Practice these modern forehand drills to tune your game to the constant evolving modern tennis game. Drastic improvements in string and racquet technology allows players to hit the ball harder than ever. Forehands and backhands are coming over the net at speeds upwards of 100mph with incredible amounts of spin.
The secret to hitting like this?
Develop control for the ball so that you can use your whole body to generate power and spin. Once you have complete control of the ball you have many options on the court. In the modern forehand drills you practice, seek to gain long term improvements in control.
Modern Forehand Drills 1
Practice Hand Fed Shots to develop a consistent and powerful forehand swing.
In order to beat tough opponents you need be capable of generating all of your own power
To be successful in the modern game you must have an offensive response to opponent’s slow shots.
- Have a partner or coach stand a far enough away from you that you won’t hit them with your shot.
- Partner lightly tosses or drops the ball. (With optimal spacing to swing into)
- After ball hits the ground, player prepares racquet quickly and makes contact with the ball in their ideal strike zone.
- Find good separation between body and ball contact.
- Notice your extension through the shot.
- Listen for the sound the ball makes off of the strings
- Stay down throughout your shot
- Remember to breath
- Perform a dynamic recovery to get ready for the next ball.
- Find your best rhythm when not TRYING to hit the ball hard
- Lose spacing between body and ball
- Toss the ball too close to the player
- Worry about making errors
- Muscle the ball with your upper body
- Blame or hit your partner
- Get lulled to sleep by the slow ball.
Why try hand fed drills?
Hand fed drills are regularly used in high-performance tennis training. Many of the world’s top players have practiced hand fed drills.
- Communicate with the coach in close proximity. (messages are sometimes lost across the net)
- Create fluidity through confidence in contact point. (sweet spot training)
- Increase swing speed while maintaining dynamic balance. (Learn how to keep your head still)
- Rely on leverage, rotation, and racquet speed for power and spin (rather than arm muscle)
Modern Forehand Drills 2
The quiet feet forehand
Practice being efficient with your footwork to gain control of your body:
- Fix inefficient movements in the lower half of your body during your forehand swing.
- Recognize the power and control that you possess while being efficient.
- Develop dynamic balance as you create accelerated swings.
common mistakes players make with their legs while practicing modern forehand drills
- Stance too closed (Left foot across right- for a right-handed player)
- Unconnected dipping or stepping during the shot (trying to add power)
- Legs not flexed enough (stand too tall)
- Feet too close together (lose balance during stroke
- Energy not transferred from bottom to top
- Stand near the baseline in wide ready position stance with legs flexed
- Keep heels off of the ground
- Have coach/pro feed shots low in your strike zone
- Focus on turning to prepare for shot
- Un-turn to hit the ball
- Keep a constant athletic stance and try not to take extra steps
- Hit 5 shots and then rest
Why this works-
Feel torsion created between the upper and lower body
Recognize the power that can be created from an effective coil
Gain an understanding for how to stay down throughout the shot
Pinpoint mobility and flexibility issues in the lower half of your body
Modern Forehand Drills 3
Increase swing speed
It has been said that the fastest way to improve your game is to increase swing speed.
An Increase in racquet speed will help you increase spin and power.
DRILL -Use this drill after completing a dynamic warmup
Practice ONLY 5 swings with a tennis racket weight cover
- Keep a loose grip tension and exert minimal effort with your arm muscles
- Do not allow racquet speed slow down with contraction of arm muscles.
- Bend your legs to use your larger sets of muscles to swing the racket weight cover
(Swing resistance cover weighs 86 grams. Added wind resistance makes the swingweight of the cover feel approximately 220 grams. ). (Most adult racquets weight around 300 grams)
Remove the tennis racquet weight and practice 5 forehand swings.
As you swing, notice:
- Effortlessness of swing
- The fluidity of racket passing through the hitting zone
- momentum generating racquet speed
- Decreased grip tension
Removing the swing weight cover gives you the instant feel of increased racquet speed with minimal effort.
This is one of the fastest ways to increase spin and power.
It’s not uncommon for seasoned players to try this drill and within 30 seconds say, “the racquet feels REALLY light”
This lighter racquet sensation gives you the feel of how to put easy power into your shot.
