Back to Back Issues Page Newsletter---Why am I LATE on my forehand? And I have no power!
January 13, 2014
Dear tennis friends,

I hope you have read my latest article on second serve tips and have applied them to improve your tennis serve.

In today's newsletter, I want to share with you some tips from Jeff Salzenstein. There was a question on tennis forehand and here is how he answered.

Question: Can you advise me on why I seem to be late on my forehand? I'm not getting any pop and penetration and hit the ball too short... -Blake

Answer: Without having seen this player's forehand, I can't pinpoint exactly what's going on, but I've seen enough bad forehands to know what big keys can make a positive impact right away.

Let's attack why this player (and you) may be late on the forehand.

Aim. That's right, just aiming to a different spot can get you hitting the ball more in front and more cross court. Sometimes exaggerating missing wide cross court or just hitting the ball more cross court can improve the contact point enough to avoid being late.

Prepare earlier. Please notice that I didn't say take the racquet back earlier. When I say prepare earlier, I'm talking about finding the ball or "stalking" the ball with a a quick and defined first move. The racquet head goes up, the non dominant arm pulls across the body and the "first move" position takes place as soon as it's recognized that the ball is coming to the forehand side. This early prep allows more adjustments to be made as the ball approaches.

Catch the racquet out in front. Whenever players are late, instead of telling them to hit the ball more in front, I often have them focus on catching the racquet on the throat at the finish. Catching the racquet high and in front by the off hand ensures that extension occurs and as a consequence, the contact point cleans up. Having a solid finish that's high and in front without wrapping the racquet around or over the shoulder too much can make a HUGE difference when missing the forehand late. I like this tip A LOT because a player can focus on this key at the end of the stroke instead of analyzing too much while making contact with the ball.

What about why this player isn't getting any pop or penetration on the forehand?

Relax the hand. This tip helps so many players because most of them have absolutely no idea how tight they're actually gripping the racquet. By catching the racquet at the finish with the non dominant hand and taking all tension out of the main hand at the end of the stroke, more power can be easily attained.

Relaxing the hand at the end of shot allows a player to become aware of the amount of tension in the dominant hand. Once the player starts to focus on relaxing the hand, the contact point naturally moves in front and more effortless power occurs.

Spread the index finger. Often times, players hold what I call a"block grip" where the fingers are squished together on the grip. The block grip creates tension and reduces feel. The true key to getting feel and power on the forehand is to hold the grip with the index or trigger finger spread away from the other fingers. Immediately, players start to feel better holding the racquet this way on the forehand. Don't overlook this little known tip to get more power and control on the forehand.

Hold the grip lower. Some players are too choked up on the grip and lose the ability to have the racquet do the talking. Racquet head acceleration drops resulting in less power. Simply put, choking up makes the racquet "shorter" and reduces acceleration which can decrease your power. By having the heel of the hand slightly off the racquet, it can swing more effortlessly and create more natural acceleration, which in turn, creates more effortless power.

What about when the player is hitting the forehand too short? Well...ALL of the tips I've just mentioned can work especially "relaxing the hand" and "catching the racquet out in front." But there's one more I want to give you...

And it goes back to "aiming" again.

If the ball lands short, aim higher and aim deeper. Aim soooo deep that the goal is to actually have the ball go long...actually try to make a different mistake long. Miss long to break that habit of missing short. This might be hard to do at first, but it's a great way to change a bad habit on the forehand.

I hope these tips can help you solve some of your forehand problems. I look forward to hear your feedback.

Committed to your tennis success,



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