Originally Posted by Cindysphinx
The most important thing is to practice what you are learning, and do everything correctly (especially grips) from the beginning.
True dat. For your FH you want a grip that is something between an Eastern FH grip and a semi-Western (inclusive). The continental grip is ok for sliced BHs or flat BHs. For topspin BHs you want something closer to an Eastern BH grip. Be sure to perform 1-handed BHs correctly. Improper mechanics on the 1-handed BH can eventually lead to painful tennis elbow.
Originally Posted by NLBwell
Most important part of this is to keep your head still. Even if you close your eyes just before impact you can still hit the ball cleanly (at least on a hard court without any wind). If you jerk your head up, you mess up your entire body position.
This is worth repeating. Most novices have a hard time with this one. Take a close look at slow motion videos of Federer and Nadal. They keep their head very still and eyes on the contact point for nearly all of the forward swing
of the racket. Lifting the head/eyes early will usually throw off the swing path of your racket and will often result in a mishit. Practice this often with shadow swings (no ball). Try to perform your shadow strokes with good form and practice keeping your head still with eyes on the contact point. Look up near the end of your follow-thru (to watch the imaginary ball bounce).
Federer is an excellent model for footwork
and most aspects of the forehand and (1-handed) backhand strokes. (I personally also like the FH mechanics of Andre Agassi). However, I would not copy the straight-arm technique on the FH employed by Federer, Nadal and Verdasco. This is too advanced for many players. Most pros actually use a double-bend on most/many of their shots.