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How to Hit a Tennis Forehand

By Jeff Gordon

Tennis players use variations of the forehand grip, adjusting to their playing style and the type of spin they prefer. No two forehand swings are precisely the same either. But the underlying fundamentals are familiar to all proficient players: proper body positioning to the ball, full body rotation with the swing and a strong follow-through to maximize force and accuracy.

Step 1

Grip your racket for the forehand shot. Hold the side panel of the handle parallel to your racket face. Place your palm and the base knuckle of your index finger on the side panel, creating a vertical racket face. To put more topspin on the ball -- or to handle a high bounce -- put your palm on the lower right panel of the handle, 45 degrees clockwise from the plane of your strings. This gives your racket a downward tilt, so you will have to meet the ball slightly farther forward. To hit with maximum topspin and to handle very high shots, grip the bottom panel of the handle, 90 degrees clockwise from the strings, and create an upward swing plane.

Step 2

Drive with your legs to move into hitting position. Adjust your body to keep two to three feet of space between you and the ball. Bend your knees if necessary to create a waist-high swing plane. Turn to your right to put your body in line with the shot. Step forward with your left foot, putting it in front of your right foot. Release your non-dominant hand from the racket and point at the target. Wind back with your shoulders and hips, lining up straight to the target. Move your arm back, straight but not locked, and point the racket away from the target. Keep the racket low.

Step 3

Swing from your legs up with an open stance. Fire your muscles in sequence, from your legs to your hips, shoulders and arm. Accelerate the racket toward the ball, transferring your weight toward your opponent. Keep your arm and elbow straight.

Step 4

Hit the ball at hip height, with your racket just in front of your body. Keep the face of your racket square to the ball at contact. Rotate your shoulders and hips through contact, finishing with shoulders and hips facing the net. Keep your back foot planted as long as possible.

Step 5

Follow through with an arcing motion, rising from the point of contact. Rotate your shoulders to position your chest square to the target. Finish your swing with your racket near your opposite shoulder and your elbow pointing toward your opponent. A strong follow-through adds power and control to your shot.

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