If you are able to create power without using unnecessary energy you will become a more efficient tennis player.
Many players increase muscular tension in arm and shoulder when attempting to add power.
Increased muscular tension in arm and hand may cause decreased swing speeds.
Some players overcompensate a slow swing speed by adding an extra jump during their hit. Extra movement during contact can causes errors and mishits.
Modern Forehand Drills #4
The forehand test
You must frequently put your forehand to the test. Test with the intent to recognize and repeat success. Take note of strengths and weaknesses of current stroke.
Through forehand testing you must discover:
Your most effective forehand
What shot qualities do your best forehands have?
- Placement-Are you hitting cross court or down the line?
- Spin- Are you hitting small amounts of topspin or heavy shots?
- Power-Can you hear a loud “pop” off of the strings?
- Depth – Do your shots land past the service line?
- Height- Do you create a safe margin for error?
Every player has strengths that are uniquely specific to their game.
Forehand style and ball effect can vary greatly among players.
Find your strengths and use this knowledge to create a weapon.
Modern Forehand Drills -Include competition drills weekly.
- Compete in groundstroke games
- Hit a friendly feed to your opponent. (send ball to opponent’s strike zone.)
- The point starts when the opponent returns your feed over the net (feed return cannot be the winner)
- Opponent feeds next point
- The point starts when you return feed over the net (feed return cannot be the winner)
- Keep track of the score and play a game to 11 wins by 2.
- Place a fitness wager on the game for added pressure. (50 jumping jacks)
- Compete in practice matches against opponents:
- Below your level (recognize which forehand opponent can’t handle)
- At your level ( see how your forehand matches up)
- Above your level (receive forehand spin and power at a higher level)
Competitive scenarios can also be replicated and rehearsed with a tennis coach.
Be creative as you add variety to your forehand testing
- You can play on different surfaces.
- Compete in singles and doubles.
- play with different point stipulations (You get 3 points for a winner).
The competition will evaluate the effectiveness of your forehand.
Try to learn from your competitive experience no matter what the outcome.
Take detailed notes during your competitive tests. Describe your most effective forehand.
Take the extra effort and make the commitment to take note of your biggest tennis strengths.
Read and adjust your notes regularly to see quick improvements in your game.
Quick Tip- Ask your tennis opponents and practice partners to evaluate your forehand. They may help point out your strengths or weaknesses.
Modern Forehand Drills 5
Focus on the Finish
(Notice that when a swing is free of muscular arm tension it is difficult to see where the stroke ends. The racquet finish has a consistent and fluid shape free of rigidity.
A consistent shape on the finish of a forehand swing helps control the drop of your topspin shot.
If you “forgot to follow through” on your shot, you most likely slowed down your racquet speed with your arm muscles.
Don’t fall into this trap. You will gain more racquet speed by letting go of arm tension.
Less arm tension can help you transfer more energy into your shot.
Where to follow through?
The follow-through of your forehand swing will be a result of your contact point and swing path.
A powerful forehand crosscourt will usually have a different finish than a forehand topspin lob.
A short angle forehand will usually have a different finish than a drive down the line.
Follow through focus-
- A relaxed grip tension during your follow through.
- A finish that adds spin or feel to your shot
- A follow through that feels connected to the lower half of the body
- A completion of your stroke.
A confident follow through is the difference between a stroke and a poke. Many students use arm muscle to poke or steer the ball away from opponent only to find the ball sailing because of lack of spin. A consistent stroke with a fluid finish will allow you to impart consistent spin and power on your forehand.
Incorporate these modern forehand drills into your training program. Develop control as you work on increasing swing speed. Be efficient with your footwork as your uncoil into your shots. Finish the forehand with confidence as you test your forehand regularly. Get out on the court with a tennis friend and practice hand fed drills.
Leave a comment. How is your forehand training going?
USPTA Elite Professional
Director of Tennis at My10sFriends Academy
Director of Tennis at Woodfield Hunt Club in Boca Raton, Fl
Graduate of Ferris State University’s Professional Tennis Management Program