NOTE: The idea that your arm and tennis racket form a box during the follow through was first articulated by Jeff Counts. This discussion occurs in the video and the text below. He runs a great instructional website called Hi-Tech Tennis. Check it out!
The first step of the Windshield Wiper Forehand Progressions is to learn how to swing and follow through correctly. Your swing path up to the tennis ball is going to be more vertical on a windshield wiper forehand than it is on a classic forehand.
In the Windshield Wiper Forehand video, we said that you need to swing up, across the back of the tennis ball more than on a “classic” or traditional forehand. Remember that when hitting a classic forehand, you’ll swing through the ball, causing the racket to be on edge during the follow through. On the Windshield Wiper, however, you swing up on the ball more, causing the racket to release (follow through) like a windshield wiper blade would move across a car’s windshield. This is the motion we’re going to work on in this video.
To start, choke up on the tennis racket handle. Hold it at the top of the handle. Now, shadow the motion. Swing “up” so that the racket releases like a windshield wiper blade. If you can see through the strings when the racket head reaches head level, you are executing this motion correctly. I demo it at about 50 seconds in the video.
The handle will let you know if you’re following through correctly. If you use a classic forehand swing, the handle will release into your forearm during the follow through. On a windshield wiper swing, however, the handle will release to the side of your forearm. So choking up on the handle helps you know if you’re swinging correctly by virtue of whether or not the handle is hitting your forearm during the follow through. This is demoed at about 1:30 in the video.
At 1:40 in the video I shadow the motion on the court. I start in the racket back position. The reason we start in this position is because, when you actually hit the shot, your body is rotating. It’s important to be able to swing correctly as your body turns toward the net. Essentially, it’s more realistic. When I follow through, I want to freeze when I have the racket at the “top” of the follow through. I should be able to see through my racket strings. Again, this ensures that I’ve executed this motion correctly.
At 2:35 in the video I demonstrate an alternative method for practicing the swing and follow through. I’ve moved to the back fence and positioned myself several feet from it. When I shadow the windshield wiper swing, My racket should not hit the fence during the follow through. It should get very close, however. For comparison’s sake, if I were shadowing a classic forehand, the racket WOULD release into the fence — I would hit the fence during the follow through.
At 3:20 in the video I hit some tennis balls. I’m not trying to hit hard. I’m working the technique and trying to hit with topspin. Make sure you’re still freezing at the top of the follow through.
Once you’ve mastered hitting with the abbreviated windshield wiper follow through then you can try and hit using the full follow through. Make sure, however, that you have mastered the abbreviated release before you move on. You need to be able to do it in your sleep. Finishing the motion from the “top” of the follow through is relatively simple. Simply bring the tennis racket and arm down to the other side of your body. You’re turning your racket and the arm over from the shoulder.
During the full windshield wiper forehand follow through, there’s a point when your arm and body form a “box.” This is demonstrated at 4:40 in the video. Getting to this box relationship ensure’s that you’re follow through correctly, so make sure you’re doing this!
At 5 minutes into the video, I hit using the entire follow through. I’m still not trying to hit hard. I’m emphasizing the windshield wiper forehand mechanics — making sure I’m swinging up on the tennis ball and follow through so that the strings stay facing the net and I form a box (briefly) as I bring the racket and my arm down and to the other side of my body.