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Developing a "BIG" Forehand for Tennis Players!

Aug 29, 2007
When you watch young tennis players in tournaments in the U/10, U/12 and U/14 age groups you will find that it is often the more consistent players who do well. At this age the athletes are still physically developing and the male players are just entering a growth stage where they will start to increase on their strength and power quite significantly.

As the player enters their mid-teens you will find that those players who dominated during their younger years due to their consistency start to have a tougher time. As they transition into the higher age groups they will also need to develop bigger shots, in particular the serve and forehand. These players find that they can no longer just hit the ball over the net waiting for their opponent's error. If they do they are finding that their opponents are hitting back more penetrating shots or even winners.

The difference between many players comes down to who has the bigger shots combined with consistency. Obviously someone who just crunches the ball without control will be very inconsistent.

To develop a big forehand in tennis several issues need to be addressed first:
Is the player ready to work on this shot?
Do they have the correct technique?
Do they have the correct footwork? (i.e. know how to step around for an inside-out forehand)
Do they have enough strength?
Do they have they understand why they need to develop a big forehand?
Do they have the potential to develop a big forehand?
Do you, the coach, know how to teach this shot?
Do you know the best drills to use in order to teach this shot?

Analysis / Biomechanics of a "Big Forehand" in tennis:
Technique and preparation
Modern players use the western forehand grip which allows the player to make contact just below shoulder height due to the racket face angle. This suits clay court players who like to hit the ball up high allowing for their racket to get under the ball and brush up behind it.

Footwork and stance
Unlike traditional coaching styles of having a closed stance, the modern players have an open stance that helps them to create balance, control and then an explosive and powerful rotation of the trunk as the swing forward.

During this stance the weight is transferred from the back leg which is flexed prior to the swing and then the weight is transferred forwards as the player swings. It is this force generated that will ultimately help the forward rotation of the right hip as the player swings to make contact with the ball.

Backswing and forward swing
It is during the backswing that the shoulders turn and rotate in preparing for power. It is during the backswing that the non-dominant arm acts to help create balance as well as being involved in the backswing.

It is during the forward swing that the back leg will push off developing power and as a result will straighten to create rotation. As a result the player will open up (be parallel to the net) and the shoulders rotate forwards just prior to impact. The shoulder and hip rotation plays a significant role in power generation. It is this rotation that forces the player to come up off the ground.

At impact the racket face is approximately at a 90 degree angle to the ground. The racket "brushes" up behind the ball generating topspin which is a result of a low to high swing.

The follow through
It is during the follow through phase that you will find the arm nearly parallel to the ground just after impact. The more traditional swings (players with continental grip) would force the player to follow through up over their shoulder.

Today, players whip through the ball forcing the arm across and to often wrap around the body rather than up over their shoulder. This creates certain problems when teaching youngsters the follow through who do not generate the explosive forward swing. Coaches still need to teach the more traditional follow through to beginner players in order to help them hit the ball up and over the net.

The rotation of the shoulders and hip concludes with the player landing on their front left leg and recovering to anticipate the next shot.

General tennis coaching tips
As a coach, it is important to remember the individual stages of development with your players. You may try to teach a squad of twelve players the big forehand but you will be sure to find that some players do not have the correct technique to learn the shot and some are lacking the physical strength required to generate enough power.

In this situation you can designate one court to work on this "big" forehand and then group your players accordingly by level. That way the coach can set the appropriate drills for each smaller group of players. Live ball tennis drills are used when training a larger group of players.

To reach your full potential and reach the highest levels a player must develop a big stroke and often the forehand is a great shot to use to intimidate an opponent!

Get into the gym and start working out. You will be amazed what a little extra strength will do to your tennis game. One of neglected aspects in weight training for male players is the lower body and core. If you build strong legs and a strong core then you will notice the extra power on your shots.

The key to separating yourself from fellow club players is to develop a great forehand. It is recommended to take a few tennis lessons and have a coach take you though this process step by step before you go out on your own. If you are a keen tennis player then you will enjoy your game more if you consistently improve.
About the Author
David Horne is a former professional tennis player who has created several online sports web sites including which is the Ultimate Sports Directory for all sports fans! Check out the global web site for Tennis Coaching at Global Sports Coaching
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