Inconsistent Forehand

carljoe

New User
Hi guys,

After 10 years away from tennis I picked it up again last year, however compared to my junior years I'm really struggling with the consistency of my forehand. I typically end up moving over to my backhand as I have little trust in my forehand. Especially on slower balls I'm having a lot of troubles keeping the ball inside the court and it usually goes long.

I have recorded a video with me practicing with the ball machine (reason for my split step being a bit off) from the side and behind.

Thanks!
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
I second the opinion you don’t put enough shape on the ball, particularly, your racquet head isn’t doing it’s work coming from below to above handle through contact, but still trails the arm:

For such high ball you are expected to have something like this at contact:

Also I suppose the slow balls you miss are generally lower?

You also tend to get tight at the end of takeback and pull your racquet from a far-back setup rather than drop it lower in a smooth relaxed manner as you start uncoiling. This both may be source of inconsistency and block against steeper swingpath. However, this might come from dealing with high ball, if you try to keep high prep?
 
Hi guys,

After 10 years away from tennis I picked it up again last year, however compared to my junior years I'm really struggling with the consistency of my forehand. I typically end up moving over to my backhand as I have little trust in my forehand. Especially on slower balls I'm having a lot of troubles keeping the ball inside the court and it usually goes long.

I have recorded a video with me practicing with the ball machine (reason for my split step being a bit off) from the side and behind.

Thanks!
Your swing path is mostly horizontal. If shots are going long consistently, I suggest steepening the swing path to get more TS and less drive. The trajectory of the ball path will sharpen.
 

Chadalina

Legend
Hi guys,

After 10 years away from tennis I picked it up again last year, however compared to my junior years I'm really struggling with the consistency of my forehand. I typically end up moving over to my backhand as I have little trust in my forehand. Especially on slower balls I'm having a lot of troubles keeping the ball inside the court and it usually goes long.

I have recorded a video with me practicing with the ball machine (reason for my split step being a bit off) from the side and behind.

Thanks!
Very nice hitting.

Id say its your coil, your left foot is never in front of the right. Everything is tech open stance, not a prob unless your contact pt is too far in front (yours).

Maybe its just me, i dont like to see that much leg drag. Looks like a dance class when it comes around
 

Mountain Ghost

Semi-Pro
Most of the stroke is quite good ... but ... The path of your elbow across the right side of your stomach is kind of all over the place ... which is affecting ... among other things ... your elevation control. I would advise keeping your elbow attitude more consistent ... namely pointed more "down" ... throughout the entire stroke. Shadow swings in front of a big mirror would help ... envisioning keeping the elbow on a "shorter string" attached to your right side. The elbow is currently going (and aiming) so far back on the backswing ... that on the change of direction to the forward stroke ... it is not controllable ~ MG
 

Kevo

Legend
First thing for me on ground strokes is spacing. Inconsistent spacing leads to extra arm action to compensate. Try to pay attention to where the ball is in relation to yourself when you hit a nice confident forehand and try to maintain that spacing. After that apply more spin if needed. Think about the shape of the shot trajectory and hit the ball so you get the shape you want. On forehands especially, power comes pretty easily for guys especially if they are above average height and build. Without spin control it's pretty easy to hit the ball long on every shot.

So spacing, and then shaping would be my advice.
 

golden chicken

Professional
I see a hitch in your swing. You take the racket back to approximately a pat the dog position and there's a little hesitation and then you try to rip the shot from there. I think if you made the swing more continuous, you could make the acceleration less violent while still reaching the same racket head speed at contact.
 

carljoe

New User
Thank you very much for the feedback guys, very helpful - really appreciate it.

Unfortunately, the ball machine was feeding me quite high balls, which probably made my swing path look extra flat/straight. However, it does definitely show I don't shape the ball so much.

But to summarise your feedback:
- More vertical swing path
- More downward looking elbow and not backward
- More consistent spacing
- Shape the ball to get desired shot trajectory
- More fluent motion

I imagine my next lesson will be entertaining with all these things on my mind :)

I'll have another session with the ball machine this Saturday. I will attempt to capture some new footage with the feedback in mind.
 
I think form looks pretty good.

If you have access to ball machine, you might try experimenting with different amounts and placements of lead tape, both on hoop and at top of handle, to see what weighting and balance feels most natural and consistent.
 

pencilcheck

Semi-Pro
Hi guys,

After 10 years away from tennis I picked it up again last year, however compared to my junior years I'm really struggling with the consistency of my forehand. I typically end up moving over to my backhand as I have little trust in my forehand. Especially on slower balls I'm having a lot of troubles keeping the ball inside the court and it usually goes long.

I have recorded a video with me practicing with the ball machine (reason for my split step being a bit off) from the side and behind.

