Hit a Tennis Forehand

Edited by Jerry Rivers, Lynn, Christine Cruz, Graeme and 4 others

Brooks Baldinger.jpg

If you have always wanted to learn to play tennis, or you want to learn the biomechanics for hitting a better forehand, this tutorial is for you. Tennis is truly a sport that can be played for a lifetime. There are singles and doubles matches in this sport, as well as wheel chair tennis. It is a sport that can be played at any level, from amateur recreational, social tennis in city parks and country clubs, to the highly competitive professional tennis arena. The forehand is generally the first stroke learned, and it is important for you to use proper biomechanics in the forehand stroke. With a proper forehand you will not only prevent injury, but you can also learn a variety of shots. With this tutorial you will learn the proper biomechanics of a strong, dependable forehand. You will also learn the basics of a topspin, flat, and slice forehand.

Follow the instructions below, practice the stroke, and learn a dependable, strong forehand. Have fun as you learn how to execute a forehand shot properly, or improve your tennis forehand from the tutorial.

Overview For How to Hit a Forehand In This Tutorial

  1. 1
    You will first be given the sequence in steps for a basic, mechanically sound forehand drive
    Then, the progression will be provided to learn the basic forehand. You will also learn the three types of forehand. Each has a purpose in tennis, and you will to master all three if you practice with the proper grip and technique demonstrated. Thank you Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) for the procedure below in learning the optimal basic forehand stroke. Follow the steps and you are on your way to learning a strong, biomechanically sound tennis forehand.
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  2. 2
    A tennis forehand drive
    This simply means that you are hitting a tennis ball on your dominant side. For 80 percent of us, as right-handers this will be from the right hand side.
    JR Ready position.jpg
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  3. 3
    Ready position
    All moves in any running sport begin from a ready position. In tennis, except for the serve, which can be learned in this article: Have a good tennis serve.  
    1. Have your feet about shoulder width apart, and parallel to the net.
    2. You should have your dominant hand at the bottom of your racket.
    3. Hold it so that the base knuckle of your dominant hand is over the first handle bevel right of the top of your handle.
    4. It's the same grip used when you shake hands with someone.
    5. This is called the basic eastern grip. Your non-dominant hand should be comfortably cradling the racket at the "V" above the handle.
    6. Have your legs bent so that you are ready to pivot, or run to the ball immediately.
    7. Have your weight comfortably on the balls of your feet, with heels still on the court surface.
    8. Your head should be up so that you can track the ball all the way from the opponent's racket to the strings of your racket as you hit the ball.
    9. Hold your racket so that the butt of your racket is at your waist and the racket head is tilted up in front of your chest.
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  4. 4
    Pivot and shoulder turn
    1. From the ready position pivot by turning your shoulders.
    2. Bring your racket arm back with the racket.
    3. Keep your non-dominant (op-arm) hand on the racket as you bring the dominant arm back.
    4. You are looking over your non-dominant shoulder at the tennis ball as it is approaching your forehand side.
    5. After your pivot, the racket arm is back with the racket up, head high, and the racket head is pointing to the fence. Track the ball as you pivot, keeping your head still.
    6. Bring the racket head down to just below hip level as you step forward and uncoil sharply from the hips.
    7. As you uncoil, your op-arm swings out with the elbow pointing out to the side. ##You will have the eastern grip as you step forward.
    8. Track the ball with your head still.
    9. Squeeze the racket handle as you swing out from your body and strike the ball. ##Keep your "eyes on the ball" until after the ball leaves the racket.
    10. You must go "through" the ball as if going through two tennis cans on the stroke.
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  5. 5
    Follow through
    Continue the swing until the racket arm thrusts the racket up to head level and out toward the net. It will typically continue on to wrap around until it goes over your shoulder once you have mastered the basic forehand.
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Progression Steps In Learning The Basic Forehand

These are the five steps in order for you to learn the basic forehand. Once you have learned it, you must practice a few times a week, ideally. You will progress rapidly with practice, and will find your tennis game even more gratifying as you hit those strong, controlled forehands - biomechanically correct. This will also prevent injury.

