Please help me fix my forehand!

am1899

Hall of Fame
Ok TT crew. I’m a 30 something computer rated 4.5 player. I’ve been playing reasonably well lately. But my forehand is a complete mess. Sorry about the angle of the video, and the lack of variety of height (as I’ll talk about later, I avoid hitting above waist high at all costs). But let me give you gist of what I’m experiencing, and maybe you can spot a problem or suggest some things I need to work on:

There are two misses on my forehand that happen way too often for my liking. And it’s not like these balls are missing by inches, or even a couple feet. Here they are:

1. I launch it, ball goes to the fence (sometimes this happens on waist high balls too). Often the ball has some topspin, but not enough to overcome the trajectory.

2. I hit it in the bottom of the net (or the ball even hits my side of the court before it hits the net).

I struggle to hit forehands cross court during a full court rally. Even if I aim cc, the ball seems to go DTL (late I assume).

I noticed in watching this clip a while back that I don’t use my off hand well at all - I’ve since made some changes to address that (sorry, no current video that captures that). But alas, the fence or net outcomes persist.

You might wonder what else have I tried. Well, I’m an instructor, so everything I can think of that I would offer to a client taking a lesson from me. I’ve tried adjusting my swing path, angle at contact, changing the grip, for example. I’ve tried very hard to emphasize dropping the racquet head prior to contact, and working the windshield wiper. I’ve tried loosening grip pressure. I’ve messed with the racquet, strings, you name it. I thought maybe my footwork was the problem, so I tried to focus on that. Then I thought maybe I was overthinking the whole thing - maybe I should stop thinking and just hit it. I try my best to manage this problem in matches, but as you can see in the video, the frustration of this is getting to me. In spite of all my efforts, I’m still making the same mistakes I outlined above routinely.

The last thing that it occurs to me to say is that I used to be able to murder shoulder high balls with my forehand. Now there is zero confidence above the waist. I either let it fall to waist height, or if I try to hit a higher ball...it either goes to the fence, or I decel and the ball goes in the net.

Ok, here’s the video. Go easy on me.

 
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am1899

Hall of Fame
^^ thx for the feedback.

It’s not the greatest video, well for a number of reasons. But one of them being, my hitting partner and and I are just warming up there - in this case trying to groove some forehands cross court. So my footwork or use of body there is probably not representative of what I would do, once fully warmed up. But you may be right anyway. I doubt I use my body as well as I could on the forehand - especially now that my confidence in the shot is lacking, I’m really tentative in putting any extra “oomph” into forehands now (I know this is backwards, but it’s a hard habit to break).

Beyond the footwork, and at the risk of making a captain obvious statement...my hunch is something is causing me to open the racquet face as I’m bringing the racquet forward to contact. As an instructor I’m keenly aware that the flight of the ball is a function of path, angle, and speed. I just can’t feel or even see an obvious problem on video, so I don't know what to do to fix it. (Which is completely foreign to me - I’ve always been able to break fix my own game to some extent).
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
^^ thx for the feedback.

It’s not the greatest video, well for a number of reasons. But one of them being, my hitting partner and and I are just warming up there - in this case trying to groove some forehands cross court. So my footwork or use of body there is probably not representative of what I would do, once fully warmed up. But you may be right anyway. I doubt I use my body as well as I could on the forehand - especially now that my confidence in the shot is lacking, I’m really tentative in putting any extra “oomph” into forehands now (I know this is backwards, but it’s a hard habit to break).

Beyond the footwork, and at the risk of making a captain obvious statement...my hunch is something is causing me to open the racquet face as I’m bringing the racquet forward to contact. As an instructor I’m keenly aware that the flight of the ball is a function of path, angle, and speed. I just can’t feel or even see an obvious problem on video, so I don't know what to do to fix it. (Which is completely foreign to me - I’ve always been able to break fix my own game to some extent).
You are a tennis coach? :X3:
 

EP1998

Semi-Pro
Coaching is probably part of the problem. Lots of ball feeding.

