I can't stop shanking forehands

mikeler

Moderator
OK, I know all the tips for trying to hit the ball cleanly on my forehand. Use the non-dominant hand to track the ball, keep the head still, eyes on the ball with Federer vision technique etc. I've read about drills where you hit the ball without strings but have not tried that yet. I pretty much have to think "watch the ball" on every hit otherwise I'll mishit it. When I'm in the zone, I don't have to think about it at all. It just happens. What gives here? Has anybody gone through years of mishitting balls to finally correcting the problem?
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
You answered your own question.
You mentioned when you're in the "ZONE", you hit clean.
Well, your "ZONE", as well as everyone elses, happens once every 30 playing days. Watch the ball thru contact, swing SLOWER than you have been swinging.
 

mikeler

Moderator
You answered your own question.
You mentioned when you're in the "ZONE", you hit clean.
Well, your "ZONE", as well as everyone elses, happens once every 30 playing days. Watch the ball thru contact, swing SLOWER than you have been swinging.

I'm actually trying to make my swing more compact but that is a work in progress.
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
I think it is a head pull at the last millisecond. At least that is what it is for me. I relaxed my swing a lot for this.

A friend of mine says to think "sniff your armpit" after contact. Sounds funny but it works.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
If you're in the middle of a CHANGE, you should expect mishits and shanks.
Fortunately, it will come, and the shanks disappear from that forehand, only to be replaced by some other problems.
That's the nature of progression.
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Mike,

Maybe some of your understandings is incorrect which causes or helps attribute to the problem. For example, I suddenly don't "Use the non-dominant hand to track the ball" I use mine mainly for balance. So, that's something I do differently than you.

About thinkinng "watch the ball" on every hit, it is always an effort at recreational level. It's not a natural, inate thing that we were born with. To boost, the difficulty of watching the ball correlates with our opponent's skill. It's not a constant, learn and set for life thing that you can stop working on.
 
I used to mishit the balls all the time. The one thing that made a difference for me was (after doing all that you did) get to know my racquet and where it's sweet spot was. By always knowing where the sweet spot is, I found it a little easier to always hit the strings, because I always went for the sweet spot, shanking is minimal.

It just took some getting-to-know-the-racquet for me.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
OK, I know all the tips for trying to hit the ball cleanly on my forehand. Use the non-dominant hand to track the ball, keep the head still, eyes on the ball with Federer vision technique etc. I've read about drills where you hit the ball without strings but have not tried that yet. I pretty much have to think "watch the ball" on every hit otherwise I'll mishit it. When I'm in the zone, I don't have to think about it at all. It just happens. What gives here? Has anybody gone through years of mishitting balls to finally correcting the problem?
Good chance you may be gripping too tight. Try keeping your grip loose through contact and see if that cures the mis-hits.
 

mightyrick

Legend
OK, I know all the tips for trying to hit the ball cleanly on my forehand. Use the non-dominant hand to track the ball, keep the head still, eyes on the ball with Federer vision technique etc. I've read about drills where you hit the ball without strings but have not tried that yet. I pretty much have to think "watch the ball" on every hit otherwise I'll mishit it. When I'm in the zone, I don't have to think about it at all. It just happens. What gives here? Has anybody gone through years of mishitting balls to finally correcting the problem?
When I shank it's either because I'm too early... too late... the ball is too short (out in front). For me... in all of those situations the root cause is bad footwork. My feet are not in the right place to hit the ball at contact.

Usually, if I get my feet in place and the timing of getting to my spot is good, my forehand will reward me.
 

Kare

New User
May I ask what is your forehand grip? Because It may has something to do with your grip and your power position.
 

mikeler

Moderator
May I ask what is your forehand grip? Because It may has something to do with your grip and your power position.

I use a southwest grip on most shots but sometimes slide over to a Western grip if I'm really trying to whip up on the ball.
 