Thanks!
Against high ball, your takeback has to be higher, you should feel that without feeling uncomfortable where your racquet is higher than your shoulder.

Hope that helps.
 

Curious

Legend
Too horizontal swing path. You’re holding the racket too firmly. An absolutely great tip to fix the problem is to try to feel the weight of the racket head all the way through back swing! This will happen only when you hold it very loosely. Don’t ignore it. Works great.
Watch this video to understand the point better. This online coach Jeremy is just awesome!


 
From the side view, it does not look as if you look at the ball near enough to impact. Compare to high level forehands.

Federer is a model for intensely looking at the ball. See post #12 above. Djokovic has a bent elbow forehand and his looking at the ball habits are not so precise as Federer's but his results are great.

From the rear view slow motion, when you first start accelerating the racket, it does not freely lag but there is a brief hitch in my opinion. Not certain of this, but compare to model high level, bent elbow, forehands. You also keep the racket head more one edge high one edge low than I think high level players do. ? Study the racket head orientations for bent elbow forehands.

Search my posts on 'separation'. The line between the two shoulders goes back farther than the line between the two hips. There is timing used in the forward stroke where the hips lead. Separation involves the use of the trunk muscles employing the Stretch Shorten Cycle.

Djokovic bent elbow forehand. Ball viewing, wrist and racket lag starting forward swing, separation.
 
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Kevo

Legend
Too horizontal swing path. You’re holding the racket too firmly. An absolutely great tip to fix the problem is to try to feel the weight of the racket head all the way through back swing! This will happen only when you hold it very loosely. Don’t ignore it. Works great.
Watch this video to understand the point better. This online coach Jeremy is just awesome!

That's a pretty good video. I found it interesting that he uses his last two fingers to demonstrate loose grip. I've always done that with the first two fingers, thumb and pointer. I think thumb and pointer also demonstrate the pull aspect of the stroke as well since you can't even really hold the racquet up with just those two fingers. I'm going to try it both ways next time I'm at the courts to see if I can gain some new insights.
 

carljoe

New User
With all your great feedback in mind I attempted to make some adjustments to my forehand (while hitting some lower flying balls).
I believe my motion is a bit more fluid now and I have loosened my grip tension also. It looks like my swing path still is a bit horizontal? I find it hard to do it more vertical as my coach also told me I need to follow through the ball way more than now?

Let me know what you think, thanks guys.

 

ontologist

New User
With all your great feedback in mind I attempted to make some adjustments to my forehand (while hitting some lower flying balls).
I believe my motion is a bit more fluid now and I have loosened my grip tension also. It looks like my swing path still is a bit horizontal? I find it hard to do it more vertical as my coach also told me I need to follow through the ball way more than now?

Let me know what you think, thanks guys.

Nothing wrong with hitting the ball flatter or having a more horizontal swing path, you just have to understand there's less margin on a flatter ball. If you're missing slow balls long your contact point is probably too early, which would adjust the stringbed to face more up, hence the ball goes long. if you think about the distance of the ball, it comes down to a combination of height, speed and spin.
 
With all your great feedback in mind I attempted to make some adjustments to my forehand (while hitting some lower flying balls).
I believe my motion is a bit more fluid now and I have loosened my grip tension also. It looks like my swing path still is a bit horizontal? I find it hard to do it more vertical as my coach also told me I need to follow through the ball way more than now?

Let me know what you think, thanks guys.

That is to the point where a model forehand should be compared using side-by-side videos from the same camera angles.

Kinovea is a free, open source video analysis application that is very capable and easy to use. Click on two videos to open them in Kinovea side-by-side, then place impact frames next to one another in each video, and click coordinate videos. Then the videos playback together and both will show impact at the same time side-by-side. You can see the differences.

One issue is that different forehand details, on take back especially racket positions, Sock's racket faces forward, etc, are out there. Take your pick.
 
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Wise one

Hall of Fame
Hi guys,

After 10 years away from tennis I picked it up again last year, however compared to my junior years I'm really struggling with the consistency of my forehand. I typically end up moving over to my backhand as I have little trust in my forehand. Especially on slower balls I'm having a lot of troubles keeping the ball inside the court and it usually goes long.

I have recorded a video with me practicing with the ball machine (reason for my split step being a bit off) from the side and behind.

Thanks!

Your grip is too extreme, and you are swatting the ball, not stroking it.
 

Heck

Rookie
2nd video is the player who can be more consistent and develop points. Much more shape and less power. The first video was all winning shots that have less consistency. The hitch is less also but
sometimes shows up. That will take more time. Looks great.
 