Have someone coach you and do a lot of hand feed drills from different parts of the court and at different heights. Also get a medicine ball and do forehand swings with that to engage your core and legs.
 

r2473

Talk Tennis Guru
Ok TT crew. I’m a 30 something computer rated 4.5 player. I’ve been playing reasonably well lately. But my forehand is a complete mess. Sorry about the angle of the video, and the lack of variety of height (as I’ll talk about later, I avoid hitting above waist high at all costs). But let me give you gist of what I’m experiencing, and maybe you can spot a problem or suggest some things I need to work on:

There are two misses on my forehand that happen way too often for my liking. And it’s not like these balls are missing by inches, or even a couple feet. Here they are:

1. I launch it, ball goes to the fence (sometimes this happens on waist high balls too). Often the ball has some topspin, but not enough to overcome the trajectory.

2. I hit it in the bottom of the net (or the ball even hits my side of the court before it hits the net).

I struggle to hit forehands cross court during a full court rally. Even if I aim cc, the ball seems to go DTL (late I assume).

I noticed in watching this clip a while back that I don’t use my off hand well at all - I’ve since made some changes to address that (sorry, no current video that captures that). But alas, the fence or net outcomes persist.

You might wonder what else have I tried. Well, I’m an instructor, so everything I can think of that I would offer to a client taking a lesson from me. I’ve tried adjusting my swing path, angle at contact, changing the grip, for example. I’ve tried very hard to emphasize dropping the racquet head prior to contact, and working the windshield wiper. I’ve tried loosening grip pressure. I’ve messed with the racquet, strings, you name it. I thought maybe my footwork was the problem, so I tried to focus on that. Then I thought maybe I was overthinking the whole thing - maybe I should stop thinking and just hit it. I try my best to manage this problem in matches, but as you can see in the video, the frustration of this is getting to me. In spite of all my efforts, I’m still making the same mistakes I outlined above routinely.

The last thing that it occurs to me to say is that I used to be able to murder shoulder high balls with my forehand. Now there is zero confidence above the waist. I either let it fall to waist height, or if I try to hit a higher ball...it either goes to the fence, or I decel and the ball goes in the net.

Ok, here’s the video. Go easy on me.

How do you think about producing spin? If I told you to hit the loopiest arc ball possible, what would focus on doing?

If I told you to hit a ball that drops fast due to spin. Like “the bottom dropped out it”, what would you do?
 
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am1899

Hall of Fame
How do you think about producing spin? If I told you to hit the loopiest arc ball possible, what would focus on doing?
Great question.

In general I think my thought process would go something like this:

- legs
- relax (loose hand, for example)
- steeper (low to high) swing path
- commit to the shot (accelerate)

With the current state of my forehand though, I find I have to also think “waist high” for every drive I hit, regardless of the shape of the shot. Any forehand I hit above waist height, I seem to lose all feel and I have no clue where it’s going. This isn’t natural for me at all to think about. Typically I stand right up on the baseline, trying to take ground strokes early - which often will require some chest or even shoulder high strikes.
 
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travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Great question.

In general I think my thought process would go something like this:

- legs
- relax (loose hand, for example)
- steeper (low to high) swing path
- commit to the shot (accelerate)

With the current state of my forehand, I find I have to also think “waist high” for every drive I hit, regardless of the shape of the shot. Any forehand I hit above waist height, I seem to lose all feel and I have no clue where it’s going.
Your forehand looks exactly the same as mine used to. It’s not easy to fix. But here are some things that helped get my forehand to a serviceable level. It’s still my weaker wing, but I’ve found ways to help me compete at pretty high level in baseline play.

1. Add some weight to the upper hoop. Get your swingweight up into the 360s. This will cure you of arming it, because there is no way to get the racquet moving well comfortably without getting the larger muscles to help out.

2. Commit to the slice on high balls above the waist. This will patch the hole so you can stay in rallies and return high serves until your forehand gets better.

3. Do some wall work. Video yourself from different angles. Watch the video immediately so that you can try to fix things. Video again.

4. footwork, footwork , footwork,
 

vex

Hall of Fame
Ok TT crew. I’m a 30 something computer rated 4.5 player. I’ve been playing reasonably well lately. But my forehand is a complete mess. Sorry about the angle of the video, and the lack of variety of height (as I’ll talk about later, I avoid hitting above waist high at all costs). But let me give you gist of what I’m experiencing, and maybe you can spot a problem or suggest some things I need to work on:

There are two misses on my forehand that happen way too often for my liking. And it’s not like these balls are missing by inches, or even a couple feet. Here they are:

1. I launch it, ball goes to the fence (sometimes this happens on waist high balls too). Often the ball has some topspin, but not enough to overcome the trajectory.