  1. 1
    Start with just the contact and follow-through
    1. Have someone bounce the ball to your forehand side so that you can strike it about hip high.
    2. As you impact the ball the racket should be level with the court, and the racket head should be perpendicular to the court surface.
    3. Hit the tennis ball on the sweet spot of your racket strings, which is just above center.
    4. Keep your head still and track the ball all the way until it leaves your racket strings.
      Thomas Enqvist hitting a forehand.jpg
    5. If the ball bounces low, you should bend your legs so that you can still contact the ball with the racket parallel to the court and racket head perpendicular to the court.
    6. Follow through as instructed above. Once mastered, go to step two.
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  2. 2
    Start with your racket arm and racket back
    1. From the arm back position have the butt of your racket facing the net.
    2. Your racket arm is holding the racket back and at head level.
    3. The op-arm hand lets go once the racket is nearly all the way back. This ensures stability of your racket backswing, along with a good shoulder turn.
    4. Swing the racket forward. Track the ball all the way and bend your legs if needed so that you can hit the ball at your hip level.
    5. Make sure your hitting arm elbow is comfortably away from your body as you contact the ball.
    6. Your contact point should be above your front foot. This will have your weight behind the ball for more power and control.
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  3. 3
    Start from ready position
    1. When first learning the forehand stroke, pivot and turn your shoulders.
    2. Keep your head still and track the approaching ball until it leaves your racket.
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  4. 4
    Add a loop
    Once you have mastered hitting the ball with a simple forehand, you can add a loop.
    1. As you bring your racket down to hit the ball from the high "racket back" position you will make a "C-shaped" path, which is a loop.
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  5. 5
    The full forehand stroke
    In this final step, you will make the complete stroke.  
    1. You will begin with the starting position.
    2. Hit the ball.
    3. Follow-through.  
      1. As you practice, it is imperative that you track the ball throughout the stroke. ###When you begin hitting the full forehand stroke, it is recommended to hit the ball while you are at the service line until you have mastered it.
      2. Once mastered from there, move back to the baseline to practice hitting with a full forehand stroke.
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The Three Forehand Strokes

The three forehand strokes are topspin, flat, and slice. They fairly easy to accomplish by amateurs and pros alike by simply changing the hand-grip on the racket handle.

  1. 1
    The topspin forehand
    This is accomplished using a western grip.
    1. Turn your hand so that your palm is completely gripping the bottom bevel on the racket handle.
    2. Bring the racket below the path of the approaching ball and brush up the ball as you strike it.  
      1. In other words, you stroke from low to high.
      2. You can hit this stroke with an open stance, but will lose power.
      3. The ball will bounce high upon impact.
      4. It will also drop sharply, so you can hit the ball very hard and it will still drop sharply in front of the baseline.
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  • 2
    The flat forehand
    This is hit easily using the eastern or continental grip.  
    1. The eastern forehand is the "shake hands" grip, in which the base knuckle of your dominant hand is over the first bevel right of the top bevel of your racket when it is perpendicular to the ground.  
      1. Your hand will be slightly "behind" the racket handle.
      2. Swing the racket directly at the level of the ball, and hit it squarely in front.
      3. It makes a penetrating forehand, and will have a slight topspin with this grip.
    2. The continental forehand has the "V" of your hand between your thumb and first finger directly on top of the racket handle.  
      1. Drive through the ball, parallel with the court, until you follow through.
      2. The continental is the easiest grip to hit a flat shot.
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  • 3
    The slice forehand
    The slice forehand is the least used from the forehand side, but can be executed with the eastern or continental grip.  
    1. You Swing from high to low as you go "through the ball" on contact.  
      1. It will put underspin on the ball and make it skid.
      2. Players use this sometimes to mix their shots to keep the opponent's timing off.
    2. Another reason for the slice is to use it as an approach shot.  
      1. The player will come to the net following an approach shot for a put-away volley near the net.
      2. A volley is just hitting the ball before it bounces.
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  • Now, you are ready to practice the basic forehand for all three spins on a tennis ball. You just need to practice hitting lots of balls, and get out there to enjoy this lifetime sport soon!


    • Have a racket handle size that is comfortable for your grip. For the average size man's hand, it is 4 1/2 inches.
    • For the average size lady's hand the grip size is 4 3/8 inches.
    • There are children's junior rackets available for a child.
    • It is better to go with a heavier racket than a lighter one, contrary to what many beginners may believe. It puts less stress on the arm, and will more easily drive the ball.

    Questions and Answers

    I am researching to improve my net play using a continental grip?

    It does not seem as easy to hit a flat ball straight with continental at the net, than it does with an eastern grip. Any ideas?

    Actually, the continental grip is the easiest grip to use to hit a flat ball. Remember that the continental grip uses the "V" of your hand between your thumb and first finger directly on top of the racket handle. When you hold your racket like this, hitting a flat ball will be easy. Reference the VisiHow article above to learn more about the continental grip.

    How to hit down the line forehand shot?

    While hitting the forehand, it goes out of the line. How can I swing the racquet?

    VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

    I can't hit with semi western grip.

    I can't hit with semi western grip. It keeps going into the net.

    VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


    Article Info

    Categories : Sports

    Recent edits by: Rahul Dutta, Calob Horton, Eng

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