The McEnroe forehand - anyone uses it?

acintya

Legend
I have been playing tennis for some years but I always learned this modern forehand - this is the first time I tried the classic forehand and I was just shocked how easy it was to hit - and I was also consistent. I just dragged the racquet back like McEnroe without all of this new methods that people teach. I really liked this classic stroke. The only difference is, I was holding my racquet in a semi-western grip - but that also means i could hit harder and the shots went in.

Anyone still using this kind of forehand? Its so simple. I will try to mix it in whenever I can. The reaction time is faster and I have even more time to prepare - also higher bouncing balls I find easy to strike with this simple motion.

What do you think guys? Do we - rec. players (good or bad) really need the so called modern forehand?


I am very good at table tennis and this straight drag back without all this **** you got to learn (elbow up, racquet up, extend the arm, elbow down, do the federer whip motion on forehand etc. etc) makes everything so simple to me.
If you just compare this takeback and the modern forehand takeback and all that **** - this mcenroe forehand really looks so simple , and is a lot easier to master, or let me put it this way - with the mcenro method you can not do so much wrong......as with a modern forehand. or am I wrong?

Also look at his non dominant hand.......all this lessons on how you need to have it straight and in shoulder height --- really? do you really need it? McEnroe keeps it really low - its straight but not over extended ----- its more in a 45° angle. prove me wrong. I just want to simplify things as tennis can be a very confusing sport. OH man. in my opinion it is one of the harder sports to master - to master means --- that you can hit every stroke at least "semi-well" :)

well it may not be so aesthetically pleasing as some modern forehands but it could be maybe more efficient for somebody.
 
Last edited:

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
People say not to copy him. I'm guessing the forehand evolved due to the baseline game. Mac was a serve and volleyer. Rec players are gonna struggle trying to hit 20 shot rallies without the modern forehand swing path.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
I have been playing tennis for some years but I always learned this modern forehand - this is the first time I tried the classic forehand and I was just shocked how easy it was to hit - and I was also consistent. I just dragged the racquet back like McEnroe without all of this new methods that people teach. I really liked this classic stroke. The only difference is, I was holding my racquet in a semi-western grip...
Sounds like you are doing it all wrong then. Classic forehands are hit using continental or eastern fh grips.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
Sometimes when hitting on the wall I'll switch to continental grip forehands(though he's not quite conti I think) and the take back automatically becomes more like his for some reason.

I think you should play the way you want to play.
 
Last edited:

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
Sometimes when hitting on the wall I'll switch to continental grip forehands(though he's not quite conti I think) and the take back automatically becomes more like his for some reason.

I think you should pay the way you want to play. I personally worked hard fine tuning my eastern grip forehand and I finally like it. If you like conti then use conti.
He’s not using a continental grip though. He’s doing it with a semi western which would indicate that he’s doing something wrong.
 

Devil_dog

Hall of Fame
True story: I idolized Mac during my junior years and also mimicked his forehand AND serve. It was an weird time... haha. That said, I had a conti grip and with a heavier stick (Max 200G), that sort of swing was easy to hit and generated rather good power. Spin was non-existent but I could hit flat like nobody's biz.

But then my game matured and evolved and I eventually learned from a pro my current, more or less, modern forehand style. I generate much more spin and can handle power better with my current FH with I hit with a semi to full western grip. But every now and then, I'll mix it up and hit like Mac. It's fun for a bit but it's a pain for me to hit FH with a conti grip and they go sailing.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
He’s not using a continental grip though. He’s doing it with a semi western which would indicate that he’s doing something wrong.
Please re-read my original post Mad Dog where I said NOT QUITE CONTI

Mac has said this many times. His forehand is definitly not semi western.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
Please re-read my original post Mad Dog where I said NOT QUITE CONTI

Mac has said this many times.
Thought you were referring to the OP. OP said he’s hitting classic strokes like Mac using semi western grip and your post which I assumed was directed at him was to do what was natural. If SW feels natural for a classic stroke, I think he’s doing something wrong. That was my point.
 

acintya

Legend
guys i know mac doesnt hit with a semi western grip. I said I am using his takeback style but then i hit with a semi western grip. WHERE is the problem!? how can someone say this is wrong? its the same move - only resulting in more spin because of a more closed racquet - because of the sw grip.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
guys i know mac doesnt hit with a semi western grip. I said I am using his takeback style but then i hit with a semi western grip. WHERE is the problem!? how can someone say this is wrong? its the same move - only resulting in more spin because of a more closed racquet - because of the sw grip.
Sorry. You said you tried the classic forehand. Pretty hard to hit a classic fh with a SW grip. If you said you tried the classic takeback and hit a semi western fh, no problem.

