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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Forehand Ground Stroke

The forehand groundstroke is the most common – and comfortable – shot for most players between the baseline and mid-court. A ground stroke is simply hitting a ball after it bounces, a regular occurrence when players are deep in the court.  The forehand is a more natural shot on the stronger side of the body and, thus, more comfortable for many players. The forehand groundstroke is so common that all players should master the basic techniques.

The body position and movement for a forehand groundstroke is very similar to The Service Motion. Your body should turn so your front shoulder is aimed at your target. Your weight should shift to your back foot. Your paddle should be drawn back in the backswing. Your weight should shift forward onto the front foot simultaneously with the paddle swing toward the ball. Your paddle should follow through across your body. All of these movements are identical to the service motion.

The primary difference between a serve and a ground stroke is that you don’t control the ball prior to contact. With a serve, a player fully controls the ball and its position for paddle contact. That control is nonexistent when an opponent forces you to move or adjust to the height of the bounce. Offsetting some of that loss of control is a less restrictive set of rules. The 3 rules of serving (upward motion, paddle head below the wrist, and contact below the waist) do not apply. Thus, there is more freedom to adjust to the ball position. Let’s go through the motion of the shot. 

with any shot, you should be starting from the ready position, generally the position described in the The Ready Position from Mid-Court and shown in frame 1 above. The instant that you recognize the forehand is required, the first action should be to take the paddle back to the backswing position as illustrated in frame 2 above. Do this before moving to the ball. Early paddle preparation is a key element of the shot. Bringing the paddle back should cause your body to get into the proper starting position – weight on the back foot with your body turning so the front shoulder points to the target. The paddle should be at or below waist level when brought back.

The stroke includes a weight shift from your back foot to your front foot and may or may not be accompanied by a step with the front foot, depending on the timing of the movement to the ball. The step and weight shifts are illustrated in frames 3-4 above.  The forward swing of the paddle should occur simultaneously with your weight shift. The combination of the swing speed and the inertia of the weight should be sufficient to drive the ball to the depth of your desired shot. The paddle should be perpendicular to the court such that the ball crosses the net as low as you feel comfortable. A secondary choice would be to "open" your paddle face by slightly tilting the top backwards, causing the ball to be hit with an upward arc.  Both paddle positions mean that low balls require you to get low by bending your knees and “cocking” your paddle by bending your wrist so the paddle face stays above the wrist.

Your eyes should be focused only on the ball from the time it is struck by your opponent until you are in the midst of your follow-through after contacting the ball. The single biggest reason for a mishit ball is taking your eyes off the ball.  Note the player's eyes in the photo below.  They are fixed on the ball even well after contact.

 contact point for your shot should be in front of your body parallel to your front foot or knee as shown in frame 4 above. The paddle should continue past the point of contact and toward the target before the follow-through continues across the body and above the shoulder as shown in frame 5 above.  The following photo shows the approximate contact point.  It is slightly distorted due the angle that makes it appear farther in front than it really is.

The basic forehand is struck such that the paddle is an extension of the arm. This means that there is no wrist action. Do not flick your wrist to try to change direction. Do not spin your wrist to try to impart spin on the ball. Mastery of a basic flat forehand with the ability to hit a directional and depth target is essential to winning play.

The final action of a forehand ground stroke is to return to a ready position as shown in frame 7 above. This action could take place where the ball is struck or, if your return allows, after you have moved toward or reached the kitchen line. Your objective should be to hit a shot that gives you time to move forward. It helps me to be more efficient in that forward move to take advantage of the weight shift that occurs during the shot. I use that inertia to “drag” my back leg forward and into the approach to the net as shown in frame 6 above.

Finally, below is a short Coach Mo video called Forehand Groundstroke detailing the mechanics of the stroke.

1 comment:

  1. This is very helpful. Is it ok to cite this article in our research paper?Thank you.