2. I hit it in the bottom of the net (or the ball even hits my side of the court before it hits the net).

I struggle to hit forehands cross court during a full court rally. Even if I aim cc, the ball seems to go DTL (late I assume).

I noticed in watching this clip a while back that I don’t use my off hand well at all - I’ve since made some changes to address that (sorry, no current video that captures that). But alas, the fence or net outcomes persist.

You might wonder what else have I tried. Well, I’m an instructor, so everything I can think of that I would offer to a client taking a lesson from me. I’ve tried adjusting my swing path, angle at contact, changing the grip, for example. I’ve tried very hard to emphasize dropping the racquet head prior to contact, and working the windshield wiper. I’ve tried loosening grip pressure. I’ve messed with the racquet, strings, you name it. I thought maybe my footwork was the problem, so I tried to focus on that. Then I thought maybe I was overthinking the whole thing - maybe I should stop thinking and just hit it. I try my best to manage this problem in matches, but as you can see in the video, the frustration of this is getting to me. In spite of all my efforts, I’m still making the same mistakes I outlined above routinely.

The last thing that it occurs to me to say is that I used to be able to murder shoulder high balls with my forehand. Now there is zero confidence above the waist. I either let it fall to waist height, or if I try to hit a higher ball...it either goes to the fence, or I decel and the ball goes in the net.

Ok, here’s the video. Go easy on me.

Everything else in your game must be freaking amazing if ur 4.5 with that FH. Whats happening is you lost confidence and you've made it a downward spiral by experimenting and overthinking. When the ball is going long its cause you are hitting with your normal (I assume high) pace but you didn't brush up your normal amount on that particular shot and/or got sloppy with ur A@C. When u nuked those balls into the low net it was almost certainly b/c you had ur racketface closed relatively severely in anticipation of ripping a ton of TS + Power. Instead you didn't fully catch the ball in the sweet spot and all that extra TS plus the severe closed angle gave u a kamakazie instead of a winner.

You have 2 problems, both can be fixed in a month or less.

1) Stop messing with ur strings, grip, racquet, technique, A@Contact, ect. Your problems are cascading on yourself because you keep changing your variables. Just get back to brushing up the ball with good but not insane (ie. inconsistent) topspin and don't think about your A@Contact AT ALL. Thinking about A@C only messes you up and leads to over thinking. Put the reps in and you will autopilot to the right A@C when you have your form locked in. Start with just a tiny degree closed face at waist high with good brush and let your autopilot instincts figure out A@C after u put a ton of reps in. Do NOT think about A@C on each shot. It should be automatic. Key here is: Tons of reps over 2 weeks, no change to racket or overthinking your technique. Do not try to hit wild levels of topspin, you aren't Rafa Nadal.

2) Practice crushing shoulder high balls. These are your chances to be offensive. You suck at them now b/c at some point you lost confidence and/or you stopped practicing them. Its a ball you can hit much harder than a waist high ball and still have good safe margin. You should not be passing on these opportunities at 4.5. Cut back on the topspin, Focus on directional control and practice nuking them to the that 2 foot area near the corners.

GL, Nothing you can't fix. Most of your problems are just confidence and over thinking.
 
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r2473

Talk Tennis Guru
Great question.

In general I think my thought process would go something like this:

- legs
- relax (loose hand, for example)
- steeper (low to high) swing path
- commit to the shot (accelerate)

With the current state of my forehand though, I find I have to also think “waist high” for every drive I hit, regardless of the shape of the shot. Any forehand I hit above waist height, I seem to lose all feel and I have no clue where it’s going. This isn’t natural for me at all to think about. Typically I stand right up on the baseline, trying to take ground strokes early - which often will require some chest or even shoulder high strikes.
At a basic level, if you’re hitting the fence, your racquet face has to be too open. If hitting the ground before the net, it must be too closed.

The question is, why don’t you know where your racquet face is? You shouldn’t be that inconsistent. Unless you’re trying to manipulate it with your hand.
 