Tbh, I’m actually more concerned you will hurt yourself if you are hitting the fh wrong. Classic fh with a SW grip might mean you are hitting late which is often the cause of elbow and wrist injuries.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
guys i know mac doesnt hit with a semi western grip. I said I am using his takeback style but then i hit with a semi western grip. WHERE is the problem!? how can someone say this is wrong? its the same move - only resulting in more spin because of a more closed racquet - because of the sw grip.
Mischa Zverev has one of the most compact take-backs in the ATP for his FH. You might enjoy watching some video of him, if you're looking to shorten your takeback...

 

Ultra 2

Professional
I use that technique when I'm fiddling with my 200g/300i or any standard sized frames strung at low tension. Yes, he was my favorite player BITD and his sweeping/blocking style works well with this type of equipment. When I hit with a more modern frame, I use a longer looping swing.
 

mad dog1

G.O.A.T.
I use that technique when I'm fiddling with my 200g/300i or any standard sized frames strung at low tension. Yes, he was my favorite player BITD and his sweeping/blocking style works well with this type of equipment. When I hit with a more modern frame, I use a longer looping swing.
Have you recovered from your injuries?
 

Ultra 2

Professional
I did hit last Friday at the Fullerton tennis center. I think I'm about 60-70% recovered. Still sore. Can't hit overheads still, and can only hit 2nd serves.
 

Ultra 2

Professional
Sure, I think I have some time this Saturday. Can't really play a set, but we can certainly hit. Sending you a PM.
 

weelie

Semi-Pro
I've hit a couple of sessions with continental on both sides. But ever since I moved from EE to semi-western a couple of years, it feels awkward, so haven't done it. I do the occasional "slap on the run" forehand, push or slice forehand with a more old skool grip, but otherwise I play my SW forehand game (I can flatten it out but don't do it that much). When an opponent hits hard, I do shorten the backswing.

The very traditional forehand grips to me allow for better placement, so I feel. With my top spun SW, I can hit hard and play well, but I feel with a more eastern grip I was more able to really pin point my shots.
 

mogo

Semi-Pro
True story: I idolized Mac during my junior years and also mimicked his forehand AND serve. It was an weird time... haha. That said, I had a conti grip and with a heavier stick (Max 200G), that sort of swing was easy to hit and generated rather good power. Spin was non-existent but I could hit flat like nobody's biz.

But then my game matured and evolved and I eventually learned from a pro my current, more or less, modern forehand style. I generate much more spin and can handle power better with my current FH with I hit with a semi to full western grip. But every now and then, I'll mix it up and hit like Mac. It's fun for a bit but it's a pain for me to hit FH with a conti grip and they go sailing.
I can testify that this is a "TRUE" statement!!!! :cool:
 
Btw Macs forehand never really was the classic standard in tennis, even then it kinda was a unique shot. He was good with it and really better than any modern 5.0 player but his groundstroke technique wasn't really the reason, he was more successful despite them as it were unique strokes even to the time.

So emulating him and thinking this makes you play like him is really foolish.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
Ian plays a similar stroke (that video of his match with Kevin). Seems to be modfied conti but not quite Eastern.

Yes, the shot is ugly but JMac had great control and timing. Ian too was moving the ball around quite easily, even though his form too on the fh was funky. I guess rec players tend to focus more on the form than they should. Most here would be happy if they could hit like Ian was hitting in that match.

The real advantage for players using that grip is that they seem to have chosen that grip because it allows them to play all their desired strokes with minimal or no grip change.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I guess rec players tend to focus more on the form than they should. Most here would be happy if they could hit like Ian was hitting in that match.
But they would not be hitting like him, but much worse. That is why it is better to do the right thing.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Ian plays a similar stroke (that video of his match with Kevin). Seems to be modfied conti but not quite Eastern.

