The Role of Your Wrist during the Forward Swing

There is a common misconception about the role of your wrist at contact on your forehand. A lot of people think that you are supposed to snap your wrist as you hit the tennis ball, but that is not what should be happening.

When you swing forward, your wrist gets into a position that you keep prior to, at, and after contact. This position does not change during that time. Let’s look at Frank Salazar hitting a forehand and see if this holds true. As he drops the tennis racket down and begins to swing forward, he lays his wrist back. He then maintains this wrist position through contact. If you look Frank at the moment of contact with the tennis ball, his wrist is in the same position as when he was swinging forward. His wrist position does not change until well into his follow through.

Let’s now look at Oliver Akli’s forehand. Oliver is hitting a Windshield Wiper Forehand in this video clip, which is where a lot of the confusion arises because he will follow through a little lower. Again though, as he drops the tennis racket and begins to swing forward, he lays his wrist back just like Frank did. He swings forward and makes contact, and then follows through. The whole time, his wrist stays in the same position. It may be visually confusing, but Oliver is swinging from the shoulder and not with his wrist. The wrist stays in a fixed position until the racket is more or less pointed straight at the net during his follow through.

  • http://profiles.google.com/andrewpmast Andrew Mast

    The problem with snapping your wrist is that you’re introducing yet another variable to the swing, particularly a variable that is not consistent. Having everything locked results in more consistency of contact.

  • http://profiles.google.com/andrewpmast Andrew Mast

    The wrist locked provides stability, simple as that. Locked back, the wrist is the most stable. If it’s neutral, contact with the ball causes the wrist to absorb the impact and that’s a bad thing. The wrist needs to be locked back and thus will not go back any further on contact. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/andrewpmast Andrew Mast

    With the forehand, if your wrist is too loose or if it’s not layed back the entire time, I can see the force of the ball causing the wrist to be torqued backwards and that could be causing impact pain.

  • http://profiles.google.com/andrewpmast Andrew Mast

    I can see that if you are doing a windshield wiper forehand the wrist rotates early on contact, but it’s still locked back. I guess whatever works, but I find more consistency with a locked wrist and I generate plenty of topspin, perhaps too much and the ball lacks pace and is thus easy to be returned. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/andrewpmast Andrew Mast

    Although it feels odd at first to have the wrist locked back the whole time, it pays off in the long run. And it prevents hand/wrist injury. If they want to avoid injury and have a more consistent forehand, they shouldn’t be moving the wrist at all. They should be using their core to uncoil and the arm and wrist are doing nothing that is not completely natural.

  • http://profiles.google.com/andrewpmast Andrew Mast

    If you have the butt of the racket facing the ball, you automatically have your wrist back. It’s one and the same and a great technique to ensure the wrist is back. No snapping is required and it only introduces a variable of instability, hence an inconsistent return.

  • http://profiles.google.com/andrewpmast Andrew Mast

    Wrist/arm supination is completely bio-mechanical and natural as the arm comes forward after contact. It’s takes no fore-thought. If you tried to keep your wrist back the whole time, you’ll see that it’s almost impossible and will result in injury. The shoulder rotates, the wrist and forearm naturally rotate inward to the “reading the time on your watch” effect.

  • http://profiles.google.com/andrewpmast Andrew Mast

    “cocked back” is a good term. And someone’s wrist is hurting, I have to say, they are doing something wrong and need to analyze their stroke. If they are not using your core to uncoil, they are compensating by introducing the arm (bicep too) and wrist and this will (in the long run) fatique the player and can be injurious, especially if they hit the ball too late.