Keendog

Semi-Pro
I agree with golden chicken above. The racquet begins above your head, drops to horizontal, pauses, then you use your shoulder to accelerate it again. This would result in a lot of muscling, and I imagine the timing of when to begin the acceleration will be difficult. Mostly though, the hesitation is preventing gravity from dropping the racquet from above the ball to below the ball. This is why your swing is flat. If it was one continuous motion you could still swing forward at the ball but the racquet tip will have a natural arc to it and more topspin and shape will result. my 2¢
 

Kevo

Legend
Overall I'd say it's pretty good. I think you are going to have to hit a ton of balls to learn to control that bit of a slap action you have in your stroke. It also seems that when you go crosscourt you like to aim with the slap. That slap action can be very powerful, but not as consistent as something more continuous and less prone to timing error. If you like the results of that action I wouldn't necessarily try to discourage you from hitting it that way, but I might just encourage you to be a bit stingy with it and know when to use it.

You might want to spend some time simply hitting short and deep loopers to learn to hit and control vertical shaping. There's definitely a benefit to hitting the same shot over and over again, but in matches you will need to create from a wide range of positions and depths unless you're hitting against another machine of a baseliner. Having something you can rely on to get you enough ahead in the point to set up the slap action shot might be a good strategy to try out.

I used to hit a slap kind of shot like that more often than I do now. Sometimes I will hit that against the wall over and over until I can't catch up to the ball anymore and it gets away from me, but in match play I usually look to get ahead with more loopy spinny shots that will open up the court. I like to look for angles that are pretty safe for me but will rush or pressure my opponent enough to open up another angle. I rarely try for a winner without opening something up first and usually once the court is open a bit the loopy spinny shot is more than enough for the winner. The slap tends to get hit more out of necessity or desperation these days. And the extra depth you tend to get on a power shot like that can be just what you need when you're a bit desperate. :)
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Thank you very much for the feedback guys, very helpful -

But to summarise your feedback:
- More vertical swing path
- Shape the ball to get desired shot trajectory
- More fluent motion
Yes, you really got some great feedback and impressive how this forum has become such an improved source of advice!
I liked the 3 above best and feel what they are saying is that you need to have a more true "rally ball" from the area you were hitting. My comment would be that the reason you are not as fluid and appear to need better spacing is that you are too focused on hitting down the target line well after contact. This tends to 'spoil the swing' and mess with your balance while hurting the spin, shape and trajectory of your shots. Rally shots are more about action on the shots, hitting the right areas and making more shots when hitting from behind the baseline.
 

Morch Us

Semi-Pro
First of all you have really good drive on the balls. On your first video you are getting shoulder high or above balls and so I would say that driving it flat is not too bad.

But when the ball is slower and lower, like in your second video or even more lower/slower, your flatter path is going to limit how much hard you can drive it. The technical term you want to look for in tons of coaching/youtube videos already available around is "racquet head drop". In most of your strokes your racquet head remains up throughout. You still do get a slight topspin because in these videos your natural swing path is still below ball contact point. But that will disappear once the ball contact point is lower.

I assume your inconsistency is when the incoming balls are lower than your strike zone (knee height balls?).

It looks like my swing path still is a bit horizontal? I find it hard to do it more vertical as my coach also told me I need to follow through the ball way more than now?
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
Bear in mind that consistent depth is more important than anything else. You can have too much topspin, which will leave your shots short and easy to attack. Try to drive the ball with a smooth, fluid stroke, and avoid 'smacking' the ball just to see how hard you can hit it. There are no rewards or prizes for topspin or pace.
 

golden chicken

Professional
It's hard to see at full speed so I'm likely nit picking here, but your contact point is inconsistent. It's most obvious to me on those low balls where you sort of reach out for it instead of taking a small step forward. It probably feels slightly awkward and off-balance to you. Alternatively, on the second shot the ball comes into your space and you may have felt jammed or late.

Next I'd work on positioning yourself so your contact point with the ball is consistent in both height and depth as much as possible so you can groove your stroke more consistently.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Bear in mind that consistent depth is more important than anything else. You can have too much topspin, which will leave your shots short and easy to attack. Try to drive the ball with a smooth, fluid stroke, and avoid 'smacking' the ball just to see how hard you can hit it. There are no rewards or prizes for topspin or pace.
sounds like Tom Stow influence....
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Who dat? It's just basic physics/geometry. The deeper you hit the ball, the narrower the angles your opponent have, and thus it's harder to move you around.
Sure, but also, the deeper you hit, the more often you will miss long so that they don't need to move you around anymore.
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
Sure, but also, the deeper you hit, the more often you will miss long so that they don't need to move you around anymore.
That's why you practice. Hitting long occasionally is no sin, and at least the ball had a chance to go in. There's no excuse for hitting the ball into the net as an unforced error. None. If you have to miss, miss long. You might even hit your opponent accidentally, and thus win the point!

It could happen.

