Swing to Contact

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Step 3The third thing pro tennis players do when hitting a forehand is swing to contact. Pros do this by pushing off their outside foot, rotating their bodies back toward the net, and dropping the racket down and swinging forward. These three things happen at the same time.

Before we talk about the mechanics involved in swinging to your contact point, let’s first focus on Will’s feet at the completion of his preparation. His feet haven’t moved since he pivoted and turned his shoulders. From the stance he’s in (the open stance) he could swing forward and hit the tennis ball. Or he could step forward into the court with his inside foot (which he does at 25 seconds into the video) and hit from this stance (called the neutral stance). To be clear, either stance — the open stance or the neutral stance — is an acceptable way to position your feet when you hit. Over the course of a match pros will hit from both. Whether or not they (or you) take that step in just depends on the situation. We want to make this point because you’re going to see some pros later on in this section who do not take this step. This step is not a fundamental of the forehand but, in our opinion, it’s easier to learn how to hit a forehand if you DO take this step in right before you hit.

Now let’s get back to how you get to your contact point. First, push off your outside leg — your right leg if you’re right handed (it’s the opposite for all you left handers) — and get the heel of that foot up. Getting the heel up helps with the second step, which is to rotate your upper body back toward the net. It’s easier to rotate when the heel of the outside leg is up. Third, drop your tennis racket down and then swing it forward to your contact point. The path the racket travels along looks very similar to a “C.” By doing these three things at the same time you’ll get to your contact point, which is a little bit out in front of your body and about waist-high.

At 2:24 in the video we watch Frank Salazar swing and hit the tennis ball from his prepared position. He pushes off his outside leg — his right foot because he is right handed — and gets the heel of that foot up. He rotates his upper body back toward the net. Again, getting his heel up helps him do this. Finally, the racket drops down and swings forward to his contact point, which is out in front of his body and about waist high. The path that his racket travels along during this step of the forehand resembles a “C.” At 3:33 minutes in the video we go to the front perspective to see what the motion looks like from this angle.

At 3:52 in the video we go to some pictures of Marat Safin’s forehand as he swings forward to his contact point from his prepared position. In the first picture Safin has his tennis racket all the way back and his other arm extended out across his body. In the next picture, taken from the side, Safin is in the process of swinging forward. He’s pushing off his outside, right leg. The heel of that foot is up. He’s rotating his upper body toward the net. Finally, the racket has dropped down and begun to swing forward toward the tennis ball. In the last picture, from the front, Safin is at contact on his forehand. He’s fully pushed off his outside leg and, in this instance, is actually in the air. His upper body is fully rotated and he’s facing the net. He’s making contact with the tennis ball out in front of his body and the strings are flat on the back of the ball.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Will, all my life I have heard transfer weight forward before you hit the tennis ball. But when I see the open stance the weight is in the back foot. Could you explain that?

  • http://www.fuzzyyellowballs.com/ Will Hamilton

    Hi Javi,

    There are many situations where you won’t be able to transfer your weight into the court. For example, the wider you are on the court (which tends to correspond with having to move further to get to the ball) the more likely you are to hit out of an open stance.

    Your primary focus should be on balance. Regardless of the stance you choose you should be balanced during the forehand motion. If you are then you’re in good shape.

  • Anonymous

    Hi there
    I was watching this video and looking at Frank’s forehand. One thing Im confused about is that is it right to have the racket so close to your body because he seems so tightly closed together and does not look as if though he is smooth enough to hit the ball.
    Thank you
    By the way your videos are absolutely great, they have been a great help to me.

  • John Navarre

    Hello, I hope I won’t offend you but I think you might be making a small mistake: When you hit a forhand I think that the swing of the arm should start slightly after the swing of the chest and not at the same time. In my case I am in mid course of my rotation when my arm starts swinging frontwards. I think you might noice this on your videos if you watch carefully.

    Regards, john.

  • John Navarre

    Hello, I hope I won’t offend you but I think you might be making a small mistake: When you hit a forhand I think that the swing of the arm should start slightly after the swing of the chest and not at the same time. In my case I am in mid course of my rotation when my arm starts swinging frontwards. I think you might noice this on your videos if you watch carefully.

    Regards, john.

  • Anonymous

    hi Will,
    I would like to know how do u do to hit a heavy forehand. Do i have to ad more weight on my raquette or use more my wrist to creat that heavinest.
    thanks.

  • Patrizio

    Good question!That’s true all pro players, but not just them, always bend their wrist. It gives you more power, but it’s really important to notice that at the contact the wirst is absolutely in line with the arm.Moreover bending the wirst makes you bring the racquet head down, that’s really important too.Don’t you think so Will?

  • http://www.fuzzyyellowballs.com/ Will Hamilton

    Can’t really give you a good answer w/a comment. Technique and physical fitness are two big elements, however.

  • Abhilasha_champ

    what can ido 2 hit forehand with topspin plus power n i have western grip.

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  • Raj Rishi Keshari

    hi will,
    i want to ask u a ques that which stance whould be the perfect one for hit a deep forehand with more power?

  • Breezy

    Great tutorial! Thank you very much for putting in the hard work and time to help all of us learn about this fun game!

  • samir

    A tennis coach once told me that in the neutral stance I need to push out of my front leg also; is that biomechanically possible; I can only manage to transfer my weight to my front leg. I can’t push out of it, should I even try??