Kare

New User
I use a southwest grip on most shots but sometimes slide over to a Western grip if I'm really trying to whip up on the ball.
I think you should stick with one grip. Because difference grip have difference point of contact Now my advice is 1)track the ball with your non-playing hand 2)use your chin to point at the ball this will make your head stays still naturally. However I wanna know what your power position looks like. Is your weight distribute equally on both feet or most of your weight lay on your outside foot? Because it relates to the grip you're using.
 

Lawn Tennis

Semi-Pro
OK, I know all the tips for trying to hit the ball cleanly on my forehand. Use the non-dominant hand to track the ball, keep the head still, eyes on the ball with Federer vision technique etc. I've read about drills where you hit the ball without strings but have not tried that yet. I pretty much have to think "watch the ball" on every hit otherwise I'll mishit it. When I'm in the zone, I don't have to think about it at all. It just happens. What gives here? Has anybody gone through years of mishitting balls to finally correcting the problem?
years of mishitting -- it will take a large effort, but yes, you can get better. take video as suggested so you can see what you're doing differently from the pros.

start back at step one of the FYB forehand instruction videos. Follow every step exactly as suggested.

99% of mishits come from indirect view of the ball. point your nose directly at the ball at all times to get the best full 3D images.

Try these:

1. close the stance ahead of the ball while both eyes point directly at the ball. The rest will happen naturally.

2. block the ball from the baseline until you get a real feel and perception of clean contact.

3. if you can get your feet in place, you can hit whatever shot you want.

4. track the ball directly both eyes; feet move quick, smooth ahead of the ball.
 

mikeler

Moderator
years of mishitting -- it will take a large effort, but yes, you can get better. take video as suggested so you can see what you're doing differently from the pros.

start back at step one of the FYB forehand instruction videos. Follow every step exactly as suggested.

99% of mishits come from indirect view of the ball. point your nose directly at the ball at all times to get the best full 3D images.

Try these:

1. close the stance ahead of the ball while both eyes point directly at the ball. The rest will happen naturally.

2. block the ball from the baseline until you get a real feel and perception of clean contact.

3. if you can get your feet in place, you can hit whatever shot you want.

4. track the ball directly both eyes; feet move quick, smooth ahead of the ball.

I've found that when I use a closed stance, I do tend to look at the ball better. The problem is I like to hit it with more of an open stance.
 

sabala

Semi-Pro
I was shanking my forehand all over by the end of my senior year in HS and after, drivin' my nuts so I started taking lessons.

I had a full western grip at the time - my coach dialed me back to a semi-western. Also, at my takeback, my racket was pointed up with strings facing the back fence. Coach said that is a lot of movement going on with the racket head to get the timing right at contact (I had a fast swing speed too). So he had me, at takeback so the racket was pointing more diagonal - not facing the ground but not the back fence...think Agassi type.

Anyway, he just simplified my stroke. After practicing his advice - I never had a bad case of "the shanks" again.

You may have just gotten into a habit of trying to be too whippy with your shots, even rally balls w/o realizing it.

And yeah, video yourself and I bet when you watch , you'll realize what you're doing wrong by the first forehand you watch!

Oh, and I wouldn't really recommend using using closed stance with SW or W grip either...
 
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The Wreck

Semi-Pro
When I start to get the shanks I just like to eliminate any excess movements that could be causing it. I have a little loop to my forehand setup (like you should, I believe), but if I'm mishitting a lot, I'll forego that and move towards more of a straight back, straight through kind of thing. Just really simplify the stroke.

Basically, I drop the racket down into that 'low' position instantly, and just swing low to high, through the ball. The more and more I hit, I'll gradually add back the little loop take back, until I'm back to hitting the ball cleanly again.

May not work for you, but just a suggestion.
 

red rook

Semi-Pro
For me it was a matter of just watching the ball better. A bit simplistic but it works. Like you, when in he zone you're mind's more focused and your vision, I believe, more acute.
 

Lawn Tennis

Semi-Pro
I've found that when I use a closed stance, I do tend to look at the ball better. The problem is I like to hit it with more of an open stance.
The closed stance forces your upper body to get that full unit turn in. If you automatically track the ball better this way, more reason to do it. Will you try this for 15 minutes or so?
 

mawashi

Hall of Fame
R u swinging to the moon on every shot u get? Even e pros shank when out of position n swing too hard.
 

