by Clark Corey
PBI Director of Tennis Kapalua
USPTA Tennis Professional
The two strokes most often used when a rally
happens are the forehand groundstroke and the backhand groundstroke.
These two strokes are the fundamental parts of a rally and
keep the ball going back and forth between players. Let’s
take a look at the forehand first.
For right handed players the forehand is
the stroke that takes place on the right side of the body
with the racquet swinging forward to hit a ball that has bounced.
In order to grip the racquet correctly you should place the
racquet on the ground and reach down and pick it up with your
right hand (for right handed players). This will give you
the correct forehand grip which should have the palm of the
hand and the racquet face facing the same direction.
The Forehand groundstroke has three parts
to it. First, there is the preparation of the stroke. This
is done by using the opposite hand to prepare the racquet
face prior to contact with the ball. Second, is the contact
zone which is when the racquet face is moving forward with
the strings facing the net and contact is being made with
the ball. Third, is the follow through which comes after the
point of contact with the ball until the racquet comes to
rest in your opposite hand out in front of your head.
The most important part of the swing is
contact. You can have a wonderful looking swing but if you
don't make contact it doesn't do a whole lot of good. However,
you can just make contact with the ball and get it over the
net without preparation and follow through.
The key to a good Forehand groundstroke
is making sure you have the correct racquet face angle and
only using as much preparation as you have time for on any
given stroke. An easy checkpoint to remember is to think Palm
Forward on the forehand and your stroke will go well.
After all, it isn’t how hard you hit the ball it is
whether it goes in or not.
The second stroke we want to get familiar
with is the backhand. This is the stroke that takes place
on the left side of the body (for right handed players). In
order to get the correct grip on the racquet take hold of
the racquet like you would be grabbing a hammer with the edge
of the racquet facing down and not the strings. By using a
hammer grip your wrist will be in a stronger position when
the ball comes in contact with the strings.
Again, we want to make use of the opposite
hand during the preparation. The opposite hand would be placed
up at the throat of the racquet and as the racquet goes forward
simply let go of the left hand and let the right shoulder
swing the racquet forward.
The opposite hand will set the racquet face
angle as well as the size of the backswing/preparation. After
that is done just think knuckles forward and let
the right hand swing toward the ball.
The best way to finish on the backhand is
to have the strings pointing toward the sky as if you could
balance a glass of water on your strings. Contact with the
ball will be made with the racquet strings facing forward
and slightly open to the sky and then right after contact
the racquet face can then be turned open to the sky. This
will allow you to have backspin on the ball, which is the
control spin in tennis. A great way to remember this stroke
and finish is to think contact then open.