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PERFECT FOREHAND – SHOULDER TURN IS THE KEY
by Dr. Martin G. Baroch
the serve, forehand is the most common stroke in tennis and
by most considered to be their weapon, their killer stroke. But on the other
side it is also the stroke with the widest range of variety in its production.
Played on the dominant side of the body (right-handers on the right), forehand
gives us almost endless number of elbow positions in the space during the
backswing and thus endless stroke varieties (and of course also mistake
possibilities…). This is the reason, why we can see so many different forehand
strokes on the courts all around us and even among the top pro players.
general one of the biggest differences between the hobby players and the top pro
players is in the use of the body. The world best players are mostly using the
body as the main source of power for the stroke. The hobby players in contrary
then tend to use for the power purpose mainly the hitting arm, however this
posses only around 12% of the entire power potential in the body. This
misconception is then one of the main reasons for the typical tennis injuries
from overuse like the tennis elbow and also the reason for the weak ball control,
while the arm muscles should be used mainly for coordination purposes instead of
the own visual picture of the stroke and the instruction given is often
misleading. Many consider swinging with the racket around the body up to the
left shoulder as the main principle of the powerful stroke (wiper motion,
showing bottom of the racket to the opponent, etc.). Swinging around is in most
of the cases right thing to be done, but it is not the main principle of the
stroke, rather its side effect. The main principle of a powerful stroke lies
in the vast shoulder turn and balance transfer of the body from outside into
of the world class players are doing the backswing for the open stance forehand
with quite high racquet position (above the head), elbow rather closer to the
body and perfectly turned shoulders. In the end of the backswing, the shoulder
line goes approximately towards the target with the left shoulder being in the
front. In this moment, the weight and tension are on the righ leg and there is
also an enormous tension in the trunk muscles created by turning the trunk back
and staying in the open stance with the feet (the feet line is in more or less
right angle to the stroke trajectory).
own hitting starts with pushing of the right leg, uncoiling the body, which goes
up and rotates its right half from outside and back into inside and front. This
body rotation is the dominant force moving the racket against the incoming ball,
which should be struck way in the front of the body, puting the entire force of
the body rotation into the stroke. The follow thru consists of excellent
shoulder turn with the shoulder line going towards the target again, but this
time the right/hitting shoulder is in the front and touching the chin after
making a turn of 180°. The racket swings around as a effect of this vast body/shoulder
rotation, with the thumb of the right/hitting hand pointing towards the ground.
The arm is then staying away from the body and thus helping to finish complete
this forehand description to yours and to the strokes of the players around you
in the club. Most of you will have much less shoulder turn in the backswing
stage and then also much less of the turn in the follow thru. But this here just
described vast shoulder turn is the base of the efficient forehand stroke.
Instead of thinking about the swinging with the racquet around you, try to get
your hitting shoulder up to the chin with the entire arm completely loose on
every forehand stroke, but still keeping the position away from the body. This
together with the body balance transfer from outside into inside during the
stroke gives to your stroke much more power and also control based on the
relaxed (not swinging) arm. In addition your arm will be also in less danger to
develop the tennis elbow.
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