Hitting high forehands is a difficult shot for a lot of players, but the mechanics of how to hit a high ball are largely similar to handling a normal forehand. Instead of dropping the tennis racket down as you would with a normal forehand, keep your arm and the tennis racket higher up on the high ball. You set your arm and racket in your hitting-arm position, and you then swing forward to your contact point on a higher plane than you normally would.

At about 40 seconds into the video we have a shot of Oliver Akli hitting a normal forehand and a high ball side by side. On the left is the high ball, and the right side is the normal forehand. You can see that when he gets the racket back and prepares to swing forward on the high ball, he leaves his arm and the racket up high. He sets his hitting-arm position, just like on the normal forehand, but then swings through the tennis ball on a higher plane.

We’ve put a line along Oliver’s swing path to make this easier to see. The motion on the high ball is much less of a loop than the normal forehand, and you can see that he keeps the tennis racket and arm much higher on the high ball. Note, however, that the other fundamental mechanics of the two swings are identical. He still establishes his hitting-arm position as he prepares to swing forward, and he maintains the hitting-arm position through contact.

So in sum, to hit the high ball, Oliver has taken the same hitting-arm position he would use for a high ball and simply raised his arm at the shoulder.


  1. Randal says

    do you use the same grip with the flat and slice serves?

    also, if your follow-through on the slice serve (compared to the flat serve) is more downward rather than across your body, do you run the risk of a wrist injury?


    ps i agree with the remark about seeing how the ball travels after making contact. this seems to be absent in a great many videos about mechanics.

    • Anonymous says

      The conventional wisdom is that you should learn to move your grip over, toward a backhand grip (Eastern) for your serve. The more you can move over, the more spin you can create. Continental, as Gilles posted, isn’t bad either, but the trend is to move further over.

      The same grip is normally used for all serves. Part of the reason is to disguise the serve, so the receiver doesn’t know in advance what you’re going to hit.

  2. Tony says

    Instruction fail! You fail to mention what grip to use! I followed your instruction, and it didn’t help big time until someone point out the use of SW or Western grip to begin with! Thumbs down!

    • Slv10k says

      try watching the earlier videos first….

  3. Hans Maier says

    The difference to me is how he places his feet. He hits the high ball with a much more open stance which allows him ti jump into he ball.

  4. Anonymous says

    I’ve covered the course’s service fundamentals, flat serve, kick serve and slice serve, but have yet to find anything that tells you which grip to use on the various serves.
    I just signed up for this course yesterday (may 18), but I don’t think I will remain a paid subscriber.

    • Gilles says

      The way I understood it you should use a continental grip for all types of serve.

      • BillBad says

        Gilles is right. The continental grip rocks!

  5. Jfawcette says

    Your description of the follow through sounds, to me anyway, like that for a kick serve. Looking at video of Sampras, Stosur when they hit kick their elbow is out from their body, and they often end their follow through on their right (service-arm) side, rather than bringing it back across.

    How does the follow through for a slice serve differ from that of a kick serve?

  6. User005007 says

    I can not see the video ,what is the problem

  7. Cp says

    Hey Will,
    we can’t see the videos, what hapened?

  8. Richmongong888 says

    where are the videos?

  9. Sarang says

    where are the videos

  10. Arsena500 says

    used to see the videos here but not now anymore. Why Will? Or we have to pay to see the videos again???!!!

  11. Jim says

    Hi Will,
    Nice thoughts with this video but can you take it one step farther. After your arm pronates and hits the ball it follows through down and then across the body on the other side. Is the follow through the same for both serves…..flat and slice ? Thanks a lot.

  12. srajb says

    I see a lot of videos explaining how to hit a topspin. How about a video how to hit flat drives. Sometimes, i want to drive the ball when it is shoulder lenght but I cant get the mechanics right. Help

  13. srajb says

    I see a lot of videos explaining how to hit a topspin. How about a video how to hit flat drives. Sometimes, i want to drive the ball when it is shoulder lenght but I cant get the mechanics right. Help

  14. BillBad says

    As I am a right hander, it often becomes so difficult to picture what he is saying about a serve because he’s a lefty. Inasmuch as the vast majority of westerners are right handers, I imagine most of this site’s viewers feel the same way.

  15. anonymous tennis player says

    yes billbad I understand your point and agree. All they’d have to do to make a right handed version with the same guy in flip the image horizontally

  16. Bernard Fatalist says

    When a french version ??

  17. Dufus says

    One thing that helps visualize how to hit various serves, such as the slice, is to move the label on the ball (aka Penn) so that’s where you should be hitting or brushing the ball. For the slice — put the ‘n’ at 3 o’clock with the “P” level to the front. The racket goes thru the P around to the n. For a kick, the n is at 12, P down the front, the racket sweeps up from the P to the n… Etc… Yes, you have to adjust the toss outside for a slice to be effective…

    To the returner, a slice can look like you’re serving the T, but it goes to the outside line… Next time, go down the tee with a flat or kick to keep folks off balance… or visa verse…

  18. Trevor says

    hey will i can serve good but when i jump it ruins my time please help fix this

    • Rmanglb says

      dont jump, i had the same problem. it’s much easier to just stay grounded.

  19. Johnchen1 says

     Hey Will, the slice serve is a very effective weapon to possess.  But I think you have not spent enough time on it.  Dedicating 3-4 videos on this complicated motion is not enough.  Also, you are using yourself as a left-hander for demonstration is less effective to the majority of us righties out there.  Please consider expanding this section.



  20. fred chittenden says

    It would be nice if two versions of the videos were offered — just inverse the video to convert right to left, or left to right… 

    In general, I’d move away from focusing too much on the follow thru.  More on that later.

    The key to hitting a serve of any sort is to properly visualize how to hit the ball.  Take the P in Penn and put it on clock face of the service court according to the serve you want to hit, and run the “enn” towards the middle of the ball. 

    Then have your service stroke and racket alignment hit as much of the name on the ball as you can.  For the slice, this gets easy if the toss is at or outside your shoulder.  For kick, move up on your toes.  If you want a reverse spin (RH), use your forehand grip and 10 oclock with ball over the left ear.  It’s not rocket science… 

    The follow thru’s primary importance for average bubba’s is to spin off the power of the racket after the shot with good body and arm motion so you don’t injure your elbow or shoulder with the power of the shot, while ending up in position to take on the return…  It’s correct to say each service has a different follow thru…   Defined by how you strike/brush the ball with the racket. 

    FYI, if you want to mix up your service, just rotate from 3, to 1:30 to noon on your services that get in.  Consider reversing the order in the next set…  

  21. Luisllanes says

    I like it

  22. A.Alkhani says

    i had problems with that shot but know its my most acurate shot

  23. bill blair says

    Ok, but how about returning a waist high ball with a flat maximum power forehand to close out the point.For a right handed stroke I would propose
    good rotation of left shoulder, semi western to exteme western grip,
    racket head parallel with ground and right elbow close to body. Hit the ball flat, follow through the ball parallel to ground then wrap around. Does that
    sound about right?

  24. rick says

    did you get any taller?

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