Simple Tennis Corrections for Forehand Mistakes
Sometimes small adjustments to your technique will pay huge dividends in your game. Here we’re going through 5 common forehand errors that are a must change for anyone looking to improve their technique and stop making unforced errors.
1 - Using The Wrong Tennis Grip
Back in the olden/golden days of tennis the continental grip was used for just about everything from forehand, backhand, volleys, serve and all inbetween. A good example in the 1970’s is John McEnroe who used the continental grip on his forehand. But with the pace, athleticism and equipment of todays game, a whole lot of changes have been made to keep up and play better tennis. One of which is the grips.
Today’s standard grips to use on the forehand are the eastern forehand grip and the semi-western forehand grip. Often grips are a hybrid between the 2. Some players still also use a full western or close to.
The eastern forehand grip is the grip used to hit flatter balls and considered a more traditional grip. Some players who use the grip include Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.
The semi western grip is now the most popular grip used, especially by professionals. Some of whom include Rafael Nadal (although his is sneaking towards the full western grip), Andy Murray and Djokovic and Sam Stosur
Depending on what court surface you play on, who you play against, your swing and what feel natural will determine which grip is right for you.
2 - Closed Stance Footwork
The most common forehand footwork errors include:
Stepping across the body with the left foot before hitting the ball which. This closes the body off to the court too much and inhibits body rotation thus power and swing length, and recovery steps
Stepping forwards into the ball with the right foot opening the body to the wrong side of the court. This opens the body too much and making a take back non existent.
Modern footwork has us using open and semi open stances, unlike the closed stances of yesteryear. Depending of your court positioning, try and keep a gap between your legs if facing the net. For instance, if stepping for a wide ball step out with the right foot, loading the leg and driving up through the leg.
If you need to step into the court you can step forwards into the court and there be no gap, so long as the left leg doesn’t step across the right. There are variations such as the walking/hopping crossover forehand used on short wide balls and return of serve.
3 - No Body Rotation
As mentioned in the footwork, if you don’t turn the body, you don't get any swing on the ball or power in the shot. After the split step use the right foot to step open and turn the body out. From here move into position and hit the ball. There are different variations depending on which direction and how far you have to move but basically speaking turn the body as soon as possible.
Some cues to help turn the body include:
Pointing at the ball
Looking over your left shoulder
Point the butt of the racquet towards where you want to ball to go
Face the side fence (beginner)
4 - No Topspin
If you're not hitting with any topspin chances are you have the wrong grip, incorrect swing or poor preparation. This can even result in backspin if you’re not careful. Topspin in when the ball spins forwards, putting more air pressure on top of the ball, making the ball dip into the court. This means you can clear the net by a safe distance but make sure the ball falls into the court before the baseline of the other side. It also allows the ball to jump up and forwards after the bounce.
Topspin if used well can increase your consistency hugely and it also allows you to control the pace of the ball.
For maximum topspin use a semi western or full western grip, although the eastern forehand grip can still generate a lot of spin. The simple principle remains come from below the balls contact point, brush up and over the ball, finish the follow through. Try to make the ball spin forwards.
5 - No Follow Through
Follow throughs can differ greatly among players. Just look at Nadal’s over the head compared to Andy Murray’s below the elbow follow through. The grip has a lot to do with the follow through, so does your court positioning as well as where your contact point is, where you want to ball to bounce and how much topspin you hit with.
For a beginner we generally teach ‘over the shoulder’. This gives a definitive point to finish to. However as swing get more advanced and players use different grips, follow throughs change. When using an eastern forehand grip, over the shoulder or between the shoulder and elbow is the general finishing point. With a semi western or full western grip finishing the swing over the head or between the the shoulder and elbow is the go.
If finishing over the shoulder, a good checkpoint it to ‘catch’ the racquet at the end of the swing. This ensures the body rotates and the left arm swing through as well.
When using a western variation your swing is more of a wave or windscreen wiper action as opposed to the closed off racquet head in the eastern grip.
So check your forehand next time you’re playing and see if you’re making any of these errors. They are pretty simple to correct with some time, coaching and repetition. Remember there is not 100% way of hitting the ball. Every player has their own idiosyncrasies and way of hitting. See what works best for you.