Ryoma

Rookie
OK, I know all the tips for trying to hit the ball cleanly on my forehand. Use the non-dominant hand to track the ball, keep the head still, eyes on the ball with Federer vision technique etc. I've read about drills where you hit the ball without strings but have not tried that yet. I pretty much have to think "watch the ball" on every hit otherwise I'll mishit it. When I'm in the zone, I don't have to think about it at all. It just happens. What gives here? Has anybody gone through years of mishitting balls to finally correcting the problem?
How did you mishit the ball? What stand are you hitting with and where are you hitting from and where are you hitting to?
 

ace_pace

Rookie
Avoid worrying about where the ball will be. Sometimes, you move your head even just a little or even by a small millisecond before contact can throw off the stroke. Practice hitting the ball without looking where it landed.
 

mikeler

Moderator
Good stuff everyone. I'm a very tactical player, so I'm always trying to keep an eye on what my opponent is up to. When I just focus on what I'm doing, obviously things go much more smoothly.

I've never done a video of my strokes but I have seen a few pictures. I do have a very long swing and this is part of the problem. Watching Nadal hit forehands over the last decade does not help either since I do try and put a lot of topspin on the ball.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Good stuff everyone. I'm a very tactical player, so I'm always trying to keep an eye on what my opponent is up to. When I just focus on what I'm doing, obviously things go much more smoothly.

I've never done a video of my strokes but I have seen a few pictures. I do have a very long swing and this is part of the problem. Watching Nadal hit forehands over the last decade does not help either since I do try and put a lot of topspin on the ball.
It may be part of the problem. The swingpath of a modern forehand should be mostly a result of upper body rotation, not independent arm swing. If you are doing a proper unit turn (hips and shoulder), back and forth, your hand will not move far from directly in front of your sternum until after contact.

When you make your unit turn back with an open stance, your hips should be facing the side fence, your chest should be past the side fence, your chin on your left shoulder, BUT, your racquet should remain to the right of your body - in front of your sternum (which is now facing the back corner of the fence). Keeping your left hand on the throat of the racquet until you finish your unit turn back will keep your backswing under control.

I would also suggest that you keep your elbow IN and FORWARD (ala Nadal), throughout your backswing and forward swing. This will also help to prevent overswinging and will eliminate the unecessary variables associated with a flying elbow in the backswing.

Having said all of that, in my evolution to a modern forehand, the one thing that helped me hit cleaner (despite a more severe grip and upward swing path), was to keep my grip loose throughout the entire swing, especially at contact. Gripping too tight alters your swing path and slows down swing speed. Some still advise to squeeze at contact. I'm telling you that that will kill your forehand. Keep your grip "LOOSE" at contact and you will hit harder and cleaner.
 

red rook

Semi-Pro
Good stuff everyone. I'm a very tactical player, so I'm always trying to keep an eye on what my opponent is up to. When I just focus on what I'm doing, obviously things go much more smoothly.

I've never done a video of my strokes but I have seen a few pictures. I do have a very long swing and this is part of the problem. Watching Nadal hit forehands over the last decade does not help either since I do try and put a lot of topspin on the ball.
Hearing that it makes me think that you may be a little too wristy. I had a coach tell me that as I was trying to manufacture spin with too much of a wrist action.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Nice tip on the elbow and grip. I'll try them both tomorrow.
Point of clarification - I didn't explain this above: keep the elbow in and forward throughout the backswing and forward swing UP TO CONTACT. At contact, the elbow should come up and initiate the WW finish.
 

Fearsome Forehand

Professional
When you shank, are you hitting the ball with the leading edge of an extremely closed racket face (framing)? Or, are you hitting well off the sweet spot but within the string bed (mis-hitting)?

Do you use a windshield wiper motion or do you hit old school style?

