The forehand shot in Tennis is the game’s principle and most frequently used weapon. Most points are won on a forehand and the majority of players will seek to perfect this stroke before others. The forehand seems the most natural of shots, as it moves the body in its most obvious way when holding a racket and creates the maximum amount of power, apart from a serve.
The One Handed Static Forehand is chosen when the player’s body is in the position whereby the ball approaches them at around waist-height, on the same side that they hold their racket. The player will usually be positioned in between the base line and the centre line for this shot as the power provided will then keep it in play.
The grip on the racket is loose but still requires sufficient firmness to avoid it slipping, as though the player is going to be catching the ball and slinging it back at the same time in one motion. The most common forehand grip is called an Eastern Grip and it involves the player’s fingers being curled around the base of the grip in a handshake-like position.
When the ball approaches the player, their feet must be slightly apart, their knees slightly bent and in a position where they look ready to drive forward. As the ball approaches the player the shoulder with which they hit the ball (right if right handed, left if left handed) rotates back towards the base-line and the opposite foot steps in front of the body in a shielding position. It’s the shoulders that rotate the body not the arms.
The arm holding the racket then slowly swings back from the net and stops around the height of the player’s waist behind them, with the face of the racket facing the net.
Seconds before the ball passes the player’s body, the racket is brought into this swinging motion and when the ball is just in front of the player’s body the racket connects with the ball around waist height. The ball should land on the ‘sweet-spot’ of the racket, which is found at the very centre of the strings. This is where the most power, control and accuracy will come from.
When the ball has been hit, the racket then follows through and finishes around the area above the shoulders of the opposite arm, facing the sky. This follow through is what will often give the ball more power.
The Two Handed Static Forehand is sometimes used when a player wishes to apply more power to the shot, but it can sometimes mean that accuracy is sacrificed. The grip is similar to a back-hand whereby the principle hand of the player is higher up on the grip and the other hand just under it at the base. The movement of the body here is roughly the same as in the One Handed Forehand except when the shoulders rotate, the hips rotate with them and in the same direction. The whole body then pivots on the left foot if right handed and right foot if left handed.
The Moving Forehand is simply when the shot is played while a player is running to reach an oncoming ball. It will follow all the same rules as the Static Forehand in terms of the area above the waist of the player but the position of the feet and knees will differ as the player is moving to reach the ball.
Here is an example of an excellent forehand technique by Roger Federer in slow motion.