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Forehand and Backhand
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.

 

Tips Archive

Getting Started

Three Fundamentals of Tennis

The Foundations

Serve and Return
Forehand and Backhand
The Volley
The Lob and Smash
Keep Your Opponents Off-Balance with Backspin
Give Balance Priority