If you want to build better points, then you too should consider practicing tennis forehand exercises. The forehand should be everyone’s go-to stroke, the side that hits the ball consistently hard and lasers a few shots in for clear winners.
Players with mammoth forehands, such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, have a weapon that can dismantle their opponents at any time. If you are able to develop a stinging forehand, you can even run around your backhand constantly to crush forehand winners while your opponent shakes his head and tries to think up a new strategy.
Most of the forehand strength comes from good technique: getting the racquet back, swinging through cleanly, turning the core a bit.
Some of the sheer strength of the forehand, however, comes from arm and shoulder strength. Is it actually possible to work out certain muscles of the body to increase your forehand power? Definitely, but in order to do that, you’ll need to tear down and build up muscle in several parts of your body.
Here are some recommended tennis forehand exercises to have you smashing the ball in no time. We begin with exercises for the arms and shoulders:
Many of the top players on the professional tour do not lift free weights because they can be tough to transport or it can be difficult to find a gym with them. They also do not use machines much, but prefer the stretch bands that baseball players use to strengthen the shoulder and rotator cuff. These bands are available at your gym or at a sporting goods store.
Using Stretch Bands – An Important Tennis Forehand Exercise
You simply tie them to a stationary piece of equipment and pull slowly and smoothly in different directions to stimulate the same muscles used in the forehand. That motion would involve holding the band out from your body, as if you are holding a racquet back in ready position for a forehand.
Pull the band slowly through in a sweeping motion as you would your racquet. You also want to hold the band in front of your body and pull it from your right side to your left side, a much shorter movement that you can increase the resistance on.
It will strengthen muscles needed for the forehand. Be sure to do all of these movements slowly and stop if you feel any pain. These simple movements are much harder on your shoulder and rotator cuff than you realize, especially for older players.
Your shoulder has already taken a beating if you have played a lot of tennis. Go very easy on these tennis forehand exercises and work your way up to more repetitions.
Another Good Tennis Forehand Exercise – Spider Push Up
Another interesting tennis forehand exercise that has been recommended is the spider push-up, a push-up that involves moving the lower half of your body as well as your arms. As you go down to touch your nose or chin to the floor, as with a regular push-up, you draw up the left leg even with your waist. During the next push-up, you draw your right leg up in a similar fashion.
This type of push-up will give you more of an all-body workout, strengthening your core as well.
Now, to strengthen your base, where most of your forehand power will come from, you need to work your legs and hips. Here are some tennis forehand exercises specifically designed to make your legs and hips more powerful:
Tennis Forehand Exercise #1: Squat—
find the power rack at your gym, put minimal weight on it to start and stand with your feet at shoulder’s width apart. Stand so that the bar will be balanced in the middle of your upper back.
Grip the bar with your hands slightly more wide than your shoulders. Now, do the squat by easing down very slowly while you maintain great form. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground, as if you were sitting in a chair.
Once in this position, begin to rise up again, pushing the weight only with your legs. Once you are again in a standing position, take a deep breath and re-descend to a sitting position. Do three sets of five for starters and see how you feel, taking a one-minute break between sets.
Tennis Forehand Exercise #2: Dead lift—
Begin with the bar on the floor and a minimal weight placed on it until you see how much you can do. Do not try to out-lift the guys who have been at the gym for years and years. Start light and work your way up.
You will be doing a few sets of these, so don’t put so much weight on the bar that you can only do one rep. Stand with the bar above the center of your feet. You stance should be a bit more narrow than shoulder width. Grab the bar overhand so that your arms are vertical to the floor, then bend through your knees until your shins hit the bar. Now, lift your chest with your head in line with the rest of your spine. Pull the bar close to your body, roll it over your knees and thighs until your hips and knees are locked. Do not lean. Lower the bar by pushing your hips back, then bend your knees once the bar reaches knee level. Again, start with three sets of five repetitions and work your way up.
Now that your legs are puffing up like a bodybuilder’s, it’s time to get those muscles in your core tight as a drum so that your forehand will shoot off the racquet. Here are a couple of exercises to strengthen that part of the body.
Tennis Forehand Exercise #3: Floor crunches—
Lay a mat down on the floor and place a flat bench at the end of the mat to form a “T.” Lie down on the mat and put your legs up on the bench so that your calves are resting on it.
Touch the side of your head with your fingertips. Lift your shoulder blades slightly off the mat to begin the exercise, then bring your elbows in towards your waist. Pause for one second at the top of the movement, then slowly lower your back down to the start position. Do not let your shoulder blades touch the mat during this exercise.
You can also pause at the top of the movement for extra intensity. This exercise will get your core tight and fit, ready to smash forehands.
Tennis Forehand Exercise #4: Medicine ball throw—
This is an old-fashioned exercise that is favored by many top players, including Rafael Nadal, who is shown flinging the ol’ ball around in one of his Internet training videos. Medicine balls have different weights.
You can use one at the gym or buy one to take home. You will, of course, need a partner.
To throw the ball back and forth with good form, turn your body to the right and hold the ball with two hands, exploding out of that posture as you turn to the left and fling the ball underhanded with both hands to your partner. As you catch his throw, be sure to turn to your left as you grasp the ball, allowing it to pull your arms back to the left and working the core even as you catch the ball.
Then, remaining turned to the left, fling the ball as you turn to your right.
You will work both sides of your core in a great way and the exercise is fun, too. This little pitch-and-catch does much more for your core strength than you realize.
You will feel its effects the next day. It won’t be long until you are using that same turning motion to whip forehands past your foes.
Using most or all of these tennis forehand exercises to strengthen your arms, shoulders, legs and core, you will gain additional power to attack the ball on the forehand side. As you feel stronger on the court, don’t get so excited that you forget all of your technique or rush your stroke, a common error for strong players. Remember to let the racquet do the work, but your speed will be greater and your resistance much stiffer as you hit forehands of all varieties with greater power as a result of these tennis forehand exercises.
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