First and foremost, don't pull off the ball. Keep your head as still as you can and don't try to crush the shot. Focus on making clean contact.

Secondly, are you rolling your hand through the contact point; turning your hand over? If so, that is going to severely close the face at impact and you will frame a shot occasionally.

Those are usually the two major culprits if and when I shank a forehand.

Perhaps you could also try to tape yourself hitting forehands and see if you can pick up what your failure mode is.

So, calm down, go back to basics and consciously try to remove all the slop from your stroke, i.e, don't get too wristy/handsy and keep your head still through the shot.

And don't play in a gale. :)
 
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mikeler

Moderator
When you shank, are you hitting the ball with the leading edge of an extremely closed racket face (framing)? Or, are you hitting well off the sweet spot but within the string bed (mis-hitting)?

Do you use a windshield wiper motion or do you hit old school style?

First and foremost, don't pull off the ball. Keep your head as still as you can and don't try to crush the shot. Focus on making clean contact.

Secondly, are you rolling your hand through the contact point; turning your hand over? If so, that is going to severely close the face at impact and you will frame a shot occasionally.

Those are usually the two major culprits if and when I shank a forehand.

Perhaps you could also try to tape yourself hitting forehands and see if you can pick up what your failure mode is.

So, calm down, go back to basics and consciously try to remove all the slop from your stroke, i.e, don't get too wristy/handsy and keep your head still through the shot.

And don't play in a gale. :)

Well, I may not be able to play at all if this tropical disturbance decides to upgrade itself. It is just general mishits. If it were the same place over and over, then that would be one thing but there just is no replication in the errors I'm making. I'm usually good for a few fly balls straight up in the air but I have not done that much recently. I use a modern forehand and it has always been spinny going back to my junior days. Most of the time if I start well with my forehand, all is well. I think when I frame a few early, I lose confidence and then start screwing around with my swing too much.
 

Migelowsky

Semi-Pro
another tip:

Try to watch the seams of the ball when it´s coming to you.

I got that tip from a newspaper that had section "Learn tennis with Stan Smith"
 

Hi I'm Ray

Professional
I think it definately has something to do with not watching the ball carefully enough/pulling your head up too early/taking your gaze off the ball at the last moment.
I recently switched my forehand grip from E to SW, just now logging 20-22 hours on it. Just when I was finally getting used to the stroke enough and being able to take a full out swing at medium to high bouncing balls with speed and consistency, my old hitting partner shows up again with his low flat shots. His shots used to fall right into my strike zone but with the grip change I was now shanking a ton of forehands playing against him. I figured out the two things that were causing the shanks:

1. Not watching the ball carefully enough: Use whatever "trick" or phrase that will work for you. One that worked for me was something an old coach told me: He said that if you pull up your head too early, you will look in the direction in which you expect the ball to go. The better players will catch this. So the trick is to concentrate your gaze at the ball through the stroke in an effort to hide your intended direction, you know your stroke well enough to know where the ball is going to land anyways. I found not only was I able to catch my opponents by surprise more, it improved my consistency and shot accuracy as well because I was watching the ball much better. Of course, I'm only human and catch myself often not doing this, but when I do it works well.

2. Trying to take a more compact swing: Since my regular, longer stroke was not working so well, I lost confidence in it and tried to make a more compact swing. Well it worked to keep the ball in but shots lacked speed, then when I tried to hit a hard shot it would go out. What was really happening -> this shorter stroke is something I am not used to, and turns out I was "arming" the shot. This makes for inconsistent form and shot making. When I realized this I made sure to hit each shot with leg drive and hip rotation again - this made for much more consistent form and shot making, as well as better use of the body and more powerful shots.


Those fast and flat shots threw me off and this new forehand fell apart, but after finally figuring out these were the two things I was doing wrong, -> in the last 30 minutes against the flat hitter today the shanks dropped to a minimum, I was hitting with more power, the shots were landing close to their intended targets and more often, and while my confidence increased I was going for more each shot. Ended the night with a clean, fast winner - man that felt good, much better than shanks. lol.
 
