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Tennis is not just for pros.
Tennis is for everyone.



Using a Closed Forehand Stance

By TennisTom

Good groundstroke form dictates that you contact the ball near or slightly in front of your lead foot, the foot closest to the net. When you contact the ball your wrist should be bent backward at approximately a 45 degree angle. Late hit ball contact is typically back at the player’s shoulder. When this is done the wrist at ball contact is straight rather than bent backward. With some players this tendency unfortunately becomes ingrained.

Two of the problems with this idiosyncrasy is that the difference between a well timed hit and a late hit is 1) your wrist is not laid back, and 2) the difference between a correct vs an incorrect hit is only a matter of a split second. You need to reprogram your brain; however if you correct your wrist angle the timing problem will automatically disappear.

Below is a stop-action photo of a talented youngster who has his racket handle butt in perfect alignment at the rear-most part of his racket takeback swing. (See the circle.) Although his wrist is laid back, you cannot see it well in the photo. The wrist is kept at the same laid back angle all the way through ball contact. (Purists may note that this is an open stance forehand, however the racket butt alignment, the wrist angle, and the racket head angle, are the same as with a closed stance forehand.)

Court Position Relating to Late Hits.

If you have a habit of playing in no man’s land, which is several feet inside your baseline, you will find that you have much less time to hit incoming balls near your feet. This habit causes the hitter to be rushed on approaching balls. If you are rushed then the mechanics of your swing suffer and you may contact the ball late. The obvious repair is to play further back behind the baseline. If you make this court position adjustment, then the back court problem of having to hit balls at your feet will virtually disappear.

This graphic includes a visual depiction of NO MAN’S LAND.


The following remedies may best be done under a coach’s supervision.

  • Remedy 1. Focus on your wrist position. Your wrist should be laid back when you contact the ball on forehands. (At your racket heads further-most point back during your backswing, your wrist should be bent back so that your handle butt is aimed at your target. It should still be bent back when your racket face contacts the ball.) Have someone feed slow balls to your forehand and actually look at your wrist. Try stopping your racket swing at ball contact and see if your wrist is bend back. It is physically impossible to hit the ball straight forward if you lay your wrist back and contact the ball back at your shoulder. The only way to hit the ball straight forward when you hit the ball back at your shoulder is to hit it with a straight wrist, which is mechanically incorrect.

  • Remedy 2. Change your backswing to A shorten your backstroke. If you use a loop backswing try a straight back backswing before bringing your racket forward to meet the ball. The angle of your racket swing – low to high for topspin - should be the same. This is a more compact swing and you are just eliminating the time it takes to make your normal loop. A straight takeback sacrifices a little power; but, you need control more than more power. Right?

  • Remedy 3. You can try slicing your groundstrokes on all pacey balls. It takes less backswing and less time to hit a slice than a looped groundstroke. Slice can be hit from any level, but it is easier to contact balls which are near your waist or higher.

  • Remedy 4. Another way to give yourself more time on groundies is to start your unit turn (your body rotation) earlier. Racket takeback starts when you turn your shoulders. Take your racket back earlier than you are used to. This may entail starting your backswing as you are running toward the ball. A rule of thumb is that you should start your backswing by the time the oncoming ball is over the net. Many 2.5 and 3.0 players tend to turn their body late, so this is a good habit even if you do not swing late.

  • Remedy 5. Try practicing with low compression balls. They have somewhat less air speed and less bounce. If you change nothing and hit normally, your ball contact timing will be a little earlier and you will meet the ball more forward.

  • Remedy 6. This is a rather severe fix, but it may work for some. Try buying a marginally lighter weight racket. It will usually be more maneuverable and take less time to hit your groundstrokes (and volleys).

It may take a combination of two or three of these remedies to effect lasting change.

[20-Late Groundstroke Swing – Some Remedies to Try] [Rev 6-6-10]



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