re using them effectively on your forehand shots.
Use the Correct Stance:
Don’t become overly fixated on one forehand stance. Tennis is a game that requires constant adaptation; thus, each stroke will necessitate a new stance. It all comes down to taking the proper stance for that particular forehand shot.
Always Move Forward:
When hitting your forehand, ensure your weight travels forward. This will eliminate errors at the net and provide you with more power.
Hit It In Front:
Always try to make contact with the ball directly in front of your body, preferably at hip height. Allowing the ball to rise too high will make it more difficult to time the shot appropriately.
Concentrate On The Entire Shot:
Finish with a complete follow-through for good forehand technique!
Faster is not always better:
One common myth among rookies (and some advanced players) is that in order to win points, you must hit your forehand with a lot of power. That is false; in most instances, a well-placed forehand stroke will be superior to a powerful one.
Change It Up:
I’ve always had nice tennis forehand technique, but it wasn’t because it was overly powerful. Instead, I always tried to experiment with angles, directions, and speed. Of course, this will result in your opponent feeling lost as he can’t seem to figure out your pattern, which is a significant advantage. So make sure you’re practicing every kind of forehand that piques your interest!
Who Are the Players with The Best Forehand in Tennis?
Women: Sloane Stephens, Naomi Osaka, Madison Keys, Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka, Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Karolína Plíšková, Kim Clijsters, Samantha Stosur, Steffi Graf, Mary Pierce, Lindsay Davenport, Sveta Kuznetsova.
Men: Juan Martin Del Potro, Roger Federer, Fernando Gonzalez, Dominic Thiem, Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kyle Edmund, Novak Djokovic, Matteo Berrettini, Andy Roddick, Jack Sock, Gael Monfils, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios, Pete Sampras, Milos Raonic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Jim Courier.
Christoph Friedrich is a German tennis player and coach currently residing in Oakland, California. He began his tennis journey at the age of eight and has since dedicated his life to the sport. After working as a tennis coach and hitting partner in New York City for eight years, Christoph decided to share his knowledge and experience with tennis players around the world by creating the My Tennis Expert blog. His goal is to make tennis education accessible to everyone and help players select the best equipment for their game, from racquets and strings to shoes and overgrips. Christoph's extensive research and expertise in tennis technology make him a valuable resource for players of all levels.