Swing to Contact
The 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.