 

5263

G.O.A.T.
That's why you practice. Hitting long occasionally is no sin, and at least the ball had a chance to go in. There's no excuse for hitting the ball into the net as an unforced error. None. If you have to miss, miss long. You might even hit your opponent accidentally, and thus win the point!
I say don't miss, but if you do miss, it should be wide, trying to take your opponent off the court instead of trying to hit thru someone. You can only hit thru far weaker players or when 2 players lock up doing the same style.
 

user92626

Legend
That's why you practice. Hitting long occasionally is no sin, and at least the ball had a chance to go in. There's no excuse for hitting the ball into the net as an unforced error. None. If you have to miss, miss long. You might even hit your opponent accidentally, and thus win the point!
What the heck kind of argument is this?

Practice is built-in and being equal in both arguments, you know all things being equal, hitting depth is always harder and more error-prone than hitting more inside. No?

But let's leave theories and arm chair skills aside and look at reality which is the only thing that's important and ...REAL. Do you see a lot of depth balls here?



And they can actually do a count:

 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
I say don't miss, but if you do miss, it should be wide, trying to take your opponent off the court instead of trying to hit thru someone. You can only hit thru far weaker players or when 2 players lock up doing the same style.
Nope. If you miss, it should be long, not wide or into the net.
 

tex123

Semi-Pro
Hi guys,

After 10 years away from tennis I picked it up again last year, however compared to my junior years I'm really struggling with the consistency of my forehand. I typically end up moving over to my backhand as I have little trust in my forehand. Especially on slower balls I'm having a lot of troubles keeping the ball inside the court and it usually goes long.

I have recorded a video with me practicing with the ball machine (reason for my split step being a bit off) from the side and behind.

Thanks!
Look at my thread - "it is all about the finish". Look where you are finishing. At the end of the shot, your right shoulder needs to point at the ball and racket finishing behind the back. It looks like you are stopping the finish. In that thread there is a video on Djokovic and Nadal. See if that helps you.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
What the heck kind of argument is this?

Practice is built-in and being equal in both arguments, you know all things being equal, hitting depth is always harder and more error-prone than hitting more inside. No?

But let's leave theories and arm chair skills aside and look at reality which is the only thing that's important and ...REAL. Do you see a lot of depth balls here?



And they can actually do a count:

and you see that really in that bottom graph, there are only 2-6 balls that are truly deep, past the 3-4' from the baseline mark. We can see here that easily 80%+ of the shots land well short of what is traditionally seen as excellent depth. **Also a huge factor Imo, is they don't show all the misses that were long. Normally there are at least 2+ balls hit long for every shot with excellent depth.
 

golden chicken

Professional
and you see that really in that bottom graph, there are only 2-6 balls that are truly deep, past the 3-4' from the baseline mark. We can see here that easily 80%+ of the shots land well short of what is traditionally seen as excellent depth. **Also a huge factor Imo, is they don't show all the misses that were long. Normally there are at least 2+ balls hit long for every shot with excellent depth.
One of the differences I see between what I do on court and what the pros do is that when I hit a ball that bounces on or near the service line, my opponent can easily hit from the baseline or inside it and a pro may hit with enough spin and pace that a ball like that will still push the opponent back behind the baseline. So really, what you want is not exactly depth of where the ball bounces, but depth of where the opponent must be to hit the ball back.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
What the heck kind of argument is this?

Practice is built-in and being equal in both arguments, you know all things being equal, hitting depth is always harder and more error-prone than hitting more inside. No?

But let's leave theories and arm chair skills aside and look at reality which is the only thing that's important and ...REAL. Do you see a lot of depth balls here?



And they can actually do a count:

The deeper you hit the better it is and the harder for opponent, but hitting near the baseline constantly is very error prone thats the thing, so hitting somewhat shorter so that if you misshit long it still goes in is good, and if you misshit short its a bit shorter, in terms of consistency its a good idea, but you need alot of topspin if you hit like that so the ball jumps back to the baseline, otherwise those short balls are sitters.
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
The deeper you hit the better it is and the harder for opponent, but hitting near the baseline constantly is very error prone thats the thing, so hitting somewhat shorter so that if you misshit long it still goes in is good, and if you misshit short its a bit shorter, in terms of consistency its a good idea, but you need alot of topspin if you hit like that so the ball jumps back to the baseline, otherwise those short balls are sitters.
It’s not topspin which makes the ball go fast past baseline. First and foremost it’s power. Meanwhile, you cannot hit with both power and decent margins for error without big topspin. A flattish ball landing short is just a weak low pace ball (or net skimmer, or hit from high over the net - in this case a hard powerful shot will not be a sitter even if bounce is a bit short, extreme case being overhead smash, or first serve).
Now with topspin you can put same if not more pace on the ball while sending it high enough over the net, landing with good margin within the lines, and on top of that have less speed loss at bounce due to spin. It’s all win.
 
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