Yes, the shot is ugly but JMac had great control and timing. Ian too was moving the ball around quite easily, even though his form too on the fh was funky. I guess rec players tend to focus more on the form than they should. Most here would be happy if they could hit like Ian was hitting in that match.

The real advantage for players using that grip is that they seem to have chosen that grip because it allows them to play all their desired strokes with minimal or no grip change.
in singles, you can approach with eastern/sw forehand grip and then come to the net and play out the point with conti grip. usually a volley.

in doubles, you get many more opportunities to hit forehand groundstrokes inside the service box. at this point, you must decide whether to hit conti forehands or go with the normal forehand grip. i think most coaches recommend hitting the conti forehand in this scenario.
 
Last edited:

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
But they would not be hitting like him, but much worse. That is why it is better to do the right thing.

Sometimes keeping it simple is the best advice. Sometimes learning 'proper' conventional technique is the best advice. All I'm saying is play and see what works for you. Especially when it comes to adults like OP. I have a modified conti grip and play all my strokes without a grip change. I realized that picking up late in life and not having enough time to devote to practice, doing this has been the best thing for my game. I don't overpower anyone (not that I ever did), but I'm so much more consistent now. Others should find out what works for them.
 

NLBwell

Legend
in singles, you can approach with eastern/sw forehand grip and then come to the net and play out the point with conti grip. usually a volley.

in doubles, you get many more opportunities to hit forehand groundstrokes inside the service box. at this point, you must decide whether to hit conti forehands or go with the normal forehand grip. i think most coaches recommend hitting the conti forehand in this scenario.
I got into a debate about this with Maboob Khan on these boards many years ago. I'm sure some long-time TT'ers remember him. I hope he's doing well.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
I got into a debate about this with Maboob Khan on these boards many years ago. I'm sure some long-time TT'ers remember him. I hope he's doing well.
What was your position? I like the idea of going with the Conti forehand on the doubles exchanges close up at net. But I have a habit of switching to normal forehand grip.
 

NLBwell

Legend
I was in favor of Continental forehand on the mid-court shots. Maboob was in favor of going with the player's standard groundstroke grip.
 

Curious

Legend
Did McEnroe use a commonly described “true” (2-2) continental on all his strokes?
I’m especially interested in the forehand grip.
Wondering if it’s the Aussie grip. Index knuckle looks to be more on the edge between 2 and 3.

 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I thought Mac forehand was an extreme pistol grip eastern. Aligned with his forearm, similar to his serve...which was closer to conti
 

RiverRat

Rookie
beyond the serve, Mac's shots are soo freakin' ugly
Please. He has the greatest volleys of all-time. His technique on the volley is so far advanced that no one else has mastered it. He's the damn Bruce Lee of tennis. He could generate pace off of a dipping ball at his toes from the service line. His half-volleys are technically perfect. I watch pros today fumble as they chop down on them. Mac gently raised the racquet with the bounce of the ball. I'm not arguing that his groundstrokes were the best, but they were hardly ugly.
 

RiverRat

Rookie
@JohnYandell ,
Any data on maximum rpm of McEnroe or Connors forehand?
And that of an average 4.5 level player with SW grip forehand?
With new technology racquets and strings and too many unforced errors to count and no accuracy and no taking it early on the rise. Yeah, that's a meaningful comparison. Why be insulting to all-time greats? Not only are they all-time greats but they are all-time great American players in an era where Americans unquestionably dominated tennis.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Mac and Jimmy did'nt hit with spin...they used placement and depth.
Lendl, Okker, Kriek hit with rpm.
 

RiverRat

Rookie
I'm sure Isner hits more topspin than either Mac or Connors. Boy, I'm sure they are jealous of him and all the 4.5 guys that can really rip the ball.
 

JohnYandell

Hall of Fame
Curious,
Nope! Guessing Mac and Connors were around 1000rpm to 1500rpm. The prob with rec players is they could hit 3500rpm with Rafa style and the ball is like 45mph...
 

