The forehand is many players’ favorite shot in tennis and has been ranked to be the most important shot after the serve. Whether forehand is your favorite shot or not, there is always a way to improve it. There is not just one way to hit a forehand, many of the advanced and best players in the world have forehands that differ in everything from what grip they use, to how they place their feet, to how much power they have. No matter what your forehand looks like, there are many ways to improve it, and here I will give examples of different types of forehands and drills that will help upgrade your forehand by consistency, depth, power, and more.
A forehand can look very different from player to player, but the basics consist of using one hand, your dominant hand, to hold the racket. The basics that are taught to beginners is to start your stroke by taking back your racket and start from the bottom and move upwards, ending over your opposite shoulder. As players develop their forehand many create a loop at the beginning of the swing to be able to adjust to hit the ball at many different levels.
Grips for your forehand
My coach always told me there are 360 different grips to hold your racket as the circle contains 360 degrees, however, the 3 most common and basic grips consist of Eastern, Western, and Semi-Western. The different ways you hold the racket can result in how you hit your forehand. If you have a western grip you can easily get more topspin, this means that the ball will spin up and forwards which gives you a higher margin over the net. However, if you have an eastern grip you hit the ball flatter which isn’t as safe, but it can give you some more speed/power.
Ideal feet position for a forehand
The most traditional way of hitting a forehand is with a closed stance. That means that you stand diagonally to the ball. Another way is an open stance where both of your feet parallel to each other. The most common stand nowadays is a semi-opened stand. There are many details you can go into about how to hit a forehand, this was just a few of the most important basics I believe you should know before we move on to what drills you should try to take your forehand to the next level.
Different Types of Forehand
This is the most important and most used forehand. Looking at the advanced players they are well aware that the crosscourt shot is the safest shot.
Some reasons for this:
- The distance made by the ball is longer.
- The net is lower
A good way to change up your practice is to change up the traditional straight ahead warm-up to cross-court shots.
Not only is it important for good players to hit a forehand with a lot of power, even more, important is the depth of the ball. To avoid giving your opponent a short ball that they can attack it is good to practice depth. A fun way to do that is to compete against others seeing how can hit the most amount of forehand behind a deep line a few feet in front of the baseline.
Nadal is mostly known for his reverse forehand where he is able to put a lot of topspin on the ball as he ends his swing over the same shoulder as he hits his forehand with. This is a great addition to a forehand in pressured situations where more topspin is crucial. Practice this by feeding balls to your forehand and focus on where you end your swing and look a the path the ball takes over the net. Your goal with this forehand should be to have a height over the net and that the ball will dive down in the court because of the topspin.
As you have developed a strong forehand you want to use it more as a weapon. Do this by playing inside-out forehand! In this drill, it is important to have high-intensity footwork and be quick to work around playing forehand instead of backhand. Working together, one person will be playing backhands as the other person plays inside-out forehands to their opponent’s backhand. In this drill, it can be beneficial to have cones to recover to after every shot to make it realistic and work on moving around the ball. The inside-out forehand is used a lot by advanced players and can be effective to get your opponent off the court in a combination with using your better shot.
Short Angle Forehand
Another forehand to develop is the short-angle forehand. This is especially useful in two situations:
- get your opponent off the court
- to open up to move forward or hit a winner
- to avoid someone at the net
Whether you are playing singles or doubles, the short angel forehand is a great way to make sure they can’t reach it. To practice this, feed balls and make it your goal to hit your forehand with the ball landing in the opposite serving box and have the second bounce land wide outside of the court. Having the second bounce coming off the court is key for advanced players.
Drive Volley Forehand
Another way you can develop your game is to work on the drive volley. You can do this by a drill consisting of:
- Hitting an aggressive shot that would put pressure on your opponent
- Get a lob back as they are in a pressured situation
- Come forward and take the ball out of the air – forehand drive volley
Taking the forehand out of the air eliminates time from your opponent and is used more commonly by advanced players. This is a great and fun way to develop your game and work on moving towards the net, putting pressure on your opponent.
A shot that isn’t common practice but can be very effective and useful is the forehand slice. Practice your forehand slice in pressured situations to create more time to recover or use it as a shot to change up the tempo and rhythm in your game. This is a great technique to use if you are playing a person that can reach your most powerful forehands.
Practice your forehand this way
First and foremost practice is the most important part of mastering hitting a great forehand. By hitting as many forehands as you can it will get better over time. A great drill that is commonly seen done by Serena Williams is every other short forehand and every other deep. Having someone feed you these balls will improve your footwork as well as an understanding of when to hit what type of forehand. Working forward if you have the chance to hit a more aggressive forehand with more precise placement. Moving back quickly to recover, hitting a transition shot from behind the baseline, practices your topspin forehand with more margin. Get ready to be tired after doing this drill for a while!
I have told you about some different types of forehands that are both fun to learn and effective to hit. Being able to hit a forehand in many different ways will help you be more consistent as well as aggressive. If you know how to use the different forehands in the right situations you will take your game to the next level.