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vex

Hall of Fame
The question is, why don’t you know where your racquet face is? You shouldn’t be that inconsistent. Unless you’re trying to manipulate it with your hand.
THIS. Don't think about it. It should be natural. Like, if you were shooting a basketball, you don't do some trigonometry calculation on every shot calculating release point, angle, backspin, peak height, ect. Your brain automatically approximates all that for you on each shot based on THOUSANDS of reps from all over the court. Exact same thing applies to tennis. Don't think about your angle. Imagine the shot you want to hit and swing, if you put the reps in you will naturally adjust your Angle at contact (very slightly) without conscious thought b/c ur brain/muscle memory will know how to hit the shot u want.

Tennis actually IS rocket science. The shots are all determined by where your standing, your A@C, Upward brush/Topspin, and Power. But you do not have time to do a math problem on every shot. You have to trust your muscle memory to execute the (RELATIVELY) correct levels of those 3 variables on each shot based on all the reps you put in. If you try to think about it you will just screw it up, b/c everything is happening so fast. Not to mention the fact that the ball will bounce lower and higher than you expect. You have to trust muscle memory to execute the shots.
 
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bertrevert

Hall of Fame
In one regard I think I hit a bit like this too... flopsy arms, no trunk coil, lo nrg. Can relate to this bh into the net.

Video yourself from different angles. Watch the video immediately so that you can try to fix things. Video again.
Immediate video feedback? Hadn't thought of that. I tend to go sit down and review at home, like doing homework. But watching video makes me itch to get back out on crt. Solution: review on crt, doh!

Importance/benefit of seeing your game on video - it's appallingly straightforward.
 
F

FRV

Guest
Go through this video series and then his other one on advanced forehand technique. Click on his channel, then go to playlists and you should see a forehand fundamentals playlist and an advanced forehand technique playlist.

 
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am1899

Hall of Fame
The question is, why don’t you know where your racquet face is?
That is it exactly. And it’s a question I can’t answer at the moment. My guess is a combination of what many of you have reasoned:

- Manipulating w/ the hand
- The wild misses have gotten into my head causing overthinking and a shortage of confidence

Just for clarity, one thing I’m pretty sure i don’t think about is the angle of the racquet face at contact.

Everything else in your game must be freaking amazing if ur 4.5 with that FH.
Thanks, I’ll take that as a compliment. I went to sectionals in 8.0 mixed last year, nationals in 9.0 mixed. On the way to sectionals in 8.0 mixed this year, and would have been the same in 9.0, but we couldn’t field a team. Other than the forehand, I’m decent. :)

Are you hitting a continental forehand? Sorry I can't see very well.
Sorry, lousy video. I’m right in between eastern and semi western.
 

r2473

Talk Tennis Guru
You need to find a ball machine and get your mojo back. You need to feel free to hit the back fence 4 hours straight if you’re ever going to get your feel back.

I’m guessing now you are so scared to swing free that you are trying to guide the ball. I see it in golf all the time.
 

Koby1

New User
Hard to tell from one video. First miss you got jammed a little bit which messed up your swing. Second you didn't start your swing far enough below the ball. Both are easily fixed by footwork. Move a little to the left on the first one and get lower to the ground on the second one. Your swing isn't really the problem in this video. As you said it is warmup so you may not have just been trying to move as much. But it could be helpfull for someone to hand feed you balls in short wide ect and for you to practice spacing them out right.
 

bertrevert

Hall of Fame
Fuzzy Yellow Balls - Go through this video series and then his other one on advanced forehand technique. Click on his channel, then go to playlists and you should see a forehand fundamentals playlist and an advanced forehand technique playlist.
Good, but I've always liked this old Rick Macci one because you see the shot change

And this one

Do these help you though?
 
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terg

New User
As I see it you have a hard time controlling your racquet face. You should do exercises where you have to change your racquet face.
Like playing from the service line and alternately hitting through the ground and over the net.
Or from the baseline span a raised line and hitting alternately under and over the line.
You will feel you'll have to use your forearm to accomplish this. At the moment i only see you using your upper arm.
 

am1899

Hall of Fame
Good, but I've always liked this old Rick Macci one because you see the shot change

And this one

Do these help you though?
Thanks! Great videos, and they definitely help. Typically I can watch a technical tennis video and emulate the technique, without much trouble. But my struggle with the forehand has been going on for so long that I think I need to take the additional step of having a coach help me through the progressions. Fortunately I have a bunch of colleagues who could help, and access to PlaySight courts. And hopefully once I get the technique on the right path, I’ll spend some time on the ball machine to make it stick.
 
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