Catching your tennis racket with your other, non-hitting hand during your follow through on your forehand can be a good thing to do while building your shot because it forces you to do a couple of the things we talked about in the forehand fundamentals section.
First, catching your tennis racket will guarantee that you are following through all the way. If you are going to catch your racket on the other side of the body, the racket must travel all the way from contact to the other side of your body. Some tennis players will stop short during their follow through and that means they are losing power because they aren’t swinging as hard as they could be. The faster you are swinging at and striking the tennis ball, the longer your racket will need to decelerate, and it won’t fully decelerate until it is on the other side of your body where you can catch it. Therefore, stopping short during the follow through will likely cause you to lose racket head speed prior to and at contact.
Second, catching your tennis racket will make sure that you are swinging and following through in the right way. Some players will hit, and then their arm structure will break down. If you catch the racket with your other hand, it will force you to extend out in the direction you are hitting, and then turn your arm and racket over like you were checking the time on a wristwatch.
Finally, it will help you to continue to rotate your upper body after you make contact with the tennis ball.
That said, you do not have to catch the tennis racket with your other hand when you follow through. There are a lot of players who will follow through with the racket around their shoulder but do not catch the racket. Their non-hitting hand may be up by the shoulder or down further by their side. It is largely a choice of style and/or preference. I am one of those players who will hit and then follow through around my shoulder, but my other arm doesn’t catch the racket, it is down by my side.
Let’s examine this further by looking at the forehands of Frank Salazar and Oliver Akli side by side. When Frank follows through, he brings the tennis racket around over his shoulder and he catches it with his non-hitting hand. When Oliver hits and then follows through, he also brings the tennis racket up around his shoulder, but he does not catch it. Again, catching the racket has a lot to do with personal preference and it’s not really necessary to catch it.
There are some situations where it is simply not appropriate to try to catch the tennis racket with your other hand when you follow through. These situations usually occur when you follow through lower down around your waist. If you follow through high around the shoulder, it is relatively easy to catch the racket. If you follow through lower, however, catching the racket becomes very awkward, and this can also constrict your upper body rotation after contact. Generally speaking, the lower down your follow through is, the less appropriate it becomes to try and catch the racket.
In this video of Oliver, he is going to hit what’s called a Windshield Wiper Forehand and his follow through will be very different from the one we saw before. The tennis racket comes up and then back down so that at the completion of his follow through the racket is down below his shoulders. This is one of those situations where it would not be appropriate to try to catch the racket.
Take a look at this picture of Andy Roddick following through as well. The body positions of Oliver and Andy are almost identical at the completion of their follow throughs. Andy’s tennis racket is between his shoulders and his waist, and you can see his non-hitting hand is relaxed by the left side of his body. He’s not trying to catch the racket with his other hand.
The bottom line is that there are some situations where it can be helpful to catch your tennis racket because it can get you doing some of the fundamentals we’ve talked about. But there are also situations, particularly when you follow through lower across your body, that it is simply not appropriate to try to catch your racket.