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mightyrick

Legend
OP, if you are always shanking it just sounds like you're forcing it too much. Trying to either force force to much pace, or force too much topspin, or forcing too much mechanics... or maybe even all three. Swing slowly and deliberately. Let the speed come naturally. Get out of your own head.

I'm sure there's a swing tempo which is slow enough where you won't shank at all. Start there. Allow yourself to be slow, deliberate, and patient.

I'm a big fan of the "Inner Game of Tennis" precept in this area. Forget all of the mechanics crap. Don't inwardly criticize yourself. Slow down, let go, and relax. If you slow down enough, your body will do the right thing. The mechanics, the deep thought, and the corrections can come later. For now, just focus on slow, deliberate, clean contact.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
another aspect of shanking is accel the racket too much or too early in the swing (or both)
 

Tjg

Rookie
If I am shanking balls Im usually pulling my head up before making contact. I try to keep my head down and watch the ball through the back of the racquet until AFTER contact as sir Federer does.
That is my main problem, but I can’t fix it. I just finished playing and I was crushing my opponent. Started the 4th game and I couldn’t stop miss hitting. Every single ball went off my frame. I couldn’t keep my eye on the ball. Was up 5-1 in tie break. Ended up losing 7-9 because I kept shanking. Had 2 match points on his 2nd serve. Miss hit into the net. I don’t know why I keep turning my head and I don’t know how to stop myself from doing it. I am on the verge of never playing again.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
That is my main problem, but I can’t fix it. I just finished playing and I was crushing my opponent. Started the 4th game and I couldn’t stop miss hitting. Every single ball went off my frame. I couldn’t keep my eye on the ball. Was up 5-1 in tie break. Ended up losing 7-9 because I kept shanking. Had 2 match points on his 2nd serve. Miss hit into the net. I don’t know why I keep turning my head and I don’t know how to stop myself from doing it. I am on the verge of never playing again.
One question: were you hitting the same location on your frame or was it random?

I'm betting you didn't video this match. You should video in the future so you can see what you're actually doing rather than relying on recall. Place the camera along the BL on the BH side.

One guy suggested I count to 3 after hitting the ball and not to look up from the contact point until then. it's an obvious exaggeration but it's helpful to try if you're having problems keeping your head still.

I think the tendency is to *think* you're keeping your head still but video would show that's not the case. Solve this problem and see what it does to the quality of your ball-striking.
 

mikeler

Moderator
I’m really curious now, @mikeler , are you still shanking badly, mate? It’s been 9 years.
A lot has changed since then. 3.5 years ago I injured my knee and found out I was probably playing without an ACL in my left knee all these years. So I was hitting my forehand always off the back foot. After getting that repaired, I put my weight into my forehand and hit through the ball more. Thanks for asking @Curious
 

nyta2

Professional
If I am shanking balls Im usually pulling my head up before making contact. I try to keep my head down and watch the ball through the back of the racquet until AFTER contact as sir Federer does.
+1
even knowing i need to keep my head down i still pick it up...
i once spent 30 min getting 1 intermediate student to stop popping their head up, because it was so ingrained... was kinda funny actually, we both had a chuckle about it.
 

Fintft

Legend
+1
even knowing i need to keep my head down i still pick it up...
i once spent 30 min getting 1 intermediate student to stop popping their head up, because it was so ingrained... was kinda funny actually, we both had a chuckle about it.
+2
Almost each time I spend a few minutes trying to fix this...
 

ubercat

Professional
When I shank in open stance it's one of 2 things

I m not staying down long enough - popping up like a rabbit

Over rotating and slapping at the ball instead of extending through the shot
 

Purestriker

Professional
You answered your own question.
You mentioned when you're in the "ZONE", you hit clean.
Well, your "ZONE", as well as everyone elses, happens once every 30 playing days. Watch the ball thru contact, swing SLOWER than you have been swinging.
That is usually what helps me when I start shanking my forehand. Slow down, focus on watching the ball and make sure my swing is compact.
 
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