Keys of the ATP Tennis Forehand Technique – Differentiating World Class Forehand Technique

The ATP tennis forehand differs significantly from the WTA forehand style on tour. For players attempting to learn the ATP forehand, it is critical to understand the keys of the forehand stroke. The ATP forehand is synonymous of the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

ATP Forehand – Efficiency is Key 

Court Balance - Tennis Fitness - Tips and tricksI got this newsletter from the Martin Fitness Method about how to improve your court balance. This is something I have struggled withBy now, you should probably know that all top pro forehands on tour – share 3 key components in common (efficiency, adaptability and explosiveness) in order to generate high level results. However, in the ATP forehand players have learned to hit their forehands with explosive power but using the optimal amount of energy.

Technical Commonalities in the ATP Forehand

The reality is that all top pros on tour share unique commonalities in their technique that allows them to achieve more power, topspin & accuracy. Club and recreational players often lack these key technical commonalities in their technique which causes them to hit shots with lower power, topspin and accuracy than that of the pros. Poor stroke production leads to greater unforced errors and thus more lost matches. After studying the top pros in slow motion, I’ve been able to discover and break down these techniques so that players at all other levels of the game can learn the proper tennis techniques.

Key ATP Forehand Position – Racket Tip Pointed Towards Net

A key racket position notable in the ATP forehand is the racket position at the takeback of the forehand. Here, we can see how Federer points the tip of the racket slightly forwards towards the net – indicating he is leading the shot with the elbow.Forehand - Wikipedia

Pete Sampras’s and Ivan Lendl’s forehand was notable in that these players led with the shoulder rather than the elbow.

Laid-Back Wrist Position – WTA Forehand

The ATP tennis forehand is differentiated from the WTA forehand in that women in the WTA tour use a “laid-back” wrist position at contact. This position involves supination of the wrist (often that starts after the unit turn) which puts the wrist past neutral and allows players to get into the critical “slot” during the forward swing into contact. No additional wrist movement is necessary here. The WTA tennis forehand is known for it’s elongated often exaggerated circular “C” shaped backswing where the hitting arm often goes behind the plane of the body.

Maria Sharapova’s forehand is one such example. Sharapova’s forehand is characterized by a “laid-wrist” wrist. Notice how her wrist is laid-back from the takeback. The position allows her to drive through the ball extensively, providing her with a flat ball, with much less topspin (RPM) than her male counterparts.

ATP Tennis Forehand – Pronated Wrist & Forearm

Another notable tennis technique of the ATP forehand is the unique “pronated forehand” most evident between the takeback and the set position. Notice how players like Federer, Nadal & Djokovic invert the racket so that the strings face the back fence at the height of the takeback. This move is perhaps the greatest contributor to the “rubber band” effect (biomechanically known as the stretch shortening cycle or “SSC”) where the racket then becomes like the crack of a whip allowing these players to generate the heavy ball  with ample power and topspin combined.

Done in this manner, this lethal combination makes it very difficult for their opponents to handle and is responsible for how these players can generate massive racket head speed and still maintain a good margin of safety over the net. This is how Federer produces seemingly effortless passing shots while on the dead run.

More Rotational, Less Linear

If we look at Maria Sharapova’s forehand, we can easily see how her forehand is characterized by a more classical “low to high” linear forehand with less rotational forces than her male ATP forehand counterparts on tour. Note, how Maria Sharapova really drives through the ball, which allows her to achieve high pace but a relatively flat ball with much less RPM and heavy topspin than what is known for players in the male ATP forehand style. This is mainly in part due to her greater use of linear momentum as opposed to the rotational momentum of today’s modern ATP forehand.

On the contrary, top ATP forehand players like Federer and Nadal use what is known as rotational momentum, aka the twisting and turning of the torso, trunk and hips (coil/uncoil) effect to produce more rotational energy associated with heavy topspin and power and agility. This is partially enabled by the greater use of open stances in the modern forehand which allows players to rotate more from right to left (or left to right for a lefty) as opposed to the more linear closed or neutral stance (back to front) momentum of weight transfer.

By utilizing rotational momentum, the kinetic chain energy is maximized and greater rotational forces will cause the ball to be imparted with more power and topspin in the ATP forehand.

Windshield Wiper Forehand Follow through

The ATP tennis forehand of the top pros is characterized by a follow through motion characterized by an arc-like rainbow motion where the arm motion resembles that of a windshield wiper. This motion essentially is the last key component of the ATP forehand which allows players to achieve the “heavy ball.”

Think of the windshield wiper blades in your car – and how on a rainy day the blades wipe off the rain from your windshield from low to high in a well defined arcing manner. This is the same motion required in the follow through to allow pro players to hit remarkable tennis forehands.

Roger Federer Forehand Analysis and Technique Preview | STEVE G TENNIS

Contrary to tennis forehand of the past, these players do not finish “high” or above the shoulder. In some cases, in classical tennis – coaches have instructed students to “catch” the racket with the opposite hand in the follow through (this will only lead to a rapid deacceleration of the wrist & racket and a weaker and flatter shot with much less topspin).

Today’s modern tennis forehand is characterized by where players finish with their racket underneath the armpit level after the windshield wiper forehand – allowing for a full arcing motion and a rapid brushing of the ball from low to high in an intense manner.

Clearly, today’s forehand is far different than that of the tennis forehands of the past. In particular, the ATP forehand is notable for it’s emphasis on heavy topspin and lethal combination of power despite a minimal amount of unforced errors. Club players can learn these fundamentals of key pro tennis technique if they wish to learn the ATP forehand too.

Learn to Hit a Forehand Like Roger Federer

If you want to jumpstart your forehand and play like the PROS, check out my 70+ page Tennis Ebook that will immediately show you how you can take your forehand to the next level.

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