One of the keys to hitting an effective forehand is having the correct hitting-arm position at contact. What is a hitting-arm position? It’s the relationship between your tennis racket and hitting-arm. This relationship is established during the forward swing and is maintained into the follow through — long after the ball has left you strings.
There are a couple hitting-arm positions you can use, but by far the most common one is called “the double bend.” This phrase was coined by John Yandell of TennisPlayer.net. As you can see from the video, this hitting-arm position gets it’s name because my elbow is bent and my wrist is laid back, creating “two bends” in the entire structure. Someone like Novak Djokovic uses this hitting-arm position.
Another hitting-arm position is to use an entirely straight arm with your wrist laid back. The elbow is totally straight. This type of hitting-arm position is much, much rarer. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Fernando Verdasco are three of the few players who use it consistently. I would strongly recommend that you use the double bend. It is a much more stable arm configuration.
We’ll get into more detail about the strengths and weaknesses of the various hitting-arm positions in another video.
The hitting-arm position is important because it gives you a stable platform from which to hit. If the relationship between your arm and the racket changes during the course of the forward swing, it becomes very, very difficult to time the shot. In fact, it’s virtually impossible.
1:54 into the video we go to the FYB TV screen and watch Frank Salazar at contact with the double-bend hitting-arm position. Let’s rewind this video of Frank to the completion of his preparation and watch what happens with his hitting arm. Frank drops the tennis racket down, and as he begins his forward swing, he gets set in the double-bend position; he gets his elbow bent and his wrist laid back. He is going to keep that arm position set as he swings forward to his contact point. Into his follow through, Frank still maintains the same hitting-arm position.
At 2:50 in the video we bring in Oliver Akli to show that you have some flexibility in how much you bend your elbow when you hit. Again, the critically important element is that your hitting-arm position stays the same as you swing up to the ball, hit, and start to follow through. The racket and arm swing from the shoulder as a unit.