Curious

Legend
With new technology racquets and strings and too many unforced errors to count and no accuracy and no taking it early on the rise. Yeah, that's a meaningful comparison. Why be insulting to all-time greats? Not only are they all-time greats but they are all-time great American players in an era where Americans unquestionably dominated tennis.
I should make it clear. Were McEnroe and Connors able to create topspin and they chose not to? Or what I’m most interested in is whether with current rackets and strings their style can produce a lot of spin ?
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Modern forehand is easier for most rec players - generates more spin - with poly strings rec 4.5s are hitting some impressive forehands nowadays..
Obviously you can hit fine with JMac's forehand but its harder not easier. You need better timing and can't rely on heavy topspin to bring the ball down.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
I should make it clear. Were McEnroe and Connors able to create topspin and they chose not to? Or what I’m most interested in is whether with current rackets and strings their style can produce a lot of spin ?
These guys do generate topspin - its just not as natural.

In tennis you contact the ball on your groundstrokes when the racquet is nearly vertical - with a continental grip that point happens quite close to your body. So you have to jerk the racquet up to generate topspin - its kind of unnatural. If you watch a lot of Mac you can see when he wants to generate more top he swings in a kind of awkward manner.

with the modern stroke - the semi-western or western grip you can contact the ball much later. Thus your racquet will naturally be on the rise - as our arm is connected to our shoulder. At a certain point you cannot go out any more because of this so the racquet starts to go up. This means you don't really have to DO anything to generate topspin with a modern stroke. If the contact point is late enough it has "built in" topspin.

You can certainly add to that topspin like Nadal does sometimes with his lasso style shots - or simply by making sure you contact the ball well in front.. but you don't need to. This is especially helpful on very fast shots - because if you are trying to hit a very fast shot back its hard to jerk the racquet up from the shoulder when its tight into you like Mac does.

The greats were great because they could make difficult technique work - not because they had the optimal technique. We don't all need to hit slice forehands like Graff did just because she made it work.. Or hit like Connors or Mac. These guys overcame their technique with skill, timing and athleticism that most rec players don't have.

Modern racquets and strings have made tennis easier then ever before... and its especially well suited to the modern stroke..
 

RiverRat

Rookie
I should make it clear. Were McEnroe and Connors able to create topspin and they chose not to? Or what I’m most interested in is whether with current rackets and strings their style can produce a lot of spin ?
McEnroe and Connors could produce as much topspin as they wanted with teaspoon sized rackets of wood and metal, certainly more than the average a 4.5 level guy with a SW grip. Continuing to ask these types of questions? If you want to know about technology ask about it. Stop dragging great pros through the much. Jimbo had a great topspin lob. Hell, pros today can't even hit that shot with all the topspin in the world.
 

Curious

Legend
McEnroe and Connors could produce as much topspin as they wanted with teaspoon sized rackets of wood and metal, certainly more than the average a 4.5 level guy with a SW grip. Continuing to ask these types of questions? If you want to know about technology ask about it. Stop dragging great pros through the much. Jimbo had a great topspin lob. Hell, pros today can't even hit that shot with all the topspin in the world.
Mate, let me clarify it a little more then. I’m in the process of adopting that traditional style of those great players. Hence my interest and questions that keep popping up in my mind. I can’t help. I’m not trying to annoy you!:)
 

Curious

Legend
with the modern stroke - the semi-western or western grip you can contact the ball much later. Thus your racquet will naturally be on the rise - as our arm is connected to our shoulder. At a certain point you cannot go out any more because of this so the racquet starts to go up.
I agree with your analysis but what I quoted above has also the inherent risk with sw -w grip forehands. Do you see that?
As you correctly pointed out you’re contacting the ball towards the end of racket’s forward motion, mostly while it’s going up, which
1. Increases the risk of not making a clean contact
2. Creates spinny but powder puff forehands as John Yandel said above.
 

RiverRat

Rookie
Mate, let me clarify it a little more then. I’m in the process of adopting that traditional style of those great players. Hence my interest and questions that keep popping up in my mind. I can’t help. I’m not trying to annoy you!:)
Fair enough. Good luck to the changes to your 4.5 forehand.;) I also promise not to say anything unkind about Pat Cash, John Lloyd, or any of the other mates of the day.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Short strokes generate less power, so need to be hit flatter, to get ball speed.
Placement and depth is vital.
 
Top